Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Michael Hogan (?–1833)

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Michael Hogan (d.1833), merchant and shipowner, sailed from Cork, Ireland, in May 1795 as master of the convict transport Marquis Cornwallis with his wife and two children. On the voyage Irish convicts aided by a sergeant and some privates of the New South Wales Corps planned a mutiny, which Hogan foiled by firing on the rebels and placing their leaders in chains. Within a few days the sergeant and some of the wounded prisoners died. After the ship arrived in Sydney on 11 February 1796, Hogan requested an inquiry. He was completely exonerated. Governor John Hunter found him 'a man of property and good connections', leased him six acres (2.4 ha) of town land, and encouraged him to seek permission from London to open a much-needed private store. When he sailed for India in May, Hogan was also allowed to arm his ship with four guns retrieved from the Sirius when it was wrecked at Norfolk Island.

In September 1797, soon after he reached London, Hogan wrote to the Duke of Portland offering to take cattle to Sydney from the Cape of Good Hope 'without any risk or expense to Government, except the thirty-five pounds per head for all that is landed at New South Wales'. His proposal was approved by the Transport Board and in October 1798 the Marquis Cornwallis arrived in Sydney with 178 cattle for which the government paid him £37 a head. However, Hogan had decided to stay at Cape Town. He became a partner of the British merchants, Tennant & Trail, in a large slave deal, frequently visited Government House, and shared with high-placed officials in several lucrative government contracts. In March 1799 he offered to send his private brig of war, the Collector, Captain David Smart, on a cruise against the enemy in the seas around Madagascar. Within a year three slave ships, and the Collector with another 250 slaves, all allegedly captured from the French, arrived at the Cape. They were condemned as prizes by the Vice-Admiralty Court, but the port captain reported to London that the ships and slaves had been bought at Mozambique. The subsequent inquiries revealed bribes of £5000 to the governor and other scandals. Smart became the scapegoat because he had absconded, although the commissioners believed that Hogan was the master planner. In 1800 he sent the Harbinger to Sydney where the government bought her for £700 in June 1801. Meanwhile Hogan had followed with his family in another alleged French prize, the Chance; after quickly selling his cargo of wine and spirits he sailed for Peru. In 1802 he settled his family at New York, but continued to trade in various ships with Valparaiso and other south Pacific ports. He died intestate in the United States in March 1833, survived by his widow, his daughter Frances, and a son William (1792-1874), who became a congressman and a judge in Franklin County.

While in Sydney in 1796 Hogan had bought the 400-acre (162 ha) Woodhay farm, which he renamed Cornwallis, on the Hawkesbury River flats near Windsor. Here he had left some of his servants with livestock, tools and assigned convicts. After 1801 the property was leased through his agents, but he gave two favoured servants the use of forty acres (16 ha) rent free for life. Both servants had died by 1847 and John Hand took possession of the forty acres (16 ha). In 1856 William Hogan, as his father's heir-at-law, brought an action of eviction against Hand, which the Privy Council decided in Hogan's favour in 1861.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 2-4
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 1-3, 5
  • G. M. Theal (ed), Records of the Cape Colony, vols 2-4 (Cape Town, 1898-99)
  • E. F. Moore, Reports of Cases … of the Privy Council, vol 14 (Lond, 1861)
  • manuscript catalogue under Captain Hogan (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

'Hogan, Michael (?–1833)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 17 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


March, 1833
United States of America

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