Sunday, June 19th, 2016
Peter Whish-Wilson (a Tasmanian Greens Senator) and Scott Stringer (a West-Coast Councillor) want to bring the skull of the infamous Irish cannibal convict Alexander Pearce back to Tasmania. Apparently they believe this is his home. The skull was sold by a surgeon to the American Natural Scientist Samuel George Morton after Pearce’s execution at Hobart Gaol in July, 1824.
There are a number of problems that I can see with this endeavour. And all of them stagger belief that they weren’t already identified within the political backdrop of the Greens Party or the relevant West Coast Council.
The Irishman was a Convict
First and foremost there is the question of Alexander Pearce’s posthumous right to be buried in his native soil. That native soil would not be Tasmania.
Pearce was sentenced to seven years at Armagh, Ireland in the year 1819. He escaped in Van Diemen’s Land (present Tasmania) in 1822 and was sent to the notoriously hard penal colony of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast. Pearce’s escape from that colony involved the cannibalisation of other prisoners and this infamous convict story has become part of our penal history.