‘If you once understand an author’s character, the comprehension of his writings becomes easy.’ – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Hyperion.

On September 6, 1884, the Illawarra Mercury published the poem ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ by 68-year-old Melinda Kendall:

Tired out and quite weary; sick of the strife 
Of this hard, bitter war, this fierce battle of life, 
I wandered about through wood and through brake, 
Till I found myself near Bellambi Lake.

It is true that the heart its own bitterness knows; 
What stranger will care for its throbs or its throes? 
Indeed, it’s a solace to some when they try 
To hug their own sorrows, when no one is nigh.

I thought of my loved ones that were, and are not, 
When we stood all together on this very same spot. 
It was well we knew nothing of what was in store, 
‘Twould have marred all the joys in those gone days of yore.

I felt quite alone, like an old withered tree, 
With a leaf scarcely left that might shelter a bee; 
My boughs have been gradually lopped one by one; 
Thus, despoiled of my branches, I stand here alone.

Now a murmur came up from the blue looming sea, 
And the weirdlike Gobburras laughed loud on the tree; 
While a glamour unearthly seemed stealing around, 
And broke up the silence, before so profound.

A strange feeling came o’er me; I felt something near, 
And the winds were all whispering loved names in my ear; 
I started, and trembled, I looked round, afraid, 
As I fancied a hand on my shoulder was laid.

Pale shadowy phantoms stood round me in tears, 
I knew them – the ghosts of departed dead years; 
Ah! yes, we were part of your substance, they said, 
But despised and neglected from you we have fled.

Now we dwell in the limitless spaces, 
Far away in the ether sublime, 
Where is no upward or downward, 
Nor record or limit to time.

I stood up and looked round, there was nought to be seen, 
It was only a part of a hideous dream; 
I looked down at my dog, and saw with surprise, 
There were tears in his loving, pathetic brown eyes.

This thought gave me comfort – his friendship is true; 
And the true friends we find in this world are but few; 
We could not exist on this earth without some, 
So the love of a dog is far better than none.

I turned to the mountain, ‘neath which stood my home; 
To this ghoul-haunted lake, never more will I come. 
My dog understood, and walked briskly behind, 
So I shook of this glamour, threw care to the wind.

The body of water in ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ can be read as a mirror from which reflections of the narrator’s past radiate. By 1884 Melinda Kendall’s “loved ones that were, and are not,” included her husband Basil, who died in 1852 , her father Patrick McNally, who is thought to have died in about 1858 , and her mother Judith (nee Kilfroy McDermott ) who disappears from extant records after appearing as a sponsor on the birth record of Adam McNally, her grandson, at Wollongong in 1839, possibly dying in Campbelltown (Marjorie Kendall, 85) . Up to that point her whereabouts are recorded regularly in ‘ticket of exemption from Government labor’ [sic] certificates for Patrick, when he is given permission to reside with his her .

No archival evidence of Judith’s death or burial has been recovered at this stage. However, there is a strong possibility that it is connected with Kendall’s Millhouse in Campbelltown (now Fisher’s Ghost Restaurant), which was erected in about 1837 (according to a sign on the building in 2008), adjacent to Campbelltown’s first steam-driven flour mill, which is thought to have been completed about 1844. Both were built by Lawrence Kendall, brother of Basil, Melinda’s husband. The mill closed in the 1880s . Patrick McNally was a carter at Barker’s Mill in Sussex Street in 1828 , when Lawrence Kendall was apprenticed there as a clerk; this connection, as well as the fact that by 1844 Lawrence was Melinda Kendall’s brother-in law and uncle to Patrick’s grandchildren, makes it possible that Patrick went to work at Kendall’s Mill, and Judith died there during that time (perhaps some time before 1844 during the building of the mill, or after that time if Patrick was employed at the mill after it opened).

Melinda’s father Patrick McNally was court-martialled on October 21st, 1812 at Fort Chambly in Canada on a charge of desertion. Many deserters ‘were branded with the letter D. This mark was impressed on the left arm’. (Robson, 72). Patrick was a member of the British 100th Regiment, which saw action in much of the 1812 war between The United States of America and the British possessions to the north of the fledgling republic. President Madison’s formal declaration of war against the United Kingdom, Ireland and its Dependencies was signed on June 19th, 1812, and a scheduled transfer of Patrick McNally’s 100th Regiment to Halifax from Quebec was cancelled on June 24th. The 100th Regiment had been heavily involved in fighting at Sackets Harbour on May 27th and 28th before war was officially declared, and on June 3rd helped to capture two United States ships at Isle aux Noix (an action that prompted the declaration of war). On July 30th the 100th Regiment was part of a British contingent that landed at Plattsburgh and destroyed United States military installations there. After numerous other involvements, by July 2nd the 100th Regiment was garrisoned in the military posts along the Canadian shore of the Niagara River from Fort George to Fort Erie. The battle at Queenston Heights – in which Sir Isaac Brock, commander of the Canadian forces was killed – occurred on October 13th, just eight days before Patrick’s court-martial (Hitsman, 88-90). After this event, the Canadian attitude to the hostilities took a decidedly more serious turn.

Patrick McNally’s particular 100th Regiment (there were numerous) was raised in Ireland in 1804 when he was 17 years old, and sent to Canada in October 1805, after which time they served there permanently. It consisted entirely of Irish recruits. Details of Patrick’s recruitment date are yet to be recovered, but if he was part of the initial contingent that went to Canada, he would have survived the shipwreck off Newfoundland that drowned half the 100th Regiment on their way to Canadian service . According to family legend, Patrick married Judith in 1808 , possibly in Canada. Family legend also has it that their first two children (Melinda’s sister Mary and brother William) were born in Canada in 1807 and 1810 . Both were also dead by the time ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ was written (Mary in about 1857 and William in 1875 ). The convict records held in Australia state simply that Patrick was convicted for desertion in Canada as a member of the 100th Regiment, and that he was married to Judith Kilfroy .

In the chaos and confusion of the 1812 war, when many of the combatants on both sides were Irish recruits and known to each other, and their families lived in villages on either side of the unofficial border between the warring entities (and in the line of attack), desertions and instances of insubordination were common. [Quote from British newspaper scan]. Both were offences that attracted (at least) the penalty of transportation. Many deserters were shot either after court-martial or at the scene of the offence, while others, such as Patrick and two others court-martialled at Chambly, Joseph Montgomery and Patrick Moore, received the lesser sentence. [Something about British subjects]. For Patrick McNally, the 1812 war meant that his earlier desertion, in 1810, came to the notice of the military authorities, as this report of his court-martial (from the British Military and Naval Records held at the Library and Archives of Canada) reveals:

At a General Court Martial held at Chambly the 21st day of October 1812, John Moore Private Soldier in the 103 Regiment was arraigned upon the following charge. Viz:

Desertion from the Camp at Blanifindy[?] on or about the 28th of September last. Upon which charge the Court came to the following decision.

The Court having heard and examined the information exhibited against the Prisoner together with his defence is of the opinion that John Moore Private Soldier in the 103rd Regiment of Foot is Guilty of the Desertion laid to his Charge and doth therefore for the same adjudge the said John Moore to receive Eight hundred lashes to be inflicted in the usual manner.

The Commander of the Forces approves of the above Sentence and directs that it may be carried into execution at such time and place as Major General De Rottenburg may appoint. G.C

At the same General Court Martial Joseph Montgomery and Patrick McNally Privates in the 100th Regiment were arraigned upon the following charge – Viz. 5

Desertion from the said Regiment, said Joseph Montgomery on or about the Month of September 1809 and the said Patrick McNally on or about the month of February 1810, upon which Charge the Court came to the following decision –

The Court having heard and examined the information exhibited against the Prisoners Joseph Montgomery and Patrick McNally Private Soldiers in the 100th Regiment of Foot together with their defence [sic], is of the opinion that they are Guilty of the Crime laid to their Charge and therefore for the same adjudge the said Joseph Montgomery and Patrick McNally to be transported as Felons for Life.

The Commander of the Forces approves of the above sentence and directs that the Prisoners Joseph Montgomery and Patrick McNally be sent to Quebec to be there kept in Confinement until an opportunity offers to send them to England in order that their Sentence may be brought into effect. (Signed) G. Baynes.

When the call went out for soldiers to report for duty because war with the United States of America was imminent, Patrick was more-than-likely brought to book by the process inscribed in law by a special war sitting of the Parliament of Upper Canada in June 1812. ‘There was a military tone about the statutes of this Parliamentary session,’ William Wood writes. ‘Chapter 1 provided for a “Bounty for apprehending Deserters in this Province” ’. (Wood, p 4)

The timeline provided by the details of Patrick’s court-martial makes it possible that the claims about his involvement in the Peninsula War are true, though unverifiable on available evidence. A. M. Hamilton-Grey writes ‘It was generally known that Patrick’s great pride was that he had been one of those who had helped at the burial of Sir John Moore, and had, with others, turned the sod on the grave of this hero.’ (Hamilton-Grey, Romantic, 135)

Patrick and Judith’s third child (Melinda’s sister Eliza) was, according to most sources, born in England in 1813 , after Patrick was sent back there to await transportation. She may have still been alive when ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ was written (possibly dying in 1893 ).

