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

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Farther and still more unpleasant consequences of the ill-treatment which
the natives received from our people were felt during this month. On the
evening of the 21st a convict belonging to the farm on the east side was
brought into the hospital, very dangerously wounded with a barbed spear,
which entered about the depth of three inches into his back, between the
shoulders. The account he gave of the transaction was, that having
strayed to a cove beyond the farm with another man, who did not return
with him, he was suddenly wounded with a spear, not having seen any
natives until he received the wound. His companion ran away when the
natives came up, who stripped him of all his clothes but his trousers,
which they did not take, and then left him to crawl into the camp. A day
or two afterwards the clothes of the man that was missing were brought
in, torn, bloody, and pierced with spears; so that there was every reason
to suppose that the poor wretch had fallen a sacrifice to his own folly
and the barbarity of the natives.

On the 30th an officer, who had been collecting rushes in a cove up the
harbour, found and brought to the hospital the bodies of two convicts who
had been employed for some time in cutting rushes there, pierced through
in many places with spears, and the head of one beaten to a jelly. As it
was improbable that these murders should be committed without
provocation, inquiry was made, and it appeared that these unfortunate men
had, a few days previous to their being found, taken away and detained a
canoe belonging to the natives, for which act of violence and injustice
they paid with their lives.

Notwithstanding these circumstances, a party of natives in their canoes
went alongside the _Sirius_, and some submitted to the operation of
shaving: after which they landed on the western point of the cove, where
they examined every thing they saw with the greatest attention, and went
away peaceably, and apparently were not under any apprehension of
resentment on our parts for the murders above-mentioned.

June.] The governor, however, on hearing that the two rushcutters had
been killed, thought it absolutely necessary to endeavour to find out,
and, if possible, secure the people who killed them; for which purpose he
set off with a strong party well armed, and landed in the cove where
their bodies had been found; whence he struck across the country to
Botany Bay, where on the beach he saw about fifty canoes, but none of
their owners. In a cove on the sea-side, between Botany Bay and Port
Jackson, he suddenly fell in with an armed party of natives, in number
between two and three hundred, men, women, and children. With these a
friendly intercourse directly took place, and some spears, etc. were
exchanged for hatchets; but the murderers of the rush-cutters, if they
were amongst them, could not be discovered in the crowd. The governor
hoped to have found the people still at the place where the men had been
killed, in which case he would have endeavoured to secure some of them;
but, not having any fixed residence, they had, perhaps, left the spot
immediately after glutting their sanguinary resentment.

His Majesty's birthday was kept with every attention that it was possible
to distinguish it by in this country; the morning was ushered in by the
discharge of twenty-one guns from the _Sirius_ and _Supply_; on shore the
colours were hoisted at the flag-staff, and at noon the detachment of
marines fired three volleys; after which the officers of the civil and
military establishment waited upon the governor, and paid their respects
to his excellency in honor of the day. At one o'clock the ships of war
again fired twenty-one guns each; and the transports in the cove made up
the same number between them, according to their irregular method on
those occasions. The officers of the navy and settlement were entertained
by the governor at dinner, and, among other toasts, named and fixed the
boundaries of the first _county_ in his Majesty's territory of New South
Wales. This was called Cumberland County, in honor of his Majesty's
second brother; and the limits of it to the northward were fixed by the
northernmost point of Broken Bay, to the southward by the southernmost
point of Broken [sic] Bay, and to the westward by Lansdown and Carmarthen
Hills (the name given to the range of mountains seen by the governor in
an excursion to the northward). At sunset the ships of war paid their
last compliment to his Majesty by a third time firing twenty-one guns
each. At night several bonfires were lighted; and, by an allowance of
spirits given on this particular occasion, every person in the colony was
enabled to drink his Majesty's health.

Some of the worst among the convicts availed themselves of the
opportunity that was given them in the evening, by the absence of several
of the officers and people from their tents and huts, to commit
depredations. One officer on going to his tent found a man in it, whom
with some difficulty he secured, after wounding him with his sword. The
tent of another was broken into, and several articles of wearing apparel
stolen out of it; and many smaller thefts of provisions and clothing were
committed among the convicts. Several people were taken into custody, and
two were afterwards tried and executed. One of these had absconded, and
lived in the woods for nineteen days, existing by what he was able to
procure by nocturnal depredations among the huts and stock of
individuals. His visits for this purpose were so frequent and daring,
that it became absolutely necessary to proclaim him an outlaw, as well as
to declare that no person must harbour him after such proclamation.

Exemplary punishments seemed about this period to be growing daily more
necessary. Stock was often killed, huts and tents broke open, and
provisions constantly stolen about the latter end of the week; for among
the convicts there were many who knew not how to husband their provisions
through the seven days they were intended to serve them, but were known
to have consumed the whole at the end of the third or fourth day. One of
this description made his week's allowance of flour (eight pounds) into
eighteen cakes, which he devoured at one meal; he was soon after taken
speechless and senseless, and died the following day at the hospital, a
loathsome putrid object.

The obvious consequence of this want of economy was, that he who had
three days to live, and nothing to live on, before the store would be
again open to supply his wants, must steal from those who had been more
provident. Had a few persons been sent out who were not of the
description of convicts, to have acted as overseers, or superintendants,
regulations for their internal economy, as well in the articles of
clothing as provisions, might have been formed which would have prevented
these evils: it would then too have been more practicable to detect them
in selling or exchanging the slops which they received, and their
provisions would have been subject to a daily inspection. But overseers
drawn from among themselves were found not to have that influence which
was so absolutely necessary to carry any regulation into effect. And
although the convicts, previous to the birthday, were assembled, and
their duty pointed out to them, as well as the certain consequence of a
breach or neglect thereof, both by his excellency the governor and the
lieutenant-governor, yet it soon appeared that there were some among them
so inured to the habits of vice, and so callous to remonstrance, that
they were only restrained until a favourable opportunity presented

The convicts who had been sent to the rock, in the hope that lenity to
them might operate also upon others, were, on the occasion of his
Majesty's birthday, liberated from their chains and confinement, and his
excellency forgave the offences of which they had been respectively
guilty, and which had occasioned their being sent thither.

By some strange and unpardonable neglect in the convict who had been
entrusted with the care of the cattle, the two bulls and four cows were
lost in the beginning of this month. The man had been accustomed to drive
them out daily to seek the freshest grass and best pasturage, and was
ordered never on any pretence to leave them. To this order, as it
afterwards appeared, he very seldom attended, frequently coming in from
the woods about noon to get his dinner, leaving them grazing at some
little distance from the farm where they were kept; and in this manner
they were lost. They had strayed from the spot he expected to find them
on, or perhaps had been driven from it by the natives, and he spent two
days in searching for them before the governor was made acquainted with
the accident.

Several parties were successively sent out to endeavour the recovery of
stock so essential to the colony; but constantly returned without

On the 27th a party of the natives, supposed to be in number from twenty
to thirty, landed at the point on the east side of the cove, between the
hours of eleven and twelve at night, and proceeded along close by the
sentinels, stopping for some time at the spot where the governor's house
was building, and in the rear of the tents inhabited by some of the
women. It was said that they appeared alarmed on hearing the sentinels
call out 'All is well,' and, after standing there for some time, went off
toward the run of water. The sentinels were very positive that they saw
them, and were minute in their relation of the above circumstances;
notwithstanding which, it was conjectured by many to be only the effect
of imagination. It is true, the natives might have chosen that hour of
the night to gratify a curiosity that would naturally be excited on
finding that we still resided among them; and perhaps for the purpose of
observing whether we all passed the night in sleep.

The cold weather which we had at this time of the year was observed to
affect our fishing, and the natives themselves appeared to be in great
want. An old man belonging to them was found on the beach of one of the
coves, almost starved to death.

It having been reported, that one of the natives who had stolen a jacket
from a convict had afterwards been killed or wounded by him in an attempt
to recover it, the governor issued a proclamation, promising a free
pardon, with remission of the sentence of transportation, to such male or
female convict as should give information of any such offender or
offenders, so that he or they might be brought to trial, and prosecuted
to conviction; but no discovery was made in consequence of this offer.

In the afternoon of the 22nd a slight shock of an earthquake was
observed, which lasted two or three seconds, and was accompanied with a
distant noise like the report of cannon, coming from the southward; the
shock was local, and so slight that many people did not feel it.

July.] The _Alexander_, _Prince of Wales_, and _Friendship_ transports,
with the _Borrowdale_ storeship, having completed their preparations for
sea, sailed together on the 14th of the month for England. Two officers
from the detachment of marines, Lieutenant Maxwell and Lieutenant
Collins, were embarked as passengers; these gentlemen having obtained
permission to return to Europe for the recovery of their healths, which
had been in a bade state from the time of their arrival in the country.

The following report was made by the principal surgeon, of the state of
the sick in the settlement, at the time of the departure of the ships:

The number of marines under medical treatment were 36
The number of convicts under medical treatment were 66
Convicts unfit for labour from old age and infirmities 52

And if idleness might have been taken into the account, as well it might,
since many were thereby rendered of very little service to the colony,
the number would have been greatly augmented.

It was now necessary to think of Norfolk Island; and on the 20th the
_Supply_ sailed with stores and provisions for that settlement.

Only two transports remained of the fleet that came out from England;
these were the _Golden Grove_ and _Fishburn_, and preparations were
making for clearing and discharging them from government service. The
people were employed in constructing a cellar on the west side for
receiving the spirits which were on board the _Fishburn_, and in landing
provisions from the _Golden Grove_, which were stowed in the large
storehouse by some seamen belonging to the _Sirius_, under the inspection
of the master of that ship.

