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

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dedicated generally to the Virgin, and decorated with curtains and lamps.
Before these altars, at the close of every evening, the negroes assembled
to chant their vespers, kneeling together in long rows in the street. The
policy of thus keeping the minds of so large a body, as that of the black
people in this town, not only in constant employment, but in awe and
subjection, by the almost perpetual exercise of religious worship, was
too obvious to need a comment. In a colony where the servants were more
numerous than the masters, a military, however excellent, ought not to be
the only control; to keep the mind in subjection must be as necessary as
to provide a check on the personal conduct.

The trades-people of the town have adopted a regulation, which must prove
of infinite convenience to strangers, as well as to the inhabitants. We
found the people of one profession or trade dwelling together in one,
two, or as many streets as were necessary for their numbers to occupy.
Thus, for instance, the apothecaries resided in the principal street, or
Rua Direita, as it was named; one or more streets were assigned to the
jewellers; and a whole district appeared to be occupied by the mercers.
By this regulation the labour of traversing from one street to another,
in search of any article which the purchaser might wish to have a choice
of, was avoided*. Most of the articles were from Europe, and were sold at
a high price.

[* The same useful regulation is observed at Aleppo.]

Houses here were built, after the fashion of the mother-country, with a
small wooden balcony over the entrance; but to the eye of one accustomed
to the cheerful appearance of glass windows, a certain sombre cast seemed
to pervade even their best and widest streets, the light being conveyed
through window-frames of close lattice-work. Some of these, indeed, being
decorated on the outside with paint and some gilding, rather improved the
look of the houses to which they belonged.

The winter, we were informed, was the only season in which the
inhabitants could make excursions into the country; for when the sun came
to the southward of the Line, the rain, as they most energetically
assured us, descended for between two and three months rather in seas
than in torrents. At this season they confined themselves to their houses
in the town, only venturing out by the unscorching light of the moon, or
at those intervals when the rains were moderated into showers. But,
though the summer season is so extremely hot, the use of the cold bath,
we found, was wholly unknown to the inhabitants.

The women of the town of Rio de Janeiro, being born within the tropics,
could not be expected to possess the best complexions; but their features
were in general expressive--the eye dark and lively, with a striking
eye-brow. The hair was dark, and nature had favoured them with that
ornament in uncommon profusion: this they mostly wore with powder,
strained to a high point before, and tied in several folds behind. By
their parents they were early bred up to much useful knowledge, and were
generally mistresses of the polite accomplishments of music, singing, and
dancing. Their conversation appeared to be lively, at times breaking out
in sallies of mirth and wit, and at others displaying judgment and good
_sense_. In their dress for making or receiving visits, they chiefly
affected silks and gay colours; but in the mornings, when employed in the
necessary duties of the house, a thin but elegant robe or mantle thrown
over the shoulders was the only upper garment worn. Both males and
females were early taught to dress as men and women; and we had many
opportunities of seeing a hoop on a little Donna of three years of age,
and a bag and a sword on a Senor of six. This appearance was as difficult
to reconcile as that of the saints and virgins in their churches being
decorated with powdered perukes, swords, laced clothes, and full-dressed

Attentions to the women were perhaps carried farther in this place than
is customary in Europe. To a lady, in the presence of a gentleman, a
servant never was suffered to hand even a glass of water, the gentleman
(with a respect approaching to adoration) performing that office; and
these gallantries appeared to be received as the homage due to their
superior rank in the creation. It was said, indeed, that they were not
disinclined to intrigues, but in public the strictest decorum and
propriety of behaviour was always observed in the women, single as well
as married. At houses where several people of both sexes were met
together, the eye, on entering the room, was instantly hurt, at
perceiving the female part of the company ranged and seated by themselves
on one side, and the gentlemen on the other, an arrangement certainly
unfavourable to private or particular conversation. These daughters of
the sun should, however, neither be censured nor wondered at, if found
indulging in pleasures against which even the constitutions of colder
regions are not proof. If frozen chastity be not always found among the
children of ice and snow, can she be looked for among the inhabitants of
climates where frost was never felt? Yet heartily should she be welcomed
wherever she may be found, and doubly prized if met with unexpectedly.

The mines, the great source of revenue to the crown of Portugal, and in
the government of this place the great cause of jealousy both of
strangers and of the inhabitants, were situated more than a week's
journey hence, except some which had been lately discovered in the
mountains near the town. Sufficient employment was found for the Mint, at
which was struck all the coin that was current here, besides what was
sent to Europe. The diamond-trade had been for some time taken into the
hands and under the inspection of Government; but the jewellers' shops
abounded with topazes, chrysolites, and other curious and precious

Beside the forts at the entrance of the harbour, there were two others of
considerable force, one at either extremity of the place, constructed on
islands in the bay. On an eminence behind the town, and commanding the
bay, stood the Citadel. The troops in these works were relieved regularly
on the last day of every month, previous to which all the military in the
garrison passed in review before the viceroy in the quadrangle of the
palace. About 250 men with officers in proportion were on duty every day
in the town, distributed into different guards, from which sentinels were
stationed in various parts of the place, who, to keep themselves alert,
challenge and reply to each other every quarter of an hour. In addition
to these sentinels, every regiment and every guard sent parties through
the streets, patrolling the whole night for the preservation of peace and
good order.

An officer from each regiment attended every evening at the palace to
take orders for the following day, which were delivered by the adjutant
of orders, who himself received them directly from the viceroy. At the
palace every transaction in the town was known, and thence, through the
adjutant of orders, the inhabitants received the viceroy's commands and
directions whenever he thought it necessary to guide or regulate their

The regiments that came here from Lisbon had been twenty years in the
country, although, on leaving Europe, they were promised to return at the
expiration of the third. They were recruited in the Brazils; and such
officers as might wish to visit Portugal obtained leave of absence on
application to the court, through the viceroy. To each regiment is
attached an officer, who is styled an Auditor, and whose office is to
inquire into all crimes committed by the soldiers of his regiment. If he
sees it necessary, he has power to inflict corporal punishment, or
otherwise, as the offender may in his judgment merit; but his authority
does not extend either to life or limb. For exercising his employment he
is allowed the pay of a captain of infantry.

The barracks for the troops appeared to be commodious, and to be kept in
good order. A small number of cavalry were always on duty, employed in
the antichamber of the palace, or in attending the viceroy either on days
of parade, or in his excursions into the country. A captain's guard of
infantry with a standard mounted every day at the palace.

During our stay in this port all the transports struck their yards and
top-masts, and overhauled their rigging preparatory to our passage to the
Cape of Good Hope. An observatory was erected on the Island of Enchados,
where Lieutenant Dawes, with two young gentlemen from the _Sirius_ as
assistants, went on shore, taking with them the instruments requisite for
ascertaining the exact rate of going of the time-piece; and for making
other necessary observations. Sailmakers were also sent to the island;
and some of the camp-equipage of the settlement was landed to be
inspected and thoroughly aired, with proper guards for its security.

Some propensities to the practice of their old vices manifesting
themselves among the convicts* soon after their arrival in this port had
given them an opportunity, the governor, with the lieutenant-governor,
visited the transports, and informed the prisoners, both male and female,
that in future any misbehaviour on their part should be attended with
severe punishment, while on the other hand propriety of conduct should be
particularly distinguished and rewarded with proportionate indulgence.

[* Counterfeit coin was offered by some of them to a boat which came
alongside one of the transports.]

On the 21st, being the birthday of the prince of Brazil, the _Sirius_, in
compliment to the court of Portugal, displayed a Portuguese flag at her
fore-top-masthead, and, on the saluting of the fort on the Island of
Cobres, saluted also with twenty-one guns. At ten o'clock the same
morning, Captain Phillip, with the principal officers of the settlement
and garrison. went on shore to pay their compliments to the viceroy in
honour of the day, who on this and similar occasions had a court, at
which all the civil and military officers and principal inhabitants of
the town attended to pay their respects to his excellency as the
representative of the sovereign, who received them standing under a
canopy in the presence-chamber of the palace.

September.] Preparations were now making for putting to sea; and on
Saturday the 1st of September, having appointed to sail on the Monday
following, the governor, lieutenant-governor, and other officers, waited
upon and took leave of the viceroy, who expressed himself in the
handsomest terms at their departure.

During their stay in this port of refreshment, the convicts were each
served daily with a pound of rice and a pound and an half of fresh meat
(beef), together with a suitable proportion of vegetables. Great numbers
of oranges were at different times distributed among them, and every
possible care was taken to refresh and put them into a state of health
and condition to resist the attacks of the scurvy, should it make its
appearance in the long passage over the ocean which was yet between them
and New South Wales. The Reverend Mr. Johnson gave also his full share of
attention to their welfare, performing divine service on board two of the
transports every Sunday of their stay in port.

We were unluckily not in season for any other of the fruits of this
country than oranges and bananas; but these were truly delicious, and
amply compensated, both in quantity and quality, for the want of others.
Some few guavas, and a pine-apple or two, were purchased; but we were
informed that their flavour then, and when in perfection, was not to be
compared. Vegetables (which were brought from the opposite shore) were in
great plenty. The beef was small and lean, and sold at about two-pence
halfpenny _per_ pound: mutton was in proportion still smaller, and
poultry dear, but not ill-tasted. The marketplace was contiguous to the

On the evening of Sunday the 2nd of September, a Portuguese boat, just at
the close of the day, after once or twice rowing round the _Sirius_,
dropped a soldier of the island on board, who, it appeared from his own
account, had been for five or six days absent from his duty, and dreading
perhaps to return, or perhaps wishing to change his situation, requested
that he might be received on board, and permitted to sail to New Holland
with Captain Phillip; who, however, not choosing to comply with his
request, caused him to be immediately conveyed on shore in one of the
ship's boats; but with great humanity permitted him to be landed wherever
he thought he might chance to escape unobserved, and have an opportunity
of returning to his duty.

An officer was this day sent to signify Captain Phillip's intention of
saluting the forts when he took his departure, which would be the
following morning, and presuming that an equal number of guns would be
fired in return. The viceroy answered, that no mark of attention or
respect should on his part be omitted that might testify his esteem for
Captain Phillip, and the high sense he entertained of the decorum
observed by those under his command during their stay in that port.

The land-wind not blowing on Monday morning, all idea of sailing was
given up for that day. In the afternoon the signal was made for
unmooring, and for all boats to cease communication with the shore.

At day-break the following morning the harbour-master came on board the
_Sirius_, and, a light land breeze favouring her departure, took charge
of that ship over the bar; the _Supply_ and convoy getting under sail,
and following her out of the bay. When the _Sirius_ arrived nearly
abreast of the fort of Santa Cruz, it was saluted with twenty-one guns; a
marked compliment paid by the viceroy to Captain Phillip, who immediately
returned it with the like number of guns. Shortly after this the
harbour-master left the ship, taking with him Mr. Morton, the master of
the _Sirius_, who from ill health was obliged to return to England in the
_Diana_, a whaler, which was lying here on our arrival. By this gentleman
were sent the public and private letters of the fleet.

