Saturday, December 5, 2009

Henry Savery

I'm betting Henry Savery is another convict.....

Oh! Lord Wiki says he is a convict, but that's not all. He's also known as Australia's first novelist. Although it's silly of me to say that. No human being is JUST a convict. Although some people are famous for that fact only, and nothing else.

Baby Henry was born 4 August 1791. When he was born, the Port Jackson settlement was three- years-old.

Lord Wiki says the Savery family was a banking one, and doing financially well. At least that was the case when young Savery was born.

They lived in Somerset England. That sounds familar to me. I don't know. Maybe I see it on my Statcounter. Oh, also it's the county that the city of Bath is in. I've been there. Although I don't really remember it much.

Lord Wiki doesn't know much about Savery's childhood. He skips ahead to his marriage. He married the daughter of a London business man. In 1816, they had their one and only child together.

Business didn't go to well for Mr. Savery. His sugar-refining business failed. He went bankrupt. Then he started doing illegal stuff within the business world. It involved thirty thousand pounds. Yikes. I bet that was a lot of money back then.

I'm confused about what Lord Wiki says here. He says...he was arrested on 9 December, having jumped from the boat that was to take him to America. Why was he going to America? Was he already in trouble, and trying to escape?

Lord Wiki says that in prison, Savery's behavior was so erratic that his trial had to be postponed. What was he acting like, and how did it prevent a trial? I'm perplexed.

Finally, they managed to have the trial. Savery pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to hang.

A couple days before his execution, some influential friends intervened. Savery was sent off to Australia.

His ship landed in Hobart. There he was given the job of working for the treasurer. Some people found that to be a bit odd....I guess because of what he had been arrested for in the first place.

In 1828, Savery's wife and son came to live with him in Australia. His son would have been about twelve at the time. I'm sure it was all a bit dramatic for the kid. In his younger years, he dealt with his father being arrested, almost hanged, etc. Now he was living in a whole new continent.

It sounds like things didn't go well for Savery and his wife. They argued a lot. Things got pretty bad...bad enough for Savery to attempt suicide. That's sad. I wonder what they fought about. Well, maybe she was mad at him for being a criminal.

Ah! Here we go. I just needed to read a few sentences down. There had been rumors about Mrs. Savery and her relationship with her chaperone on the ship. Interesting..... Also, Lord Wiki says that Savery may have exaggerated his position in the colony. She may have imagined he was doing better than he really was. I wonder if this woman ever loved Savery. Or did she only care about his financial situation? Was she more angry that his position was less than she imagined, or was she simply angry that he had lied to her?

Savery ran into more legal problems. He was then imprisoned for debt. His wife and son left him. They returned to England. He never saw them again.

In prison, Savery did some writing. He used a pseudonym because a published convict was not an okay thing. Well, at least that's what Lord Wiki says. The pseudonym was Simon Stukely.

In 1831, his novel was published anonymously....like Nikki Gemmell's novel. This novel was called Quintus Servinton: A Tale founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence. It received fairly good reviews from the press.

In 1832, Savery received a ticket of leave. That gave a convict a certain amount of freedom. They could find work within their district, and they could get married. They could also bring their families over from the UK. So does that mean Savery had gotten a a ticket of leave earlier? Maybe he had one, and it was revoked.

Anyway, the 1832 one was revoked at least. This came about because Savery had written some stuff for a newspaper. I guess that wasn't allowed. Or it could have been the nature of what he had written. Lord Wiki says he had written something that might have stained the reputation of the Governor of Tasmania. I guess they didn't have much free press back then.

Savery's final years don't seem too happy. He was able to rent a farm, but that didn't work out. He went back into dept. He might have fallen into alcoholism.

He was caught forging bills--that's what had gotten him in trouble in the first place. He was sent back to prison....Port Arthur. There he managed to slit his own throat.

I'm now going to read the biographical dictionary site.

Here they say that Savery was born in London rather than Somerset.

