Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Significant Headstone;To the Memory of William Storey, City of Dublin

The Headstone of William Storey on Norfolk Island

January the 9th 1839

Image uploaded for the Public Domain via Wikipedia ©©

On a recent visit to Norfolk Island, I wandered through the old part of the Kingston Cemetery searching for the headstone of a convict named William Storey, from Dublin, Ireland. Although William Storey is not related to me, this headstone is a very significant memorial to my three times great uncle, because he was the convict who erected the monument to a fellow prisoner who had served time with him at Moreton Bay and on Norfolk Island. Lawrence Frayne, born in Dublin in 1810, was convicted in 1826 of the theft of a piece of rope, aged only 16 years.

I must give credit to my now good friend and 'editor' Chris Goopy, for it was on her blog Irish Graves  that I first learned of the headstone's existence,  in her blog post on the 2nd of February, 2012, in which she posted photographs and information about Irish graves on Norfolk Island. The photograph which I saw on her blog had been reproduced by Chris with permission from the Australian Cemeteries Index.

Below is a photo of the headstone taken on my own visit to Norfolk Island.

The Headstone erected by Lawrence Frayne on Norfolk Island c 1842 in memory of his friend.Image Sharn White ©

Lawrence Frayne's baptism record spells his name as Lawrence, however, most convict records used a 'u' rather than a 'w'. Image Sharn White ©

On seeing the headstone for the first time in person, I was immediately struck by the beautiful craftsmanship, and the time that Lawrence Frayne had devoted to his  memorial to a fellow convict.
Although William Storey died in 1838, it was not until the arrival of Commandant Alexander Maconochie to the penal establishment on Norfolk Island that convicts were afforded the dignity of a proper headstone after death and burial.

Maconachie was commandant on Norfolk Island from 1840 to 1844, in which time he introduced revolutionary,albeit it, unpopular with the Colonial government, ideas of penal reform. Under his Marks sytem, convicts were able to earn points for good behavior which they could use for rewards, or accumulate towards a ticket of leave. This was in stark contrast to the brutal system of punishment which existed on Norfolk Island before Alexander  Maconachie arrived, and which Lawrence Frayne had endured for ten years from 1830 when he arrived on the island. Lawrence Frayne left a 74 page diary describing the horrors he withstood on the notoriously 'dark paradise' , known as Norfolk Island. [Robert Macklin, 2013]. Frayne called Maconachie's Marks system, 'his Godlike ways' in his journal. Under Maconachie, convicts were still flogged, though not as often and importantly, he offered them a way to rehabilitate back into society and an opportunity to regain their dignity, long flogged out of most prisoners.

Lawrence Frayne would certainly have designed and built this headstone after 1840 in memory of William Storey who died on January 9, 1838 on Norfolk Island. 

William Storey's headstone on Norfolk Island October, 2014 Image Sharn White ©

As I touched the headstone, I felt Lawrence Frayne's spirit and strength, through the stone that he had worked with his own hands. His many years working on the Great North Road and in the quarry on Norfolk Island had given hime the skills with which to leave this beautiful legacy.

I can't help thinking that by signing his name to his work, Lawrence Frayne, convict and victim of circumstances, left a testimony to his own existence as well of his friend Wiliam Storey. It's almost as though he is saying.... 'I was here, I mattered'.