From the nature of the materials with which most of the huts occupied by
the convicts were covered in, many accidents happened by fire, whereby
the labour of several people was lost, who had again to seek shelter for
themselves, and in general had to complain of the destruction of
provisions and clothing. To prevent this, an order was given, prohibiting
the building of chimneys in future in such huts as were thatched.

Several thefts were committed by and among the convicts. Wine was stolen
from the hospital, and some of those who had the care of it were taken
upon suspicion and tried, but for want of sufficient evidence were
acquitted. There was such a tenderness in these people to each other's
guilt, such an acquaintance with vice and the different degrees of it,
that unless they were detected in the fact, it was generally next to
impossible to bring an offence home to them. As there was, however,
little doubt, though no positive proof of their guilt, they were removed
from the hospital, and placed under the direction of the officer who was
then employed in constructing a small redoubt on the east side.

The natives, who had been accustomed to assist our people in hauling the
seine, and were content to wait for such reward as the person who had the
direction of the boat thought proper to give them, either driven by
hunger, or moved by some other cause, came down to the cove where they
were fishing, and, perceiving that they had been more successful than
usual, took by force about half of what had been brought on shore. They
were all armed with spears and other weapons, and made their attack with
some show of method, having a party stationed in the rear with their
spears poised, in readiness to throw, if any resistance had been made. To
prevent this in future, it was ordered that a petty officer should go in
the boats whenever they were sent down the harbour.

No precautions, however, that could be taken, or orders that were given,
to prevent accidents happening by misconduct on our part, had any weight
with the convicts. On the evening of the 27th one of them was brought in
wounded by the natives. He had left the encampment with another convict,
to gather vegetables, and, contrary to the orders which had been
repeatedly given, went nearly as far as Botany Bay, where they fell in
with a party of the natives, who made signs to them to go back, which
they did, but unfortunately ran different ways. This being observed by
the natives, they threw their spears at them. One of them was fortunate
enough to escape unhurt, but the other received two spears in him, one
entering a little above his left ear, the other in his breast. He took to
an arm of the bay, which, notwithstanding his wounds, he swam across, and
reported that the natives stood on the bank laughing at him.

Much credit, indeed, was not to be given to any of their accounts; but it
must be remarked, that every accident that had happened was occasioned by
a breach of positive orders repeatedly given.

Still, notwithstanding this appearance of hostility in some of the
natives, others were more friendly. In one of the adjoining coves resided
a family of them, who were visited by large parties of the convicts of
both sexes on those days in which they were not wanted for labour, where
they danced and sung with apparent good humour, and received such
presents as they could afford to make them; but none of them would
venture back with their visitors.


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

August.] All public labour was suspended for many days in the beginning
of the month of August by heavy rain; and the work of much time was also
rendered fruitless by its effects; the brick-kiln fell in more than once,
and bricks to a large amount were destroyed; the roads about the
settlement were rendered impassable; and some of the huts were so far
injured, as to require nearly as much labour to repair them as to build
them anew. It was not until the 14th of the month, when the weather
cleared up, that the people were again able to work. The public works
then in hand were, the barracks for the marine detachment; an observatory
on the west point of the cove; the houses erecting for the governor and
the lieutenant-governor; and the shingling of the hospital.

Thefts among the convicts during the bad weather were frequent; and a
sheep was stolen from the farm on the east side a few nights prior to the
birthday of his royal highness the Prince of Wales, for celebrating of
which it had been for some time kept separate from the others and
fattened; and although a proclamation was issued by the governor offering
a pardon, and the highest reward his excellency could offer,
emancipation, to any male or female convict who should discover the
person or persons concerned in the felony, except the person who actually
stole or killed the sheep, no information was
given that could lead to a discovery of the perpetrators of this offence.

The anniversary of the Prince of Wales's birth was observed by a
cessation from all kinds of labour. At noon the troops fired three
volleys at the flag-staff on the east side, after which the governor
received the compliments usual on this occasion. The _Sirius_ fired a
royal salute at one o'clock, and a public dinner was given by the
governor. Bonfires were lighted on each side of the cove at night, with
which the ceremonies of the day concluded.

It had been imagined in England, that some, if not considerable savings
of provisions might be made, by the quantities of fish that it was
supposed would be taken; but nothing like an equivalent for the ration
that was issued to the colony for a single day had ever been brought up.

We were informed, that the French ships, while in Botany Bay, had met
with one very successful haul of large fish, that more than amply
supplied both ships companies; but our people were not so fortunate. Fish
enough was sometimes taken to supply about two hundred persons; but the
quantity very rarely exceeded this. Three sting-rays were taken this
month, two of which weighed each about three hundred weight, and were
distributed amongst the people.

His royal highness Prince William Henry's birthday was distinguished by
displaying the colours at the flag-staff; and this compliment was paid to
other branches of the royal family whose birthdays were not directed to
be observed with more ceremony.

On the 26th the _Supply_ returned from Norfolk Island, having been absent
five weeks and two days. From the commandant the most favourable accounts
were received of the richness and depth of the soil and salubrity of the
climate, having been visited with very little rain, or thunder and
lightning. His search after the flax-plant had been successful; where he
had cleared the ground he found it growing spontaneously and luxuriant: a
small species of plaintain also had been discovered. His gardens promised
an ample supply of vegetables; but his seed-wheat, having been heated in
the long passage to this country, turned out to be damaged, and did not
vegetate. The landing was found to be very dangerous, and he had the
misfortune to lose Mr. Cunningham, the midshipman, with three people, and
the boat they were in, by the surf on the reef, a few days before the
_Supply _sailed. Short, however, as the time was, the carpenter of chat
vessel replaced the boat by building him a coble of the timber of the
island, constructed purposely for going without the reef, and for the
hazardous employ she must often be engaged in.

The settlement at Sydney Cove was for some time amused with an account of
the existence and discovery of a gold mine; and the impostor had
ingenuity enough to impose a fabricated tale on several of the officers
for truth. He pretended to have found it at some distance down the
harbour; and, offering to conduct an officer to the spot, a boat was
provided; but immediately on landing, having previously prevailed on the
officer to send away the boat, to prevent his discovery being made public
to more than one person, he made a pretence to leave him, and, reaching
the settlement some hours before the officer, reported that he had been
sent up by him for a guard. The fellow knew too well the consequences
that would follow on the officer's arrival to wait for that, and
therefore set off directly into the woods, whence he returned the day
following, when he was punished with fifty lashes for his imposition.
Still, however, persisting that he had discovered a metal, a specimen of
which he produced, the governor, who was absent from the settlement at
the opening of the business, but had now returned, ordered him to be
taken again down the harbour, with directions to his adjutant to land him
on the place the man should point out, and keep him in his sight; but on
being assured by that officer, that if he attempted to deceive him he
would put him to death, the man saved him the trouble of going far with
him, and confessed that his story of having discovered a gold mine was a
falsehood which he had propagated the hope of imposing on the people
belonging to the _Fishburn_ and _Golden Grove_, from whom, being about to
prepare for Europe, he expected to procure cloathing and other articles
in return for his promised gold-dust; and that he had fabricated the
specimens of the metal which he had exhibited, from a guinea and a brass
buckle; the remains of which he then produced.

For this imposture he was afterwards ordered by the magistrates before
whom he was examined to receive a hundred lashes, and to wear a canvas
frock, with the letter R cut and sewn upon it, to distinguish him more
particularly from others as a rogue.

Among the people of his own description, there were many who believed,
notwithstanding his confession and punishment, that he had actually made
the discovery he pretended, and was induced to say it was a fabrication
merely to secure it to himself, to make use of at a future opportunity.
So easy is it to impose on the minds of the lower class of people!

The natives continued to molest our people whenever they chanced to meet
any of them straggling and unarmed; yet, although forcibly warned by the
evil and danger that attended their straggling, the latter still
continued to give the natives opportunity of injuring them. About the
middle of the month a convict, who had wandered beyond the limits of
security which had been pointed out for them, fell in with a party of
natives, about fourteen in number, who stripped and beat him shockingly,
and would have murdered him had they not heard the report of a musket,
which alarming them, they ran away, leaving him his clothes. On the 21st
a party of natives landed from five canoes, near the point where the
observatory was building, where, some of them engaging the attention of
the officers and people at the observatory, the others attempted forcibly
to take off a goat from the people at the hospital; in which attempt
finding themselves resisted by a seaman who happened to be present, they
menaced him with their spears, and, on his retiring, killed the animal
and took it off in a canoe, making off toward Long Cove with much
expedition. They were followed immediately by the governor, who got up
with some of the party, but could neither recover the goat, nor meet with
the people who had killed it.

It was much to be regretted, that none of them would place a confidence
in and reside among us; as in such case, by an exchange of languages,
they would have found that we had the most friendly intention toward
them, and that we would ourselves punish any injury they might sustain
from our people.

September.] The seed-wheat that was sown here did not turn out any better
than that at Norfolk Island; in some places the ground was twice cropped,
and there was reason to apprehend a failure of seed for the next year.
The governor, therefore, early in this month, signified his intention of
sending the _Sirius_ to the Cape of Good Hope, to procure a sufficient
quantity of grain for that purpose; together with as much flour for the
settlement as she could stow, after laying in a twelvemonth's provisions
for her ship's company. Her destination was intended to have been to the
northward; but on making a calculation, and comparing the accounts of
those navigators who had procured refreshments among the islands, it was
found, that although she might provide very well for herself, yet, after
an absence of three or four months, which would be the least time she
would be gone, she could not bring more than would support the colony for
a fortnight. At the same time his excellency made known his intention of
establishing a settlement on some ground which he had seen at the head of
this harbour when he made his excursion to the westward in April last,
and which, from its form, he had named the Crescent. This measure
appeared the more expedient, as the soil in and about the settlement
seemed to be very indifferent and unproductive, and by no means so
favourable for the growth of grain as that at the Crescent.

