The grave of Samuel Barrow in Melbourne General Cemetery was found by Julian Land on 24 August 2011 after perhaps a century and a half of neglect. It was unmarked; but his photo on the left of the gravesite was enhanced by John Bury by digital addition of an inscribed plaque to represent death by drowning. The centre image shows the general location of his plot K263A and the right-hand image a more specific location. The curved avenue is now occupied with graves. Samuel Barrow was one of the early occupants of the cemetery which was started in 1852.

Samuel Barrow ~1817-54 #226, the 5th son of Simon Barrow of Bath, took up an appointment as Police Magistrate at Bothwell on the Island of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on 26 Jan 1842 (note 1 below) aged only 25. He married a local woman Margaret Louisa Kemp on 25 Jun 1842 and Cecil Montefiore Barrow was born in Hobart in 25 May 1843 (see note 2 below). Seymour Duncan Barrow was born 12 August 1845 at Bothwell and after Samuel Barrow arrived as Stipendiary Magistrate on Norfolk Island (see note 9 below), Seymour was christened there on 31 Jan 1846 (see note 3 below). Frank Hunter Barrow, great-grandfather of Tony Harding, may have been born in Hobart on 17 Mar 1847 but we have found no record of this (see note 4 below). Samuel Barrow moved to Melbourne in 1850 from Tasmania (see note 4 below) and Louis was born in Melbourne in 1852 (see note 5 below). Finally, Emily was born in Hobart on 16 Dec 1854 (see note 6 below).

 In preparation for separation from New South Wales in 1851, Victoria needed to be responsible for all its own prisoners as hitherto serious offenders had been shipped to Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour. Pentridge Stockade was established on 5 Dec 1850 and Samuel Barrow was appointed the first superintendent (as commemorated in a nearby streetname), having arrived in Melbourne from Tasmania in June 1850 on the Shamrock. His task cannot have been easy (see ref 163) because in 1851 the fabulous Victorian goldrushes got underway which made retention of warders and prisoners difficult. The number of prisoners rapidly grew necessitating more secure facilities and thus hulks were introduced during his term and a more permanent prison at Pentridge commenced. His Annual Reports to Parliament show that Samuel Barrow reported as Superintendent of Penal Establishment on 30 Nov 1851 and 1 Sep 1852, as Superintendent of Penal Establishments on 1 May 1853 and finally on 11 July 1853 he reported as Inspector-General of Penal Establishments. During his term, in Jul 1852, a Coburg public meeting elected Barrow chairman of a school building committee and a school was duly formed. After 39 months in his position(s) Barrow became Immigration Agent for the Colony of Victoria. Samuel Barrow drowned on Port Phillip Bay 5 May 1854. His grave is at Melbourne General Cemetery Royal Park (see above). As noted his widow moved back to Tasmania soon after his death, and after a few years she went to England then India (see note 8 below). Tasmania became a self-governing colony in 1856.

There has been much confusion and speculation about the death of Samuel Barrow both as to the nature of his death eg suicide or worse and its location in Sydney or Hobart thought possible. The fact that Victoria was administratively part of New South Wales until 1851 no doubt contributed to the confusion, as did the fact that Tasmania was his home for most of the 1842-50 period (all of it on one view - see note 9 below). And the parallel links with the infamous John Giles Price did not help either (see note 11 below). But Samuel Barrow's inquest (PDF 4MB) is completely unmysterious; he drowned accidentally after a squall on Port Phillip Bay capsized his boat one mile offshore from Port Melbourne (see note 7 below) during a nautical farewell of Governor Latrobe on 5 May 1854! This is exactly what the newspaper reports of the time said. Samuel Barrow was grateful to Governor Latrobe for giving him his job in 1850 (ref 155) and wanted to show his respect on the Governor's departure. A note by his nephew Edward Charles Lousada helps us here somewhat, for it shows that the boat which capsized was nicknamed 'The Coffin' and thus known to be unsafe (see also note 10 below).


1. See Courier Hobart 28 Jan 1842. The regional Police Magistrate positions were part of the strategy of the previous Governor Arthur to toughen up conditions for convicts. Some convicts had prospered eg through work for graziers in which they traded labour for equity. Such freedoms were seen as making penal servitude too attractive. On 4 Oct 1845 the citizens of Bothwell gave his a present and a send off, as reported in the Hobart Observer 6 days later.

2. See Colonial Times 30 May 1843 and Hobart Courier 2 June 1843. He was living in the house of his uncle Dr Benjamin Barrow by 1861. According to recollections of Tony Harding's grandfather Rear-Admiral Barrow #338, Cecil had an accident as a boy in a shipwreck and had a shattered hip and a damaged leg. He went to Oxford and could not join a service but became a schoolmaster in India. Rear-Admiral Barrow describes him as clever, and as a cheery and amusing companion with whom he spent a month as a midshipman in India. His middle name echoes the Montefiore ancestry of the Barrows.