The land-breeze carrying us clear of the islands in the offing, the
_Supply_ was sent to speak a ship that was perceived at some little
distance ahead, and which proved to be a ship from Oporto. By her we
learned that the viceroy was superseded in his government, and it was
imagined that his successor was standing into the harbour in a royal
yacht which we then saw under the land. Toward evening it fell calm, and
the islands and high land were still in sight. The calm continued during
the greatest part of the following day; but toward evening a light and
favourable breeze sprung up, which enabled us to cross the tropic of
Capricorn, and bend our course toward the Cape of Good Hope.

On the night of Friday the 7th we had heavy squalls of rain, thunder, and
lightning. From that time until the 1lth the wind was rather
unfavourable; but shifting to the northward on that day, it blew during
the two following in strong gales, with squalls of heavy rain, attended
with much sea.

These strong gales having, on Friday the 14th, terminated in a calm,
Lieutenant Shortland, the day following, reported to the commanding
officer, that there were eleven soldiers sick on board the _Alexander_
and five or six convicts on board the _Charlotte_. The calm continued
until the 16th, when a favourable breeze sprung up; but those ships of
the fleet which could sail were prevented from making the most of the
fair wind, by the _Lady Penrhyn_ transport and others, which were
inattentive, and did not make sail in proper time.

On the 19th the wind was fresh, and frequently blew in squalls, attended
with rain. In one of these squalls the _Charlotte_ suddenly hove-to, a
convict having fallen overboard; the man, however, was drowned. Our
weather was at this time extremely cold; and the wind, which had for some
days been unfavourable, shifting on the 22nd, we again looked towards the
Cape. At one o'clock the next morning it came on to blow very hard,
accompanied with a great sea; we had nevertheless the satisfaction to
observe that the convoy appeared to get on very well, though some of them
rolled prodigiously. This gale continued with very little variation until
the morning of the 28th, when it moderated for a few hours, and shifted
round to the SE. It now again blew in fresh gales, attended with much
rain and sea. But a calm succeeding all this violence shortly after, on
Sunday morning the 30th the weather was sufficiently clear to admit of
some altitudes being taken for the time-keeper, when our longitude was
found to be 3 degrees 04 minutes.

October.] Thence to the 4th of October both wind and weather were very
uncertain, the wind sometimes blowing in light airs, very little
differing from a calm, with clear skies; at others, in fresh breezes,
with rain. On the 4th, Captain Phillip was informed that thirty of the
convicts on board of the _Charlotte_ were 111; some of them, as it was
feared, dangerously. To render this information still more unpleasant,
the wind was foul during the two succeeding days.

In the forenoon of Saturday the 6th, four seamen of the _Alexander_
transport were sent on board the _Sirius_, under a charge of having
entered into a conspiracy to release some of the prisoners while the ship
should be at the Cape of Good Hope, and of having provided those people
with instruments for breaking into the fore-hold of the ship (which had
been done, and some provisions stolen thereout). The four seamen were
ordered to remain in the _Sirius_, a like number of her people being sent
in lieu of them on board the transport.

On Thursday the 11th, by an altitude of the sun taken that morning, the
fleet was found to be in the longitude of 15 degrees 35 minutes E at
which time there was an unfavourable change of the wind, and the sick on
board the _Charlotte_ were not decreasing in number.

On the next day, as it was judged from the information given by the
time-keeper that we were drawing nigh the land, the _Supply_ was sent
forward to make it; but it was not seen until the following morning.

At noon on the 13th the _Supply_ was sent to instruct the sternmost ships
of the convoy in what direction they should keep to enter the bay; and
about four in the afternoon, the harbour-master getting on board the
_Sirius_, that ship was brought safely to an anchor in Table Bay, the
convoy doing the same before dark; having crossed over from one Continent
to the other, a distance of upwards of eleven hundred leagues, in the
short space of five weeks and four days, fortunately without separation,
or any accident having happened to the fleet.

Immediately on our anchoring, an officer from the _Sirius_ was sent on
shore to the governor, who politely promised us every assistance in his
power; and at sun-rise the next morning the _Sirius_ saluted the garrison
with thirteen guns, which were returned by an equal number from the fort.

From the great uncertainty of always getting readily on shore from the
bay, and the refreshments found at the Cape of Good Hope being so
necessary after, and so well adapted to the fatigues and disorders
consequent on a long voyage, we found it a custom with most strangers on
their arrival to take up their abode in the town, with some one or other
of the inhabitants, who would for two rix-dollars (eight shillings of
English money) or a ducatoon (six shillings English) per week, provide
very good lodgings, and a table amply furnished with the best meats,
vegetables, and fruits which could be procured at the Cape. This custom
was, as far as the nature of our service would admit, complied with by
several officers from the ships; and, on the second day after our
arrival, Captain Phillip, with the principal officers of the navy and
settlement, proceeded to the government-house in the Company's garden,
where they were introduced to Mr. Van de Graaf (the governor, for the
Dutch East India Company, of this place and its dependencies) and by him
politely received.

With a requisition made by Captain Phillip of a certain quantity of flour
and corn, the governor expressed his apprehensions of being unable to
comply, as the Cape had been very lately visited by that worst of
scourges--a famine, which had been most severely felt by every family in
the town, his own not excepted. This was a calamity which the settlement
had never before experienced, and was to be ascribed rather to bad
management of, than any failure in, the late crops. Measures were however
taking to guard, as much as human precaution could guard, against such a
misfortune in future; and magazines were erecting for the reception of
grain on the public account, which had never been found necessary until
fatal experience had suggested them. Captain Phillip's request was to be
laid before the Council, without whose concurrence in such a business the
governor could not act, and an answer was promised with all convenient
dispatch. This answer, however, did not arrive until the 23rd, when
Captain Phillip was informed that every article which he had demanded was
ordered to be furnished.

November.] In the meantime the ships of the fleet had struck their yards
and topmasts (a precaution always necessary here to guard against the
violence of the south-east wind, which had been often known to drive
ships out of the bay) and began filling their water. On board of the
_Sirius_ and some of the transports, the carpenters were employed in
fitting up stalls for the reception of the cattle that was to be taken
hence as stock for the intended colony at New South Wales. These were not
ready until the 8th of the next month, November, on which day, 1 bull, 1
bull-calf, 7 cows, 1 stallion, 3 mares, and 3 colts, together with as
great a number of rams, ewes, goats, boars, and breeding sows, as room
could be provided for, were embarked in the different ships, the bulls
and cows on board the _Sirius_, the horses on board the _Lady Penrhyn_;
the remainder were put into the _Fishbourn_ store-ship and _Friendship_

Shortly after our arrival in the bay, a soldier belonging to the Swiss
regiment of Muron, quartered here, swam off from his post and came on
board one of the transports, requesting to be permitted to proceed in her
to New South Wales; but, as an agreement had been mutually entered into
between the Dutch and English commanders, that deserters in the service
of, or subjects of either nation, should be given up, Captain Phillip
sent him on shore, previously obtaining a promise of his pardon from the

On the 9th the watering of the fleet being completed, corn and hay for
the stock, and flour, wine, and spirits for the settlement, being all on
board, preparations were made for putting to sea, and on the 10th the
signal was made to unmoor.

The convicts while in this port had been served, men and women, with one
pound and an half of soft bread each _per diem_; a pound of fresh beef,
or mutton, and three quarters of a pound for each child, together with a
liberal allowance of vegetables.

While in this harbour, as at Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Johnson, the chaplain,
preached on board two of the transports every Sunday; and we had the
satisfaction to see the prisoners all wear the appearance of perfect
health on their being about to quit this port, the last whereat any
refreshment was to be expected before their arrival in New South Wales.

As it was earnestly wished to introduce the fruits of the Cape into the
new settlement, Captain Phillip was ably assisted in his endeavours to
procure the rarest and the best of every species, both in plant and seed,
by Mr. Mason, the king's botanist, whom we were so fortunate as to meet
with here, as well as by Colonel Gordon, the commander in chief of the
troops at this place; a gentleman whose thirst for natural knowledge
amply qualified him to be of service to us, not only in procuring a great
variety of the best seeds and plants, but in pointing out the culture,
the soil, and the proper time of introducing them into the ground.

The following plants and seeds were procured here and at Rio de Janeiro:


Coffee--both seed and plant
Cocoa-in the nut
Oranges--various sorts, seed and plant
Lemon--seed and plant
Prickly pear-plant, with the cochineal on it
Eugenia, or Pomme Rose--a plant bearing a fruit in shape like an apple,
and having the flavour and odour of a rose
Ipecacuana--three sorts


The Fig-tree
Spanish Reed
Sugar Cane
Vines of various sorts

To these must be added all sorts of grain, as Rice, Wheat, Barley,
Indian corn, etc. for seed, which were purchased to supply whatever
might be found damaged of these articles that were taken on board
in England.

During our stay here, the Ranger packet, _Captain Buchanan_, arrived
after a passage of twelve weeks from Falmouth, bound to Bengal. She
sailed again immediately. One officer alone of our fleet was fortunate
enough to receive letters by her from his connexions in England.

At the time of our arrival the inhabitants of this agreeable town had
scarcely recovered from the consternation into which they had been thrown
by one of the black people called Malays, with whom the place abounded;
and who, taking offence at the governor for not returning him to Batavia
(where, it seemed, he was of consequence among his own countrymen, and
whence he had been sent to the Cape as a punishment for some offence),
worked himself up to frenzy by the effect of opium, and, arming himself
with variety of weapons, rushed forth in the dusk of the evening, killing
or maiming indiscriminately all who were so unfortunate as to be in his
route, women alone excepted. He stabbed the sentinel at the gate of the
Company's gardens, and placed himself at his post, waiting some time in
expectation of the governor's appearance, who narrowly escaped the fate
intended for him, by its falling on another person accidentally passing
that way. On being pursued, he fled with incredible swiftness to the
Table Mountain at the back of the town, whence this single miscreant,
still animated by the effect of the opium, for two days resisted and
defied every force that was sent against him. The alarm and terror into
which the town was thrown were inconceivable; for two days none ventured
from within their houses, either masters or slaves; for an order was
issued (as the most likely means of destroying him, should he appear in
the town) that whatever Malay was seen in the streets should be instantly
killed by the soldiery. On the evening of the second day, however, he was
taken alive on the Table Mountain, having done much injury to those who
took him, and was immediately consigned to the death he merited, being
broken on the wheel, and his head and members severed after the
execution, and distributed in different parts of the country.

Of this man, who had killed fourteen of the inhabitants, and desperately
wounded nearly double that number, it was remarked, that in his progress
his fury fell only on men, women passing him unhurt; and it was as
extraordinary as it was unfortunate, that among those whom his rage
destroyed, were some of the most deserving and promising young men in the
town. This, at Batavia, was called running a muck, or amocke, and
frequently happened there, but was the first instance of the kind known
at the Cape. Since that time, every Malay or other slave, having business
in the street after a certain hour in the evening, is obliged to carry a
lighted lantern, on pain of being stopped by the sentinel and kept in
custody until morning. Murder and villany are strongly depicted on the
features of the slaves of that nation; and such of them as dared to speak
of this dreadful catastrophe clearly appeared to approve the behaviour of
their countryman.

