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New South Wales Corps

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New South Wales Corps, aka 'Botany Bay Rangers' and 'The Rum Corps'

Formed in 1789, the New South Wales Corps was a permanent British regiment. The first detachment arrived in New South Wales in 1790 to relieve the marines who had accompanied the First Fleet. After Governor Arthur Phillip (1738–1814) left for England in 1792, the Corps through its commanding officer Major Francis Grose (1758–1814) administered the colony until Governor John Hunter (1737-1821) arrived in 1795.

During this period, many of the officers, including John Macarthur (1767–1834), took over large land grants and were assigned convicts to work for them as farm labour. The government clothed and fed these assigned convicts. The officers of the New South Wales Corps involved themselves in the trade of commodities, especially the rum trade. Coins were scarce, so rum became the medium of trade. Officers became privileged colonists, wealthy and powerful, and acted in their own self-interests. As early as 1793, wheat was being used to make rum; with the regiment given the name ‘The Rum Corps’ for their monopoly of trading in spirits. William Paterson succeeded Grose as commanding officer, holding that position until his death in 1810 (in an interesting twist, his widow married Grose in 1814). Governors Hunter, King and Bligh tried to stop the trade, but the power of the Corps was too great, culminating in the 1808 Rum Rebellion against Governor William Bligh (1754-1817).

In 1809, Colonel Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1854) arrived as Governor, and the New South Wales Corps, re-named the 102nd Regiment of Foot in 1808 (the third such raising of that unit number) – in prepartion for its recall to Britain, was replaced by his own 73rd Regiment of Foot. Continuing members of the New South Wales Corps who did not resign and remain in New South Wales were ordered to return to England; departing aboard the HMS Dromedary, HMS Hindostan and HMS Porpoise which departed Sydney Town on 12th May 1810. The returning officers and soldiers were mostly transferred to veteran units and the 102nd re-built with volunteers for service in Guernsey, Bermuda and Nova Scotia (It is not true to say that the returning members saw service in the War of 1812).

The 102nd was renumbered as the 100th Foot in April 1816 as a procedural matter and in 1818, now under the command of Colonel Sir Albert Gledstanes (1750-1818), was returned from Cork to Chatham, arriving 4 Mar 1818 for disbandment. The last surviving 100th paylist covers a period up to 24 May 1818 at Chatham which records most men discharged mid March


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