Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Baylee, Pery (1784–?)

by E. R. Pretyman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Pery Baylee (b.1784?), commandant of convicts, was born at Limerick, Ireland. On reaching his majority he entered the army. While on active service he took part in the capture of Martinique in 1809 and next year of Guadeloupe. On 5 November 1812 he was promoted captain. As a member of the 63rd Regiment he left England in 1828 for New South Wales. Transferred from Sydney, he arrived at Hobart Town in the Georgiana in July 1829 with his company: 3 sergeants, 2 corporals and 26 privates. He was listed a brevet major on 22 July 1830. In February 1831 he was appointed commandant of Macquarie Harbour penal station and a commissioner of the peace, and reached his isolated post on the west coast of Van Diemen's Land in December.

He was steadfast in maintaining order and discipline, but his more lenient treatment gained greater respect and confidence from the prisoners than his predecessors had received. He had the open cordiality and compassion for which Irishmen are noted, and where possible he reduced severe treatment meted out by previous commandants, offered promotion to posts of greater responsibility or ease to those deserving it and recommended the favour of the governor for the best behaved, thus enhancing their prospect of return to Hobart, which to some prisoners was next best to entire liberty. In a modest report to the colonial secretary in December 1832 he gave much credit to the Macquarie Harbour chaplain, Rev. John Manton, for the improved behaviour of the prisoners. During Major Baylee's term, much to the surprise of inhabitants, George Augustus Robinson arrived with parties of Aboriginals he had mustered for transfer to Great (Flinders) Island where arrangements had been made for their reception.

Orders for the abandonment of the Macquarie Harbour penal station at a time when he considered his methods were proving successful disappointed Baylee. With reluctance he transferred his prisoners to Port Arthur and returned to Hobart on 25 November 1833. Six weeks later he sailed for Madras with a detachment of the 63rd Regiment, having expressed his intention to return to Tasmania. The wish was not fulfilled; in 1842 he sold his commission and retired. His name then disappeared from War Office and other records.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Backhouse and C. Tylor, The Life and Labours of George Washington Walker (Lond, 1862)
  • Ac no 4715 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

E. R. Pretyman, 'Baylee, Pery (1784–?)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/baylee-pery-1757/text1957, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

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