The government of the Cape we understood to be vested in a governor and
council, together with a court of justice. The council is composed of the
governor, the second or lieutenant-governor, the fiscal, the commanding
officer of the troops for the time being, and four counsellors. With
these all regulations for the management of the colony originate; and
from them all orders and decrees are issued. The court of justice is
composed of the fiscal, the second governor, a secretary, and twelve
members, six of whom are from among the burghers, and six from among the
bourgeoisie. The fiscal, who was the first magistrate, had hitherto been
styled independent, that is to say, his decisions were not subject to the
interference of the governor and council; but we were informed, that
since the death of the late fiscal, M. Serrurier, it had been determined
by the States, that the decrees of the fiscal should be subject to the
revision of the council. Before this officer were tried all causes both
civil and criminal. He had a set of people belonging to him who
constantly patrolled the streets armed, to apprehend all vagrant and
disorderly persons. Every fourteen days offences were tried. The prison
was adjacent to and had communication with the court-house. The place
where all sentences were executed stood to the left of the landing-place,
a short distance above the fort or castle. The ground on which it stood
was raised by several steps above the road. Within the walls were to be
seen (and seen with horror) six crosses for breaking criminals, a large
gibbet, a spiked pole for impalements, wheels, etc., etc. together with a
slight wooden building, erected for the reception of the ministers of
justice upon execution-days. Over the entrance was a figure of justice,
with the usual emblems of a sword and balance, and the following apposite
inscription: 'Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum.' The bodies of
those broken on the wheel were exposed in different parts of the town,
several instances of which, and some very recent ones, were still to be

It had been always imagined, that the police of the Cape-town was so well
regulated as to render it next to impossible for any man to escape, after
whom the fiscal's people were in pursuit. This, however, did not appear
to be the case; for very shortly after our arrival four seamen belonging
to a ship of our fleet deserted from her; and although rewards were
offered for apprehending them, and every effort made that was likely to
insure success, two only were retaken before our departure.

Since the attempt meditated upon the Cape by the late Commodore
Johnstone, the attention of the government appeared to have been directed
to its internal defence. To this end additional works had been
constructed on each side of the town, toward the hill called the Lion's
Rump, and beyond the castle or garrison. But the defence in which they
chiefly prided themselves, and of which we were fortunate enough to
arrive in time to be spectators, consisted of two corps of cavalry and
one of infantry, formed from the gentlemen and inhabltants of the town.
We understood that these corps were called out annually to be exercised
during seven days, and were reviewed on the last day of their exercise by
the governor attended by his whole council. They appeared to be stout and
able-bodied men, particularly those who composed the two corps of
cavalry, and who were reputed to be excellent marksmen. Their horses,
arms, and appointments were purchased at their own expense, and they were
expected to hold them selves in readiness to assemble whenever their
services might be required by the governor. For uniform, they wore a blue
coat with white buttons, and buff waistcoat and breeches. Their parade
was the Square or Market-place, where they were attended by music, and
visited by all the beauty of the place, who animated them by their smiles
from the balcony of the town-hall, and if the weather was favourable
accompanied them to the exercising ground, where tents were pitched for
their reception, and whence they beheld these patriotic Africans (for few
of them knew Holland but by name) enuring themselves to the tolls of war,
'_pro aris et focis_'. We were however told, that at the least idea of an
enemy coming on the coast, the women were immediately sent to a distance
in the country.

The militia throughout the whole district of the Cape were assembled at
this time of the year, exercised for a week, and reviewed by the governor
or his deputy, commencing with the militia of the Capetown.

The present governor of the Cape, Mr. Van de Graaf, though a colonel of
engineers in the service of the States, yet holds his commission as
governor under the authority of the Dutch East India Company, to which
body the settlement wholly belongs. Every ship or vessel wearing a
pendant of the States, be her rate what it may, is on entering the
harbour saluted by the fort, which salute she returns with an inferior
number of guns. The governor, at the landing-place, with his officers and
carriages, attends the coming on shore of her captain or senior officer,
to receive his commands, and escort him to his lodgings in the town,
treating him with every mark of respect in his power. Such an humiliation
of the Company's principal servant and officers in a commercial community
bore, it must be confessed, rather an extraordinary appearance; but such,
as we were informed, was the distinction between the two services; and
Mr. Van de Graaf was obliged to obtain his prince's permission before he
could accept of the government of the Cape from the East India Company.

Residence at the Cape would be highly agreeable, were it not for the
south-east wind. This during the summer season blows with such violence,
and drives every where such clouds of sand before it, that the
inhabitants at certain times dare not stir out of their houses. Torrents
of dust and sand, we were told, had been frequently known to fall on
board of ships in the road. This circumstance accounted for every thing
we got here being gritty to the taste; sand mixing with their flour,
their rice, their sugar, and with whatever was capable of receiving it,
finding its way in at doors, windows, and wherever there was an entrance
for it. From the great height of the Table Mountain*, whatever clouds are
within its influence are attracted when the south-east wind prevails; and
as it increases in violence, these clouds hang over the side of the
mountain, and descend into the valley, sometimes rolling down very near
the town. From the curling of the vapour over the mountain, the
inhabitants predict the arrival of the south-easter, and say, 'The
Table-cloth is spread;' but with all its violence, and the inconvenience
of the dust and sand, it has a good effect, for the climate and air of
the Cape Town (though wonderfully beneficial and refreshing to strangers
after a long voyage) is not reckoned salubrious by the inhabitants, who,
we understood, were at times visited by pains in the chest, sore throats,
and putrid fevers; and the place would certainly be still more unhealthy
were it not for this south-east wind, which burns as it blows, and while
it sweeps disorder before it purifies the air.

[* 3353 Rhineland feet--a Rhineland foot being twelve inches and 5/12

The Cape is celebrated for producing in the highest perfection all the
tropical and other fruits; but of the few that were in season during our
stay we could not pronounce so favourably. The oranges and bananas in
particular were not equal to those of Rio de Janeiro. The grape we could
only taste from the bottle; that of Constantia, so much famed, has a very
fine, rich, and pleasant flavour, and is an excellent cordial; but much
of the wine that is sold under that name was never made of the grape of
Constantia; for the vineyard is but small, and has credit for a much
greater produce that it could
possibly yield: this reminds us of those eminent masters in the art of
painting, to whom more originals are ascribed than the labour of the
longest life of man could produce.

Wines of their own growth formed a considerable article of traffic here;
and the neatness, regularity, and extent of their wine-vaults, were
extremely pleasing to the eye; but a stranger should not visit more than
one of them in a day; for almost every cask has some peculiarity to
recommend it, and its contents must be tasted.

We found the paper currency here very inconvenient, from its lightness;
as more than one instance occurred among ourselves during our stay, of
its being torn from our hands by the violence of the south-east wind,
when we were about to make a payment in the street, or even at the door
of a shop.

The meat of the Cape was excellent; the black cattle were large, very
strong, and remarkable for the great space between their horns. It was
not uncommon to see twelve, fourteen, or sixteen oxen yoked in pairs to a
waggon, and galloping through the streets of the town, preceded by a
Hottentot boy, who accompanied them on foot, conducting the foremost
couple by a leathern thong, which caution they are compelled to observe
by an order of government, some accidents having formerly happened from
some of these large teams having been imprudently driven through the
streets without any one to lead them; the lash of the charioteer (for the
driver of such a team deserves a more honourable appellation than that of
waggoner) had been sometimes heard, we were told, on board of ships in
the bay.

The sheep are fat, well-flavoured, and remarkable for the weight and size
of their tails. Wonders have been related of them by travellers; but
travellers from this part of the world are privileged to exaggerate in
their narrations, if they choose so to do; the truth however is, that
their tails weigh from eight to sixteen pounds; some few perhaps may be
heavier by a pound or two; but though the sheep itself will very well
endure the voyage to Europe, yet its tall considerably decreases in size
and weight during the passage.

Strangers coming into the bay are served with beef, mutton, etc. by the
Company's butcher, who contracts to supply the Company, its officers and
ships, with meat at a certain price, which is fixed at about three
halfpence per pound, although he may have to purchase the cattle at three
or four times that sum; but in return for this exaction, he has the sole
permission of selling to strangers, and at a much higher price, though
even in that instance his demand is not allowed to exceed a certain
quota. Four-pence _per_ pound was the price given for all the meat served
to our ships after we came in.

During our stay here we made frequent visits to the Company's garden,
pleasantly situated in the midst of the town. The ground on each side of
the principal walk, which was from eight to nine hundred paces in length,
was laid out in fruit and kitchen gardens, and at the upper end was a
paddock where we saw three large ostriches, and a few antelopes. Behind
this paddock was a menagerie, which contained nothing very curious--a
vicious zebra, an eagle, a cassowary, a falcon, a crowned falcon, two of
the birds called secretaries, a crane, a tiger, an hyaena, two wolves, a
jackal, and a very large baboon, composed the entire catalogue of its

In the town are two churches, one for the Calvinists, and another for the
followers of Luther. In the first of these was a handsome organ; four
large plain columns supported the roof, and the walls were ornamented
with escutcheons and armorial quarterings. The body of the church was
filled with chairs for the women, the men sitting in pews round the
sides. By the pulpit stood an hour-glass, which, we were told, regulated
the duration of the minister's admonition to his congregation. In the
churchyards the gravestones, instead of bearing the names of the
deceased, were all numbered, and the names were registered in a book kept
for the purpose.

Weddings were always solemnized on a Sunday at one or other of these
churches, and the parties were habited in sables, a dress surely more
congenial with the sensations felt on the last than on the first day of
such an union.

To the care of an officer belonging to a regiment in India, who was
returning to Europe in a Danish vessel, Captain Phillip committed his
dispatches; and by this ship every officer gladly embraced the last
opportunity of communicating with their friends and connections, until
they should be enabled to renew their correspondence from the new world
to which they were now bound.

Nothing remaining to be done that need detain the convoy longer in this
port, every article having been procured that could tend to the present
refreshment of the colonists, or to the future advantage of the colony,
the _Sirius_ was unmoored in the evening of Sunday the llth, Captain
Phillip purposing to put to sea the following morning; but the wind at
that time not being favourable, the boats from the _Sirius_ were once
more sent on shore for a load of water, in order than no vessel which
could be filled with an article so essential to the preservation of the
flock might be taken to sea empty.

The south-east wind now beginning to blow, the signal was made for
weighing, and at ten minutes before two in the afternoon of Monday the
12th of November the whole fleet was under sail standing out with a fresh
of wind to the northward of Robin Island.

It was natural to indulge at this moment a melancholy reflection which
obtruded itself upon the mind. The land behind us was the abode of a
civilized people; that before us was the residence of savages. When, if
ever, we might again enjoy the commerce of the world, was doubtful and
uncertain. The refreshments and the pleasures of which we had so
liberally partaken at the Cape, were to be exchanged for coarse fare and
hard labour at New South Wales. All communication with families and
friends now cut off, we were leaving the world behind us, to enter on a
state unknown; and, as if it had been necessary to imprint this idea more
strongly on our minds, and to render the sensation still more poignant,
at the close of the evening we spoke a ship from London*. The metropolis
of our native country, its pleasures, its wealth, and its consequence,
thus accidentally presented to the mind, failed not to afford a most
striking contrast with the object now principally in our view.

