ABC Newcastle (Newcastle)
Day Shift – 16/10/2007 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University
Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the Jarry-Gray manuscript purchased by the University in March 2001. General Francois Jarry, was a leading French general of the Napoleonic era, and Lieutenant Colonel Charles George Gray, was one of the pioneer settlers in the Port Macquarie district.
Click to view the entire manuscript online here http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157601108854541/
Click to view a slideshow of the Launch of Emeritus Professor Ken Dutton’s book A French General and a Scots Colonel by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of NSW on 18th October 2007.
Today I thought I’d discuss our Jarry-Gray manuscript dating from the 18th-19th centuries, along with another work recently purchased and once belonging to Colonel Gray.
The Governor of NSW will be launching the book entitled A French General and a Scots Colonel A Most Unusual Volume and the Search for its Authorship written by Emeritus Professor Ken Dutton on his investigation of the manuscript this Thursday 18th October 2007.
The manuscript was purchased in March 2001 as a early settler’s diary by our then archivist Denis Rowe. Mr Rowe retired soon after and it stayed under lock and key with the Tyrrell Diary until late 2005 when I was conducting a valuation survey through the collection and came across the manuscript again.
On the 6th December 2005 together with a Christmas greeting I wrote to Professor Ken Dutton, our Emeritus Professor of French and fellow collaborator, asking him to look over the manuscript for us, as most of it was a French transcribed text with a diary at the back of the book written in English. He wrote back within a couple of hours and there it began. Within two days I had a full copy of the manuscript on CDrom for him to work on over the Christmas break. For the next year Ken worked on this thing and together with Denis and myself adding our two bobs worth and the rest of the cast and crew nutted out the mystery of this mysterious work.
I assisted in tracking down the names of the convicts and others mentioned in the diary and matching them to their Colonial master.
In August of 2006 we released the following press release:
“University solves mystery of valuable hand-written archive
Wednesday 9 August 2006
The University of Newcastle has unravelled the mystery surrounding an unusual antique hand-written manuscript, revealing the authors as a leading French general of the Napoleonic era, and a pioneer settler in Port Macquarie.
After six months of intensive research in the Auchmuty Library Cultural Collections, Emeritus Professor Ken Dutton has identified the writing in the volume as that of two authors: General Francois Jarry, a leading French general of the Napoleonic era, and Lieutenant Colonel Charles George Gray, one of the pioneer settlers in the Port Macquarie district.
The French manuscript consists of over 300 pages on military fortifications and the mapping of battlefields. But when turned upside down and opened at the other end, it is written in English and is the working diary of a settler near Port Macquarie in the second half of 1839.
Professor Dutton said there was no indication in the text as to its authorship. The only clue was on the spine with the words JARRY TOM 1.
“Solving the mystery involved eliminating a number of military men of the period,” said Professor Dutton. “Extensive investigation identified the author as General Francois Jarry, who had headed Frederick the Great’s military school in Berlin. Jarry later fled to England at the time of the French Revolution and in 1799 founded a private college for army officers at High Wycombe, later to become the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
“Samples of Jarry’s handwriting obtained from the British Library and compared with the diary held in Newcastle provided conclusive evidence that the French text was in Jarry’s own hand.
“Final confirmation of the work’s second author came when a bookplate inside the diary’s cover was found to correspond to the arms of the Gray family.
“Lieutenant C.G. Gray had probably acquired the volume while a student at High Wycombe in 1809 and brought it to Port Macquarie where he kept it as a diary.”
Gray was born in Edinburgh in 1786 and fought Napoleon at Waterloo before settling in Port Macquarie, and later building himself a residence which he called Huntington House. Gray later moved north where he became the Police Magistrate at Ipswich, and Queensland’s first Parliamentary Librarian and Usher of the Black Rod in 1860. He died in 1873.
“The volume is of exceptional value,” said Professor Dutton. “It gives us an unusual picture of what an officer would have learned at a British military academy in the early years of the 19th century, and a vivid snapshot of the severe life of assigned convicts in an early Australian settlement.”
Ken has recently launched the book in the Queensland Parliament and is now launching the book here in New South Wales in the presence of the Governor.
At the Queensland Parliamentary launch in early September 2007 (6th) there were about 25 descendants of Colonel Gray present, as well as the Acting Speaker (who presided in lieu of the Speaker, who was ill), Mary Seefried Parliamentary Librarian, the Parliamentary Historian and the Parliamentary Information Officer. They were treated to an inspection of the Parliamentary Library, the O’Donovan Library and various memorabilia associated with Colonel Gray, including a list of some journals he ordered (including, appropriately, the Edinburgh Review). Professor Dutton was also able to inspect Gray’s tombstone in the Ipswich cemetery, and the plaque in St Paul’s Church Ipswich which commemorates him. On a visit to the HQ of the Queensland Women’s Historical Association, he was able to see Gray’s wine chest from Waterloo, as well as a large sideboard, inscribed “Huntington 1837” – possibly built by one of his convict labourers.
In recent weeks we have purchased a couple of further volumes that at one time belonged to Colonel Gray by Maurice Comte de Saxe entitled Memoires ou Art de la Guerre, 1756.
The real important thing to remember about archives and manuscripts is that we are not dealing with dead and disembodied things, every object is connected in some way with a living and breathing person. In the case of this manuscript it is certainly a marvelous thing to see how many connections have been forged between the University and the rest of the world that were not present before this research was conducted by Professor Ken Dutton.
Gionni Di Gravio
‘Titivillus strikes again’ – Emeritus Professor Ken Dutton