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Title: Early News from a New Colony: British Museum Papers Author: Anonymous, Unknown * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1300291h.html Language: English Date first posted: January 2013 Date most recently updated: January 2013 Produced by: Ned Overton Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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EARLY NEWS FROM A NEW COLONY:
BRITISH MUSEUM PAPERS.
More than two-thirds of the newspaper articles in this "scrapbook" fall naturally into one of a number of broad topics. These include letters and journals, from ordinary people, from the military and from convicts, about the state of the colony, crime and transportation and the vicissitudes of life in the new colony of New South Wales.
Marginal dates and headlines have been omitted. Apart from the making of a Table of Contents and the adding of a new title, nothing else in the original, including presentation order, has been changed, except the updating of some of the punctuation.
CRIME IN THE YEAR 1785.
CRIME IN THE YEAR 1786.
DUTCH CLAIMS TO AUSTRALIA.
ENGLISH OPINION ON THE PROJECTED COLONY.
REPLY TO FOREGOING.
EQUIPMENT OF THE FIRST FLEET.
THE DETACHMENT OF MARINES.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP AND THE CONVICTS.
THE FIRST FLEET AT THE CAPE.
THE PENAL CODE IN 1788.
LETTER FROM AN OFFICER AT SYDNEY.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
LETTER FROM A FEMALE CONVICT.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
TRANSPORTATION OR DEATH.
THE CASE OF CAPTAIN TRAIL, OF THE NEPTUNE, TRANSPORT.
DISPOSAL OF IRISH CONVICTS.
THE WRECK OF THE GUARDIAN.
A LETTER FROM SURGEON ALLEY.
THE WRECK OF THE GUARDIAN.
A CONVICT'S LETTER.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM AN OFFICER.
THE MUTINY ON THE SCARBOROUGH, TRANSPORT.
AN OFFICER'S LETTER.
WRECK OF THE GUARDIAN.
THE WRECK OF THE GUARDIAN.
THE WRECK OF THE GUARDIAN.
VOYAGE OF THE LADY JULIANA.
FORGOTTEN BY GOVERNMENT.
LIEUTENANT KING'S ACCOUNT.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN THE YEAR 1790.
STATE OF THE COLONY, 1790.
GEORGE BARRINGTON TO HIS WIFE.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
LETTER FROM A FEMALE CONVICT.
MUTINY ON THE ALBEMARLE.
A SPICE PLANTATION.
GEORGE BARRINGTON TO A GENTLEMAN IN THE COUNTY OF YORK.
HINTS RESPECTING THE NEW SETTLEMENT AT BOTANY BAY.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
THE NEPTUNE, TRANSPORT.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
THE HORRORS OF TRANSPORTATION.
SMALL-POX ON THE PITT, TRANSPORT.
THE NEPTUNE, TRANSPORT.
THE WRECK OF THE SIRIUS.
TRANSPORTATION TO CANADA PROPOSED.
A PRIVATE JOURNAL.
THE CASE OF THE NEPTUNE, TRANSPORT.
LETTER FROM A FEMALE CONVICT.
A LETTER FROM TOONGABBIE.
A LETTER FROM SYDNEY.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP'S ACCOUNT.
THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION.
A LETTER FROM NORFOLK ISLAND.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP AND HIS SUCCESSOR.
STATE OF THE SETTLEMENT IN 1793.
THOMAS DAVENEY TO A FRIEND AT WYCOMBE.
A SOLDIER'S LETTER.
TREATMENT OF CONVICTS PENDING TRANSPORTATION.
THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION.
GOVERNOR HUNTER TO ————.
MUTINY ON A CONVICT-SHIP.
STATE OF THE SETTLEMENT IN 1795.
[* Originally the initial footnote.]
The accounts of the colony (many of them written by private individuals to their friends in England), which appeared from time to time in the newspapers and magazines of one hundred years ago [the present work was published in 1893], contained, in very many cases, information for which we look in vain in the official despatches of the Governor or his subordinates. For this reason, and also because they are now practically beyond the reach of the ordinary reader, they have been reprinted; and inasmuch as they are not, in the strict sense of the word, original records, they have been grouped together in the order of their dates, and are published as an Appendix [this Appendix E].
[** Reprinted from the Hibernian Journal, Dublin, 21st December, 1785.]
NOTWITHSTANDING the enormous number of transports lately sent from our prisons—we are sorry to find that such are the depravities daily experienced among us—the ensuing month will probably exhibit as sanguinary spectacles of irritated justice as hitherto known. Our jails are crowded with felons, and every day continues to crowd them. Crimes tread on the heels of crimes, and human enormity seems at its highest. Not only in the city, but in the country, are murders and rapine evinced, and such will be always the case if we substitute not some mode of punishment beside death; for eternity has lost its terrors with guilt, and hard labour is more alarming than an offended deity.
[*** Reprinted from the Edinburgh Magazine, March, 1786.]
THE Sheriffs of London, accompanied by the City Remembrancer, attended the levée at St. James's, and presented the felons petition to his Majesty.
"To the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
"The humble petition of the Court of Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London,—
"That your petitioners, the magistrates for the City of London, have had an opportunity of observing, with the most heartfelt concern, the rapid and alarming increase of crimes and depredations in this city and its neighbourhood, especially within the last three years.
"The fact of such increase is too publicly known and too severely felt by your Majesty's subjects to be doubted; and if any direct proof of it were wanting, it will most evidently appear from the number of days employed in the trial of felons at the Old Bailey, which, upon an average of the last three years, have been upwards of fifty-five in the year, whereas the highest average of any three years prior to the year 1776 was less than forty-five, and the general average of twenty years prior to that period less than thirty-four days in the year.
"That the increase of the crime of burglary is become most alarming to your Majesty's subjects, which increase your petitioners are inclined to ascribe to the great number of experienced and well-practised thieves in the kingdom, who commit this atrocious crime with such art that scarce any precautions are sufficient to guard against it. And the same experience that enables these offenders to perpetrate this offence with ease has probably convinced them that it is attended with less personal danger and hazard of detection than most other offences.
"That in the years from January, 1766, to December, 1775, both inclusive (which time immediately preceded the stop that was put to transportation), above three thousand one hundred persons were transported from London and Middlesex alone; and having reason to believe that all the rest of the kingdom have furnished an equal number, the whole amount of the transports in these ten years have been above six thousand. That the number of prisoners tried and convicted of felony in the ten succeeding years, from the beginning of 1776 to 1786, having greatly increased, there is every reason to believe that if the executive justice had remained the same the transports in those years would have much exceeded the number of the ten preceding; but the regular course of transportation having been interrupted during that period, and few opportunities found by Government of sending convicts abroad—and those only in small numbers—your petitioners humbly submit to your Majesty that it necessarily follows that after making an allowance for the small number sent abroad, and for the convicts who may have died during that period, there must now remain within the kingdom, either at large or in the different prisons, at least four thousand persons who, in the judgment of the law, were proper to have been sent out of it.
"That your petitioners humbly conceive that this dreadful accumulation is alone sufficient to account for all the evils that are so heavily felt and so justly complained of, both as to the overcrowded state of the gaols and the increase of crimes and of offenders.
"To what extent the mischiefs that are so severely felt already, and the fatal consequences so justly apprehended, may be carried by a longer continuance of so rapid and alarming an accumulation of convicts within the kingdom, no human wisdom can foresee.
"When facts so important as these, and which so materially affect the peace and security of your Majesty's subjects in general, and especially of this great city, have come within the knowledge of your petitioners, they would ill discharge their duty to your Majesty, or the public, if they neglected most humbly to lay them at the foot of the Throne, earnestly beseeching your Majesty to direct such measures to be taken, as to your Royal wisdom shall seem best, for providing a speedy and due execution of the law, both as to capital punishment and transportation; without which all other regulations must prove nugatory and abortive, and the mischiefs complained of must daily and rapidly increase."
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Evening Herald of 30th October, 1786.]
AN opposition to the intended settlement of Botany Bay has been lately started from a quarter from which it was little expected. The Dutch have always claimed the sovereignty of it by the right of discovery, a right which has been greatly respected by the different powers of Europe; and we are credibly informed that his Excellency the Baron de Leyder, the Dutch ambassador to our Court, has received orders to remonstrate with our Ministers, in the name of the States-General, against our regular planting of a territory which they assert belongs to another country.
[** Reprinted from the Gentleman's Magazine of November, 1786.]
5th November, 1786.
While the plan for settling a colony at Botany Bay is preparing to be carried into execution, the more objections that are made to it the better. Government will, by that means, be enabled to obviate them; to provide for every known want and supposed danger.
You have observed that the eastern coast of New Holland is the least-inhabited and worst-cultivated country in the Southern Hemisphere. To this it has been answered that the want of cultivation is no proof of the barrenness of the soil, nor the deficiency of inhabitants a reason why the natural productions of the climate should not be sufficient for the support of a greater number; and, as an argument in favor of this assertion, the account that Lieut. Cook gives of Botany Bay is everywhere cited as an authority by those who, perhaps, never read his Voyage.
[The writer quotes from Cook's Journals to show the dangerous character of the natives there. He then remarks]:—
The inference I mean to draw from this narrative is this: That much blood must be spilt before a colony among these savages can be established; and that it will be in vain to depend on the grain to be raised among them, as most certainly, till they are subdued, they will destroy it by fraud or force.
[* Reprinted from the Gentleman's Magazine of December, 1786.]
Shadwell, 4th December, 1786.
Presuming that your useful miscellany is circulated for information, and not disputation (at least disputation with acrimony), I am induced to reply to your correspondent H.D., who modestly says objections should be made (for a very commendable purpose) that they may be removed; and, as the latter part of his letter, more particularly distinguished by italics, claims the attention of your readers, I shall just say that it has certainly been the intention of Government to obviate every difficulty, and to render everything as permanently comfortable to the unhappy convicts as the nature of the case will admit. I advance this general testimony upon the presumption of those particulars which I have been an eye-witness to, and which are a strict and marked attention to their well-being by the respective officers under the Navy Board, both as to ships, provisions, and every necessary that they may stand in need of. To enumerate particulars would be needless; even trifles have been thought of. And when I compare the manner in which they are provided for in their voyage with the mode that used to be adopted, I hesitate not to assert that Government have paid a minute attention to them. One instance as a proof—they have now comfortable beds. Formerly, when the convicts were transported by contract to America, there were no beds. Government paid a certain sum, and the contractor took [care] that "no luxuries were allowed."
That the best digested plans are capable of improvements there can be no doubt; but in this, at present, I think none can be pointed out. A general negative on the undertaking is no argument why it should not be, unless a plan on better principles can be advanced. Besides, can it be supposed for a moment that these men are to encounter with no difficulty? Do they deserve to meet with no difficulties? Are they to be treated by the mother country (I speak of them as an infant colony) as dutiful children? What shall I say? Let me turn your thoughts to the Loyalists that have lately emigrated from their improved estates, after perhaps a life of industry and honour—after leaving their dead friends and relatives on the spot, who fell in defence of the laws of the parent State (not transgressors against those laws). Look at them; see them encounter the difficulties of an inhospitable shore. See them in latitudes to which their constitutions were strangers, struggling to begin the world afresh. Revolve immediately in your mind the mild climate of 34°, the very name of the spot the convicts are going to, the characters of the first visitors (I mean of our countrymen lately), who declare it favorable to vegetation and agriculture, and say if the delinquents are not bountifully provided for. How long have the American Indians been peaceful? Have not all new settlers difficulties to encounter with? Now, admitting for a moment, sir, that "there must be blood spilt," is it not better that even half die in battle who are doomed to a halter than that the whole should be hanged. But this is only a momentary supposition.
As I have quoted the Loyalists (men, by-the-bye, that bear no comparison but in the name of new settlers), how are they situated now? Under a mild government, raising populous towns, carrying on extensive commerce, even to the envy of their neighbours. May we not hope that the spirit of reformation may take place, and under the fostering care of a generous and forgiving nation, this colony may one day flourish and be respectable, as no incentives to their natural propensities will remain by their vicinity to a large capital or populous cities, or to the luxuries of life? It is a possible presumption that it may be.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Evening Herald of 4th December, 1786.]
THURSDAY an entry was made of a very large quantity of stores for the supply of the colony intended to be established at Botany Bay. Amongst other articles were thirteen tons weight of slop clothing, furnished by Mr. James Wadham; half a ton weight of woollen stockings, by Mr. John Yerbury; two tons weight and a-half of shoes, by Mr. Wm. Goodman; half a ton weight of stockings, by Mr. Pope; and one ton weight of hats, by Mess. Wm. Richardson and Borradaile.
[** Reprinted from The World of 8th January, 1787.]
CAPTAIN PHILLIP, the officer who is to have the conduct of the ladies and gentlemen to Botany Bay, is very highly spoken of as a man of knowledge and intrepidity in the naval world. He has been in the Portuguese service, and from his different expeditions is said to be well informed on the subject of forming settlements.
[*** Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 12th January, 1787.]
TUESDAY a party of the soldiers who were drafted from the Guards to go to Botany Bay set out for Portsmouth, where they are to embark with other soldiers who are to guard the convicts. They are allowed additional pay for their service, and clothing suitable to the climate. They are to continue there five years, then to be relieved by other troops from England, and return home.
A correspondent assures us that the female convicts in Newgate are to be sent with the first vessels to Botany Bay, but that the male convicts in the same jail and the other jails in the metropolis are to be sent to Africa. The convicts in the county jails are, however, to be sent to Botany Bay. The policy of this distinction is obvious—the country convicts are supposed to be fittest for agriculture, &c.; while the villains of London are thought to be most proper to be sent to Africa.
[* Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 29th March, 1787.]
GOVERNOR PHILLIP is still in town, and it is supposed his sailing with the fleet to Botany Bay will be postponed till after Lord George Gordon's trial on the second libel he is charged with by the Attorney-General. With respect to the felony laws and executions, the Act of Parliament lately passed for the government of the felons convict, when they arrive at their destination, gives powers unknown to the practice in the courts of law in England, but puts them nearly on a footing with the loyal subjects in India under the new Board of Controul.
LETTER from an Officer on board the Scarborough, transport.**
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Evening Herald of Friday, 6th June, 1788.]
Table Bay, November, 1787.
WE left Rio Janeiro the 4th of August, 1787. Nothing material happened until the 19th, when a convict fell overboard from the Charlotte, transport, and in despight of every effort to save him was drowned. From that time to the 25th we had bad weather, rain, and heavy lightning. On the 3rd of September we discovered an intent among the seamen of our ship to mutiny, but by the timely exertions of our Commodore and officers the ringleader was punished, and we were happily relieved from danger. At this time the Charlotte had thirty sick, and the rest of the ships' crews, marines, and convicts had many ill; but by the blessing of God, soon after, the weather clearing up, the sick were sent upon deck, which method, with the cleanliness preserved throughout the fleet, proved restorative; health was reinstated among us, and we prosecuted our voyage in high spirits. About this time some female convicts on board different ships increased the number of souls by an addition of seven children. Our doctor baptized them on an appointed day, and the weather being exceeding fine, the christenings were kept on board the respective ships with great glee, an additional allowance of grog being distributed to the crews of those ships where births took place.
On the 7th of October, the Alexander, transport, threw out three signals of distress, upon which the Commodore ordered our boats to be manned and sent on board. The captain of the Alexander informed the commanding officer that his men had mutinied, and attempted to release the convicts, in order to strengthen themselves; but our well-timed assistance prevented those desperadoes from effecting their evil intention. Our people secured four of the most daring and sent them in irons on board the Siris [Sirius]. The principal part of the marines on board the Alexander being ill, and therefore unable to prevent any attempt they might make after our departure, the next day the Alexander sent two convicts on board our ship, they having been very disorderly the preceding night.
On the 12th of October, to our great joy, we made Table Bay, and our Commodore having ordered the signal to be thrown out for all the ships to come into his wake, the captains received their instructions for the disposition in which the fleet was entered and moored.
They immediately hoisted their colours, saluting the Commodore as they passed by, sailing into the bay. Joy now beamed in every countenance, and we congratulated each other on the pleasing prospect of plenty of fresh provisions, with abundance of herbs, roots, and fruits, the production of this fine country. Judge, then, after a run of 1,094 leagues, our happiness at the pleasing scene before our eyes.
In passing into the bay our satisfaction was allayed by the loss of the second mate of the Friendship, a worthy character and a good seaman; he fell overboard and perished.
On the 1st of November one of the Lady Penrhyn's women, a convict, fell overboard, but was saved by our boat. The next day we had the further satisfaction of preserving some Dutch seamen belonging to an East Indiaman, whose boat had overset in a gust of wind and was lost.
Our worthy Commodore and our Agent, to whom the greatest praise is due for their humanity and attention, have given public notice to the masters of the different ships to hold themselves in readiness to receive sailing instructions on the 10th of December, as it is intended to quit the Cape of Good Hope on the 11th day of December.
We have plentiful provision of live stock and other necessaries for the new settlement, an enumeration of which I here subjoin, viz., 3 bulls, 10 cows, 3 stone-horses, 12 mares, 220 rams and ewes, 4 male and 20 female goats, 80 dozen fowls, 20 dozen ducks, 6 dozen of geese, and 4 dozen of turkies, corn, wheat, flour, garden seeds, spirits, and other necessaries, independant of the live stock, to the amount of 2,000l.
Whilst we remain here every person is allowed one pound and a-half of meat, one pound and a-half of bread, and one gallon of beer per diem; and I can assure you our agent has purchased plenty of belly timber for the remainder of the voyage.
The only place proposed to stop at between the Cape and Botany Bay is the Island of Desolation, so called from its being a rock on which no herbage grows, in the centre of which rock is a beautiful lake of fresh water, a supply of which will be necessary to preserve our live stock. This island was discovered by Captain Cook, and, of course, named by that gallant commander.* It has but one port, called Christmas Harbour, so called from being discovered and entered into on that day.
[* See Vol. i, part 1, p. 369 (note).]
To be brief, our fleet will be in good repair; our seamen, soldiers, and convicts are in high spirits. The provision made by Government has filled the hearts of the new settlers with gratitude, and now has reconciled them to their fate. The more rational part of them are convinced that on their arrival at Botany Bay, by industry and attention, they will enjoy all the requisites reasonable beings can desire; that the disgrace they suffered in England, due to their crime, will by good behaviour at Botany Bay be buried in oblivion; that, removed from their wicked companions at London, they will have no seducing opportunities to swerve from the cause of virtue; and that in all probability they may be the founders of an empire greater than that from which they are banished.
[** Reprinted from the Hibernian Journal of 30th April, 1788.]
As many of the common people may be inclined to cut down and carry away timber-trees from gentlemen's inclosures for the purpose of May-bushes, we think it our duty to warn them of the danger of such depredations, which were always liable to the penalty of fine or whipping, but are now transportation by a late Act of Parliament. Such inconsiderate people should reflect that a silly drunken dance round a May-pole or bush is scarce worth the chance of taking a nine months' voyage to New Holland, and spending their lives in constant hard labour at Botany Bay.
[*** Reprinted from the Morning Post and Daily Advertiser of 23rd April, 1789.]
[Note by the Editor:—The following authentic letter from Botany Bay comes from a very intelligent gentleman at that quarter, on whose veracity we have so perfect a dependence that, though this account of the place differs from most others, we can confidently deliver it to our readers as a representation on which they may rely:]****
[**** The sentiments of the writer are those of Major Ross; the language in some places bears a remarkable resemblance to the letter of 18th November, 1788 (Vol. i, part 2, p. 221), which is also anonymous. In other places, particularly where reference is made to native gums, the expressions are almost identical with those used by Assistant-Surgeon Considen in his letter to Sir Joseph Banks of 18th November, 1788 (ib., p. 220).]
Sydney Cove, 12th July, 1788.
My Dear Friend,
I did myself the pleasure to write to you from the Cape of Good Hope on the 17th of November last, and not doubting but that you received my letter in due time, I shall not repeat what I then said to you. I will endeavour now to give you a short sketch of our passage from the Cape to Botany Bay, and from thence to our present residence, and of the country round us, &c.
As far as I can recollect, we sailed from the Cape of Good Hope on the 20th of November, 1787,* having experienced three weeks of contrary winds and tempestuous weather. We at last doubled the Cape, and afterwards had rather a favourable passage to Botany Bay, where we arrived on the 19th of January, 1788.**
[* According to Phillip, the Fleet sailed from the Cape on the 12th November (Vol. i, part 2, pp. 121 and 165). King gives the date as the 13th (ante, p. 530).]
[** The vessels which arrived on the 19th January were the Scarborough, Alexander, and Friendship. Ante, p. 540.]
Here we expected to find a beautiful country, &c., as well as to rest ourselves from our fatigues at least for two or three years; but you will be as much surprised as we were disappointed when I assure you that there is not a spot of ground large enough for a cabbage-garden fit for cultivation within several miles of it, and barely fresh water sufficient to supply our present wants.
The country, for several miles round it, is either swamps or rugged hills, covered with rocks and trees and underwood; and some, barren and sandy, covered with brushwood. Here we lay for four days, condoling on our hard fate, while his Excellency the Governor explored the coast to the northward. However, he at last returned with the pleasing account of having discovered the finest harbour in the world. Highly elated with this discovery, we quitted Botany (which by-the-bye is a beautiful bay, but does not afford safe anchorage all the year round for ships) on the 20th of January, in the morning, and in six hours after arrived at Port Jackson, the harbour above alluded to, which is only ten or twelve miles to the northward of Botany Bay.
On the day following we landed at Sydney Cove (so called by the Governor), where we have fixed our residence, and laid a foundation for a colony. I am really not capable of describing this harbour, which is without exception, I believe, the finest in the known world. Suffice it to say, that it extends fourteen or fifteen miles into the country, forming many beautiful bays or coves on every side, which in the summer season abounds with variety of fish, but now being winter not a fish can be caught.
I heartily wish I could say as much of the country round it, which is similar to that of Botany, but not quite so bad. There are some spots here and there at two or three miles distance from this cove which may be cultivated. The country has been explored for upwards of forty miles round us, and hardly one acre of ground could be found in any one place free from wood or rocks; and what is very singular, no fresh-water river, or even a spring, has as yet been discovered. The water we make use of is the oozing of the hills and swamps, which caused many diseases at the beginning; but now that we are used to it the bad effects have partially ceased.
The natives are accurately described by Capt. Cook (I wish he had as faithfully described the country). They are, I believe, the most miserable of God's creatures! they are clad in nature's dress, and live chiefly on fish and nuts, which last we are not as yet well acquainted with. Their weapons are long poles, well mounted with hard wood, sharp-pointed, and shark's teeth, and all barbed, which they use indiscriminately in striking fish or assailing their enemies. Their working-tools are an axe and a chisel—the one, a piece of stone shaped and fixed in a piece of wood; the other made of an oyster-shell. Their huts are few and miserable, they in general inhabiting the cavities of rocks and hollow trees, which they burn for that purpose. When treated kindly they seem to be familiar and good-natured; still, in my opinion, they are treacherous, for they have murdered three or four of the convicts, whom they met unarmed. I say they are treacherous, because they never attacked any that were armed; the sight of a musket, if presented, would make a hundred of them scout. They will not suffer their women to be seen if they can avoid it. This miserable state of the natives appears to me to be a sure sign of the poverty of the country.
The quadrupeds here are few. The kangaroo, for a description of which I refer you to Cook's Voyage, is the largest so far as we know yet; several have been killed. The flesh is coarse and lean, and eats somewhat like very coarse mutton. Those that were killed weighed from fifty to one hundred pounds, one only excepted, which weighed near two hundred. The opossum is somewhat larger than a cat, and is the next in size, the native dogs excepted, which are of the fox kind. There are some other quadrupeds not worth mentioning.