[* The _Kent_--southern whaler.]

Before we quitted the Cape Captain Hunter determined the longitude of the
Cape-town in Table-bay to be, by the mean of several sets of lunar
observations taken on board the _Sirius_, 18 degrees 23 minutes 55
seconds east from Greenwich.


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.

Every precaution being absolutely necessary to guard against a failure of
water on board the different ships, the whole were put upon an allowance
of three pints _per_ man _per diem_ soon after our departure from the
Cape. This regulation was highly proper, as from the probable continuance
of the easterly wind which then blew, the fleet might be detained a
considerable time at sea.

For several days after we had sailed, the wind was unfavourable, and
blowing fresh, with much sea, some time elapsed before we had reached to
the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope. On the 16th, Captain Phillip
signified his intention of proceeding forward in the _Supply_, with the
view of arriving in New South Wales so long before the principal part of
the fleet, as to be able to fix on a clear and proper place for the
settlement. Lieutenant Shortland was at the same time informed, that he
was to quit the fleet with the _Alexander_, taking on with him the
_Scarborough_ and _Friendship_ transports. These three ships had on board
the greater part of the male convicts, whom Captain Phillip had sanguine
hopes of employing to much advantage, before the _Sirius_, with that part
of the fleet which was to remain under Captain Hunter's direction, should
arrive upon the coast. This separation, the first that had occurred, did
not take place until the 25th, on which day Captain Phillip went on board
the _Supply_, taking with him, from the _Sirius_, Lieutenants King and
Dawes, with the time-keeper. On the same day Major Ross, with the
adjutant and quarter-master of the detachment, went into the
_Scarborough_, in order to co-operate with Captain Phillip in his
intention of preparing, as far as time might allow, for the reception of
the rest of the convoy.

The _Supply_ and the three transports having taken their departure,
Captain Hunter drew his little convoy into the order of sailing
prescribed for them; and the boats, which had been employed passing and
repassing between the _Sirius_ and the transports, being hoisted in,
about noon the fleet made sail to the south-east, having a fresh breeze
at west-north-west.

December.] On Sunday the 16th of December, by computation, we were
abreast of the Island of St. Paul, passing it at the distance of about
sixty leagues.

The following day, on the return of a boat from the _Fishbourn_
store-ship which had been sent to inquire into the state of the stock, we
heard that several of the sheep were dead, as well as eight of the hogs
belonging to the public stock.

Christmas day found us in the latitude of 42 degrees 10 minutes south,
and steering, as we had done for a considerable time, an east-south-east
course. We complied, as far as was in our power, with the good old
English custom, and partook of a better dinner this day than usual; but
the weather was too rough to admit of much social enjoyment.

With the wind at south-west, west-south-west, and south and by west, the
weather was clear and cold, while to the northward of east or west it
generally blew in strong gales.

We now often noticed pieces of sea-weed floating by the ships; and on the
28th the sun just appeared in time to show us we were in the latitude of
42 degrees 58 minutes south.

On the 29th, being in latitude 43 degrees 35 minutes south, the course
was altered to east and by south half south, in order to run down our
easting without going any further to the southward. The run at noon on
this day was found to be the greatest we had made in any twenty-four
hours since our departure from England, having 182 miles on the log-board
since twelve o'clock the preceding day.

By lunar observations taken on the 30th the longitude was found to be 118
degrees 19 minutes east.

January.] The new year opened with a gale of wind from the northward,
which continued with much violence all the day, moderating towards

The evening of the third proved fine and moderate, and the sun setting
clear gave a good observation for the amplitude, when the variation was
found to be 1 degree 00 minutes east. At noon the fleet was in the
latitude of 44 degrees 00 minutes south, and longitude by lunar
observation 135 degrees 32 minutes east, of which the convoy was

At noon on the 4th preparations were made on board the _Sirius_ for
falling in with the land; her cables were bent, signal-guns prepared, and
every possible precautions taken to ensure the safety of the fleet.

About ten at night on the 5th, a very beautiful aurora australis was
observed bearing about south-west of the fleet; and for some nights a
luminous phenomenon had been seen resembling lights floating on the
surface of the water.

By a lunar observation taken at ten o'clock of the forenoon of Monday the
7th, the fleet was then distant seventeen leagues from the South Cape of
New Holland; and at five minutes past two in the afternoon the signal was
made for seeing the land. The rocks named the Mewstone and Swilly were
soon visible, and the fleet stood along shore with fair moderate weather
and smooth water, the land of New Holland distant from three to five

Nothing could more strongly prove the excellence and utility of lunar
observations, than the accuracy with which we made the land in this long
voyage from the Cape of Good Hope, there not being a league difference
between our expectation of seeing it, and the real appearance of it.

A thick haze hanging over the land, few observations could be made of it.
What we first saw was the South-west Cape of New Holland, between which
and the South Cape the land appeared high and rocky, rising gradually
from the shore, and wearing in many places a very barren aspect. In small
cavities, on the summit of some of the high land, was the appearance of
snow. Over the South Cape the land seemed covered with wood; the trees
stood thick, and the bark of them appeared in general to have a whitish
cast. The coast seemed very irregular, projecting into low points forming
creeks and bays, some of which seemed to be deep; very little verdure was
any where discernible; in many spots the ground looked arid and sterile.
At night we perceived several fires lighted on the coast, at many of
which, no doubt, were some of the native inhabitants, to whom it was
probable our novel appearance must have afforded matter of curiosity and

In all the preceding passage we had been scarcely a day without seeing
birds of different kinds; and we also met with many whales. The weather
was in general very rough, and the sea high, but the wind favourable,
blowing mostly from north-west to south-west.

The convoy behaved well, paying more attention and obedience to signals
than ships in the merchant service are commonly known to do. The ships,
however, began to grow foul, not one of them being coppered, and we now
anxiously wished for a termination of the voyage, particularly as the hay
provided for the horses was on the point of being wholly expended.

The fair wind which had accompanied us to New Holland suddenly left us,
shifting round to north-east and by east; we were obliged to lay our
heads off-shore, in order to weather Swilly and the Eddystone (a
perpendicular rock about a league to the eastward of Swilly) and the next
day we had the mortification of a foul wind, a thing to which we had been
long unaccustomed.

In the night of the 9th the _Golden Grove_ shipped a sea, which stove in
all her cabin windows: it was nearly calm at the time, with a confused
heavy swell*.

[* This circumstance has since occurred to other ships nearly in the same

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the following day a very heavy and
sudden squall took the _Sirius_ and laid her considerably down on her
starboard side: it blew very fresh, and was felt more or less by all the
transports, some of which suffered in their sails.

Our progress along the coast to the northward was very slow, and it was
not until the 19th that we fell in with the land, when we were nearly
abreast of the Point named by Captain Cook Red Point. Before evening,
however, we were gratified with the sight of the entrance into Botany
Bay, but too late to attempt standing into it with the transports that
night. The convoy therefore was informed by Captain Hunter how the
entrance of the bay bore, and directed to be very attentive in the
morning when the _Sirius _made sail or bore up.

When the morning came we found the fleet had been carried by a current to
the southward as far as a clump of trees which had the preceding day
obtained, from some resemblance in the appearance, the name of Post-down
Clump; but with the assistance of a fine breeze we soon regained what we
had lost in the night; and at ten minutes before eight in the morning the
_Sirius_ came to an anchor in Botany Bay. The transports were all safe in
by nine o'clock.



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

When the _Sirius_ anchored in the bay, Captain Hunter was informed that
the _Supply_ had preceded him in his arrival only two days; and that the
agent Lieutenant Shortland, with his detachment from the fleet, had
arrived but the day before the _Sirius_ and her convoy.

Thus, under the blessing of God, was happily completed, in eight months
and one week, a voyage which, before it was undertaken, the mind hardly
dared venture to contemplate, and on which it was impossible to reflect
without some apprehensions as to its termination. This fortunate
completion of it, however, afforded even to ourselves as much matter of
surprise as of general satisfaction; for in the above space of time we
had sailed five thousand and twenty-one leagues; had touched at the
American and African Continents; and had at last rested within a few days
sail of the antipodes of our native country, without meeting any accident
in a fleet of eleven sail, nine of which were merchantmen that had never
before sailed in that distant and imperfectly explored ocean: and when it
is considered, that there was on board a large body of convicts, many of
whom were embarked in a very sickly state, we might be deemed peculiarly
fortunate, that of the whole number of all descriptions of persons coming
to form the new settlement, only thirty-two had died since their leaving
England, among whom were to be included one or two deaths by accidents;
although previous to our departure it was generally conjectured, that
before we should have been a month at sea one of the transports would
have been converted into an hospital ship. But it fortunately happened
otherwise; the high health which was apparent in every countenance was to
be attributed not only to the refreshments we met with at Rio de Janeiro
and the Cape of Good Hope, but to the excellent quality of the provisions
with which we were supplied by Mr. Richards junior, the contractor; and
the spirits visible in every eye were to be ascribed to the general joy
and satisfaction which immediately took place on finding ourselves
arrived at that port which had been so much and so long the subject of
our most serious reflections, the constant theme of our conversations.

The governor, we found, had employed the time he had been here in
examining the bay, for the purpose of determining where he should
establish the settlement; but as yet he had not seen any spot to which
some strong objection did not apply. Indeed, very few places offered
themselves to his choice, and not one sufficiently extensive for a
thousand people to sit down on. The southern shore about Point Sutherland
seemed to possess the soil best adapted for cultivation, but it was
deficient in that grand essential fresh water, and was besides too
confined for our numbers. There was indeed a small run of water there;
but it appeared to be only a drain from a marsh, and by no means promised
that ample or certain supply which was requisite for such a settlement as
ours. The governor, therefore, speedily determined on examining the
adjacent harbours of Port Jackson and Broken Bay, in one of which he
thought it possible that a better situation for his young colony might be
found. But as his search might possibly prove fruitless, and that the few
days which it should occupy might not be altogether thrown away, he left
the lieutenant-governor at Botany Bay, with instructions to clear the
ground about Point Sutherland, and make preparations for disembarking the
detachment of marines and the convicts on his return, should that place
at last be deemed the most eligible spot. At the same time Lieutenant
King, of the _Sirius_, was directed to examine such parts of the bay as,
from want of time, the governor had not himself been able to visit.

The governor set off on Monday the 21st, accompanied by Captain Hunter,
Captain Collins (the judge-advocate), a lieutenant, and the master of the
_Sirius_, with a small party of marines for their protection, the whole
being embarked in three open boats. The day was mild and serene, and
there being but a gentle swell without the mouth of the harbour, the
excursion promised to be a pleasant one. Their little fleet attracted the
attention of several parties of the natives, as they proceeded along the
coast, who all greeted them in the same words, and in the same tone of
vociferation, shouting every where 'Warra, warra, warra' words which, by
the gestures that accompanied them, could not be interpreted into
invitations to land, or expressions of welcome. It must however be
observed, that at Botany Bay the natives had hitherto conducted
themselves sociably and peaceably toward all the parties of our officers
and people with whom they had hitherto met, and by no means seemed to
regard them as enemies or invaders of their country and tranquillity*.

