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An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 1 by David Collins

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Many might be saved who now suffer an ignominious and an early death;
and many might be so much purified in the furnace of punishment and
adversity, as to become the ornaments of that society of which they had
formerly been the bane. The vices of mankind must frequently require the
severity of justice; but a wise State will direct that severity to the
greatest moral and political good.






One of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council,
Chief Justice in Eyre South of Trent,
A Governor of the Charter-house,
and a Vice-President of the Asylum


The honour that your Lordship has done me, in permitting this volume to
go forth into the world under the sanction of your name, demands my
warmest acknowledgments. I can only wish that the Work had been more
worthy of its patron.

The originator of the plan of colonization for New South Wales was too
conspicuous a character to be overlooked by the narrator of its rise and
progress. The benevolent mind of your Lordship led you to conceive this
method of redeeming many lives that might be forfeit to the offended
laws; but which, being preserved, under salutary regulations, might
afterward become useful to society: and to your patriotism the plan
presented a prospect of commercial and political advantage. The following
pages will, it is hoped, serve to evince, with how much wisdom the
measure was suggested and conducted; with what beneficial effects its
progress has been attended; and what future benefits the parent country
may with confidence anticipate.

That your Lordship may long live to enjoy those grateful reflections
which a sense of having advanced the public welfare must be presumed to
excite; and that our most gracious sovereign, the father of his people,
may long, very long reign over these kingdoms, and continue to be served
by statesmen of tried talents and integrity, is the earnest prayer of,

Your Lordship's much obliged,
and most devoted servant,

Poland Street,
May 25, 1798

* * * * *


To the public the following work is with respectful deference submitted
by its author, who trusts that it will be found to comprise much
information interesting in its nature, and that has not been anticipated
by any former productions on the same subject. If he should be thought to
have been sometimes too minute in his detail, he hopes it will be
considered, that the transactions here recorded were penned as they
occurred, with the feelings that at the moment they naturally excited in
the mind; and that circumstances which, to an indifferent reader, may
appear trivial, to a spectator and participant seem often of importance.
To the design of this work (which was, to furnish a complete record of
the transactions of the colony from its foundation), accuracy and a
degree of minuteness in detail seemed essential; and on reviewing his
manuscript, the author saw little that, consistently with his plan, he
could persuade himself to suppress.

For his labours he claims no credit beyond what may be due to the
strictest fidelity in his narrative. It was not a romance that he had to
give to the world; nor has he gone out of the track that actual
circumstances prepared for him, to furnish food for sickly minds, by
fictitious relations of adventures that never happened, but which are by
a certain description of readers perused with avidity, and not
unfrequently considered as the only passages deserving of notice.

Though to a work of this nature a style ornamental and luxuriant would
have been evidently inapplicable, yet the author has not been wholly
inattentive to this particular, but has endeavoured to temper the dry and
formal manner of the mere journalist, with something of the historian's
ease. Long sequestered, however, from literary society, and from
convenient access to books, he had no other models than those which
memory could supply; and therefore does not presume to think his volume
proof against the rigid censor: but to liberal criticism he submits, with
the confidence of a man conscious of having neither negligence nor
presumption to impute to himself. He wrote to beguile the tedium of many
a heavy hour; and when he wrote looked not beyond the satisfaction which
at some future period might be afforded to a few friends, as well as to
his own mind, by a review of those hardships which in common with his
colleagues he had endured and overcome; hardships which in some degree he
supposes to be inseparable from the first establishment of any colony;
but to which, from the peculiar circumstances and description of the
settlers in this instance, were attached additional difficulties.

In the progress of his not unpleasing task, the author began to think
that his labours might prove interesting beyond the small circle of his
private friends; that some account of the gradual reformation of such
flagitious characters as had by many (and those not illiberal) persons in
this country been considered as past the probability of amendment, might
be not unacceptable to the benevolent part of mankind, but might even
tend to cherish the seeds of virtue, and to open new streams from the
pure fountain of mercy*.

[* "It often happens," says Dr. Johnson, "that in the loose and
thoughtless and dissipated, there is a secret radical worth, which may
shoot out by proper cultivation; that the spark of heaven, though dimmed
and obstructed, is yet not extinguished, but may, by the breath of
counsel and exhortation, be kindled into flame . . .

"Let none too hastily conclude that all goodness is lost, though it may
for a time be clouded and overwhelmed; for most minds are the slaves of
external circumstances, and conform to any hand that undertakes to mould
them; roll down any torrent of custom in which they happen to be caught;
or bend to any importunity that bears hard against them."

_Rambler_, No. 70.]

Nor was he without hope, that through the humble medium of this history,
the untutored savage, emerging from darkness and barbarism, might find
additional friends among the better-informed members of civilized

With these impressions, therefore, he felt it a sort of duty to offer his
book to the world; and should the objects alluded to be in any degree
promoted by it, he shall consider its publication as the most fortunate
circumstance of his life.

Occurrences such as he has had to relate are not often presented to the
public; they do not, indeed, often happen. It is not, perhaps, once in a
century that colonies are established in the most remote parts of the
habitable globe; and it is seldom that men are found existing perfectly
in a state of nature. When such circumstances do occur, curiosity, and
still more laudable sentiments, must be excited. The gratification even
of curiosity alone might have formed a sufficient apology for the author;
but he has seen too much of virtue even among the vicious to be
indifferent to the sufferings, or backward in promoting the felicities of
human nature.

A few words, he hopes, may be allowed him respecting the colony itself,
for which he acknowledges what, he trusts, will be considered as at least
an excusable partiality. He bore his share of the distresses and
calamities which it suffered; and at his departure, in the ninth year of
its growth, with pleasure saw it wear an aspect of ease and comfort that
seemed to bid defiance to future difficulties. The hardships which it
sustained were certainly attributable to mischance, not to misconduct.
The Crown was fortunate in the selection of its governors, not less with
respect to the gentlemen who were sent out expressly in that capacity,
than in those on whom the temporary administration occasionally devolved.

Under Governor Hunter, who at present presides there, the resources of
the country and the energies of the colonists will assuredly be called
forth. The intelligence, discretion, and perseverance of that officer
will be zealously applied to discover and fix every local advantage. His
well-known humanity will not fall to secure the savage islander from
injury or mortification; reconcile him to the restraints, and induce him
to participate in the enjoyments, of civilized society; and instruct him
to appreciate justly the blessings of rational freedom, whose salutary
restrictions are not less conducive to individual benefit than to the
general weal.

With respect to the resources of the settlement, there can be little
doubt, that at this moment it is able to support itself in the article of
grain; and the wild stock of cattle to the westward of the Nepean will
soon render it independent on this country in the article of animal food.
As to its utility, beside the circumstance of its freeing the mother
country from the depraved branches of her offspring, in some instances
reforming their dispositions, and in all cases rendering their labour and
talents conducive to the public good, it may prove a valuable nursery to
our East India possessions for soldiers and seamen.

If, beside all this, a whale fishery should be established, another great
benefit may accrue to the parent country from the coast of New South

The island, moreover, abounds with fine timber in every respect adapted
to the purposes of ship-building: iron too it possesses in abundance.
Coal has been found there, and some veins of copper; and however
inconsiderable the quantity of these articles that has been hitherto
found, yet the proof of their existence will naturally lead to farther
research, and most probably terminate in complete success.

The flax plant grows spontaneously, and may, with the assistance of
proper implements and other necessaries, be turned to very profitable

The climate is for the most part temperate and healthy; cattle are
prolific; and fruits and culinary vegetables thrive with almost a
tropical luxuriance.

To be brief: Such is the English Colony in New South Wales, for which the
author is anxiously solicitous to obtain the candid consideration of his
countrymen; among whom it has been painful to him to remark a disposition
too prevalent for regarding it with odium and disgust.

London, May 25, 1798

* * * * *



Section I

Transports hired to carry convicts to Botany Bay
The _Sirius_ and the _Supply_ commissioned
Preparations for sailing
Tonnage of the transports
Persons left behind
Two convicts punished on board the _Sirius_
The _Hyaena_ leaves the Fleet
Arrival of the fleet at Teneriffe
Proceedings at that island
Some particulars respecting the town of Santa Cruz
An excursion made to Laguna
A convict escapes from one of the transports, but is retaken
The fleet leaves Teneriffe, and puts to sea

Section II

Proceed on the voyage
Altitude of the peak of Teneriffe
Pass the isles of Sal, Bonavista, May, and St. Iago
Cross the equator
Arrive at the Brazils
Transactions at Rio de Janeiro
Some particulars of that town
Sail thence
Passage to the Cape of Good Hope
Transactions there
Some particulars respecting the Cape
Depart for New South Wales

Section III

Proceed on the voyage
Captain Phillip sails onward in the _Supply_, taking with him three of
the transports
Pass the island of St. Paul
Weather, January 1788
The South Cape of New Holland made
The _Sirius_ and her convoy anchor in the harbour of Botany Bay.


