David Collins

David Collins

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The life of David Collins - judge, historian and governor - reflects the story of the European settlement of Australia. Born in London in 1756, Collins joined the Marine Corps at fourteen, and in 1775 fought against the Americans at the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1787 he was appointed deputy judge-advocate of the impending expedition to Botany Bay. In a remarkable trio of events, Collins was one of the founders of Sydney in 1788, began the first European settlement in Victoria in 1803, and founded Hobart Town the following year. The journal he began on the First Fleet grew into the first substantial history of New South Wales, and his private letters - extensively quoted for the first time in John Currey's fine biography - give a rare insight into the early colonial world. The letters also tell the story of a life that went wrong. Born into a family long connected to the royal court and the military, Collins was expected to have a brilliant career. But the loss of influential patrons left him unemployed and in debt, and he was forced to accept the post of lieutenant governor in Van Diemen's Land.
Here he found himself neglected and under-supplied, and was castigated by his political masters for waste and extravagance. A bitter confrontation with Governor William Bligh brought the settlement to the brink of civil war, and Bligh accused Collins of mutiny and neglect of duty. Within the colony, contemporary judgements were contradictory. Collins was a father-figure to his admirers, a tyrant to his detractors. His interest in the Aboriginal people was strongly humanitarian. On the other side of the world from his Nova Scotian novelist wife, he had a series of liaisons with female convicts which caused his enemies to brand him 'a bigamist and debauchee'. Nevertheless, the whole of Hobart Town turned out for his funeral. This substantial and comprehensive biography is the first and only full-length account of David Collins's life. One of the main sources for the book is the major collection of Collins family papers purchased by the Mitchell Library in the early 1960s. 'New' material on the early colonial period of Australia is rare, and the previously unpublished documents in David Collins - including letters written from the First Fleet - will create great interest.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Melbourne University Press
  • Melbourne University Press Digital
  • Australia
  • 0522863396
  • 9780522863390

About Currey John

John Currey has had a long and distinguished career as an author, editor and publisher. He has also edited a number of books, including David Collins's Account of a Voyage, and the three-volume Records of the Port Phillip Expedition.
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