# 39538

COZENS, Charles

[TRANSPORTATION] Adventures of a Guardsman.

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London : Richard Bentley, 1848. First edition. Duodecimo (170 x 110 mm), contemporary half red calf over cloth, spine in compartments with gilt decoration and contrasting leather title piece lettered in gilt; top edge gilt, original marbled endpapers, pp. viii, 272; occasional light foxing, several leaves with browning, else internally excellent; ex St. John’s College Library, with library shelf number in manuscript to upper board and discreet stamps to several pages including title.

Rare convict memoir written by a “gentleman” soldier of the Royal Horse Guards, who in 1839 was sentenced to transportation to New South Wales for seven years for making violent threats against his superior officers.

Cozens was born in Pembrokeshire in 1815, the son of a Justice of the Peace. Well-educated and highly literate, he was marked for a career in the Church, but he ran away from school and joined the Royal Horse Guards instead, and it is around this point that his account begins in earnest. In 1839, at the age of 24 and with the rank of sergeant, he was found guilty at a Regents Park court martial of the charge of violence towards a superior officer; his threats to officers had followed an act of insubordination, in his refusal to obey a command to clean his troop horse. He was sentenced to be transported for seven years.

Cozens was one of 230 convicts who arrived at Port Jackson on the transport ship Woodbridge, on 28 February 1840. After initially being forced to share quarters with many desperate and dangerous convicts at the Hyde Park Barracks, he was appointed to a mounted police detachment in the Monaro. His narrative describes in detail the journey from Sydney to Cooma via Berrima, Goulburn, and the Limestone Plains, as well as his year spent with the constabulary in the Cooma district. It includes his observations of the local Ngarigo people, and of the rugged landscape and native flora and fauna of this alpine region. Recalled to Sydney, he was then given the post of chief clerk, first at the Parramatta Gaol, where he worked for two years, and then at the Liverpool Hospital. His application for a Ticket of Leave, during which period he was required to remain in the Yass district, was approved on 15 March 1844. While still at Yass, Cozens was granted his Certificate of Freedom on 18 July 1846.

In his Preface, written in March 1847 when back in the fold at his family seat – Sandy Haven House, St. Ishmael’s, Pembrokeshire -Cozens writes:

‘This publication is a duty … which I owe to myself, in order to remove all unjust and injurious impressions, which may otherwise be entertained by many whose good opinion I esteem … this work has been written solely to rescue my name from unmerited disgrace. The fiery ordeal has been passed by me, and I trust that I may not be thought wholly unworthy of the sympathy of the public.’

Ferguson, 4748; Walsh & Hooton, Australian Autobiographical Narratives: to 1850, 53