In 1814 Patrick McNally was sent to New South Wales on the ship Surrey, sailing on her maiden voyage. Joseph Montgomery, who was sentenced to transportation at the same general court-martial as Patrick, was also on board the Surrey. Patrick’s young wife Judith came at the same time with her three children on the Broxbournebury, which travelled in convoy with the Surrey. Both ships left London on February 22nd, [along with other ships. Add details from British newspaper about entire convoy]. The Surrey was carrying two hundred male convicts and the Broxbournebury one hundred and twenty female convicts, at least forty of whom had been rescued from the Cape Verde island of St. Vincent, where, on January 17th 1813, they were left stranded after their original transport ship the Emu was captured by a privateer working for the United States government under the declaration of war by President Madison – the same war in which Patrick McNally’s British 100th Regiment had fought. The Emu had left England on November 11th, 1812, heading for Hobart, and on November 30th the armed United States brig Holkar captured her. After her crew and convict cargo were left stranded the Emu was sailed to New York and sold as a prize of war. The abandoned crew and convicts were rescued by the British ship Isabella twelve months later, reportedly naked and starving. They were taken back to Portsmouth Harbour, where the female convicts were immediately transferred to a hulk to await the next available ship to New South Wales. As convicted felons they were not allowed back on British soil until they reached the antipodean penal colony (Maclay, 359 and British Admiralty Report ADM 108/24).

The next available ship was the Broxbournebury, which also carried free settler passengers, many of whom were the wives and children of the convicts on the Surrey. [Why? Government policy? Benevolent benefactor?]

The ships became separated early in the voyage [more details from British newspaper], with the Surrey landing at Rio on April 12th to report cases of Typhus on board. The disease became more virulent as the Surrey sailed on towards the colony of New South Wales, so that by the time she rejoined the Broxbournebury off Shoalhaven in late July, thirty six convicts, as well as many of her crew, including the ship’s surgeon Colin McLachlan, the First and Second Mates, the Boatswain, six seamen, four soldiers, and captain James Patterson , had died. What must Judith McNally have been thinking when news of the decimation reached the Broxbournebury, and a volunteer was transferred to navigate the Surrey the rest of the way to Port Jackson’s North Head, where it was quarantined until it had been cleared of typhus – the beginning of North Head’s long career as the colony’s quarantine station. The Broxbornebury continued to Port Jackson – it would be two weeks before the convicts from the Surrey could join their family members.

And so it was that on October 16th 1815, only twenty seven years after the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay, Judith Kilfroy McDermott – Mrs Patrick McNally – after following her young soldier husband to England from Canada after his court-martial, then to the penal colony of New South Wales and at last to the farming community of Pitt Town on the Hawkesbury River, gave birth to her fourth child, Melinda, her husband having to this point possibly survived shipwreck, and escaped death by execution and disease. Melinda’s younger sister Sarah was born in 1820 and died in 1892 , and so was still alive when “Bellambi’s Lake’ was written. Records show that Sarah gave birth in 1840 to a son Henry at Appin while unmarried, fathered by Henry Walker . She married William Damon Hester and was listed as Hester on her death certificate. She and her husband are buried at Wollongong. Two of her children – Melinda’s nieces Phillis and Elizabeth – died in infancy (Phillis in 1856 and Elizabeth in 1862) . The Hesters lived at Bellambi from 1871, and it is likely Melinda lived with or close to them when she wrote ‘Bellambi’s Lake’. The proximity of her dwelling place to the body of water that frames the poem, is revealed in the final stanza, when she writes ‘I turned to the mountain, ‘neath which stood my home’.

That mountain, then known as Brooker’s Nose (now called Broker’s Nose), has been poeticised a number of times. In June 1879, this poem, titled ‘Brooker’s Nose,’ by R. P.W. was published in the Illawarra Mercury:

There is on the range, four miles from this town, 
Between here and Bulli, a nose of renown 
Rising high in the air, for ever has been, 
And will ever continue, as is now to be seen.

This nose on the range is some fifty feet high, 
With scrub for the eyebrows, and a stone for each eye; 
The forehead a flat perpendicular block, 
Of verdure, and scrub, and grey sandy rock. 
But the length of his beard is two miles or more, 
For, as I’m a sinner, it ends on the shore; 
Just fancy a beard so monstrously great 
That the feather’d tribe dwell in their natural state 
And cattle do lounge there all the long day, 
From the lairs of this beard they never do stray.

When morning’s light breaks on his prominent crest, 
And nature made glad with the hours of sweet rest, 
As the sun from the depths of blue ocean does rise, 
He glitters like gold through the tears from his eyes, 
Reflecting the beams of Heav’n’s great orb, 
As the tears dropping down on his beard to absorb; 
Though radiant at morn, so sad yet at eve, 
And dark grows his brow as the sun doth him leave, 
Till evening excluding all traces of light, 
Then black grows his rocks with the shadows of night.

Fair warning he gives when storms are at hand, 
He wraps round his head a vaporous band, 
Then, hiding his nose in his snow coloured cloth, 
He blows on his beard with terrible wrath; 
Down still yet and down the vapours expand, 
Moving and stretching all over the land, 
Now halting, now forward, again and again, 
Betokening, forsooth, a downpour of rain, 
When the elements at last are quiet once more, 
He throws off his mantle, sure sign ‘tis all o’er.

In her 1884 prose piece, also titled ‘Brooker’s Nose,’ Melinda writes about the mountain (or, more correctly, a section of the Illawarra escarpment) thus:

I had been loitering on my way to town, and the sun was just sinking behind a mountain, which I had not before seen, and its rays falling on it and its surroundings made a glorious picture. An old man passing at the time, I asked him the name of this mountain. He looked at me, with a broad grin on his face at my ignorance, and replied, “That! Oh that is Brooker’s Nose!” and passed on. Good heavens, I said to myself, what a name for such a mountain. What could have suggested such a name? It bore not the slightest resemblance to a broker’s, banker’s, or any other nose that I had ever seen. Now, if it had been called chin, I might have fancied that the broker (whose name it bears) had an enormous beard, as thick as the foliage on the mountain, and that it had become a saying that his beard resembled it. But the nose – I could not get over the shock that nose caused me. “Some are born to greatness, others achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” and so this broker has had greatness thrust upon him by having his nose tacked on to this beautiful mountain.

The McNally family stayed at Pitt Town until at least 1818, when records show that Judith was granted 50 acres of land at the new settlement of Castlereagh [as Julia McNally – this needs to be checked properly in case it’s not her – though Patrick’s pig-stealing episode more or less confirms it – details to be added].

Poet Charles Tompson Junior, whose selected work Wild Notes, from the Lyre of a Native Minstrel (1826) was the first verse collection to be published in the colony of New South Wales by a native-born Australian poet, grew up at Castlereagh and was a pupil at the seminary of Irish-born Reverend Henry Fulton by 1818, when he wrote his first poem ‘To Spring’ at the age of twelve. His book is dedicated to the Reverend Henry Fulton of Castlereagh House, and in the poem ‘Retrospect, or, A Review of my Scholastic Days’, he describes Castlereagh Hill and the surrounding district as ‘Majestic daughter of th’ expansive plain / Where rural stillness holds her placid reign!’ In a footnote to the poem he states ‘When I was a pupil at Castlereagh Seminary, the extensive valley, spreading from the foot of the hill to Nepean river, was robed in its native beauty, and covered with forest; but, since the formation of clearing gangs, that forest has been cut down.’ (Tompson, 17).

Around this time Patrick, who was still a convict (he wasn’t to receive an official pardon until 1843 ), was granted leave to reside with his wife seven times: in 1827, 1828, twice in 1829, 1830, 1831 and 1832 . The planned town of Castlereagh never eventuated, however, and most of the landholders gave up their holdings in despair. Tompson’s poem records the demise of the village situated on the flats below the seminary, after flash floods repeatedly inundated buildings and farmlands.

The McNally family was still in the Hawkesbury River area in 1820 when Sarah was born, and in the 1822 General Muster of New South Wales they are listed as living in the Windsor area, but by the 1823 Muster (and up to at least 1828) Melinda was listed as a servant of the Reverend Richard Hill at his household in Castlereagh Street, while Judith and Patrick resided not far away in Kent Street, with Melinda’s siblings Mary, William, Eliza, Sarah and John (who is listed as being two years old, though he isn’t shown in the 1822 Muster – he probably died in 1876, thus he was dead when ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ was published).

