Australian Slang: Who Was Buckley and Why Didn’t He Stand a Chance?

“You’ve got two chances mate, Buckley’s and none”

Sandi Parsons
5 min readJul 9, 2021

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Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons

WWilliam Buckley had a history of running away. Apprenticed to a bricklayer in England, Buckley’s first escape effort saw him enlist in the army and eventually deployed to a campaign in Holland. On returning to England in 1799, Buckley fell into misfortune.

“At the barrack yard, I was one day accosted by a woman who requested me to carry a piece of cloth in a parcel to a soldier’s wife in the garrison to be made up. I knew nothing of the person. She was a stranger to me; but I took the parcel to do as she wished and was almost immediately arrested for theft.” — William Buckley, as recounted by George Langhorne, transcribed in 1836 and published in The Age, Saturday 29 July 1911.

With Buckley’s tale of the woman with a cloth discounted, he found himself sentenced to transportation. The Calcutta arrived in Port Phillip in 1893 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel David Collins. Collins’ brief was to establish a penal settlement, but his party soon discovered the soil sandy and incompatible with English crops. Collins soon decided to abandon the area, aiming his sights on Van Diemen’s Land instead.

Escape!

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Sandi Parsons

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.