The _Sirius_ was therefore ordered to prepare for her voyage with all
expedition; and as she would be enabled to stow a greater quantity of
flour by not taking all her guns, eight of them were landed on the west
point of the cove, and a small breast-work thrown up in front of them.

The master of the _Golden Grove_ storeship also was ordered to prepare
for sea, the governor intending to employ that ship in taking provisions
and stores, with a party of convicts, to Norfolk Island.

The stores of the detachment having been kept on board the _Sirius_ until
a building could be erected for their reception, and a storehouse for
that purpose being now ready, they were removed on shore.

Two boats, one of eight and another of sixteen oars, having been sent out
in frame for the use of the settlement, the carpenter of the _Supply_ was
employed in putting them together during that vessel's day in port, and
one of them, the eight-oared boat, was got into the water this month; but
the want of a schooner or two, of from thirty to forty tons burden, to be
employed in surveying this coast, was much felt and lamented.

We had now given up all hope of recovering the cattle which were so
unfortunately lost in May last; and the only cow that remained not being
at that time with calf, and having since become wild and dangerous, the
lieutenant-governor, whose property she was, directed her to be killed;
she was accordingly shot at his farm, it being found impracticable to
secure and slaughter her in the common way.

About the middle of September several canoes passed the _Sirius_, and
above 30 natives landed from them at the observatory or western point of
the cove. They were armed, and, it was imagined, intended to take off
some sheep from thence; but, if this was their intention, they were
prevented by the appearance of two gentlemen who happened
to be there unarmed; and, after throwing some stones, they took to their
canoes and paddled off.

On the 25th the people in the fishing-boat reported that several spears
were thrown at them by some of the natives; for no other reason, than
that, after giving them freely what small fish they had taken, they
refused them a large one which attracted their attention.

On the 30th one midshipman and two seamen from the _Sirius_, one
sergeant, one corporal, and five private marines, and twenty-one male and
eleven female convicts, embarked on board the _Golden Grove_ for Norfolk
Island, and the day following she dropped down, with his Majesty's ship
_Sirius_, to Camp Cove, whence both ships sailed on the 2nd of October.

October.] Captain Hunter, having been sworn as a magistrate soon after
the arrival of the fleet, continued to act in that capacity until his
departure for the Cape of Good Hope, sitting generally once a week, with
the judge-advocate and the surveyor-general, to inquire into petty
offences. Saturday was commonly set apart for these examinations; that
day being given to the convicts for the purpose of collecting vegetables
and attending to their huts and gardens.

The detachment also finding it convenient to collect vegetables, and
being obliged to go for them as far as Botany Bay, the convicts were
ordered to avail themselves of the protection they might find by going in
company with an armed party; an never, upon any account, to straggle from
the soldiers, or go to Botany Bay without them, on pain of severe
punishment. Notwithstanding this order and precaution, however, a
convict, who had been looked upon as a good man (no complaint having been
made of him since his landing, either for dishonesty or idleness), having
gone out with an armed party to procure vegetables at Botany Bay,
straggled from them, though repeatedly cautioned against it, and was
killed by the natives. On the return of the soldiers from the bay, he was
found lying dead in the path, his head beat to a Jelly, a spear driven
through it, another through his body, and one arm broken. Some people
were immediately sent out to bury him; and in the course of the month the
parties who went by the spot for vegetables three times reported that his
body was above ground, having been, it was supposed, torn up by the
natives' dogs. This poor wretch furnished another instance of the
consequences that attended a disobedience of orders which had been
purposely given to prevent these accidents; and as nothing of the kind
was known to happen, but where a neglect and contempt of all order was
first shown, every misfortune of the kind might be attributed, not to the
manners and disposition of the natives, but to the obstinacy and
ignorance of our people.

On the departure of the _Sirius_, one pound of flour was deducted from
the weekly ration of those who received the full proportion, and
two-thirds of a pound from such as were at two-thirds allowance. The
settlement was to continue at this ration until the return of the
_Sirius_, which was expected not to exceed six months. But public labour
was not affected by this reduction. The cellar being completed and ready
for the reception of the spirits that were on board the _Fishburn_, they
were landed from that ship; and she, being cleared and discharged from
government employ, hove down, and prepared for her return to England.

A gang of convicts were employed in rolling timber together, to form a
bridge over the stream at the head of the cove; and such other public
works as were in hand went on as usual; those employed on them in general
barely exerting themselves beyond what was necessary to avoid immediate
punishment for idleness.

A warrant having about this time been granted by the governor, for the
purpose of assembling a general court-martial, a defect was discovered in
the marine mutiny act; and it was determined by the officers, that, as
marine officers, they could not sit under any other than a warrant from
the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. The marines are so far distinct
from his Majesty's land forces, that while on shore in any part of his
Majesty's dominions, they are regulated by an act of parliament passed
expressly for their guidance; and when it was found necessary to employ a
corps of marines during the late war in America, they were included in
the mutiny act passed for his Majesty's forces employed in that country.
This provision having been neglected on the departure of the expedition
for this country, and not being discovered until the very instant when it
was wanted, all that could be done was to state their situation to the
governor, which they did on the 13th. and at the same time requested,
'That they might be understood to be acting only in conformity with an
act of the British legislature, passed expressly for their regulation
while on shore in any part of his Majesty's dominions; and that they had
not in any shape been wanting in the respect that belonged to the high
authority of his Majesty's commission, or to the officer invested with it
in this country.'

On the 24th a party of natives, meeting a convict who had straggled from
the settlement to a fence that some people were making for the purpose of
inclosing stock, threw several spears at him; but, fortunately, without
doing him any injury. The governor, on being made acquainted with the
circumstance, immediately went to the spot with an armed party, where
some of them being heard among the bushes, they were fired at; it having
now become absolutely necessary to compel them to keep at a greater
distance from the settlement.


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

November.] The month of November commenced with the establishment of a
settlement at the head of the harbour. On the 2nd, his excellency the
governor went up to the Crescent, with the surveyor-general, two
officers, and a small party of marines, to choose the spot, and to mark
out the ground for a redoubt and other necessary buildings; and two days
after a party of ten convicts, being chiefly people who understood the
business of cultivation, were sent up to him, and a spot upon a rising
ground, which his excellency named Rose Hill, in compliment to G. Rose
Esq. one of the secretaries of the treasury, was ordered to be cleared
for the first habitations. The soil at this spot was of a stiff clayey
nature, free from that rock which every where covered the surface at
Sydney Cove, well clothed with timber, and unobstructed by underwood.

The party of convicts having, during the course of the month, been
gradually increased, the subaltern's command was augmented by a captain
with an additional number of private men; and it being found necessary
that the commanding officer should be vested with civil power and
authority sufficient to inflict corporal punishment on the convicts for
idleness and other petty offences, the governor constituted him a justice
of the peace for the county of Cumberland for that purpose.

10th. While this little settlement was establishing itself, the _Golden
Grove_ returned from Norfolk Island, having been absent five weeks and
four days. It brought letters from Lieutenant King, the commandant, who
wrote in very favourable terms of his young colony. His people continued
healthy, having fish and vegetables in abundance; by the former of which
he was enabled to save some of his salted provisions. He had also the
promise of a good crop from the grain which had been last sown, and his
gardens wore the most flourishing appearance.

A coconut perfectly fresh, and a piece of wood said to resemble the
handle of a fly-flap as made at the Friendly Islands, together with the
remains of two canoes, had been found among the rocks, perhaps blown from
some island which might lie at no great distance.

The _Golden Grove_, on her return to this port, saw a very dangerous
reef, the south end of which, according to the observation of Mr.
Blackburn (the master of the _Supply_) who commanded her for the voyage,
lay in the latitude of 29 degrees 25 minutes South, and longitude 159
degrees 29 minutes East. It appeared to extend, when she was about four
leagues from it, from the NE by N to N.

The _Golden Grove_ brought from Norfolk Island a lower yard and a
top-gallant-mast for herself, and the like for the _Fishburn_.

A soldier belonging to the detachment, who was employed with some others
in preparing shingles at a little distance from the settlement, was
reported by his comrades, toward the latter end of last month, to be
missing from the hut or tent, and parties were sent out in search of him;
but returning constantly without success, he was at length given up; and
a convict who was employed in assisting the party, and who had been the
last person seen with him, was taken into custody; but on his examination
nothing appeared that could at all affect him.

Another soldier of the detachment died at the hospital of the bruises he
received in fighting with one of his comrades, who was, with three
others, taken into custody, and afterward tried upon a charge of murder,
but found guilty of manslaughter. Instead of burning in the hand, (which
would not have been in this country an adequate punishment), each was
sentenced to receive two hundred lashes.

The two storeships sailed for England on the 19th. By these ships the
governor sent home dispatches, and he strongly recommended to the masters
to make their passage round by the south cape of this country; but it was
conjectured that they intended to go round Cape Horn, and touch at Rio de

The small redoubt that was begun in July last being finished, a
flag-staff was erected, and two pieces of iron ordnance placed in it.

In order to prevent, if possible, the practice of thieving, which at
times was very frequent, an order was given, directing that no convict,
who should in future be found guilty of theft, should be supplied with
any other clothing than a canvas frock and trousers. It was at the same
time ordered, that such convicts as should in future fail to perform a
day's labour, should receive only two thirds of the ration that was
issued to those who could and did work.

