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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Major James Semple-Lisle

c. 1799
J. Harding (engraver)

engraving on paper (sheet: 17.0 cm x 12.0 cm, image: 14.5 cm x 12.0 cm)

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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

J. Harding

James Semple Lisle (age 40 in 1799)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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