On 12 April 1830 poet Charles Tompson junior married Hannah Morris at St Matthew’s, Windsor, and by 1831 was also living in Kent Street. He had become a clerk in the colonial secretary’s office, where he remained until 1836 when he returned to his Doon Moor Cottage, Penrith . [Check the population of Sydney in 1831 – If the McNallys were still living in Kent Street, what were the chances of them meeting?]

On May 16, through to September 19, 1831 this advertisement appeared in the Sydney Herald:

To let: that elegant and modern residence, lately occupied by His Honor [sic] Mr Justice Dowling, with extensive garden, &c, situated in Kent-Street.

The cottage contains entrance hall, a dining, drawing, and breakfast rooms, study, four bed rooms [sic], store closet, and verandah rooms. The out offices consist of kitchen, servants’ room, washhouse, and oven, three stalled stable, men’s room, coach house, and hay loft, a well of excellent water, &c. &c.

The garden is large, and well stocked with trees, and the whole premises adapted for the residence of a family of the first respectability. Rent moderate. For further particulars, enquire at the cottage.

In the May 23 edition of the Sydney Herald, this advertisement appeared:

To be sold – a house and premises, situated in Kent-Street, with about 55 feet frontage, and 100 feet in depth. For further particulars enquire at Robert Green’s, commission agent, Market Wharf.

In August of the same year, another, more salubrious property became available:

For Sale, a most valuable and improving property, with a delightful and extensive view of Darling Harbour, situated in one of the most salutiferous situations in Sydney, and suitable either as a family residence, or for public business … Lot 1: a house and large allotment of building ground, situate [sic] in Kent-Street, with 95 feet frontage, and in Park-Street a frontage of 107 feet. The house is nearly finished, with a double verandah, and has nine large and commodious apartments, with a view of the harbour. (Sydney Herald, Aug 22, 1831, p1).

How must it have been for the McNally children, having spent their earlier years in relative seclusion on the banks of the Hawkesbury River surrounded by bush and with scattered neighbours (the poem’s ‘joys in those gone days of yore’, perhaps), to be relocated to the centre of the colony, peopled at that time by [number] inhabitants and [imbued] with the hustle and bustle of the fledgling city – and for Melinda, the daughter of Irish Catholics, to be now in the service of an Anglican minister and his wife. Melinda was, in fact, listed as Protestant in the 1828 census. However, in what looks like the act of a proudly defiant Irish Catholic, Patrick McNally’s name appears as the only parent present on the 1827 Catholic baptism record of then – 12-year-old Melinda. Catholic services were being held secretly in Dempsey’s house in Kent Street, not far from where the McNally family were residing and considered part of St Mary’s parish. People were being flogged for not attending Protestant services. It was not uncommon for people to walk from Windsor to Kent Street to attend the secret Catholic services . Melinda’s older sister Mary was in the service of a Mr Martin in Kent Street (by 1833 she had married into the Martin family, giving birth to eight children to James Martin by 1847 ). Mary is thought by researchers to have died in 1857 at the age of 50, well before Melinda published ‘Bellambi’s Lake’.

[Stuff about the Martins living next door to Patrick at Fairy Meadow, Mary owning the grant, etc, then Mary’s husband selling her grant and running off, etc – from Hamilton-Grey? Ackland?]. How must it have been for Melinda Kendall the poet, in 1884, to stare into the waters of the lake at Bellambi and think back on such change and upheaval, and write about ‘ … the strife / Of this hard, bitter war, this fierce battle of life’.

There is scant archival evidence in connection with Melinda McNally in the years immediately prior to her marriage. When she writes, in her prose piece ‘Present and Past’ in 1884, ‘I think the march of civilization has made us a very uncivil set of people – how different it is from what it was fifty years ago – then neighbours seemed only too glad to sympathise with, and assist each other, when in any trouble or difficulty, instead of, as now, chuckling over the loss of a neighbour’s horse or cow, the breaking of his cart, etc.’ it is this period to which she is referring. From the descriptions of the houses and properties in Kent, Castlereagh and Sussex Streets, and other pieces available, a picture emerges.

Amidst the luxurious abodes described in the property advertisements in the Herald, in Sussex Street, for instance, there were only (?) dwellings, most of them [description] that the McNallys would have been more likely to occupy. [A person such as Melinda’s future husband Basil – the son of a Reverend and a member of a family of extensive landholders such as the Kendalls, would have been more likely to have lived in one of the better properties.]

In [date] 1830, Melinda’s future husband Basil Kendall’s name appears on a subscription list in the Sydney Herald for his father’s New Zealand language book, and in the New South Wales Directory of 1835, he is listed as working at Brisbane Mills in Parramatta Road.

[Law’s notes, vol 56, p74 – sighted at Grafton. Whether before or after his marriage to be ascertained]. [Stuff here, or perhaps a little later, about Basil’s trial for extorting money from Barker’s Mill, where he looked after the books – relate this to his later imprisonment for a similar offence. Also relate these goings on to Barker’s return from England to save his Mill from financial ruin.]

In the August 1, 1831 edition of the Sydney Herald, this advertisement appears:

For sale – the cutter Brisbane, fifteen tons burthen, and well adapted for the coasting trade. For further particulars, apply to Mr. Thomas Barker, Steam Engine Flour Warehouse, Bathurst-Street, Sydney.

This is the ship that, while under the ownership of Basil Kendall (probably in name only), sank in July 1832 near the entrance to Jervis Bay, while taking a shipment of cedar from Nulladolla Beach (the early name for Ulladulla) to Sydney. Basil’s father, the Reverend Thomas Kendall, was drowned, and papers relating to his children’s inheritance were taken from the ship and have never been recovered. Thomas Barker, on hearing of the tragedy, advised Thomas’s widow Jane to try to recover the missing papers from a Mr. Morris’s men, who had apparently plundered the wreck of the ship. The papers were never recovered, however, and Basil’s brother, Thomas Surfleet Kendall, as heir-at-law of the Reverend Thomas, inherited the majority of the Kendall estate (Marjorie Kendall, 32).

Articles from the Sydney Gazette set the sinking of the Reverend Kendall’s ship in a context of intrigue. Two years earlier, on December 9, 1830, under the heading ‘Providential Escape’, this news item appeared:

The Rev. Mr. Kendall and his boat’s crew had a miraculous escape, on Tuesday night, from a watery grave. They were sailing, with a stiff breeze, from Illawarra to Sydney; about 10 o’clock a sudden gust blew the boat completely over, and being eight miles from land, the unfortunate passengers gave themselves up for lost; the men contrived to get upon the keel, but Mr. K. was entangled in the boat, and could only just keep his head out of the water. After remaining in this perilous position for some time, inevitable death staring them in the face, the boat suddenly righted, and all hands were providentially saved.

In May 1832, the ‘Mr Morris’s men’ referred to in Barker’s letter to Jane Kendall were involved in illegal activities. In court proceedings reported in the Sydney Gazette of November 17, 1832 (page 3), four men describing themselves as ‘Mr. Morris’s men’ were indicted on a charge of burglary in the area then known as Congo. South of Jervis Bay. The incident also involved a wrecked boat from which the accused had taken articles, and which seemed to be used as a decoy. On July 15, 1832 (close to the time of the sinking of the Brisbane), the Gazette article reports, the victim of the burglary encountered Mr Morris’s men in the area again, in possession of muskets they had stolen during the burglary. Mr Morris’s men, it appeared from evidence presented, had committed a similar burglary at another property nearby, also using a supposedly wrecked boat as a decoy. The victim of the second burglary described the incident thus:

Believing their story, I entertained them, and proceeded after some cattle into the bush; I was met on my return home by the blacks, who informed me that my place had been plundered; I hastened to the beach, and saw the boat standing of to the Southward under sail; Mr. Morris’s boat was drifting in shore at the time; the oars and rudder were gone, and there was some sugar scattered about.

Three of the accused were found guilty of the burglary and associated assaults, etc, while the fourth was acquitted but then charged with ‘piracy on the high seas’. The fact that Thomas Barker knew about Mr Morris’s men and their involvement in the scavenging of the Brisbane, so soon after its sinking, adds to the intrigue. How might Melinda Kendall’s life have been, if the Reverend Thomas Kendall’s will had been recovered, and her future husband Basil had received a share of the estate?

On August 1st, 1835, Melinda McNally became Mrs Basil O Kendall, after supposedly meeting her future husband at a dance [McReagh, quoting his father, says it was a ‘party’] in Sussex Street Sydney the night before (though the marriage certificate shows ‘banns’, which would have added some weeks to that time frame). In the1830s Sussex Street was dominated by Thomas Barker’s Steam Engine Flour Mill and Warehouse, with most of the land and many of the dwellings in the street belonging to Barker and housing his numerous employees. In the Sydney Herald of July 25, 1831, this advertisement appeared:

Building allotments, in one of the most desirable parts of Sydney. Mr Barker offers some eligible allotments of ground, in Sussex-Street, also in Bathurst-Street, on building leases, for the term of fourteen years; the size of each is 45 feet frontage, by 100 feet in depth; the yearly rental fifteen pounds, to be paid quarterly; the cottage to be built according to a plan given, which cottage, at the expiration of the lease, will be purchased by Mr Barker, at a valuation to be fixed by two competent architects, one for each party. Further particulars known on application, Steam Engine Flour Warehouse’. (p1)

Basil Kendall’s brothers John and Lawrence worked at Barker’s Mill [Marj.Kendall book], and many of the Kendall family letters held at the University of Wollongong Library are addressed to Thomas Surfleet Kendall (Basil’s brother) and Reverend Thomas Kendall (Basil’s father) care of Mr Thomas Barker, Sussex Street. [list letters in footnote]. Patrick McNally is listed in the Government Census of 1828 as working for Thomas Barker as a Carter, [something about Carters’ Barracks here?] while residing in Kent Street.