Arrival of the fleet at Botany Bay
The governor proceeds to Port Jackson, where it is determined to fix the
Two French ships under M. de la Perouse arrive at Botany Bay
The _Sirius_ and convoy arrive at Port Jackson
Commission and letters patent read
Extent of the territory of New South Wales
Behaviour of the convicts
The criminal court twice assembled
Account of the different courts
The _Supply_ sent with some settlers to Norfolk Island


Broken Bay visited
M. de la Perouse sails
The _Supply_ returns
Lord Howe Island discovered
The ships for China sail
Some convicts wounded by the natives
New store-house
Necessary orders and appointments
Excursions into the country
New branch of the harbour into Port Jackson


Transports sail for China
The _Supply_ sails for Lord Howe Island
Return of stock in the colony in May
The _Supply_ returns
A convict wounded
Rush-cutters killed by the natives
Governor's excursion
His Majesty's birthday
Behaviour of the convicts
Cattle lost
Transports sail for England
_Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island
Convicts wounded


Heavy rains
Public works
Sheep stolen
Prince of Wale's birthday
Imposition of a convict
Apprehensive of a failure of provisions
Judicial administration
A convict murdered


Settlement of Rose Hill
The _Golden Grove_ returns from Norfolk Island
The storeships sail for England
James Daley tried and executed for housebreaking
Botany Bay examined by the governor
A convict found dead in the woods
Christmas Day
A native taken and brought up to the settlement
Report of deaths from the departure of the fleet from England to the
31st of December 1788


New Year's Day
Convicts, how employed
Their disposition to idleness and vice
Her Majesty's birthday kept
Captain Shea dies
Regulations respecting the convicts
Instances of their misconduct
The _Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island
Public Works
Convicts killed
Stores robbed
The _Supply_ returns
Insurrection projected at Norfolk Island
Hurricane there
Transactions at Rose Hill


Neutral Bay
Smallpox among the natives
Captain Hunter in the _Sirius_ returns with supplies from the Cape of
Good Hope
Middleton Island discovered
Danger of wandering in the forests of an unknown country
The King's birthday kept
Convicts perform a play
A reinforcement under Lieutenant Cresswell sent to Norfolk Island
Governor Phillip makes an excursion of discovery
Hawkesbury River discovered
Progress at Rose Hill
Important papers left behind in England


Intelligence from Norfolk Island
Police established at the principal settlement
A successful haul of fish
A soldier tried for a rape
Provisions begin to fail
A launch completed
Ration reduced to two-thirds
_Sirius_ returns to the Cove
One of her mates lost in the woods
_Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island
Utility of the night watch
A female convict executed for house-breaking
Two natives taken
Serious charge against the assistant commissary satisfactorily cleared up
Lieutenant Dawes's excursion
The _Supply_ returns


A convict made a free settler
A pleasing delusion
Extraordinary supply of fish
Caesar's narrative
Another convict wounded by the natives
The _Supply_ arrives from Norfolk Island
A large number of settlers sent thither on board the _Sirius_ and
Heavy rains
Scarcity of provisions increasing in an alarming degree
Lieutenant Maxwell's insanity
News brought of the loss of the _Sirius_
Allowance of provisions still further reduced
The _Supply_ sent to Batavia for relief
Robberies frequent and daring
An old man dies of hunger
Rose Hill
Salt and fishing-lines made
The native escapes


The _Lady Juliana_ transport arrives from England
_The Guardian_
His Majesty's birthday
Thanksgiving for His Majesty's recovery
The _Justinian_ storeship arrives
Full ration ordered
Three transports arrive
Horrid state of the convicts on board
Sick landed
Instance of sagacity in a dog
A convict drowned
Mortality and number of sick on the 13th
Convicts sent to Rose Hill
A town marked out there
Works in hand at Sydney
Instructions respecting grants of land
Mr. Fergusson drowned
Convicts' claims on the master of the _Neptune_
Criminal Court


Governor Phillip wounded by a native
Intercourse opened with the natives
Great haul of fish
Convicts abscond with a boat
Want of rain
_Supply_ returns from Batavia
Transactions there
Criminal Courts
James Bloodworth emancipated
Oars found in the woods
A convict brought back in the _Supply_
A boat with five people lost
Public works
A convict wounded by a native
Armed parties sent out to avenge him
A Dutch vessel arrives with supplies from Batavia
Decrease by sickness and casualties in 1790


New Year's Day
A convict drowned
A native killed
Signal colours stolen
_Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island
H. E. Dodd, Superintendant at Rose Hill, dies
Public works
Terms offered for the hire of the Dutch snow to England
The _Supply_ returns
State of Norfolk Island
Fishing-boat overset
Excessive heats
Officers and seamen of the _Sirius_ embark in the snow
_Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island, and the _Waaksamheyd_ for England
William Bryant and other convicts escape from New South Wales
Ruse, a settler, declares that he can maintain himself without assistance
from the public stores
Ration reduced
Orders respecting marriage
Port regulations
Public works


A Musket found by a native
Reports of plans to seize boats
_Supply_ arrives from Norfolk Island
The King's birthday
A canoe destroyed
Its evil effects
Corn sown
Battery begun
One hundred and forty acres inclosed for cattle
The _Mary Ann_ arrives
Two criminal courts held
Ration improved
The _Matilda_ arrives
The _Mary Ann_ sails for Norfolk Island
The _Atlantic_ and _Salamander_ arrive
Full ration issued
The _William and Ann_ arrives
Public works


The _Salamander_ sails for, and the _Mary Ann_ arrives from Norfolk
Bondel, a native, returns
A seaman, for sinking a canoe, punished
The _Gorgon_ arrives
Commission of emancipation, and public seal
The _Active_ and _Queen_ arrive
Complaints against the master of the _Queen_
_Supply_ ordered home
_Albemarle_ arrives
Mutiny on board
_Britannia_ and _Admiral Barrington_ arrive
Future destination of the transports
The _Atlantic_ and _Queen_ hired
_Atlantic_ sails for Bengal
_Salamander_ returns from Norfolk Island
Public works


A party of Irish convicts abscond
The _Queen_ sails for Norfolk Island
Whale fishery
Ration altered
The _Supply_ sails for England
Live stock (public) in the colony
Ground in cultivation
Run of water decreasing
Two transports sail
Whale fishery given up
The _Queen_ arrives from Norfolk Island
The Marines embark in the _Gorgon_ for England
Ration further reduced
Convicts who were in the _Guardian_ emancipated
Store finished
Deaths in 1791


The _Queen_ sails for Norfolk Island
Whalers on their fishing voyages
Convicts missing
Various depredations
Dispensary and bake-house robbed
A criminal court held
Convict executed
The _Pitt_ with Lieutenant-Governor Grose arrives
Military duty fixed for Parramatta
Goods selling at Sydney from the _Pitt_
The _Pitt_ ordered to be dispatched to Norfolk Island
Commissions read
The _Pitt_ sails
Mr. Burton killed
Stormy weather
Public works
Regulations respecting persons who had served their terms of


Mortality in April
Appearance and state of the convicts
Ration again reduced
Quantity of flour in store
State of transactions with the natives
Indian corn stolen
Public works
Average prices of grain, etc at Sydney, and at Parramatta
Mortality decreases
King's birthday
The _Atlantic_ returns from Bengal
Account received of Bryant and his companions
Ration farther reduced
_Atlantic_ cleared
Sheep-pens at Parramatta attempted
Quality of provisions received from Calcutta
The _Brittania_ arrives from England
Ration increased
A convict emancipated
Public works


The _Britannia_ cleared
Survey of provisions
Total of cargo received from Bengal
_Atlantic_ sails with provisions for Norfolk Island
General behaviour of convicts
Criminal Courts
Prisoner pardoned conditionally
Another acquitted
New barracks begun
The _Atlantic_ returns from Norfolk Island
Settlers there discontented
Principal works
The _Britannia_ taken up by the officers of the New South Wales Corps to
procure stock
The _Royal Admiral_ East Indiaman arrives from England
Regulations at the store
A Burglary committed
Criminal Court
The _Britannia_ sails
Shops opened
Bad conduct of some settlers
Oil issued
Slops served
Governor Phillip signifies his intention of returning to England