Unimportant as these circumstances may appear when detailed at a distance
from the time when they were necessary, they yet serve to show the nature
of the people by whom this colony (whatever may be its fate) was first
founded; as well as the attention that was paid by those in authority,
and the steps taken by them, for establishing good order and propriety
among them, and for eradicating villany and idleness.

December.] James Daley, the convict who in August pretended to have
discovered an inexhaustible source of wealth, and was punished for his
imposition, was observed from that time to neglect his labour, and to
loiter about from hut to hut, while others were at work. He was at last
taken up and tried for breaking into a house, and stealing all the
property he could find in it; of this offence he was convicted, and
suffered death; the governor not thinking him an object of mercy. Before
he was turned off, he confessed that he had committed several thefts, to
which he had been induced by bad connections, and pointed out two women
who had received part of the property for the acquisition of which he was
then about to pay so dear a price. These women were immediately
apprehended, and one of them made a public example of, to deter others
from offending in the like manner. The convicts being all assembled for
muster, she was directed to stand forward, and, her head having been
previously deprived of its natural covering, she was clothed with a
canvas frock, on which was painted, in large characters, R. S. G.
(receiver of stolen goods) and threatened with punishment if ever she was
seen without it. This was done in the hope that shame might operate, at
least with the female part of the prisoners, to the prevention of crimes;
but a great number of both sexes had too long been acquainted with each
other in scenes of disgrace, for this kind of punishment to work much
reformation among them. This, however, must be understood to be spoken
only of the lowest class of these people, among whom the commission of
offences was chiefly found to exist; for there were convicts of both
sexes who were never known to associate with the common herd, and whose
conduct was marked by attention to their labour, and obedience to the
orders they received.

On the 11th, the governor set off with a small party in boats, to examine
the different branches of Botany Bay, and, after an excursion of five
days, returned well satisfied that no part of that extensive bay was
adapted to the purpose of a settlement; thus fully confirming the reports
he had received from others, and the opinions he had
himself formed.

A convict having been found dead in the woods near the settlement, an
enquiry into the cause of his death was made by the provost-marshal; when
it appeared from the evidence of Mr. Balmain, one of the
assistant-surgeons who attended to open him, and of the people who lived
with the deceased, that he died through want of nourishment, and through
weakness occasioned by the heat of the sun. It appeared that he had not
for more than a week past eaten his allowance of provisions, the whole
being found in his box. It was proved by those who knew him, that he was
accustomed to deny himself even what was absolutely necessary to his
existence, abstaining from his provisions, and selling them for money,
which he was reserving, and had somewhere concealed, in order to purchase
his passage to England when his time should expire.

Mr. Reid, the carpenter of the _Supply_, now undertook the construction
of a boat-house on the east side, for the purpose of building, with the
timber of this country, a launch or hoy, capable of being employed in
conveying provisions to Rose Hill, and for other useful and necessary
purposes. The working convicts were employed on Saturdays, until ten
o'clock in the forenoon, in forming a landing-place on the east side of
the cove. At the point on the west side, a magazine was marked out, to be
constructed of stone, and large enough to contain fifty or sixty barrels
of powder.

Christmas Day was observed with proper ceremony. Mr. Johnson preached a
sermon adapted to the occasion, and the major part of the officers of the
settlement were afterward entertained at dinner by the governor.

It being remarked with concern, that the natives were becoming every day
more troublesome and hostile, several people having been wounded, and
others, who were necessarily employed in the woods, driven in and much
alarmed by them, the governor determined on endeavouring to seize and
bring into the settlement, one or two of those people, whose language it
was become absolutely necessary to acquire, that they might learn to
distinguish friends from enemies.

Accordingly, on the 30th a young man was seized and brought up by
Lieutenant Ball of the _Supply_, and Lieutenant George Johnston of the
marines. A second was taken; but, after dragging into the water beyond
his depth the man who seized him, he got clear off. The native who was
secured was immediately on his landing led up to the governor's, where he
was clothed, a slight iron or manacle put upon his wrist, and a trusty
convict appointed to take care of him. A small hut had been previously
built for his reception close to the guardhouse, wherein he and his
keeper were locked up at night; and the following morning the convict
reported, that he slept very well during the night, not offering to make
any attempt to get away.

The weather, during the month of December, was for the first part hot and
close; the middle was fine; the latter variable, but mostly fine--upon
the whole the month was very hot. The climate was allowed by every one,
medical as well as others, to be fine and salubrious. The rains were
heavy, and appeared to fall chiefly on or about the full and change of
the moon. Thunder and lightning at times had been severe, but not
attended with any bad effects since the month of February last.

The following report of the casualties which had happened from the day of
our leaving England to the 31st of December 1788, was given in at this
time, viz.

Casualties from May 13, 1787, Garrison Convicts
to December 31, 1788 Man Woman Child Man Woman Child Total
Died on the passage, from May 13,
1787, to Januarv 26, 1788, 1 1 1 20 4 9 36
Died between January 26, 1788,
and January 1, 1789, 5 0 1 28 13 9 56
Killed by the natives in the above
time, 0 0 0 4 0 0 4
Executed in the above time, 0 0 0 5 0 0 5
Missing in the above time, 1 0 0 12 1 0 14
Total 7 1 2 69 18 18 115


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


January.] The first day of the new year was marked as a holiday by a
suspension of all kinds of labour, and by hoisting the colours at the
fort. The ration of provisions, though still less by a pound of flour
than the proper allowance, was yet so sufficient as not to be complained
of, nor was labour diminished by it. Upon a calculation of the different
people employed for the public in cultivation, it appeared, that of all
the numbers in the colony there were only two hundred and fifty so
employed--a very small number indeed to procure the means of rendering
the colony independent of the mother-country for the necessaries of life.
The rest were occupied in carrying on various public works, such as
stores, houses, wharfs, etc. A large number were incapable, through age
or infirmities, of being called out to labour in the public grounds; and
the civil establishment, the military, females, and children, filled up
the catalogue of those unassisting in cultivation.

The soil immediately about the settlement was found to be of too sandy a
nature to give much promise of yielding a sufficient produce even for the
small quantity of stock it possessed. At Rose Hill the prospect was
better; indeed whatever expectations could be formed of successful
cultivation in this country rested as yet in that quarter. But the
convicts by no means exerted themselves to the utmost; they foolishly
conceived, that they had no interest in the success of their labour; and,
if left to themselves, would at any time rather have lived in idleness,
and depended upon the public stores for their daily support so long as
they had any thing in them, than have contributed, by the labour of their
hands, to secure themselves whereon to exist when those stores should be

Idleness, however, was not the only vice to be complained of in these
people. Thefts were frequent among them; and one fellow, who, after
committing a robbery ran into the woods, and from thence coming at night
into the settlement committed several depredations upon individuals, and
one upon the public stores, was at length taken and executed, in the hope
of holding out an example to others. His thefts had been so frequent and
daring, that it became necessary to offer a reward of one pound of flour
to be given weekly, in addition to the ration then issued, for his
apprehension. Another convict, named Ruglass, was tried for stabbing Ann
Fowles, a woman with whom he cohabited, and sentenced to receive seven
hundred lashes, half of which were inflicted on him while the other
unhappy wretch was suffering the execution of his sentence.

The 19th was observed as the birthday of her Majesty; the colours were
displayed at sunrise; at noon the detachment of marines fired three
rounds; after which the governor received the compliments of the day; and
at one o'clock the _Supply_, the only vessel in the country, fired
twenty-one guns. The governor entertained the officers at dinner, and the
day concluded with a bonfire, for which the country afforded abundant

A day or two after this the place was agitated by a report that a great
gun had been fired at sea; but on sending a boat down without the
harbour's mouth, nothing was seen there that could confirm a report which
every one anxiously wished might be true.

A boat having been sent down the harbour with some people to cut rushes,
a party of natives came to the beach while they were so employed, and
took three of their jackets out of the boat. On discovering this theft,
the cockswain pursued a canoe with two men in it as far as a small island
that lay just by, where the natives landed, leaving the canoe at the
rocks. This the cockswain took away, contrary to an order, which had been
made very public, on no account to touch a canoe, or any thing belonging
to a native, and towed it to the bay where they had been cutting rushes.
The natives returned to the same place unobserved, and, while the
cockswain and his people were collecting what rushes they had cut, threw
a spear at the cockswain, which wounded him in the arm, notwithstanding
they must have known that at that time we had one of their people in our
possession, on whom the injury might be retaliated. He, poor fellow, did
not seem to expect any such treatment from us, and began to seem
reconciled to his situation. He was taken down the harbour once or twice,
to let his friends see that he was alive, and had some intercourse with
them which appeared to give him much satisfaction.

For fifteen days of this month the thermometer rose in the shade above
eighty degrees. Once on the 8th, at one in the afternoon, it stood at 105
degrees in the shade.

