1st Edition

The Barsden Memoirs (1799-1816) An Australian Transnational Adolescence

By Grant Rodwell Copyright 2022
    244 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Covering the life of Josephus Henry Barsden from his birth in 1799 through his childhood to 16 years of age, the Barsden memoirs describe events from a Sussex smugglers’ inn, a convict ship to the colony of New South Wales, sealing and whaling expeditions to Van Diemen’s Land, and Barsden’s participation in a Tahitian civil war.

    The author assesses the value of memoirs, and of these memoirs in particular to students of history in respect to the transnational paradigm. He tests the historicity and veracity of their contents, and provides an engaging exegesis and graphical supplement of its contents. Of central importance is Barsden’s account of the Battle of Fe’i Pi, which was in many respects the Pacific’s equivalent to the contemporaneous Battle of Waterloo, such was its lasting impact on Pacific geopolitics. This was no ordinary childhood, and poses many questions about a transnational adolescent’s impact on major events.

    A fascinating read for scholars and students of Australian, Pacific, and British Colonial History, written with academic rigour but accessible to non-specialists.

    Introduction 1. The Barsden memoirs: the transnational paradigm, historicity and veracity 2. Smugglers, convicts and Terra Australis 3. Whaling and sealing in Van Diemen’s Land and Macquarie Island 4. Sandalwood, absconding and the fortunes of a Tahitian civil war 5. The Indo-Pacific Brim and a mysterious near-death experience 6. Epilogue: a return to the polis 7. General analysis and conclusions


    Grant Rodwell is an adjunct senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He has taught in various Australian universities and has published widely in history. He holds five PhDs from Australian universities.