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James Semple Lisle

1759 – 1799

Major James Semple Lisle (1759-1799) was a confidence trickster. Convicted of theft, he was sentenced to transportation and embarked on the Lady Shore for Botany Bay in 1797. As the ship approached Rio de Janeiro, soldiers of the New South Wales Corps who were on board mutinied, and put officers, crew and convicts including Semple off the boat. Returning to England, Semple was re-arrested and placed in Bridewell Prison, where he wrote an autobiography, The life of Major J.G. Semple Lisle : containing a faithful narrative of his alternate vicissitudes of splendor and misfortune / written by himself. The whole interspersed with interesting anecdotes and authentic accounts of important public transactions which went into several editions. The book holds particular interest for Australians in its account of the character of members of the New South Wales Corps, who were, Semple said, 'a mixture of foreigners and criminals, enlisted from jails'. The account of the mutiny itself is long and frightening; Semple's observations on the people, customs and lands he visited before and after the Lady Shore episode - France, Brazil, Tangiers and elsewhere - are vivid. It is thought that, transported a second time, Semple died during the voyage.

Updated 2018