February 2nd.] Captain John Shea, of the marines, who had been for a
considerable time in a declining state of health, died, and was interred
with military honours the day following; the governor and every officer
of the settlement attending his funeral. The major commandant of the
detachment shortly after filled up the vacancy which this officer's death
had occasioned by appointing Captain Lieutenant Meredith to the company;
and First Lieutenant George Johnston succeeded to the
captain-lieutenancy. Second Lieutenant Ralph Clarke was appointed a
First, and volunteer John Ross a Second Lieutenant; but their commissions
were still to receive the confirmation of the lords commissioners of the

The convicts being found to continue the practice of selling their
clothing, an order was issued, directing, that if in future a convict
should give information to the provost-marshal against any person to whom
he had sold his clothes, the seller should receive them again, be
permitted to keep whatever was paid him for them, and receive no
punishment himself for the sale. It was also found necessary to direct,
that all stragglers at night who, on being challenged by the patrole,
should run from them, should be fired at; but orders, in general, were
observed to have very little effect, and to be attended to only while the
impression made by hearing them published remained upon the mind; for the
convicts had not been accustomed to live in situations where their
conduct was to be regulated by written orders. There was here no other
mode of communicating to them such directions as it was found necessary
to issue for their observance; and it was very common to have them plead
in excuse for a breach of any regulation of the settlement, that they had
never before heard of it; nor had they any idea of the permanency of an
order, many of them seeming to think it issued merely for the purpose of
the moment.

It was much to be regretted, that there existed a necessity for placing a
confidence in these people, as in too many instances the trust was found
to be abused: but unfortunately, to fill many of those offices to which
free people alone should have been appointed in this colony, there were
none but convicts. From these it will be readily supposed the best
characters were selected, those who had merited by the propriety of their
conduct the good report of the officers on board the ships in which they
were embarked, and who had brought with them into those ships a better
name than their fellows from the prisons in which they had been confined.
Those also who were qualified to instruct and direct others in the
exercise of professions in which they had superior knowledge and
experience, were appointed to act as overseers, with gangs under their
direction; and many had given evident proofs or strong indications of
returning dispositions to honest industry.

There were others, however, who had no claim to this praise. Among these
must be particularised William Bryant, to whom, from his having been bred
from his youth to the business of a fisherman in the western part of
England, was given the direction and management of such boats as were
employed in fishing, every encouragement was held out to this man to keep
him above temptation; an hut was built for him and his family; he was
always presented with a certain part of the fish which he caught; and he
wanted for nothing that was necessary, or that was suitable to a person
of his description and situation. But he was detected in secreting and
selling large quantities of fish; and when the necessary enquiry was
made, this practice appeared to have been of some standing with him. For
this offence he was severely punished, and removed from the hut in which
he had been placed; yet as, notwithstanding his villainy, he was too
useful a person to part with and send to a brick cart, he was still
retained to fish for the settlement; but a very vigilant eye was kept
over him, and such steps taken as appeared likely to prevent him from
repeating his offence, if the sense of shame and fear of punishment were
not of themselves sufficient to deter him.

A person of the name of Smith having procured a passage from England in
the _Lady Penrhyn_, with a design to proceed to India in the event of his
not finding any employment in this country, on his offering his services,
and professing to have some agricultural knowledge was received into the
colony, and, being judged a discreet prudent man, was placed about the
provision store under the assistant to the commissary at Rose Hill, and
was moreover sworn in as a peace-officer, to act as such immediately
under the provost-marshal; a line wherein, from the circumstance of his
being a free man, it was supposed he might render essential aid to the
civil department of the colony. It was farther intended, at a future
period, to place some people under his direction, to give him an
opportunity of exercising the abilities he was said to possess as a
practical farmer.

14th.] The magazine at the Point being now completed, the powder
belonging to the settlement was lodged safely within its walls.

It being of importance to the colony to ascertain the precise situation
and extent of the reefs seen by Mr. Blackburn, in the _Golden Grove_
storeship, in November last, Leiutenant Ball (who was proceeding to
Norfolk Island with provisions and convicts) was directed to perform that
duty on his return. He sailed with the vessel under his command on the
17th, having on board twenty-one male and six female convicts, and three
children; of the latter two were to be placed under Mr. King's care as
children of the public. They were of different sexes; the boy, Edward
Parkinson, who was about three years of age, had lost his mother on the
passage to this country, the girl, who was a year older, had a mother in
the colony; but as she was a woman of abandoned character*, the child was
taken from her to save it from the ruin which would otherwise have been
its inevitable lot. These children were to be instructed in reading and
writing, and in husbandry. The commandant of the island was directed to
cause five acres of ground to be allotted and cultivated for their
benefit, by such person as he should think fit to entrust with the charge
of bringing them up according to the spirit of this intention, in
promoting the success of which every friend of humanity seemed to feel an

[* The same who was wounded by Ruglass, earlier this chapter]

The cove was now, for the first time, left without a ship; a circumstance
not only striking by its novelty, but which forcibly drew our attention
to the peculiarity of our situation. The _Sirius_ was gone upon a long
voyage to a distant country for supplies, the arrival of which were
assuredly precarious. The _Supply_ had left us, to look after a dangerous
reef; which service, in an unknown sea, might draw upon herself the
calamity which she was seeking to instruct others to avoid. Should it
have been decreed, that the arm of misfortune was to fall with such
weight upon us, as to render at any time the salvation of this little
vessel necessary to the salvation of the colony, how deeply was every one
concerned in her welfare! Reflection on the bare possibility of its
miscarriage made every mind anxious during her absence from the

From the evident necessity that existed of maintaining a strict
discipline among the military employed in this country, it became a
requisite to punish with some severity any flagrant breach of military
subordination that might occur. Joseph Hunt, a soldier in the detachment,
having been found absent from his post when stationed as a sentinel, was
tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to receive seven hundred lashes;
which sentence was put in execution upon him at two periods, with an
interval of three weeks.

Toward the end of this month the detachment took possession of their
barracks; two of which, having been nearly twelve months in hand, were
now completed, and ready for their reception. A brick house, forty feet
by thirteen, was begun on the east side for the commissary; and materials
were preparing for a guard-house.

At Rose Hill the people were principally employed in clearing and
cultivating land; but the labour of removing the timber off the ground
when cut down very much retarded the best efforts of the people so
employed. The military and convicts still lived under tents; and, as a
proof of the small space which they occupied, two Emus or Cassowaries,
who must have been feeding in the neighbourhood, ran through the little
camp, and were so intermingled with the people, who ran out of their
tents at so strange an appearance, that it became dangerous to fire at
them; and they got clear off, though literally surrounded by a multitude
of people, and under the very muzzles of some of their muskets.

Very little molestation was at this time given by the natives; and had
they never been ill treated by our people, instead of hostility, it is
more than probable that an intercourse of friendship would have

March.] The impracticability of keeping the convicts within the limits
prescribed for them became every day more evident. Almost every month
since our arrival had produced one or more accidents, occasioned
principally by a non-compliance with the orders which had been given
solely with a view to their security; and which, with thinking beings,
would have been of sufficient force as examples to deter others from
running into the same danger. But neither orders nor dangers seemed to be
at all regarded where their own temporary convenience prompted them to
disobey the one, or run the risk of incurring the other. A convict
belonging to the brick-maker's gang had strayed into the woods for the
purpose of collecting sweet tea; an herb so called by the convicts, and
which was in great estimation among them. The leaves of it being boiled,
they obtained a beverage not unlike liquorice in taste, and which was
recommended by some of the medical gentlemen here, as a powerful tonic.
It was discovered soon after our arrival, and was then found close to the
settlement; but the great consumption had not rendered it scarce. It was
supposed, that the convict in his search after this article had fallen in
with a party of natives, who had killed him. A few days after this
accident, a party of the convicts, sixteen in number, chiefly belonging
to the brick-maker's gang, quitted the place of their employment, and,
providing themselves with stakes, set off toward Botany Bay, with a
determination to revenge, upon whatever natives they should meet, the
treatment which one of their brethren had received at the close of the
last month. Near Botany Bay they fell in with the natives, but in a
larger body than they expected or desired. According to their report,
they were fifty in number; but much dependance was not placed on what
they said in this respect, nor in their narrative of the affair; it was
certain, however, that they were driven in by the natives, who killed one
man and wounded six others. Immediately on this being known in the
settlement, an armed party was sent out with an officer, who found the
body of the man that had been killed, stripped, and lying in the path to
Botany Bay. They also found a boy, who had likewise been stripped and
left for dead by the natives. He was very much wounded, and his left ear
nearly cut off. The party, after burying the body of the man, returned
with the wounded boy, but without seeing any of the perpetrators of this
mischief; the other wounded people had reached the settlement, and were
taken to the hospital. The day following, the governor, judging it highly
necessary to make examples of these misguided people, who had so daringly
and flagrantly broken through every order which had been given to prevent
their interfering with the natives as to form a party expressly to meet
with and attack them, directed that those who were not wounded should
receive each one hundred and fifty lashes, and wear a fetter for a
twelvemonth; the like punishment was directed to be inflicted upon those
who were in the hospital, as soon as they should recover from their
wounds; in pursuance of which order, seven of them were tied up in front
of the provision store, and punished (for example's sake) in the presence
of all the convicts.

The same day two armed parties were sent, one toward Botany Bay, and the
other in a different direction, that the natives might see that their
late act of violence would neither intimidate nor prevent us from moving
beyond the settlement whenever occasion required.