An advertisement in the Sydney Herald of August 1, 1831 illustrates the high-profile presence of the Kendall family in the environs of the McNally residence at this time:

Union Brewery, 35, Pitt-Street, Sydney, Bones & Kendall have on sale colonial porter, in bottles, at 8s. per dozen, or 6s. and empty bottles. (p1)

If Basil and Melinda did indeed meet at a dance or party in Sussex Street, the chances that the social event was connected with Barker’s Mill are good. The McNallys and Kendalls would certainly have had much opportunity to meet, and the likelihood that Melinda and Basil were at least acquainted for some time before their marriage and official romantic meeting is high.

The statement on the marriage certificate ‘I, Basil Kendall (inserted by hand), do hereby declare that I am a Member of, or hold Communion with, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland’ (and signed by Basil), has had phrases struck through by hand so that it reads ‘I Basil Kendall do hereby declare that I am Presbyterian’. The same full statement reserved for the bride’s name and signature has no name inserted and the place where Melinda’s signature should be is left as a blank line. The string of fictitious names that appear in the Minister’s statement regarding the bride – Melinda Olivia Leonora MacAllan – has created confusion ever since, and her reasons for doing so are open to conjecture.

The ‘Istorietta Amorosa fra Leonora de Bardie e Ippolito Buondelmonte’ is an anonymous fifteenth-century novella which offers numerous precedental plot elements for Shakespeare’s later Romeo and Juliet. Both stories include two youthful lovers, each belonging to rival feuding families, who fall in love when they meet at a fete. They then meet secretly and exchange vows of fidelity in an unofficial ‘marriage’. The secret affair is accepted by sympathetic clergy (in the case of the earlier tale, the Mother Superior), and after much drama, eventually the feuding families make peace. The earlier tale ends with the lovers still alive, and the parallels with a colonial marriage between two people of different faiths, one the son of a Protestant missionary, the other the daughter of an Irish Catholic convict (herself baptised a Catholic, though brought up as a servant in the household of an Anglican minister and proclaimed a Protestant in a number of censuses), are hard to ignore. The female protagonist in the earlier tale is, of course, Leonora.

Similarly, the importance of disguise and deception concerning the character Olivia in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (itself taken from earlier Italian stories) cannot be overlooked in relation to Melinda and Basil’s marriage and Melinda’s use of a false name on the certificate. Again, in Twelfth Night a secret marriage – blessed by the clergy – takes place between Olivia and Sebastian (Act 4, Scene 3). Sebastian’s role as a sailor, freshly returned from the sea as a survivor of a shipwreck, into Olivia’s loving / infatuated arms cannot be discounted as a parallel to Basil Kendall’s recent return from lengthy sea adventures with his father Thomas who died in a shipwreck only three years before the marriage. The phrase ‘Nothing that is so is so,’ spoken by the clown Feste in Twelfth Night (Act 4, Scene 1) can be aptly applied as a description of the marriage certificate of Basil Kendall and Melinda McNally. A poem by someone calling themselves ‘M. M.’ appeared on page 4 of the Sydney Herald of May 16, 1831, titled ‘Cupid on Bread and Water.’ Though ‘M. M.’ cannot with certainty be connected to Melinda McNally (though she sometimes used her married initials ‘M. K.’ for later poems), and the narrative viewpoint is decidedly male, ‘Cupid on Bread and Water’ offers, through its epigraph, another connection to the name Leonora:

‘Day by day he fed on the sighs and tears of Leonora, sad cheer! But the food of the heart notwithstanding.’ Anon

I tell thee plain, my Stella dear, 
That work like this will never do; 
I loathe good English beef and beer, 
And fricassee, and French ragout; 
All cake and custard without you, 
My night’s cheroot, – my noon’s rappee 
Engender only spirits blue, 
Unlike the spirit dwells in thee.

Thy form divine no more in view, – 
‘Wildered no more by beauty’s eyes, 
I picture scenes Apelles drew 
And quite forget corporeal ties. 
My craving soul her duty flies; 
No Cossacks ranked in fell platoon, 
Can force what recreant will denies; 
And this I feel at night and noon.

‘Tis said the God that gives relief 
From love is blind, I own it true, 
But what is more he must be deaf, 
And worse than all is speechless too; 
I’ll vouch the truth, for when he threw 
His mantle o’er my sickening soul, 
I deaf and blind and speechless grew, 
Nor longed for daily food or bowl.

A single tear from Stella’s eye 
Will end the longest love disputes; 
A tender glance, or heaving sigh, 
My heart prefers to richest fruits. 
Such pleasing work my fancy suits; 
A blameless task! Thy lovers cry, 
Who own thy gracious smile recruits 
The hearts of better men than I.

Though doomed for life to dungeon vile, 
If Stella’s hand supplied the cheer, 
On captives fare, I’d live and smile 
At falsest hope, and foulest fear; 
Let others shake the head and sneer, 
And point to hollow heart or brain 
I still maintain the sigh and tear 
Are food for heart of loving swain.

[‘Stella’ significance?]

Melinda’s choice of a false surname may have less romantic and literary connections. The MacAllan distillery, in the Speyside region of Scotland, began making a single malt Scotch whiskey in 1824, eleven years before the marriage and two years before the Reverend John McGarvie – the priest who married the Kendalls – left Scotland to come to Australia.

John McGarvie was himself a poet and, though a Scots Presbyterian, a passionate defender and admirer of Irish culture (the sympathetic clergy in the Kendalls’ marriage scenario). He came to the colony of New South Wales from Scotland after Reverend J. D. Lang selected him as minister for the Presbyterian church at Portland Head (Ebenezer Church) on the Hawkesbury River (the first Presbyterian church in the colony, and not far from Pitt Town, where Melinda was born). He served in that role from 1826 to 1830.

He attended the tenth Annual General Meeting of the Wesleyan Auxiliary Missionary Society of New South Wales on October 4, 1830 – a meeting also attended by the Reverend Thomas Kendall. Both men spoke at this meeting, making it highly likely they were at least acquainted.

McGarvie became an extremely active member of the literary and publishing scene in Sydney. In 1829 he was writing articles and poems under various pseudonyms (‘M. M.’ has not been connected to him) for the Sydney Gazette, and for some years from its beginnings in 1831, he wrote the editorials for the Sydney Herald (his brother William McGarvie was one of the Herald’s original proprietors). In 1832 he started a second Presbyterian congregation in Sydney (the ‘second Scots Church’ showing on the Kendalls’ marriage certificate), holding services in the colony’s courthouse (where Melinda and Basil would have been married) until St Andrew’s Scots Church was completed (not to be confused with the Anglican St Andrew’s Cathedral in Kent Street).

McGarvie’s published poems include ‘Ireland’ (originally published in The Gleaner journal in 1827) and ‘The Exile of Erin, On the Plains of Emu’ (1829), situated at Emu Plains, less than ten kilometres from the settlement of Castlereagh, where the McNally family spent some time:

O! Farewell, my country – my kindred – my lover; 
Each morning and evening is sacred to you, 
While I toil the long day, without shelter or cover, 
And fell the tall gums, the black-butted and blue. 
Full often I think of and talk of thee, Erin – 
Thy heath-covered mountains are fresh in my view, 
Thy glens, lakes, and rivers, Loch-Con and Kilkerran, 
While chained to the soil on the Plains of Emu.

The iron-bark wattle, and gum trees extending 
Their shades, under which rests the shy kangaroo, 
May be felled by the bless’d who have hope o’er them bending, 
To cheer their rude toil, tho’ far exiled from you. 
But, alas! without hope, peace, or honour to grace me, 
Each feeling was crushed in the bud as it grew, 
Whilst “never’ is stamped on the chains that embrace me, 
And endless my thrall on the Plains of Emu.

Hard, hard was my fate far from thee to be driven, 
Unstained, unconvicted, as sure was my due; 
I loved to dispense of the freedom of Heaven, 
But force gained the day, and I suffer for you. 
For this land never broke what by promise was plighted, 
Deep treason, this tongue to my country ne’er knew, 
No base-earned coin in my coffer e’er lighted, 
Yet enchained I remain on the Plains of Emu.