[* How grateful to every feeling of humanity would it be could we
conclude this narrative without being compelled to say, that these
unoffending people had found reason to change both their opinions and
their conduct!]

The coast, as the boats drew near Port Jackson, wore so unfavourable an
appearance, that Captain Phillip's utmost expectation reached no farther
than to find what Captain Cook, as he passed by, thought might be found,
shelter for a boat. In this conjecture, however, he was most agreeably
disappointed, by finding not only shelter for a boat, but a harbour
capable of affording security to a much larger fleet than would probably
ever seek for shelter or security in it. In one of the coves of this
noble and capacious harbour, equal if not superior to any yet known in
the world, it was determined to fix the settlement; and on the 23rd,
having examined it as fully as the time would allow, the governor and his
party left Port Jackson and its friendly and peaceful inhabitants (for
such he everywhere found them), and returned to Botany Bay.

In the report, of the survey made by Lieutenant King, during the
governor's absence, the latter found nothing to induce him to alter his
resolution of fixing in Port Jackson: directions were therefore given,
that the necessary supply of water and grass for the stock should be
immediately sent off to the ships, and the next morning was appointed for
their departure from Botany Bay.

Several trees had been cut down at Point Sutherland, a saw-pit had been
dug, and other preparations made for disembarking, in case the governor
had not succeeded as, to the great satisfaction of every one, it was
found he had; for had he been compelled to remain in Botany Bay, the
swampy ground every where around it threatened us with unhealthy
situations; neither could the shipping have ridden in perfect security
when the wind blew from the SE to which the bay lay much exposed, the sea
at that time rolling in with a prodigious swell. A removal therefore to
Port Jackson was highly applauded, and would have taken place the next
morning, but at daylight we were surprised by the appearance of two
strange sail in the offing. Of what nation they could be, engaged the
general wonder for some time, which at last gave way to a conjecture that
they might be the French ships under M. de la Perouse, then on a voyage
round the world. This was soon strengthened by the view of a white
pendant, similar in shape to that of a commodore in our service, and we
had no longer a doubt remaining that they were the ships above mentioned.
They were, however, prevented by a strong southerly current from getting
into the bay until the 26th, when it was known that they were the
_Boussole_ and _Astrolabe_, French ships, which sailed, under the command
of M. de la Perouse, from France in the year 1785, on a voyage of
discovery. As Captain Hunter, with whom the governor had left the charge
of bringing the _Sirius_ and transports round to Port Jackson (whither he
had preceded them in the _Supply_ the day before), was working out when
M. de la Perouse entered Botany Bay, the two commanders had barely time
to exchange civilities; and it must naturally have created some surprise
in M. de la Perouse to find our fleet abandoning the harbour at the very
time he was preparing to anchor in it: indeed he afterwards said, that
until he had looked round him in Botany Bay, he could not divine the
cause of our quitting it, which he was so far from expecting, that having
heard at Kamschatka of the intended settlement, he imagined he should
have found a town built and a market established; but from what he had
seen of the country since his arrival, he was convinced of the propriety
and absolute necessity of the measure. M. de la Perouse sailed into the
harbour by Captain Cook's chart of Botany Bay, which lay before him on
the binnacle; and we had the pleasure of hearing him more than once pay a
tribute to our great circumnavigator's memory, by acknowledging the
accuracy of his nautical observations.

The governor, with a party of marines, and some artificers selected from
among the seamen of the _Sirius_ and the convicts, arrived in Port
Jackson, and anchored off the mouth of the cove intended for the
settlement on the evening of the 25th; and in the course of the following
day sufficient ground was cleared for encamping the officer's guard and
the convicts who had been landed in the morning. The spot chosen for this
purpose was at the head of the cove, near the run of fresh water, which
stole silently along through a very thick wood, the stillness of which
had then, for the first time since the creation, been interrupted by the
rude sound of the labourer's axe, and the downfall of its ancient
inhabitants; a stillness and tranquillity which from that day were to
give place to the voice of labour, the confusion of camps and towns, and
'the busy hum of its new possessors.' That these did not bring with them,
'Minds not to be changed by time or place,' was fervently to have been
wished; and if it were possible, that on taking possession of Nature, as
we had thus done, in her simplest, purest garb, we might not sully that
purity by the introduction of vice, profaneness, and immorality. But
this, though much to be wished, was little to be expected; the habits of
youth are not easily laid aside, and the utmost we could hope in our
present situation was to oppose the soft harmonising arts of peace and
civilisation to the baneful influence of vice and immorality.

In the evening of this day the whole of the party that came round in the
_Supply_ were assembled at the point where they had first landed in the
morning, and on which a flag-staff had been purposely erected and an
union jack displayed, when the marines fired several vollies; between
which the governor and the officers who accompanied him drank the healths
of his Majesty and the Royal Family, and success to the new colony. The
day, which had been uncommonly fine, concluded with the safe arrival of
the _Sirius_ and the convoy from Botany Bay--thus terminating the voyage
with the same good fortune that had from its commencement been so
conspicuously their friend and companion.

The disembarkation of the troops and convicts took place from the
following day until the whole were landed. The confusion that ensued will
not be wondered at, when it is considered that every man stepped from the
boat literally into a wood. Parties of people were every where heard and
seen variously employed; some in clearing ground for the different
encampments; others in pitching tents, or bringing up such stores as were
more immediately wanted; and the spot which had so lately been the abode
of silence and tranquillity was now changed to that of noise, clamour,
and confusion: but after a time order gradually prevailed every where. As
the woods were opened and the ground cleared, the various encampments
were extended, and all wore the appearance of regularity.

February.] A portable canvas house, brought over for the governor, was
erected on the East side of the cove (which was named Sydney, in
compliment to the principal secretary of state for the home department)
where also a small body of convicts was put under tents. The detachment
of marines was encamped at the head of the cove near the stream, and on
the West side was placed the main body of the convicts. The women did not
disembark until the 6th of February; when, every person belonging to the
settlement being landed, the numbers amounted to 1030 persons. The tents
for the sick were placed on the West side, and it was observed with
concern that their numbers were fast increasing. The scurvy, that had not
appeared during the passage, now broke out, which, aided by a dysentery,
began to fill the hospital, and several died. In addition to the
medicines that were administered, every species of esculent plants that
could be found in the country were procured for them; wild celery,
spinach, and parsley, fortunately grew in abundance about the settlement;
those who were in health, as well as the sick, were very glad to
introduce them into their messes, and found them a pleasant as well as
wholesome addition to the ration of salt provisions.

The public stock, consisting of one bull, four cows, one bull-calf, one
stallion, three mares, and three colts (one of which was a stone-colt)
were landed on the East point of the cove, where they remained until they
had cropped the little pasturage it afforded; and were then removed to a
spot at the head of the adjoining cove, that was cleared for a small
farm, intended to be placed under the direction of a person brought out
by the governor.

Some ground having been prepared near his excellency's house on the East
side, the plants from Rio-de-Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope were
safely brought on shore in a few days; and we soon had the satisfaction
of seeing the grape, the fig, the orange, the pear, and the apple, the
delicious fruits of the Old, taking root and establishing themselves in
our New World.

As soon as the hurry and tumult necessarily attending the disembarkation
had a little subsided, the governor caused his Majesty's commission,
appointing him to be his captain-general and governor in chief in and
over the territory of New South Wales and its dependencies, to be
publicly read, together with the letters patent for establishing the
courts of civil and criminal judicature in the territory, the extent of
which, until this publication of it, was but little known even among
ourselves. It was now found to extend from Cape York (the extremity of
the coast to the northward) in the latitude of 20 degrees 37 minutes
South, to the South Cape (the southern extremity of the coast) in the
latitude of 43 degrees 39 minutes South; and inland to the westward as
far as 135 degrees of East longitude, comprehending all the islands
adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitudes of the
above-mentioned capes.

By this definition of our boundaries it will be seen that we were
confined along the coast of this continent to such parts of it solely as
were navigated by Captain Cook, without infringing on what might be
claimed by other nations from the right of discovery. Of that right,
however, no other nation has chosen to avail itself. Whether the western
coast is unpromising in its appearance, or whether the want of a return
proportioned to the expense which the mother-country must sustain in
supporting a settlement formed nearly at the farthest part of the globe,
may have deterred them, is not known; but Great Britain alone has
followed up the discoveries she had made in this country, by at once
establishing in it a regular colony and civil government.

The ceremony of reading these public instruments having been performed by
the judge-advocate, the governor, addressing himself to the convicts,
assured them, among other things, that 'he should ever be ready to show
approbation and encouragement to those who proved themselves worthy of
them by good conduct and attention to orders; while on the other hand,
such as were determined to act in opposition to propriety, and observe a
contrary conduct, would inevitably meet with the punishment which they
deserved.' He remarked how much it was their interest to forget the
habits of vice and indolence in which too many of them had hitherto
lived; and exhorted them to be honest among themselves, obedient to their
overseers, and attentive to the several works in which they were about to
be employed. At the conclusion of this address three volleys were fired
by the troops, who thereupon returned to their parade, where the
governor, attended by Captain Hunter and the principal officers of the
settlement, passed along the front of the detachment, and received the
honours due to a captain-general; after which he entertained all the
officers and gentlemen of the settlement at dinner, under a large tent
pitched for the purpose at the head of the marine encampment.

The convicts had been mustered early in the morning, when nine were
reported to be absent. From the situation which we had unavoidably
adopted, it was impossible to prevent these people from straggling.
Fearless of the danger which must attend them, many had visited the
French ships in Botany Bay, soliciting to be taken on board, and giving a
great deal of trouble. It was soon found that they secreted at least
one-third of their working tools, and that any sort of labour was with
difficulty procured from them.

The want of proper overseers principally contributed to this. Those who
were placed over them as such were people selected from among themselves,
being recommended by their conduct during the voyage; few of these,
however, chose to exert the authority that was requisite to keep the
gangs at their labour, although assured of meeting with every necessary
support. Petty thefts among themselves began soon to be complained of;
the sailors from the transports, although repeatedly forbidden, and
frequently punished, still persisted in bringing spirits on shore by
night, and drunkenness was often the consequence.

To check these enormities, the court of criminal judicature was assembled
on the 11th of February, when three prisoners were tried; one for an
assault, of which being found guilty, he was sentenced to receive one
hundred and fifty lashes; a second, for taking some biscuit from another
convict, was sentenced to a week's confinement on bread and water, on a
small rocky island near the entrance of the cove; and a third, for
stealing a plank, was sentenced to receive fifty lashes, but, being
recommended to the governor, was forgiven.

The mildness of these punishments seemed rather to have encouraged than
deterred others from the commission of greater offences; for before the
month was ended the criminal court was again assembled for the trial of
four offenders, who had conceived and executed a plan for robbing the
public store during the time of issuing the provisions. This crime, in
its tendency big with evil to our little community, was rendered still
more atrocious by being perpetrated at the very time when the difference
of provisions, which had till then existed, was taken off, and the
convict saw the same proportion of provision issued to himself that was
served to the soldier and the officer, the article of spirits only
excepted. Each male convict was that day put upon the following weekly
ration of provisions, two-thirds of which was served to the female
convicts, viz 7 pounds of biscuit; 1 pound of flour; 7 pounds of beef, or
4 pounds of pork; 3 pints of peas; and 6 ounces of butter.

