George Barrington (1755-1804) was a colourful persona in an infamy of larger than life characters associated with the fledging colony of New South Wales. Richly endowed with the gift of the gab and a talent for spinning eloquent blarney, Barrington honed his thievery skills in his native Ireland before gaining fame as a ‘gentleman pickpocket’ in the theatre district of London. His exploits -including posing as a minister of religion - and entertaining court appearances attracted an enthusiastic public following which did not abate when his luck for eluding the law ran out with a sentence of seven years transportation. Arriving in Sydney 1791 Barrington recast himself as a model convict, winning a conditional pardon after a year for his ‘irreproachable conduct’ followed by a full pardon in 1796. Appointments as Chief Constable at Parramatta, and as Principal Superintendent of the Convicts followed.
Barrington’s popular notoriety was exploited by publishers back in England who falsely attributed his authorship to several publications including A voyage to New South Wales (1795) and this sequel (first issued in 1800) to sell more copies. Whilst the narrative of this volume loosely incorporates biographical episodes from Barrington’s life, the bulk of the text is an account of conditions in the Norfolk Island penal colony (which Barrington never visited) retold from other contemporary works. Despite its spurious authorship, the edition is full of interesting observations and descriptions of life in Sydney and Norfolk Island in the formative years of the penal colonies which render it a useful, if not entirely reliable, historical source for the period.
Digital Collections | Library (2nd Sep 2020). A sequel to Barrington's voyage to New South Wales : comprising an interesting narrative of the transactions and behaviour of the convicts : the progress of the colony. In Website Digital Collections | Library. Retrieved 20th Jan 2022 12:10, from https://unsw.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/3067