In the summer of 1842, Tasmanian dramatist David Burn [David Burn ADB] boarded the Eliza for a tour of the penal settlement of Port Arthur. On January 9, a Sunday, he and his party visited the penitentiary hospital, and here, writes Burn [Burn, David, An excursion to Port Arthur in 1842, see page 20-23 ], they encountered Henry Savery, “the once celebrated Bristol sugar-baker – a man upon whose birth Fortune smiled propitious.” The “miserable felon” before them, with his “lack-lustre glare” and “scarce-healed” neck-wound from his latest suicide attempt, moves in Burn “the deepest compassion mingled with horror and awe. There he lay, a sad – a solemn warning.” A month later, on February 6, Savery was dead: possibly, as Henry Melville [Henry Melville ADB] records, by again cutting his throat, or possibly as a result of a stroke (Burn describes Savery as having suffered a “shock of paralysis”; it is unclear if Savery is still suffering at the time of the Port Arthur visit). Whether by stroke or by suicide, the death, as the Reverend John Allen Manton [John Allen Manton ADB] records in his notebook, “was without honour,” and brought to a close a catastrophic life.

david burn an excursion to Port Arthur in 1842 david burn

Burn, David, An excursion to Port Arthur in 1842 - link to account about by David Burn Henry Savery - pages 20 and 23

port arthur penitentiary

The penitentiary at Port Arthur

Henry Savery's gravestone

Henry Savery's memorial gravestone on the Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur. He died in the Port Arthur Hospital on February 6th, 1842.

See also The Companion to Tasmanian History

and Port Arthur and Henry Savery


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