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Series 41: Copies of documents 'Receivd [by Banks] April 9 1808 Chiefly Relating to Leut Short’ , 1806-1808. Written in the hand of a clerk. Includes memorandum written by Philip Gidley King, ca 1807

Provenance note

Most of the documents in this series are part of an accession of Banks papers purchased for the Mitchell Library from Sotheby's, London, in May 1929. They were previously located at ML A84.

Document 40, previously located at ML A78-5, was purchased in 1884 from Lord Brabourne by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-General for New South Wales. It was transferred to the Mitchell Library in 1910 and was part of the accession which became known as the Brabourne collection.

Background note

During the voyage to New South Wales in 1806, Captain Joseph Short, second in command of the fleet of transports under William Bligh, had arrested his Master on board HMS Porpoise Daniel Lye, and had disagreements with his 1st Lieutenant Joseph Swabey Tetley, for breaches of naval discipline including drunkenness, neglect of duty and incitement to mutiny.

In response, Governor William Bligh set up a court of enquiry, held on 10 December 1806, to consider the charges made by Short against his men. Many witnesses were called from among the crew of the Porpoise. Short's charges against Lye and Tetley were found to be not proven. The court, conducted by former Governor Philip Gidley King, with Captain John Houston and Lieutenant John Oxley of HMS Buffalo, concluded that relations on board the Porpoise were 'full of rancour, prejudice and partiality.'

This outcome left Short open to possible court martial. Short accordingly made counter charges against Lye and Tetley before a second court of enquiry on 26 December 1806. He was again unsuccessful further weakening his position and clearing the way for his court martial, to be held in England.

Short's refusal to allow Bligh's orders to be read appointing Lieutenant John Putland to act as Short's replacement in command of the Porpoise lead to his forcible removal from the ship and his detention, under arrest, on board the Buffalo.

Bligh ordered Short to return to England on the Buffalo to answer the charges brought against him. Tetley and Lye also returned as the main witnesses. The Buffalo, under the command of John Houston, and with Philip Gidley King and family also on board, left for England on 10 February 1807. In England Short was honourably acquitted by court martial.

Bligh supplied Sir Joseph Banks and the Admiralty with a complete set of documentation surrounding the dispute.


Griffin, Edmund
Lye, Daniel
Short, Joseph, fl. 1776-1810