Martin Mason, surgeon, magistrate and commander, arrived in Sydney on 18 July 1798 as surgeon in the Britannia, carrying female convicts. In May 1799 Governor John Hunter appointed him acting surgeon in H.M.S. Buffalo, but Philip Gidley King appointed him assistant colonial surgeon on 1 October 1800 and magistrate for the district of Parramatta and Toongabbie next January.
Some months later he was sent to the Coal River to hold an inquiry, in conjunction with Ensign Francis Barrallier, into a mutiny.  He arrived at the Coal River with Ensign Barralier and Deputy Surveyor Charles Grimes in September 1801. The Governor's aide-de-camp, Mr. Frederick Kirkwald also joined the voyage.
Corporal Wixstead had been in command there since the settlement had been established in June but he had not been able to hold the convicts in check; in September, after the inquiry, he was succeeded by Mason.
Martin Mason was of bad reputation and was known to be a cruel man.
Convicts at Coal River
Select here to find out what it was like for convicts at Coal River under Martin Mason's command.