A vessel from America arrives
Part of her cargo purchased
George Barrington and others emancipated conditionally
The _Royal Admiral_ sails
Arrival of the _Kitty_ Transport
L1001 received by her
Hospital built at Parramatta
Harvest begun at Toongabbie
Ration increased
The _Philadelphia_ sails for Norfolk Island
State of the cultivation previous to the governor's departure
Governor Phillip sails for England
Regulations made by the Lieutenant Governor
The _Hope_, an American Ship, arrives
Her cargo purchased for the colony
The _Chesterfield_ whaler arrives
Grant of land to an officer
Extreme heat and conflagration
Deaths in 1792
Prices of Stock, etc


Order respecting. spirits
Seamen punished
Convicts enlisted into the new corps
Regulations respecting Divine Service
The _Hope_ sails
The _Bellona_ arrives
Cargo damaged
Two women and a child drowned
The _Kitty_ sails for Norfolk Island
An Officer sent up to inspect the cultivation at Parramatta
A theft committed
Kangaroo Ground opened
Liberty Plains
_Bellona_ sails
The _Shah Hormuzear_ from Calcutta arrives
Information received by her
The Dholl expended
Sickness and death occasioned by the American spirits
The _Chesterfield_ sent to Norfolk Island
Convicts sell their clothing
Two Spanish ships arrive
A Criminal Court
The _Kitty_ returns from Norfolk Island
Fraud at the store at Parramatta


The Spanish ships sail
The _Chesterfield_ returns from Norfolk Island
A contract entered into for bringing cattle from India to this country
Provisions embarked on board the Bengal ship for Norfolk Island
The _Daedalus_ arrives
Cattle lost
Discoveries by Captain Vancouver
Two natives of New Zealand brought in
Bengal ship sails
Phenomenon in the sky
The hours of labour and ration altered
Lead stolen
Detachment at Parramatta relieved
Accident at that settlement
Lands cleared by officers
Mutiny on board the _Kitty_
The _Kitty_ sails for England
His Majesty's birthday
State of the provision store
The _Britannia_ arrives
Loss of cattle
General account of cattle purchased, lost in the passage, and landed in
New South Wales


The _Daedalus_ sails for Nootka
A temporary church founded
Criminal court
The colonial vessel launched
A scheme to take a longboat
Two soldiers desert
Counterfeit dollars in circulation
A soldier punished
The _Boddingtons_ arrives from Cork
General Court Martial held
The _Britannia_ hired and chartered for Bengal
The new church opened
Provisions in store
Corn purchased from settlers
The _Britannia_ sails for Bengal, and the _Francis_ Schooner for New
Irish convicts steal a boat
The _Sugar Cane_ arrives
Intended mutiny on board prevented
Excursion to the westward
Public works


The _Boddingtons_ and _Sugar Cane_ sail
A mill erected
Thefts committed
Convicts emancipated
Two persons killed by lightning
The _Fairy_ arrives
Farms sold
Public works
The _Francis_ returns from New Zealand
The _Fairy_ sails
Ration altered
Harvest begun
Criminal Court held
A convict executed
Mill at Parramatta
Christmas Day
Grants of land
Public works
Expenses how to be calculated
Deaths in 1793
Prices of grain, stock, and labour


A murder committed near Parramatta
The _Francis_ sails for Norfolk Island
Storm of wind at Parramatta
A Settlement fixed at the Hawkesbury
A burglary committed
Samuel Burt emancipated
Death of William Crozier Cook
The watches recovered
The _Francis_ returns from Norfolk Island
The New Zealand natives sent to their own country
Disturbance at Norfolk Island
Court of inquiry at Sydney
The _Francis_ returns to Norfolk Island
Natives troublesome
State of provisions


Alarming State of the provisions
The _William_ arrives with supplies from England, and the _Arthur_ from
The amor patriae natural to man in all parts of the earth
Mr. Bampton
Captain Bligh
_Admiral Barrington_ transport lost
Full ration issued
Ingratitude and just punishment of the settlers
Buffin's corn-mill set to work
Honesty of a native
The _Daedalus_ arrives from America
Female inconstancy, and its consequences
The _Arthur_ sails
The _Francis_ returns from Norfolk Island
A boat stolen
Natives killed
A new mill
Disorder in the eyes prevalent


The _William_ sails
Excursion in search of a river
A storeship arrives
Captain Bampton
Full ration
The _Britannia_, _Speedy_, and _Halcyon_ arrive
The _Indispensable_ and _Halcyon_ sail
The _Fanny_ arrives from Bombay
Two convicts executed
The _Hope_ sails


The _Speedy_ sails and returns
Excursion to the western mountains
The _Francis_ returns from Norfolk Island
Corn bills not paid
The _Britannia_ sails for the Cape, and the _Speedy_ on her fishing
Notification respecting the corn bills
The _Resolution_ and _Salamander_ arrive from England
Irish prisoners troublesome
Gales of wind
_Daedalus_ sails for Norfolk Island
_The Fancy_ sails
A death
Bevan executed
A settler murdered at Parramatta
The _Mercury_ arrives
Spanish ships
Settlers and natives
Civil Court
The _Surprize_ arrives
_Resolution_ and _Salamander_ sail
The _Daedalus_ returns from Norfolk Island
The _Mercury_ sails for America
The Lieutenant-Governor leaves the Settlement
The _Daedalus_ sails for England, and the _Surprize_ for Bengal
The Experiment arrives
Captain Paterson assumes the government _pro tempore_
Deaths in 1794


Gangs sent to till the public grounds
The _Francis_ sails
Regulations for the Hawkesbury
Produce at the river
Transactions there
The _Francis_ arrives from the Cape
The _Fancy_ from New Zealand
The _Experiment_ sails for India
A native killed
Criminal Court
Ration reduced
The _Britannia_ hired to procure provisions
Natives at the Hawkesbury
The _Endeavour_ arrives with cattle from Bombay
Returns of ground sown with wheat
The _Britannia_ sails for India
The _Fancy_ for Norfolk Island


A Criminal and a Civil Court held
Circumstances of the death of Francis T. Daveney
Salt made
Wilson, Knight, and the natives
The new mill
_Providence_ arrives from England
Four convicts brought from Port Stephens
Public labour
The _Fancy_ arrives from Norfolk Island
The _Supply_ and _Reliance_ arrive
Governor Hunter's commission read
The India ships sail
Another arrival from England
Military promotions
Colonial regulations
The _Providence_, _Supply_, and _Young William_ sail
The _Sovereign_ storeship arrives from England
Criminal court held
Convict executed
Printing-press employed
Information from Norfolk Island
The Cattle lost in 1788 discovered
Bennillong's Conduct after his return from England
Civil Court held
Meteorological phenomenon at the Hawkesbury
Mr. Barrow's death
Deaths in 1795


The _Arthur_ arrives from India
_Francis_ from Norfolk Island
A playhouse opened
Her Majesty's birthday kept
Stills destroyed
_Ceres_ storeship arrives
and _Experiment_ from India
Ship _Otter_ from America
Harvest got in
A hut demolished by the military
A Transport arrives with prisoners from Ireland
A criminal court held
Caesar shot
General court martial
_Otter_ takes away Mr. Muir
_Abigail_ from America arrives
A forgery committed
The _Reliance_
Particulars respecting Mr. Bampton, and of the fate of Captain Hill and
Mr. Carter
A Schooner arrives from Duskey-Bay
Crops bad
Robberies committed
_Supply_ for Norfolk Island
_Cornwallis_ sails
Gerald and Skirving die


Slops served
Licences granted
The _Supply_ returns from Norfolk Island
The _Susan_ from North America and the _Indispensable_ from England
A Criminal and Civil Court held
Thefts committed
The _Britannia_ arrives from Bengal
Mr. Raven's opinion as to the time of making a passage to India
A Civil Court
The _Cornwallis_ and _Experiment_ sail for India
Caution to masters of ships
A Wind-mill begun
Thefts committed
State of the settlers
The Governor goes to Mount Hunter
Public works


Two men killed; consequent regulations
The _Britannia_ hired to proceed to England
Report of the natives
The _Francis_ arrives from Norfolk Island
Public works
A criminal court assembled
A settler executed for murder
The _Susan_ sails
A civil court held
An American ship arrives from Boston
A long-boat lost
A temporary church opened at Parramatta
The _Supply_ sails for Norfolk Island and the Cape
Account of stock
Land in cultivation, and numbers in the colony
A murder committed
_Britannia_ sails for England
General observations


Comprising particulars of the _Britannia's_ voyage to England; with
remarks on the state of Norfolk Island, and some account of New Zealand.