The feathered creation is by no means as numerous as you may suppose in a wild and woody country. Still they are rare in their kinds. One ostrich and one black swan (the rara avis of the antients) have been killed, and several were seen. Paraquets, loriquets, and all the species of the parrot kind are very beautiful. Different sorts of small birds, totally unknown in Europe, sing pretty wild notes, and are in general of the woodpecker and fly-catcher species.
The bays frequented by the natives produce wild spinage, cellery, parsley, samphire, and wild beans. Some wild grapes have been found in different parts of the country; and a shrub that produces small berries, which are as tart as gooseberries, and make as good pies, grows very common on the hills. The country produces various sorts of flowers unknown in England. There are three or four kinds of trees which are of little use except for burning; one only I can except, a species of fir, which may be of use in building, &c. Two very different kinds of these trees produce the same sort of red astringent gum, which is used in medicine. A large shrub produces a yellow gum of the Tolu kind, with which the natives fasten together their weapons, tackles for fishing, &c., and which may be used in medicine, and for varnish. Of these I'll collect what I can at my leisure; hitherto, I have had hardly time to look round me. You may easily suppose the climate is temperate when we can live in marquees now, being the middle of winter, without fire. The thermometer rose frequently at noon to 90° in the middle of summer, the time we arrived here; and now seldom higher than 60° at noon, and never lower than 35° the coldest night, which is three degrees above the freezing-point. The rainy season set in three weeks ago, during the whole of which time it has rained incessantly, which we felt the more being obliged to live in marquees, as I have already told you, having no huts as yet built for us.
Having now given you a sketch of this country and its productions, I leave you to form your own opinion of it. I shall only venture to say it will never answer the intentions of Government, and I make no doubt but we shall be recalled, which I sincerely wish. His Excellency the Governor has set on foot a brick manufactory, which succeeds to his wishes, having already burnt several thousands for his own house. We are all extremely busy in building huts, principally of the cabbage-trees, but only two officers are as yet hutted.
You expect, perhaps, I'll give you some further account of myself and situation here. On this head I can only say that I am happy in the company of three messmates—no four could be more united, or more agreeable to each other; besides, I have enjoyed a tolerable share of good health, thank God, since I left England. Every officer on this settlement is allowed two acres of land, besides a certain space for a garden near his house. Four of us, uniting our estates, have already sown half an acre of wheat, which I am told by my farmer promises well. I propose to set a few potatoes next week, which are the produce of some I set on my arrival here, and which answered my expectations.
I brought six sheep from the Cape at a great expence, and every one of them is either dead through the badness of this country or killed by some villains among the convicts, who, in spite of every punishment that can be inflicted, still persist in their former villainous practices. Four of them have been executed since our arrival here, and three more are very likely to suffer the same fate very shortly.
I forgot to say we had a deal of thunder and lightning, which has done some damage, and a few days ago we had a slight shock of an earthquake. In short, I believe this country to be the outcast of God's works.
I shall have an opportunity to write again in the course of two months by Mr. Sharp, master of the Golden Grove.
EXTRACT from a letter from Botany Bay, received by the Golden Grove, transport, Captain Sharp.*
[* Reprinted from the London Chronicle of 4th June, 1789.]
THE Governor's commission being read after the troops and convicts were landed, and the laws also read with great solemnity, they had so little effect upon the convicts that they soon found means to break open the King's stores and stole some articles thereout, for which a man of the name of Barret was executed on the 27th of February, 1788; and on the 2nd of May three more were convicted of thieving, one of whom only was executed, and the others reprieved.
A convict, who it is probable was a coiner,** having produced some bronze and metal resembling gold, said he had discovered a gold-mine, and on condition of being sent home with a favorite female convict he would shew it, and that he had sold a quantity of gold to a gentleman belonging to the Golden Grove, which was considered as so amazing an acquisition by the new settlers that his request was granted. Inquiry being made to whom the gold was sold, the convict replied, "To a black-complexioned man." On this, an immediate muster was made in his presence, but he was not able to point out the person. He still persisted in his discovery, and that he would point out the spot, on which an officer and twenty men were despatched with him in search of the place. After traversing about ten miles, he pretended to have occasion to go aside, and was permitted; but he set off by some other way to the settlement, and told the Deputy-Governor that the mine was so extensive it would need as many more hands to work and guard it, on which a fresh detachment was preparing to march in aid of the first, when, lo! the officer and his men came into garrison, telling how they had been tricked by this culprit. He was immediately put in irons, tried, and ordered a severe flogging; between every hundred lashes he was asked relative to the mine, and he persisted that he had discovered and knew where it was until he had received three hundred, when he confessed the whole to be a falsehood.
[** The convict's name was Daly. Tench (Complete Account, p. 6) mentions that he was subsequently hung for burglary.]
Port Jackson, 14th November, 1788.
I TAKE the first opportunity that has been given us to acquaint you with our disconsolate situation in this solitary waste of the creation. Our passage, you may have heard by the first ships, was tolerably favourable; but the inconveniences since suffered for want of shelter, bedding, &c., are not to be imagined by any stranger. However, we have now two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive of deserve that name. Windows they have none, as from the Governor's house, &c., now nearly finished, no glass could be spared; so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. At the extremity of the lines, where since our arrival the dead are buried, there is a place called the church-yard; but we hear, as soon as a sufficient quantity of bricks can be made, a church is to be built, and named St. Philip, after the Governor. Notwithstanding all our presents, the savages still continue to do us all the injury they can, which makes the soldiers' duty very hard, and much dissatisfaction among the officers. I know not how many of our people have been killed. As for the distresses of the women, they are past description, as they are deprived of tea and other things they were indulged in in the voyage by the seamen, and as they are all totally unprovided with clothes, those who have young children are quite wretched. Besides this, though a number of marriages have taken place, several women, who became pregnant on the voyage, and are since left by their partners, who have returned to England, are not likely even here to form any fresh connections. We are comforted with the hopes of a supply of tea from China, and flattered with getting riches when the settlement is complete, and the hemp which the place produces is brought to perfection. Our kingaroo rats are like mutton, but much leaner; and there is a kind of chickweed so much in taste like our spinach that no difference can be discerned. Something like ground ivy is used for tea; but a scarcity of salt and sugar makes our best meals insipid. The separation of several of us to an uninhabited island was like a second transportation. In short, every one is so taken up with their own misfortunes that they have no pity to bestow upon others. All our letters are examined by an officer, but a friend takes this for me privately. The ships sail tomorrow.*
[* The Fishburn and Golden Grove, transports.]
SOME account of New Holland, in a letter from Edward Home, carpenter, to a gentleman in Edinburgh.**
[** Reprinted from the Edinburgh Magazine, July, 1789.]
You will excuse the imperfection of this account, but I shall give it in the best manner I am able.
We made the South Cape of New Holland the 8th of January, 1788, in lat. 43° 32' S., long. 146° 56' E. The weather being very fine, we had an opportunity of taking a view of the South Cape on Van Dieman's Land, which appeared to us very high and mountainous. In the evening the inhabitants made a very large fire on a low sandy point of land, whether to welcome us or not we were not able to understand. We left the cape that evening, and proceeded for Botany Bay, at which place we arrived in twelve days.
The natives, who appeared in numbers on Cape Banks, threw a great quantity of sticks and stones at our ships, some running into the woods, others among the rocks and clefts. We all came to anchor that day in Botany Bay, in company with the Ceres [Sirius], man-of-war, and Supply, tender. The whole fleet remained here the space of five days, when the Governor, not thinking this a convenient place for settling the new colony, sailed with the whole convoy for Port Jackson, about three leagues to the northward of Botany Bay, which place we found to be one of the most commodious harbours in the world; the tide there, by my own observation, rose and fell to the amount of eleven feet perpendicular at spring tides, and at ordinary tides about seven.
The land, in general, about Port Jackson, near the water, is rocky and full of large timber of three sorts, a small specimen of each of which I have sent you. The rock, in general, is of a soft kind, somewhat resembling the Portland stone; the harder part of the stones, some small pieces of which I have sent you, generally occupies the rising ground a little way from the waterside. The soil, in general, is black, and fit for any kind of grain sown, or roots planted in it, but produces nothing naturally. Some parts up the country are white sandy plains, yielding a shrub from which the yellow gum is produced, of which you have a sample, but nothing else that I could see. The red and white trees have the same kind of gum, viz., red, which, when the tree is cut, pours out in great quantities. The live oak produces nothing but its natural sap. The natives, I think, are the most miserable of the human form under heaven, the men, women, and children being entirely naked, without exception of age or sex; their persons in general are thin, though some of them are six feet high; their hair, which I could not find was woolly, is so clotted with gum that it sticks out something like a thrumb mop; their hair is of a dirty brown; their habitations are the hollow cavities which Nature has formed in the rocks by the waterside, or, up the country, small wigwams made of the bark of a tree; their canoes are made of the bark of some trees, and are of a miserable construction, consisting of three or four pieces of bark sewn together, tied at each end like a sack, and spread with two or three pieces of wood to keep them apart. I have often met with these in the coves a-fishing, and have observed the people bring the fish on shore, make a fire and broil them, and have no reason to think they are that cannibal race we were taught to believe them. In meeting the different gangs of these people, their common salutation was warrey, the meaning of which I am unable to explain. I generally used to answer them with the same word, without knowing whether it indicated friendship or hostility, but as I generally carried firearms with me in the woods, at meeting them my method was to clap my arms behind my back, and to lay my hand on my breast, which they answered by putting their spear behind them and their hand in the same manner, and then both advancing we shook hands.
[* Reprinted from Scots Magazine of September, 1789.]
SATURDAY, September 19th, the sessions ended at the Old Bailey, when 12 convicts received sentence of death; 54 convicts, for felony, received sentence of transportation for seven years; 82 respites were pardoned on condition of being transported to Botany Bay for life, and 23 for the term of seven years; 12 convicts to be kept to hard labour in the House of Correction at Clerkenwell; 7 to be imprisoned in Newgate; 12 to be publicly whipped and discharged; and 43 discharged by proclamation.
A vast number of prisoners, who had on former occasions received sentence of death, but whose executions had been delayed during the late Royal indisposition, and from other causes, were brought up and asked whether they would accept his Majesty's mercy, on condition of their being transported to New South Wales during their natural lives? The greater number of them accepted this conditional pardon, but many with great hesitation. Eight, however, peremptorily refused to accept of mercy on such terms, and preferred their former sentence of death. They were all seriously exhorted by the court, and told that if they persisted in refusing to accept of the King's mercy they should be ordered for execution as soon as the sheriff could be prepared for that purpose.
They still persisted, and were ordered to the condemned-cells.
About three hours afterwards, and a few minutes before the court adjourned, Mr. Villette, the Ordinary of Newgate, informed the court that he had visited these deluded men, and had prevailed on them to alter their sentiments; they had, therefore, commissioned him to implore the forgiveness of the court for their obstinacy, and intreated that they might be permitted to accept of the mercy of the Sovereign.
The court received their contrition, and sentenced them to transportation for the term of their natural lives.
Three, however, still persisted in their refusal to accept of the King's conditional pardon, preferring their former sentence of death. They were ordered to the condemned-cells, and informed that they will be executed as soon as the sheriff can be prepared. The names of these obdurate convicts are, William Davis, Edward Carruther, and Thomas Weston.
On Monday, Sept. 21, one of these deluded wretches was to have been executed before Newgate. Every preparation for the dreadful ceremony was made; the sheriffs stayed the execution to the latest moment, when the unfortunate man, finding himself on the brink of eternity, begged, and received, his Majesty's mercy on the terms first offered to him. The other two availed themselves of the Royal clemency on Saturday, the 19th.
[*Reprinted from The Diary, or Woodfall's Register, of the 3rd, 4th, and 6th August, 1792]
Messrs. Camden, Calvert, and King** to Captain Donald Trail.
[** Owners of the Neptune.]
Portsmouth, 19th December, 1789.
The ship Neptune, under your command, being ready for sea, you are to proceed with all convenient speed to Port Jackson, on the coast of New South Wales, and there deliver your convicts and Government stores to the order of Governor Phillip (taking three certificates for them), one of which forward to us direct, if an occasion should offer, and the second by the earliest occasion from China, where you are to proceed without loss of time from Port Jackson, and load a cargo of teas for the Honourable East India Company, conformable to our charter with them for that purpose, the copy of which you have herewith; and thence return to London direct.
Should it be found necessary on your passage to New South Wales to touch at any place to take refreshments and water, we particularly recommend the Cape of Good Hope for that purpose, being more immediately in your way, and where the least time will be lost in providing such matters as you may be in need of. Lieutenant Shapcote, the Navy Agent, who goes with you, concurs with us in this matter; but before you go into any port you must request him to give you instructions, setting forth that he finds it necessary to obtain refreshments for the sick, as we expect Government to allow us demurrage for any detention in the passage on that account.
Whilst you are in a foreign port the soldiers and convicts are to be supplied with fresh beef two days in a week, as you will perceive by the copy of the contract with the Navy Board, in your possession; and you must take certificates of the number of days they are so victualled with fresh beef, as also of the number of days the soldiers, soldiers' wives, and convicts' wives and children are victualled on board, from their first embarkation to their being landed at New South Wales, which you will forward with the certificates of their delivery.
You are, at Port Jackson or China (at your option), to receive from the Scarborough all the provisions put on board her, for the convicts and troops unexpended, together with the watercasks and stores, and to dispose of them, with your own and those on board the Surprize, to the best advantage for our account. After the convicts and troops are landed it will be necessary to have a survey of the provisions remaining on board each ship, that we may be able to know what the exact expenditure has been on the passage, distinct from the ship's company, the contract for the troops and convicts being a separate matter from the ship's altogether; but any of the provisions found necessary may be taken for the ship's use.
The convicts and troops must be victualled and supplied conformable to contract (copy of which in your possession); but you must be very careful and see the expenditure does not exceed it, as under the construction of wastage we may be made considerable sufferers if it is not particularly attended to; and, at all events, there must not be a greater consumption than we have agreed for, including all allowance whatever; and as Captain Anstis* and Captain Marshall** have merely extracts of the contract from us, you must furnish them with any further information on this subject they may stand in need of.
[* Nicholas Anstis, master of the Surprize, transport.]
[** John Marshall, master of the Scarborough, transport.]
At New South Wales, or on your passage to China, you are to remove all bulkheads, storerooms, and obstructions of every kind, both in the hold and between the lower and middle decks, and to stow both the hold and lower deck, in the best and most advantageous manner, completely full of teas from one end of the ship to the other, save and except sufficient space for the tiller to traverse over in the gunroom and to be shipped or unshipped, and no more; and as there is a greater quantity of iron kentlage on board than required by the East India Company, we consider your taking China would be detrimental to us; therefore, avoid it if you can, and procure as much black teas as possible to stow in the bottom, for the purpose of keeping the ship stiff.
You are not, directly or indirectly, to carry on, or suffer to be carried on, any private trade whatever on board your said ship, or in anywise depending thereon; nor are you to suffer your officers to take on board any privilege, it being understood they are to have none; and you are to be accountable for all deficiencies of teas which may be lost or embezzled from on board, and which we shall be liable to account for to the East India Company.
In consideration for the due performance of the above services to be done and performed, we do hereby agree to allow you ten pounds sterling per calendar month, and five pounds per month for finding yourself and your officers with cabin stores and necessaries, and ten per cent. upon the freight of all surplus tonnage the ship shall bring home from China, which wages and commission is to be in lieu of every emolument whatever; and in all things concerning the convicts, troops, and dispatch of the ship you are to consult and be governed by the direction and advice of Mr. Shapcote, who goes in your ship, appointed by the Navy Board as agent, to superintend the expedition to New South Wales; but after the convicts, stores, &c., are delivered there, you have nothing further to do with Government, and must make the best of your way without loss of time. Mr. Shapcote, and Captain Nepean, who has the command of the troops, are to be accommodated in a respectable and comfortable manner at your table, without any expence to themselves whatever; and for any additional expence you may be put to on that account we will reimburse you. We have only to request you will write us by every occasion that may offer; and sincerely wishing you a good voyage and safe return,
We are, &c.,
CAMDEN, CALVERT, AND KING.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 18th February, 1790.]
Parliament of Ireland.—House of Commons.
Monday, 15th February.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER rose to attract the attention of the House to a matter of very considerable importance; it was upon the subject of those wretched people who were sentenced in this country for transportation. It appeared that a number of them had been lately put on shore at Newfoundland, from which they had been lately compelled to return. The fact was that we had no place for their reception. England, for her convicts, possessed Botany Bay, or a settlement on an island near that place. Whether Ireland would avail herself of this circumstance was for the consideration of the House. The expence attending the transportation of convicts to that quarter of the globe was enormous. The mere price of conveyance was about eighteen pounds per head; besides this, there was a charge of twenty-eight pounds or twenty-nine pounds for clothing and other necessaries, which raised the expence of each convict to something about fifty pounds. There were other articles attending the conveyance of transports from England, which raised the cost of their transportation to about seventy pounds each man. His idea, therefore, was that persons convicted of lesser crimes should be employed in hard labour, or in some manner beneficial to the country, and that those guilty of greater should be transported for life; for certain he was that wherever they might be placed they would be bad subjects. It would be in the wisdom of the House to consider whether the establishment of penitentiary houses, or hospitals, similar to those in England, would not be worthy adoption. In England, it appeared that the produce of labour, in a variety of instances, more than compensated the whole expence of the establishment and the rent of the building. He threw out this idea for general consideration, and he called upon the gentlemen of the several counties to give their assistance, as they must be best acquainted with the local arrangements most suitable to their several counties. Administration only made the proposal, as they judged it improper to let the opportunity escape of submitting so salutary an arrangement to the attention of the kingdom. The object for consideration was, whether they should think it advisable to transport their convicts to Botany Bay at the expence above mentioned, or whether they should provide places at home for their reception, in order to render their services useful to the country. Doubtless the latter would be attended with some expence. He thought it, therefore, more respectful to submit the matter to Parliament in the first instance than to come forward with any specific system. He should allow gentlemen four or five days to revolve the subject in their minds, at the expiration of which he would bring in a Bill.
MR. HOLMES thought, that upon the ground of humanity, reason, and policy, the subject which had been brought forward by the right hon. gentleman solicited the most serious attention; but he conceived that a system might be adopted upon the plan suggested, without the attendance of any circumstance of expence to alarm the public. In England, it was well known, the labour of penitentiary houses more than compensated the expences of the establishment. He instanced the penitentiary house of Wimbledon, in Norfolk, for an example, which appeared, by a return, to produce more from the industry of the culprits then was necessary to defray the expences of the institution. He mentioned an excellent regulation which prevailed at that place. When the term of the convict expired, he was treated according to the merits of his conduct. If he had behaved himself with becoming propriety, he received decent apparel, a letter of recommendation was given, and he was enabled to depart from the place of his captivity with money in his pocket. This certainly put him beyond the necessity of resorting to his former enormities, and the habits of industry which he had been in naturally induced him to seek a support by his own honest exertions. In this country the case was very different; no person would entertain—no person would employ—an unfortunate wretch who had once received the sentence of the laws, and they were of necessity obliged to recur to that mode of livelihood which had been the cause of their disgrace and punishment. On looking over the list of transports who had returned from Newfoundland, he discovered that some of the convicts were under the age of twelve, and that six were under the age of fourteen. This he submitted as a strong argument in favour of penitentiary houses or buildings upon the plan mentioned by the right hon. gentleman, for there was something shocking in thus abandoning early youth to infamy without the hope of reclaiming their pliant minds. Certainly the restraints of solitude, silence, hard labour, and spare diet would have a powerful effect in recovering the culprit to virtue. But above all, some such regulation was necessary upon the ground of presumptive justice. A disregard to this, he said, had stained our code of criminal law with cruelty; it had multiplied executions without profit to the community, and had caused the effusion of our fellow-creatures' blood without producing any public advantage. Mr. Holmes was decidedly in favour of some salutary regulation of this nature, and expressed an opinion that it would meet the support of every part of the House.
MR. FORBES had no other objection to the system proposed but that it would, like all other applications of public money, be rendered a source of profusion in this country. Probably two or three Parliamentary gentlemen would be accommodated with places under it. The expence of building penitentiary houses would be very considerable, he imagined, but of which he was able to make no estimate. But he thought it better to get rid of bad members of the community by exporting them to Botany Bay, were the expence sixty or seventy pounds each, than to keep them within the precincts of our own society, when they might possibly have an opportunity of corrupting the honest and industrious.
THE CHANCELLOR or THE EXCHEQUER replied that he was far from wishing to connect the plan he had mentioned to the purposes of expence or patronage. On the contrary, he desired and solicited his assistance in framing the Bill to guard against these errors which he apprehended, and to correct others, if any should appear.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 31st July, 1790. The editor describes it as a "copy of a letter from a gentleman at the Cape of Good Hope."]
Cape of Good Hope, 1st March, 1790.
I DARESAY you will not easily tire of hearing of the Guardian. Before this reaches you, I suppose, accounts of her miraculous escape must have got home. She came in here eight days ago in a situation not to be credited without ocular proofs. She had, I think, nine feet water in her when she anchored. The lower gundeck served as a second bottom; it was stowed with a very great weight equally fore and aft. To this, and to the uncommon strength of it, Captain Riou ascribes his safety. Seeing an English ship with a signal of distress, four of us went on board, scarcely hoping but with busy fancy still pointing her out to be the Guardian,—and, to our inexpressible joy, we found it was her. We stood in silent admiration of her heroic commander (whose supposed loss had drawn tears from us before), shining through the rags of the meanest sailor. The fortitude of this man is a glorious example for British officers to emulate. Since that time we have gone on board again to see him. He is affable in his manners, and of most commanding presence; add to that, a fine manly figure, of about twenty-eight, which I suppose his age to be. Perhaps we, under the influence of that attraction which great sufferings always produce, may, in the enthusiasm of our commendation, be too lavish in his praise; were it not for this fear I would at once pronounce him the most God-like mortal I ever viewed. They were two months from the time the accident happened until they reached this place. Every man shared alike in the labour; and not having at all attended to their persons during the whole of that dismal period they looked like men of another world—long beards, dirt, and rags covered them. Mr. Riou got one of his hands crushed and one of his legs hurt, but both are getting well. None of his people died during their fatigues. He says his principal attention was to keep up their spirits and to watch over their health. He never allowed himself to hope until the day before he got in here, when he made the land. Destitute of that support, how superior must his fortitude be! He has this morning, for the first time, come on shore, having been employed getting stores, &c., out to lighten the ship. He wavers what to do with her—whether to put Government to the expence of repairing her here (which would almost equal her first cost, perhaps exceed it), or burn her. Most likely the last will be resolved on.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 28th August, 1790. The editor described it as "the substance of a letter from Mr. Alley, a surgeon in the Lady Juliana, transport, bound for Botany Bay."]
Cape of Good Hope, 22nd March, 1790.
WE sailed from Plymouth the 29th of July, with 226 convicts and six children on board, and arrived in Port Praya Bay on the 23rd of September; but on the same day we proceeded on our passage to the Brazils. As we advanced towards the Line the weather was become intolerably hot, which, joined to the heavy rains and calms that soon after came on, made us very apprehensive for the health of the convicts and ship's company, having at that time sixty dangerously ill. Contrary, however, to expectation, after we had crossed the Equator the weather proved very favourable during our passage to the Brazils; and on the 26th of November we anchored before the city of St. Sebastian, at Rio Janeiro. The town is very extensive and populous; the streets are narrow but well paved, abounding with shops of all kinds, in which the wants of a stranger, if money is not one of them, can hardly remain unsatisfied. At the corner of each street stands an image of the Virgin, stuck round with lights, at which strangers commonly stop and sing psalms and pray. The height to which religious zeal is carried in this place by the Portuguese cannot fail of creating astonishment in a stranger. The markets are well stored with butcher's meat, and vegetables of all kinds, pine-apples, grapes, melons, and oranges abound in great plenty. The convicts were daily victualled with fresh provisions, vegetables, &c.