It was fair to suppose that so liberal a ration would in itself have
proved the security of the store, and have defended it from depredation;
but we saw with concern, that there were among us some minds so
habitually vicious that no consideration was of any weight with them, nor
could they be induced to do right by any prospect of future benefit, or
fear of certain and immediate punishment. The charge being fully proved,
one man, James Barrett, suffered death: his confederates were pardoned,
on condition of their being banished from the settlement. Another culprit
was sentenced to receive three hundred lashes; but, not appearing so
guilty as his companions, was pardoned by the governor, the power of
pardoning being vested in him by his Majesty's commission.

His excellency, having caused one example to be made, extended lenity to
some others who were tried the following day; and one convict, James
Freeman, was pardoned on condition of his becoming the public

It appeared by the letters patent under the great seal of Great Britain,
which were read after the governor's commission, that 'the appointment of
the place to which offenders should be transported having been vested in
the crown by an act of parliament, his Majesty, by two several orders in
council, bearing date the 6th of December 1786, had declared, that
certain offenders named in two lists annexed to the orders in council
should be transported to the eastern coast of New Holland, named New
South Wales, or some one or other of the islands adjacent:' and it being
deemed necessary that a colony and civil government should be established
in the place to which such felons should be transported, and that a court
of criminal jurisdiction should also be established therein, with
authority to proceed in a more summary way than is used within the realms
of Great Britain, according to the known and established laws thereof,
his Majesty, by the 27th Geo. 3. cap. 56. was enabled to authorise, by
his commission under the great seal, 'the governor, or in his absence the
lieutenant-governor of such place, to convene from time to time, as
occasion may require, a court of criminal jurisdiction, which court is to
be a court of record, and is to consist of the judge-advocate and such
six officers of the sea and land service as the governor shall, by
precept issued under his hand and seal, require to assemble for that
purpose.' This court has power to inquire of, hear, determine, and punish
all treasons, misprisions of treasons, murders, felonies, forgeries,
perjuries, trespasses, and other crimes whatsoever that may be committed
in the colony; the punishment for such offences to be inflicted according
to the laws of England as nearly as may be, considering and allowing for
the circumstances and situation of the settlement and its inhabitants.
The charge against any offender is to be reduced into writing, and
exhibited by the judge-advocate: witnesses are to be examined upon oath,
as well for as against the prisoner; and the court is to adjudge whether
he is guilty or not guilty by the opinion of the major part of the court.
If guilty, and the offence is capital, they are to pronounce judgment of
death, in like manner as if the prisoner had been convicted by the
verdict of a jury in England, or of such corporal punishment as the
court, or the major part of it, shall deem meet. And in cases not
capital, they are to adjudge such corporal punishment as the majority of
the court shall determine. But no offender is to suffer death, unless
five members of the court shall concur in adjudging him to be guilty,
until the proceedings shall have been transmitted to England, and the
king's pleasure signified thereupon. The provost-marshal is to cause the
judgment of the court to be executed according to the governor's warrant
under his hand and seal.

The resemblance of this to the military courts may be easily traced in
some particulars. The criminal court is assembled, not at stated times,
but whenever occasion may require. It is composed of military officers
(the judge-advocate excepted, whose situation is of a civil nature) who
assemble as such in their military habits, with the insignia of duty, the
sash and the sword. Their judgments are to be determined by the majority;
and the examination of the witnesses is carried on by the members of the
court, as well as by the judge-advocate. But in other respects it differs
from the military courts. The judge-advocate is the judge or president of
the court; he frames and exhibits the charge against the prisoner, has a
vote in the court, and is sworn, like the members of it, well and truly
to try and to make true deliverance between the king and the prisoner,
and give a verdict according to the evidence.

When the state of the colony and the nature of its inhabitants are
considered, it must be agreed, that the administration of public justice
could not have been placed with so much propriety in any other hands. The
outward form of the court, as well as the more essential part of it, are
admirably calculated to meet the characters and disposition of the people
who form the major part of the settlement. As long confinement would be
attended with a loss of labour, and other evils, the court is assembled
within a day or two after the apprehension of any prisoner whose crime is
of such magnitude as to call for a criminal proceeding against him. He is
brought before a court composed of a judge and six men of honour, who
hear the evidence both for and against him, and determine whether the
crime exhibited be or be not made out; and his punishment, if found
guilty, is adjudged according to the laws of England, considering and
allowing for the situation and circumstances of the settlement and its
inhabitants; which punishment, however, after all, cannot be inflicted
without the ratification of the governor under his hand and seal.

Beside this court for the trial of criminal offenders, there is a civil
court, consisting of the judge-advocate and two inhabitants of the
settlement, who are to be appointed by the governor; which court has full
power to hear and determine in a summary way all pleas of lands, houses,
debts, contracts, and all personal pleas whatsoever, with authority to
summon the parties upon complaint being made, to examine the matter of
such complaint by the oaths of witnesses, and to issue warrants of
execution under the hand and seal of the judge-advocate. From this court,
on either party, plaintiff or defendant, finding himself or themselves
aggrieved by the judgment or decree, an appeal lies to the governor, and
from him, where the debt or thing in demand shall exceed the value of
three hundred pounds, to the king in council: but these appeals must be
put in, if from the civil court, within eight days, and if from the
governor or superior court, within fourteen days after pronouncing the
said judgments.

To this court is likewise given authority to grant probates of wills and
administration of the personal estates of intestates dying within the
settlement. But as property must be acquired in the country before its
rights can come into question, few occasions of assembling this court can
occur for many years.

In addition to these courts for the trial of crimes, and the cognisance
of civil suits, the governor, the lieutenant-governor, and the
judge-advocate for the time being, are by his Majesty's letters patent
constituted justices for the preservation of the peace of the settlement,
with the same power that justices of the peace have in England within
their respective jurisdictions. And the governor, being enabled by his
Majesty's commission, soon after our arrival, caused Augustus Alt esq.
(the surveyor-general of the territory) to be sworn a justice of the
peace, for the purpose of sitting once a week, or oftener as occasion
might require, with the judge-advocate, to examine all offences committed
by the convicts, and determine on and punish such as were not of
sufficient importance for trial by the criminal court.

There is also a vice-admiralty court for the trial of offences committed
upon the high seas, of which the lieutenant-governor is constituted the
judge, Mr. Andrew Miller the registrar, and Mr. Henry Brewer the
marshall. The governor has, beside that of captain-general, a commission
constituting him vice-admiral of the territory; and another vesting him
with authority to hold* general courts-martial, and to confirm or set
aside the sentence. The major-commandant of the detachment had the usual
power of assembling regimental or battalion courts-martial for the trial
of offences committed by the soldiers under his command.

[* Captain Collins, the judge-advocate of the settlement, had also a
warrant from the Admiralty appointing him judge-advocate to the marine

By this account of the different modes of administering and obtaining
justice, which the legislature provided for this settlement, it is
evident that great care had been taken on our setting out, to furnish us
with a stable foundation whereon to erect our little colony, a foundation
which was established in the punishment of vice, the security of
property, and the preservation of peace and good order in our community.

The governor having also received instructions to establish a settlement
at Norfolk Island, the _Supply_ sailed for that place about the middle of
the month of February, having on board Lieutenant King of the _Sirius_,
named by Capt. Phillip superintendant and commandant of the settlement to
be formed there. Lieutenant King took with him one surgeon (Mr. Jamieson,
surgeon's mate of the _Sirius_), one petty officer (Mr. Cunningham, also
of the _Sirius_), two private soldiers, two persons who pretended to some
knowledge of flax-dressing, and nine male and six female convicts, mostly
volunteers. This little party was to be landed with tents, clothing for
the convicts, implements of husbandry, tools for dressing flax, etc. and
provisions for six months; before the expiration of which time it was
designed to send them a fresh supply.

Norfolk Island is situated in the latitude of 29 degrees south, and in
longitude 168 degrees 10 minutes east of Greenwich, and was settled with
a view to the cultivation of the flax plant, which at the time when the
island was discovered by Captain Cook was found growing most luxuriantly
where he landed; and from the specimens taken to England of the New
Zealand flax (of which sort is that growing at Norfolk Island), it was
hoped some advantages to the mother country might be derived from
cultivating and manufacturing it.

Mr. King, previous to his departure for his little government, was sworn
in as a justice of the peace, taking the oaths necessary on the occasion,
by which he was enabled to punish such petty offences as might be
committed among his people, capital crimes being reserved for the
cognisance of the criminal court of judicature established here.

Our own preservation depending in a great measure upon the preservation
of our stores and provisions, houses for their reception were immediately
begun when sufficient ground was found to be cleared; and the persons who
had the direction of these and other works carrying on, found it most to
the advantage of the public service to employ the convicts in task work,
allotting a certain quantity of ground to be cleared by a certain number
of persons in a given time, and allowing them to employ what time they
might gain, till called on again for public service, in bringing in
materials and erecting huts for themselves. But for the most part they
preferred passing in idleness the hours that might have been so
profitably spent, straggling into the woods for vegetables, or visiting
the French ships in Botany Bay. Of this latter circumstance we were
informed by M. de Clonard, the captain of the _Astrolabe_, in an
excursion he made from the ships, to bring round some dispatches from M.
de la Perouse, which that officer requested might be forwarded to the
French ambassador at the court of London by the first of our transports
that might sail from hence for Europe. He informed us, that they were
daily visited by the convicts, many of whom solicited to be received on
board before their departure, promising (as an inducement) to be
accompanied by a number of females. M. de Clonard at the same time
assured us, that the general (as he was termed by his officers and
people) had given their solicitations no kind of countenance, but had
threatened to drive them away by force.

Among the buildings that were undertaken shortly after our arrival, must
be mentioned an observatory, which was marked out on the western point of
the cove, to receive the astronomical instruments which had been sent out
by the Board of Longitude, for the purpose of observing the comet which
was expected to be seen about the end of this year. The construction of
this building was placed under the direction of Lieut. Dawes of the
marines, who, having made this branch of science his particular study,
was appointed by the Board of Longitude to make astronomical observations
in this country.

The latitude of the observatory was 33 degrees 52 minutes 30 seconds S;
the longitude, from Greenwich, 151 degrees 19 minutes 30 seconds E.

Governor Phillip, having been very much pressed for time when he first
visited this harbour, had not thoroughly examined it. The completion of
that necessary business was left to Captain Hunter, who, with the first
lieutenant of the _Sirius_, early in the month of February, made an
accurate survey of it. It was then found to be far more extensive to the
westward than was at first imagined, and Captain Hunter described the
country as wearing a much more favourable countenance toward the head or
upper part, than it did immediately about the settlement. He saw several
parties of the natives, and, treating them constantly with good humour,
they always left him with friendly impressions.

