On 12 April 1856, an African man died in the vicinity of Tarree Estate. His name was Castor, a labourer aged 50 years, who died from heart disease. Witnesses to the burial were Henry Flett, William Wynter Jnr. and Thomas Dyball.1 His death certificate states he was born in Madagascar but this story begins in Mauritius where he was put on trial – Castor came to New South Wales as a convict.
It is likely that Castor was illegally imported from Madagascar by French sugar planters into British-governed Mauritius to work as a slave in the industry.2 On 25 June 1825, Castor was tried in Mauritius for an unknown crime, found guilty and given a life sentence with transportation. He arrived in Sydney in June 1826 aboard the Governor Phillip. 3
Little is known about Castor’s first three years in the colony but by October 1829 he was admitted to the Phoenix hulk moored in Lavender Bay, Sydney for transportation to Port Macquarie, as an invalid.4 While in Port Macquarie Castor was involved in a violent assault and sentenced to 100 lashes.5
By 1837, Castor was assigned to William Wynter Snr to work on Tarree Estate.6 Castor was granted his ticket-of-leave by June 1842 and a conditional pardon in February 1849.7 William Wynter died in 1853, by which time Castor was a free man.8 Castor left no known wife or children.
To read about Castor’s sad but fascinating story and more background information click here.
2 Richard Allen ‘Licentious and unbridled proceedings: The illegal slave trade to Mauritius and the Seychelles during the early nineteenth century’, Journal of African History, vol.42, no.1 (2001), pp.91-116.
3 Bound Indents 1826, Fiche No. 660, p.43 (film 397, 4/4011)
4 Phoenix Hulk Entrance Books, October 9, 1829.
5 14 December 1829, Port Macquarie Bench Books, SRNSW Reel 2723.
6 1837 Convict Muster.
7 Ticket of Leave, no.42/1501, effective 13 June 1842 (4/4164, reel 944). Conditional Pardon, no.49/361, effective 1 February 1849 (4/4464, reel 790).
8 NSW Death Index, No. 1106/1853.