Dear mother, thy love from my bosom shall never 
Depart, but shall flourish untainted and true; 
Nor grieve that the base in their malice should ever 
Upbraid thee, and none to give malice her due. 
Spare, spare her the tear, and no charge lay upon her, 
And weep not, my Norah, her griefs to renew, 
But cherish her age till night closes on her, 
And think of the swain who still thinks but of you.

But your names shall still love, tho’ like writing in water; 
When confined to the notes of the tame cockatoo, 
Each wattle scrub echo repeats to the other 
Your names, and each breeze hears me sighing anew. 
For dumb be my tongue, may my heart cease her motion, 
If the Isle I forget where my first breath I drew! 
Each affection is warmed with sincerest devotion, 
For the tie is unbroken on the Plains of Emu.

In 1837, Melinda Kendall’s husband of two years, Basil, became embroiled in a number of suspicious and illegal activities. In the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser of March 16, 18 and 21, 1837, this advertisement appeared:

CAUTION. Notice To The Public. The undersigned hereby cautions the Public against receiving in payment the undermentioned Promissory Notes: one in favour of Blair & Struth; one in favour of A. Polack; one in favour of John Raine & Son; value for the same having been given to Messrs. John Raine & Son. N.B. – The above Notes being the only ones the Parties in whose favour they are drawn, ever held of the undersigned, it will be needless to state their dates and amounts. (signed) Basil Kendall. (p1)

Though not entirely suspicious in itself, the advertisement takes on new meaning in the light of a series of news articles in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, starting on April 22, 1837, which report the trial of Wilson Berry and Basil Kendall for extorting money from Barker’s Brisbane Mills, where Basil had working as a clerk . As the trial progressed, evidence revealed that Basil Kendall had not been employed at the Brisbane Mills for at least twelve months, and that he had convinced Berry to exchange forged promissory notes for cash a number of times previously. On April 25, 1837, Basil Kendall and Wilson Berry were remanded in custody .

On April 27, 1837, John Kendall admitted to the court that ‘about two years ago, his brother Basil persuaded him to draw tickets for which no value had been given, saying that when he had charge of the mills he always did so’ . Basil, it transpired at this sitting, had attempted to buy a silver watch using a combination of cash and a forged note. The prisoners were again remanded in custody.

At the court sitting reported in the Sydney Gazette of April 29, 1837 as the ‘Final examination of Wilson Berry, and Basil Kendall, for a forgery upon Messrs. Barker, and Hallen’ (p2), Basil denied the charge and called it ‘preposterous.’ ‘The Bench committed both prisoners for the forgery, but allowed Berry bail, himself in £80 and two sureties in £40 each – Kendall was refused bail.’ (p2)

The Sydney Gazette of May 6, 1837 reported a warrant being issued for the apprehension of a key witness in the case (who turned out to be Lawrence Kendall) attempting to ‘make his exit from the Colony’ (p2) in a steam ship, using the name Quickfall (his mother’s maiden name).

There was a short mention of the case appearing before a jury in the Supreme Court, in the Sydney Gazette of May 18, 1837 (page 2), and in the Sydney Gazette of August 22, 1837 (page 3), mention is made of the case being postponed and both prisoners being granted bail. At Supreme Court proceedings reported in the Sydney Gazette of November 23, 1837 (page 3), the case was again postponed because Lawrence Kendall could not be located to appear as a witness, and both prisoners are allowed bail again.

On April 18, 1839 at Milton near Ulladulla in the southern reaches of the Illawarra region of New South Wales, 165 kilometres south of Sydney, Melinda gave birth to twin boys: Edward Basil and Thomas Henry Kendall. Both of them, like all of Melinda’s children, were called by their middle names. [Some stuff here about the remoteness of Ulladulla – compare it to Pitt Town, eg, and later compare Grafton. How many people lived in Ulladulla, eg? This stuff might be expanded in another chapter about Melinda’s role as a pioneer].

[Timeline & events here – moving to Ulladulla – when? What about Araluen – when? Patrick appears in Illawarra by 1837? Where is Judith? What year does she show up ‘sponsoring’ a relative’s child as Julia? Twins born at Ulladulla in 1839. When do they move back to Sydney – or do they?] [Reed has them moving back to Sydney in 1844, Critical, p47. Jones says “they apparently lived on South Head Road” p15.]

Basil was arrested for forgery in 1847, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, [details? – stuff about his brother-in-law’s signature on the cheque? The brother-in-law who was insolvent? What skulduggery transpired?] and received a sentence of two years in Parramatta Gaol. Some researchers believe Basil and Melinda and at least their twin sons Henry and Basil junior went to ‘The Settlement’ on the Clarence River (later South Grafton) in 1847, thus bringing into question Basil’s stay in Parramatta Gaol [the move to Grafton may have been his sentence – check]. Others, however, have the Kendalls moving to the Clarence River region after Basil’s release from gaol in 1849.

Connections between the Illawarra and Clarence River districts were strong. The Shannon family, who became prominent in the Clarence in the early to mid-1840s, lived at Mount Keira (near Wollongong) when they first came to Australia from Scotland (Bawden, 72). In 1842 John C. Shannon worked for Dr. Dobie, the Clarence River pioneer who employed Basil Kendall just a few years later (Bawden, 73). There are other possible connections that may have influenced the Kendalls’ decision to move to such a remote and untamed area. Sir John Jamison, who became a successful horse breeder in the Clarence region, came to Australia on the Broxbournebury at the same time as Judith McNally and her children. Basil Kendall’s employer, Dr. Dobie, purchased land from Sir John Jamison in the early 1840s (Bawden, 181).

Ulladulla may have been a backwater when the Melinda and Basil moved there, but The Settlement was an even wilder place for a young family to arrive at, as this description by Bawden reveals:

The scenes to be witnessed at Bentley’s in the olden times when cedar cutters brought down their rafts are beyond conception in these days of more advanced civilization. There was no public house proper at this time, and even after a public house was licensed the bulk of the grog was sold “on the sly” … It was no uncommon thing to see a cask of rum rolled out, a hole made in the head of it, and the spirit baled out by the pannikin-full. Men became raving mad or hopelessly drunk, as they were severally liable to be affected. The person who refused to drink at an orgie [sic] such as this was abused in the most ruthless manner, even to the extent of personal violence, ending in an all round fight. (Bawden, 19)

The properties outside the fledgling town, where Basil Kendall is thought to have been employed as a shepherd, held other dangers. ‘A short time after 1840,’ Bawden writes, ‘huts were robbed, sheep were stolen and men were killed. It was not safe for one man to go out alone.’ (50)

Basil’s name shows up on June 9, 1851 as witness to the marriage of William Egbert Anderson and Ann Caroline, which took place at the Court House in Grafton. Consent was provided by Oliver Fry [some stuff about Fry as a powerful figure in Grafton could go here]. [Some details and history of Gordonbrook, Bushy Park and Rose Valley, per our field trip discoveries, perhaps]

Melinda’s husband Basil Kendall died in 1852, and, though his son Henry later writes in his poem ‘In the Depths of a Forest’ [details?] ‘In the depths of a Forest secluded and wild, / The night voices whisper in passionate numbers; / And I’m leaning again, as I did when a child, O’er the grave where my father so quietly slumbers’, according to the first-hand recollection of T. Bawden (105), he was buried in the cemetery at what is now South Grafton. In 1852 it was called simply ‘The Settlement’, and the cemetery may well have been surrounded by bush before the town was developed. The cemetery site is now occupied by South Grafton Public School in Vere Street, and Basil’s remains are most likely still interred there [other viewpoints in footnote]. The headstones were moved to newer cemeteries [locations?], but Basil’s grave was unmarked. No evidence of his burial remains. A notice appeared in the Sydney Herald on October 12, 1852, stating Basil’s death date as September 23, but there is no death record on the New South Wales Births Deaths & Marriages list.

Bawden’s first-hand account is the clearest description available of the Kendalls’ stay in the Clarence River district:

It was a Gordon Brook that I first knew the poet Kendall. Mr. and Mrs. Kendall were engaged by Dr. Dobie in Sydney to take charge of a sheep station and two flocks of sheep. One of these flocks was tended by the poet Henry Kendall, and his twin brother Basil, who also animated to a slight extent with the poetic fire. After living 12 months at Gordon Brook, the Kendall family left and came to Grafton, where Mr. Kendall kept a school for some years up to the time of his death. (Bawden, 105)

Thirty two years after Basil’s death in this remote spot, Melinda Kendall would write, in ‘Bellambi’s Lake,’ ‘It was well we knew nothing of what was in store.’

‘Bellambi’s Lake’ is a lament, and it refers to the narrator’s ‘boughs’ that ‘have been gradually lopped one by one’. [Four] of Melinda Kendall’s children had died by 1884. There was the stillborn daughter born eight months after her wedding in 1835 (named Melinda) [according to Marjory?] (or another possibility instead – BDM V18351894 19/1835: KENDALL, MARY, INFANT), as well as both of her sons, Henry (Thomas Henry), who died in 1882 aged forty three and Henry’s twin Basil (Edward Basil), who died in 1874 in his thirty fifth year.

