James Macarthur, son of John, visited Britain in 1837-38, where he gave evidence to the Molesworth Committee on convict transportation. In the ghost-written New South Wales he attacks Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s (1810-1821) lenient treatment of convicts and emancipists, and articulates the point of view of the ‘exclusives’:
Had the encouragement of the convict population been indeed regulated upon the principle of conferring rewards on good conduct only, such a course could scarcely have failed to be productive of consequences alike beneficial to the individuals and to the community at large. But when men, who had been convicts, and who were besides disqualified by want of education, or previous mode of life, were appointed magistrates and public functionaries; -when land was distributed with undiscriminating profusion amongst the whole class of emancipated convicts without regard to good or ill conduct;-when the circumstance of having come free to the colony, conferred no claim to favour; and that of having been convicted became proverbially the best security for preferment ;-is it surprising that the free settlers should have expressed their dissatisfaction at the continuance, and their apprehension of the probable results of so extraordinary a system?
The natural consequence of this system was reaction,-a determination, on the part of the emigrant colonists, to maintain the more strictly those distinctions which it was the object of the Governor to break down.
On the part of the emancipated convicts, on the other hand, it gave rise to claims for full participation in civil rights and political privileges, upon the basis of property alone, without reference to character and conduct. It was the origin also of a feeling, at one time very generally prevalent amongst this class, and which still exists in the minds of many, that the colony was theirs by right, and that the emigrant settlers were interlopers upon the soil.
–James Macarthur, Australian, 1798-1867
The Three Graces [Edith, Eliza and Laura, daughters of Sarah and William Charles Wentworth], 1868 by Hans Julius Gruder (Vaucluse House, Sydney)
‘Eliza, Laura and Edith Wentworth were three of the seven daughters of Sarah Morton Wentworth, nee Cox (1805-1880) colonial born, illegitimate and the daughter of convict parents. Although her husband William Charles Wentworth (1790?-1872) was one of the most prominent men in colonial New South Wales his financial and political success was unable to protect his wife and daughters from social ostracism. This exclusion contributed significantly to their decision to take their younger children to England for their education. Sarah and the children sailed from Sydney in February 1853. Although Sarah and her youngest children, including Eliza, Laura and Edith returned to New South Wales in 1861 they left again for England in 1868. This portrait of the three daughters, depicted as young women with all the trappings of wealth and respectability, and represented in an allegorical fashion as the Three Graces, can be seen as a direct challenge to the prejudices of the colonial society which had made them social outcasts.’