Particulars of the state of Norfolk Island to the time when the ships
left it:

Court of Judicature
Number of Inhabitants
Male Convicts
State of Cultivation
Appropriation of the Land
Statement of the Stock belonging to Government and individuals on the
18th October 1796
Hours of Labour
Ordinary Price of Labour
Average Prices of Provisions raised on the Island
Account of Grain raised on Norfolk Island, from the 6th of March 1788
(when it was first settled) to October 1796
Account of Births and Deaths from November 12th, 1791, to September 31st,
State of the Flax Manufactory
An Account of New Zealand and its inhabitants
A Short Vocabulary of the New Zealand Language


General Remarks:
Government and Religion
Stature and Appearance
Mode of Living
Courtship and Marriage
Customs and Manner
Funeral Ceremonies



Chart of the three harbours of Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay,
showing the cultivated grounds in and about the different settlements,
with the course of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean, and the situation
of the wild cattle to the westward of the last-mentioned river.
View of the Governor's house at Rose Hill in the township of Parramatta
By water to Parramatta, with a distant view of the western mountains
Eastern view of Sydney
Western view of Sydney Cove
Direct south view of Sydney
South-east view in Sydney, including the church, etc.
North view of Sydney Cove
Baker's Farm on the banks of the river
Western view of Toongabbie
Portraits of Ben-nil-long, Wo-lar-ra-bar-ray, Wo-gul-trow-el Boin-ba,
and Bun-de-bun-da
The Brick Field, or High Road to Parramatta
View of Sydney in Norfolk Island
Facsimile of a chart of New Zealand, drawn by Too-gee
Saunderson's Farm
Yoo-long Erah-ba-diang, No. 1
Ditto No. 2
Ditto No. 3
Ditto No. 4
Ditto No. 5
Ditto No. 6
Ditto No. 7
Ditto No. 8
Ceremony of burning a corpse

* * * * *




Transports hired to carry convicts to Botany Bay
The _Sirius_ and the _Supply_ commissioned
Preparations for sailing
Tonnage of the transports
Persons left behind
Two convicts punished on board the _Sirius_
The _Hyaena_ leaves the Fleet
Arrival of the fleet at Teneriffe
Proceedings at that island
Some particulars respecting the town of Santa Cruz
An excursion made to Laguna
A convict escapes from one of the transports, but is retaken
The fleet leaves Teneriffe, and puts to sea

The Commissioners of his Majesty's Navy, near the end of the
year 1786, advertised for a certain number of vessels to be taken up for the
purpose of conveying between seven and eight hundred male and female felons
to Botany Bay in New South Wales, on the eastern coast of New Holland;
whither it had been determined by Government to transport them, after
having sought in vain upon the African coast for a situation possessing
the requisites for the establishment of a colony.

The following vessels were at length contracted for, and assembled in the
River to fit, and take in stores and provisions, _viz_ the _Alexander_,
_Scarborough_, _Charlotte_, _Lady Penrhyn_, and _Friendship_, as
transports; and the _Fishbourn_, _Golden Grove_, and _Borrowdale_, as
store-ships. The _Prince of Wales_ was afterwards added to the number of
transports, on a representation being made to the Treasury Board that
such an addition was necessary. The transports were immediately prepared
for the reception of the convicts, and the store-ships took on board
provisions for two years, with tools, implements of agriculture, and such
other articles as were considered necessary to a colonial establishment.

October.] On the 24th of October, Captain Arthur Phillip hoisted a
pendant on board his Majesty's ship the _Sirius_ of 20 guns, then lying
at Deptford. This ship was originally called the _Berwick_, and intended
for the East India Company; but having, while on the stocks, met with
some accident by fire, was purchased by Government for a store-ship, and
as such had performed one voyage to America. Her burden was about 520
tons; and being, from her construction, well-calculated for this
expedition, she was taken into the service as a man of war, and with her
capacity changed also her name.

As the government of the intended colony, as well as the command of the
_Sirius_, was given to Captain Phillip, it was thought necessary to
appoint another captain to her, who might command her on any service in
which she might be employed for the colony, while Captain Phillip should
be engaged in his government. For this purpose an order was signed by his
Majesty in Council, directing the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to
appoint John Hunter esquire (then a master and commander) second captain
of the Sirius, with the rank of post. Although this ship mounted only 20
guns, and those but six-pounders, yet on this particular service her
establishment was not confined to what is usual in a ship of that class;
but, with a first and second captain, she had also three lieutenants, a
master, purser, surgeon and two mates, a boatswain, a gunner, and a
subaltern's detachment of marines.

The _Supply_ brig was also put into commission, and the command given to
Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. This vessel was to accompany the Sirius
as an armed tender; and both ships, having completed their equipment at
Deptford-yard, dropped down on the 10th of December to Long Reach, where
they took in their guns, powder, and other stores.

January.] They were here joined by some of the transports, and continued
waiting for orders until the 30th of January 1787, when they sailed for
Spithead; which port, however, they were prevented from reaching, by
heavy and contrary gales of wind, which they continued to experience both
in the Downs and on their passage, until the latter end of the following

One or two of the transports had in the mean time arrived at Portsmouth,
and the _Charlotte_ and _Alexander_ proceeded to Plymouth, where they
were to receive the male and female convicts that were ready for them.

March.] On the 5th of March, the order for their embarkation, together
with that of the detachment of marines provided as an escort, was sent
from the Secretary of State's office, with directions for their
immediately joining the other ships of the expedition at the Motherbank.
This was done accordingly; and, every necessary arrangement having taken
place, the troops intended for the garrison embarked, and the convicts,
male and female, were distributed in the different transports.

May.] On Monday the 7th of May Captain Phillip arrived at Portsmouth, and
took the command of his little fleet, then lying at the Motherbank.
Anxious to depart, and apprehensive that the wind, which had for a
considerable time been blowing from the quarter favourable to his passage
down the Channel, might desert him at the moment when he most wished for
its continuance, he on the Thursday following made the signal to prepare
for sailing. But here a demur arose among the sailors on board the
transports, who refused to proceed to sea unless they should be paid
their wages up to the time of their departure, alleging as a ground for
this refusal, that they were in want of many articles necessary for so
long a voyage, which this money, if paid, would enable them to purchase.
The custom of their employ, however, being against a demand which yet
appeared reasonable, Captain Phillip directed the different masters to
put such of their people as refused to proceed with them to sea, on board
of the _Hyaena_ frigate, and to receive an equal number of her seamen,
who should afterwards be re-exchanged at sea, her captain being directed
to accompany the fleet to a certain distance.

This difficulty being removed, and the ship's companies of the _Sirius_
and the _Supply_ having received the usual advance of two months' wages,
on Saturday the 12th the men of war and some of the transports got under
sail, with a view of dropping down to St. Helen's, and thence proceeding
to sea; but the wind falling short, and proving unfavourable, they
brought up at Spithead for the night, and at day-break next morning the
whole fleet weighed with a fresh breeze, and, having a leading wind,
passed without any accident through the Needles.

The transports were of the following tonnage, and had on board the
undermentioned number of convicts, and other persons, civil and military,

The _Alexander_, of 453 tons, had on board 192 male convicts; 2
lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 29 privates, with 1
assistant surgeon to the colony.

The _Scarborough_, of 418 tons, had on board 205 male convicts; 1
captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 26
privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony.

The _Charlotte_, of 346 tons, had on board 89 male and 20 female
convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer,
and 35 privates, with the principal surgeon of the colony.

The _Lady Penrhyn_, of 338 tons, had on board 101 female convicts; 1
captain, 2 lieutenants, and 3 privates, with a person acting as a
surgeon's mate.

The _Prince of Wales_, of 334 tons, had on board 2 male and 50 female
convicts; 2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 24
privates, with the surveyor-general of the colony.

The _Friendship_, (snow,) of 228 tons, had on board 76 male and 21 female
convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer,
and 36 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony.

There were on board, beside these, 28 women, 8 male and 6 female
children, belonging to the soldiers of the detachment, together with 6
male and 7 female children belonging to the convicts.

The _Fishbourn_ store-ship was of 378 tons; the _Borrowdale_ of 272 tons;
and the _Golden Grove_ of 331 tons. On board this last ship was embarked
the chaplain of the colony, with his wife and a servant.

Not only these as store-ships, but the men of war and transports, were
stored in every part with provisions, implements of agriculture, camp
equipage, clothing for the convicts, baggage, etc.