Having refreshed the convicts, on the morning of the 10th of January we took our departure from Rio Janeiro, amply furnished with such things as the place afforded, and the day after we lost sight of the American shore. Nothing particular occurred on the passage to the Cape of Good Hope, except the loss of our carpenter, who fell overboard and was drowned in spite of every effort to save him, and on the 1st instant we arrived at Table Bay. Found riding here his Majesty's ship Guardian, which had a very narrow escape from foundering at sea. She struck against an island of ice, which almost shattered her to pieces, so much that seventy of the people left her, of whom all except eight must have perished, consisting of the master, purser, and chaplain, with five other men, who were taken up at sea by a French ship, and arrived here some time ago. These people have taken up their passage for Europe in the same vessel; and through Providence the Guardian arrived here a few days after they had sailed from this place, so that the first news in England will be of her having foundered at sea. The surgeon and two midshipmen, with five others, perished in a small boat alongside the ship. Mr. Riou, the commander of the ship, with twenty men, stood by the ship with a resolution to sink with her, but, as I have mentioned before, Providence brought them in here. Mr. Riou declares that he knows not in what manner the Guardian got here, she being waterlogged, and could not be steered for want of the rudder.
Port Jackson will suffer greatly by the disappointment of so valuable a cargo as she had, which consisted of provisions of all kinds, of live stock, such as horses, cows, bulls, sheep, and a great quantity of bale goods for the poor wretches at New Holland. The loss of those articles must distress the colony to a great degree.
I omitted in the former part of my letter to mention the number of deaths and births which have occurred since we left England. Of the former we have had only five, and of the latter seven, so that we have increased only two; and in a few days I expect three more births. At present we are remarkably healthy; how long we may remain so God knows, as the worst of our passage will be to New Holland.
COPY of a letter from John Williams, boatswain of the Guardian, to his agents in London.*
[* Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 6th August, 1790.]
Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope,
27th March, 1790.
I have taken this opportunity to acquaint you that his Majesty's ship Guardian is safe arrived at the Cape of Good Hope after a moast troablesum and disagreuble axident that as happened. I shold be glad to give the particular of evrey thing, but time will not permit; but all that I can inform you with I will. We was in a verry fair way of making a quick passage to our intended poart. December the 22, in the latt. of 42·52 south, lond. 42·22 east, we fell in with several islands of ice. On the 23rd fell in with a large island of ice about twice as high as our mastheads. We sent our boats to pick up loose ice that was about, by wich means we had like to have lost our boats and men, for the weather came on thick and begun to blow verry hard, so 'twas with a great deale of troble that they got to the ship. We cleereed them of the ice that they had picked up to make fresh water of, and then we hoisted the boats in and stud from the island of ice for two hours; then tacked and stood to the eastward. The ice was so lofty that itt drifted faster than we expected, by the wind having so much hold of itt, the weather being so thick that wee could scarce see the length of the ship, the wind blowing fresh that we run foul of itt and received a great deale of dammage, knocked away our rudder, broake the tiller in three pieces, broake one of the after-beams in two, knocked the sternpost from the keel, and dammaged the ship in a shocking manner. This axident happened on the 23rd of December; and on the 25th the boats left us with moast of the officers and a great part of the seamen. The mastergunner, purser, one master's mate, one midshipman, and a person [? parson],** with nine seamen, was got into the longboat and all saved. The doctor and four or five men got into a cutter and was upset close to the ship, and all of them was drowned. As for the rest of the boats, I believe must be lost and all in them perrished, for wee was not nigh any land. We was about six hundred leagues from any land. There was about fifty-six men missing; a number drowned jumping into the boats; the sea ran so high that the boats could scarce live. The commander had a strong resulution, for he said he would soner go down in the ship than he wold quid hur. All the officers left in the ship is the commander, the carpenter, one midshipman, and myself. After the boats left us we had two chances—either to pump or sink. We cold just get into the sailroom. We got up a new forecourse and stuck itt full of oakum and rags, and put itt under the ship's bottom; this called fothering the ship. We found some benefit by itt, for pumping and bailing we gained on hur; that gave us a little hopse of saving our lives. We was in this terable situation for nine weeks before we got to the Cape of Good Hope. Sometimes our upper-deck scuppers was under water outside, and the ship leying like a log on the water, and the sea breaking over her as if she was a rock in the sea. Sixteen foot of water was the common run for the nine weeks in the hold. I am not certain what we are to doo with the ship as yeat. We have got allmoast of our cargo out; it is all dammaged but the beef and pork, which is in good order. I have lost a great dele of my cloaths, and I am thinking of drawing of about six pound, wich I think I can make shift with. If this axcident had not hapned I shold not have had aney call for aney. As for my stores, [there] is a great part of them thrown overboard; likewise all the officers' stores in the ship is gone the same way, for evry thing that came to hand was thrown overboard to lighten the ship. I think that we must wait till ordars comes from England to know what we are to do with the ship.
[** The Rev. Mr. Crowther.]
So no more att present from your humble servant,
Boatswain of the Guardian.
EXTRACT of a letter from a young man at Port Jackson to Mr Thomas Olds, of James-street, Oxford Road.*
[* Reprinted from the Gazetteer of 29th December, 1790.]
9th April, 1790.
I SEIZE this opportunity of letting you know, by a vessel that will sail very soon, our wretched situation, which has been occasioned by the miscarriage of our supplies, and that perhaps you have not yet heard of. To give a just description of the hardships that the meanest of us endure, and the anxieties suffered by the rest, is more than I can pretend to. In all the Crusoe-like adventures I ever read or heard of, I do not recollect anything like it; for though you may be told of the quantity of salt meat that is allowed us, its quality in boiling does not make it above half as much, besides other inconveniences I cannot now mention, and which I think make so many of the children very unhealthy. On the same account, I believe few of the sick would recover if it was not for the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Johnson, whose assistance out of his own stores makes him the physician both of soul and body. All our improvements, except our gardens, have lately been quite at a stand, neither do I think they will go on again till we have more assistance from England. God only knows what our Governor thinks of it, or what word he has sent home; but for my part, from the highest to the lowest, I see nobody that is so contented as they were at first. We fear the troops, and they are not contented with seeing those who live better than themselves, nor with us who live worse; and I think if the savages knew that we were as short of powder as we are of provisions they would soon be more daring than they are. We have heard that some convicts at home, who might have been pardoned for capital crimes, have chose their former sentence rather than come here; and which, though it was contradicted, we cannot help thinking is true. We cannot tell, if they have heard of our situation, how it could be, unless from the Cape or Norfolk Island, which we hear no more from than from England. We had some Jews and Dutchmen from thence that would have settled if they had thought it worth while. I should now be very glad of the things I refused to take with me when I came from London, and hope you will venture to send me some needles and blue thread; for, as the cloaths are all wore out that we brought from home, we are mostly in our Woolwich dresses, and the women look like gypsies. But to be serious. We have had so many disappointments about arrivals, &c., that the sullen reserve of superiority has only increased our apprehensions; and some of the most ignorant have no other idea than that they are to be left by the troops and the shipping to perish by themselves! And really, if you was to see with what ardent expectations some of the poor wretches watch an opportunity of looking out to sea, or the tears that are often shed upon the infants at the breast, you must have feelings that otherwise you never could have any experience of.
Port Jackson, New South Wales, 14th April, 1790.*
[* Reprinted from The Oracle of 25th April, 1791.]
BY the time this reaches you, the fate of this settlement, and all it contains, will be decided. It is now more than two years since we landed here, and within less than a month of three since we left England. So cut off from all intercourse with the rest of mankind are we, that, subsequent to the month of August, 1788, we know not of any transaction that has happened in Europe, and are no more assured of the welfare or existence of any of our friends than of what passes in the moon. It is by those only who have felt the anguish and distress of such a state that its miseries can be conceived.
The little European knowledge that we are masters of we picked cat of some old English newspapers which were brought from the Cape of Good Hope about a twelvemonth back, in the Sirius, by which ship you may possibly recollect to have received a letter from me, dated October 1, 1788; but as to all family news, all knowledge of our private affairs, or little endearing accounts, which no man, I presume, is without a wish to receive, nothing but a blank for the long space of three years has been presented to us. But great as our anxiety on this head is, it falls short of what we suffer on another account: the dread of perishing by famine stares us in the face; on the day I write we have but eight weeks' provisions in the public stores, and all chance of a reinforcement under seven months is cut off, unless ships from England should yet, notwithstanding the lateness of the season, come in upon us. The hope of this is, however, very feeble, for, without the most shameful and cruel inattention on your part, ships must have left England by the first of August last, to come here; and if so, they have undoubtedly perished on their route. Even this alternative, dreadful as it is, is less afflicting than to believe that our country would send us out here as a sacrifice to famine and the savages of the place, who, if ever they shall by any means learn our situation, will prove extremely troublesome.
To add to our misfortunes, the Sirius (one of the two ships of war on this station) was totally and irretrievably lost on Norfolk Island, the 19th of last month. The particulars of this trying calamity I cannot at present spare time to write, but I am happy to say that Captain Hunter and all the rest of her crew were saved, with difficulty. She had left us, for Norfolk Island, in the beginning of the month, and carried to that place the Lieutenant-Governor, half the battalion of marines, and 200 convicts, whom it was thought adviseable to send there, in order that we may be as variously dispersed in the approaching crisis, to procure food, as possible. Had the Sirius returned safely here, it was intended to have despatched her immediately to China, to load with provisions for the colony.
You never saw such dismay as the news of the wreck occasioned among us all; for, to use a sea term, we looked upon her as our sheet-anchor. All that can now be done is to despatch the Supply, a little brig, commanded by a lieutenant of the Navy, to Batavia, where she is, if possible, by offering any price, to procure a large ship, and load her with relief for us. By this conveyance the opportunity of writing is afforded me, but God knows how or when it will reach you, though it is proper to observe that an officer is to proceed from Batavia to England with despatches for the Secretary of State as quickly as can be done. This is written in a very different language to my last letter, when I exulted with hope, and looked forward with confidence. Let what will happen, I shall be cheered by the reflection of my misfortunes not being caused by my own errors, an unspeakable consolation, besides which, I am not very apt to despair, and have many things in my favour. I am a stranger to sickness, and find that neither heat, cold, wet, or dry, affect my constitution in any shape whatever, Some little private comforts, which in better days I did not wanton away, are yet left me—nay, I have had enough to succour more than one of my neighbours in distress. It is true, our present allowance is a short one: two pounds of pork (which was cured four years ago, and shrinks to nothing if boiled), two pounds and an half of flour, a pound of rice, and a pint of pease per week is what we live upon. Now, on this ration, reduced as it is, I have no fear of being able to crawl on for many months to come; so that if Heaven be but favourable to the voyage of the Supply (and, thank God, she is as ably commanded and navigated as any ship in the King's service) all things will yet do, for when I spoke of only eight weeks' provisions in the stores, I meant at full allowance, whereas what we are at at present is but a third. Again, to help us out, we use every means to get fish, and sometimes with good success, which is an incredible relief. On the fishing service, the officers, civil and military, take it in turns every night to go out for the whole night in the fishing-boats; and the military, besides, keep a guard at Botany Bay, and carry on a fishery there, taking it three days and three days, turn and turn about. Were the ground good, our gardens would be found of infinite use to us in these days of scarcity, but with all our efforts we cannot draw much from them; however, they afford something, and by industry and incessant fatigue mine is one of the best. Were you to see us digging, hoeing, and planting, it would make you smile. As to parade duties and shew, we have long laid them aside, except the mounting a small guard by day and a picquet at night. Our soldiers have not a shoe, and mount guard barefoot. "Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war are at an end." After having suffered what we do, I shall be grievously hurt, on landing in England, to meet the sneers of a set of holiday troops, whose only employ has been to powder their hair, polish their shoes, and go through the routine of a field-day, though I must own that our air, gait, and raggedness will give them some title to be merry at our expence. So incessantly have we been employed that no military manoeuvre of the least consequence has been practised by us since our embarkation at Plymouth. To cut down trees, turn up ground, and build houses have engrossed all our labour and attention.
Among other letters which I write by this opportunity is a very long one to the * * * * *, in which I have very fairly and freely set down my opinion of this country. The following passage, which I extract for your satisfaction, and with which I close my account, will, I hope, impress his Lordship strongly with the idea of giving his opinion for abandoning the colony, should he ever be consulted on the occasion, or should it at any time become matter of Parliamentary debate. As to the veracity and justice with which it is written, I will maintain them against any interested opponent who may choose to start against me, in the face of the whole world.
"The country, my Lord, is past all dispute a wretched one, a very wretched, and totally incapable of yielding to Great Britain a return for colonizing it. Amidst its native productions I cannot number one which is valuable as an article of commerce. There is no wood fit for naval purposes; no fibrous grass or plant from which cordage can be made; no substance which can aid or improve the labours of the manufacturer; no mineral productions; no esculent vegetables worth the care of collecting and transporting to other climes; and lastly, which is of the most serious consideration, no likehood that the colony will be able to support itself in grain or animal food for many years to come, so that a regular annual expence is entailed on the mother country as long as it shall be kept."
Besides this, I have given his * * * * every other piece of information relative to our Government, management of the convicts, and knowledge of the natives, in my power.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of Saturday, 23rd October, 1790.]
18th April, 1790.A VERY affecting letter has been received by a gentleman of Lincoln's Inn, from Samuel Burt, the person convicted of forgery, but pardoned on condition of going to New South Wales, dated from the Scarborough, transport, False Bay, Cape of Good Hope, April 18, which contains the following account of the intended mutiny and massacre of the crew by the convicts.**
[** Collins (vol. i, p. 123) mentions the part Samuel Burt took in preventing the mutiny.]
The convicts having laid a plot to surprize the crew and murder the officers, and run away with the vessel, only waited for opportunity to put their horrid designs into execution. The substance of his letter is as follows:—
"On the 12th of February, our ship having separated from the Surprize, transport, the Neptune being a great way ahead, and the sea perfectly calm, these unhappy wretches began to whisper from one to the other their mutinous intentions. The plot being communicated to myself, I readily agreed to the scheme, assenting to every proposal of plunder and murder, until such time as I became completely master of the conspiracy and the ringleaders of it. I then apprised the captain of the ship and the military officers of the dangers they were likely to encounter; and so thoroughly did my information prepare them for the business that with little or no trouble the ringleaders were secured and the scheme entirely frustrated. The parties being examined, they made such confession that human nature would almost shudder at the thoughts of. Several of them have been flogged with the greatest severity, and others of more dangerous description are at this time chained to the deck, and it is supposed will be tried and executed immediately on their arrival at New South Wales."
The circumstances of Burt's case were rather remarkable. Being rejected by a woman whom he wished to marry, he committed a forgery, and immediately afterwards surrendered himself at Bow-street, declaring to his friend he had done it for the purpose of getting hanged. Being considered as an object of compassion, he was offered his Majesty's most gracious pardon, which he twice or thrice refused. The lady at length consented to marry him. He then became as solicitous to live as he had before been anxious for death; but during her repeated visits to him in Newgate she caught the gaol-fever and died.
[* Reprinted from the Morning Chronicle of 30th December, 1790. The letter bears no date, but it was probably carried by Lieutenant King, who arrived in England on the 21st December, 1790. If so, the date would be either March or April, 1790. But for the fact that Major Ross was absent at Norfolk Island, the close resemblance of the sentiments and language to those of his letter to Nepean of 10th July, 1788 (Vol. i, part 2, p. 176), would point to him as the author.]
I DO not know what representations of this colony and of Norfolk may have been given to Government and the country. We suspect that a favourable picture has been drawn. But give me leave to assure you, if such be the case, you may rely on its being a gross falsehood and base deception. The country, take my word for it, has no one thing to recommend it; and what could have induced Government to form a settlement here without having first examined it particularly I cannot imagine. One thing is certain, it will never answer.
In our present alarming situation the Governor thought proper to summon us all to council, a step he never thought it expedient to take before; and I will venture to affirm that he would not now have thought it worth his while to submit himself to the opinion of anyone but that dire necessity, and a want of sufficiency in himself, pointed out to him the propriety of such a salutary measure. The sum of our deliberations amounted to the fixing of plans for our support in the present exigency, which we hope will not prove abortive.
What I have said of the country, our general situation, and mode of administration falls very short of a full description of their wretched and deplorable condition. But I am sure it is strictly true. And I should have considered myself guilty of a great neglect of my duty to my country, you, and myself, if I had omitted this opportunity of acquainting you with our unhappy circumstances.
[** Reprinted from the London Chronicle of 24th April, 1790.]
THE fate of the Guardian so immediately following the disaster of the Bounty is the more extraordinary and piteous. Lieutenant Riou was at the Cape of Good Hope, and had an interview with Lieutenant Bligh just after he had reached that port; and the Guardian sailed on her voyage within a few days previous to Mr. Bligh's departure from the Cape to England.
The most speedy exertions were made by Captain Riou, her commander, to accomplish the object of his voyage while at the Cape. Near a score of cows, six horses, several goats, sheep, a few deers, and other animals, with rabbits and poultry, were taken on board and properly disposed. The ship struck on the ice about eight or ten days after she left the Cape.
At first some hopes were entertained that the leak might be stopped; but the straw and sailcloth thus applied was soon forced away, and the boats were the only resort. Five boats were all the Guardian had, and of these one was instantly stove, and some people in consequence perished. Her entire crew were in number ninety-five, besides the commander.
The boat which was taken up contained about sixteen of the crew, under the direction of Mr. Clements, the master; the day after, they left the wreck and the heroic Mr. Riou, a solitary victim to rigid duty, on her deck. The boat in which was Mr. Crowther, the chaplain, came to solicit a quadrant from Mr. Clements; while this was reaching to him the chaplain sprung on board, and thus his life was preserved.
The fate of the other boats excites much apprehension, and in particular the want of water was the evil they were least likely to surmount.
A letter has been received at the Admiralty, which was written by the captain of the Guardian about an hour before she sunk, in which letter Captain Riou had shown great magnanimity and coolness when in the most imminent danger. The part of the crew who have arrived safe here by the way of St. Helena relate that Captain Riou sat down in his own cabin with the utmost composure to write the above letter when the ship was wrecked, and he had scarce any hopes left of saving his own life, whatever might be the lucky fate of some of his crew.
It is with deep concern that we acquaint our readers that Mr. Pitt, the only son of Lord Camelford, was on board the Guardian, sloop, and is supposed to have perished among the rest of that numerous crew, excepting only thirteen out of 300 souls on board.
[* Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 28th April, 1790.]
THE Guardian, ship-of-war, had public stores to the amount of £70,000 on board, besides the private property. Her deck was a complete garden. The plants were in a thriving condition, and her live stock was uncommonly healthy. She was obviously too far to the southward when she struck upon the island. It will be for the Admiralty to shew that the captain had not orders to take that course. Surely, under all the circumstances of the voyage, the squadron ought not to have delayed their time a moment in making discoveries.
[* Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 30th April, 1790.]
THOUGH beyond the verge of all probability, we are enabled to announce that his Majesty's ship Guardian is safe! She arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the 21st of February last. Of this important event official dispatches, signed by Lieutenant Riou, and dated the Cape of Good Hope, are received at the Admiralty Office.
The disaster which befell the ship having been offered to the public eye in various jarring accounts, we call their attention to the following summary of authentic particulars:—
"The island of ice was first seen on the 23rd of December, twelve days after the Guardian sailed from the Cape of Good Hope, on her way to New South Wales.
"The weather was extremely foggy, and the island was not very distinct when first beheld. Lieutenant Riou gave directions to stand towards it, in order to collect lumps of ice to supply the ship with water. This proceeding was judged highly expedient, as the daily demand of water was prodigious, owing to the great quantity of cattle on board. As the ship approached the island the boats were hoisted out and manned, and several lumps collected. During this time the ship lay to, and on the supply of water being brought on board she attempted to stand away. Very little apprehension was at this time entertained of her safety, although the enormous bulk of the island occasioned an unfavourable current, and in some measure gave a partial direction to the wind.
"On a sudden the base of the island, which projected under water considerably beyond the limits of the visible parts, struck the bow of the ship; she instantly swung round, and her head cleared, but her stern, coming on the shoal, struck repeatedly, and the sea being very heavy, her rudder broke away, and all her works abaft were shivered. The ship in this situation became in a degree embayed under the terrific bulk of ice; the height was twice that of the mainmast of a ship of the line. The prominent head of the ice was every moment expected to break away and overwhelm the ship. At length, after every practicable exertion, she was got off the shoal, and the ice floated past her.
"It was soon perceived that the ship had six feet water in her hold, and it was increasing very fast. The hands were set to the pumps and to find out the leaks, and occasionally relieved each other. Thus they continued labouring unceasingly on the 24th, although on the 23rd not one of them had the least rest. The ship was at one period so much relieved that she had only two feet water in the hold; but at this time, when their distress bore the best aspect, the water increased in a moment to ten feet; and the ship being discovered to be strained in all her works, and the sea running high, every endeavour to check the progress of a particular leak proved ineffectual. An immediate project was fixed on to lighten the ship, and the cows, horses, sheep, and all the other live stock for the colony were, with their fodder, committed to the deep to perish.
"At Lieutenant Riou's exhortive appeals the exhausted crew had again recourse to the pumps, but after repeated trials the water could not be kept under, and the pumps, it was found, had lost all their efficiency and power. The crew, thus disheartened, on the 25th (Christmas Day), besought the commander to permit them to hoist out the boats. The cutter, and then the launch, with the jollyboat and others, were accordingly let over the ship's side.
"While these preparations were on foot, Mr. Riou withdrew, and wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty, which is said to be one of the most uncommon proofs of fortitude and virtue that ever adorned human nature. He delivered this to Mr. Clements, and took leave of the boats as they stood away from the ship. One of the boats, however, was stove, owing to the swell of the sea, and only four left the Guardian. In these scarce one-third of the company embarked; the rest chose to remain with their heroic commander and share his fate.
"In this hopeless state the ship continued for some days without a rudder and wholly unmanageable, but the application to reduce the water in her hold was resumed whenever the weary crew felt the return of strength and power, and thus was the Guardian kept afloat till a Dutch packet-boat from the Spice Islands and Batavia, providentially steering a high southerly latitude, fell in with her, and affording her aid of men and materials enabled her to make her way back to the Cape of Good Hope, and kept her company during her course. The Guardian was full 400 leagues from the Cape when she fell in with the island of ice.
"The longboat of the Guardian was at sea fourteen days, during which time her wretched passengers were obliged to drink saltwater; the consequences were, of course, dreadful in the effects on their weak frames. A small boat in which a few embarked, after parting, was heard of no more.
"Several officers remained on board, determined to share the fate of their commander.
"This important intelligence was brought at a late hour on Wednesday evening to the Admiralty by the master of a fishing-vessel that was lying off Dungeness, and had been hailed by the captain of a Dutch packet from the Cape in eight weeks, who gave him a letter from Lieutenant Riou to be forwarded to the Lords of the Admiralty.
"The letter which contained the particulars of this most miraculous escape was immediately forwarded to the King, who expressed uncommon pleasure on the occasion; and Lord Chatham instantly set off in a post-chaise and four for Lord Camelford's seat to congratulate with his noble relation on the safety of his only and much-beloved son.
"Mr. Pitt had adopted the naval profession in positive opposition to the wishes of his noble parent, Lord Camelford. The voyage was ordered by an injunction to make the young gentleman suffer all the hardships of a seaman, to deter and disgust him from the pursuit."
EXTRACT from a letter by one of the female convicts transported in the Lady Juliana.*
[* Reprinted from the Morning Chronicle of 4th August, 1791.]
Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, 24th July, 1790.