Such were our enemies abroad: at home, within ourselves, we had enemies
to encounter of a different nature, but in their effects more difficult
to guard against. The gardens and houses of individuals, and the
provision store, were overrun with rats. The safety of the provisions was
an object of general consequence, and the commissary was for some time
employed in examining into the state of the store. One morning, on going
early to the store, he found the wards of a key which had been broken in
the padlock that secured the principal door, and which it was the duty of
the patrols to visit and inspect every night. Entering the storehouse, he
perceived that an harness-cask had been opened and some provisions taken
out. It being supposed that the wards of the key might lead to a
discovery of the perpetrator of this atrocious act, they were sent to a
convict blacksmith, an ingenious workman through whose hands most of the
work passed that was done in his line, who immediately knew them to
belong to a soldier of the name of Hunt, the same who in the course of
the preceding month received seven hundred lashes, and who had some time
back brought the key to this blacksmith to be altered. On this
information, Hunt was taken up; but offering to give some material
information, he was admitted an evidence on the part of the crown, and
made an ample confession before the lieutenant-governor and the
judge-advocate, in which he accused six other soldiers of having been
concerned with him in the diabolical practice of robbing the store for a
considerable time past of liquor and provisions in large quantities. This
crime, great enough of itself, was still aggravated by the manner in
which it was committed. Having formed their party, seven in number, and
sworn each other to secrecy and fidelity, they procured and altered keys
to fit the different locks on the three doors of the provision store; and
it was agreed, that whenever any one of the seven should be posted there
as sentinel during the night, two or more of the gang, as they found it
convenient, were to come during the hours in which they knew their
associate would have the store under his charge, when, by means of their
keys, and sheltered in the security which he afforded them (by betraying
in so flagrant a manner the trust and confidence reposed in him as a
sentinel), they should open a passage into the store, where they should
remain shut up until they had procured as much liquor or provisions as
they could take off. If the patrols visited the store while they chanced
to be within its walls, the door was found locked and secure, the
sentinel alert and vigilant on his post, and the store apparently safe.

Fortunately for the settlement, on the night preceding the discovery one
of the party intended to have availed himself of his situation as
sentinel, and to enter the store alone, purposing to plunder without the
participation of his associates. But while he was standing with the key
in the lock, he heard the patrol advancing. The key had done its office,
but as he knew that the lock would be examined by the corporal, in his
fright and haste to turn it back again, he mistook the way, and, finding
that he could not get the key out of the lock, he broke it, and was
compelled to leave the wards in it; the other part of the key he threw

On this information, the six soldiers whom he accused were taken up and
tried; when, the evidence of the accomplice being confirmed by several
strong corroborating circumstances, among which it appeared that the
store had been broken into and robbed by them at various times for
upwards of eight months, they were unanimously found guilty, and
sentenced to suffer that death which they owned they justly merited.
Their defence wholly consisted in accusing the accomplice of having been
the first to propose and carry the plan into execution, and afterwards
the first to accuse and ruin the people he had influenced to associate
with him. A crime of such magnitude called for a severe example; and the
sentence was carried into execution a few days after their trial.

Some of these unhappy men were held in high estimation by their officers,
but the others, together with the accomplice Hunt, had been long verging
toward this melancholy end. Four of them had been tried for the death of
their comrade Bulmore, which happened in a contest with one of them in
November last; and their manner of conducting themselves at various times
appeared to have been very reprehensible. The liquor which they procured
from the store was the cause of drunkenness, which brought on affrays and
disorders, for which, as soldiers, they were more than once punished. To
these circumstances must be added (what perhaps must be considered as the
root of these evils) a connexion which subsisted between them and some of
the worst of the female convicts, at whose huts, notwithstanding the
internal regulations of their quarters, they found means to enjoy their
ill-acquired plunder.

On the morning of their execution, one of them declared to the clergyman
who attended him, that the like practices had been carried on at the
store at Rose Hill by similar means and with similar success. He named
two soldiers and a convict as the persons concerned; these were
afterwards apprehended, and underwent an examination of several hours by
the lieutenant-governor and the judge-advocate, during which nothing
being drawn from either that could affect the others, they were all
discharged. It was, however, generally believed, that the soldier would
not in his dying moments have falsely accused three men of a crime which
they had never committed; and that nothing but their constancy to each
other had prevented a discovery of their guilt.

While these transactions were passing at Sydney, the little colony at
Norfolk Island had been threatened with an insurrection. The _Supply_
returned from thence the 24th, after an absence of five weeks, and
brought from Lieutenant King, the commandant, information of the
following chimerical scheme. The capture of the island, and the
subsequent escape of the captors, was to commence by the seizure of Mr.
King's person, which was intended to be effected on the first Saturday
after the arrival of any ship in the bay, except the _Sirius_. They had
chosen that particular day in the week, as it had been for some time Mr.
King's custom on Saturdays to go to a farm which he had established at
some little distance from the settlement, and the military generally
chose that day to bring in the cabbage palm from the woods. Mr. King was
to be secured in his way to his farm. A message, in the commandant's
name, was then to be sent to Mr. Jamison, the surgeon, who was to be
seized as soon as he got into the woods; and the sergeant and the party
were to be treated in the same manner. These being all properly taken
care of, a signal was to be made to the ship in the bay to send her boat
on shore, the crew of which were to be made prisoners on their landing;
and two or three of the insurgents were to go off in a boat belonging to
the island, and inform the commanding officer that the ship's boat had
been stove on the beach, and that the commandant requested another might
be sent ashore; this also was to be captured: and then, as the last act
of this absurd scheme, the ship was to be taken, with which they were to
proceed to Otaheite, and there establish a settlement. They charitably
intended to leave some provisions for the commandant and his officers,
and for such of the people as did not accompany them in their
escape--this was their scheme. Not one difficulty in the execution of it
ever occurred to their imagination: all was to happen with as much
facility as it was planned; and, had it not been fortunately revealed to
a seaman belonging to the _Sirius_, who lived with Mr. King as a
gardener, by a female convict who cohabited with him, there was no doubt
but that all these improbabilities would have been attempted.

On being made acquainted with these circumstances, the commandant took
such measures as appeared to him necessary to defeat them; and several
who were concerned in the scheme confessed the share which they were to
have had in the execution of it. Mr. King had hitherto, from the
peculiarity of his situation--secluded from society, and confined to a
small speck in the vast ocean, with but a handful of people--drawn them
round him, and treated them with the kind attentions which a good family
meets with at the hands of a humane master; but he now saw them in their
true colours, and one of his first steps, when peace was restored, was to
clear the ground as far as possible round the settlement, that future
villainy might not find a shelter in the woods for its transactions. To
this truly providential circumstance, perhaps, many of the colonists
afterwards were indebted for their lives.

On Thursday the 26th of February the island was visited by a hurricane
which came on early in the morning in very heavy gales of wind and rain.
By four o'clock several pines of 180 and 200 feet in length, and from 20
to 30 feet in circumference, were blown down. From that hour until noon
the gale increased to a dreadful hurricane, with torrents of heavy rain.
Every instant pines and live oaks, of the largest dimensions, were borne
down by the fury of the blast, which, tearing up roots and rocks with
them, left chasms of eight or ten feet depth in the earth. Those pines
that were able to resist the wind bent their tops nearly to the ground;
and nothing but horror and desolation everywhere presented itself. A very
large live oak tree was blown on the granary, which it dashed to pieces,
and stove a number of casks of flour; but happily, by the activity of the
officers and free people, the flour, Indian corn, and stores, were in a
short time collected, and removed to the commandant's house, with the
loss only of about half a cask of flour, and some small stores. At noon
the gale blew with the utmost violence, tearing up whole forests by the
roots. At one o'clock there were as many trees torn up by the roots as
would have required the labour of fifty men for a fortnight to have
felled. Early in the forenoon the swamp and vale were overflowed, and had
every appearance of a large navigable river. The gardens, public and
private, were wholly destroyed; cabbages, turnips, and other plants, were
blown out of the ground; and those which withstood the hurricane seemed
as if they had been scorched. An acre of Indian corn which grew in the
vale, and which would have been ripe in about three weeks, was totally

[* The direction of the hurricane was across the island from the
South-east; and as its fury had blown down more trees than were found
lying on the ground when Mr. King landed on it, he conjectured that it
was not an annual visitant of the island. This conjecture seems now to be
justified, as nothing of the kind has since occurred there.]

His people continued to be healthy, and the climate had not forfeited the
good opinion he had formed of it. He acquainted the governor, that for
his internal defence he had formed all the free people on the island into
a militia, and that a military guard was mounted every night as a picket.
There were at this time victualled on the island sixteen free people,
fifty-one male convicts, twenty-three female convicts, and four children.

The arrival of the _Supply_ with an account of these occurrences created
a temporary variety in the conversation of the day; and a general
satisfaction appeared when the little vessel that brought them dropped
her anchor again in the cove. Lieutenant Ball, having lost an anchor at
Norfolk Island, did not think it prudent to attempt to fall in with the
shoal seen by the _Golden Grove_ storeship; his orders on that head being

We now return to the transactions of the principal settlement. The person
who was noticed in the occurrences of the last month as being employed at
Rose Hill under the commissary, had been also entrusted with the
direction of the convicts who were employed in clearing and cultivating
ground at that place; but, being advanced in years, he was found
inadequate to the task of managing and controlling the people who were
under his care, the most of whom were always inventing plausible excuses
for absence from labour, or for their neglect of it while under his eye.
He was therefore removed, and succeeded by a person who came out from
England as a servant to the governor. This man joined to much
agricultural knowledge a perfect idea of the labour to be required from,
and that might he performed by the convicts; and his figure was
calculated to make the idle and the worthless shrink if he came near
them. He had hitherto been employed at the spot of ground which was
cleared soon after our arrival at the adjoining cove, since distinguished
by the name of Farm Cove, and which, from the natural poverty of the
soil, was not capable of making an adequate return for the labour which
had been expended on it. It was, however, still attended to, and the
fences kept in repair; but there was not any intention of clearing more
ground in that spot.

Toward the latter end of the month two of the birds distinguished in the
colony by the name of Emus were brought in by some of the people employed
to shoot for the officers. The weight of each was seventy pounds.


