Monday, January 27, 2014

In honour of Joseph Gerrald

We owe our freedom to great sacrifices made by men and women who preceded us in this life. They were no ordinary people. They showed great courage and took honourable stand against injustice and against all the odds. Many of them were less known to us, nevertheless their achievements were not less significant.  

Joseph Gerrald was born in the West Indies, educated in England and practiced as a lawyer in Philadelphia, USA. In London he became a leading member of the British Reform Movement advocating equality, free speech, regularly elected parliaments and universal rights to vote. He was one of the 'Scottish Political Martyrs' tried for sedition at Edinburgh in 1794 and sentenced to 14 years transportation to New South Wales.

While waiting to be transported to Australia, a government minister, Henry Dundas, offered to arrange for Gerrald to be given his freedom if he promised to stop advocating parliamentary reform. Gerrald refused and on 25th May he left Portsmouth aboard the Sovereign.

He died at Sydney on 16 March 1796 aged about 35, and was buried in this garden on the site of the First Farm, near this spot.

Joseph Gerrard burial spot, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
'For myself, my friend, whatever destiny awaits me, I am content. The cause which I have embraced has taken deep root, and must, I feel, ultimately triumph. I have my reward. I see through the cheering vista of future events the overthrow of tyranny, and the permament establishment of benevolence and peace. It is as silent as the lapse of time, but as certain and inevitable.' 
Joseph Gerrard, 17 May 1795 

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