Was sentenced to transportation for seven years at the General Sessions of the Peace for the Town and Hundred at Kingston upon Thames on 11 April 1785. His crime was theft of four Cocks, five Hens and divers other Goods and Chattels the property of John Stacey. He was held in Southwark gaol until the end of March 1787, when he was sent to Portsmouth, ordered to Friendship but embarked on Charlotte. This was the second time James Squire/s had been transported.
James Squire’s First Transportation
The Daily Telegraph in an article published in its Old Chum column, at about the time the body of James Squire was exhumed and reinterred in Botany Cemetery mentioned that James was a time-expired soldier. Over the years since Australia’s Bi-centenary there has been an extensive search for his military service record.
The British Army had no record of him. Yet his behaviour in Sydney suggested that he was a trained and experienced soldier and also had much sensitivity towards the Aborigines. He even adopted one, Nunbarree. A number of people were attacked by Aborigines in Kissing Point but none of James’ family were ever attacked nor threatened. James befriended some of the Aborigines, including Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo. James must have had considerable experience on the North American frontier to have exercised the tolerance and respect that secured his family while living in harmony with the Aborigines in Kissing Point.
His military record has been found! He didn’t serve His Majesty. He served with George Washington. He is an accredited American Revolution Veteran. He was a foundation member of what has become the United States Army. James most likely took part in the Siege of Boston. Descendants are officially recognised as eligible for Membership of prestigious Daughters or Sons of the Revolution or American Revolution (four different bodies). Quote when applying for Membership,
United States Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2DG-28XZ : 21 December 2016), James Squire, 1775-1783.
It has been asserted that when James was transported as a convict to North America following his first conviction in 1774, he elected to serve in the military, an alternative option to servile assignment usually expected of transported male convicts.
James was located on the Indexes to British Convicts Transported to North America. The Index is in Ancestry.com on the Internet. The Index shows that James, cited as Squires, arrived in Maryland in May 1774 on the convict transport Thornton. It was also handed down that James commanded a penal colony. The colony survived for several years and preceded the New South Wales experience as a success. These people must have been local prisoners or captured Indians.
Another point that supports this story of James’ Military service is the enlistment of son Francis Spencer in the NSW Corps as a Drummer at the age of 20 months. The NSW Corps. Payroll shows him from his seventh birthday, which was the youngest date for a soldier to be paid. (Note! The British Army had child soldiers, usually sons of deceased soldiers, in the 1920s. Their alternative was placement in an orphanage.). There are several records of Francis’ recruitment at such an early age. Major Johnston diarised the event too in the Corps’ Muster. Each unit of the British Army had a Training Sergeant. The Training Sergeant must have had a wife who was literate. The wife acted as the unit’s School Teacher. The Unit’s school taught the children of the unit’s families and local ex-servicemen’s children. They minded infants of these people too. The school also taught illiterate soldiers to the level where they could better understand orders. Later Regiments cited the School Teacher, other than the Training Sergeant’s wife, on the unit’s payroll. These women were paid at the same rate as a Sergeant. One regiment, in the 1840s, stationed in Sydney, actually listed a woman as the Training Sergeant and that was before the appointment of Florence Nightingale, officially accredited as the first female to serve in the British Army.
James initially served in the Maryland Colonial Militia. This unit was raised by the Maryland Colonial Government to defend Maryland against the French aggression and local unfriendly Indians. The British Government’s North American Administration and the British Army endorsed and supported these Militias. Tensions had intensified shortly after James’ arrival in North America between the colonials and the British Administration over local control in local matters. War-like incidents between the colonials occurred and increased, spreading through the north-eastern part of what became the United States of America. Thirteen Governments of the British North American Colonials formed the Continental Congress in order to strengthen their political resolve over local issues and their voice in the British Administration and ultimately the Parliament on matters that were exclusively their local issues. The British Government remained negligent and stubborn. The British Government’s stand forced the colonials to look to Independence as the solution to this impasse.
As violence intensified, the Continental Congress authorised the creation of the New England Army, the foundation units of which were comprised of the colonial Militias. James Squire was transferred into the New England Army. It is at this point that the servicemen of the Militias transformed into what is now officially recognised as the Revolutionary Army. James was absorbed into the New England Army on 2 July 1775. At this point in time, the colonials and the servicemen were loyal to the Crown despite their Independence objectives. By late 1775, the relationship between the London Government and the Colonies had deteriorated to the point where planning was advanced towards formal Independence. The Continental Congress authorised the creation of the Continental Army that was proposed to be exclusively loyal to a new Independent Nation.
Troops of the remaining Militias and the New England Army were to be absorbed into the Continental Army. Those troops who wished to remain loyal to the British Crown were deemed Time Expired and allowed to leave their units. James Squire left the New England Army on 31 December 1775. Holding a military discharged exempted James from further transported convict servitude. He went straight home.
Incidentally, there were actually twenty-one British colonies and territories in North America in 1776. Those colonies that did not seek independence were East Florida, Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Oregon, Upper Canada and West Florida. An effort was made to draw Upper Canada into the Congress and even force was tried, but the British Army blocked it. The Upper Canadians did not support the invasion by the Continental Army.
James Hugh Donohoe BA Dip FHS