John Flood, convict Queenslander

About the convict

...when addressed in the dock as 'that unfortunate young man, Flood,' [he] replied, 'If to prefer death to being a traitor to my country is unfortunate, I am indeed a wretched man.'

The Gympie Times, 26 September 1911

... was somewhat reserved in manner and disposition, but those who were privileged to know him intimately keenly appreciated his richly stored mind, his sound judgment, and his fidelity to principles and friendships ...

The Gympie Times, August 24 1909

Role: Shire Council chairman and Newspaper owner/editor
Born: 2 May 1841 at Sutton, Dublin, Ireland
Convicted: Dublin Assizes
Sentence: 15 years transportation
Ship: Hougoumont
Transported: Arrived in Western Australia on 9 January 1868
Died: 22 August 1909. Buried at Gympie Two Mile Cemetery

Editor of The Wild Goose, a weekly shipboard journal to which his fellow Fenian convict exiles contributed to during their transportation to Western Australia aboard the ship Hougoumont.

Pardoned 15 May 1869

...up to the moment of his death he had never lost his enthusiasm for the cause of Ireland.

The Gympie Times, 26 September 1911

Further reading

Transcribed from the newspaper The Gympie Times, 24 August 1909, p.?.


It was with surprise and very great regret that the news of the death of Mr. John Flood, at his residence, South Side, was learnt on Sunday, very few people being previously aware that he was seriously ill. He had not been in the best of health for some time, and a week ago had a bad turn, but from this he appeared to be recovering so that he was able to get about again towards the end of last week. Early on Saturday morning, the illness suddenly assumed a serious aspect and he lapsed into the unconsciousness of diabetic coma. Dr. Cuppaidge was called in, and subsequently had a consultation with Dr. Ahern, but the medical gentlemen held out no hope. After lingering a few hours, Mr. Flood passed peacefully away at 20 minutes to 3 o'clock on Sunday morning.

The deceased gentleman, who was 68 years of age, had an eventful life, such as it is given to few, except those with the gift of leadership, to pass through. He was born in Dublin and was educated at Clongowe's Wood, County Kildare. Fresh from College he studied for some time under the eminent Irish lawyer, Isaac Butt, but the troublous condition of his native land at this time enlisted his sympathy and he entered with patriotic fervor into the Fenian movement of the '60s, quickly becoming one of the trusted leaders in the organization. As will have been noticed in an article published a few weeks ago, he assisted Colonel Stephens, the noted Irish patriot and Head of the Movement, to escape from Ireland at a time when the whole of the Irish detective service was engaged in the search for him. In company with Colonel John McAfferty, an Irish-American, John Flood participated in planning and organising a raid on Chester Castle, which contained a large store of arms, and only for the betrayal of the plan by an informer, would probably have succeeded in the design. Finding their movements anticipated the party made their way to Holyhead, taking the steamer to Dublin. They passed the detectives on the Holyhead pier, but the information gained enabled the detectives to wire to Dublin that the two leaders were on the steamer. As the vessel entered the river Liffey, Flood and his companions saw the banks of the river lined with troops, and though an attempt was made to escape in the small boat of a collier, they were arrested. In the trial that followed McAfferty was sentenced to death, but the sentence was subsequently commuted to imprisonment for life. John Flood on 21st May, 1867, was sentenced to fifteen years penal servitude, and was sent to Western Australia in the last vessel that brought convicts and political prisoners to Australian shores. After nearly five years of his sentence had been fulfilled, Mr. Flood was released on ticket of leave, the only conditions being that he did not leave Australia or attempt to return to England or Ireland. He proceeded first to Tasmania and next to Sydney, establishing a paper called "The Irish Citizen", which was printed from 2nd December, 1871 to Aug. 3, 1872, and bore the imprint, "Printed and published by the proprietor, John Flood, at No. 6 Park-street, Sydney." The discovery of the Palmer goldfield next attracted his attention and he went to that goldfield, but returning to Cooktown, the port of the Palmer, he took charge of one of the Cooktown papers as editor. He subsequently joined the literary staff of the "Brisbane Courier" under Mr. Carrol as editor, and Mr. Gresley Lukin as proprietor and general manager. Mr. Flood came to Gympie in 1881, and with the late Robert Acton, established the firm of John Flood and Co., mining secretaries, a partnership which terminated some years ago by the retirement of Mr. Acton, since when Mr. Flood had carried on the business of mining secretary on his own account. Mr. Flood's early journalistic work led him in 1888 to form the Gympie Newspaper Co., Ltd., to acquire from the late Mr. A.L. Boucicault, the "Gympie Miner", then an afternoon paper, and convert it into a morning paper. For several years to continued in the position of managing-director of the Company, and took an active part in the journalistic control of the paper, until it was disposed of to Messrs. Boase and Scott, from whom the present proprietary purchased it seven years ago.