On board of the _Sirius_ were taken, as supernumeraries, the major
commandant of the corps of marines embarked in the transports*, the
adjutant and quarter-master, the judge-advocate of the settlement, and
the commissary; with 1 sergeant, 3 drummers, 7 privates, 4 women, and a
few artificers.

[* This officer was also lieutenant-governor of the colony.]

Proper day and night signals were established by Captain Phillip for the
regulation of his convoy, and every necessary instruction was given to
the masters to guard against separation. On board the transports a
certain number of prisoners were allowed to be upon deck at a time during
the day, the whole being properly secured at night: and as the master of
each ship carrying convicts had indented for their security in a penalty
of forty pounds for every one that might escape, they were instructed
constantly to consult with the commanding marine officer on board the
transports, both as to the number of convicts that were to be suffered to
come on deck during the passage, and the times when such indulgence
should be granted. To the military was left the care of those essential
services, the preservation of their health, the inspection of their
provisions, and the distribution of the sentinels who were to guard them.
Their allowance of provisions during the voyage (two-thirds of the usual
allowance to a seaman in the navy) was contracted for in London*; and Mr.
Zachariah Clark was sent out in one of the transports as the agent
responsible for the due performance of the contract. This allowance was
to be suspended on their arrival at any foreign port, the commissary of
the settlement being then to furnish them with fresh provisions.

[* By William Richards jun. esquire, of Walworth in the county of Surry.]

At our outset we had the mortification to find that two of our convoy
were very heavy sailers, and likely to be the occasion of much delay in
so long a voyage as that in which we had embarked. The _Charlotte_ was on
the first and second day taken in tow by the _Hyaena_, and the _Lady
Penrhyn_ fell considerably astern. As the separation of any of the fleet
was a circumstance to be most sedulously guarded against and prevented,
the _Sirius_ occasionally shortened sail to afford the sternmost ships
time to come up with her; at the close of evening she was put under an
easy sail for the night, during which time she carried, for the guidance
of the whole, a conspicuous light in the main-top.

On the 15th the signal was made for the transports to pass in succession
within hail under the stern of the _Sirius_, when, on inquiry, it
appeared, that the provost-marshal of the settlement (who was to have
taken his passage on board the _Prince of Wales_) was left behind,
together with the third mate of the _Charlotte_ transport, and five men
from the _Fishbourn_ store-ship; the loss of these five persons was
supplied by as many seamen from on board the _Hyaena_.

Light or unfavourable winds prevented our getting clear of the Channel
until the 16th, at which time we had the satisfaction of finding that we
had accomplished it without returning, or putting in at any of the ports
which offered themselves in our way down.

Sunday the 20th was marked by the discovery of a design formed among the
convicts on board the _Scarborough_ transport to mutiny and take
possession of the ship. The information was given by one of the convicts
to the commanding marine officer on board, who, on the lying-to of the
convoy at noon to dispatch Captain De Courcy to England, waited on the
major-commandant on board the _Sirius_, and communicated the particulars
to him and Captain Phillip, who, after some deliberation, directed that
the ringleaders (two in number) should be brought on board the _Sirius_,
there punished, and afterwards secured in the _Prince of Wales_
transport. This was accordingly put in execution, and two dozen lashes
were inflicted by the boatswain's mate of the Sirius on each of the
offenders, who stedfastly denied the existence of any such design as was
imputed to them.

A boat from each of the transports coming on board the _Sirius_ with
letters for England, some additional signals were given to the masters,
with directions to those who had convicts on board to release from their
irons such as might by their behaviour have merited that indulgence; but
with orders to confine them again with additional security on the least
appearance among them of irregularity.

These necessary regulations being adjusted, and the _Hyaena_ sent off
with the commanding officer's letters, the fleet made sail again in the
evening. But it should have been observed, that when the _Hyaena's_ boat
came on board she brought some necessaries for the five men belonging to
her, who had been lent to the _Fishbourn_ store-ship, and who, animated
with a spirit of enterprise, chose rather to remain in her than return in
the frigate to England.

The wind was more favourable to the _Hyaena's_ return to Plymouth (which
port she was directed to make) than to our progress southward, for the
two following days; but it then coming round to the NW, by the 24th we
had reached the latitude of Cape Ortegal.

On the 25th, the signal was made for Lieutenant Shortland, the agent on
board the Alexander, who, at his coming on board, was directed to visit
the several transports, and collect from each a list of the different
trades and occupations of the respective convicts, agreeably to a form
given him for that purpose by Captain Phillip. From this time to the 29th
the wind continued favourable, but blowing exceedingly fresh, and
attended with a heavy rolling sea. The _Supply_ was now directed to make
sail and keep six miles ahead during the day, and two during the night;
and to look out for the land, as it was expected that the fleet would on
the morrow be in the neighbourhood of the Madeira Isles. Accordingly,
soon after day-break the following morning, she made the signal for
seeing land, and at noon we were abreast of the Deserters--certain high
barren rocks so named, to the SSE of the Island of Madeira, and distant
about three leagues.

In the afternoon of the 31st, the _Supply_ ahead again made the signal
for seeing land; and shortly after we were abreast of the ridge of rocks
situated between the Madeira and Canary Isles, called the Salvages.

June.] Our strong trade-wind appeared to have here spent its force, and
we were baffled (as frequently happens in the vicinity of islands) by
light airs or calms. With these and contrary winds our patience was
exercised until the evening of the 2nd of June, when a favourable breeze
sprang up, which continued during that night. At six the next morning the
island of Teneriffe was seen right ahead; and about seven in the evening
the whole fleet came to an anchor in the road of Santa Cruz. The ships
were immediately moored, taking the precaution of buoying their cables
with empty casks, to prevent their being injured by rocks or foul ground,
an inconvenience which had frequently been experienced by navigators in
this road. We found riding here a Spanish packet, an English brig bound
to London, and some smaller vessels.

Captain Phillip designed to have sent an officer forward in the _Supply_,
to announce his arrival to the governor, and to settle as well the hour
of his waiting upon him, as some necessary arrangements respecting fresh
provisions, water, etc.; but as it was growing dark before the fleet
anchored, and night coming on, when business of that nature could not
well be transacted, his visit was postponed until the morning. Before we
came to an anchor the port-officer, or harbour-master, came on board to
make the customary inquiries, accompanied by some Spanish officers and
gentlemen of the town. The ceremony of a salute was on their side
declined, having, as was alleged, but two or three guns mounted for use;
and on our part this omission was readily acquiesced in, as expediting
the service which brought us thither, that of watering the ships, and
taking on board wine and such other refreshments as could be procured; an
object of more consequence than the scrupulous observance of compliment
and etiquette, particularly in the then necessarily crowded state of the
_Sirius_. And as it was afterwards understood, that it was not usual at
this place to return an equal number of guns upon those occasions (a
circumstance always insisted on by his Majesty's ships when they salute),
unpleasant discussion of this point was thereby avoided.

Early in the morning the officer was dispatched on shore by Captain
Phillip to learn at what time he might pay his respects to the governor.
The hour of noon was appointed for that ceremony; and accordingly at that
time Captain Phillip, accompanied by the civil, military, and naval
officers under his orders, waited on his excellency the Marquis De
Branceforte, and were received by him with the utmost politeness.

The same reasons which induced Captain Phillip to acquiesce in omitting
to salute on his arrival at this port, operated against his taking public
notice of his Majesty's birthday, which he would otherwise have made a
point of celebrating with every mark of respect.

In the afternoon of this day the marquis sent an officer on board the
_Sirius_, politely offering Captain Phillip whatever assistance he might
stand in need of, and that was in his power to furnish. In the forenoon
of Wednesday the 6th, he came in person on board, attended by several of
his officers, to return Captain Phillip's visit; and afterwards
entertained him, the lieutenant-governor, and other officers of the
settlement, navy, and marines, to the number of ten, at dinner.

The next being the day of Corpus Christi, a day of great religious
observance and ceremony in Roman Catholic countries, no boats were sent
from the transports to the shore. The business of watering, getting off
wine, etc. was suspended by Captain Phillip's directions until the
morrow, to prevent the least interruption being given by any of the
people under his command to the ceremonies and processions which were to
take place. Those officers, whose curiosity led them to observe the
religious proceedings of the day, very prudently attended uncovered, and
knelt, wherever kneeling was required, in the streets, and in their
churches; for, when it was considered that the same great Creator of the
universe was worshipped alike by Protestant and Catholic, what difficulty
could the mind have in divesting their pageant of its tinsel, its
trappings, and its censers, and joining with sincerity in offering the
purest incense, that of a grateful heart?

