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Title: The Very Idea Evoked a Defamatory Response: Lord George Gordon and the proposed penal settlement at Botany Bay
Contributor(s): Collins, Craig (author)
Publication Date: 2007
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Abstract: On Friday, 26 January 1787, exactly one year before Captain Arthur Philip would raise the Union flag on a makeshift pole by the shore at Sydney Cove, a Newgate gaoler found Lord George Gordon at home with a pile of pamphlets entitled, 'The PRISONERS' PETITION to the Right Hon LORD GEORGE GORDON, to preserve their Lives and Liberties, and prevent their banishment to Botany Bay'. Gordon was in fact the author of this petition addressed to himself. In it he argued forcefully that the Botany Bay scheme had to be stopped in the name of God. This was not treated as an idle threat. On 6 June 1787, with the First Fleet taking on supplies at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Gordon was brought to trial in the Court of King's Bench, facing criminal charges "for a libel on the judges and administration of law in England". Gordon had, seven years earlier, led the notorious "Gordon Riots" which set London ablaze (including Newgate prison, with the prisoners set free) – an event later taken up by Charles Dickens in 'Barnaby Rudge'. This paper considers the threat posed by defamatory words to the Botany Bay scheme even before the First Fleet landed. It also examines Gordon's trial and punishment together with the extent to which his fears for law and justice in the new colony were realised after settlement.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: 26th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference: Fenceposts in Legal History, Armidale, Australia, 21st - 23rd September, 2007
Source of Publication: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference (ANZLHSC)
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Law History Society
Place of Publication: Armidale, Australia
Field of Research (FOR): 180119 Law and Society
HERDC Category Description: E2 Non-Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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