Mr. Flood always took an active part in local affairs, and was especially recognized as a leader in all movements having reference to the Irish National question. On these matters he was consulted by those connected with the Irish Home Rule movement in all parts of Australia, and maintained a continuous correspondence with his native land. When Messrs. Redmond, Dillon, Davitt, and other members of the Irish National Party visited Gympie,
they were his guests.

In local affairs, Mr. Flood was a member of the Widgee Divisional Board from 1889 to 1892, and from 1893 to 1897, being elected Chairman of the Board in 1891. He was a member of Widgee Valuation Appeal Court, which is to commence the hearing of appeals to-day. He twice contested the Wide Bay electorate, on the first occasion in 1888, when he was beaten by Mr. now Sir Horace Tozer, by the narrow majority of 13 votes. He at one time was connected with defence matters, having occupied the position of captain of the local company of Queensland Irish Volunteer Corps, which only had a short existence. Whilst in Cooktown he married a Tasmanian lady, Miss O'Bryne, and to them were born a family of four daughters and two sons. His wife predeceased him about 12 years, and only two daughters survive him to mourn the loss of a devoted father. The deceased gentleman was somewhat reserved in manner and disposition, but those who were privileged to know him intimately keenly appreciated his richly stored mind, his sound judgment, and his fidelity to principles and friendships, whilst the general public respected him for his upright, straight-forward character, and his innate courtesy, which was always present even when discussing matters on which he held strong conviction.

The funeral yesterday was largely attended. At the head of the cortege marched local members of the H.A.C.B. Society, and Mr. Concannon, representing the Maryborough branch of the Society, who came to Gympie to attend the funeral. The Rev. Father Horan conducted the funeral service at the graveside.

Disclaimer: This has been transcribed directly from the original document. Any mistakes are from the original document.

Transcribed from the newspaper The Gympie Times, 26 September 1911, p.?.



On Sunday afternoon a steady stream of pedestrians wended their way to the Cemetery, whilst 'buses, cabs, motor cars, and private vehicles were all impressed into the service of carrying the large number of people who desired to be present at the unveiling of the monument erected in the cemetery to the memory of John Flood, an exiled Irish patriot.  It will be remembered that Mr. Flood died on Gympie on August 22, 1909, after 30 years' residence on the goldfield during which period he had earned the highest esteem of his fellow citizens, and occupied many public positions.

The hour fixed for the ceremony was 3 p.m., and by that time an assemblage estimated at between 2000 and 3000 persons had gathered round the memorial erected over the grave.  The monument which stands 14ft. high, is a handsome Celtic cross in polished Aberdeen granite on a Bohn base of unpolished local granite.  It is set on a solid base of concrete and the walling and enclosure are Helidon freestone.  On the face of the monument are engraved the round tower, wolf dog and national harp of Ireland, with other emblematic designs, also the following inscriptions: "Sacred to the memory of John Flood (a true Irish patriot), born 21st May, 1841, at Sutton, Dublin, Ireland, died 22nd August, 1909, aged 68 years.  Erected in 1911 by friends and admirers to commemorate his life's work in the cause of Irish nationalty.  R.I.P."  "Also Susan, his beloved wife who died 9th October, 1897, aged 44 years.  Valentine Patrick, died 22nd November, 1889, aged 6 years.  Kathleen, died 5th July, 1890, aged 9 years.  John Oscar, died 3rd    December, 1892, aged 3 years.  R.I.P."  The monument was the work of Mr. T. Raff, Nudgee.

