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Patriotic Six

Charles Swanston, a member of the Patriotic Six (AOT, PH30/1/5140)

The Patriotic Six, comprising legislative councillors Charles Swanston, Michael Fenton, John Kerr, William Kermode, Thomas Gregson and Richard Dry, resigned their Council seats in 1845 in protest against the continuation of the probation system in Van Diemen's Land and the increased 'expenditure on the police and gaols of the colony'. The Lt-Governor, Eardley-Wilmot, reported that 'by reducing their numbers [in the Council], the whole of the public business, as far as legislation and the public business were concerned, was obstructed and defeated'. The Colonial Office later agreed that the colony was entitled to economic relief and made significant changes to the probation system of punishment.

Further reading: A Shaw, Convicts and the colonies, London, 1966; C Joel, 'Party politics and penalism, an analysis of the role of John Montagu in the penal politics of Tasmania, 1836–1845', MA thesis, UT, 1971.

Craig Joel