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

April.] The governor thinking it probable that foreign ships might again
visit this coast, and perhaps run into this harbour for the purpose of
procuring refreshments, directed Mr. Blackburn to survey a large bay on
the north shore, contiguous to this cove; and a sufficient depth of water
being found, his excellency inserted in the port orders, that all foreign
ships coming into this harbour should anchor in this bay, which he named
Neutral Bay, bringing Rock Island to bear SSE and the hospital on the
west side of Sydney Cove to bear SW by W.

Early in the month, and throughout its continuance, the people whose
business called them down the harbour daily reported, that they found,
either in excavations of the rock, or lying upon the beaches and points
of the different coves which they had been in, the bodies of many of the
wretched natives of this country. The cause of this mortality remained
unknown until a family was brought up, and the disorder pronounced to
have been the smallpox. It was not a desirable circumstance to introduce
a disorder into the colony which was raging with such fatal violence
among the natives of the country; but the saving the lives of any of
these people was an object of no small importance, as the knowledge of
our humanity, and the benefits which we might render them, would, it was
hoped, do away the evil impressions they had received of us. Two elderly
men, a boy, and a girl were brought up, and placed in a separate hut at
the hospital. The men were too far overcome by the disease to get the
better of it; but the children did well from the moment of their coming
among us. From the native who resided with us we understood that many
families had been swept off by this scourge, and that others, to avoid
it, had fled into the interior parts of the country. Whether it had ever
appeared among them before could not be discovered, either from him or
from the children; but it was certain that they gave it a name
(gal-gal-la); a circumstance which seemed to indicate a preacquaintance
with it.

The convicts, among other public works, were now employed in forming a
convenient road on the west side from the hospital and landing-place to
the storehouses; and in constructing a stable at Farm Cove, with some
convenient out-houses for stock.

May.] Of the native boy and girl who had been brought up in the last
month, on their recovery from the smallpox, the latter was taken to live
with the clergyman's wife, and the boy with Mr. White, the surgeon, to
whom, for his attention during the cure, he seemed to be much attached.

While the eruptions of this disorder continued upon the children, a
seaman belonging to the _Supply_, a native of North America, having been
to see them, was seized with it, and soon after died; but its baneful
effects were not experienced by any white person of the settlement,
although there were several very young children in it at the time.

From the first hour of the introduction of the boy and girl into the
settlement, it was feared that the native who had been so instrumental in
bringing them in, and whose attention to them during their illness
excited the admiration of every one that witnessed it, would be attacked
by the same disorder; as on his person were found none of those traces of
its ravages which are frequently left behind. It happened as the fears of
every one predicted; he fell a victim to the disease in eight days after
he was seized with it, to the great regret of every one who had witnessed
how little of the savage was found in his manner, and how quickly he was
substituting in its place a docile, affable, and truly amiable

6th.] After an absence of seven months and six days, to the great
satisfaction of every one, about five in the evening his Majesty's ship
_Sirius_ anchored in the cove from the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Hunter
sailed from this port on the 2nd of October 1788, and, during the space
which had elapsed between his departure and his return, had
circumnavigated the globe. He made his passage by Cape Horn, arriving on
the 2nd of last January at the Cape of Good Hope, from which place he
sailed on the 20th of the following month. Off the southern extremity of
this country the _Sirius_ met with a gale of wind, when so close in with
the land that it was for some time doubtful whether she would clear it.
In this gale she received considerable damage; the head of the ship, the
figure of the Duke of Berwick, was torn from the cutwater, and she was
afterwards found to have been very much weakened.

The _Sirius_ brought 127,000 weight of flour for the settlement, and a
twelvemonth's provisions for her ship's company; but this supply was not
very flattering, as the short space of four months, at a full ration,
would exhaust it. It was, however, very welcome, and her return seemed to
have gladdened every heart. Eager were our inquiries after intelligence
from that country from which we had been now two years divided, and to
whose transactions we were entire strangers. With joy, mingled with
concern that we were not personal sharers in the triumph, did we hear of
our country's successful efforts in the cause of the Stadtholder, and of
the noble armaments which our ministers had fitted out to support it. We
trusted, however, that while differently employed, our views were still
directed to the same object; for, though labouring at a distance, and in
an humbler scene, yet the good, the glory, and the aggrandizement of our
country were prime considerations with us. And why should the colonists
of New South Wales be denied the merit of endeavouring to promote them,
by establishing civilization in the savage world; by animating the
children of idleness and vice to habits of laborious and honest industry;
and by showing the world that to Englishmen no difficulties are

We heard with concern that Lieutenant Shortland was near five months in
reaching Batavia in the _Alexander_, in which ship he sailed from this
port on the 14th of last July, in company with the _Friendship_,
_Borrowdale_, and _Prince of Wales_. From this ship and the _Borrowdale_
he parted company very shortly after leaving our harbour; they proceeded
round Cape Horn, to Rio de Janeiro, where in last December they were left
lying ready for sea. The _Alexander_ and _Friendship_ proceeding to the
northward kept company together as far as the island of Borneo, where,
the crews of both ships being so much reduced by the scurvy (the
_Alexander_ had buried seventeen of her seamen) that it was impossible to
navigate both vessels against the strong currents which they met with,
and the western monsoon which had then set in, both ships were brought to
an anchor, and most of the _Friendship's_ stores, with all her people,
being taken out and received on board the _Alexander_, she was scuttled
and sunk. When the Alexander arrived at Batavia, she had, of both ship's
crews, but one man who was able to go aloft.

Lieutenant Shortland, in his letter, noticed some discoveries which he
had made; particularly one of an extensive and dangerous shoal, which
obtained the name of Middleton Shoal, and was reckoned to be in the
latitude of 29 degrees 20 minutes South, and in the longitude of 158
degrees 40 minutes East. He had also discovered an island, which he
placed in the latitude of 28 degrees 10 minutes South, and in the
longitude of 159 degrees 50 minutes East, and named Sir Charles Middleton
Island: his other discoveries, not being so immediately in the vicinity
of this territory, were not likely to be of any advantage to the
settlement; but it was of some importance to it to learn that an
extensive reef was so near, and to find its situation ascertained to be
in the track of ships bound from hence to the northward; for if Sir
Charles Middleton Island should hereafter be found to possess a safe and
convenient harbour, it might prove an interesting discovery for this

A Dutch ship, bound for Europe, sailing from the Cape of Good Hope on the
9th of last January, Captain Hunter took that opportunity of forwarding
the dispatches with which he had been charged by Governor Phillip. He was
informed by the master of the _Harpy Whaler_, who had put into Table Bay,
that in England there had been a general anxiety to hear of our safety
and arrival in this country, and that ships to be taken up had been
advertised for, but had not been engaged, as the government waited for
accounts from Governor Phillip.

Of these accounts it was hoped that ministers had been some time in
possession, and that in consequence supplies were at this hour on their
passage to New South Wales.

Our attention was now directed to receiving from the _Sirius_ the
provisions she had brought us; and as the flour had been packed in bags
at the Cape of Good Hope, the coopers were immediately employed in
setting up and preparing casks for its reception on shore. These being
soon completed, the flour was landed and deposited in the store. This,
with the building and covering-in of a new hut for the smith's work,
formed the principal labour of the convicts at Sydney during this month.

The boats in the colony not being found sufficient for the purpose of
transporting provisions from the store at Sydney to the settlement at
Rose Hill, a launch or hoy was put upon the stocks, under the direction
of Mr. Reid, the carpenter of the _Supply_, to be employed for that and
other necessary purposes. She was to be built of the timber of the
country, and to carry ten tons.

From that settlement, early in the month, two soldiers of the detachment
doing duty there were reported to be missing; and, though parties had
been sent out daily in different directions to seek for them, yet all was
unavailing. It was supposed that they must have lost their way in some of
the thick and almost impenetrable brushes which were in the vicinity of
Rose Hill, and had there perished miserably. They had gone in search of
the sweet tea plant already mentioned; and perhaps when they resigned
themselves to the fate which they did not see how to avoid, oppressed
with hunger, and unable to wander any farther, they may have been but a
short distance from the relief they must so earnestly have desired. A dog
that was known to have left the settlement with them reached Rose Hill,
almost famished, nine days after they had left it. The extreme danger
attendant on a man's going beyond the bounds of his own knowledge in the
forests of an unsettled country could no where be more demonstrable than
in this. To the westward was an immense open track before him, in which,
if unbefriended by either sun or moon, he might wander until life were at
an end. Most of the arms which extended into the country from Port
Jackson and the harbour on each side of Port Jackson, were of great
length, and to round them without a certain and daily supply of
provisions was impossible*.

[* In many of these arms, when sitting with my companions at my ease in a
boat, I have been struck with horror at the bare idea of being lost in
them; as, from the great similarity of one cove to another, the
recollection would be bewildered in attempting to determine any relative
situation. It is certain, that if destroyed by no other means, insanity
would accelerate the miserable end that must ensue.]

To guard as much as possible against these accidents every measure which
could be suggested was adopted. A short time after the settlement was
established at Rose Hill, the governor went out with some people in a
direction due South, and caused a visible path to be made; that if any
person who had strayed beyond his own marks for returning, and knew not
where he was, should cross upon his path, he might by following it have a
chance of reaching the settlement; and orders were repeatedly given to
prohibit straggling beyond the limits which were marked and known.

Toward the end of the month, some convicts having reported that they had
found the body of a white man lying in a cove at a short distance from
the settlement, a general muster of the convicts at Sydney was directed;
but no person was unaccounted for except Caesar, an incorrigibly stubborn
black, who had absconded a few days before from the service of one of the
officers, and taken to the woods with some provisions, an iron pot, and a
soldier's musket, which he had found means to steal.