A lorry was drawn up on the right hand side of the memorial, on which was placed the handsome banner of the H.A.C.B. Society and with this as an appropriate background the various speakers addressed the large audience from the lorry.  The Hon. F.I. Power M.L.C., Chairman of the Memorial Committee, presided and was supported by Messrs. W.A. Redmond, M.P., and J.T. Donovan, the Irish envoys, Messrs. D. Mulcahy and Geo. Ryland MM.L.A, the Mayor (Ald. R.H. Cox), Revs. Father Horan and Murphy, Mr. J. O'Connor (District President of the H.A.C.B. Society), and Mr. J. Healy, (joint hon. Secretary of the Fund).  The Misses Flood, who had traveled from Sydney, were present, and in addition many who had been prominent in the steps taken to erect the monument, including Messrs. Jno. Kelly (Queensland Irish Association) Thos. O'Sullivan (Brisbane Hibernians), Frank Cosgrove (Maryborough), John O'Connor (Murgon), Cr. T. H. Tennison (Kilkivan), P. E. Hore (joint hon. Secretary of the Memorial Committee), A. E. Webb (joint hon. Treasurer), W. P. O'Neill (vice-Chairman), Ald. A. G. Ramsey, Messrs. J. S. Cullinane, M. J. O'Brien, Jas. MacDonnell, Jer. McSweeney, M. B. O'Sullivan (Glastonbury), S. Fitzpatrick (Amamoor), C. O'Dea, and C. O'Dwyer.

The Chairman said the had received a number of apologies, two of the most important being from Dr. McCarthy, Sydney, who was Mr. Flood's most intimate friend in Australia, and from Mr. John Wood, Sydney, who was another very great friend of Mr. Flood's.  He had also an apology from Mr. P. Scott (District Secretary of the H.A.C.B. Society) and Dr. Ahern.  Some twelve months ago, at the inaugural meeting for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of the late Mr. Flood, they had honored him by conferring the appointment of Chairman of the Committee.  The result of that meeting was that today they were unveiling a monument to the memory of one of the most earnest, enthusiastic and patriotic Irishmen that ever lived.  (Hear, hear).  The late Mr. Flood, as they knew, was prepared to lay down his life for his country, and up to the moment of his death he had never lost his enthusiasm for the cause of Ireland.  For his enthusiastic support, he had suffered the penalty of banishment from his native land.  Of all the friends, of the late Mr. Flood, he (Mr. Power) living alongside him had a better opportunity of judging his character and know something of his inner life, and, apart from his patriotism and love of country, no better father ever lived.  He was a friend of whom anyone might be proud – courteous, cultured, and straightforward, never saying one thing when he thought another.  They were there that day to unveil a memorial to one who loved his country, and when they were past and gone it would show the grave where the last remains rested of so distinguished an Irishman, who when addressed in the dock as "that unfortunate young man, Flood," replied, "If to prefer death to being a traitor to my country is unfortunate, I am indeed a wretched man."  (Applause.)

Mr. John Healy then read the financial statement, showing that the receipts totaled ₤240 8s.11d., of which Gympie subscriptions amounted to ₤79 18s. 9d., other Queensland subscriptions ₤38 11s., N.S. Wales ₤22, Victoria ₤2 12s., Queensland H.A.C.B. Societies ₤62 6s., other States ₤21 7s., United Irish League, Dublin, ₤10, interest ₤3 14s. 2d.  The expenditure totaled ₤230 17s 7d., leaving a balance of ₤9 11s. 4d.  The items were: Erection and supervision of monument and cemetery fees, ₤197 12s.; printing and advertising, ₤14 10s.; stamps and stationery, ₤13 7s 3d.; sundry accounts, ₤5 8s. 4d.  The statement, he said, required very little explanation, everything being plainly set out.  The Celtic cross was emblematic of the late Mr. Flood's faith and country, and the monument was the second now raised on Australian soil to perpetuate the memory of Irish patriots.  Though it could not compare with the monument raised to the memory of the heroes of '98 in Sydney, it was still a worthy memorial, and the unveiling ceremony was being made the occsion of a demonstration showing the wide esteem in which Mr. Flood was held.  The vast assemblage was a compliment to the memory of the late Mr. Flood, and he was sure it would be so accepted by the Misses Flood, who were present with them that afternoon Mr.  Healy then referred to the Fenian movement in Ireland, and later Irish history, and said their Chairman, when drafting the circular, referred to what Mr. Davitt said of Mr. Flood, and he could not more fittingly conclude than by quoting the words of Mr. Joseph Devlin, M.P.: "Needless to say, we on this side fully realise and deeply appreciate the immense value to the cause of Irish Nationality of the efforts of John Flood, and those associated with him, to free our country from tyranny and oppression, and we know how splendid an example for all time is the memory of men of such noble and unselfish character as Flood, and how stimulating the remembrance of their heroic devotion to our country's cause."

MR. REDMOND, who was heartily received, said that cold indeed would be the heart of any Irishman if it was not moved and inspired by the spectacle in the cemetery that afternoon, a crowd assembled in thousands to do honour to the memory of a great Irish patriot and an esteemed fellow townsman.  Mr. Donovan and himself deeply appreciated the honour bestowed on them in asking them to be present on such an occasion.  He desired to congratulate Mr. Power for his noble and successful efforts to raise this fine memorial to the late Mr. John Flood, also the committee, and to congratulate the people of Gympie on having shown such public spirit in having helped to place that memorial above the grave of a noted Irish Fenian.  (Applause.)  Mr. Redmond then formally unveiled the memorial.  He thought there could be no better description of the dead patriot than the expressive Australian phrase "He was in every respect a white man".  (Applause.)  The late John Flood when quite a young man, with a career before him, heard his country call, and he responded to that call in no uncertain note.  He gave up a career that would have undoubtedly led him to a pre-eminent position in the legal profession, and took his stand with the rank and file in that great movement known as the Fenian Movement of '67.  Along with Colonel McCafferty and such men as James Stevens, he set himself to get the Irish people to band themselves together and to tolerate the system of tyranny and oppression no longer; and speaking here on Australian soil as a representative of the Imperial house of Commons and a member of the Irish Parliamentary party, he (Mr. Redmond), would make no apology for John Flood's actions or for the fact that he was an Irish Fenian.  (Applause.)  He had heard from his father's lips that when he arrived in Gympie 30 years ago the late John Flood was the foremost among the Gympie Irishmen to meet him, and he (the speaker) had also heard from Mr. Devlin and from Mr. Donovan high appreciations of Mr. Flood's character and work.  He had also heard the late Michael Davitt say he had stayed under the roof of his old chief and leader, John Flood.  (Applause.)  The unveiling of this monument reminded him that in the capital of Ireland, on that day week, they would unveil a great and lasting monument to the memory of Charles Stewart Parnell – (Applause) – who had not despised the services of John Flood and who during the whole of his triumphant career was never known to denounce the Fenian movement and the objects it had in view.  Parnell recognised that in the days of tyranny, oppression, and suffering, the Irish people, prevented by law from agitating for their own freedom if they had not trodden upon the toes of their English rulers, would never have got those great ameliorative reforms which followed.  Parnell in the beginning of his career had said they never got anything from the English by conciliation, recalling the Irish Church disestablishment as the immediate consequence of the filing of the locks of a prison van in Manchester.  He hoped and trusted that after the raising of the monument to the late Chas. S. Parnell, within the next two years they would find himself or some Irish delegation out here collecting funds to raise a memorial also to that great Irish patriot, Robert Emmet, who had asked that no stone be laid upon stone to his memory until Ireland took her proper place amongst the nations of the earth.  (Applause.)  The English people sometimes failed to understand the passionate love of Irish nationality which came down the corridors of time, sanctified by the blood of their forefathers, and seven centuries of suffering, sacrifice, defeat, and disaster looked down upon them that day and made the sentiment of nationality the strongest passion of their lives.  No day arose that did not bring them fond memories of the past, and  no evening came but they heard the voices of the dead binding their hearts to stronger allegiance and devotion to that great nationality they professed, and in every Irish heart there was the true spirit expressed in the words, "Ireland a nation".  (Applause.)  In this truly Irish monument erected by the people of Gympie, they expressed their deep appreciation of and lasting admiration for the sterling qualities of their late townsman, John Flood, and for his self-sacrifice and his unswerving devotion to the cause of his native land and its people.  And it was the efforts of men like him that paved the way for the success which they now hoped by constitutional means soon to achieve, and when the Irish Parliament again assembled on College Green, they would remember with respect and reverence the good and true men who had dropped by the wayside in the fight.  (Loud applause.)

