New Trafalgar Dispatch 2005
Following the triumph and tragedy of the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805, news of the victory and of the death of Admiral Lord Nelson was dispatched to London. Lord Collingwood's message was taken first to Falmouth on the Schooner HMS Pickle by Lieutenant Lapotiniere, her Captain.
Lapotiniere himself then carried the dispatch by postchaise to London, arriving at the Admiralty on 6th November. The news was conveyed immediately to the Prime Minister and to King George III. The journey of 271 miles took 37 hours and involved 21 changes of horse.
In the bi-centenary year 2005 this event was re-enacted along the same route.
The route - now the Trafalgar Way - was marked with a plaque at the 21 stopping points.
© Geoff Hunt, President RSMA
Reproduced by kind permission of Carriage Drawing
Dorset's Lord Lieutenant is saluted by Lt Lapenotiere at Dorchester
© Dorset Echo, August 25th 2005.
Anne and Richard in costume c.1805 at the enactment of the receiving of the New Trafalgar Dispatch to commemorate the unveiling of the Plaque at Woodyates, Dorset, 2005
The Trafalgar Way Plaque at Crockernwell, Devon
The Battle of Trafalgar, won by the Royal Navy, made safe the seas for the British Merchant Fleet, enabling them to develop the British Empire.
This victory in 1805 was of crucial importance to British Australia, as the following articles illustrate.
With acknowledgements to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
An opinion column from the National Convenor
COAT OF ARMS LINKED TO TRAFALGAR
24 October, 2005
In my last column I wrote of the importance of Trafalgar to Australia.
Not everyone agrees.
During his term , Mr Keating was said to have attempted to change the traditions of the armed forces, including any celebration of Trafalgar.
I have just learned of another crucial link between us and Trafalgar. But before I do, I should report that the bicentenary of Trafalgar was celebrated in Sydney at a lunch for over 200 people (there was a waiting list) at Parliament House.
Hosted by the Australia Britain Society and the Navy League, the keynote speaker was the former and highly respected NSW Governor, Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair.
Admiral Sinclair was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Shirley Sinclair, who was greatly admired for her work as the Governor’s consort.
They were the last residents of Government House in Sydney, before the then Premier, the Honourable Bob Carr, took the decision without consulting the cabinet, his caucus or parliament to expel future governors from their home.
As if to demonstrate that the French defeat was of no disadvantage to our cuisine, the lunch began with “Salmon Victory” followed by “Beef Nelson” and ended with “Barvarois Lady Hamilton”, all served with excellent Australian wines.
And now for that addtional link with Trafalgar.
I learned this because the State Library of NSW wants to solve one of the mysteries of Australian symbolism: the very earliest origins of the national coat of arms which is closely related to the Trafalgar victory.
According to James Woodford, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21 October, 2005, (“VICTORY BANNER FLAGGED AS EARLY INSPIRATION FOR OUR COAT OF ARMS” http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/victory-banner-flagged-as-early-inspiration-for-our-coat-of-arms/2005/10/20/1129775902703.html) the library has put on display one of its most precious possessions, the Bowman flag. The 2.2-metre-long, 91-centimetre-wide silk flag is the first known depiction of the kangaroo and emus together supporting a shield and is also considered to be the first Australian-made flag.
The report says the banner was born out of the surge of Empire patriotism at news that the British had defeated the French at Trafalgar and the simultaneous outpouring of grief at the news of the death of Admiral Nelson.
“No one knows for sure when John Bowman commissioned it, nor what motivated him to employ two of the continent's most famous creatures as central motifs. But it was named after the Bowman family, free settlers who lived on the edge of the colony on the HawkesburyRiver.”
The report quotes the senior curator at the State Library, Paul Brunton, as saying that the execution of the flag is very sophisticated and must have been done by a professional painter of which there were a number in Sydney.
"It's a very accomplished piece of work, painted with water colours onto silk probably from India or China. Family legend says it was made using the silk from the wedding dress of John Bowman's wife."
According to the Herald, Mr. Brunton is especially impressed by the scroll, which repeats Nelson's famous order before the battle of Trafalgar began: "England expects every man will do his duty."
"It's really clear on the flag that we were celebrating a British victory and an Empire victory but we were doing it in an Australian way," Mr. Brunton said. "The flag portrays a defiant Australianism, identifying with this new land."
The Herald observes that Commonwealth coat of arms, which bears a striking resemblance to the Bowman flag, was granted in 1908 and was almost certainly influenced by the Trafalgar memorial flag. Interestingly, on the Bowman flag the kangaroo and emu are in reverse position to how they are placed on the coat of arms.
The curator hopes that by putting the Bowman flag on display it may flush out more information about the origins of the kangaroo and emu shield. The Bowman flag will be on display at the State Library in Sydney until 6 November 2005.
The flag is of course yet another confirmation of our heritage, a heritage which should not be lightly dismissed by those who want change for the sake of change.
Until next time,
TRAFALGAR AND AUSTRALIA:
TWO HUNDRED YEARS
23 October 2005
News of the victory of Nelson at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 did not reach Australia until 11 April 1806.
The victory was of singular importance to the development of what was to become an independent Australian nation.
It was a victory for freedom of the seas, and although not definitive until Waterloo, a victory for parliamentary constitutional government over dictatorship.
It ensured that the future settlement of this land would be by the British , and not other European powers, especially the French.
Whatever the victory did, or did not do for our cuisine , it did mean that we Australians would all speak one language, have similar legal systems and all enjoy what no other colonies did, self government under the Westminster system.
It also meant that our predecessors were free, as no other colonists were, to decide to join together into a Commonwealth of Australia, and under a Constitution which we were given power to change!
Neither Bonaparte nor his successors would have tolerated this.
Until next time,