Edward Basil was himself a published poet. On August 13, 1861 the poem ‘Kembla’ appeared in Henry Parkes’ journal The Empire, attributed to him:

Darkbrowed shadows! lo, they travel down the faded depths of light 
Where the evening like a bride, lies blushing in the arms of night! 
Now the mellow west is changing, and a flush of rosey red 
Deepens in the silent heavens, over Kembla’s topmost head; 
See! beyond the gnarly brushwood, cragging up in gleamy crowds, 
All the hills of Bulli shimmer, like a heap of verdant clouds; 
Glowing with a league of sunset lying, like a gilded pall, 
Where the pines, like blackbirds, nestle in the cliffs of Corrimal.

Beaming westward, with a sinking splendour shining on its way, 
Lo! a lonely planet loiters on the footsteps of the day; 
Glancing backwards, as it drops behind a waste of forest-land, 
Where we sit, my friends and brothers, by the hollow ocean-strand! 
Kembla waxeth grand and gloomy, and the wildwood echoes ring 
Sadly down the haggard gorges, like a wailing on the wing; 
Flying past the windy caverns, where the crawling sea-waves roam 
Hissing as they drag the beaches with their skirts of seathing foam!

Yet a deeper darkness brooding, blackens all the mountain’s edge, 
And a startled mist is creeping under Keira’s beetling ledge! 
But behold the stars have broaden’d, and they sit, a golden throng, 
Where a ring of steadfast brightness overarches Wollongong; 
While the nightwinds, growing mighty, hurry with an eerie croon 
Past the whistling reedtops trembling on the long and low lagoon; 
As a fearful sound of screaming wanders thro’ a swampy maze 
Down to where the ocean cometh, raving round his roaring bays!

Kembla! now a fleecy glory o’er thy craggy head is thrown, 
But ‘tis hard to watch this evening dying from thine ancient cone! 
Let me linger here a little! See, a sweet and mournful gleam 
Bends above the fallen sunset, like the halo in a dream! – 
Do I dream, my friends and brothers? Shall I never see again 
Morning, like a splendid monarch, trading Illawarra’s plain? 
No! – a light is on the harbour, where the quivering vessels lie; 
And the Present scowls upon me; and the Past goes wailing by!

Many years of sun and shadow have I seen beneath this hill – 
But ‘tis vain to harp upon them, with a weak and broken will! 
Tho’ I feel that I am weary, left alone to think and pine 
Over Youth and Beauty vanish’d over Passion’s pale decline; 
Standing, like a blasted ruin, shatter’d by the storms of strife 
Sweeping with a thundering echo, down the dismal ways of life! 
O the wrecks of Faith and Promise! O the blessed springs of yore – 
O the faded things behind me! O the dreary void before!

Lo! the white moon shakes her silver tresses o’er the distant deep; 
And a pale cloud, like a dreamer, walketh heaven in its sleep! 
Now the western winds go trampling wildly over moaning seas; 
And the gloomy caves are filling with a flood of symphonies! 
But the night is waxing older, and the ship is down the bay! 
And before tomorrow dawneth Kembla will be far away! 
Lead me, brothers, to the vessel, so that thro’ the moony haze 
I may watch your faces fading from my yearning, hopeless gaze!

The Empire publication is acknowledged by bibliographers. However, the poem “Keira,” published in the same year in the Illawarra Mercury under Henry’s name and also acknowledged by bibliographers, is the same text with only the name of the mountain changed.

Also, the poem “Twelve Thousand Miles Away” appears in the appendix to T. T. Reed’s The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall (1966), attributed to Melinda. With its first publication in the Kiama Examiner of November 21, 1860, however, Basil E Kendall’s name appears:

Beneath the sunnier brighter skies, 
That arch Australia’s shores, 
And revelling in the freedom of 
Her just enlightened laws; 
Content I seem – yet sometimes thoughts 
Across my brain will stray, 
And wake me from a trance to scenes 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love to pass the evening hours, 
Beneath the wattle tree, 
Reclining on some verdant bank 
That overlooks the sea; 
And gazing on the deep – I love 
In dreams afar to stray, 
Across those azure-tinted waves 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love to watch the setting sun, 
In cloudless splendor crown’d; – 
I joy to hear the mountain breeze 
Among the crags around; 
For every whisper passing by, 
And every golden ray, 
Has some connecting link with scenes 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love to sit where Nature dwells, 
And silence holds her reign; 
Where Memory strives to bind the soul, 
Within a fairy chain; 
For there awaken’d fires will burn, 
And deep emotions play – 
As fancy plumes her wing to fly 
Twelve thousand miles away.

To where my beauteous native isle – 
By cloudless heavens crown’d – 
Smiles from her emerald throne upon 
The sleepless seas around; 
Those seas that kiss her ancient cliffs 
In everlasting play; 
And dash and foam amongst the rocks, 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love her for those ancient cliffs, 
That tower with kingly pride 
Above the ocean’s created wave, 
And scorn the swelling tide. 
I love her for her flowery vales, 
Her hills and mountains gray; – 
Her rivers, glens and smiling lakes 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love her for her patriot sons, 
Who know their native worth; – 
Who by their deeds adorn the land 
That gave their genius birth; 
I joy to think the time will come, 
Some bright hereafter day, 
When men will reap the seed they sow 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love her for her daughters fair, 
Whose thrilling tones arise, 
And float around the human heart 
Like music from the skies; 
I love her for the very smiles 
On Beauty’s lips which play, 
To brighten many an angel-face 
Twelve thousand miles away.

I love her for the many wrongs 
Which she has had to bear; – 
I love her though she bends beneath 
A weight of scorn and care; 
I look with hope to future years, 
And most sincerely pray, 
That Heaven will raise “ the fallen reed’ – 
Twelve thousand miles away.

Though years have passed since last I gazed, 
Upon her rock-girt shore; – 
Though time has placed a gap between – 
The home I’ll see no more, 
Yet Memory holds within my heart, 
A sad and mournful sway, 
That binds me by a spell to scenes, 
Twelve thousand miles away.

The subject matter of this poem offers no clues about who its author is. Melinda, Basil Edward, Henry Kendall and his sisters were all born in the colony and never had an opportunity to gaze on England’s or Ireland’s rock-girt shore. The poem obviously subscribes to the lingering colonial idea that England (or in the case of the McNallys, Ireland) was home, but the viewpoint here suggests the narrator has witnessed the scenes described first-hand.

These examples raise doubts about authorship, certainly of Basil’s poems, but also of Henry’s early material. The version of ‘Twelve Thousand Miles Away’ attributed to Melinda Kendall by Reed is published under the pseudonym ‘Caractacus’. Another poem by ‘Caractacus’ titled ‘The Shipwreck’ appears in the Illawarra Mercury of October 23, 1860. Below the title is the statement ‘Suggested by the loss of the Dunbar’:

The sun has gone down in a desolate night, 
And left the earth mantled in sorrow; 
But Hope o’er the heart shed its radiant light – 
The Hope of a beautiful morrow. 
The storm-god was waving his wand o’er the sea, 
And hoarse were the wails of the billow; 
But fearless the vessel career’d on the lee – 
And the sailor had sunk on his pillow.

The skies were soon hid by the wings of the gale, 
While above the fierce conflict was heard, 
The mariner’s bitter and heart-rending wail; 
Like the song of the dying sea-bird. 
As onward the ship like a maniac dashed, 
Amid the long whirl of commotion, 
Till breakers around her successively flashed, 
Like light o’er the tremulous ocean.

Beneath the dark billow, with bubbling groan, 
The mariner sinks to his slumbers, 
O’er his sea-girdled pillow the winter winds moan, 
In dirge-like and sorrowful numbers. 
But all was not lost in the pitiless wave, 
There was one that survived the rude sweep, 
To tell that his comrades had found them a grave, 
On the rocks where the white surges sweep.

So like the bark o’er the ocean of years, 
With canvas unfurled we are sweeping, 
Thro’ sunshine and shadow, rejoicing and tears, 
Alternately smiling and weeping; 
Till, shatter’d by tempests, the vessel of life, 
Is helplessly hurried and driven, 
Where fadeth the past, its pleasures and strife, 
Like a mist from the arches of Heaven.

If ‘Caractacus’ is indeed Melinda Kendall, a comparison between ‘The Shipwreck’ and Henry Kendall’s ‘The Merchant Ship’ reveals the possibility of intra-family cross-pollination in the early stages of Henry’s career:

The sun o’er the waters was throwing 
In the freshness of morning its beams; 
And the breast of the ocean seemed glowing 
With glittering silvery streams: 
A bark in the distance was bounding 
Away for the land on her lee; 
And the boatswain’s shrill whistle resounding 
Came over and over the sea. 
The breezes blew fair and were guiding 
Her swiftly along on her track, 
And the billows successively passing, 
Were lost in the distance aback. 
The sailors seemed busy preparing 
For anchor to drop ere the night; 
The red rusted cables in fathoms 
Were haul’d from their prisons to light. 
Each rope and each brace was attended 
By stout-hearted sons of the main, 
Whose voices, in unison blended, 
Sang many a merry-toned strain.

