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JAMES Sr. & SOPHIA

PRESS CLIPS 1825-30  *  PRESS CLIPS 1830-35

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As the research is not complete here, we’ll do this chapter a different way…

James and Sophia’s first child – CHARLES – was born in mid-1825. Nobody knows for sure who his father is – but to me, it’s a done deal – it’s James Senior. His conception marks the earliest known connection between the two – probably around September 1824. Young Charles wasn’t confused – he used the name Triffitt all his life. He’s also recorded as Trifin and Triflet.

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On May 17, 1826, rather conveniently:

Hobart Town Gazette September ** 1826

There would be a certain poetry in the involvement of District Constable James Triffitt Snr. in his arrest and incarceration. It was certainly in James’ interest to keep him in the nick. He succeeded.

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NOTES ON THE FATE OF JIMMY BARNES

James Holland alias Barnes was convicted at the Hobart Supreme Court in July 1826 for stealing 40 pine boards belonging to the Crown at New Norfolk on 17 May. The value of the boards was 20 shillings. He was found guilty and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. He was to be sent to Maria Island. James petitioned His Excellency, Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur, regarding his sentence stating he was a native of Norfolk Island and had been in the colony for upwards of 19 years; that he was led into this unfortunate situation by the false and wicked statement of John Adams, the assigned servant of Mr McQuin, clerk of the court at Elizabeth Town (New Norfolk), who sold the pine to him. James believed they were his own property. He had paid five dollars to John Adams for these boards and if he had been aware they were stolen he would have had him brought to justice; he had never been convicted before and was now separated from his aged parents, whose comfort and happiness he has hitherto made it his study to promote. During his confinement in prison he conducted himself very well. John Barnes also wrote to His Excellency on 26 December 1826, requesting the remission of the sentence of his son James. It didn’t work: he was on Maria Island till 1833.

FLYNN: Second Fleet

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Having been spectacularly robbed by the Howe Gang a decade before, now James Sr. is done over by the Brady Gang.

Saturday 4 February 1826

AND THEN THE BASTARDS ROBBED HIM AGAIN.

Sometime around St. Valentine’s Day they took what was left.

Friday 24 March 1826

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Saturday 18 March 1826

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Friday 12 January 1827

Let’s hope James got his horse back.

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The dynasty continued apace.  Now the tribe was spread out over three fronts.

There was the original grant of land at Back River with Mother Mary unhappily ensconced, run, I would imagine by James Jnr. and his ever expanding family – then 1,300 acres at Emu Bottom with James Snr. and the youthful Sophia Daniels happily living in sin and shagging like rabbits, then Butcher’s Bottom was established to house Thomas and his growing brood.

Butcher’s Bottom, later known as Clairvaux, was originally three parcels of land: the first was 500 acres originally granted to George Brooks in 1826 and sold to James Jnr. (possibly in payment of a debt) – whatever the circumstances, this was a standing agreement between the two gentlemen but was not legalized till 1838. James then sold this to Thomas. The second was 500 acres granted to Thomas as part of the 1824 land grant. This was found later, fortuitously, to actually be 1072 acres. The third part of Thomas’ kingdom was 1060 acres originally granted to James Ogilvie and later acquired by Thomas in 1827. So Thomas was sitting on 2,072 acres of land, more than enough to accommodate Thomas, Mary and the seven children.

There were a number of other property transactions occurring around this time, but they are too labyrinthine to follow and not very interesting. It’s a measure, given the political circumstances of the times, of just how thoroughly the three families were playing the game. They wouldn’t have been able to move an inch in the repressive police state that was Van Diemen’s Land in the late 1820’s without tacit approval from the Establishment. Perhaps the Triffitt’s were a kind of local ruling class, a suburban squattocracy deep in the Hills, embracing the police state with an enthusiasm borne of ignorance and avarice in equal measure. Dynasties were being made here.

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In mid-September 1827, when young Charles was two years and three months old, the billygoat got the leg over once again. Three years between conceptions – that’s a long time in the colonies. I bet there’s a dead baby in this gap. Richard James was born at home on May 11th 1828.

Incredibly Mum was pregnant again two weeks later. She must have been – Sophia Muriel was born on the 1st of March, 1829.

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James Jr’s. two youngest children died, probably together, in November or December 1828. Little Joseph was a newborn, Martha just one year old. I’ll research this. Scarlet Fever, measles and/or whooping cough probably brought them down.