WE arrived here safe after a long voyage, in very good health, thanks to our good agent,** on board, and the gentleman in England who sent us out, as we had everything that we could expect from them, and all our provisions were good. We landed here 223 women and twelve children; only three women died,*** and one child. Five or six were born on board the ship; they had great care taken of them, and baby linen and every necessary for them were ready made to be put on. The greatest part of the women were immediately sent to Norfolk Island, a place about 100 miles from here, but very bad for shipping; there is no place to land at but in very fine weather. The Sirius, man-of-war, was lost at this place about six or seven months ago, when she carried some men and women from here. She landed them all safe, but lost almost all their provisions. This place was in a very starving condition before we arrived, and on allowance of only 2 lb. of flour and 2 lb. of pork for each man for a week, and these were almost starved, and could not work but three hours in the day; they had no heart, and the ground won't grow anything, only in spots here and there. There is a place called Rose Hill, about twenty miles from this, where, they say, there are four cornfields, but it does not grow much wheat; we are now much in want of almost everything; we have hardly any cloaths; but since the Scarborough, Neptune, and Surprize arrived we have had a blanket and a rug given us, and we hope to have some cloaths, as the Justinian,**** a ship that came from London with provisions, [is] bringing some cloth and linen, and we are to make the cloaths. Oh! if you had but seen the shocking sight of the poor creatures that came out in the three ships it would make your heart bleed; they were almost dead, very few could stand, and they were obliged to fling them as you would goods, and hoist them out of the ships, they were so feeble; and they died ten or twelve of a day when they first landed; but some of them are getting better. There died in their way on board the Neptune, 183 men and 12 women, and in the Scarborough, 67 men, and in the Surprize, 85. They were not so long as we were in coming here, but they were confined, and had bad victuals and stinking water. The Governor was very angry, and scolded the captains a great deal, and, I heard, intended to write to London about it, for I heard him say it was murdering them. It, to be sure, was a melancholy sight. What a difference between us and them. God bless our good agent (I don't mean the captain). We had no reason to complain against him for anything; all our provisions and cloaths were good. I don't think I ever shall get away from this place to come again to see you without an order from England, for some of the men's times were out, and they went and spoke to the Governor of it, and told him that they would not work. He told them he could not send them home without orders from London, and if they would not work they should have nothing to eat, so they almost all went again to work, except ten, who were saucy, and the Governor ordered them a good flogging; but all that came from London in the First Fleet time will be out in less than two years' time. I hope you will try to get an order for me, that I may once more see you all.
[** Lieutenant Edgar. Collins, vol. i, p. 116.]
[*** According to Surgeon Alley's report (Vol. i, part 2, p. 323), five women had died on the passage to the Cape.]
[**** The Justinian arrived at Sydney on the 20th June, 1790.]
EXTRACT of a letter from Botany Bay.*
[* Reprinted from the Morning Chronicle of 8th September, 1791]
Port Jackson, New South Wales, 7th August, 1790.
I AM truly surprised that I have not heard from you by the last fleet from England, which arrived here in June, very sickly, though their voyage was a very short one. Before now you must be acquainted with the loss of his Majesty's ship the Guardian, by which every person in this settlement is a very great sufferer; for my own part, a few letters excepted, I have not received anything sent by her. By the Supply, which sailed to Batavia in April last for supplies, to prevent us from starving, I wrote you a long letter, to which I refer you, as I have nothing to add but that most unexpectedly we were relieved by the arrival of the Lady Juliana, Justinian, Neptune, Scarborough, and Surprize, transports, from the most distressed and starving condition that ever people were in.
Indeed, before the arrival of these ships, we really thought that Government had forgotten us. I am sure, if they were well informed of the badness of the country we are placed in, which of itself affords less resources than any in the known world, they would not have been so very tardy in sending to know what was become of us. Had it not been for a trip that the Sirius, before she was left on Norfolk Island, made to the Cape of Good Hope to bring us six months' flour, we should have, long before the arrival of the fleet, been food for the crows; for when the transports came into this port, and for three months before, we were reduced to so low a ration of provisions as four ounces of pork and the same quantity of flour and rice per day, every other species of provisions being long expended.
I wish I could say something in favour of this place, which I can by no means do consistent with truth. I am told by the officer of the [New] South Wales Corps that in England the reports with respect to this country are flattering and favourable. I am sure whoever gave that account cannot be an honest man, or regard truth, which, to their sorrow, I believe, they are already convinced of.
[* Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of the 23rd December, 1790.]
THE despatches from the new colony of Botany Bay were brought by Lieut. King,** of the Navy, commanding at Norfolk Island, in New South Wales, who went in the Supply, tender, from Botany Bay to Batavia, from thence came to Europe in a Dutch East Indiaman, and landed on Sunday at Harwich. Government has received samples of its produce of wheat, barley, and rice, all of which are of the finest quality, and very abundant in their growth. The harvest of last year already produced 300 bushels of corn.
[** Lieutenant King arrived in London on 21st December, 1790.—Vol. i, part 2, p. 428.]
The report of the natives having shewn an unfriendly disposition to our Government, and that skirmishes between our settlers and them have occurred, is without the smallest foundation. A principal chief among the natives lives with Governor Phillip in his house, and a native female lives as servant to the chaplain. They are convinced of the superiority of the British Government, and shew no signs of resistance.
The settlement was in no great want of provisions when Lieut. King left it. A further supply from Europe might be expected to arrive at Botany Bay about six weeks after Lieut. King's departure, as the storeships which left England last November had arrived at the Cape and sailed again.
The allowance to each convict was 2 lb. of pork, 4 lb. of flour, and 7 lb. of rice per week, besides fish, which are caught in abundance. This portion of food is in every respect ample. There was abundance of cloathing.
In addition to the supplies that might be expected front England, that sent by Lieut. Riou from the Cape would likewise arrive soon after Mr. King left Botany Bay.
We are sorry to conclude this account by informing the public of the loss of the Sirius, sloop-of-war, of ten guns, Capt. J. Hunter, which had been sent from Botany Bay to Norfolk Island, where she was at anchor when a violent gale of wind came on, which obliged her crew to drive her on shore, and she was entirely lost. There were few or no stores in her, and all the crew were saved.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 8th January, 1791.]
The Old Bailey Sessions for 1790.
ONLY twenty-eight (of the number of capital convictions in the year 1790) were executed, a far less number than we can find upon record for some years back; but then it must be remembered that only a week or two ago not less than forty-eight of the capital convicts were pardoned on condition of going to Botany Bay, which they all accepted, save only one woman. During the summer, likewise, a similar pardon was tendered to several capital convicts, and accepted by all but two, who preferred hanging, and were immediately gratified with the object of their choice.
EXTRACT from a letter by a Surgeon's Mate at Botany Bay.**
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 13th January, 1791.]
IT is now so long since we have heard from home that our clothes are worn threadbare. We begin to think the mother country has entirely forsaken us. As for shoes, my stock has been exhausted these six months, and I have been obliged since that time to beg and borrow among the gentlemen, for no such article was to be bought. In this deplorable situation famine is staring us in the face. Two ounces of pork is the allowance of animal food for four-and-twenty hours, and happy is the man that can kill a rat or crow to make him a dainty meal. We have raised some excellent vegetables, but such food, without the mixture of the animal, does not supply strength, but keeps us lax and weakly. I dined most heartily the other day on a fine dog, and hope I shall soon again have an invitation to a similar repast. The animals that were meant to stock the country are almost all butchered. Hunger will be appeased while any eatable remains.
Several of the convicts have perished by the hands of the natives, by rambling too far into the woods. I accompanied two of our gentlemen on a shooting party. We penetrated near thirty miles in two days over a delightful country, free from underwood, when we arrived at a rapid river that was not fordable.* On the other side the country seemed to be in a state of romantic and uncultivated nature. The landscape was finished by a range of hills that rise one above another, in a very grand style, to a considerable height.
[* The Nepean. The only expedition answering to this description was that undertaken by Captain Tench, Assistant-Surgeon Arndell, and Mr. Lowes, Surgeon's Mate of the Sirius, on 26th June, 1789.—(Sec Tench's Complete Account, p. 27.) It is evident from this that the above letter was written by Mr. Lowes.]
The loss of the Sirius was the first cause of our being put to such short allowance, being obliged to supply the party a second time from the common stock. To prevent murmuring, officers and men share alike.
Our births have far exceeded our burials; and what is very remarkable, women who were supposed past child-bearing, and others who had not been pregnant for fifteen or sixteen years, have lately become mothers.
[** Reprinted from the Morning Chronicle of 9th March, 1791.]
Mary and Ann, transport, Plymouth, 2nd March, 1791.
OUR departure from Newgate was so sudden it was utterly impossible to leave you even a single word. We had not the least notice of it till four o'clock in the morning; and before we could well get the better of the shock three hundred and nineteen of us were conveyed to the river-side. Dreadful reflection! The unfortunate wretches were all of them loaded with irons and chained together except me, who was permitted to walk unfettered between the Sheriff and Mr. Akerman, whose humanity to me will long be remembered.
You may be sure I have often pictured to myself the state of your mind upon finding me dragged away without our seeing one another at parting! But such are the laws of our country! It has, however, given me infinitely more pain and misery than the punishment itself. The many years' endearment, the fond affections of a father, and all the flattering hopes of a reclaimed life, in case I had been fortunate enough to have escaped on my late trial, crowded before me, and made me anxious, indeed, to have remained with you and my dear child, and to have continued an useful member of society—at least, to have bid a short adieu to you and the public. With respect to the prospect before me, sad and distressing as it may appear, all may ultimately be for our good. With the best of hearts and best of dispositions there is, God knows, an overbearing fate that counteracts our best designs, and makes us act (that is pickpockets) in spite of ourselves. But no more of that. It is now too late for me to reason.
Pray remember me to Charles H————and the rest of my friends, and let me see you and my child as soon as possible, agreeable to the directions in the postcript hereof.***
[*** The postscript has not been preserved.]
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 3rd March, 1791.]
3rd March, 1791.
THE number of convicts sent off from the new prison last week, in order to be conveyed to Cork, and there to join the Botany Bay fleet,** amounted to sixty men and fifteen women. The military guard was 100 men and two commissioned officers. It was remarkable that most of the women seemed to have less feeling for their situation than the men; and Rositer, the woman who had been condemned to die for robbing one of the rooms at the Linenhall, called out to the soldier to clear the way till she mounted her landau. Carr, who was also lately under condemnation of death, formed part of the above number.
[** The Third Fleet. The Irish convicts were conveyed in the Queen, transport. She arrived at Sydney on the 26th September, 1791, with 126 male and 23 female convicts.—Collins, vol. i, p. 179.]
17th March, 1791.
THE convicts on board the ships bound to Botany Bay were found to have used a very extraordinary strategem to run away from the ships, by having spring saws concealed in their hair, and between the soles of their shoes, for the purpose of sawing off their irons.
This strategem was discovered by one of the convicts having on a very old pair of shoes, and the saw was discovered through the openness of the sole. A general search was then made, and upwards of 200 convicts had saws found on them.
[*** Reprinted from The Bee of 15th May, 1792. Note by Editor:—"Authentic advices from Sydney Cove, New South Wales, being an extract of a letter obligingly communicated to the editor by a gentleman of eminence in Britain." The Bee was an Edinburgh weekly paper.]
24th March, 1791.
IN my last to you, by way of Batavia, I endeavoured to inform you of our wretched condition here, and acquainted you that we had unanimously resolved to lengthen out the scanty remains of our provision by our united exertions in gardening, fishing, &c. By the diligent use of such means we did not despair of being able to hold out until the Supply should return from Batavia. But we had dropped all thought of receiving any relief from England for a considerable time, as we judged that such ships as might have sailed for this port were unfortunately lost. Our savings in the public store were but very small, for all we could do, but still we continued cheerful, and resolved to persevere.
We were preparing to commemorate the birthday of our Royal master with his Excellency the Governor, when, about three in the afternoon of the third of June, the flag at the entrance of the harbour was displayed as a signal for a ship in sight; and in the evening of the same day the ship Lady Juliana came safely to an anchor in the lower part of the harbour. The glad tidings were soon communicated through our little town, and received with great joy and gratitude; and our pleasure was increased by the assurance of his Majesty's perfect recovery from a late alarming and almost fatal illness. A day of thanksgiving to God for his happy recovery was ordered to be given here, and an address was drawn up, to which we about all signed our names, and presented it to the Governor to be forwarded to England.
We are now informed that his Majesty's ship Guardian had struck an island of ice on her passage hither, and with the utmost difficulty returned back to the Cape of Good Hope, with the loss of some lives, all the cattle, and the greatest part of both public and private property. This unfortunate accident, which happened in December, 1789, confirmed our suspicions of some mischance intervening, and reducing us to the severe distresses which we suffered.
The Lady Juliana had on board two hundred and twenty-five female convicts, with two years' provisions for them only; so that, saving the glad tidings of other ships being forwarded on their passage here, we had little to expect from any relief she could give us. They were remarkably healthy throughout the voyage, most likely from the judicious plan of affording them tea, sugar, and soap, with frequent refreshments by the way. Cleanliness and comforts ought to be attended to rigidly on a passage so distant and dangerous as this is, or many lives will certainly be sacrificed.
We were entertaining ourselves with the abundance of news which had transpired, and anticipating the arrival of supplies, which we were given to understand could not be far distant, when, on Sunday, the 20th of June, the Justinian, of London, arrived safe in the cove, after a passage of five months only, loaded with provisions for the settlement. This seasonable relief brought us full allowance, and dispelled that gloom and fear of famine which had been likely to visit us.
By this ship we learned that part of the corps raised for the service of this country were forwarded in their passage in three transports, having on board a considerable body of convicts; and that the major-commandant* would shortly follow in his Majesty's ship Gorgon, with the remaining part of the troops. The marines, who are to be relieved by the new corps, feel great satisfaction at the prospect of getting home; but they are surprised to learn that the cause of their being relieved is attributed to disagreements among the officers. That very unpleasant differences have taken place between their commandant and the Governor we are all well aware of. Who is right or who is wrong will certainly hereafter be made known. But it is a grievous hardship that unconcerned individuals should, by misrepresentation, be involved in such affairs, or be deprived of that merit which is so dearly bought by their services in this country.
[* Francis Grose.]
Much credit is due to Mr. Maitland, the master of the Justinian, for his expedition on the voyage, which he assured us would have been completed in four months but for the untoward and boisterous weather he met with on this coast. This ship was followed by the Surprize on the 26th of June, and by the Neptune and Scarborough, transports, on the 29th, all of them after a passage of little more than five months.
The Neptune embarked two officers of the troops and forty-two soldiers; 433 male convicts, seventy-eight female; six convicts' wives, free women; and thirteen children. They lost on the passage 162, and landed 269 sick at the hospital. The Surprize had on board two officers and thirty-eight troops, one of whom died on the passage; and 252 male convicts, forty-two of whom died on the passage, and 126 were landed at the hospital.
The Scarborough had two officers and thirty-four soldiers, and 256 male convicts, sixty-eight of whom died on the passage, and ninety-six were landed sick at the hospital. And in spite of every effort to relieve the afflicted, 124 of them have since fallen victims to disease.
It was shocking to behold the deplorable condition to which the poor wretches were reduced by dysentery and scurvy. The liberal supply of hospital stores enabled us to assist them with some comforts as well as medicines. But the miserable state to which the poor wretches were reduced by perpetual confinement below throughout the passage put it beyond the power of art to restore many of them. The sole direction of them on board was left to the masters of transports, who, either from inclination or a want of knowledge, denied them those indulgences which might have been a means of preserving their health, or at least of preventing so great a mortality.
The Justinian and Surprize were ordered to be cleared as fast as possible, that they might carry a supply of stores and an additional number of people to Norfolk Island. We entertained many doubts with respect to their situation at that place; and, unfortunately for us, we had no prospect of making ourselves acquainted with their state before the return of the Supply from Batavia, as the ships on clearing at that port were to proceed immediately to China. I shall not attempt to describe the confusion that existed at that time in our colony.
The Governor now perceived the necessity of providing habitations for the people that had disembarked, as well as those that were expected soon to follow; for the little conveniences that had been raised, chiefly at the expence and labor of the first colonists, were everywhere crowded by the newcomers, both bond and free; and it was said that no houses could be considered as the private property of any individual on the settlement.
Our new guests expressed great concern at not finding everything here in a very prosperous state. They had been led to believe that matters were in a very fair train, and that plenty of conveniences were ready for their reception at landing; but they found quite the contrary to be the case.
His Excellency has ordered a town to be erected as fast as possible at Rosehill, and has employed all the artificers on that duty. They have already got up about a hundred huts, of one story, twenty-five feet long by twelve broad each. The streets are to be two hundred feet wide, and each hut is to be furnished with some garden-ground backwards. Upon the whole, the plan seems to be made the most regular of any yet laid down at this place.
Since the arrival of ships, the following terms have been offered to settlers, viz.:—To every non-commissioned officer, an allotment of one hundred and thirty acres of land, if single; and of one hundred and sixty, if married. To every private soldier, an allotment of eighty acres, if single; and of one hundred, if married. And an allotment of ten acres of land to every child of such non-commissioned officer or private soldier as may choose to settle. Such allotments to be free of all fees, taxes, quit-rents, and other acknowledgments, for the space of ten years, but after the expiration of that time to be liable to an annual quit-rent of one shilling for every fifty acres.
His Majesty has, likewise, willed that a bounty of three pounds per man be offered to each non-commissioned officer or private man who may be disposed to continue in this country and enlist in the corps appointed for the service of New South Wales. And, should their behaviour be good, they shall, after a further service of five years, be entitled to a double proportion of land than would be granted them, provided they quit the service at the relief of the marines, free of all taxes, fees, quit-rents, &c., for the space of fifteen years; subject, however, after that time to the same acknowledgments as before. His Majesty has also willed, as a further encouragement to the above description of men, that upon their being discharged or relieved, or after a further service of five years in the new corps, they shall receive, out of the public stores, a proportion of clothing for one year, together with a suitable proportion of seeds and grain for the tillage of land, and a proportion of tools and implements proper for their use, for that time. And when any of them can feed and clothe such a number of convicts as may be judged necessary for their use, for the time being, to assist them in clearing and cultivating the soil, the service of such convicts shall be assigned to them.
No proposal has been made to any of the officers, civil or military, nor do I hear that any of those to whom they have been made have, as yet, resolved on accepting them.* The country, for all we have yet been able to observe, is not by any means favourable to our wishes. Some of the free men, who are considered as judges in farming, report the land at Rosehill to be light and sandy, and equal to such as would be let at 15s. an acre within three miles of Lewis, in Sussex, but at a distance from a market-town not above half as much. And, on making a calculation of the average price of land about High Wycomb, in Bucks, they find, by three or four thousand acres, that it lets, on an average, at 19s. 6d. per acre—not more. The tenant, besides, pays the church and poor rates; the poor rates amount to about 1s. 6d., the church to about 8s. in the pound. This land is much better than the average land about Rosehill. These circumstances, added to the scarcity of fresh water, want of cattle, and the proper means of agriculture, together with the bad returns that have as yet been obtained from the different crops, are, I think, prognostics that very little advantage can be obtained from this country, or that it can maintain its new inhabitants within a great length of time, and without a very great expence to the nation.
[* The answers of the principal officers to the proposal to remain in the colony will be found on p. 201 of Vol. i, part 2.]
The return of grain this season from Rosehill, which is the only farm in cultivation for the public, has not, from all I can learn, been more than threefold and a-half, if so much; perhaps, in some measure, owing to the very great drought which has prevailed this season. But it is feared little can be expected from it at best; for the farmer, on the part of Government, says he sowed forty-five bushels of wheat in maiden land at that place last year, and reaped six or seven fold only. He expected a much better return this season, from the ground being longer opened, but is disappointed; and he has since declared that very little can be expected in future unless cattle can be procured sufficient to manure it. Two hundred and ninety-three acres of land are now cleared of the timber at Rosehill, but the roots are all left in the ground—a circumstance that must prevent the labouring of the land by any other means than that of the spade or hoe until they are removed, which is a work I fear cannot be accomplished.
The coast has not as yet been examined by us further to the southward than Botany Bay, or to the northward than Broken Bay; but several excursions have been made into the country by some of the officers, whose judgment can be depended upon. They all agree in thinking it unfit for almost any purpose. They have for the most part found it rugged and unkindly, and complain of a very great scarcity of water. What they have met with is generally contained in stagnant pools, which seem to be reservoirs for rainwater. Sometimes there is a continuation of them for a little distance; and after very heavy rains they frequently communicate with each other, and then send out a stream through some of the adjacent vallies, which ceases to run shortly after the rain has ceased to fall.
It is impossible to tell what could have occasioned the description of Botany Bay that appears in the voyages of Captain Cook. The meadowland, after the most minute examination, is found to be nothing but a perfect quagmire. In short, so totally different is it from what has been said of it that had it not been for the latitude and longitude, which are accurately laid down, we should not have known the place from the account given of it.
Of Norfolk Island, I can only speak from hearsay. The return of the Supply from Batavia has given us a late opportunity of knowing something of their state at that place, which we find to have been much worse than ours before the ships arrived. And had they not been fortunate enough to save the greatest part of the provisions from the wreck of the Sirius, they would have been left with not more than six weeks' provisions at the utmost to subsist upon. The soil at that place is said to be good, and the climate a healthy one; but both the wood and the flax, which were so much spoken of, are neither of them objects of much consideration. The flax grows only on points jutting out to the sea; and the pinetree, as it is called, is found to be so brittle as to render it unfit for masts and many other purposes. Besides, the necessity of clearing the island for the maintenance of its inhabitants precludes a possibility of applying more of the timber than now stands to any public purpose, or of cultivating a sufficient quantity of the flaxplant to be of any service. But to what purpose retain a spot situated in the middle of the ocean, and at such a distance from England, when it is seldom possible for any vessel to approach it in safety from the dreadful surf which in general lashes its shore; where there is no kind of shelter even for a boat, nor any place of anchorage to be depended upon; and, in fine, whose utmost extent does not exceed five miles in length and three in breadth. In addition to the wreck of the Sirius and former losses which have happened there, a boat unloading one of the transports, with seven people, was destroyed in the presence of the inhabitants, who had it not in their power to give them any assistance, although within a few yards of the spot, so suddenly did the surf get up.
Three years have elapsed in January last since our arrival in this country, and, saving a chance meal, the chief of our diet has been salt meat, and that sometimes in very reduced quantities.
The state we were in when the dispatches went from this place in the Supply sternly threatens us again, there being no more than seven months' provision now in store at the present allowance, which must in the course of a month, if no ships arrive, be reduced to two-thirds, and shortly after that to one-half (or perhaps less), if no relief appears. We have little to look to from our granaries; and the live stock, which consists of goats, pigs, and poultry, are so degenerate and few in number from want of food that the whole would not afford the colony two days' subsistence.
What can have become of the Gorgon,* with Major Grose and the rest of the troops, baffles all conjectures. The detachment under Captain Nepean have been here now eight months in daily expectation of their arrival. I am afraid it is our fate to be very unfortunate.
[* The Gorgon was detained in England until 15th March, 1791.]
The new corps seem to have come out without being well acquainted with their situation at this place. It is said they are to pay threepence per day for their ration, and to have no spirits allowed them. If so, their case is pitiable.
It is probable Government does not intend to continue the allowance of spirits any longer, for, except a three months' proportion, which has lately been served, there has not been any issued for eight months past. The soldiers feel the want of that article very much, as they live but poorly, and have been long accustomed to the use of it.
Much cannot be said respecting the natives; their wretched manner of life is a proof, among the many others, of the wretchedness of their country. They have lately been persuaded to trust themselves amongst us, and their desire for food, without being at the trouble of collecting it, has induced them to continue their intercourse. Previous, however, to this connection, his Excellency, from reposing too great confidence in them, had nearly lost his life by a wound from one of their spears, and his gamekeeper has since been killed by one of them at Botany Bay. These are, I think, the only accidents that have happened lately, and I think it is likely our attention to them will be the means of preventing any happening in future.
Five convicts, who had previously furnished themselves with a few provisions and necessaries, made their escape from this place in a small open boat. We apprehend their intention was to reach some of the East India islands, but they were, upon the whole, so badly appointed that it is very improbable they could have survived long.
