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Matthew McAlboy (c. 1798–1831)

Matthew McAlboy (often referred to as Matthew MacAvoy), a labourer, was sentenced to 7 years transportation at the 1819 Lent Assizes Session at Down, Ireland. He arrived at Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) aboard the Castle Forbes in January 1820. He was described as being 5 feet 5½ inches tall, had a fair ruddy complexion, freckles, sandy hair and hazel eyes.

McAlboy was sentenced to 50 lashes on June 12th 1823 for disrespectful behaviour and using violent language to his overseer. He was sentenced to another 50 lashes on 25 August 1823 for disobeying orders in taking his master's dogs out on Sunday to go kangarooing and for quitting his masters farm without leave. On 9 February 1829 he was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing wearing apparel and was sent to Macquarie Harbour.

With four other men McAlboy escaped on 3 September 1830. Once their provisions were exhausted, the men resorted to killing, and eating, each other. Only two — McAlboy and Edward Broughton— survived. They surrendered to authorities and were executed. Broughton's sensational account of the men's cannibalistic acts were published in the local newspapers.

McAlboy and Broughton were tried and executed for being illegally at large while under sentence of transportation; they claimed that their three dead companions had been killed by natives. The court did not quite believe their story with the Hobart Town Courier reporting on 9 July 1831 that 'his Honour in passing sentence exhorted them to repentance, if their consciences were burthened with the crime of murder, which there was much reason to fear was the case, with reference to their unfortunate companion, Patrick McKane, William Taylor [i.e. Coventry] and William Jones'.

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Citation details

'McAlboy, Matthew (c. 1798–1831)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • MacAvoy, Matthew
  • McAvoy, Matthew

c. 1798
Down, Ireland


5 August, 1831 (aged ~ 33)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Passenger Ship
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: unknown
Sentence: 7 years
Court: Down (Ireland)
Trial Date: 1819


Occupation: labourer