In June 1840, a Dublin court sentenced a corn merchant’s clerk, Richard Jones to seven years transportation to the prison colony of Van Diemen’s Land for membership in the Ribbonmen. This was an agrarian secret society for Catholics that was established to prevent landlords from changing or evicting their tenants. The name came from a green ribbon worn as a badge in a buttonhole by the members. It had a series of quasi Masonic codes and signs and had inspired awe in the Irish peasant classes.
During his transportation, Jones nearly succeeded in taking over the prison ship “Isabella Watson” after persuading the British army guards, who were mostly Irishmen, to urinate in their muskets and thus render them ineffective. However, Jones was betrayed by fellow Irish convict Thomas Gorman.
Jones then beat a charge of piracy in a Hobart court by a clever strategy of subpoenaing the ship’s crew, just as the “Isabella Watson” was leaving Hobart Harbor. When the crew failed to show up at court, the Crown was unable to proceed and Jones and his mates were acquitted.
He was then dispatched under his original sentence to Port Arthur Prison and led a successful strike of 165 of his fellow prisoners. He inspired them to refuse to attend Protestant services, and this forced the authorities to appoint Catholic prison chaplains. Jones was punished savagely for leading the strike and spent four terms in solitary confinement and received a savage flogging with a cat o’ nine tail.
At this point, Jones disappeared from history but he is featured in the recently released novel"Part an Irishman “ The book’s author, T.S. Flynn suspects that Jones made it to New York after his release and helped to plan the escapes of Civil War general Thomas Meagher, John Mitchell and the Catalpa rescue.
“Ticket of Leave” represents the first installment of the “Javelin Man” trilogy and is based on records and newspaper articles from the time. The book is for adults, as it contains sex and violence.
How the Story Came About
"John Turner Flinn" dropped into my lap one Christmas holiday in the Northern Territory of Australia. It was too hot to do anything but watch videos and we became engrossed in a crime series set in the 1920’s. My girlfriend’s granddad was a gangster in Melbourne in that era so we looked him up on “Trove”. After seeing his press cuttings, we decided to dig into earlier generations and uncovered an array of London thieves, Swing Rioters, ships’ captains, a Chinese gold miner and a swag of wayward women.
I became jealous as my own family tree yielded a rather boring collection of Lancashire refugees from the “Great Hunger” of ‘47. Envy led to a series of “jokes” about “checking change” and “watching pockets”; the response went from polite smiles to “probably a lot of your bloody relatives were sent here as well!” I decided to check this and the first “Flynny” I saw on a convict website became my hero; John Turner Flinn. His convict record revealed he’d been an “officer and gentleman” in the Navy and contained a strange reference to the “Regiment” so I “Googled” further and found :
With material like this, I felt a duty to finish this novel; hope you enjoy reading it.”
Theo Flynn is the nom de plume of Tim Flynn. Tim has a distinguished record of service with the British and Australian Governments and a number of humanitarian organizations. He has served in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mozambique, The Solomon Islands and the Australian outback.
Available on Amazon "Part an Irishman"