Detaining and punishing the convicts for attempting to get away after their terms of transportation have expired has occasioned much murmuring and discontent among them, and will no doubt impel them to attempt their liberty, however dismal or distant the prospect of obtaining it may be.
I send this by Mr. Worgan, surveyor [surgeon] of his Majesty's ship Sirius, who returns to England in the Dutch vessel that brought us a little better than two months' provisions from Batavia. He is a young gentleman of approved character and merit.
If you condescend to receive this and give him a hearing, you will receive a very just account of our situation in this colony.
Much also may be expected from Captain Hunter, whose virtue and integrity is as conspicuous as his merit; and his officers, who are for the most part men of respectable characters, can from real experience describe the sterile territory of New South Wales.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 1st November, 1791, the editor of which described it as a "letter from one of the female convicts to a gentleman in England, who had exerted himself very humanely in her behalf to get her the liberty of transporting herself and family to America, though without success, giving an account of her passage to St. Jago, on her way to New South Wales."]
St. Jago, 29th March, 1791.
Most Honoured Sir,
Your past kindness to me induces me to trouble you with some account of where I am, and what kind of voyage I have had; the latter, however, cannot be a very favourable one, for we have been surrounded by danger. We sailed from Portsmouth the 23rd of February, with the wind much against us, and were so much in danger that we feared we should have shared the fate of a ship which was lost within sight of us. Our good captain very kindly dropped anchor at the Nore, but did not stop more than one night, and sailed for the Downs, where we sent our pilot on shore. On the 25th and 26th, along the coast, we had a violent storm, which lasted twenty-four hours. During every moment of its continuance we expected to perish, and were washed out of our beds between decks, while the sea-sickness and the groans and shrieks of so many unhappy wretches made the situation we were in truly distressing, for there were 138 women and five children, two of the latter born after we sailed, and one only died on our passage hither, where we remain no longer than is necessary to repair the ship and take in water. Our captain hopes we shall arrive at Botany Bay in August, if it please God the weather should prove favourable. This is a very fine island, supposed to be very rich, but the inhabitants I have seen are principally blacks. The general produce is poultry, hogs, and goats, which are very fine of their kind; and rich fruits, such as oranges, melons, &c., are very plentiful and cheap. The 16th of March we crossed the Line, where we were dipped in a tub of salt-water by the sailors, and tarred all over, it being a rule amongst them to make every one pay so much money or undergo this, and we all shared the same fate. I have been greatly distressed for want of money, because I came away without being able to see my husband.
If, sir, you have any success in your application for my pardon, you can send it me by any of the captains coming out to Botany Bay, which, I am sure, your goodness will endeavour to do for the sake of my motherless children; they are the only cause of my anxiety and unhappiness. I hope your generous exertions, aided by the goodness of God, will one day restore me to them; yet, whether you succeed or not, that God, I sincerely hope, will reward you—fully reward you—for your past unequalled kindness to me. Pray, sir, be good enough to let my husband know you have had a letter from me, and beg him to take care of my dear children. I think it hard I did not see him before I sailed, for we laid a week at Gravesend, and I should have left my country less sorrowfully had I given him my last charges and bade him farewell.
If you will send to me, sir, direct it to be left for me at Governor Phillip's, New South Wales, and say anything in behalf of my character—it will serve me much; and if you can write immediately, the letter will be there before me, and mention that I am coming in the Mary Ann, Captain Murrow [Monroe], because your recommendation, in the most trifling degree, will do me great service on my arrival.
I hope you will excuse my being so troublesome to you. I sent you two letters from Gravesend, and mentioned my going to send one by the Barra, but as the man never came I hope you did not send anything. You, sir, are the only friend I ever had in my afflictions, and I remember your goodness without grief, except when I reflect that I have no reward to offer you but my humble thanks.
We are much better off than we expected, and have as much liberty as our unhappy situation possibly allows. I am much better in my health than I have been for some time, and with God's assistance and yours I do not despair of yet living to be a comfort to my children. This, sir, is the only prayer for herself in the heart of one bound in duty and by gratitude to pray for you and your family as long as her life and heart have power to think of or utter a prayer to God, and who is your most humble and obedient servant,
We have given the above unfortunate woman's letter a place in our paper, as her case is of that nature to interest us in her behalf. It appears that she was tried for stealing a piece of linen from a shop in Tavistock-street (the only theft she says she ever committed), and was sentenced for seven years' transportation. When the vessel was at Gravesend, a man, whose wife was a convict, contrived by a boat to get them on shore from the ship, and she was retaken some time after, and sentence of death pronounced for returning from transportation before her time; but after laying in Newgate near a year, received his Majesty's pardon on condition on going to Botany Bay for life, which she refused at the bar on account of not being permitted to take her children with her, and was taken back to Newgate in strong convulsions, and her shrieks were re-echoed through the whole gaol. The occasion of her committing the theft, from her own and her husband's account, was as follows:—They were natives of Ireland. He was by trade a stonemason, but on coming to England entered into the service of a merchant in Austin Friars, where he continued till after they were married, when he returned to his trade, and had worked with a stonemason at the west end of the town, near two years, when he had the misfortune to have a stone fall on him, and was carried to St. Thomas's hospital; that during the time he was there, having nothing to support herself and children, she committed the theft for which she was convicted; that fearing it might disgrace her husband she was tried by her maiden name; that after she escaped she secreted herself till her husband could procure means of their returning to Ireland; but venturing out one evening she was recognised by one of the gaol-runners, and unfortunately taken hold of.
[* Extract from a private letter, reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 14th July, 1791.]
The Albemarle, transport,
Fonchal Bay, Madeira, 25th April, 1791.
ON the 19th inst. the convicts rose upon us with intention to massacre the officers and soldiers, and then take the vessel to America. Fortunately, however, they were repulsed and driven to take refuge in the hold and in their prison-room. Some of them were wounded. In the search after the ringleaders we admitted one of them King's evidence, and he confessed the circumstances of the whole design. After they were subdued it was unanimously agreed by the officers and crew that it was expedient to hang up the two ringleaders at the yard-arm, which was accordingly put in execution. There were no ships in sight at the time they rose. One of the ringleaders was an American. Two of the crew, who were accomplices in the insurrection, were set on shore here, not considering it safe to proceed with such treacherous villains on board the ship. We are one and all armed day and night, and keep the most vigilant look-out over the convicts, six of whom have died since our departure from England. To-morrow we sail for St. Jago, the place of general rendezvous; there we shall stay a few days, and then take our departure for [New] South Wales.
Our passage hither from the Lizard has been extremely boisterous; we have been twenty-five days buffeting it with contrary winds for the most part of the way. My four consorts have parted company; some from stress of weather, others designedly.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 31st May, 1791.]
GOVERNMENT are about to establish a spice plantation on the N.W. side of New South Wales, from which they are led to expect great commercial advantages to Great Britain.
[*** Reprinted from the Western County Magazine for 1792.]
Cape of Good Hope, 1st July, 1791.
I anticipate the surprise you must feel at the receipt of a letter from this part of the Globe, but I am inclined to hope it will prove an agreeable surprise. I have reason to conclude that my old friend report, with its usual accuracy, its particular attention to every matter which concerns me, has pronounced me totally lost, or, to use a sea phrase, that I am by this time safe in Davy Jones's locker; a time, therefore, that brings you authentic intelligence to the contrary may not be quite unacceptable. You have favoured me with some share of your esteem, and you will do me the justice to believe that I cannot be insensible to your merit; and I assure you, dear sir, that about this time twelvemonth I had flattered myself strongly with the agreeable hope of renewing some or those convivial hours I have had the pleasure of passing with you. But how uncertain are all human expectations! How soon are the brightest prospects clouded! And what sudden, surprising revolutions will sometimes happen in the affairs of nations, as well as individuals! If ever there was a man who seemed destined to encounter difficulties, and to struggle with disappointments, that man is myself. At the very moment I was going to Doncaster some unlooked for circumstances frustrated my intention, so I commissioned an acquaintance, who was passing that way, to call on you, with my respects, and the cash you were so kind as to advance some time before on my account. He assured me he would not fail, and I hope he has been punctual. A month had scarcely elapsed afterwards when the unfortunate affair took place which has compelled me to become a circumnavigator. Perhaps I am wrong to call it unfortunate—perhaps all is best that happens; but I leave you to judge, sir, what I must feel when we weighed anchor at Spithead, and our sails swelled with that wind which was to waft me, for ever, perhaps, from everything that was dear to man. God knows what a number of painful circumstances I had then to combat; but surely they were sufficient to dismay the stoutest heart. If I was not pennyless, I was, at least, next door to it, not being possessed of a dozen guineas, including cash, necessaries, and property of every kind. What a stock for so vast a voyage! What a provision to carry me from one part of the world to the other, and to lay a foundation for future subsistence! I was, at the same time, in so impaired a state of health as to damn the probability that I should survive a month in so comfortless a condition. These, however, were the least of my afflictions: yet it was then I found what the heart was capable of enduring—what amazing resources it could strike out to support itself under the worst embarrassments. Till that hour I never thoroughly knew that the mind was indeed a kingdom in itself; it told me that life, at the best, was nothing more than a voyage or a journey, and, however rough to some, or smooth to others, the road might prove, it must still have an end; and where was the difference then?
The world imagined I had done it some injury; but however it might have been magnified by the tongue of detraction, the balance between us in that respect was more equal than was generally supposed, for I also had met some injuries, and those of as harsh a nature as any I ever inflicted. But complaint was childish, and I knew it was by manly fortitude, not petulant repining, that great difficulties were to be surmounted. The ills I had done, or the ills I had received, were come to a crisis. My own misconduct I might regret, and time possibly might repair, but I could not recall it. And the injuries I had received in the course of my life had always proceeded from persons who were not worth casting away a thought upon. So I banished from my mind every idle vexatious idea, and every emotion of resentment and ill-nature. You, virtuous Europeans, I hope, will not be less generous than a poor banished sinner; you will pardon me, I trust, the many ruffianly deeds I have done, the many friends I have betrayed, the many houses I have fired, the many murders I have committed, and the many treasons I have conspired against my sovereign and the nation. To be serious, sir, I left England and Europe without a spark of malevolence in my mind against any creature whatever, wishing every good heart as much happiness as it could wish itself, and every bad one to become better, perfectly resigned to whatever might happen, and not without hope in the kindness of Providence. With this temper I committed myself to the winds and waves, and with this temper I hope I shall descend to the grave, and I am very easy about where that grave may happen, whether in Europe, in New South Wales, or in the bosom of the ocean. To my thinking, it is of little consequence where the residuum lies, if the spirit ascends to Heaven.
We have now been three months and two days at sea, without putting into, or almost without seeing, any land till we arrived here. It has pleased God to preserve me in a wonderful manner, under such complicated affliction as I had to struggle with, and our voyage, so far, has exceeded my most sanguine expectations. I find myself now, at the Cape of Good Hope, in much better health than when I left England, and in suitable spirits—in as composed, if not chearful, spirits as ever I was in my life. The gout and rheumatism, with that dreadful disorder the scurvy, which too often makes such havoc at sea, I never had a touch of; and still, thank Heaven, am as great a stranger to them as ever, as far as relates to myself. I have had no illness of any sort since we sailed, not even an hour of the usual sea-sickness; and I know you will feel pleasure from hearing that it has pleased God to raise me up valuable friends even in this remote region.
Our ship is moored at present in a fine bay, completely sheltered on all sides by hills and mountains of various figures, forming a singular and very romantic view. Here we take in water, vegetables, and every other refreshment so agreeable to people who have been a long time at sea, and especially to those who have been used to the comforts of what is generally called good living. Here is tolerable beef, and as fine well-fed mutton as ever I saw in England. A very large sheep, which we have laid in for the use of our mess, cost four dollars. As for such vegetables as carrots, cabbages, and onions, they are not to be excelled in any part of the world; and the same may be said of the fruits, particularly sweet oranges and pears, as fine and by many degrees the largest I ever saw before. Yet it is now the very depth of what they call winter; though, from the beautiful verdure of the cultivated spots, and the mildness of the ambient air, an Englishman would be apt to conclude it was spring entering into summer. I have drank your health in a bumper of choice Cape wine, and you were sometimes remembered during the voyage—over a can of grog. You will scarcely believe, sir, that arrack, so much esteemed in Europe, can be laid in here for half-a-crown per gallon; such, however, is the cordial fact. There are in the bay with us two ships (which have been at Port Jackson with people, have since touched at China, and are now on their return to England), the Lady Juliana and Neptune, which afford us an excellent opportunity of writing home. But, why should I say home? What is England, or Ireland, or Scotland to me now? Though I wish their prosperity as much as the richest of their inhabitants, yet that is my country where I can find content; and content is confined to no particular country—it may be excluded from a palace, it may be found in a wilderness. Thank Heaven, I am not much influenced by local prejudices. The nearer we approach the destined land, where, in length of time, every man is to sit under the shade of his own vine and his own fig-tree, the more favourable the account becomes; but I shall suspend my opinion till I can judge from my own observation. There is no doubt but the country is very romantic, and the air salubrious, and these are material points. It is expected that in less than two months we shall arrive there.
You find, dear sir, that though in a state of captivity, I am still possessed of two of life's greatest blessings—health and a tranquil mind. Sweet Hope, like a faithful companion, has constantly attended me in all my troubles, and still continues unshaken by my side. And why should I despair, who am yet in the prime of years? The united efforts of falsehood, malice, and rancour have not been able to deprive me of life or health—of the esteem and good wishes of the liberal part of the world—or even of that firmness of mind which the smiles of Fortune cannot give and her frowns cannot take away. I have the satisfaction to know that my heart never was by any means so black as some blacker hearts have suggested; and as for my life, it is in the care of Providence. Death is the grand ultimatum of the wealth and the poverty, the pleasure and the pain, of this world; this must happen to every one, and they who live longest will, perhaps, have most reason to say that 'tis "All vanity and vexation of spirit." How many did I leave behind in Europe in ample possession of beauty, youth, health, and splendour, who have since experienced, by the gripe of death, how vain a thing life is.
I sincerely hope, dear sir, that you and the whole of your amiable family are hearty and well. If wishes had power, mine would not be wanting to make you as happy as your own desire. But you have one of the greatest possessions in the world—a worthy heart; with it a man cannot be very unhappy in the roughest storm of adversity, and without it you may depend that riches, titles, and success can impart but an empty satisfaction. If I live till New Year's Day, I will drink your health at the antipodes, though it be but in the crystal element. I have sometimes done it in a more exhilarating, though not, perhaps, in a more safe or wholesome, beverage.
Farewell, dear sir! Whatever climate or circumstances I may be in I shall not cease to be, with sincere regard and esteem,
P.S.—I understand it was reported in the papers that when I came on board my hair was cut off, and my clothes taken away, but nothing of the kind happened to me. I was permitted to retain both, and continue to this hour to meet every indulgence that can soften my situation. My respects and warmest wishes wait on all my friends.
[* Reprinted from The Bee, October, 1791.]
To the Editor of The Bee.
In a late number of The Bee you informed us, on official authority, that previous to the 18th of March, 1791, 2,029 convicts have been shipped from England for New South Wales. We also learned that prior to the 9th of February, in the same year, the expences of this establishment amounted to £374,000. Besides this sum, we are told of contingencies that cannot as yet be stated! It was for the Minister's credit to make his project appear as wise as possible, and to suppress a part of this enormous expenditure to serve the temporary purposes of debate. We may safely affirm that the contingencies referred to make no trifling sum. Six additional months fall now to be added to the account, and it is more reasonable to compute the total expences up to this date at £600,000.** Each of these unhappy persons has therefore cost this country £300 sterling; and supposing that on an average they survive transportation for twenty years, the total expenditure of each convict will at this rate amount to perhaps £1,500. It may indeed be acknowledged that before that time the country will be reduced to a state of cultivation. But a circumstance mentioned by the Governor sufficiently shows the great distance and uncertainty of such a prospect. It cost him and a party five days to penetrate thirty miles into the desert, and the fatigues they underwent during this journey were excessive. In the same paper you tell us that 1,831 additional convicts were then under orders for shipping. It is impossible to estimate with any degree of certainty what may be the annual expence of this colony before the end of the Eighteenth Century. By a very moderate computation we may suppose that before ten years elapse the colony will receive at least 10,000 additional convicts; and it is but fair to compute that of the whole number by that time transported 10,000 will then be alive, and maintained at the expence of Government. Now, if each of these gentry cost us only £30 a year, the whole annual expence would amount to £300,000. At the end of twenty years it may rise to double that sum. Will the British nation, with its eyes open, walk into such a gulf? We must infer that the Botany Bay scheme is the most absurd, prodigal, and impracticable vision that ever intoxicated the mind of man. Transportation to North America was in comparison but a ride before breakfast. New South Wales is at the distance of 6,000 or 8,000 leagues, if we include the windings and turnings necessary on the passage. In the former country the price of a felon*** when landed was sufficient to pay the expence of his voyage; but in the latter, a convict, the moment we set him on shore, is enrolled with many other right honourable gentlemen in the respectable and useful band of national pensioners. There is not an old woman in the three kingdoms who could not have suggested a better plan. But, indeed, its valuable inhabitants may very possibly save him that trouble by cutting the throats of their taskmasters and embarking on board their shipping in the bay. Could this revolution be accomplished without bloodshed, it is in itself an event extremely desirable.
[** It will be seen from statement of expenses of the settlement to June, 1793 (ante, p. 38), that the estimates of this corespondent were much too high.]
[*** "The price of a felon". This remark has reference to the system of transportation to North America, in force prior to the War of Independence. Under that system the convict, from the time he stepped upon the transport-ship, was regarded as a chattel. The Crown ceased to have any interest in his movements; and, until his sentence expired, he was as much the private property of the planter to whom the master of the vessel sold him, as if he were an African negro. In the journals of the House of Commons, under date 1st April, 1779, occurs a report of a Special Committee on transportation. Amongst other witnesses summoned by this committee was Mr. Duncan Campbell, overseer of convicts. Questioned upon transportation to the American colonies, he said:—"He had been concerned twenty years in contracting for felons sentenced to transportation. Five pounds per man were allowed by Government till the last three years, when, in consequence of a competition for the contract, he agreed to take them without any profit but that which accrued to him by disposing of their servitude in the colonies; that many convicts who had money bought off their servitude, and their punishment was only banishment for the term prescribed; he carried them only to the provinces of Maryland and Virginia, and sold common male convicts, not artificers, on an average for £10 a piece; females at about £8 or £9; those who were of useful trades, such as carpenters and blacksmiths, from £15 to £25; the old and infirm he used to dispose of to those humane people who chose to take them, but with some he was obliged to give premiums. Being asked whether they could be disposed of in any other colonies, he said he apprehended not in any considerable number, which was the reason he declined contracting for them upon the revolt of the colonies of Virginia and Maryland; that he imagined about 100 might be disposed of annually in Georgia and upon the frontiers of Florida, but did not think any could in Canada; that he transported on an average of seven years, 473 convicts annually; that he carried from 100 to 200 persons in a ship; that the ordinary passage was about two months, during which time, and in the gaol where they were confined frequently two months before their embarkation, rather more than a seventh part of the felons died, many of the gaol fever, but more of the small-pox. He observed that the number of women who died were only half in proportion to the men, which he imputed to their constitutions being less impaired, and to their sobriety. Your committee thought proper, therefore, to examine how far transportation might be practicable to other parts of the world."]
[* Reprinted from The Bee of 8th August, 1792.]
Sydney, New South Wales, 29th October, 1791.
THE Governor continues to direct his views chiefly to Norfolk Island and the settlement at Rosehill (now called Parramatta, from the native name). The town there continues to enlarge, according to the first plan, and 200 acres of land are cleared of the timber; but the intense drought which has prevailed for upwards of twelve months past has almost deprived us of water to drink, and marred our hopes of reaping any considerable increase from the harvest.
Indian corn is likely to be the most profitable grain that can be raised in this country, and our views are chiefly directed to the cultivation of that article; but how we can succeed in raising a sufficient quantity I know not, without a more speedy method of preparing the ground is hit upon than by the spade and hoe. To labor with a plough** is impracticable, as the stumps of the trees and their roots still remain in the ground, and cannot now be removed without an immensity of trouble. Such of the convicts whose times are out and choose to become settlers have small grants of land given to them, and men to cut down the trees, with eighteen months' provisions from the public store. But the clearing and cultivation of the land depends wholly upon themselves. The Governor has endeavoured to place them as contiguous to fresh water as possible; but that article is so scarce that there is a danger of their being without it, even with the best management. They are allowed grain also to sow their first crop, and a good many lately have made trial of the business; but some of them are already repenting of their bargains, and it is highly probable they will have greater cause ere long. A reform of government (if this country is continued) is much wanted; but nothing can be so truly acceptable as freedom and a trial by jury in all cases.
[** Captain John Macarthur claims to have been the first to employ a plough in the Colony. Ante, p. 510.]
Our journies to the northward or southward along the coast have not as yet extended farther than Broken Bay and Botany Bay; but the country backwards has been penetrated and pretty accurately examined for upwards of thirty miles; but, as I have formerly said, it has not been commended, some few tracts excepted, that have presented a better appearance.
Norfolk Island, I am informed from the benignity of its soil, bids fair to support five or six hundred colonists very well; but a greater number, it is thought, would prove a burden, as a sufficient quantity of timber must be left for firewood; and the whole island does not exceed 11,000 acres.
At this place and Parramatta bricks and tiles are made in numbers, and with ease, so that more permanent buildings than our original habitations were are erecting as fast as possible. I wish we could fill our granaries as readily as we can build houses.
The Mary Ann arrived here on the 9th of July last with 141 female convicts, after a passage of four months and twelve days from Gravesend; since which the Gorgon and six of the transports bound to this part of the world have come in all safety; the other four were left at the Cape. They have been very healthy throughout the voyage, and few of them have greatly exceeded five months on their passage. These ten sail of transports will nearly land us 2,000 convicts, without bringing more than a proportion of six months' provisions for their subsistence; so that storeships will need to arrive shortly, or else we shall soon be sorely pinched.
The Governor is authorized by this conveyance to inform such of the convicts as have served their terms of transportation that they are at liberty to go where they think proper.* Had this been made known before it would have prevented much murmuring and discontent among them. They all despaired of ever being able to leave this country, which operated so powerfully on their minds that labour became painful, and any chance of escaping, however dangerous, appeared to them preferable to that of remaining in perpetual slavery. Fifteen of them set out at different times in two open boats belonging to the settlement. How they will succeed I cannot devise, but the chance is certainly much against them. The marines, who have justly felt much indignation at the treatment they have met with here, are, to their great joy, to return home immediately in the Gorgon. On their arrival, as well as Captain Hunter, matters must be brought to light, and I have no doubt but the injured will obtain ample justice. The discontent and murmuring that has already arisen in the New South Wales Corps prognosticates very little harmony in that quarter, and I believe the chiefs in politics here are heartily sorry for the exchange, but themselves are to blame for it they do not deserve pity.
[* See the despatch of Lord Grenville of date 19th February, 1791, Vol. i, part 2, part 460.]
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 17th November, 1791.]
THE conduct of the captain and chief mate of the Neptune, transport, lately returned from Botany Bay, is about to undergo a severe scrutiny. No less than 171 convicts died on the voyage, and many instances of the most inhuman treatment are being daily brought forward. The depositions of some men who were examined on Saturday at the Public Office are sent to the Lords of the Admiralty.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of Tuesday, 25th September, 1792.]
Sydney Cove, Port Jackson,
24th November, 1791.