The Marquis De Branceforte, whom we found in the government of the Canary
Isles, was, we were informed, a major-general in the Spanish service, and
having been three years in the government, only waited, it was said, for
his promotion to the rank of lieutenant-general to return to Spain. The
salary annexed to this government, as we understood, was not quite equal
to fifteen hundred pounds a year. His Excellency's house was situated at
the upper end of the High Street, or Square, as it was called, and was by
no means the best in the town. Mr. Carter (the treasurer) and some
private merchants appearing to reside in larger and much better
habitations. The houses in most of the streets were built with
quadrangles, a gallery running round the interior sides of the first
floor, on which indeed the families chiefly resided, appropriating the
ground floor to offices for domestic purposes. The dwelling-rooms were
not ceiled, but were open to the roof of the building, which rarely
exceeded two stories in height. The upper part of the windows was glazed
with very bad glass; the lower part consisted of close lattice-work,
through the small apertures of which, as we traversed the streets, we had
now and then opportunities of noticing the features of the women, whom
the custom of the country had confined within doors to the lattice, and
in the street to the _roba zilia_, or veil. There were but few objects in
the town sufficiently striking to draw the attention of a stranger.

The landing-place was commodious, being formed by a stone pier, alongside
of which two boats at a time might lie with great ease and take in their
fresh water. It appeared by an inscription in Spanish, that the pier,
having fallen nearly into a state of entire ruin, was indebted for its
present convenience to the liberality of the governor assisted indeed by
some merchants, who superintended and contributed largely to its repair,
which was completed in the year 1786.

At the lower end of the High Street was observed a light and
well-finished monument of white marble, commemorating the marvellous
appearance of the image or bust of Our Lady at Candelaria, to the
Guanches, the aborigines of the country, who were thereby converted to
Christianity 104 years before the preaching of the gospel. The four sides
of the monument bore long inscriptions to this effect, and further
intimated, that it was erected, as an act of piety and cordial devotion,
at the expense of Don Bartholomi di Montagnes, perpetual captain of the
Royal Marine Castle at Candelaria.

In the centre of this street were a stone basin and fountain, from which
the inhabitants were supplied with a stream of very good water, conveyed
from the neighbouring hills by wooden troughs supported on slight posts,
and reaching quite to the town. At the head of the street, near the
government-house, stood a large stone cross, and at a small distance the
church of St Francis, annexed to which was a monastery of Franciscans.
The name of Santa Cruz, the Holy Cross, seemed not inapplicable to this
town, for one or more crucifixes of wood or stone were to be found in
most of the streets, and in others the form of the Cross was painted upon
the walls of the houses. Over the entrances of some houses we observed,
inclosed in small glass-cases, the images and pictures of favourite
saints, with lamps before them, which were lighted in the evenings and on
certain public occasions.

There were not any fortifications upon the commanding ground above the
town; but at each end of the bay stood a fort, between which were erected
three or four circular redoubts, connected with each other by a low
parapet wall, wearing the appearance of a line of communication between
the forts; but very few cannon were to be seen in the works.

On the skirts of the town to the southward we visited a workhouse, which
had been originally designed for the reception of the mendicants with
which the town had been very much infested. About forty families had
subscribed a certain sum to erect this building, and to furnish in a
manner every way convenient and consistent with such a design. But we
were informed that the governor had filled it with the daughters of the
labouring poor, who were here instructed in weaving and spinning, and
were brought up in industry and cleanliness, remaining in the house until
of a marriageable age, when a portion equal to ten pounds sterling was
given with each on the day of her nuptials. This and the other expenses
of the house were furnished by a fund produced from the labour of the
young people, who appeared all in the same dress, plain indeed, but
cleanly and neat.

We heard with surprise, and not without regret, that this institution was
likely to fall to the ground whenever the governor's departure should
take place, the subscribers being dissatisfied with the plan that was
then pursued, alleging that their money had been given to get rid of
their beggars, whose numbers were not diminished; and that the children
were only taught what they could learn from their mothers at home. To us
however, judging without prejudice or partiality, the design of the
institution appeared to have been more effectually answered by striking
at the root of beggary, than if the charity had been merely confined to
objects who would have been found daily to multiply, from the comfortable
provision held out to them by that charity.

A whole-length picture of the governor was hung up in the working-rooms
of the house. He was represented, agreeably to the end that was at first
proposed by the institution, conducting a miserable object to the gate of
the workhouse; a front view of which was also given.

These islands, known to the Romans by the appellation of the Fortunate
Islands, appeared even at this day to deserve that epithet; for the
inhabitants were so fortunate, and the soil so happy, that no venomous
creature had been found to live there; several toads, adders, and other
poisonous reptiles, which had been brought thither for proof, having died
almost immediately after their arrival. The air of this place is very
salubrious; an instance of which was remarked in a gentleman who was said
to be 113 years of age, and who had been happy enough to preserve his
faculties through such a series of time, nearly entire, his memory alone
appearing to be impaired. He came from Waterford in Ireland, and had been
vice-consul at this port ever since the year 1709.

We were informed that a slight shock of an earthquake had been felt here
in the month of February preceding, but was unattended with any eruption
from the Peak, which had not alarmed the island since the year 1703, when
it destroyed the port of Guarrachica.

When the weather was very hot at Santa Cruz, the better sort of the
inhabitants chose cooler residences higher up in the mountains, and these
they could establish in whatever degree of temperature they chose; for in
proportion as they ascended the air became cooler, the famous Peak being
(though a volcano) clad in perpetual snow at its summit. We understood
that the rain fell very heavy at certain seasons; and, on the sides of
the hills which surrounded the town, ridges or low walls of stone were
constructed at short distances, with intervals in them, to break the
force of the water, which otherwise, descending in torrents, would sweep
away every thing before it. Around Santa Cruz, indeed, there appeared but
little vegetation for which to be apprehensive, nor did the prospect
brighten till we came within view of the town named Laguna, an inland
settlement, and once the capital of the island.

For this place a party of us set forward on the 8th, mounted, according
to the custom of the country, upon mules or asses. Our route lay over
hills and mountains of rock continually ascending, until within a short
distance of the town, at which we arrived in between two and three hours
from our leaving Santa Cruz. The road over which we passed was wide, but
for the greatest part of it we travelled over loose stones that bore all
the appearance of cinders; in some places resembling a regular pavement,
and in others our beasts were compelled to scramble as well as they could
over the hard solid rock. We found that Laguna, which was somewhat better
than three English miles distant from Santa Cruz, had formerly been a
populous city; the streets were spacious, and laid out at right angles
with each other.

Here were two monasteries and as many convents. The monastery of St
Augustine we visited; and the good fathers of it with great civility
conducted us to their chapel, though it was preparing for the celebration
of some religious ceremony. We found the altar-piece, on which was
commonly displayed all their finery and taste, neat, light, and elegant.
Few paintings were to be seen; the best were half-lengths of some of the
saints disposed round the pulpit. The form of this building was a
quadrangle, the centre of which was laid out in garden-ground, elegantly
divided into walks, bordered with roses, myrtle, and a variety of other
shrubs and flowers. Hence we proceeded to the retreat of religious
females, but had not chosen the proper time for paying our respects,
which ceremony we therefore deferred until our return in the evening from
an excursion into the adjacent country.

The town of Laguna (a name which signifies Lake or Swamp) is situated
upon a plain surrounded by high hills, and watered by the same means as
Santa Cruz, from a great distance up the country. We noticed, indeed, two
stone-basins, and fountains playing in different streets of the place.
The buildings here had a manifest superiority over those of Santa Cruz,
the streets were far more spacious, and the houses larger. In some of the
former we perceived a regular line of shops filled chiefly with articles
from England. The insalubrity of the air of this place, however, had
driven, and was continuing to drive, such numbers almost daily from its
influence, that it had more the appearance of a deserted than of an
inhabited town, weeds and grass literally growing in the streets. As this
town decreased in its population, Santa Cruz, with some others on the
island, received the benefit; and it must be acknowledged, that although
in quitting Laguna they removed from fertile fields and a romantic
pleasant country, to uncouth and almost barren rocks at Santa Cruz, they
changed a noxious for a very healthy situation.

After viewing the town we remounted our beasts, and proceeded by the side
of the aqueduct into a most delightful country, where we found the people
cheerfully employed in gathering their harvest, and singing their rural
roundelays. The soil produced oats, barley, wheat, and Indian corn; but,
though it bore always two, and sometimes three crops, it was nevertheless
unequal in the whole of its produce to the consumption of the island, the
deficiency being supplied from the Grand Canary.