Forgotten their care and their sorrow, 
If of such they had ever known aught, 
Each soul was wrapped up in the morrow — 
The morrow which greeted them not; 
A sunshiny hope was inspiring 
And filling their hearts with a glow 
Like that on the billows around them, 
Like the silvery ocean below. 
As they looked on the haven before them, 
Already high looming and near, 
What else but a joy could invade them, 
Or what could they feel but a cheer?

The eve on the waters was clouded, 
And gloomy and dark grew the sky; 
The ocean in blackness was shrouded, 
And wails of a tempest flew by; 
The bark o’er the billows high surging 
‘Mid showers of the foam-crested spray, 
Now sinking, now slowly emerging, 
Held onward her dangerous way. 
The gale in the distance was veering 
To a point that would drift her on land, 
And fearfully he that was steering 
Look’d round on the cliff-girdled strand. 
He thought of the home now before him 
And muttered sincerely a prayer 
That morning might safely restore him 
To friends and to kind faces there. 
He knew that if once at the mercy 
Of the winds and those mountain-like waves 
The sun would rise over the waters — 
The day would return on their graves.

Still blacker the heavens were scowling, 
Still nearer the rock-skirted shore; 
Yet fiercer the tempest was howling 
And louder the wild waters roar. 
The cold rain in torrents came pouring 
On deck thro’ the rigging and shrouds, 
And the deep, pitchy dark was illumined 
Each moment with gleams from the clouds 
Of forky-shap’d lightning as, darting, 
It made a wide pathway on high, 
And the sound of the thunder incessant 
Re-echoed the breadth of the sky. 
The light-hearted tars of the morning 
Now gloomily watching the storm 
Were silent, the glare from the flashes 
Revealing each weather-beat form, 
Their airy-built castles all vanished 
When they heard the wild conflict ahead; 
Their hopes of the morning were banished, 
And terror seemed ruling instead. 
They gazed on the heavens above them 
And then on the waters beneath, 
And shrunk as foreboding those billows 
Might shroud them ere morrow in death.

Hark! A voice o’er the tempest came ringing, 
A wild cry of bitter despair 
Re-echoed by all in the vessel, 
And filling the wind-ridden air. 
The breakers and rocks were before them 
Discovered too plain to their eyes, 
And the heart-bursting shrieks of the hopeless 
Ascending were lost in the skies. 
Then a crash, then a moan from the dying 
Went on, on the wings of the gale, 
Soon hush’d in the roar of the waters 
And the tempest’s continuing wail. 
The “Storm Power” loudly was sounding 
Their funeral dirge as they passed, 
And the white-crested waters around them 
Re-echoed the voice of the blast. 
The surges will show to the morrow 
A fearful and heartrending sight, 
And bereaved ones will weep in their sorrow 
When they think of that terrible night.

The day on the ocean returning 
Saw still’d to a slumber the deep — 
Not a zephyr disturbing its bosom, 
The winds and the breezes asleep. 
Again the warm sunshine was gleaming 
Refulgently fringing the sea, 
Its rays to the horizon beaming 
And clothing the land on the lee. 
The billows were silently gliding 
O’er the graves of the sailors beneath, 
The waves round the vessel yet pointing 
The scene of their anguish and death. 
They seemed to the fancy bewailing 
The sudden and terrible doom 
Of those who were yesterday singing 
And laughing in sight of their tomb.

‘Tis thus on the sea of existence — 
The morning begins without care, 
Hope cheerfully points to the distance, 
The Future beams sunny and fair; 
And we — as the bark o’er the billows, 
Admiring the beauty of day, 
With Fortune all smiling around us — 
Glide onward our silvery way. 
We know not nor fear for a sorrow 
Ever crossing our pathway in life; 
We judge from to-day the to-morrow 
And dream not of meeting with strife. 
This world seems to us as an Eden 
And we wonder when hearing around 
The cries of stern pain and affliction 
How such an existence is found. 
But we find to our cost when misfortune 
Comes mantling our sun in its night, 
That the Earth was not made to be Heaven, 
Not always our life can be bright. 
In turn we see each of our day-dreams 
Dissolve into air and decay, 
And learn that the hopes that are brightest 
Fade soonest — far soonest away.

According to a note by Henry Kendall in The Poems of Henry Kendall (1920) ‘These lines were written in 1857, and were suggested by the wreck of the Dunbar’. The poem was first published in the Empire in March 1860, but in 1857 Henry was living with his mother Melinda and his siblings in a cottage that backed onto the old Camperdown cemetery. The story of the Dunbar tragedy was certainly available to Henry and Melinda from newspapers of the time, and Henry’s grandmother Jane was living at Kenilworth Lodge in Old South Head Road at the time of the tragedy, within sight of where the Dunbar was wrecked. She may have imparted some eyewitness details to Henry and Melinda, but over their back fence in the cemetery was a large memorial to the people who died in the Dunbar sinking. It was built in 1857, the year Henry states he wrote the lines for his poem. The possibility is strong that a joint poetry workshop involving Melinda, Henry and the Dunbar memorial was conducted in their little cottage.

Both poems open with a focus on the sun. In ‘The Shipwreck’ ‘The sun has gone down in a desolate night,’ and in ‘The Merchant Ship’ ‘ The sun o’er the waters was throwing / In the freshness of morning its beams.’ Caracticus’s ‘The Hope of a beautiful morrow’ is reflected in the lines ‘Each soul was wrapped up in the morrow – / The morrow which greeted them not;’ from Henry’s poem. In ‘The Shipwreck’ the line ‘And hoarse were the wails of the billow’ describes the stormy sea, while ‘The Merchant Ship’ has ‘the billows successively passing’. The line from ‘The Shipwreck,’ ‘So like the bark o’er the ocean of years’ is reflected in the line ‘The bark o’er the billows high surging’ from ‘The Merchant Ship’. ‘The Shipwreck’ has a ‘sea-girdled pillow’, while ‘The Merchant Ship’ has ‘the cliff-girdled strand’. Both poems finish with a stanza that compares the fate of the sunken ship with life. In ‘The Shipwreck,’ ‘With canvas unfurled we are sweeping,’ and in ‘The Merchant Ship’ we ‘Glide onward our silvery way’. [More stuff can go in here or nearby, about Basil’s poetry, quoting some of his poems, and his first publications around 1860, etc].

Melinda’s daughter Mary Josephine died in 1881 at the age of thirty four [bdm end note], after marrying William Tobias Yates in 1870 at Port Macquarie [bdm end note] and moving to Maryborough in Queensland [some details here]. At the time this poem was published, only two of Melinda’s children were still alive: daughters Christina Jane and Edith Emily. Edith Emily (born 1847) had married Henry Evans in 1867.

[Maybe stuff here about Henry Evans being the blighter who was supposed to have ripped Henry off, but, according to Ackland, there was already animosity between them, and it’s unlikely that Evans would have been allowed to become Clerk of Petty Sessions later at Ballina (Daily Examiner, 24/12/1935 – Edith Emily’s death notice), if he had indeed ripped Henry off. There’s also the fact that Melinda is declared insolvent in the year she is supposedly rescued by Henry from Evans’ clutches and taken into Henry’s marital home.]

Edith Emily died in 1935 at Annandale . [was she living there in 1884 when the poem was written?] It was at Christina Jane’s home in Allen Street Ultimo that Melinda Kendall died in 1893. She is buried at Waverley Cemetery, [details to check: in a plot next to where her son Henry was initially buried before his remains were moved to another part of the cemetery – a process instigated by Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson. (Henry Lawson’s remains now occupy the place next to Melinda Kendall where her son Henry Kendall was originally buried)].

With nine years yet to live, in the poem ‘A Wasted Life’ Melinda Kendall reviews her personal history, still pondering the ‘fragments of the dear dead past’, and discounts the value of her experiences:

A wasted life! This sad refrain 
Come surging through my ears again; 
There’s no escape from thee, though fiend; 
Thou art borne to me on every wind – 
A wasted life! A wasted life!

By day or night, no peace for me; 
Still, still before me I can see 
The fragments of the dear dead past, 
Which I (Oh! fool) from me have cast – 
A wasted life! A wasted life!

I’ve tried to drown in lethean drain 
This ruthless voice; but all in vain; 
It comes with ten-fold force again, 
And brings remorse to swell and strain – 
A wasted life! A wasted life!

From out this deep dark Stygian sea, 
While vainly struggling to be free, 
I look above, and pray that I 
No more may hear that awful cry – 
A wasted life! A wasted life!