WE sailed from Spithead the 27th March, with 300 convicts on board.** After a very boisterous passage through the Bay of Biscay, we passed the Canary and Cape de Verd Islands the latter end of April, and on the 3rd of May came to an anchor off St. Jago, where we watered and got some fresh provisions, fruits, &c. On the 12th we sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, where we arrived on the 14th of July. At this place we had a very plentiful supply of exceeding fine mutton, though very bad beef. Greens were very dear, and consequently few came to the ship's company's share, but still fewer to the poor unhappy convicts, whose miserable situation was deplorable beyond description. After staying here to water, and to get other things which we wanted, until the 18th of August, we again set sail for New South Wales, which lays due east from this place about 140 degrees in longitude (an immense tract of water to traverse). In this passage we had dreadful heavy seas and gales of wind, a great deal of thunder, and the lightning continually flashing around us both day and night. At last we arrived safe here on Sunday, the 16th of October, about two o'clock in the afternoon (which corresponds with two in the morning in England), where great numbers of the inhabitants flocked down in groupes to enquire after their relations and friends in England, and some few black natives out of idle curiosity.
[** It is evident from the contents of this letter that the writer sailed in the Admiral Barrington. Out of the three hundred convicts, thirty-six died on the passage.—Collins, vol. i, p. 182.]
We found lying here on our arrival his Majesty's ships Gorgon and Supply, brig, with ten sail of transports, such a sight as was never known here before. On the 17th we sent on shore to the King's hospital about one hundred of the convicts in an emaciated state, owing in some measure to the flux and scurvy which raged among them with much inveteracy; and likewise to other causes which ought to have been prevented. Were those poor deluded wretches who bid defiance to and trample wantonly upon all laws but once to know what they have to undergo, both on their passage here and on their disembarking, I think few, if any, would be foolhardy enough to continue their nefarious courses of life. When severely pinched with gnawing hunger, how have I seen many fine fellows supplicating in the most pressing manner imaginable for the damaged bread that was for the hogs and poultry. I have seen the poor fellows so exhausted with hunger and thirst that they could hardly stand alone.
The 19th and 21st we delivered the remainder of our convicts and soldiers, some of whom were sent to Norfolk Island, a place about one thousand miles from this, and the rest were sent to a place about twenty-four miles in the woods, called by the natives Parramatta, and by our people Rosehill. From this to the 12th of November delivered our cargo, &c., &c., and now, having some leisure time, have made several small excursions into the woods, where we could go with safety; and surely there never was discovered a place so unlikely to answer the intentions of Government as this. It produces hardly anything natural to support man or beast, and what efforts art can render to assist nature seldom repays sufficient for the trouble. There are some cabbage-trees, a kind of wild cherries, currants, and some wild nuts, but very few of either. There is, likewise, an herb used as greens, but they are very salt, as they grow upon the sea-beech, and another herb tasting exactly like Spanish liquorish, which, when boiled, yields a kind of sweet drink. These are the only natural productions fit for the use of man. Those of the inhabitants (which is not one in twenty) who have little gardens grow a few cabbages, greens, peas, kidney-beans, turnips, carrots, onions, leeks, parsley, &c., &c., but not many come to perfection. There is in some wheat and other grain growing, but most of it is very bad, owing to the excessive heat and scorching winds. The natives, who are all blacks of a ferocious nature, go entirely naked, both male and female; they have neither hut nor any kind of habitations, except the cavities of cragged rocks and hollow trunks of stupendous, lofty trees. Their living is mostly the roots of fern, which they roast for bread, and fish, which are here in great plenty, of various kinds, particularly oisters, cockles, and muscles, very large of their kind, but not so palatable as ours. There are great numbers of birds of the parrot kind, and some pelicans and other rare sorts. There are, likewise, many cangaroos, but they are very shy, and keep mostly in the interior parts of the woods. We sometimes get some to buy for sixpence per pound, but it must be done privately, as the Governor will not allow it. It tastes much like our venison, but not so rich, and no fat upon it. The opposum, of which there is a great number, are something larger than a rabbit; eat very well. There are plenty of flying squirrels, large rats and mice, a great number of snakes, lizards, guanos, and other reptiles, but none venomous except the centipedes, of which I saw a number in the woods last Sunday. There are various kinds of insects different from those in England, and others exactly the same.
You will, perhaps, scarcely credit me when I tell you the exorbitant price of things here. Tobacco has been sold lately for £1 5s. per lb., and is now, since the arrival of the fleet, to 6s. 8d., and some 10s., per lb.; sugar, 3s.; soap, 2s., has been as high as 7s.; tea, 15s. to 20s. and 25s. per lb.; rum, 30s. per gallon, and a great favour to procure it. Tobacco-pipes, of which I had a good stock, but unfortunately destroyed in gales of wind at sea, are sold at 3d. apiece. Everything in the way of women's apparel sells excessively high. I see a great number of faces whom I knew in London. One I saw in the woods who recollected me, and made enquiry after sundry persons belonging to Billingsgate. He belonged to Leadenhall-market, and I think he told me his name was Michael Wrany; he is for life.
We buried thirty-seven convicts and one soldier's child, and had one born on the passage The Queen and Atlantic, of 400 tons each, are to be dispatched from hence to Calcutta to buy flour for the settlement.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 1st December, 1791. Under Secretary King, in his letter of the 10th January, 1792 (Vol. i, part 2, p. 590), referred to these charges, and informed Phillip that in consequence thereof the master had absconded.]
1st December, 1791.
YESTERDAY, Thomas Kemp, John Bean, and George Churchill, quarter-masters on board the Neptune—Captain Thrale [Trail], lately arrived from Botany Bay and China; Robert Wright, John Gwyn, William Humphreys, George Wolfe, and Michael Smith, marines; William Sabestin, gunner; and Charles King, captain's cook of the above ship, came before Alderman Clark, at Guildhall, and made the following affidavit, viz.:—That they sailed from Portsmouth in the Neptune, Capt. Donald Thrale [Trail], and William Ellington, chief mate, having on board 500 male convicts, bound to Botany Bay; that during the voyage the captain and chief mate used the unhappy convicts ill by keeping them short in their allowance, allowing only half a pint of water a day; that 171 died on their voyage; that many of them were so hungry that they have seen several take the chews of tobacco from the mouths of the men that lay dead on the deck; that numbers used to steal the provisions from the hogs; and that when they arrived at Botany Bay the captain and mate stopped the boxes of many, took the things out, and threw the boxes overboard; that, soon after they had landed the convicts, the captain and mate opened a warehouse on the island, and sold the provisions which the unhappy convicts ought to have had; that, when landed, they were swarming with vermin; and that, on account of the above persons making complaint, they had been very ill-treated by the captain and mate, and had wounds to shew of the ill-treatment they had received.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 13th December, 1791.]
SEVERAL letters, now in town from Botany Bay, mention a circumstance entirely novel in the annals of transportation, viz., the impossibility of the return of the convicts who have served, or may serve, their time at that place. It appears that some of the transports, who had served part of their sentence at Woolwich, applied for a passage home at the expiration of it, but received for answer that their request could not be complied with unless they could pay their own passage, as it had cost far too much to bring them there to think of sending them back again upon any other terms.
Two persons of this description had received 100 lashes for their insolence, as it was termed. One of them was near sixty years of age, who had added to his crime by secreting himself in the hold of a homeward-bound ship, where it was his fate to be discovered.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 17th December, 1791.]
THE Botany Bay business is certainly to become the object of Parliamentary investigation. The return of the convicts, after their times are expired, their treatment on the passage, and their preclusion from the possibility of appeal to civil justice and humanity, are concerns of much importance. In answer to the observations on Botany Bay, it may be remarked that there never was an instance of persons being brought back, on the expiration of their sentence, at the expense of the publick.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 12th January, 1792.]
THE convicts on board the Pitt, Captain Manning, for Botany Bay, were attacked with the small-pox, and which went through the soldiers. At one time there were more than 150 on the sicklist. They all recovered, only eight convicts and two children being lost. Three children have been born, and more were expected. The convicts were, in general, remarkably well-behaved; so much so, that several were permitted to assist in the navigation of the ship and to attend the watering-parties in landing without their fetters. What a contrast this to the voyage made by the Neptune.
[*** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 12th January, 1792.]
MR. EVANS, in his account of the voyage of the Neptune to Botany Bay, has given a scene of misery on the part of the convicts, and cruelty on the part of those concerned in their transportation, which makes humanity shudder. We hope some exaggeration has crept in; if not, that due punishment will fall on the guilty. A great quantity of goods, it seems, were shipped on freight, and which took up most of that room which the wretched passengers ought to have had the benefit of. The following is the description he gives of the part of the orlop, or third deck, allowed for these unhappy sacrifices to the justice of their country.
According to the dimensions given me of this place, it contained 75 feet, or thereabouts, in length; 35 feet, or thereabouts, at the utmost, in breadth; and 6 feet 6 inches, or thereabouts, in height between the beams; and 5 feet 7 inches, or thereabouts, in height below the beams; within which space were built the miserable apartments for confining, boarding, and lodging upwards of 400 male convicts, in four rows of cabins one story high, viz., one row on each side of the ship from the mainmast forwards, and two rows in the middle, or midships, not quite so long. These cabins were about six feet in length and breadth, and the bottom boards of the lower cabin were four inches above the deck.
[* Reprinted from The Bee of May, 1792.]
A COURT-MARTIAL on board his Majesty's ship Brunswick, in Portsmouth Harbour, on the 27th of April, proceeded to enquire into the cause and circumstance of the loss of his Majesty's ship Sirius, and to try Captain Hunter (her commander), her officers, and company, for their conduct on that occasion; and having heard the evidence, and completed the enquiry, the court is of opinion that the loss of the Sirius was not in any respect owing to mismanagement, or a want of proper attention to her safety, but that Captain Hunter, her officers, and company did everything that was possible to be done for the preservation of his Majesty's ship Sirius, and for the good of his Majesty's service; and the said Captain Hunter, the other officers, and company of the said ship are therefore honourably acquitted.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of Tuesday, 8th May, 1792.]
THE last accounts from Botany Bay relate more failure in the scheme, and distress in the unfortunate objects of it, than have been heard before. The plan recommended by Lord Dorchester of forming a settlement for convicts in Upper Canada, it is thought, will now be adopted.
[The Journal of George Thompson, who sailed in the Royal Admiral, May, 1792.]
THE entrance of the harbour is formed by two heads, called the North and South Heads, lying nearly in those directions, and about three-quarters of a mile distant from each other. Just within the Heads, and in the middle of the harbour, is a shoal, with about four fathom water upon it at spring ebbs; in the channel about fifteen fathom; it gradually shoals as you get farther up. The whole abounds with islands, coves, creeks, and harbours up to Sydney, which is about nine* miles from the entrance, and makes the most complete harbour in the universe. There your ships lay within fifty yards of the shore, in five fathom and a-half, and as smooth as in a fish-pond. From Sydney Cove the harbour takes its course to Rose Hill (or Parramatta). There is water up at low water for a large longboat; the tide flows about eight feet at neap tides, and ten feet at the spring, with very little strength. The harbour abounds with a variety of fish, most of them unknown in England. Here is plenty of oysters, cockles, and other shell-fish. The best fish that are caught are snappers, mullets, light horseman (so called from their head resembling much a light horseman's cap),**[?] flatheads, salmon, whitings, and there are many other kinds of fish too tedious to mention.
[* Note in the MS.:—"Governor Phillip makes Sydney Cove about five or six miles from the entrance into the harbour. The harbour also must be more than three-quarters of a mile across, according to Phillip and White. In other respects Thompson's account agrees tolerably well with theirs."]
Sydney is the spot where the first settlement was formed, merely for the advantage of good water and the conveniency of the harbour. In this part are only gardens sufficient to supply the inhabitants with vegetables, &c. The Governor and principal officers chiefly reside here, and as many convicts as are sufficient to attend the storehouses, fishing-boats, different officers, &c. Those whose sentence is expired and are in expectation of getting home ** chiefly choose this place for their residence. About two miles from this place are the brickfields, where a great number of bricks and tiles have been lately made, but they are still in great want of limestone, or a substitute for it. At present a stiff kind of clay is used to build with, but it is such a weak cement they dare not attempt to raise their houses even one story. There is not such a thing in the colony as a set of stairs, except in the Governor's house, which is only one story, and is built with lime brought from England. The bricks and tiles are both of one colour—of a light-brown—which make the buildings quite romantic. Those that are built of wood are whitewashed with pipeclay, which is found here in great plenty.
[** Note in the MS.:—"None worth mentioning have ever returned."]
Parramatta is the grand settlement, about sixteen miles from Sydney by land. The buildings are the same as at that place, forming one large street nearly one mile long. The houses are all separate from one another, space being left to enlarge them when necessary. There is a large hospital, church, storehouses, &c. The Governor has a house here upon Rose Hill, a most delightful spot. Here is a large park, called Cumberland Park, where the Government cattle are put to graze The greatest part of the cattle and sheep, belonging to different people, are at this place. There is at present about 100 acres of corn standing here, chiefly Indian corn, some wheat, oats, barley, &c. They look remarkably well, and there is not the least doubt of its being the most fruitful harvest the colony has ever experienced. It will commence in about eight or ten weeks.
About four miles from this place is another settlement—Toongabby—where the greatest number of convicts are, and work very hard (there is also a good crop of corn standing, and promises well). Their hours for work are from five in the morning till eleven*; they then leave off till two in the afternoon, and work from that time till sunset. They are allowed no breakfast hour, because they have seldom anything to eat. Their labour is felling trees, digging up the stumps,** rooting up the shrubs and grass, turning up the ground with spades or hoes, and carrying the timber to convenient places. From the heat of the sun, the short allowance of provision, and the ill-treatment they receive from a set of merciless wretches (most of them of their own description) who are their superintendants, their lives are rendered truly miserable. At night they are placed in a hut, perhaps fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen together (with one woman, whose duty is to keep it clean and provide victuals for the men while at work), without the comfort of either beds or blankets, unless they take them from the ship they come out in, or are rich enough to purchase them when they come on shore. They have neither bowl, plate, spoon, or knife but what they make of the green wood of this country, only one small iron pot being allowed to dress their poor allowance of meat, rice, &c.; in short, all the necessary conveniences of life they are strangers to, and suffer everything they could dread in their sentence of transportation. Some time since it was not uncommon for seven or eight to die in one day, and very often while at work, they being kept in the field till the last moment, and frequently while being carried to the hospital. Many a one has died standing at the door of the storehouse waiting for his allowance of provision, merely for want of sustenance and necessary food. So great was the mortality among them, that upwards of ——*** died in one year; and of 450 that came from England in the Pitt,**** only twenty-nine were alive six weeks since at a general muster.***** Those that are now living chiefly owe their lives to those that are dead, the provision being so scarce that, had they not died, all must have perished. When our ship arrived (which was quite unexpected) there was no more than one week's salt provision in the store at the full allowance, which would have been reduced to one-third on the following week.
[* Note in the MS.:—"Captain Tench says till ten."]
[** Note in the MS.:—"This may, perhaps, be done now, but when Capt. Tench was there, it is observed in his Journal, November 16, 1790, 'As all the trees on our cleared ground were cut down and not grubbed up, the roots and stumps remain.'"]
[*** Blank in the MS.]
[**** Note in the MS.:—"The Pitt sailed in May, 1791, and returned in 1793. I think I have heard that some of these convicts went to Norfolk Island, and ought to be deducted from this account." According to the MS. journal of Lieutenant-Governor King, fifty-seven convicts were sent to Norfolk Island.]
[***** This statement is probably exaggerated. According to the report of the officers appointed to inspect her (ante, p. 451), the Pitt originally contained 443 convicts, of whom 33 were removed before sailing. Collins states (vol. i, p. 201) that 368 adult convicts were landed. It is, however, evident from official statements that the death-rate for some months after the arrival of the Pitt (14th February, 1792) was very high. On p. 466, ante, the population of the settlements on the 18th March, 1792, is given as 4,204, and although by the Royal Admiral and the Kitty an addition of 489 was made to the population in October and November, 1792 (Collins, vol. i, pp. 236, 243-4), yet it appears by the Commissary's return of 8th December, 1792 (Vol. i, part 2, p. 677), that the population was only 4,203, i.e., in less than nine months 490 deaths had occurred out of a population of 4,693. What the number of deaths was between the arrival of the Pitt, in February, and the date of the first of the two above-mentioned returns, it is impossible to say.]
The women have a more comfortable life than the men. Those who are not fortunate enough to be selected for wives (which every officer, settler, and soldier is entitled to, and few are without) are made hutkeepers; those who are not dignified with this office are set to make shirts, frocks, trousers, &c., for the men, at a certain number per day; ocasionally to pick grass in the fields, and for a very slight offence are kept constantly at work the same as the men. It is absolutely necessary to keep a strict discipline among such people, and their punishments are very severe. The colony is by no means without good laws and officers of justice. There is a Judge, Justice of the Peace, and constables; most of the latter are convicts. At this time Barrington holds the post of head-constable at Parramatta, and is a very diligent officer. For a very trifling offence a convict is put into the stocks until it is convenient to examine him. If guilty, he is taken to a cart-wheel to receive a Botany Bay dozen, which is twenty-five lashes; if the crime is such as would be punished by a dozen on board a ship or on shore in England, it is here punished with two or three hundred. If it is anything of consequence, such as theft, they are tried by a regular court, which generally terminates in a sentence of death, or a second transportation to Norfolk Island for life. At the same time, the convicts have the advantage of the laws as well as others. No person, unless those immediately concerned with them, is allowed to strike them, or by any means ill-use them. All complaints must be made to the Justice, who must be consulted on the most trifling occasions.
The natives of New South Wales are not very numerous*; towards the sea-coast they are quite black, of the middle size, and in general well-limbed; have large flat noses, thick lips, and short hair—not of the woolly kind like the African negroes. They are a lazy, indolent people, and of no ingenuity. They never even think of seeking for food till hunger presses them. Their chief living is fish, which they catch with a hook and line, or with a fishgig made of wood, and sharpened with fishbones or kangaroo teeth. They have no other method of cooking but roasting the fish on the fire, which is generally done as soon as they get them out of the water, and they are frequently so hungry as not to allow themselves time to dress them, but eat them half-raw. They commonly fish and eat till they can scarcely move; they then go on shore, make a fire, and lay down to sleep by the side of it. They have no kind of cloathing; both men and women are always naked. If it rains, they fly to some hollow rock or cavern for shelter; if it is fine, they just pull up some long grass, make a fire, dry it, and go to sleep on it. They cannot bear to be confined to a hut or tent. The Governor has built a very neat brick hut for one of the chiefs, but neither he nor his family will live in it; they will sometimes stay at the place for a day, then make a fire on the outside of it. In short, they prefer living in the woods and going naked to the best house or clothes in the colony. There are many of them that visit Sydney every day for the sake of what they can get to eat, and at night they return to the woods.
[* Note in the MS.:—"Capt. Hunter seems to intimate they are numerous, though I think by his own Historical Journal, it appears they are not so, as well as from the accounts of others."]
There are three or four of the chiefs who attend the Governor's house every day for their dinner and a glass of wine. Several of the officers have both boys and girls as servants, but they are so lazy that it is with difficulty you can persuade them to get themselves a drink of water. If you attempt to strike them, they will immediately set out for the woods, and stay four or five days. Indeed, it is common for them to strip off what clothes they may have on, and take a trip to the woods, whether offended or not. If they were shy at the first settling in the colony, that is not the case now, for the people can scarcely keep them out of their houses in daytime. At the same time they must be cautious how they affront them. If they offend them, at the first opportunity they will certainly spear them, at which they are very dexterous.* Their spears are made of the stem of the grass-tree, are about twelve or fourteen feet long, pointed with fishbone or teeth, and bearded with shells stuck on with gum, and are very dangerous weapons; they will throw them fifty or sixty yards,** and strike within two or three inches at a certainty. They are very treacherous and deceiving. If they chance to meet any person in the woods singly, it is ten to one but they spear him and strip him of his clothes, though of no use to them. If there are two or three together they will not attempt to assault them, particularly if they have a musket, at which they are much frightened; few people travel the woods without one. Some time since one of them speared the Governor quite through the shoulder from near the backbone to the neck, which went through above five inches. He had one of their chiefs with him at his house some time, and fearing he would go away had made him a prisoner; however, he made his escape. The Governor, hearing where he went, next day went about seven miles from Sydney, and found him and several more together. To convince them he did not intend them any harm, he went to them by himself, and while he was expostulating with this chief, and intreating him to return, one of them, who was behind, struck him with the spear, and ran away to the woods. But he suffered severely for the offence as soon as he was found by the rest; they beat him in a most unmerciful manner, knocked one of his eyes out, and nearly deprived him of life, while the Governor was carried home with the spear in his shoulder, which, however, was not attended with any bad consequence; in less than three weeks he was able to walk out. They are divided into several tribes or casts, and are known to which they belong by the loss of one of their fore teeth, or the joint of their fore or little finger.*** They have frequent wars and desperate battles with each other at fixed times. Whenever a dispute arises between them that causes a fight, they name a certain day and fix a place to meet for the engagement. Everyone is armed with his spear, a large club, stone hatchet, and a shield. They are at great pains to paint themselves and make the most terrible appearance they can at those times. Those who fall in the battle are left lying on the ground without any more notice, except it be a chief or some one much respected. Then they cover him with wood, set fire to it until the flesh is burnt from the bones, and in this state they leave it. Those that die naturally are not buried, but are left where they die, unless they be of note; then they are burnt. They cannot bear the idea of dying by a natural death, which is indeed seldom the case, their frequent wars not suffering them to live to a great age. The oldest that I remembered to have seen did not to appearance exceed thirty years,**** If one of a family dies, they generally put one or more of the survivors to death, and a family of eight or nine has been often known to be reduced to two or three in the course of a month. These two causes prevent their being numerous. They are very quick in learning to speak English, and will repeat any sentence after you immediately, particularly any tune. When in their canoes, they keep constantly singing while they paddle along. They have the French tune of Malbrook very perfect; I have heard a dozen or twenty singing it together.
[* Note in original:—"In 1790, Governor Phillip observes that no less than seventeen of our people had either been killed or wounded by their spears."]
[** Note in original:—"He might have said sixty or seventy; Capt. Hunter says, I have since seen a strong young man throw the lance full ninety yards.]
[*** Note in original:—"This seems probable. Captains Hunter and Tench observe, that as yet they had not been able to discover the cause of these defects."]
[**** Note in original:—"Though in general they are not long-lived, yet some are known to live till fifty or sixty years of age."]
The different kinds of beasts, birds, and insects are numerous, and the birds in general are very beautiful. There is a great variety of different sorts of parrots, parroquetts, and many other birds unknown in England; a great many insects also, which are very troublesome and destructive, one in particular, that in the hot, dry season destroys the corn. These have been known to overspread a field of corn in the course of one night and totally destroy it. The musquittoes and flies are in great quantities; the latter will infect fresh meat in such a manner that it is sometimes difficult to keep it free from maggots even one hour after it is killed. Of the beasts, the kangaroo is found to be the best eating, exactly resembling venison; they are sometimes shot, and sometimes taken with dogs. In dry weather it is difficult to get them any way, owing to their swiftness in leaping; but in rainy and wet weather they are easily caught or shot. They often wound the dogs in a desperate manner with their tail, with which they strike with great force. They grow very slowly, and are near two years before they come to their full size, and then they will weigh about 2 cwt.* They have a false belly, in which they secure their young when pursued, and commonly carry them till they are five or six months old. There are a great many oppossums and flying squirrels, which are good eating. Guanas, snakes, &c., are very plentiful. There are also some of the finest dogs wild in the woods, and many other kind of beasts, but none of them in the least dangerous.
[* Note in original:—"This circumstance is worth mentioning, that at its birth the kangaroo is not so large as a full-grown mouse."]