It was natural to suppose that the curiosity of these people would be
attracted by observing, that, instead of quitting, we were occupied in
works that indicated an intention of remaining in their country; but
during the first six weeks we received only one visit, two men strolling
into the camp one evening, and remaining in it for about half an hour.
They appeared to admire whatever they saw, and after receiving each a
hatchet (of the use of which the eldest instantly and curiously showed
his knowledge, by turning up his foot, and sharpening a piece of wood on
the sole with the hatchet) took their leave, apparently well pleased with
their reception. The fishing-boats also frequently reported their having
been visited by many of these people when hauling the seine, at which
labour they often assisted with cheerfulness, and in return were
generally rewarded with part of the fish taken.

Every precaution was used to guard against a breach of this friendly and
desirable intercourse, by strictly prohibiting every person from
depriving them of their spears, fizgigs, gum, or other articles, which we
soon perceived they were accustomed to leave under the rocks, or loose
and scattered about upon the beaches. We had however great reason to
believe that these precautions were first rendered fruitless by the ill
conduct of a boat's crew belonging to one of the transports, who, we were
told afterwards, attempted to land in one of the coves at the lower part
of the harbour, but were prevented, and driven off with stones by the
natives. A party of them, consisting of sixteen or eighteen persons, some
time after landed on the island* where the people of the _Sirius_ were
preparing a garden, and with much artifice, watching their opportunity,
carried off a shovel, a spade, and a pick-axe. On their being fired at
and hit on the legs by one of the people with small shot, the pick-axe
was dropped, but they carried off the other tools.

[* Since known by the name of Garden Island.]

To such circumstances as these must be attributed the termination of that
good understanding which had hitherto subsisted between us and them, and
which Governor Phillip laboured to improve whenever he had an
opportunity. But it might have been foreseen that this would unavoidably
happen: the convicts were every where straggling about, collecting
animals and gum to sell to the people of the transports, who at the same
time were procuring spears, shields, swords, fishing-lines, and other
articles from the natives, to carry to Europe; the loss of which must
have been attended with many inconveniences to the owners, as it was soon
evident that they were the only means whereby they obtained or could
procure their daily subsistence; and although some of these people had
been punished for purchasing articles of the convicts, the practice was
carried on secretly, and attended with all the bad effects which were to
be expected from it. We also had the mortification to learn, that M. De
la Perouse had been compelled to fire upon the natives at Botany Bay,
where they frequently annoyed his people who were employed on shore. This
circumstance materially affected us, as those who had rendered this
violence necessary could not discriminate between us and them. We were
however perfectly convinced that nothing short of the greatest necessity
could have induced M. De la Perouse to take such a step, as we heard him
declare, that it was among the particular instructions that he received
from his sovereign, to endeavour by every possible means to acquire and
cultivate the friendship of the natives of such places as he might
discover or visit; and to avoid exercising any act of hostility upon
them. In obedience to this humane command, there was no doubt but he
forbore using force until forbearance would have been dangerous, and he
had been taught a lesson at Maouna, one of the Isles des Navigateurs,
that the tempers of savages were not to be trusted too far; for we were
informed, that on the very day and hour of their departure from that
island, the boats of the two ships, which were sent for a last load of
water, were attacked by the natives with stones and clubs, and M. De
l'Angle, the captain of the _Astrolabe_, with eleven officers and men,
were put to death; those who were so fortunate as to get off in the small
boats that attended on the watering launches (which were destroyed),
escaped with many wounds and contusions, some of which were not healed at
the time of their relating to us this unfortunate circumstance. It was
conjectured, that some one of the seamen, unknown to the officers, must
have occasioned this outrage, for which there was no other probable
reason to assign, as the natives during the time the ships were at the
island had lived with the officers and people on terms of the greatest
harmony. And this was not the first misfortune that those ships had met
with during their voyage; for on the north-west coast of America, they
lost two boats with their crews, and several young men of family, in a

Notwithstanding the pressure of the important business we had upon our
hands after our landing, the discharge of our religious duties was never
omitted, divine service being performed every Sunday that the weather
would permit: at which time the detachment of marines paraded with their
arms, the whole body of convicts attended, and were observed to conduct
themselves in general with the respect and attention due to the occasion
on which they were assembled.

It was soon observed with satisfaction, that several couples were
announced for marriage; but on strictly scrutinizing into the motive, it
was found in several instances to originate in an idea, that the married
people would meet with various little comforts and privileges that were
denied to those in a single state; and some, on not finding those
expectations realised, repented, wished and actually applied to be
restored to their former situations; so ignorant and thoughtless were
they in general. It was however to be wished, that matrimonial connexions
should be promoted among them; and none who applied were ever rejected,
except when it was clearly understood that either of the parties had a
wife or husband living at the time of their leaving England.

The weather during the latter end of January and the month of February
was very close, with rain, at times very heavy, and attended with much
thunder and lightning. In the night of the 6th February, six sheep, two
lambs, and one pig, belonging chiefly to the lieutenant-governor, having
been placed at the foot of a large tree, were destroyed by the lightning.
But accidents of this kind were rather to be expected than wondered at,
until the woods around us could be opened and cleared.


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

March.] Early in March the governor, accompanied by some officers from
the settlement and the _Sirius_, went round by water to the next
adjoining harbour to the northward of this port, which is laid down in
the charts by the name of Broken Bay, from the broken appearance of the
land by which it is formed. The intention of this visit was, not only to
survey the harbour, if any were found to exist, but to examine whether
there were within it any spots of ground capable of cultivation, and of
maintaining a few families; but in eight days that he was absent, though
he found an harbour equal in magnitude to Port Jackson, the governor saw
no situation that could at all vie with that which he had chosen for the
settlement at Sydney Cove, the land at Broken Bay being in general very
high and in most parts rocky and barren. The weather proved very
unfavourable to an excursion in a country where the residence for each
night was to be provided by the travellers themselves; and some of the
party returned with dysenteric complaints. The weather at Port Jackson
had been equally adverse to labour, the governor finding at his return
upwards of two hundred patients under the surgeon's care, in consequence
of the heavy rains that had fallen. A building for the reception of the
sick was now absolutely necessary, and one, eighty-four feet by
twenty-three, was put in hand, to be divided into a dispensary, (all the
hospital stores being at that time under tents,) a ward for the troops,
and another for the convicts. It was to be built of wood, and the roof to
be covered in with shingles, made from a species of fir that is found
here. The heavy rains also pointed out the necessity of sheltering the
detachment, and until barracks could be built, most of them covered their
tents with thatch, or erected for themselves temporary clay huts. The
barracks were begun early in March; but much difficulty was found in
providing proper materials, the timber being in general shakey and
rotten. They were to consist of four buildings, each building to be
sixty-seven feet by twenty-two, and to contain one company. They were
placed at a convenient distance asunder for the purpose of air and
cleanliness, and with a space in the centre for a parade.

On or about Monday the 10th of March, the French ships sailed from Botany
Bay, bound, as they said, to the northward, and carrying with them the
most unfavourable ideas of this country and its native inhabitants; the
officers having been heard to declare, that in their whole voyage they no
where found so poor a country, nor such wretched miserable people. During
their stay in Botany Bay, they set up the frames of two large boats which
they brought out from Europe, to replace those they lost at Maouna, and
on the north-west coast of America. We had, during their stay in this
country, a very friendly and pleasant intercourse with their officers,
among whom we observed men of abilities, whose observations, and
exertions in the search after knowledge, will most amply illustrate the
history of their voyage: and it reflected much credit on the minister
when he arranged the plan of it, that people of the first talents for
navigation, astronomy, natural history, and every other science that
could render it conspicuously useful, should have been selected for the

We found after their departure the grave of the Abbe L. Receveur, who
died but a short time before they sailed: he was buried not very far from
the spot where their tents were erected, at the foot of a tree, on which
were nailed two pieces of board with the following inscription:

Hic jacet
L. Receveur
Ex F. F. Minoribus
Galliae Sacerdos
Physicus in Circumnavigatione Mundi
Duce D. de la Perouse
Obiit Die 17 Febr. Anno

Governor Phillip, on hearing that these boards had fallen down from the
tree, caused the inscription to be engraven on a plate of copper, which
was put up in place of the boards; but rain, and the oozing of gum from
the tree, soon rendered even that illegible.

We continued to be still busily employed; a wharf for the convenience of
landing stores was begun under the direction of the surveyor-general: the
ordnance, consisting of two brass six-pounders on travelling carriages,
four iron twelve-pounders, and two iron six-pounders, were landed; the
transports, which were chartered for China, were clearing; the long-boats
of the ships in the cove were employed in bringing up cabbage-tree from
the lower part of the harbour, where it grew in great abundance, and was
found, when cut into proper lengths, very fit for the purpose of erecting
temporary huts, the posts and plates of which being made of the pine of
this country, and the sides and ends filled with lengths of the
cabbage-tree, plastered over with clay, formed a very good hovel. The
roofs were generally thatched with the grass of the gum-rush; some were
covered with clay, but several of these failed, the weight of the clay
and heavy rain soon destroying them.

A gang of convicts was employed, under the direction of a person who
understood the business, in making bricks at a spot about a mile from the
settlement, at the head of Long Cove; at which place also two acres of
ground were marked out for such officers as were willing to cultivate
them and raise a little grain for their stock; it not being the intention
of government to give any grants of land until the necessary accounts of
the country, and of what expectations were likely to be formed from it,
should be received.

Great inconvenience was found from the necessity that subsisted of
suffering the stock of individuals to run loose amongst the tents and
huts; much damage in particular was sustained by hogs, who frequently
forced their way into them while the owners were at labour and destroyed
and damaged whatever they met with. At first these losses were usually
made good from the store, as it was unreasonable to expect labour where
the labourer did not receive the proper sustenance; but this being soon
found to open a door to much imposition, and to give rise to many
fabricated tales of injuries that never existed, an order was given, that
any hog caught trespassing was to be killed by the person who actually
received any damage from it.

The principal street of the intended town was marked out at the head of
the cove, and its dimensions were extensive. The government-house was to
be constructed on the summit of a hill commanding a capital view of Long
Cove, and other parts of the harbour; but this was to be a work of
after-consideration; for the present, as the ground was not cleared, it
was sufficient to point out the situation and define the limits of the
future buildings.

On the 19th the _Supply_ returned from Norfolk Island, having been absent
four weeks and six days. We learned that she made the island on the 29th
of last month, but for the five succeeding days was not able to effect a
landing, being prevented by a surf which they found breaking with
violence on a reef of rocks that lay across the principal bay. Lieutenant
King had nearly given up all hopes of being able to land, when a small
opening was discovered in the reef wide enough to admit a boat, through
which he was so fortunate as to get safely with all his people and
stores. When landed, he could nowhere find a space clear enough for
pitching a tent; and he had to cut through an almost impenetrable
wilderness before he could encamp himself and his people. Of the flock he
carried with him, he lost the only she-goat he had, and one ewe. He had
named the bay wherein he landed and fixed the settlement Sydney Bay, and
had given the names of Phillip and Nepean to two small islands which are
situated at a small distance from it.