As much as it may refer to the alcohol Melinda Kendall is purported to have imbibed at various times in her life, her ‘Lethian drain’ also represents the river of forgetfulness that has overseen her descent into obscurity behind the blaze that was her son Henry’s brief yet lingering glory.

Hamilton-Grey, A.M. Poet Kendall: His Romantic History (from the Cradle to the Hymeneal Altar). Sydney: Sands, 1926.

Hitsman, J. Mackay. The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1965.

Kendall, Henry. The Poems of Henry Kendall, with Biographical Note by Bertram Stevens. Sydney: Angus & Roberston, 1920.

Kendall, Marjorie. Kissin Cousins: A collection of family histories of the Havard, Harrison, Bristow, Mclean, Kendall, Thomas, Laing, Melville, Evans, Power, Chipp, Langley, Nash, Haynes and Lees families and those whom they married. Milton, New South Wales: Marjorie Kendall, 1989.

Law, R. C., ed. The Bawden Lectures: The First Fifty Years of Settlement. Fifth edition. Grafton, New South Wales: Clarence River Historical Society, 1997.

Maclay, Edgar Stanton. A History of American Privateers. New York: D. Appleton, 1899.

Robson, L. L. The Convict Settlers of Australia: An Enquiry into the Origin and Character of the Convicts transported to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land 1787-1852. Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1976.

Wood, William, ed. Select British Documents of the Canadian War of 1812. Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1920.



i In a letter to R. C. Law in Grafton, dated 16/5/1938, Henry Kendall’s son F. C. Kendall wrote ‘Basil Kendall died on September 25, 1852, according to a notice at the time in the Herald on 12th October 1852 at South Grafton. A copy of this letter was sighted at the Grafton Historical Society in June 2008.

ii New South Wales Births Deaths & marriages record (BDM) 3575/1858 lists a Patrick MacAnally as dying at Goulburn in 1858 at the age of 72 years. Most family history researchers believe Patrick is buried in the Corrimal cemetery, north of Wollongong, so this death location is more likely (though still incongruous) than the one showing in BDM 313/1859, which lists a Patrick MacNulty, who died in Sydney in 1859. No other likely possibilities are listed in the BDM records.

iii Various versions of Judith McNally’s pre-marriage name appear. She is shown as Judith Kilfroy on her daughter Sarah’s baptism record (BDM 445 V125) and the Irish Convicts to New South Wales website – accessed 18/01/08. As Judith McDermott she appears on an on-line FamilySearch Pedigree Resource File (web site, accessed 18/01/08, from CD #128, PIN #1703276), the research records of Ulladulla historian Cathy Dunn and Elizabeth Hook’s CD Journey to a New Life. The complete version Judith Kilfroy McDermott also appears on Elizabeth Hook’s CD. The various uses may reflect the nineteenth-century practice of an eldest daughter in a family being named after her maternal grandmother, with the grandmother’s maiden name becoming the granddaughter’s middle name. Another possibility is that Judith McNally was a widow or divorcee when she married Patrick and retained her first husband’s name, as was often the practice also. ( – accessed 13/05/08). Another variant of her first name is Julia, which appears on her son William’s death certificate, as well as on the Castlereagh land grant.

iv A family history sheet supplied by the late Mavis March, a member of the Illawarra Historical Society, suggests that Patrick’s wife Judith may have died in Camden some time in the 1840s. She also lists Judith’s surname as Kilfroy McDermott, with the source as The Kendall Papers (National Library of Australia). The family history sheet supplied by Mavis March contains a number of traceable errors, however, and no source reference for the information about Judith’s death.

v State Records of NSW: Index to Tickets of Exemption from Government Labor, 1827-32: SR reference numbers 4/4282 to 4/4285

vi (accessed June 2008).

vii 1828 Census of New South Wales

viii (accessed 6/4/08).

ix (accessed 6/4/08).

x At this stage, no official records are available to verify this date. At least one family history researcher (Mavis March) has stated that the date is calculated from known dates such as ages of children showing on musters, etc.

xi Again, no official verification is available for these dates at this stage, and calculations from available archival documents have been used.

xii No death notice for Mary has been recovered; This date is from a family history sheet supplied by the late Mavis March, from the Illawarra Historical Society. William’s death date is listed in NSW BDM record 4915/1875 – (as William MacAnally)

xiii Source to be checked

xiv RG8 vol 1203H, page 31-32 Reel C-3521; RG8 vol 165, page 97 Reel C-2773; RG8 vol 1169, page 9 Reel C-3520

xv Sources to be checked

xvi No records are available for Eliza’s death or marriage at this stage. If, as family history researcher Mavis March suggests, Eliza married somebody with a name similar to William Sheehan in about 1846, it’s possible her death is recorded in BDM 3930 / 1880, which shows an Eliza A. Sheehy dying in Woollahra in 1880, aged about 62. In this case (the only possible one showing in New South Wales BDMs), she would have been dead when ‘Bellambi’s Lake’ was written.

xvii Website reference to be added

xviii NSW BDM record v18209155/1820

xix NSW BDM record 14092/1892

xx Source details to be added

xxi Reference details to be checked

xxii Illawarra Mercury, May 24, 1884: 4

xxiii Reference to be checked

xxiv Conditional Pardon 44/268, signed by Governor Gipps on July 1st)

xxv State Records of NSW: Index to Tickets of Exemption from Government Labor, 1827-32: SR reference numbers 4/4282 to 4/4285

xxvi The 1828 Census of New South Wales lists Patrick McKnally as a labourer and, as McNalty, a carter with Thomas Barker. He is shown in both records as residing in Kent Street with Eliza McKnally, Sarah McKnally and John McKnally. Melinda (as Matilda McNally) is listed as with the Reverend Hill in Castlereagh Street, while William is shown as working for Patrick Keighran at Airds, and Mary McNally is listed at the Martin household, also in Kent Street. Patrick McNally’s wife Judith is listed in this census as Susannah McKnally (the clue that she is Judith is her listed ship of arrival, the Broxbournebury).

xxvii NSW BDM 7678/1876

xxviii Australian Dictionary of Biography:

xxix NSW BDM v1827922 128/1827

xxx [Add reference (website?)]

xxxi [Add BDMs & correct actual number of children]

xxxii [Add reference]

xxxiii The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 9 December 1830: 3

xxxiv Australian Dictionary of Biography:

xxxv The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 7 October 1830: 2

xxxvi The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 26 May 1829 [check page]

xxxvii The Sydney Gazette reports the case thus: ‘On Thursday, a young man named Wilson Berry, was given into the custody of the Police, charged with forgery under the following circumstances. From the statement of Mr. James barker of the firm of Barker and Hallen, it appears that on the 11th instant, Berry came to the Steam Engine in Sussex Street and presented for payment a ticket, from the Brisbane Mills, Parramatta Road, which also belong to their establishment, purporting to be signed by John, for Lawrence Kendall, who has charge of that establishment, the latter of whom is authorised to draw tickets for money, for purchases of wheat. The ticket in question, was for £39 19s. 3d for 110 bushels of wheat at 7s. 3d. Mr. Barker having paid Berry similar tickets and not having suspicion of any foul play, gave a cheque for the amount, which was paid at the Commercial Bank. Upon making up Mr. Kendall’s account at the end of the week, he found no account of the cheque which he had given and, upon enquiry being made, the ticket was proved to be a forgery. Wilson’s account, when before the bench yesterday, was this: – Mr. Basil Kendall, brother of Mr. Kendall at the Brisbane Mills, had called upon him in his capacity of a commissioned agent and asked him what he would take the cheque for to the Hope Mills, and get the amount he said he usually received 5 per cent. Mr. K. replied he could not give so much – but he had no objection to allow him 30s. ; to which he assented, and took it accordingly, obtained the cheque from Mr. Barker, and the cash for the same at the bank, which he handed over to Mr. Basil Kendall minus the commission. On the same evening Mr. Kendall came to his house and said that he expected his brother in town that evening, and that he would introduce him by the name of Rawstone, to which he said he had no objection, but thought the proposition very strange. Thus the matter rests for the attendance of Messrs. Lawrence and Basil Kendall’. (p2)

xxxviii The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, April 25, 1837: 3

xxxix The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, April 27, 1837: 3

xl Kiama Examiner, Wednesday November 21, 1860: 4

xli NSW BDM 19982/1935

xlii Illawarra Mercury, April 8, 1884: 4


10/11/2008 – Melinda Kendall’s parents

Posted by Meg

Patrick arrived on the Surry in 1814, he had been tried by court martial from the 100th Regiment in Canada. Judith, his wife usually appears as Judith Kilfroy. She arrived with her three eldest children on the Broxbournbury in 1814. close to their arrival Patrick was granted an exemption to Government labour and he had to reside with his wife. Judith is believed to be still alive when Melinda went to live with The Rev. Hill as a letter he wrote refers to both of her parents and saying that the child had lived with the Hills for some time

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: