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From the Banks of Erne to Botany Bay: John White – Surgeon-General of New South Wales

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 03, 1987


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By E. Charles Nelson

John White (c. 1756-1832)

"The contribution made by Irish men and women to the development of society in Australia during the early years of the colonization by Europeans has received much critical attention in the past year, and undoubtedly more will be said and written in the months to come as the celebrations of the bicentenary of the founding of New South Wales continue.

Yet there is a persistent silence about the Irish men who had prominent positions within the First Fleet, which transported that original and hapless cargo of convicts, and later within the colonial establishment once they had landed at Botany Bay.

This silence can be explained partly by the failure of Austalian historians - past and present - to take up biographical information published fifty years ago about John White, the principal surgeon of the First Fleet, and the chief medical officer - the Surgeon-General - in the new colony."

This article looks at John White, Surgeon-General of the colony in New South Wales, and the first Ulsterman to live in Australia.