3. We have an extract of his birth record and his Norfolk Island christening record. The latter is dated 1845 but this seems an obvious clerical error. Tony Harding by email of 9 Mar 2016 reported that he had found in online Norfolk Island records that Samuel Barrow arrived there at the end of October 1845 - confirming the error in the christening date. Seymour was living in the house of his uncle Dr Benjamin Barrow by 1861. He was a Colonel in the 10th Bengal Lancers but died at sea aged 41 of wounds incurred in India

4. On 2 March 1847 The Colonial Times of Hobart reported that Samuel Barrow along with at least 45 other officers had left Norfolk Island after Child's Riot (see note 11 below). In fact he arrived in Hobart 27 Oct 1846 and appeared in the 1848 census at Oatlands. He sat on a case in Hobart on 20 Jan 1849 as reported in the Hobarton Guardian a week later. Edmund Barrow gives the birthdate of Frank Hunter Barrow as 17 Mar 1847 but Rear-Admiral Barrow gives 1848. If either is correct then Frank Hunter Barrow was born in Tasmania. In the 1901 Census Frank Hunter Barrow was 54 making his birthdate late 1846 or early 1847 (ie before the census date usually in April). Later he had very similar schooling and a parallel career in India to his cousin Frank Barrow, son of his uncle Lousada Barrow. He retired from the Indian Civil Service in Bengal in 1894 and died in Middlesex on 7 Jan 1917.

5. Edmund Barrow gives the birthdate of Louis Barrow as March 1852 and this must have been in Melbourne. According to recollections of Tony Harding's grandfather Louis Barrow was in the Revenue in India but died young there.

6. Though Margaret Louisa Kemp was of course in Melbourne when her husband Samuel Barrow drowned in 1854, she returned to Tasmania - her birthplace - later in the year so that Emily (the only daughter) was born in Hobart on 16 Dec 1854 which was 7 months after her father's death - the grieving widow was evidently pregnant at the time of the drowning. In the 1861 census Emily #335 was in the house of her uncle John Simeon Barrow as was her grandfather Simon Barrow of Bath and her aunt Fanny Esther Barrow #229 who brought her up according to recollections of Tony Harding's grandfather. Emily had 3 children, lived in Winchester for many years and died in 1928 at Fleet, Hampshire.

7. Port Melbourne was then called Sandridge. 

8.  A little is known of the subsequent life of the widow Margaret Louisa Barrow nee Kemp. Clearly she left Tasmania between 1855 and 1861, for in the 1861 English Census, Cecil (17) and Seymour (15) are shown in the household of Dr Benjamin Barrow while Emily is shown in the household of Rev John Simeon Barrow - each Samuel's brother. Later she remarried and went to India where she had another child in Madras in 1867 much later in life. Tasmania entered a 20 year economic depression after the end of convict transportation in 1853 (ref 93), and after the unsuccessful 1855 petition to the Victorian Parliament for compensation upon her husband's death, it is little wonder that Margaret Louisa Kemp left for England. One wonders whether she knew of John Price's 1857 murder, or his widow's receipt of a government grant of £8000 - neither circumstance would have encouraged her to stay! Her older sister Elizabeth also went to India, after separating from William Sorell.

9. Administratively, Norfolk Island became attached to Tasmania in September 1844. Anthony Fenn Kemp, Samuel Barrow's father-in-law, was on Norfolk Island for a period during the first phase of settlement which occurred in the years 1788-1814. During the second phase of settlement 1825-55 it was a penal colony initially for second offenders but it later took 'new hands' when transportation to New South Wales ceased. Samuel Barrow was there in 1846 though his stay was for less than a year (the short stay perhaps due to him seeing little future there after Child's Riot in July - see note 11 below - but perhaps he with others - see note 4 - was seen to bear some of the blame for the Riot with the moronic Childs). During the 2nd phase, and largely during the rule of John Giles Price (see note 11 below), Bishop Robert Willson visited Norfolk Island 3 times from Van Diemen's Land (in 1846 he reported to the House of Lords who, for the first time, came to realise the enormity of atrocities perpetrated under the British flag and attempted to remedy the evils; in 1849 he found that many of the reforms had been implemented; however, rumours of resumed atrocities brought him back in 1852, and this visit resulted in a damning report, listing atrocities and blaming the system, which invested one man at this remote place with absolute power over so many people) and these visits contributed first to suspension of transport of convicts to Norfolk Island in 1847 (in favour of Tasmania) and then to prison operations being wound back to caretaker status. The third and final phase of settlement commenced in 1856 when the Pitcairn Islanders arrived. They were essentially descendants of the Bounty mutineers against Captain (later the deposed Governor) Bligh and a useful account of them is given by ref 214. Around the time of federation, Norfolk Island became a Commonwealth of Australia responsibility but this followed a lengthy wrangle involving reluctant governments in London, Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand on the one hand and the Pitcairners on the other, so that direct Commonwealth responsibility only came about in 1914.

