A Spot of Tea at Humphrey’s

At about seven o’clock in the evening on the 10th of May 1815, James Whitehead, Peter Septon, Thomas Collier, Richard McGwyre and James Geary rushed into the servant hut of Mr Adolarious William Henry Humphrey at Pitt Water and bailed up the male servants inside, tying their hands with the handkerchiefs they wore around their necks. Once the men were seated and their hands tied, Michael entered the hut and took a lamp which was burning on the table. With the lamp in hand, he went with other members of the gang to the main house of Mr Humphrey, which was unoccupied as he and his wife were in Hobart. Finding the door locked, Michael broke it open and the gang went inside, scouring the house for anything they stood in need of. Meanwhile, back in the servant hut, Peter Septon expressed much regret at Humphrey being absent, stating that if he had of been home, they would have made sure he no longer had the opportunity of flogging anymore men or feeding them slop. (Humphrey was a magistrate who was known to treat convicts appallingly.) While guarding the servants, a conversation took place between James Whitehead and George Green, with the servant telling James he was sorry to see him in the situation he was. To this, James looked downcast and affirmed he was sorry to find himself in this situation also, saying he was a dead man and had to make the best of it. During this time, Richard Collier left the hut to check on the progress of Michael and the others, although he had hardly closed the door when one of the gang members in the house called out to him to put on the kettle and make tea. With the tea made, Richard took it out to the main house and it wasn’t long before Michael, Mr Humphrey’s compass now nestled in his pocket, returned to the hut with the others, their knapsacks full of green tea, flour, knives, blankets, wearing apparel and ammunition. With all they needed safely secured, they had planned to leave quietly, however, while in the house Michael had found two pairs of leg irons. Consumed by rage at this find, he declared that the magistrate must pay and the gang smashed everything in the house, telling the servants they would not have done this if it weren’t for finding the irons. With this act completed, the gang began making preparations to leave, informing the men that no one was to stir, for if they did they would be shot by the two gang members who remained outside. These men, it was stated, would stay positioned outside until enough time had elapsed for the others to make it safely into the bush.

Sourced from ‘Historical Records of Australia’, volume 2, series 3.

Pitt Water is now Sorrell.

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