Letters of Support for William Foster Geach

Written by the visiting magistrate of Richmand Jail in 1844. Transcribed from copies of the originals held in Tasmanian Archives - CON1/1/8 file 781.

xxx denotes unreadable text, light grey font used where text probably correct


(To the Comptroller General of Convicts)

Richmond 14th Feb 1844


As a Magistrate of long standing in the Colony, you will not think I am going beyond my duty in bringing under your notice the xxxxxxxxx service rendered by a person of very exemplary conduct stationed as a Javelin man at Richmond Jail. I enclose his own statement supplied to me at my request and which I think you will find confirmed by entries in the Offices. If any thing could surprise me of the course of things under the late Government – this would have done so.

Sir John Franklin as I am xxxxxx informed commended this person publicly for good conduct – and in presence of all the officers and men on the muster ground at salt water creek – openly promised him indulgence but never fulfilled his promise. This man’s conduct during the twelve months or so he has been here and especially as it has latterly come almost daily under my notice as visiting Magistrate of the Richmond Jail I am enabled to say of my own knowledge has been in every respect good in every respect – what it might have been during his two years Probation – his Police character will shew – I am informed that he has xxxxx been charged with a single act of misconduct since he has been a prisoner.

I believe this to be the fact – and I am sure the subject being thus brought under your notice – a proper reward for his services will not longer be withheld.

I have the honor to be


Your very obedient Servant

GeoWeston Gunning


Richmond January 18 1844


In conformity with your desire I beg to inform you that the possible services rendered by me when at salt water creek were as follow.

In the months of July & August 1841 the Fusileer Government Craft frequently lay at the creek. I learned that a plan had been formed by 7 or 8 men to seize that craft. I took some trouble and got at all the facts. The means of carrying out the plot were terrible involving in the first blow the lives of the poor fellows on board. I immediately apprised M. Pringle, the Superintendent, of the circumstances with names of  xx xxxxx xx and by the prompt measures adopted by him the scheme was defeated. The Leaders in that affair, were as I apprised M. Pringle, Edwd. Thompson and Robert O’Toole, two sailors. These are the two Constables who lately took to the Bush.

The other service stands recorded by M. Pringle in the body of my Police Character thus

“On the 2nd Sept 1841 three men of desperate character absconded from the Chain Gang at this Station. On the night of the 4th acting upon certain instructions which I had issued Geach discovered two of them secuted in the Bush at the back of my Tent in which I then resided. He succeeded single handed in apprehending one of them. The other escaped for the night but was thro’ Geach’s xxxxx captured on the following day. I afterwards ascertained that these men had formed a plan for rushing into my tent as night further advanced and seizing my Fire Arms and I am opinion that serious consequences were prevented by Geach’s vigilance on the occasion.”
Signed “J. J. Pringle” (may be I. I. Pringle)

The man whom I apprehended on the night of the 4th Sept as above mentioned was Joseph Nicholson who was then undergoing a sentence of 2 years in xxxx having been detected a few months before  at midnight breaking out of the Prisoners Barracks Hobart Town. The man whom I caused to be apprehended on the following day was Joseph Woynasiuski who has since affected his escape from the Colony or been drowned in attempting so to do.

I beg to subscribe myself, Sir,

xx very xxxxx humble Servant,

W. F. Geach


Salt Water Creek.Ref.

Meritorious conduct of
994 W. F. Geach
In giving information of a plot
formed by some prisoners to seize the
Gov. Craft Fusileer

Referred for the Report of the Superintendent at Salt Water Creek on the Statements made as to Geach having given information which prevented a scheme for seizing “The Fusileer” being carried with effect
James xxxxxxx
24 Feb 1844

The Statements made by Geach in this communication with regard to his praiseworthy conduct in giving timely information which prevented the Government Craft “Fusileer” being seized are perfectly correct. xxxx from what the Superintendent some months subsequently heard of this plot he has not the slightest doubt that a party of men on the Station at the time Geach gave the information intended to do so.

James Pringle

Salt Water Prison

2 March 1844

G. W. Gunning Esq.



This circumstance recorded

(Mathew Forster Esquire written at the foot of the first page.)


Richmond 8th March 1844

My Dear Sir

I am again induced to address you, as I fear from the multiplicity of business in your office my letter and its enclosures of last Month may have escaped your recollection.

The subject I may remark was a statement made to me by a person named Geach a Javelin man in Richmond which statement I enclosed to you - it set forth services rendered by him while at Port Arthur – and the promises by Sir John Franklin that those services should be rewarded by Government – but like many other promises of Sir John’s - remained unnoticed.

I feel an interest in this person Geach – first from his extreme good conduct as Javelin for twelve Months when he has been at Richmond which has come under my notice as visiting Magistrate – and again from his wife being an amiable accomplished woman – keeping a boarding school at Richmond – under whose instruction my Grand Children are making great progress.

From having always experienced the greatest kindness from your relative’s – Sir George Arthur and from Captain Montague – and from my long acquaintance with yourself – I ask it as a favor that you will enquire into Geach’s case – and by rendering him any service in your power – confer an obligation on.

My Dear Sir

Yours very faithfully

GeoWeston Gunning


24 July 1844
Acquaint this man that he has got all that can be granted until he shall have served xxx his term of Transptn. 10 yrs.