10. Samuel Barrow was not the only Barrow who got wet on 5 May 1854, for Isaac le Pipre Barrow  was thought by some to be the drowning victim. He was a Huguenot descendant who farmed in the Warragul area after he retired from his duties at Customs. He was not related to the Barrows. As Edward Charles Lousada in his note recorded Isaac le Pipre Barrow got some strange looks on arriving home as a rumour of his drowning had preceded him.

11. Thus ref 46 compounds the confusion about Samuel Barrow's death by propagating or perhaps creating a fictitious analogue of the death of John Giles Price who was murdered on 26 Mar 1857 by convicts at Williamstown near Melbourne, as shown below by an image contained in ref 174. Such gossip (that Barrow was drowned by convicts) stems from Barrow's appointment to Norfolk Island (following it becoming administratively subject to Tasmania in 1844) which was part of an official plan to toughen up the regime (17 Mar 1840 - early 1844) of Captain Alexander Maconochie. This was considered too moderate as it used probation and other approaches deemed progressive - Maconochie was a correspondent of Charles Dickens. This liberality showed great benefits (as recounted in ref 214) but flogging still took place under Maconochie with one report calculating an average of 93 lashes per flogging (presumably reflecting Maconochie's difficulties with the incorrigibles). Magistrate Samuel Barrow must have been thought of as less liberal than Maconochie to get a job on Norfolk Island at the time he did, though it is not clear why he was thought of in this way (for instance we note that ref 215, cited by ref 214 p204-5 in its claim that Samuel Barrow proposed extreme types of punishment for Norfolk Island, makes no mention of Barrow). The convicts on Norfolk Island knew of Samuel Barrow's Jewish background (referring to him as a Christ-killer which ignores him being brought up Christian from age 11). A disaster on Norfolk Island occurred on 1 July 1846 some 6 months after Barrow's arrival. This was the event known as Childs' Riot named after Major Joseph Childs who had replaced Maconochie. Self-catering by the convicts was banned (by Childs according to ref 214) and a riot ensued in which 6 warders were killed. Price replaced Childs as Superintendent of Norfolk Island and oversaw the hanging in October 1846 of 12 convicts for involvement in Childs' Riot; he also saw the departure of Barrow and many others (see note 4 above). From some accounts (in the Launcestor Examiner of 12 Jun 1888 and the Melbourne Argus 28 Aug 1850) Barrow was lucky to escape with his life in the riot and on another account (ref 155 p170) his nose! Price and Barrow had their similarities - both were lawyers, and each became a magistrate in Van Diemen's Land (Price in 1839 and Barrow in 1842), both were on Norfolk Island (Price's term as Superintendent was 6 Aug 1846 - 18 Jan 1853 while Barrow was on Norfolk Island as a magistrate for a much shorter period - about Jan 1846 until Oct 1846) and both became Inspector-General of Penal Establishments in Victoria (Barrow in Jun 1853 after 3 years with lesser titles and Price in Jan 1854). Some details of the lives of Barrow and Price are given in ref 94, while ref 155 also covers Price's criticisms of his predecessor's work at Pentridge - no hospital, poor quality of workmanship in the workshops Barrow wanted - without attributing fairness to the criticisms! Under Price the use of floating prisons grew as did commercial use of prison labour (eg chain gangs for road construction). Construction of the permanent facility at Pentridge was advanced but use of hulks and stockades did not end until the term of Price's successor (ref 174). Doubtless Samuel Barrow's reputation has suffered from his parallels with Price - but it was Price who acquired truly great notoriety and was the model for Frere the brutal convict superintendent in the classic Australian tale 'For the Term of his Natural Life' by Marcus Clarke. Ref 174 explains that the death of Price had its own irony - Price was in Williamstown to correct problems with working conditions eg food quality but the convicts were more intent on redressing other wrongs.

Murder of John Price by convicts on Williamstown Beach on 25 Mar 1857, an image by George Rossi Ashton of David Syme & Co 25 Jun 1887. The sketch was based on a detailed description given in court proceedings. Ref 155 shows this image on p269 and credits the State Library of Victoria (IAN25/06/87/SUPP/14.). Ref 214 also gives an account of the event. Ref 46 speculates that convicts also murdered Samuel Barrow (by drowning), but as shown above this is incorrect.