He was the sixth son of a banker. This is confusing. The website says the banker dad was from Bristol. Did the family live in Bristol, but go to London for Henry's birth? Or was the dad originally from Bristol, and now the family was in London?

Bristol is only an hour away from Somerset. This might be why Lord Wiki says Savery was from there.

In general though....I'm confused.

I'm looking at Google Maps again. Bristol and London are about two hours away from each other. Maybe the family lived in Bristol, but they traveled over to London to give birth? I'd think in those days, midwives were more in fashion, so it's not likely they rushed off to a big city to find the best hospital.

Anyway, enough of that.

Let's get to the arrest stuff.

Savery was forging fake bills. I guess his business partner found out. Savery tried to escape. He tried to get on the ship Hudson. Well, he did get on. Less than an hour before it set sail, Savery was caught.

The website says his sentence of hanging was changed just one day before his execution was supposed to happen. Wow. Close call there.

In this website, they say Savery likely died of a stroke. The throat cutting is what he did when he and his wife were fighting. That makes a little more sense. How does one cut themselves in prison? Don't they take the sharp stuff away? Or maybe they didn't do that back then?

Both this website and Lord Wiki says his novels are known more for their historical significance than they are for their literary quality.

Google Books has some (or all) of the novel. It doesn't really look like the style of writing I usually enjoy. Have any of you read the book?

This University of Tasmania website has some information about Savery. They say his birthplace was in Somerset, and they even have a photograph. I think I'll trust them.


They also have a photograph of the school Savery went to. That's Oswestry Grammar School in Shropshire This Oswestry tourism website says the school is now a tourism office. Somerset is about three hours from this Oswestry place. I guess the family moved?

The Tasmanian website says that Savery spent his young adult years in London. After he married his wife, they moved to Bristol.

They married at St. James church. The website has a photograph. That's very cool. I mean it's not a photo of their wedding....just a photo of the church.

There's another book that Savery wrote, but I'm not sure if it's a novel or not. I'm confused about that. It's called The Hermit in Van Diemen's Land. It might be a novel, or it might be a collection of writings.

The website gives some more insight into what happened. Well, he was forging bills and all that...just basically doing illegal stuff with his business finances. It's the kind of stuff that people still do today. Then another forger....the infamous Fauntleroy was hanged for forgery. This scared Savery and he tried to run away to America. He was even willing to abandon his family. While Savery was planning his escape, his partner Seward realized something was not right with the company's finances. He chased after Seward, and found him on that ship soon to depart.

There was a great dramatic scene. Savery jumped into the sea and hit his head repeatedly on the ship. I guess he was trying to kill himself. It didn't work. He was rescued, and commited. During this time, he showed signs of Bipolar disorder....although back then they didn't really have that diagnosis.

There were more dramatic scenes on the day of sentencing. The website says when Savery found out he was going to be hanged, he seemed to lose the power to breath. Well, there you go. He could have saved them a job. It's kind of crazy that they rescued this guy from drowning only to want to hang him later. Why hadn't they just allowed him to drown? Well, maybe they didn't know he was that guilty yet.

And he wasn't hanged anyway. He was sent on a lovely ship to Australia. The website says he was treated well on the boat, and also treated well when he got to Hobart. It seems the influential friends who got his sentence changed were also able to get him good treatment. Yeah, there was probably a difference between the way business criminals and lower class thieves were treated.

When Mrs. Savery sailed over with her son, they encountered some rough seas which resulted in a shipwreck. Fortunately, no one died. They got on another ship and sailed over.

Okay. This site says that when his wife came over, Savery did NOT have a ticket of leave. Mrs. Savery thought he would have that. She was not happy that he didn't, and she was also not happy to learn that he was having debt problems.

His later ticket of leave was revoked because it was against the law for convicts to get published in a newspaper. Oops. Did Savery not realize the risk he had been taking in writing for a newspaper?

Here's something a bit sad. The judge who convicted Savery later in life was the same man who chaperoned Savery's wife on the ship. This is the guy that Savery believed his wife had commited adultery with. Wow. That's pretty harsh.