Lieutenant King, the commandant, wrote in good spirits, and spoke of
meeting all his difficulties like a man determined to overcome them. The
soil of the island appeared to be very rich, but the landing dangerous,
Sydney Bay being exposed to the southerly winds, with which the surf
constantly breaks on the reef. The _Supply_ lost one of her people, who
was washed off the reef and drowned. There is a small bay on the other
side of the island, but at a distance from the settlement, and no
anchoring ground in either. The flax plant (the principal object in view)
he had not discovered when the _Supply_ sailed. Lieutenant Ball, soon
after he left this harbour, fell in with an uninhabited island in lat. 31
degrees 56 minutes S and in long. 159 degrees 4 minutes East, which he
named Lord Howe Island. It is inferior in size to Norfolk Island, but
abounded at that time with turtle, (sixteen of which he brought away with
him,) as well as with a new species of fowl, and a small brown bird, the
flesh of which was very fine eating. These birds were in great abundance,
and so unused to such visitors, that they suffered themselves to be
knocked down with sticks, as they ran along the beach.

Pines, but no small trees, grow on this island, in which there is a good
bay, but no anchoring ground. Of the pines at Norfolk Island, one
measured nine feet in diameter, and another, that was found lying on the
ground, measured 182 feet in length.

As the scurvy was at this time making rapid strides in the colony, the
hope of being able to procure a check to its effects from the new island,
rendered it in every one's opinion a fortunate discovery.

The _Scarborough_, _Charlotte_, and _Lady Penrhyn_ transports being
cleared, were discharged from government service in the latter end of the
month, and the masters left at liberty to proceed on their respective
voyages pursuant to the directions of their owners.

In the course of this month several convicts came in from the woods; one
in particular dangerously wounded with a spear, the others very much
beaten and bruised by the natives. The wounded man had been employed
cutting rushes for thatching, and one of the others was a convalescent
from the hospital, who went out to collect a few vegetables. All these
people denied giving any provocation to the natives: it was, however,
difficult to believe them; they well knew the consequences that would
attend any acts of violence on their part, as it had been declared in
public orders early in the month, that in forming the intended
settlement, any act of cruelty to the natives being contrary to his
Majesty's most gracious intentions, the offenders would be subject to a
criminal prosecution; and they well knew that the natives themselves,
however injured, could not contradict their assertions. There was,
however, too much reason to believe that our people had been the
aggressors, as the governor on his return from his excursion to Broken
Bay, on landing at Camp Cove, found the natives there who had before
frequently come up to him with confidence, unusually shy, and seemingly
afraid of him and his party; and one, who after much invitation did
venture to approach, pointed to some marks upon his shoulders, making
signs they were caused by blows given with a stick. This, and their
running away, whereas they had always before remained on the beach until
the people landed from the boats, were strong indications that the man
had been beaten by some of our stragglers. Eleven canoes full of people
passed very near the _Sirius_, which was moored without the two points of
the cove, but paddled away very fast upon the approach of some boats
toward them.

The curiosity of the camp was excited and gratified for a day or two by
the sight of an emu, which was shot by the governor's game-killer. It was
remarkable by every stem having two feathers proceeding from it. Its
height was 7 feet 2 inches, and the flesh was very well flavoured.

The run of water that supplied the settlement was observed to be only a
drain from a swamp at the head of it; to protect it, therefore, as much
as possible from the sun, an order was given out, forbidding the cutting
down of any trees within fifty feet of the run, than which there had not
yet been a finer found in any one of the coves of the harbour.

April.] As the winter of this hemisphere was approaching, it became
absolutely necessary to expedite the buildings intended for the
detachment; every carpenter that could be procured amongst the convicts
was sent to assist, and as many as could be hired from the transports
were employed at the hospital and storehouses. The long-boats of the
ships still continued to bring up the cabbage-tree from the lower part of
the harbour, and a range of huts was begun on the west side for some of
the female convicts.

Our little camp now began to wear the aspect of distress, from the great
number of scorbutic patients that were daily seen creeping to and from
the hospital tents; and the principal surgeon suggested the expediency of
another supply of turtle from Lord Howe Island: but it was generally
thought that the season was too far advanced, and the utmost that could
have been procured would have made but a very trifling and temporary
change in the diet of those afflicted with the disorder.

On the 6th, divine service was performed in the new storehouse, which was
covered in, but not sufficiently completed to admit provisions. One
hundred feet by twenty-five were the dimensions of this building, which
was constructed with great strength; yet the mind was always pained when
viewing its reedy combustible covering, remembering the livid flames that
had been seen to shoot over every part of this cove: but no other
materials could be found to answer the purpose of thatch, and every
necessary precaution was taken to guard against accidental fire.

An elderly woman, a convict, having been accused of stealing a flat iron,
and the iron being found in her possession, the first moment she was left
alone she hung herself to the ridge-pole of her tent, but was fortunately
discovered and cut down before it was too late.

Although several thefts were committed by the convicts, yet it was in
general remarked, that they conducted themselves with more propriety than
could have been expected from people of their description; to prevent,
however, if possible, the commission of offences so prejudicial to the
welfare of the colony, his excellency signified to the convicts his
resolution that the condemnation of any one for robbing the huts or
stores should be immediately followed by their execution. Much of their
irregularity was perhaps to be ascribed to the intercourse that
subsisted, in spite of punishment, between them and the seamen from the
ships of war and the transports, who at least one day in the week found
means to get on shore with spirits.

Notwithstanding it was the anxious care of every one who could prevent
it, that the venereal disease might not be introduced into the
settlement, it was not only found to exist amongst the convicts, but the
very sufferers themselves were known to conceal their having it. To stop
this evil, it was ordered by the governor, that any man or woman having
and concealing this disorder should receive corporal punishment, and be
put upon a short allowance of provisions for six months.

Lieutenant Dawes of the marines was directed in public orders to act as
officer of artillery and engineers; in consequence of which the ordnance
of the settlement, and the constructing of a small redoubt on the east
side, were put under his direction.

Mr. Zachariah Clark, who came out of England as agent to Mr. Richards the
contractor, was at the same time appointed an assistant to the
commissary; and the issuing of the provisions, which was in future to be
once a week, was put under his charge.

In the course of this month a stone building was begun on the west side
for the residence of the lieutenant-governor, one face of which was to be
in the principal street of the intended town.

The governor, desirous of acquiring a knowledge of the country about the
seat of his government, and profiting by the coolness of the weather,
made during the month several excursions into the country; in one of
which having observed a range of mountains to the westward, and hoping
that a river might be found to take its course in their neighbourhood, he
set off with a small party, intending if possible to reach them, taking
with him six days provisions; but returned without attaining either
object of his journey--the mountains, or a river.

He penetrated about thirty miles inland, through a country most amply
clothed with timber, but in general free from underwood. On the fifth day
of his excursion he had, from a rising ground which he named Belle Vue,
the only view of the mountains which he obtained during the journey; and
as they then appeared at too great a distance to be reached on one day's
allowance of provisions, which was all they had left, he determined to
return to Sydney Cove.

In Port Jackson another branch extending to the northward had been
discovered; but as the country surrounding it was high, rocky, and
barren, though it might add to the extent and beauty of the harbour, it
did not promise to be of any benefit to the settlement.

The governor had the mortification to learn on his return from his
western expedition, that five ewes and a lamb had been destroyed at the
farm in the adjoining cove, supposed to have been killed by dogs
belonging to the natives.

The number of sheep which were landed in this country were considerably
diminished; they were of necessity placed on ground, and compelled to
feed on grass, that had never before been exposed to air or sun, and
consequently did not agree with them; a circumstance much to be lamented,
as without stock the settlement must for years remain dependent on the
mother-country for the means of subsistence.


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

May.] The month of May opened with the trial, conviction, and execution
of James Bennett, a youth of seventeen years of age, for breaking open a
tent belonging to the _Charlotte_ transport, and stealing thereout
property above the value of five shillings. He confessed that he had
often merited death before he committed the crime for which he was then
about to suffer, and that a love of idleness and bad connexions had been
his ruin. He was executed immediately on receiving his sentence, in the
hope of making a greater impression on the convicts than if it had been
delayed for a day or two.

There being no other shelter for the guard than tents, great
inconvenience was found in placing under its charge more than one or two
prisoners together. The convicts, therefore, who were confined at the
guard until they could be conveyed to the southward, were sent to the
Bare Island at the entrance of this cove, where they were to be supplied
weekly with provisions from the store, and water from the _Sirius_, until
an opportunity offered of sending them away.

The three transports sailed on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of this month for
China. The _Supply_ also sailed on the 6th for Lord Howe Island, to
procure turtle and birds for the settlement, the scurvy continuing to
resist every effort that could be made to check its progress by medicine;
from the lateness of the season, however, little hope was entertained of
her success.

The governor having directed every person in the settlement to make a
return of what livestock was in his possession, the following appeared to
be the total amount of stock in the colony:

1 Stallion 2 Bulls 19 Goats 5 Rabbits 35 Ducks
3 Mares 5 Cows 49 Hogs 18 Turkeys 122 Fowls
3 Colts 29 Sheep 25 Pigs 29 Geese 87 Chickens

There having been found among the convicts a person qualified to conduct
the business of a bricklayer, a gang of labourers was put under his
direction, and most of the huts which grew up in different parts of the
cleared ground were erected by them. Another gang of labourers was put
under the direction of a stonemason, and on the 15th the first stone of a
building, intended for the residence of he governor until the
government-house could be erected, was laid on the east side of the cove.
The following inscription, engraven on a piece of copper, was placed in
the foundation:

His Excellency
Governor in Chief and Captain General
in and over the Territory of New South Wales,
landed in this Cove
with the first Settlers of this Country,
the 24th Day of January 1788;
and on the 15th Day of May
in the same Year,
being the 28th of the Reign of His present Majesty
The First of these Stones was laid.

The large store-house being completed, and a road made to it from the
wharf on the west side, the provisions were directed to be landed from
the victuallers, and proper gangs of convicts placed to roll them to the

Carpenters were now employed in covering in that necessary building the
hospital, the shingles for the purpose being all prepared; these were
fastened to the roof (which was very strong) by pegs made by the female

The timber that had been cut down proved in general very unfit or the
purpose of building, the trees being for the most part decayed, and when
cut down were immediately warped and split by the heat of the sun. A
species of pine appeared to be the best, and was chiefly used in the
frame-work of houses, and in covering the roofs, the wood splitting
easily into shingles.

The _Supply_ returned in the afternoon of the 25th from Lord Howe Island,
without having procured any turtle, the weather being much too cold and
the season too late to find them so far to the southward.

To the southward and eastward of Lord Howe Island there is a rock, which
may be seen at the distance of eighteen leagues, and which from its shape
Lieutenant Ball has named Ball Pyramid.

On the 26th a soldier and a sailor were tried by the criminal court of
judicature for assaulting and dangerously wounding James McNeal, a
seaman. These people belonged to the _Sirius_, and were employed on the
island where the ship's company had their garden, the seamen in
cultivating the ground, and the soldier in protecting them; for which
purpose he had his firelock with him. They all lived together in a hut
that was built for them, and on the evening preceding the assault had
received their week's allowance of spirits, with which they intoxicated
themselves, and quarrelled. They were found guilty of the assault, and,
as pecuniary damages were out of the question, were each sentenced to
receive five hundred lashes.

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