The trees with which the whole country abounds are found to be of little use—not fit either for building houses or boats, though there are many boats built with them, but they will not last long; and likewise houses, for necessity has no law. There are two kinds of oak, called the he and the she oak, but not to be compared with English oak, and a kind of pine and mahogany, so heavy that scarce either of them will swim. Some distance up the country the trees grow very strait, and to a great heighth, though not one in a hundred are sound. As an instance, when the Supply was ordered for England, she wanted a new foremast, and to find one to answer such a small ship it cost them upwards of three weeks' labour, in which time they cut down more than thirty trees before one was found to be sound at the heart, and this of such a weight it was with difficulty they moved and erected it. There are trees which produce two sorts of gum—a yellow kind, which the natives make use of for their spears, fishgigs, and canoes; and a kind which is called dragon's blood, but they are of no use but for the fare.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of Thursday, 28th June, 1792.]
ALL the surviving officers of the marine corps have come home in the Gorgon, except Lieut. Poulden, who, at the request of the Governor, waited to return with him.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of Saturday, 21st July, 1792]
Public Office, Bow-street.
Wonderful Escape from Botany Bay.
ON Saturday, James Martin, John Butcher, William Allen, Nathaniel Lilley, and Mary Briant [Bryant], were brought by several of Sir Sampson Wright's officers, from on board the Gorgon frigate, to this office. They are all that survive of eleven persons who escaped from the settlement at Sydney Cove. This escape was, perhaps, the most hazardous and wonderful effort ever made by nine persons (for two were infants) to regain their liberty, which they declare they should not have ventured on but from the dread of starving, and the certainty that if they did survive the period for which they were transported they should never again see their native country. They said that Governor Phillips used them very well, but that the soil did not return half the quantity of grain which had been sown on it. Their cattle had been destroyed by the natives, and a famine was the consequence. They were reduced to four ounces of flour and four of salt beef per day, half of which was cut off, if, from illness or accident, they were unable to work; they, therefore, seized the first opportunity of throwing themselves upon the mercy of the sea, rather than perish upon this inhospitable shore. A Dutch schooner, under the command of Captain Smith, brought a small supply of provisions for the colony from Batavia, and William Briant [Bryant], who had married the prisoner, Mary Briant [Bryant], found means to pursuade the captain, for a sum of money (for the convicts, not having any use for their money in the colony, had all by them which they took from this country), to let them have a six-oared boat, with a lug-sail, a quadrant, and a compass. The captain gave them 100 pound weight of rice, and they purchased of the baker of the colony 100 weight of flour, at half-a-crown and eighteenpence per pound, which, with fourteen pounds of pork they also got from the captain, and ten gallons of water, was all the provisions they had. At ten o'clock at night, on the 28th of March, 1791, William Bryant, with his wife and two children (one three years, and the other one year old), Samuel Bird, William Morton, James Cox, James Martin, John Butcher, William Allen, and Nathaniel Lilley, embarked in order to reach the island of Timor. They were ten weeks but one day on the voyage. The first five weeks they had continual rain, and were wet the whole time. When forced to lie on shore they were in continual danger of being murdered and ate by the savage natives, and part of them were obliged to keep a strict watch while the rest slept. They discovered an island in latitude 26° 27', where the boat was swamped in going on shore, and they were near losing her and their lives. On this island they found plenty of turtles, but no inhabitants. They dried, and took to sea with them, as much turtle as lasted them ten days, which, with a few fish they caught, was all they got while they were out. On the 5th of June they all landed at Cupang, a Dutch settlement on the Island of Timor. The Governor, whom they told that they belonged to an English ship which had been wrecked on her passage to New South Wales, treated them very kindly, but happened one day to overhear a conversation among them by which he discovered that they were convicts who had escaped from New South Wales. On the 29th of August, 1791, his Majesty's ship Pandora, in her voyage to New South Wales, was wrecked between that place and New Guinea. The captain, Edward Edwards, Esq., and those of the crew who survived, took to their boats and got safe to Cupang, when the Governor told Captain Edwards of the people he had got there, and of the conversation he had overheard. Captain Edwards took them with him to Batavia, where Wm. Briant [Bryant] and his eldest child died; from thence the captain hired the Rambang, a Dutch ship, in which he sailed with the rest for the Cape of Good Hope. On the passage there, Bird, Wm. Martin, and Cox died. On his arrival at the Cape he found the Gorgon, frigate, bound for England, and gave the survivors of these unfortunate adventurers in charge to Captain Parker, who brought them all to England but Charlotte Briant [Bryant], the second child of Wm. and Mary Briant [Bryant]. William Allen is fifty-five years old; he was convicted at Norwich, more than six years ago, of stealing some handkerchiefs, the property of Messrs. Lewis and Haywood. John Butcher is fifty years of age; he was convicted of stealing three pigs, the property of John Harsbury, five years and a half ago, at Shrewsbury. Nathaniel Lilley, thirty-nine; he was capitally convicted five years ago last March, at Bury St. Edmunds, of stealing a fish-net, a watch, and two spoons, the property of Benjamin Summerset, privately in his dwelling, but there being favourable circumstances in his case the Judge reprieved him on his agreeing to go for seven years to Botany Bay. James Martin, of the county of Antrim, Ireland, thirty-two years of age, was convicted at Exeter, six years and a half ago, of stealing some old lead and iron, in the whole about 20 lb. weight, the property of Lord Courtney. Mary Briant [Bryant] was convicted by the name of Broad, at the same assizes with Martin, of a street robbery and stealing a cloak, which being a capital offence, she received sentence of death, but was, with two other women who were convicted of the same offence, pardoned on condition of their going for seven years to Botany Bay. William Briant [Bryant] was convicted of interrupting some revenue officers in the execution of their duty, and immediately on his landing at Botany Bay married the above woman. They were each sentenced to be transported for seven years. It was remarked by every person present, and by the magistrate, that they never saw people who bore stronger marks of a sincere repentence, and all joined in the wish that their past sufferings may be considered as a sufficient expiation of their crimes. They all declared they would sooner suffer death than return to Botany Bay. They were committed to Newgate.*
[* The woman, Mary Bryant, was pardoned. Post, p. 809.]
REMARKS and statement of the proceedings of Donald Trail, master of the Neptune, during his passage to Port Jackson.**
[** Reprinted from The Diary, or Woodfall's Register, of 4th August, 1792. The statement was evidently drawn up in answer to the charges of Mr. Evans (ante, pp. 461-4). See also the owners' instructions to Captain Trail, dated 19th December, 1789 (ante, p. 750); and the charges made against the captain and mate by minor officers and seamen of the vessel (ante, p. 791).]
THE convicts were ironed under the inspection of Lieutenant Shapcote, the Navy Agent, and those of good character, or those not in health, were exempted; and, whenever a convict was reported not in health, the agent saw him taken out of irons. The convicts that died in Stoke's Bay were always sunk with ballast brought from the shore, except one day, when it blew too hard to send a boat from the ship, and then the body was sunk with coals.
The male convicts were admitted on deck fifty or sixty at a time, and relieved every two hours. Exclusive of these, all the sick that could be brought up, and the boys, and those who behaved well, were permitted to come up at the same time. In short, no male convict that chose to come upon deck had less than from two to four hours each day. The hatch admitted two at a time. It was necessary to have it of this size, in order to prevent a surprize.
The convicts lodged in the upper tier of cabins were upon deck as much as those in the lower tier; and, exclusive of the light from the hatches, there were many lights burned on the orlop deck amongst the convicts till eight o'clock at night.
Lieutenant Shapcote, on his coming on board in Stoke's Bay, ordered the convicts to be searched, among whom were found between seventy and one hundred knives, a great number of chests with large iron hinges and iron clasps at the corners; also a number of tinpots. All these articles were, by his orders, and under his personal inspection, taken from their rooms. Whoever could sell or otherways dispose of his chest among the sailors and soldiers were at liberty to do so. Their knives and tinpots, which they converted into knives, were withheld from them. Many of the chests and old clothes were thrown overboard by the agent's directions, he being fearful they might bring the gaol distemper into the ship. Neither the agent or Mr. Trail took anything from them to appropriate to their own uses, nor were the convicts without bowls, platters, or tinpots, when necessary. They had a knife to each mess to cut their victuals.
The method of serving the convicts can only be answered by the ship's steward. There was seldom any complaint made to the master about the mode, the agent always taking upon himself the seeing provisions served out.*
[* The agent, Mr. Shapcote, died on the passage from the Cape to Port Jackson more than two years before this statement was made public.]
The male convicts were allowed three pints of water per day, exclusive of what was made use of for cooking their victuals. Neither were the sick, or any of the others, without cans, or smaller vessels than kegs, to drink out of.
When, in hot weather, near the Line, in order to thin the rooms, more convicts were allowed to sleep upon deck every night than the number of soldiers and sailors to guard them. Nothing but humanity could have authorized the agent and Mr. Trail to have run this risk. During their continuance between the Tropics, every precaution, with windsails and the ports up fore and aft, was taken for keeping the rooms cool; and Mr. Trail verily believes their apartments were the coolest in the ship.
The women convicts, during the passage, had the range of the poop and quarter-deck. A pint of water was allowed each for tea in the morning (exclusive of their daily allowance, which was so large as to enable them to wash their linen), nor was there any obstruction to their boiling it before their arrival at the Cape. As for the ship's company being severely flogged for speaking to them, it is not true; they frequently deserved it for breaking into the rooms of the females, and many times it was found that the females had been taken out of their rooms in the night by the ship's company, and lodged where they had an opportunity of conversing with the male convicts.
It is true that on the ship's arrival at the Cape of Good Hope every male convict in health was put in irons, the reason for which was that the ship laid so near the shore that it was necessary to take every precaution to prevent their landing, the commander and owners having given bond that none should be suffered to escape. Every man that chose to come upon deck had two hours in his turn. While the ship continued at the Cape the convicts were well supplied with fresh beef or mutton every day, and vegetables allowed them in their broth. The agent was perfectly satisfied they were well supplied, and Mr. Trail says he never heard of any complaint.
No female convict was out of the ship in the night. One was permitted, under the charge of one of the ship's company, to wash and dry linen on shore in the daytime, and she, with the man (her guard), returned to the ship with the linen before dark. This happened but twice.
Major Delisle and a captain in the Dutch service returned a visit to Captain Nepean, and the distance from Cape Town (where they lived) to the ship being upwards of twenty miles, and the roads bad, they could not return the same night, therefore accepted a bed in the cabin with Captain Nepean. They were both married men, and their wives at the Cape. It cannot be thought they could stay on account of the female convicts, as insinuated by Mr. Evans,* neither did any other Dutch officer sleep in the ship during the time she remained at the Cape.
[* The particular statement of Mr. Evans in which this insinuation occurs is not available.]
Mr. Trail, in order to serve Government, and relieve the settlement in New South Wales, received on board the Neptune 300 tierces of provisions from Capt. Riou, of the Guardian; but neither Mr. Trail or his owners derived any benefit therefrom.
When the ship had made her passage about halfway between the Cape and Port Jackson, it being then the middle of winter, we had a continuance of heavy gales of wind and high seas, so that cooking became impracticable upon deck; for this reason the convicts' provisions were obliged to be dressed in the ship's coppers below. Being under the necessity of cooking for the ship's company and convicts in the same coppers, they probably were not so regularly served as they had formerly been; but it did not happen that they had any cause of complaint more than twice or thrice at most, and that from the severity of the weather. It must be obvious to everyone a saving of coals could not be the object, as we were going to a woody country. The women convicts had leave to boil water at pleasure, but from the badness of the weather, as above stated, and being obliged to cook below, there was not the room as formerly (when there were two fires) for each female's pot; a large copper was, therefore, boiled every other morning for them; this, however, was only for a short time, but at all times there was water boiled for the sick, both male and female.
After the ship left the Cape of Good Hope a violent epidemical fever, together with the scurvy, appeared amongst the convicts, and everyone was affected in a more or less degree, in consequence of which the commander made application to Lieutenant Shapcote for an order to serve out porter to them, which was refused, the agent not thinking himself justified in giving such orders. Mr. Trail, therefore, supplied them with vinegar to wash their mouths, and vegetables that he brought from the Cape for his own use (without any expence to Government), which restored many of them. They, likewise, as the weather was very bad and cold, frequently refused to come upon deck, and were oftentimes obliged to be forced up, in order to preserve their health. After the death of the agent, the greatest part of the convicts had their irons taken off, and for some days previous to their arrival at Port Jackson not one of them was in confinement.
Two or three weeks before the arrival of the ship at Port Jackson, Mr. Trail received information that a Mrs. Wheeler, a female convict, had stolen one of his table-cloths. He sent for her trunk, which was opened in the presence of the officers of the troops and of the ships. A part of the cloth was found in the trunk, which, being compared with the others belonging to Mr. Trail (above sixty in number, all of the same width and pattern), exactly corresponded. The convict was asked who had been concerned with her in the theft, and what was become of the other part of it. She would not say. Mr. Trail, therefore, ordered her clothes and the piece of cloth to be locked up in the gun-room, there to remain until her arrival in New South Wales, when he intended to have applied to the Court of Justice to have her punished. However, on their arrival he ordered his steward to let Mrs. Wheeler have all her things again, even the piece of cloth in dispute. Her trunk, when searched for the cloth, was found to swarm with bugs, on which account it was thrown overboard. This trunk was the only one thrown overboard belonging to the female convicts, and the aspersion thrown out by Mr. Evans that Mr. Trail ordered all the females' trunks and boxes to be examined, and after choosing anything he liked and taking it to himself, saying, "Damn you, you bitch, this is mine, you stole it from me," is totally false; neither is it the language of Mr. Trail to call the most abandoned of the sex by such opprobrious names.
While the ship lay in Stoke's Bay the convicts were not at any allowance of water, but had it to go to, and even to wash with, without any hindrance; nor were they locked up, as described by Mr. Evans, on the orlop deck, but at least 150 were always upon deck. Had they been treated as described, it is more than probable they would have made it known among their other complaints to the Treasury, for complaints they made of their being heavily ironed, and an inquiry was made in consequence.
Four hundred and twenty-one male and seventy-eight female convicts embarked or sailed from England, and twelve others were received on board at the Cape, so that the whole number embarked amounted to 511 persons, out of which number 158 died, as appears by the master's affidavit sworn at Sidney, New South Wales, as asserted by Mr. Evans.
As it would have been dangerous to have taken up all the convicts at once, the orlop deck could not be washed, neither would the situation of the cabins admit of it. This deck was daily scraped, swabbed, or mopped, and twice a week sprinkled with oil of tar or vinegar, and was as free from nastiness or bad smells as any ship that ever carried convicts.
Stores were certainly stowed on the gun-deck, but it was in order to keep the other deck clear for the convicts. It was assuredly the carpenter's duty to put tarpaulings on the hatches. And Mr. Evans has observed that he was every way disposed to contribute to the comfort of the convicts; but the fact is that he was so indolent a man that before he could be got upon deck a splash of sea might get down the hatches; but, from the diligence and attention of the officers on deck, this accident seldom happened—and this is what Mr. Evans calls a leak.
The surgeon had a regular education at Edinburgh, I think under Dr. Munro, from [whom] he has certificates of qualification. He was supplied with a large medicine-chest, which was sufficiently filled with medicines for the voyage. He daily visited the sick; therefore must know who was and who was not dead.
The convicts in the adjoining cabins, not receiving any advantage from the dead men's rations, would certainly have discovered and complained of dead bodies being kept among them.
The hump-back man, said to have jumped overboard, was in a state of insanity; he had no reason for complaint. Whilst under or near the Line he was indulged with sleeping upon deck, where he could not suffer from the heat, and had been on deck some nights and days before this happened, so that Mr. Trail verily believes he fell overboard.
As to the insinuation of the agent having died an untimely death, it is well known that he had been some time in a declining state of health; that the night previous to his dissolution he supped with Mr. Trail, his wife, the commanding officer of the troops, and the surgeon; that he ate very heartily of sallad and bread and cheese, and said he felt himself much better than he had been for some time before: that he went to bed about nine o'clock; that between three and four o'clock in the morning Mr. Trail was awaked by the chief mate, who informed him that a female convict (who had constantly attended Mr. Shapcote) had just acquainted him of the death of the agent, upon which information, Mr. Trail, together with the commanding officer of the troops and the surgeon, went to his berth and locked his bureau; and that he was so very offensive that they were obliged to bury him about ten o'clock the same morning, when the funeral service was read over him at the gangway, by — — — * in presence of the ship's company, soldiers, and the greatest part of the convicts; and that after the funeral the commanding officer of the troops, attended by the chief and second mates, took an inventory of his effects, which was afterwards given to his son at Port Jackson.
[* Blank in the original.]
[** Reprinted from the Public Advertiser of 14th June, 1793. The following note was prefixed by the Editor:—"The real situation of this colony must be so well known to Administration, from the recent information they have received from Governor Phillip, as to render any comment on this letter superfluous. It is certainly (if true) a pity that so many of our unfortunate fellow-citizens should be consigned to such a precarious existence."]
Parramatta, New South Wales, 23rd November, 1792.
MAY it please you to excuse these few lines from an afflicted supplicant, who most humbly takes the liberty to acquaint you of her sad distress in this desolate place of banishment, which is very severe; principally occasioned by hardships and shortness of provisions. We have during my short stay here lost near 1,500 souls from these causes. The dearness of food and my poverty make me solicit your well-known goodness to grant me some small relief in money, committed to the hands of Mr.———, the bearer hereof; and let me at the same time return you my sincere thankfulness for your kind promises before I left London.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 5th July, 1795. The following note was prefixed by the Editor:—"The following is the most favourable account we have yet seen of the new colony, and, as such, feel a pleasure in laying it before our readers. It is from a gentleman at Toongabbe, a place situated about eighteen miles inland from Sydney Cove."]
30th November, 1792.
THE hills in general are of good black earth; but the valleys, which are well watered, are an entire rock to the surface. Both hills and vales are covered with trees to an amazing height, and in many instances nine yards in circumference. They grow perfectly straight, and nearly 100 feet high before the branches shoot off; they are supported entirely by the bark, which often bids defiance to the best English saws and axes, the inside being entirely decayed and rotten. There are, however, abundance of large red and white gum-trees, oak, fir, mahogany, apple, pear, cherry, &c.; the fruit of the latter trees are not, however, eatable. There are but few shrubs and underwood. Five hundred convicts were constantly employed for twelve months in clearing 720 acres of land, now thus disposed of: 172 acres in wheat, 12 acres of barley, 460 acres of Indian corn or maize; the town and gardens occupy the remaining 26.** We are now getting in the harvest; four stacks of wheat and barley are already formed. The produce of wheat we estimate at 17 bushels per acre, barley at 14 bushels per acre, potatoes nearly 300 bushels per acre. The Indian hoe is the principal instrument of husbandry. We have a great number of hogs, sheep, and goats, 25 cows, 6 young bulls, 2 horses, and 7 mares, with poultry in abundance. The grass is excellent. A desire in each to preserve his stock makes all kinds of provisions dear. Pork is 1s. per pound, a hen 10s., an egg 3d., a sow from £5 to £12, and everything else in proportion. The convicts are allowed to keep what live stock they can purchase. Nothing can equal the salubrity of the climate. The thunderstorms, which are at present frequent, it is expected will be less so as the country becomes clear and open.
[** This leaves 50 acres unaccounted for.]
There are about three hundred yearling vines of the most promising appearance.
[*** Reprinted from the Western County Magazine for 1792. The following note was prefixed by the Editor:—"The present situation of this colony is made known by the following extract of a letter from Sydney Cove."]
I WILL, by the opportunity that now offers, endeavour to answer all your questions; and, first, whether there is any prospect that this colony will be able to maintain itself? I shall say, No. The soil round the settlement at Sydney Cove is so very indifferent that it cannot afford sufficient grain for the present inhabitants to feed the stock they now raise, and the crops, such as they are, are destroyed by a variety of vermin, according to the nature of the season; and at all times by kangaroo rats, which are exceedingly numerous, and in spite of our endeavours to the contrary, continue increasing, from the circumstance of being better supplied from our storehouses than formerly. All housed grain, flour, pease, or any dried vegetable, suffer much from their depredations. A settlement we have made at the head of the harbour (Rose Hill), about fourteen miles from Sydney Cove, is in a better soil, but it is found by experience that no grain can succeed there except Indian corn. To this settlement everything must be carried by water, in boats, which must wait the tide to get up to Rose Hill.
* * * * * * * *
The plough and the harrow are useless. For want of cattle, the manure of every kind must be carried on the land by men, which, when added to the trouble and labour of clearing a woody country, will account for the slow progress we make. You are to consider that, without the use of cattle to assist the labourer, we can never hope for any extent of cultivation. The roots of large trees, which have been in the ground for ages, are so interlaced with one another that to clear these roots is a labour of infinite fatigue, and disheartening in a soil which is ungrateful enough to refuse a return for the trouble of clearing it. As to the enclosures making with a view to preserve the cattle from straggling and being lost in future, that can only be done on a very small scale. The providing them with grass and proper food will become a very great charge on such a soil as this. A few settlers, with great assistance, might by dint of labour maintain themselves in time; but as to the idea of the possibility of supporting an extensive and numerous settlement, it must be given up. As to Norfolk Island, which you must consider in England as an appendage to this settlement, it is so—if at the distance of 300 leagues it can be called an appendage. It is as far from this as Gibraltar from England, which is seldom considered as an appendage to England, although dependant on the mother country. Norfolk Island is a better soil than Sydney Cove, and will produce corn on cultivation after it is cleared. This has likewise its difficulties. One of the principal is that it has no anchorage round it, and is so difficult of access, on account of the constant surf, that landing on it is dangerous at all times, and for several days at a time wholly impracticable. The island is very small—about four miles long. It is very much pestered with vermin, and particularly caterpillars, which destroy the growing crop and do infinite damage. The female convicts on the island are employed collecting these vermin, and are tasked at three quarts a day in the time of the crops. This island may probably be able to support 200 or 300 people when it is cleared and cultivated, and is certainly a proper place for banishment, from being so difficult of access. This appears to me to be the only place that can continue of any use, for as to the present settlement of Sydney Cove, it cannot ever become equal to the support of any number of inhabitants, and the more you encrease the number the more you will encrease the difficulty.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin, Chronicle of 28th May, 1793.]
London, 22nd May.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP is arrived in the Atlantic, Lieutenant Bowen, from Botany Bay.
[** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 23rd May, 1793.]
HIS Majesty has been graciously pleased to grant a free pardon to Mary Bryant, who, accompanied by several male convicts, escaped from Botany Bay, and traversed upwards of three thousand miles by sea in an open boat, exposed to tempestuous weather.
[*** Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 4th June, 1793.]
London, 30th May.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP tells many curious stories of his Majesties subjects in Botany Bay. Barrington is high constable of the settlement, and administers justice with an impartial hand. There is no severity that will operate to the prevention of the natives [convicts] stealing one another's cabbages. There is one of the convicts has built a comfortable house, and has cultivated his share of ground to great advantage. His time has expired, but he refuses to return to England, and actually gives his share of the Government provision to his neighbours, as he is able to live with his family on his own farm. The sterility of the ground and the badness of the climate are such as to prevent the settlement from ever realizing the expectation of the philosophers who first suggested the measure of establishing one at Botany Bay.
The female convict who made her escape from Botany Bay, and suffered the greatest hardships during a voyage of three thousand leagues, and who was afterwards retaken and condemned to death, has been pardoned, and released from Newgate. In the story of this woman there is something extremely singular. A gentleman of high rank in the Army visited her in Newgate, heard the detail of her life, and for that time departed. The next day he returned, and told the old gentleman who keeps the prison that he had procured her pardon, which he shewed him, at the same time requesting that she should not be apprised of the circumstance. The next day he returned with his carriage, and took off the poor woman, who almost expired with the excess of gratitude.
[* Reprinted from the Dublin Chronicle of 23rd July, 1793.]
THE expences of the Botany Bay scheme were found from the report of Governor Philips to be so excessive that Ministers incline to relinquish the project. It is ordered, in consequence, that no convicts shall be sent out but those whose sentence is for life. Those who are sentenced for fourteen years are to be confined for twelve months in Newgate or the Compter, and those for seven years for three months, at the end of which term they are to be discharged.
[** Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Tuesday, 15th July, 1794. The Editor describes it as a letter from an officer at Norfolk Island, addressed to his friend in Lincoln. The letter contains internal evidence (post, p. 812 and note) that the writer was Mr. Thomas Jamison, assistant-surgeon.]
Norfolk Island, 19th November, 1793.
THE Britannia is chartered to bring provisions, &c., for this colony from Bengal. Captain Raven sailed from Port Jackson in October last for Dusky Bay, in New Zealand, which he had left twelve months ago, to kill seals. On his return he found them all well,*** and they had about 4,590 sealskins, although they were very deficient of tackle to kill them with. During their stay at this bay they built a small vessel of 150 tons burden, entirely out of the wood of the country, which, they say, is equal to the English oak, and grows in great abundance. The bay is large, commodious, and well sheltered from the winds. During their stay at the bay they caught such an abundance of fine fish, and a kind of woodhen, which cannot fly, having no long feathers in its wings; and they had scarce any occasion for their salt meat all the time they remained there. They saw no natives; but on one of their excursions into the country they found a fire in a small hut. They left some axes, &c., on a tree which lay in front of the hut, but the natives had not removed them when they left the island. They speak so highly of the country, for the goodness of the soil and the fine timber with which it abounds, that it may be an object to Government in course of time.
[*** Captain Raven had in December, 1792, left a party of men at Dusky Bay. Ante, p. 94.]
I should have mentioned in my former letter, had time permitted, the Dædalus having brought two of the natives of New Zealand to instruct the people to manufacture the flax-plant. The process proves to be a very simple one. They divide the fibre or haum across the leaf, about half through, with the point of a knife (in New Zealand they do this with a cockle-shell), then they draw it three or four times under the back of a knife, so that the outer part strips off. It is then taken to the water, and beat with a round stick; after this it is hung out in the sun to bleach; when sufficiently bleached, it is then hackled and spun into yarn. The two last parts of the process are an improvement made on the New Zealand mode of preparing it. By this method there has been some excellent canvas made out of it at this island, a sample of which is sent home. All that is now wanting is a machine that will dress it in a more expeditious manner, which might be easily invented by an artist, the New Zealand method being rather tedious, and requiring a number of hands.
The New Zealanders are pleasant and good-natured beyond anything one could expect to meet with amongst so barbarous a people as they have always been considered to be. One of them is called Odoo, the other Tugee. The former is son to one of the princes of that country; the other is son to one of their priests. They live constantly at the Lieutenant-Governor's, and eat at his table. They seem very well content at their present situation. At times they express a wish to return to their native country, which will be complied with the first favourable opportunity that offers.
Various are the accounts respecting this colony (and not more so than the causes that have produced them), some of them, I am convinced, from a want of competent knowledge or sufficient information on the subject they spoke of. This has been the case with some, in my opinion, as I believe them to be men of the greatest veracity, and incapable of misrepresenting things; but that there have been misrepresentations is beyond a doubt, and many of them so unfavourable to the colony that nothing but time and facts can obliterate them. However, most people allow the climate to be very fine, and that there are considerable tracts of fine ground; and the general opinion is that, were there a sufficient number of black cattle imported, the colony would soon amply supply itself. As to this island, all agree that the soil is excellent; all it wants is a good harbour, and much could be done to remove this inconvenience should the place prove to be an object worth that attention. To conclude this part of my letter, I am of opinion that New South Wales is not sufficiently known to authorize anyone to give a decisive account of the country, as there are not above thirty miles known one way, and not more than twenty the other, which is but a speck, speaking of such an immense tract of country as New Holland is.
I have some seeds and specimens of plants for you, which I shall send in the first ship that sails from this directly to Europe. I would have sent them by this conveyance but, from the long voyage, I think they would share the same fate as those I sent you before.
The two New Zealanders, Tugee and Odoo, having expressed the greatest anxiety to return to their native country, and the Governor, being desirous that they should return impressed with those favourable ideas which they have hitherto imbibed of the friendship and kind treatment they had received at this island, was equally anxious that their wishes should be complied with; and on the afternoon of Friday, the 8th of March, Lieutenant-Governor King, the Rev. Mr. Bain, myself,* Mr. Chapman, the two natives, two non-commissioned officers, and seventeen privates belonging to the New South Wales Corps, embarked on board the Britannia. The wind being fair, made sail about four o'clock p.m. The weather continued fine, and the wind favourable. Nothing particular occurred until Tuesday morning, when we made the Three Kings, a small island which lies off the north end of New Zealand. About eleven o'clock we were abreast of North Cape. As soon as the bay opened, the natives came off in their canoes, and came alongside of the ship with the greatest confidence, unprovided with any warlike instruments, except a few which they brought to dispose of. By evening there were no less than seven of these canoes alongside, containing, upon an average, twenty men each. They exchanged their cloth, flax, fishing-hooks, lines, &c., &c., with the people on board, for knives, axes, pieces of iron, hoops, &c., &c. This traffic was carried on, with the strictest honesty by both parties, until the evening put an end to it, when the canoes returned to the shore.
[* Lieutenant-Governor King, in his despatch of the 19th November, 1793, ante, p. 88, gives the names of those who embarked with him. It will be seen from this that the writer of this letter was Mr. Thomas Jamison, assistant-surgeon.]
It was almost calm during the night, and in the morning there were only light airs, with some appearance (by the clouds) of a contrary wind, the ship being about fifteen leagues from the place where the two natives lived. As this night seemed extremely likely to detain the ship longer than the Governor wished for, he asked Tugee and Odoo if they would go in one of the natives' canoes, to which they seemed very much averse. Some time after one of the principal chiefs came on board, who informed them that their chief had been on a visit there about three days before the ship arrived—that the two tribes were on the strongest terms of amity with each other. They informed the Governor of this, and seemed perfectly convinced of the truth of it, and were satisfied to go with him in his canoe. The Governor told them it might be a deception, and that if they had any doubt they had better return to Norfolk, and wait for another opportunity; to which Tugee replied "that chiefs never told lies, and that they were quite satisfied to go in the canoe."
The Governor finding that the ship was not likely to get round to the bay, and being also convinced of the truth of what the chief had told them, as one of the natives who had stayed on board all night had related the same story, he now consented to their going in the canoe, and sent for the chief and told him that he should be back in four months, and, should he find Tugee and Odoo well, he would make him and his tribe a very handsome present; to which he replied by saluting with the nose—that is, he applied his nose to the Governor's, in which position he continued for some minutes. This done, the stock, Indian corn, wheat, and garden seeds, &c., &c., were put into the canoe. Poor Tugee and Odoo now came to take leave of us with very full hearts indeed, and seemed gratefully impressed with a sense of the obligations they were under to Governor King, whom they were very much attached to. Everything being now in the canoe, they put off for the shore. The next day we had a fair wind for Norfolk, where we arrived on Tuesday, the 18th, about four o'clock, being just ten days on our passage to New Zealand and back again to Norfolk.
I can give you no information respecting this country, as we did not land. As to the coast, it looks to be sandy in many places, but in general it seems covered with green herbage. I think a large quantity of flax might be bought from the natives for very little. I send you a specimen of it, and some other curiosities which I purchased of them. I also send you enclosed in the letter a small specimen of the Norfolk Island flax, as dressed ready for the hackle.
[* Reprinted from The Gazetteer of 30th December, 1793.]
GOVERNOR PHILLIP has given in his resignation of the Government of New South Wales, and Capt. Hunter, who commanded the Sirius, frigate, when the colony was first founded, and who is now Assistant-Captain of the Queen Charlotte, Lord Howe's flagship, is to succeed as Governor of this settlement.
[** Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Wednesday, 19th March, 1794.]
London, 15th March.
THE Kitty, transport, which arrived at Portsmouth on Friday last from Botany Bay, left that place on the 4th of June, at which time, we learn, the colony had begun to surmount those difficulties natural to an infant settlement; that the wheat was remarkable good, the bushel weighing sixty-two and sixty-three pounds; that potatoes, peas, French beans, cauliflowers, cabbages, melons, &c., &c., were exceedingly fine, and very productive; grape-vines answer every expectation. Tobacco may be cultivated to great advantage, and the castor is self-sown in various places. The olive no doubt would do well. They have fish in great plenty, but boats on the construction of the Peter-boats would give them a continual and ample supply, as they might go safely without the harbour to fish. The convicts are well clothed, &c.
About 1,800 acres of land is cleared at Paramatta and the adjacent settlements. Owing to the very long drought, the Indian corn had yielded very short of expectation; but from the very great quantity of land now clearing, from the officers of the colony having taken grants, it is thought the next year will make ample amends. Fresh pork sold at 8d. and 9d. per lb., and a good fowl at 3s. The few cows they have were all in calf. Sheep and goats increase fast; the latter in general having three kids. A supply of black cattle would forward the colony much. Barrington is head-constable at Paramatta, and renders himself very useful by his good conduct and attention to his duty.
Norfolk Island, which contains about 1,000 inhabitants, will, no doubt, in future produce sufficient corn for its own consumption. Fish is in astonishing plenty there.
[* Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Friday, the 21st August, 1795. Daveney, who came out in the capacity of free settler, was employed for a time as a superintendent of convicts. Collins gives an account of his death, vol. i, p. 423.]
Toongabbe, 1st July, 1794.
THIS place is situated eighteen miles inland from Sydney Cove. I thank God we live at present in a state of ease and tranquillity, having a plentiful supply of every necessary from England, the East Indies, and America.
On the 8th of March, at eleven o'clock in the morning, the last ounce of animal food then in store was actually issued to all ranks and descriptions of people alike, and nothing but absolute famine stared us in the face; the labour of the convicts was remitted, and everyone seemed to despond, when, in the evening of the same day, the William arrived from London, and a ship from Bengal, loaded with provisions of every kind.
At present everything bears the appearance of plenty, there being about 2,000 acres of wheat. I am now a farmer in my own right, having a grant of 100 acres of fine land, well watered, and in good cultivation. I have 100 head of fine goats, and am hopeful by Christmas to have both horses, cows, and sheep. I have this season returned to his Majesty's stores 1,514 bushels of Indian corn, at 5s. per bushel, and have now upwards of 1,000 bushels on the farm, in order to pay for men's labour in building a dwelling-house, barns, out-houses, &c. I have likewise purchased a farm called Egleton's, containing sixty acres of land, felled and cleared, for which I paid sixty guineas, and am going to sow the whole with millet.
Upwards of 4,000 acres of land being cleared, thunder and lightning are by no means so violent as before. There are nearly 300 convicts whose term of transportation is expired, and who live by their labour. I have six of those men employed on my farm at taskwork, who earn from 18s. to a guinea per week, so that no settler is at a loss for men to perform his work. I am well persuaded that trade will soon be established between America, Batavia, Bengal, and the Cape of Good Hope, as this place will at all times take off the entire cargoes of provisions and liquors. Goats thrive better than sheep here, and fetch from seven to ten pounds each.
[* Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Friday, 31st July, 1795. The Editor describes it as "an abstract of a narrative written by a native of Derby, in the New South Wales Corps, now in Botany Bay," adding that its authenticity could be depended upon. The letter contains internal evidence of having been written by a passenger on board the Pitt.]
Sydney, 13th December, 1794.
ON the 17th July, 1791, we sailed from Portsmouth. After passing the Land's End we bade adieu to our native country, and for awhile to every sight of terra firma, not seeing any shore until the 27th, when at a distance we saw Cape Ortegal (the Spanish shore), which appeared very mountainous. August 6th, saw the Deserters, three small islands near Madeira. 16th, made Port Praya Bay, Island of St. Jago. This is the first port we anchored at since we left England. Goats and poultry are here plentiful. Fruit, viz., pines, grapes, bananas, cocoanuts, lemons, oranges, tamarinds, &c., are in abundance. It is intensely hot, burning your feet through your shoes. This place belongs to the Portuguese; wretched fortifications, and their military cut as bad a figure. The houses, or more properly huts, are all on the groundfloor. The native women adorn themselves beautifully with a cloth gauze of their own manufacture in the Chinese fashion; like other negroes, they smell filthily of oil. Fresh water is here very scarce. The current coins are—dollar, 5s.; crusado nova, 3s. 2d.; and pistareen, 1s. In September the seamen and soldiers died three and four in a day of a fever caught at St. Jago, and I hourly expected the same fate. It was a dreadful disease, and deprived them of life in twelve hours raging mad. On the 15th Sept., passed the Line. October 7, we passed the Tropic of Capricorn. The 8th, anchored in the delightful harbour of Rio de Janeiro, in South America. This is truly a pleasant and fertile country. In sailing up the harbour nature is profusely displayed, and art also, in defence of this Portuguese settlement, in innumerable batteries. About five miles from the entrance of the river is the pleasant city of St. Sebastian; the buildings are lofty and sumptuous, and in general white. The decorations of their chapels surpass all description. The Roman Catholic religion appears to be the sole pleasure of these people. I was admitted into a nunnery; this also surprised my imagination—rich, elegant, beautiful, and sublime. The women do not appear in the daytime, as their devotions are performed after sunset. No foreigner is suffered here to walk the streets without being regularly attended according to his rank. At the corner of almost every street is the figure of our Saviour, &c., to which the inhabitants pay great adoration when passing by. They support their religion to great excess. I observed the priest when administering the sacrament drink the wine himself. We happened to arrive at a particular season of their festivity; very beautiful illuminations were in every street. The market for the negroes up the country is Sunday, who attend curiously ornamented with feathers, each village having their colours and music. The people are very pompous, as every tailor, barber, and boy wears a sword, tho' in other respects almost naked. Poultry, vegetables, and fruit plentiful and cheap. English goods of every sort are to be had at this place.
On the 31st of October we left this luxuriant country, and on November 26th entered the harbour of Table Bay (Cape of Good Hope), and saw the remains of the unfortunate ship Guardian. On the 23rd December left the plentiful and nourishing refreshments of the Cape; and on the 7th of February, 1792, we passed the South Cape of Van Dieman's Land. I looked very anxiously at a continent on which I was likely to spend the prime of my life. We sailed along the coast until the 14th Feb., when we anchored in Sydney Cove port. Providence has been good to me the whole voyage, being almost a stranger to sickness. I have many great friends here, and live much better than might have been expected in my station—in a military life.
The settlement on the coast of New South Wales contains two principal towns: Sydney, the capital, and Pamaratta [sic] (formerly named Rose Hill), distant about seventeen miles. Sydney is situated at the head of a beautiful cove, which leads into an excellent harbour. Major Grose has made great improvements. Sydney contains 700 good comfortable huts, exclusive of numerous brick buildings, the property of Government. The soil is sandy, but by industry will produce sufficiently. Most of the gentlemen have farms about four miles from Sydney, which have grown a good crop of wheat, and I am of opinion that wheat will be plentiful in a few years. There are many settlers in different parts.
The only or principal thing wanting is cattle, which might be kept in any number, grass being in plenty. We have many pigs and goats, but they are chiefly in the hands of gentlemen. Poultry and fish are tolerably cheap, but it must be remembered that this is the most flourishing period the colony ever experienced.
Spirits being now plentiful, a number of persons retail the same, but the price, as well as quality, varies much; the gentlemen always purchase the cargoes, and this watery mixture is sold at 16s. per gallon. A convict was not, until very lately, on any account suffered to take spirits in payment for his work, but now the prisoners have plenty of liquor. Liquor, or more properly grog, purchases what money will not, viz., settlers' farms or crops unripe, &c. Kangaroos formerly were plenty, but they are retired up the country. The trees never entirely shed their leaves. The summer is intensely hot, and the winters are very cold at nights and in the mornings, though the climate is much milder since I have been here, owing to the country being cleared. The seasons here are precisely opposite to the seasons in England, your winter being our summer.
Paramatta is a town situated at the extreme cove of Port Jackson. On your ascending the wharf appears a row of huts on each side, and a spacious road to the distance of a mile; at the upper end, Governor Phillips erected his country seat. The garden that surrounds it is beautiful, abounding, in the season, with grapes, melons, pumpkins, and every other fruit and vegetable. The florist may also amuse himself. In short, the country may well be called Botany Bay; for the botanist, I believe, may here find the most beautiful shrubs and evergreens that produce very fragrant flowers. The Governor's garden at Paramatta is so situated by nature that, in my opinion, it is impossible for art to form so rural a scene.
Five miles from Paramatta is another village. At this place Government have a great deal of land in cultivation. Every mile you travel inland the soil improves. At fourteen miles from the village of Irongabber [Toongabbie] is another settlement, called the Hawkesbury, at which place is a spacious fresh-water river, and the soil rich; and I have not a doubt but in a short time this place will be very flourishing.
December 13, 1794.—The farmers are now gathering their wheat. It may appear to you extraordinary, but true it is, that the summers will produce two crops of vegetables. The quantity of timber surpasses all description, though the country has been so much cleared since I came. A great number of boats have been built, which supply us with plenty of fish, and the oysters are the largest I ever saw.
About nine days sail from Sydney is Norfolk Island, a most fertile place, about the size of the Isle of Wight.
The natives, in general, of Botany Bay are tall and slender, with very black curly hair, flat faces, and very large mouths; some of them run sticks through their nose; they draw the front tooth in tribute to their chief, are much scarified on the back and breast, done by an oyster-shell cemented with gum at the end of the whommora (or throwing-stick); they talk very quick, dance by raising their arms and wheeling in a circle, at same time singing or making a continued noise. One of the females sits thumping her stomach, which gives a droll sound. They burn their dead, are very expert at throwing their spears, and with exactness at a great distance. Their canoes are formed of solid bark, which they carve from the trees by means of a stone axe. They fight in a most savage manner. Their subsistence is chiefly on fish, the women being very expert at this duty; the lines are curiously platted from the bark of trees, and the hook is a piece of bark (sic). They assemble in small tribes, each having a different size. The children, when young, ride on the parents' shoulders, holding by the hair of the head. After death they expect a removal to the sun, which they worship. They are a very dirty and lazy set of people.
The Dædalus, that conveys this, takes also our worthy Major Grose and family to Europe, and we expect Governor Hunter soon. My commanding officer, prior to his departure, was pleased to give me a grant of twenty-five acres of good rich land for ever, so that in a short time I hope to be a respectable farmer, having besides with me a hut of three comfortable rooms, a good garden of half an acre of land, where I have every production of this place in profusion. My live stock at present are two pigs, twelve fowls, three pigeons, a dog and a cat, which with my station, stock, garden, and farm, give sufficient employ.
[* Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Friday, 1st May, 1795.]
IT is really surprising that Government does not somehow dispose of such convicts as are sentenced to transportation. Their staying confined for a great length of time, sometimes even for years, is inflicting a punishment that the law does not warrant, and far exceeds the sentence pronounced on them. Besides, this will appear to be a very cruel neglect, when it is considered that the term of their transportation does not commence till they are actually embarked, and their imprisonment is a superaddition of punishment. One of those who escaped** was four years in prison under that rule—a very decent prologue to seven years' transportation. Add to this, that the long continuance of prisoners before they are sent away is a very heavy expense on the city of Dublin, which is obliged to support them till they are embarked.
[** Note in the original:—"Two prisoners had escaped on the previous Wednesday from the New Gaol, Dublin."]
[*** Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Friday, 4th September, 1795.]
OWING to the high price of victualling, the demand for shipping, and risque of capture, or price of insurance, the contract for conveying the last convicts from Great Britain and Ireland to Botany Bay was £80 per man.
[**** Reprinted from the True Briton of 20th August, 1796. The letter was stated by the Editor of the paper to have been addressed by Hunter to a friend in Leith.]
16th October, 1795.
THIS settlement is wonderfully improved since the time I left it. It appears now to be making rapid progress towards an independence for provision. Our corn-fields (wheat) at this moment appear as beautiful and luxuriant as any I ever saw in any part of the world; and barring those accidents to which all countries are liable, we shall have a rich and abundant harvest. Our gardens are equally productive; we shall have a variety of fruit, European as well as tropical. Our grapes are in immense quantities; some of the gentlemen, from their own gardens, expect to make a butt, some two butts, of wine this year. The few cattle we have are thriving exceedingly. The sheep and goats are wonderfully prolific; three lambs at a time is no uncommon thing, and that twice a year; the goats still more so. We find the best breed of sheep to be between the small Bengal ewe and the large Cape ram; they produce a middle size, which is delicate fine meat. All the superfluous males among the goats are prepared for the pot or spit, and are so fine that I would defy even an epicure to say whether it was mutton or caperate he was eating.
EXTRACT from a letter from an officer on board the Marquis Cornwallis, East Indiaman, to his brother, in London.*
[* Reprinted from the True Briton, 18th June, 1796.]
St. Helena, 22nd October, 1795.
ON the 11th of September we discovered a most desperate plot formed by the men convicts, who, to the number of 163, are the most horrid ruffians that ever left the kingdom of Ireland. They were on the point of putting the captain, officers, and ship's company to death, when one of them, either through the fear of punishment or from a hope of reward, discovered the whole affair. It was a common practice for Captain Hogan and the officers of the deck to go down and see that their berths were clean twice a week, at which time they were to watch an opportunity to seize the captain, surgeon, and such other officers as were down with them, whom they were to put to death with their own swords, and force their way upon deck, where they were to be assisted by the Serjeant, corporal, and some of the private soldiers, who were to dispatch the officers upon deck, and also supply the convicts with arms. We got the ringleaders upon deck, to the number of forty, who, after a severe punishment, confessed the whole.
We thought this might put a stop to any further proceedings, but in this we were much mistaken. About two nights after they made an attempt to break out. They began by strangling the man who discovered the plot; while the rest were to force down the bulkhead, force their way upon deck, put those not in the plot to death, and take possession of the ship, or die in the attempt. The captain and officers did all in their power to appease them by fair words, and also by threats, but all would not do; they were desperate.
Captain Hogan rushed down the fore hatchway, followed by Mr. Richardson and three more of the officers and myself, armed with a pair of pistols and cutlass each, where began a scene which was not by any means pleasant.
We stuck together in the hatchway, and discharged our pistols amongst them that were most desperate, who, seeing their comrades drop in several places, soon felt a damp upon their spirits; their courage failed them, and they called out for quarter. I broke my cutlass in the affray, but met with no accident myself. There were none killed upon the spot, but seven have since died of their wounds. The Serjeant was severely punished, and is since dead.
[* Reprinted from Saunders's News-Letter of Monday, 30th January, 1797.]
LETTERS from Port Jackson, dated the 21st of December, 1795, mention that the settlement then was in a very flourishing state, and that the harvest, which was then collecting, was so abundant as to be thought equal to two years' consumption. The only scarcity was that of animal food. The capital of the colony is Sydney town, The other settlements are Hawkesbury and Parra Matee. The productions of the country are but few; at least, they have not been fortunate enough to make any recent discovery; the interior is, however, little known.
The following fact is a striking instance of the want of enterprise and activity. A few days after the first arrival of the colony (now eight years since) a bull and six cows strayed from their keeper into the woods. A fear of venturing far amongst the natives, then somewhat hostile, repressed all attempts to regain them; indolence succeeded these fears, and no search was ever instituted. Some time since, an officer's servant, shooting in the woods, between twenty and thirty miles from Sydney, discovered them, and conducted the Governor and a party of his friends to the spot, where they found a heard consisting of nearly sixty head of remarkably fine cattle. The bull attacked the party, who, with some difficulty, escaped unhurt. That a neighbourhood of thirty miles by land, presenting no unusual obstacles to an adventurer, should, in the almost starving state of the colony, have remained unexplored for so long a period, is not to be accounted for otherwise than by the apathy or despondency of the settlers.
Muir, Skirving, Margarot, and Gerald are there, and treated with every possible indulgence; their conduct had been exemplary. Of Palmer, as much cannot be said. Gerald was very ill. Each of these had grants of land, and were allowed convicts to clear their ground.
The accounts from Norfolk Island do not represent that place in so favourable a light.
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