The sides of the hills were clothed with woods, into one of which we
rode, and arriving at a place named Il Plano de los Vieios, or the Plain
of the Old People, we rested for some little time, and afterward,
crossing through a cultivated valley, ascended the hill on the opposite
side, where we visited the source of the stream that supplied the
aqueduct. Returning thence, we refreshed under the walls of a small
chapel, where a friar occasionally performed mass for the neighbouring
country people. About five o'clock we again entered Laguna, with the
intention of paying our compliments to the sisterhood of the convent
which we had visited in the morning; but whether our party was too
numerous, or from what other cause it proceeded we could not learn, we
were only favoured with the company of four or five of the elder ladies
of the house, who talked very loud and very fast. After purchasing some
few bunches of artificial fruit, we took our leave, and proceeded to
Santa Cruz, cautiously indeed, down the hills and rocks which we had
ascended in the morning, and arrived about sun-set.

An outward-bound Dutch East-Indiaman had anchored in the road since the

In the evening of this day John Powers, a convict, made his escape from
the _Alexander_ transport, in a small boat which by some accident was
suffered to lie unattended to alongside the ship, with a pair of oars in
it; he was however retaken at day-break the next morning, by the activity
of the master and a party of marines belonging to the transport, and
brought on board the _Sirius_, whence he was removed to his own ship,
with directions for his being heavily ironed.

It appeared that he had at first conceived hopes of being received on
board the Dutch East India ship that arrived in the morning; but, meeting
with a disappointment there, rowed to the southern part of the island,
and concealed himself among the rocks, having first set his boat and oars
adrift, which fortunately led to a discovery of the place he had chosen
for his retreat. The Marquis de Branceforte, on hearing of his escape,
expressed the greatest readiness to assist in his recovery; and Captain
Phillip offered a considerable reward for the same purpose.

Having completed the provisioning and watering of the fleet, and being
again ready to proceed on our voyage, in the afternoon of Saturday the
9th the signal was made from the _Sirius_ for all boats to repair on
board; shortly after which she unmoored, and that night lay at single

At daybreak the following morning the whole fleet got under way.


Proceed on the voyage
Altitude of the peak of Teneriffe
Pass the isles of Sal, Bonavista, May, and St. Iago
Cross the equator
Arrive at the Brazils
Transactions at Rio de Janeiro
Some particulars of that town
Sail thence
Passage to the Cape of Good Hope
Transactions there
Some particulars respecting the Cape
Depart for New South Wales

Light airs had, by the noon of Monday the 11th, carried the fleet midway
between the islands of Teneriffe and the Grand Canary, which latter was
now very distinctly seen. This island wore the same mountainous
appearance as its opposite neighbour Teneriffe, from which it seemed to
be divided by a space of about eleven leagues. Being the capital of the
Canary Islands, the chief bishop had his residence there, and evinced in
his diocese the true spirit of a primitive Christianity, by devoting to
pious and charitable purposes the principal part of a revenue of ten
thousand pounds _per annum_. The chief officers of justice also reside in
this island, before whom all civil causes are removed from Teneriffe and
the other Canary Islands, to be finally decided.

While detained in this spot, we had a very fine view of the Peak of
Teneriffe, lifting its venerable and majestic head above the neighbouring
hills, many of which were also of considerable height, and perhaps rather
diminished the grandeur of the Peak itself, the altitude of which we
understood was 15,396 feet, only 148 yards short of three miles.

On the 14th, the wind began to blow steady from the north-east; and on
the 15th, about eleven in the forenoon, we crossed the tropic of Cancer.
Our weather now became hot and close, and we rolled along through a very
heavy sea, the convoy, however, keeping well together.

At six o'clock in the morning of the 18th, the _Supply_, then ahead of
the fleet, made the signal for seeing land. The weather being very hazy,
we had but an indistinct view of the Isle of Sal, one of the Cape de Verd
islands, bearing NW by W 1/4 W distant eight leagues; and at one the same
day, we came in sight of the Island of Bonavista, bearing S.W. distant
two leagues.

Captain Phillip designing to anchor for a few hours at the Island of St.
Iago, to procure water and other refreshments, if he could get in without
any risk or difficulty, in the evening shortened sail, and made the
convoy's signal to close, the run from thence to that island being too
great to admit of our reaching it before dark. The _Supply_ was directed
at the same time to keep ahead with a light during the night; and at
twelve o'clock the night signal was made for the fleet to bring-to.

At six the next morning we made sail again, and soon after passed the
Isle of May, distant about four leagues, bearing NW by W of us. Between
nine and ten o'clock we made the south end of the Island of St. Iago and
at the distance of about two leagues. The wind freshening soon after we
saw the island, at noon we were ranging along the south side of it, with
the signal flying for the convoy to prepare to anchor; but at the moment
of our opening Praya-bay, and preparing to haul round the southern
extremity of it, the fleet was suddenly taken aback, and immediately
after baffled by light airs. We could however perceive, as well by the
colours at the fort, as by those of a Portuguese snow riding in the bay,
that the wind blew directly in upon the shore, which would have rendered
our riding there extremely hazardous; and as it was probable that our
coming to an anchor might not have been effected without some accident
happening to the convoy, Captain Phillip determined to wave, for the
superior consideration of the safety of the fleet under his care, the
advantages he might otherwise have derived from the supply of fresh
provisions and vegetables to be procured there: the breeze therefore
coming off the land, and with sufficient effect to carry us clear of the
island and its variable weather, the anchoring signal was taken in, and
we made sail about two o'clock, the fleet standing away due south. Our
sudden departure from the island, we imagined, must have proved some
disappointment to the inhabitants, as we noticed that a gun was fired at
the fort, shortly after our opening the bay; a signal, it was supposed,
to the country people to bring down their articles for trade and barter.

July.] On the 14th of July the fleet crossed the equator in the 26th
degree of east longitude. Such persons as had never before crossed the
Line were compelled to undergo the ridiculous ceremonies which those who
were privileged were allowed to perform on them.

From this time our weather was pleasant, and we had every appearance of
soon reaching our next port, the Rio de Janeiro, on the Brazil coast.

The track which we had to follow was too beaten to afford us any thing
new or interesting. Captain Phillip proposed making the Island of
Trinidada; but the easterly winds and southerly currents which we had met
with to the northward of the Line having set us so far to the westward
when we crossed it, he gave up all expectation of seeing it, and on the
28th altered his course, steering SW. Trinidada is laid down in 20
degrees 25 minutes south latitude, and 28 degrees 35 minutes west
longitude, while we at noon on the 29th were in 19 degrees 36 minutes
south latitude, and 33 degrees 18 minutes west longitude.

The longitude, when calculated by either altitudes of the sun, for the
time-piece (of Kendal's constructing, which was sent out by the Board of
Longitude), or by the means of several sets of lunar observations, which
were taken by Captain Hunter, Lieutenant Bradley, and Lieutenant Dawes,
was constantly shown to the convoy, for which purpose the signal was made
for the whole to pass under the stern of the _Sirius_, when a board was
set up in some conspicuous part of the ship with the longitude marked on
it to that day at noon.

A good look-out (to make use of the sea-phrase usual on these occasions)
was kept for an island, not very well known or described, which was laid
down in some charts, nearly in the track which we were to cross, but it
was not seen by any of the ships of the fleet; nor was implicit credit
given to its existence, although named (the island of Ascension) and a
latitude and longitude assigned to it. It was conjectured, that the
islands of Martin Vas and Trinidada, lying within about five leagues of
each other, had given rise to the idea of a new island, and that
Ascension was in reality one or other of those islands.

Only two accidents happened during the passage to the Brazils. A seaman
belonging to the _Alexander_ was so unfortunate as to fall overboard, and
could not be recovered--and a female convict on board the _Prince of
Wales_ was so much bruised by the falling of a boat from off the booms
(which, owing to the violent motion of the ship, had got loose) that she
died the following day, notwithstanding the professional skill and humane
attention of the principal surgeon; for as the boat in launching forward
fell upon the neck and crushed the vertebrae and spine, all the aid he
could render her was of no avail.

August.] On Thursday the 2nd of August we had the coast of South America
in sight; and the head-land, named Cape Frio, was distinctly seen before
the evening closed in. Our time-piece had given us notice when to look
out for it, and the land was made precisely to the hour in which it had
taught us to expect it. It was not, however, until the evening of the 4th
that we anchored within the islands at the entrance of the harbour of Rio
de Janeiro.

