Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day 26 January 1821

In 1818, Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared that the 26 January would be called Australia Day to commemorate the founding of the British colony. The Sydney Gazette recorded the celebration of the event on the 31 January:

"On Monday last His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR review[ed] the 48th Regt, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel ERSKINE, and we learn expressed himself much pleased with the military appearance of this distinguished corps.
The same day a dinner was given at Government House to the Civil and Military Officers at Head Quarters, in commemoration of the Establishment of this Colony, which on that day had attained its thirtieth anniversary. We understand that His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, in celebrating an event in which all present necessarily felt much interest, was pleased to pay a handsome tribute to the memory of the late Admiral PHILLIP.
In the evening a Ball was given by Mrs. MACQUARIE to a numerous party, which was continued with spirit to a late hour. We were particularly gratified with a likeness of GOVERNOR PHILLIP (executed by Mr. Greenway, who felt much pleasure in this opportunity of celebrating the memory of the Vice Admiral, who had ever been his steady friend and patron), suspended at one extremity of the room, in a wreath, supported by two banners; one being that of Vice Admiral, and the other containing the following inscription. "In Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Colony of New South Wales, established by ARTHUR PHILLIP, whose virtues and talents entitle him to the grateful remembrance of his Country, and to whose arduous exertions the present prosperous state of the Colony may chiefly be ascribed."

Australia Day 26 January 1821 was a very special day for James Gough, as on that day Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him a Conditional Pardon. Having served nine years of his sentence, this meant that, although he could not return to England, he was now FREE within the colony. This was the start of a new chapter in his life...