SAMUEL WRIGHT I



The 3rd Infantry Regiment (the Buffs) of the British had been based in Ireland from 1785 to 1781 before being transferred to America and the West Indies. They returned to Ireland in 1805 Early in 1805 (the 1st had recently returned from 3 months service defending Hanover in Germany.) James Wright decided that his third son, Samuel, should make the army his career and preliminary arrangements were made. Ensign Walsh was to be promoted and his commission was for sale. In February Samuel was invited to London for an interview with the Colonel of the Regiment. On the fifth of the month Col. Thomas Hall agreed to support his application for a commission and the sum of £400 was paid by Wright's bankers Nathaniel & George Collyer. The magnitude of the sum paid for the commission gives the best indication that the Wright family had access to considerable wealth.

Samuel was commissioned on 6 March in 1806 and had a little over two years to develop some skill in his profession before seeing action. During 1806 elements of the Regiment were based at Curragh Camp, Clonmel and Cork and Kinsale. Some elements were sent back to England in later in the year but the Regiment maintained a presence at Cloony in Ireland until 1807. In December l807 Portugal invited the Regiment to Madeira and on 1 September the next year they landed in Lisbon to join Sir John Moore's army as it pushed into
Spain.

Wellington returned to lead the army in April 1809. The Buffs led the advance and reached the River Douro and fought to cross the river in barges under heavy fire. To commemorate the famous victory they were awarded the honour Douro to be borne on their colours. As a result of the action Samuel was promoted to lieutenant and by 1810 was in command of a company.

For the next four years he fought bravely with the Regiment during the Peninsular campaign. He participated in the battle of Bussaco on September 27 1810, was wounded on 16 May 1811 at Albuera and again an 13 December l813 at Bayonne. In between he was at the battles at Pyrences - 20 July 1913, Pamplona 25 October 1813, Nivella 10 November 1813 and Nive on the 3 December 1813.

Recovering from his wounds he fought again at Orthez in February 1814 and ended the campaign at the Battle of Toulouse on 12 April of that year. Within 3 months of completing their five and a half years of continuous campaigning in which they suffered heavy losses particularly at Albuera they were shipped to Canada to wage war against the North American colonies seeking independence.

Upon arrival they advanced into New York State towards Plattsburg. However they were forced to withdraw when the makeshift fleet supporting them was sunk. Following Napoleon's escape from Elba the regiment was returned to Europe but did not arrive until July 1815 to hear of the victory of Waterloo. They were part of the force occupying Paris until November 1818. Wright was awarded the general Service Medal 1793-1814 with clasps for Busaco, Albuera,Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes and Toulouse.

The Regiment returned to Ireland from where Samuel I wrote to the Commander in Chief seeking promotion to Captain. In this application he outlinesn his career that began in Ireland in March 1806 when he was nineteen his participation in all the battles of the Penninsular campaign, where he was wounded twice, followed by service in the American war of Independence and the occupation of France. In all that time he was never absent from duty.
Wight memo 1 Wight memo 2
Although supported by his commanding officer (on left) it was not granted and he left for his next posting, in Australia, still as the Regiment's senior subaltern

The Buffs Arrive in Australia

Samuel Wright first set foot in Australia at Hobart on 30 April 1822. en route to Sydney. Samuel as senior subaltern of the Regiment had with him 50 men as guards in charge of 180 convicts on board the Richmond. They had left the Downs on the 6 December 1821 a short time after the first elements of the 3rd Regiment (the Buffs) under Lt. Col. C. Cameron sailed aboard the Phoenix.

This party with Cameron in command and Ensigns F.I. Everard and J. Piggott had left Woolwich in November 1821 and had travelled via the Port of London, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Horn. Cameron and Piggott aboard the
Phoenix reached Hobart on 20th May to find that Wright and his men had already arrived sailed for Sydney on 11 May. Wright was able to greet his commanding officer when the Phoenix arrived in Sydney in June. The account in the Historical Record of the Buffs 1814-1914 by Chaplin is slightly different from Sargent’s account in The Buffs in Australia.

Cameron and his party arrived in Hobart on the Caledonia at the end of January en route to Port Dalrymple. Colonel Cameron relieved Col. Gordon Cimitiere and the 48th regiment as the effective Governor of northern Tasmania. Another detachment sailed from Sydney on the
Elizabeth Henrietta directly for Launceston. Wright remained in Sydney as the rest of the Regiment gradually arrived. Major Wall commanded this unit and was present when it paraded in Hyde Park in October to undergo its half yearly inspection. On 6 December Wright arrived back in Hobart with Captain Edmund Lockyer and his wife on the Captain Herbert. Almost immediately Governor William Sorell appointed him the commandant of the Macquarie Harbour convict station.

Wright had to first travel to Port Dalrymple where the major part of the Regiment was based and collect his troops. Colonel Cameron was in command here and was the effective Governor of northern Tasmania. Wright was assigned a detachment of 4 sergeants, two corporals and 32 privates from the garrison at Georgetown to serve with him at his new post. When Knopwood first saw members of this Regiment he recorded that ‘a set of finer men never came into the colony’. The command was initially "a lieutenant's guard" and he received extra pay (£43 pa.) and an allowance for acting as magistrate. Thus it was given to a senior subaltern and probably supplemented by those with little income beyond their army pay. Samuel Wright fell into both categories . However Wright’s appointment as Justice of the Peace was not gazetted until two weeks after he arrived at Sarah Island. Why Wright was sent in such a hurry is unclear.

Wright role as magistrate for the settlement included the power to inflict solitary confinement for periods up to 14 days and up to 100 lashes providing evidence had been taken and recorded. A quarterly return of punishment was to be sent to the Deputy Judge Advocate. The direct supervision of prisoners was the responsibility of trusted convicts. Although such a system carries the likelihood that some of these honorary gaolers will abuse their position to settle old scores, the lack of any substantial cadre of paid civil servants left the administrators with no alternative. This same class also provided most of the skills required to run the colony. Most of the mechanics - blacksmiths, shipwright, builders and bakers - at Macquarie Harbour were men still under sentence. Not that this practice was confined to the isolated penal settlement, the role of the convict writers in the Colonial Secretary's office lead some observers to feel this offered an unacceptable opportunity for them to judiciously alter official documents to the advantage of other members of their class.