Mr. John O'Connor (District President of the H.A.C.B. Society) shortly recounted the principal events in the life of John Flood, and also the steps taken to erect a memorial, and on behalf of the Hibernian Society thanked all who had subscribed to the funds for the memorial.

Mr. Donovan said it was with mixed feelings of regret and pleasure that they were present that day.  When he visited Gympie some five years ago he well remembered that the most active gentleman on that occasion was their late lamented friend, John Flood, and he regretted that he had since passed away like so many others who had fallen in the struggle for Ireland's national rights.  He was glad to know, however, that the late John flood would live in the memory of the people here and of millions of Irishmen throughout the world.  (Applause.)  He regretted that the late John Flood had not lived to see the Parliament of Ireland again assemble on College Green, Dublin.  (Hear, Hear.)  He had only met Mr. Flood for a few days, but he knew no finer character and no truer Irishman or more dauntless personality than the late Mr. John Flood, to whom they had raised this beautiful Celtic monument.  To men of the daring type of John Flood was due the fact that they were now on the threshold of an Irish national victory.  (Applause.)  At the time that John Flood and his compatriots took the field against the English Government the condition of affairs in Ireland was a disgrace to the British nation.  A cruel system of landlordism was operating.  Six millions of human beings were then dependent on the land, and between 1845 and 1869 Ireland lost three millions of her people, who either died of famine or became exiles in foreign lands.  Trial by jury had been suspended, and the people had no right of meeting.  That was the condition of affairs when John Flood took the field.  As Lord Derby had said, nothing had been gained by the Irish people except by force in those days, though since certain reforms had been granted, they had relinquished those methods for constitutional means.  Men like John Flood were banished into exile because they preferred to stand out against a system that was oppressing the people of Ireland, and they were proud of such men, who fought and suffered, and never lost faith in the ultimate triumph of their country.  (Applause.)  It was therefore a great pleasure for them to be present that day to take part in such a ceremony, and it spoke well for the patriotism of the committee and the Irishmen of Queensland and other States that they had erected such a handsome monument, which would stand for years as an example to those who came afterwards, and a sign that they did not forget the men who made it possible for them to be in the position they were to-day.  They would say in after years, as now, that John Flood was a true patriot who took a stand for his country in a dark and distressful time, and as representatives of the Irish people Mr. Redmond and he thanked them for the honor of being present, and trusted that within two years they would see the fruit of the labors of such men as John Flood in the re-opening of Ireland's ancient Parliament in College Green.  (Loud applause.)

Mr. G. Ryland, M.L.A., in a short speech, said that a quarter of a century ago, when he first came to Gympie one of the first men he became acquainted with was John Flood, and his impression was that what he lived for was to see justice done to Ireland.  Desperate diseases required desperate remedies, and in the days when John Flood was in Ireland things were in a desperate condition.  Personally, he was pleased to be present to do honour to John Flood.

Mr. D. Mulcahy, M.L.A., thought that after what had been said with regard to John Flood, no words of his could add anything.  All the speeches made or that could be made were as nothing to the large number here to-day to do honor to John Flood.  It was his pleasure to have had the acquaintance of John Flood for some 30 years, and he had found him upright and courteous to a degree.  No man had ever come to Queensland who was more patriotic.  He had much pleasure in proposing a vote of thanks to the Irish delegates for coming there that day.

Mr. Redmond responded, and said he had much pleasure in moving a hearty vote of thanks to the Hon. F. I. Power for presiding, but more so for his prompt and patriotic action in taking steps to erect this monument, placing on record the life of John Flood.  He desired, as the representative of the Irish people to congratulate him on the truly noble and patriotic action he had taken.

The Chairman briefly responded, and the proceedings terminated.

Disclaimer: This has been transcribed directly from the original document.  Any mistakes are from the original document.