People often joke about Australia being a nation of convicts, alluding to the notorious convict era from the end of the 18th to the mid-19th Century, when colonial power, Britain, sent convicts to Australia who settled in coastal areas. The arrival of convicts to Australia is an integral part of the curriculum in Australian schools and the arrival of the “First Fleet” is considered a key event in the history of the Australian continent.
Many of the convicts who were expelled from Great Britain were minors. Most convicts committed minor crimes, for which they were sentenced to the tough journey and stay in a distant convict colony.
Although this chapter of Australian history is quite famous, few know that among the convicts crammed together in the hull of the convict ship, the Dunvegan Castle, which arrived in Australia on 13th March 1830, was a Czech convict by the name of Mark Blucher. Mark Blucher, born in Prague in 1801, was sentenced to 7 years for stealing lace in Nottingham, England.
5 convicts who travelled on the same ship as Mark, did not survive the long, arduous and dangerous journey to Australia. The risk of shipwreck, scurvy and even fires on board threatened all those travelling. After arriving, Mark Blucher was assigned to William Dun in the Hunter Valley region to the north of Sydney.
In June 1843 he served out his punishment and he was issued a Certificate of Freedom, a document freeing him from William Dun and allowing him to stay in Australia indefinitely as a free citizen. Unfortunately he was only able to enjoy free life in Australia for 3 years and on 25th July 1846 he died in Sydney from an asthma attack.
Residence of William Dun, to whom Czech convict mark Blucher was assigned after arrival to Australia. Source: jenwilletts.com