The Surrender of Michael in 1817

Following Governor Sorell’s proclamation, Michael wrote a letter to Sorell, which was delivered into Hobart Town by a constable. The man who had given the letter to the constable was probably William Drew, a man who was known to act as Michael’s go-between. According to Bob Minchin, “the meeting between Captain Nair and himself was carefully stage managed by Michael Howe. The captain and his small party of soldiers of the 46th regiment were to halt in view at one end of the small plain. When he considered it safe to do so, Howe would fire a pistol into the air as a signal for Nairn to advance across the open plain on his own, taking with him the articles of capitulation. If he did not agree to the terms therein, Michael Howe was allowed to go without molestation and to be free from pursuit for four hours.” A day later, on the 29th of April, “Captain Nairn arrived on the edge of the plain at the Black Marsh and on hearing the pistol shot went to meet the bushranger and handed over the surrender document. The contents were carefully perused by Howe and, finding the terms acceptable, he handed over his weapons and surrendered.”On his arrival into prison, Michael was washed and his hair and beard were trimmed, and according to James Calder, “he was visited by the Chief Superintendent of Convicts, Mr. Paterson, to whose charge he had been consigned when he first landed here.” Peterson had shown Michael kindness, as he did again on this occasion, which saw Michael express his thanks, saying he had often thought of the old superintendent with kindly feelings.”Once settled into his new life, Michael underwent hours of interrogation by the Police Magistrate Adolarious William Henry Humphrey, a most despised enemy of the Yorkshireman. During these interviews, Michael stated that it was George Watts who had burnt Humphrey’s stacks and Reardon’s barn, a claim also made by James Whitehead in 1815. He also alleged that during the period of martial law, Reverend Knopwood had conducted him and Watts through the streets of Hobart and gave the names of settlers who had aided the gang. He also described the hunted life he had been leading, remarking “the life of the damned was nothing to it.”

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