The convicts transported on the 'Eleanor' in February 1831 were not hardened criminals. The men on board - impoverished agricultural labourers and rural craftsmen from the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset - were transported because they were 'Swing rioters' - men who dared to demand a modest wage-increase and the preservation of winter work threatened by the threshing machine.
These 'men of honest principle' were utterly unprepared for the savage sentences handed down for local protests conducts to local custom.
Part one examines the circumstances of the local protests during 1830 and the reasons for the sever sentences.
Part two traces the stages by which the exiles rebuilt their lives in New South Wales in an alien and alienating environment.
Convicts of the Eleanor; adds new dimensions to both the history of rural protest in Wessex and the little understood working of the convict system in New South Wales.
Part 1. Ruined Lives
1. 'Men of honest people': The convicts of the 'Eleanor'
2. 'We don't want to do any mischief': The voice of protest
3. 'The worst used labouring people on the face of the earth': Paupers and proletarians
4. 'Money or blood': Protest and customary behaviour
5. 'The machine-burning aws like a civil war in the country': Reaction and repression
Part 2. Reconstructed Lives
6. 'Farewell! I shall never see you more': From English village to Australian bush
7. A 'just and equal distribution of the prisoners of the Crown': The process and pattern of assignment
8. 'I had to cook my own victuals': Coping with assignment
9. 'It seems so hard never to see you but you have never been forgotten': Colonial marriage
10. 'All now considered themselves free': Living, working and dying in New South Wales
Index: People and Places