Martha b. 13 Dec 1826 died 1828

Joseph b. 3 Nov 1828 died 1828

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THE BLACK NATIVES

I’ll let the press clips tell this story:

 Colonial Times: Friday 30 January 1829

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Colonial Times: Friday 16 October 1829

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The Hobart Town Courier: Saturday 17 October 1829

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Colonial Times: Friday 6 November 1829

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When the Black Natives attacked, Sophia had three kids at home: six month old Sophia, eighteen month old Richard and four year old Charles.

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THE BLACK LINE

GOVERNMENT ORDER. No. 11. Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sept. 22, 1830.

1. THE Community being called upon to act en masse on the 7th Oct. next, for the purpose of capturing those hostile Tribes of the Natives which are daily committing renewed atrocities upon the Settlers; the following outline of the arrangements which the Lieutenant Governor has determined upon, is published, in order that every person may know the principle on which he is required to act, and the part which he is to take individually in this important transaction.

2. Active operations will at first be chiefly directed against the Tribes which occupy the country South of a line drawn from Water[l]oo Point East, to Lake Echo, West, including the Hobart, Richmond, New Norfolk, Clyde, and Oatlands Police Districts, — at least, within this country, the Military will be mainly employed, the capture of the Oyster Bay and Big River Tribes, as the most sanguinary, being of the greatest consequence…

10. Capt. Wentworth will also detach the Troops at Hamilton Township under Capt. Vicary, across the Clyde to occupy the Western bank of the Ouse. For this service every possible assistance will be afforded by the Parties formed from the Establishments of Messrs. Triffith, Sharland, Marzetti, Young, Dixon, Austin, Burn, Jamieson, Shone, Risely, and any other settlers in that District, together with any men of the Field Police who may be well acquainted with that part of the country.

11. A small Party of Troops under the command of Lieut. Murray will also be sent up the North bank of the Derwent, to scour the country on the West bank of the Ouse. This Detachment will be strengthened by any Parties of the Police or Volunteers that can be supplied by the Police Magistrate of New Norfolk, and from Hobart Town.

etc.etc.

Hobart Town Gazette, 25 September 1830

The above forms just a tiny part of the labyrinthine organization of what came to be known as ‘The Black Line’ – a completely futile exercise that resulted, famously, in the capture of two aborigines, a man and a small boy.  The Black Line is much covered and discussed; it’s basic Tasmania history – there’s no point me reiterating it all – if you want to go there just Google and roll your eyes. This complete waste of time was much applauded by the settlers, particularly in the country areas and won the tight-arsed Governor Arthur increased support – not that it did any good at all.

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Friday 19 November 1830

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The Hobart Town Courier: 18 June 1831 and The Sydney Gazette  28 June 1831

Colonial Times: Wednesday 8 June 1831

But which Mr. Triffitt is it? We have a choice of three.

An obscure document from 1833 details the roads at the time:

You’ll see the same names in the press reports. But look closer – it’s Thomas. ‘ T. Triffith’s senior’ ‘.  I nearly missed it, so accustomed am I to James Triffitt senior. Of course Thomas is a ‘Snr.’ He has a son, Thomas, born in November 1818 – now fifteen years old, about to launch into the world. Let’s read the rest of the article:

Poor Mary Scattergood. Ouch.

In 1831 their first born, Young William was nearly fourteen – a dangerous age for a Triffitt lad, Thomas just turned thirteen, Mary is eleven, Susan nine, Edward seven, Louisa is five and John Frederick just one year old. Where they all were during this terrifying moment is not mentioned – but, if this is Mary, most of them must have been in the house.

THOMAS & MARY never produced another child after this moment: whether as a result of this incident or other forces – I really don’t know.

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Three weeks after this event JAMES the ELDER & SOPHIE were delivered of a baby girl/ Mary Ann was their last child. She was born on the fourth of July 1831 in Green Ponds.

just one child away from a finished family: Charles is five, Richard is three and Sophia just eighteen months old. Dad was just turned sixty-three. He’d fathered at least six kids, possibly more.

So why did he stop? I bet Sophia would have been content to squeeze children into life till she died. Perhaps Will’s libido finally gave up. Sixty-two. It happens.

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JAMES Jr. & LIZZIE were still at it: Ann is seventeen and blossoming, James is fourteen, John thirteen, Phoebe was ten, Christiana almost eight,  Martha seven, Joseph five and little Henry Edward just three.  The latest baby was little Ellen, born late March in 1832. There were two more to come…

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In early 1834 something far more important happened.  Mary Higgins returns to the stage. Let’s be kind and call it a swan-song.

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