History, but not as you know itBuy tickets
Where tradition meets cutting-edge innovation
This self-guided experience immerses you in the real lives of people touched by the Barracks.
The convict impact on Aboriginal people
People of the Barracks
Convict, immigrant, inmate, matron – meet some of the people whose lives were touched by the Barracks.
From convict to colonial architect to destitute, Greenway's short career left its mark on Sydney.
Francis Greenway, the colony’s civil architect from 1816 to 1822, was critical to realising Macquarie’s vision for New South Wales. A talented architect from Bristol, Greenway arrived in Sydney in 1814 with a 14-year sentence for forgery. A month later he received a ticket of leave, allowing him to work for himself and support his wife and children, who had followed him to Sydney. When the Hyde Park Barracks was completed, Macquarie granted Greenway an absolute pardon. Greenway’s career was marked by a prolific output but plagued by clashes with colonial officials, chief engineers, influential settlers and military officers. As a result, he was dismissed as civil architect in late 1822. In debt, socially and professionally shunned, and resentful of his perceived mistreatment, Greenway died in 1837 at the age of 59 in a simple cottage in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney. He was buried in East Maitland, far from the elegant buildings that sprang from his talents.
Just four years after facing the gallows in London and then transported to Sydney, Charles Allen received an absolute pardon.
In April 1815, Charles Allen and 299 other convicted men embarked on the Baring, bound for Sydney. What had once been a voyage into the unknown was now a well‑travelled route of 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometres).
When Charles Allen and his fellow convicts on the Baring arrived in April 1815, the colonial population of New South Wales was just under 13,000, made up of convicts, ex-convicts and their families, together with soldiers, government and military officials, and a small number of free settlers.
Young and literate, the former post office worker Charles Allen served as a clerk in a merchant’s office. In 1818, just four years after facing the gallows in London, he received an absolute pardon. Allen was 20 years old and could live freely in the colony, or even return to Britain.
Margaret Hurley’s trunk, as supplied to the Irish orphans fleeing the Great Famine, is the only one known to have survived
Like many of the Irish ‘orphans’ selected for the scheme, 17-year old Margaret Hurley from County Galway was not an orphan, but her widowed mother was too poor to care for her. After staying briefly at the Immigration Depot in 1850, Margaret was apprenticed as a house servant in the town of Yass, south-west of Sydney. In 1852, she married Irish shepherd Joseph Patterson, and the couple had seven children. She died in 1922, aged 90. Margaret’s is the only trunk supplied to the Irish orphans known to have survived.
‘Murphy’ was one of a few Aboriginal men who tragically found themselves trapped in the British convict system
In December 1839, two Aboriginal men, named Murphy and Toby, were charged with highway robbery and sent to Cockatoo Island. Toby, like most transported Aboriginal men, died in custody. Murphy survived the harsh conditions and in February 1843 was transferred to the Hyde Park Barracks before returning home to Maitland, north of Sydney. Three years later, as a new Vagrancy Act was introduced to remove Aboriginal people from towns, Murphy faced another six months’ hard labour on Cockatoo Island, charged as ‘a rogue and vagabond’. In 1852 he was sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour at Parramatta Gaol, where his many imprisonments finally took their toll. He died in prison, far from his home.