State Library of New South Wales

Narrative of the escape of eight convicts from Macquarie Harbour in Sep. 1822, and of their murders and cannibalism committed during their wanderings

Bequest of Sir William Dixson, 1952

Alexander Pearce arrived in Hobart on the Castle Forbes in February 1820, transported for seven years for stealing six pairs of shoes. In June 1822 he was convicted of forging a money order and being illegally at large, and was ordered to the penal settlement at Macquarie Harbour for the remainder of his original sentence. In September, with seven other convicts, he escaped from Macquarie Harbour with the intention of crossing the island to Hobart, where they planned to steal a schooner and sail to England. However, their provisions were totally inadequate for such an enterprise.

Pearce was the only survivor of a nightmare journey during which, one after another, his companions were murdered and eaten by the remainder of the group.

One of two accounts

This is one of two manuscript accounts of the escape held by the State Library of NSW (the other is ML A 1326). Neither are in Pearce's handwriting, but appear to be transcriptions or reworkings of his own accounts as related to officials at different times.