Monday, 21 August 2017

John Killion starts his new life in Port Macquarie

In our last post, we left John Killion in 1834 when he was assigned to John Dillon of Sydney after his arrival.  From the attached newspaper article, it seems that between 1834 and 1837, John Dillion relocated from Sydney to Port Macquarie.
NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS. (1837, November 9). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved August 2, 2017, from
As there's no record of John Killion's reassignment, we're assuming that he moved with John Dillon to Port Macquarie between 1834 and 1837.  The area was expanding during the 1830s with free settlers permitted to move to the region. 

The 1841 New South Wales Census shows John Dillon of Port Macquarie has 3 male bonded males who are "in private assignment".  We're confident that John Killion was one of these men.
Unlike so many other convicts, John's time working for John Dillon appear to have passed without incident.  There's no official record of John between 1834 and 3 February 1843 when he received his ticket of leave on the basis that he "remains in the District of Macquarie". 

John KIllion - Ticklet of Leave
Tickets of leave were introduced about 1801 primarily to reduce the need to supply food to convicts from the young colony's limit supply.  Soon, it was awarded for good behaviour and permitted the convict to seek employment within a specified district.  The convict required the permission of the district's magistrate to leave the district and all changes of employer were recorded on the ticket of leave.  By the early 1820's, convicts were required to serve a minimum period of their sentence before receiving a ticket of leave - four years for a seven year sentence, six to eight years for a 14-year sentence and 10 to 12 years for this with a life sentence.  Ticket of leave holders were permitted to marry, bring their family from Britain and acquire property but couldn't carry firearms or board a ship.
John remained in Port Macquarie and continued to work for John Dillion during the time he held the ticket.  On 10 July 1848, John was granted a conditional pardon on the basis that he did not return to "the United Kingdom of Great Britain or Ireland" - the usual condition for a pardon.  So 15 years and 4 months after receiving a life sentence in County Westmeath on 01 March 1833, John, by now about 42 years of age, was a free man in Port Macquarie half way across the world from his birthplace. 

John Killion - Conditional Pardon
Obviously, Port Macquarie was not the holiday destination that we enjoy visiting today!  In 1818, John Oxley was the first European to visit Port Macquarie - naming the area after the governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie. The Hastings River was named after the governor general of India at around the same time. The river reaches the Tasman Sea coast at Port Macquarie.  The area was first noticed by Captain Cook on his voyage along the east coast in 1770 and later by Matthew Flinders in 1802.  It was not explored in any detail until Oxley returned in 1819. Macquarie initiated Oxley's expedition as he was interested in the site's potential as a penal settlement. 

The penal settlement was established in 1821 by Captain Francis Allman.  He immediately began directing the 60 convicts sent to establish the settlement, to clear the area of trees and begin farming in order to become self-sufficient. Timber supplies further south near Newcastle where dwindling providing further impetus to the clearing. 

Sugar cane was first grown in Australia here by a prisoner from the West Indies and a sugar mill was established in 1824. The penal settlement remained into the early 1840's after the area was opened up to free settlers in 1830 - including John Dillon accompanied by John Killion.

John's story will pick up a little over three years later when he marries Jane Feeny......

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