At day-break the next morning an officer was dispatched from the _Sirius_
to inform the viceroy of the arrival of the fleet; and he most readily
and politely promised us every assistance in his power. A ship bound to
Lisbon passing us about noon, that opportunity was taken of sending an
account to England of the fortunate progress which we had so far made in
the long voyage before us; soon after which the port-officer, or
harbour-master, came on board, and, the seabreeze beginning to blow, the
fleet got under sail. About five in the afternoon we crossed the bar, and
soon after passing the fort of Santa Cruz, saluted it with thirteen guns,
which were returned by an equal number of guns from the fort. While
saluting, it fell calm; but by the assistance of a light breeze which
afterwards sprung up, and the tide of flood, the _Sirius_ was enabled to
reach far enough in by seven o'clock to come to an anchor in the harbour
of Rio de Janeiro; the convoy also anchored as they came up, at the
distance of about a mile and a half from the landing-place, which was
found very commodious.

Our passage from Teneriffe, although rather a long one, had fortunately
been unattended with any disease, and the surgeon reported that we had
brought in only ninety-five persons sick, comprehending every description
of people in the fleet. Many, however, of this number were bending only
under the pressure of age and its attendant infirmities, having no other
complaints among them.

On the morning after our arrival the intendant of the port, with the
usual officers, repaired on board the _Sirius_, requiring the customary
certificates to be given, as to what nation she belonged to, whither
bound, the name of her commander, and his reason for coming into that
port; to all which satisfactory answers were given; and at eleven o'clock
the day following Captain Phillip, accompanied by the officers of the
settlement, civil and military, waited upon Don Louis Vasconcellos, the
viceroy of the Brazils, at his excellency's palace, who received them
with much politeness, readily assenting to a tent being pitched on shore
for the purpose of an observatory; as well as to the drawing of the Seine
in different parts of the bay for fish; only pointing out the
restrictions that would be necessary to prevent the sailors from
straggling into the country. On their taking leave, it was most politely
intimated, that no restraint would be imposed upon the officers, whenever
they came on shore to the town, in which they were free to pass wherever
they desired. A conduct so opposite to that in general observed to
foreigners in this port could by us be attributed only to the great
esteem in which Captain Phillip was held here by all ranks of people
during the time of his commanding a ship in the Portuguese service; for
on being informed of the employment he now held, the viceroy's guard was
directed to pay him the same honours during his stay here, that were paid
to himself as the representative of the crown of Portugal.

The palace of the viceroy stood in the Royal Square, of which, together
with the public prison, the mint, and the opera-house, it formed the
right wing. Of these buildings the opera-house alone was shut up; and we
were informed, that the gloom which was thrown over the court and kingdom
of Portugal by the death of the late king, had extended in full force to
the colonies also; all private and public amusements being since that
time discouraged as much as possible, the viceroy himself setting the
example. Once a week, indeed, his excellency had a music-meeting at the
palace for the entertainment of himself and a few select friends; but
nothing more.

The town of St. Sebastian (or, as it is more commonly named, the town of
Rio de Janeiro, which was in fact the name of the river forming the bay,
on the western side of which was built the town) is large, and was
originally designed to have had an elevated and airy situation, but was,
unfortunately for the inhabitants, erected on low ground along the shore,
and in a recess almost wholly out of the reach of the refreshing
seabreeze, which was observed to be pretty regular in its visitations.
The inhabitants, nevertheless, deemed the air salubrious; and we were
informed that epidemic distempers were rare among them. In their streets,
however, were frequently seen objects of wretchedness and misery,
crawling about with most painful and disgusting swellings in their legs
and privities. The hospital, which had formerly been a Jesuit's convent,
stood near the summit of the hill, in an open situation, at the back of
the town. From the great estimation in which English surgeons were held
here, it would seem that the town is not too well provided in that
respect. Senor Ildefonse, the principal in the place had studied in
England, where he went under the course of surgical education called
walking the hospitals, and might by his practice in this place, which was
considerable, and quite as much as he could attend to, have soon realised
a handsome fortune; but we understood, that to the poor or necessitous
sick he always administered _gratis_.

The township of the Rio de Janeiro was said to contain on the whole not
less than 40,000 people, exclusive of the native Indians and negroes.
These last appear to be very numerous, of a strong robust appearance, and
are brought from the coast of Guinea, forming an extensive article of
commerce. With these people of both sexes the streets were constantly
filled, scarcely any other description of people being seen in them.
Ladies or gentlemen were never seen on foot in the streets during the
day; those whose business or inclination led them out being carried in
close chairs, the pole of which came from the head of the vehicle, and
rested on the shoulders of the chairmen, having, notwithstanding the
gaudiness of the chair itself, a very awkward appearance.

The language spoken here by the white people was that of the mother
country--Portuguese. The ecclesiastics in general could converse in
Latin; and the negro slaves spoke a corrupt mixture of their own tongue
with that of the people of the town. The native Indians retained their
own language, and could be distinctly discerned from the natives of
Guinea, as well by the colour of the skin, as by the hair and the
features of the face. Some few of the military conversed in French; but
this language was in general little used.

The town appeared to be well supplied with water, which was conveyed into
it from a great distance by means of an aqueduct (or carioca) which in
one place having to cross a road or public way was raised upon a double
row of strong lofty arches, forming an object that from the bay, and at
the entrance of the harbour, added considerably to the beauty of the
imagery. From this aqueduct the water was received into stone fountains,
constructed with capacious basins, whither the inhabitants sent their
linen, to have the dirt rather beaten than washed out of it, by slaves.
One of these fountains of a modern construction was finished with great
taste and neatness of execution.

We also observed several large and rich convents in the town. The chief
of these were, the Benedictine and the Carmelite; one dedicated to St.
Anthony, another to Our Lady of Assistance, and another to St. Theresa.
The two last were for the reception of nuns; and of the two, that of St.
Theresa was reported the severest in its religious duties, and the
strictest in its restraints and regulations. The convent D. Ajuda, or of
Assistance, received as pensioners, or boarders, the widows of officers,
and young ladies having lost their parents, who were allowed to remain,
conforming to the rules of the convent, until married, or otherwise
provided for by their friends. There were many inferior convents and
churches, and the whole were under the spiritual direction of a bishop,
whose palace was in the town, a short distance from one of the principal

Near the carioca, or aqueduct, stood the seminary of St. Joseph, where
the servants of the church received their education, adopting on their
entrance the clerical habit and tonsure. The chapel to the seminary was
neat, and we were conducted by a sensible well-informed father of the
Benedictine Order to a small library belonging to it.

To a stranger nothing could appear more remarkable than the innumerable
religious processions which were to be seen at all hours in this town. At
the close of every day an image of the Virgin was borne in procession
through the principal streets, the attendants arrayed in white surplices,
and bearing in their hands lighted tapers; chanting at the same time
praises to her in Latin. To this, as well as to all other religious
processions, the guards turned out, grounded their arms, kneeled, and
showed the most submissive marks of respect; and the bells of each church
or convent in the vicinity of their progress sounded a peal while they
were passing.

Every church, chapel, or convent, being under the auspices of some
tutelary saint, particular days were set apart as the festival of each,
which were opened with public prayers, and concluded with processions,
music, and fireworks. The church and altars of the particular saint whose
protection was to be solicited were decorated with all the splendor of
superstition*, and illuminated both within and without. During several
hours after dark, on these solemn festivals, the inhabitants might be
seen walking to and from the church, dressed in their best habiliments,
accompanied by their children, and attended by their slaves and their

[* We were informed that they never permitted any base metals near their
altars, all their vessels, etc. being of the purest gold or silver.]

An instance was related to us, of the delay that was thrown in the way of
labour by this extravagant parade of public worship, and the strict
observance of saints' days, which, though calculated, no doubt, by the
glare which surrounds the shrine, and decorates the vesture of its
priests, to impress and keep in awe the minds of the lower sort of
people, Indians and slaves, had nevertheless been found to be not without
its evil effects:

A ship from Lisbon, laden chiefly with bale goods, was burnt to the
water's edge, with her whole cargo, and much private property, the fourth
day after her anchoring in the harbour, owing to the intervention of a
sabbath and two saints' days which unfortunately ensued that of her
arrival. All that could be done was, to tow the vessel on shore near the
Island of Cobres, clear of the shipping in the bay, where grounding, she
was totally consumed. One of the passengers, whose whole property was
destroyed with her, came out to fill an high judicial employment, and had
with all his family removed from Lisbon for that purpose, bringing with
him whatever he had valuable in Europe.

At a corner of almost every street in the town we observed a small altar,

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