Garden robberies, after Caesar's flight, were frequent, and some leads
belonging to a seine being stolen, a reward of a pardon was held out to
any of the accomplices on discovering the person who stole them; and the
like reward was also offered if, in five days, he should discover the
person who had purchased them; but all was without effect. It was
conjectured that they had been stolen for the purpose of being converted
into shot by some person not employed or authorized to kill the game of
this country.

The weather during the latter part of this month was cold;
notwithstanding which a turtle was seen in the harbour.

June 4.] The anniversary of his Majesty's birthday, the second time of
commemorating it in this country, was observed with every distinction in
our power; for the first time, the ordnance belonging to the colony were
discharged; the detachment of marines fired three volleys, which were
followed by twenty-one guns from each of the ships of war in the cove;
the governor received the compliments due to the day in his new house, of
which he had lately taken possession as the government-house of the
colony, where his excellency afterwards entertained the officers at
dinner, and in the evening some of the convicts were permitted to perform
Farquhar's comedy of the Recruiting Officer, in a hut fitted up for the
occasion. They professed no higher aim than 'humbly to excite a smile,'
and their efforts to please were not unattended with applause.

In addition to the steps taken by the commandant of Norfolk Island for
his internal security, the governor thought an increase of his military
force absolutely necessary. Accordingly, the day after his Majesty's
birthday, Lieutenant Creswell, with fourteen privates from the detachment
of marines, embarked on board the _Supply_ for Norfolk Island; and at the
same time he received a written order from his excellency to take upon
himself the direction and execution of the authority vested in Mr. King,
in the event of any accident happening to that officer, until a successor
should be formally appointed and sent from hence.

The _Supply_, on her return from Norfolk Island, was to visit the island
seen by Lieutenant Shortland, and laid down by him, in the latitude of 28
degrees 10 minutes South. She was also to cruise for the shoal seen by
that officer, and stated to be in the latitude of 29 degrees 20 minutes
South, and for the shoal seen by Mr. Blackburn, the south end of which
lay in the latitude of 29 degrees 25 minutes South; all of which, if the
observations of both officers were equally correct, would, it was
supposed, be found contiguous to each other. Lieutenant Ball was directed
to land upon the island, if landing should be found practicable; and to
determine, if he could, the extent and situation of the shoals.

On these services the _Supply_ sailed the 6th of this month; on which day
the governor set off with a party on a second excursion to Broken Bay, in
the hope of being able, from the head of that harbour, to reach the
mountains inland. His excellency returned to the settlement on the
evening of the 16th, having discovered a capacious freshwater river,
emptying itself into Broken Bay, and extending to the westward. He was
compelled to return without tracing it to its source, not having a
sufficient quantity of provisions with him; but immediately made the
necessary preparations for returning to finish his examination of it; and
set off on that design with an increased party, and provisions for
twenty-one days, on Monday the 29th.

Caesar, being closely attended to, was at length apprehended and secured.
This man was always reputed the hardest working convict in the country;
his frame was muscular and well calculated for hard labour; but in his
intellects he did not very widely differ from a brute; his appetite was
ravenous, for he could in any one day devour the full ration for two
days. To gratify this appetite he was compelled to steal from others, and
all his thefts were directed to that purpose. He was such a wretch, and
so indifferent about meeting death, that he declared while in
confinement, that if he should be hanged, he would create a laugh before
he was turned off, by playing off some trick upon the executioner.
Holding up such a mere animal as an example was not expected to have the
proper or intended effect; the governor therefore, with the humanity that
was always conspicuous in his exercise of the authority vested in him,
directed that he should be sent to Garden Island, there to work in
fetters; and in addition to his ration of provisions he was to be
supplied with vegetables from the garden.

The _Sirius_ had, in the gale of wind which she met with off Tasman's
Head, sustained much more damage, and was, upon inspection, found to have
been weakened much more than was at first conjectured. This was the more
unfortunate, as, from the nature of our situation, many important
services were yet to be rendered by her to the colony. It became,
therefore, a matter of public concern to have her damages repaired and
the ship strengthened as expeditiously and as efficaciously as our
abilities would admit. A convenient retired cove on the north shore being
fixed on for the purpose of a careening cove, she dropped down and took
possession of it toward the latter end of the month. She could have been
refitted with much ease at Sydney; but there was no doubt that the work
necessary to be done to her would meet with fewer interruptions, if the
people who were engaged in it were removed from the connections which
seamen generally form where there are women of a certain character and

The gang under the direction of the overseer employed at the brick fields
had hitherto only made ten thousand bricks in a month. A kiln was now
constructed in which thirty thousand might be burnt off in the same time,
which number the overseer engaged to deliver.

The carpenter of the _Supply_, who had undertaken the construction of the
hoy, being obliged to proceed with that vessel on her going to sea, the
direction of the few people employed upon her was left with the carpenter
of the _Sirius_ during his absence.

July 14.] The governor returned from his second visit to the river, which
he named the Hawkesbury, in honor of the noble lord at the head of the
committee of council of trade and plantations. He traced the river to a
considerable distance to the westward, and was impeded in his further
progress by a shallow which he met with a short distance above the hill
formerly seen, and then named by him Richmond Hill, to the foot of which
the course of the Hawkesbury conducted him and his party. They were
deterred from remaining any time in the narrow part of the river, as they
perceived evident traces of the freshes having risen to the height of
from twenty to forty feet above the level of the water. They represented
the windings of the river as beautiful and picturesque; and toward
Richmond Hill the face of the country appeared more level and open than
in any other part. The vast inundations which had left such tokens behind
them of the height to which they swell the river seemed rather
unfavourable for the purpose of settling near the banks, which otherwise
would have been convenient and desirable, the advantages attending the
occupation of an allotment of land on the margin of a fresh-water river
being superior to those of any other situation. The soil on the banks of
the river was judged to be light; what it was further inland could not be
determined with any certainty, as the travellers did not penetrate to any
distance, except at Richmond Hill, where the soil appeared to be less
mixed with sand than that on the branches.

During the governor's absence the sail-maker of the _Sirius_ had strayed
into the woods about the cove where she was repairing, and, not knowing
the country, wandered so far that he could not find his way back to the
ship. Fortunately for him, the governor, on his return from Broken Bay,
met with him in the north arm of this harbour, but so weakened by hunger
and fatigue, as to have all the appearance of intoxication when first
discovered and spoken to, and in a situation so remote from a probability
of assistance, that perhaps a few days more would have fixed the period
of his existence.

On visiting the settlement at Rose Hill, the convicts were all found
residing in very good huts, apparently under proper regulations, and
encouraged to work in the gardens, which they had permission to cultivate
during those hours which were not dedicated to public labour. A barrack
for the soldiers was erected in the small redoubt which had been
constructed, and in which also stood the provision store. Some ground had
been opened on the other side of the stream of water which ran into the
creek, where a small house had been built for the superintendant Dodd,
under whose charge were to be placed a barn and granaries, in which the
produce of the ground he was then filling with wheat and barley was to be
deposited. The people of all descriptions continued very healthy; and the
salubrity of the climate rendered medicine of little use.

Notwithstanding little more than two years had elapsed since our
departure from England, several convicts about this time signified that
the respective terms for which they had been transported had expired, and
claimed to be restored to the privileges of free men. Unfortunately, by
some unaccountable oversight, the papers necessary to ascertain these
particulars had been left by the masters of the transports with their
owners in England, instead of being brought out and deposited in the
colony; and as, thus situated, it was equally impossible to admit or to
deny the truth of their assertions, they were told to wait until accounts
could be received from England; and in the mean time by continuing to
labour for the public, they would be entitled to share the public
provisions in the store. This was by no means satisfactory, as it
appeared that they expected an assurance from the governor of receiving
some gratuity for employing their future time and labour for the benefit
of the settlement. One of these people having, in the presence of his
excellency, expressed himself disrespectfully of the lieutenant-governor,
he was brought before a criminal court and tried for the same, of which
offence being found guilty, he was sentenced to receive six hundred
lashes, and to wear irons for the space of six months.

It must be acknowledged, that these people were most peculiarly and
unpleasantly situated. Conscious in their own minds that the sentence of
the law had been fulfilled upon them, it must have been truly distressing
to their feelings to find that they could not be considered in any other
light, or received into any other situation, than that in which alone
they had been hitherto known in the settlement.

In the infancy of the colony, however, but little was to be gained by
their being restored to the rights and privileges of free people, as no
one was in possession of such abundance as to afford to support another
independent of the public store. Every man, therefore, must have wrought
for his provisions; and if they had been gratified in their expectation
of being paid for their labour, the price of provisions in this country
would certainly have been found equal, if not superior, to any value they
could have set upon their time and labour for the public. As these
considerations must have offered themselves to the notice of many good
understandings which were among them, it was rather conjectured, that the
dissatisfaction which evidently prevailed on this subject was set on foot
and fomented by some evil-designing spirits and associates in former
iniquities. The governor, however, terminated this business for the
present, by directing the judge-advocate to take the affidavits of such
persons as would make oath that they had served the term prescribed by
the law, and by recommending them to work for the public until some
information was received from government on that head.

The observatory which was erected on our first landing being found small
and inconvenient, as well for the purpose of observing as for the
residence of Lieutenant Dawes and the reception of the astronomical
instruments, the stone-cutters began preparing stone to construct
another, the materials for which were found in abundance upon the spot,
the west point of the cove.


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

August.] Of the four barracks which were begun in March 1788, and at that
time intended to be finished as such, two had been for some time occupied
by the detachment, two companies residing in each; a third was at the
beginning of this month converted into a storehouse; and the wood-work of
the fourth was taken down and applied to some other purpose; the labour
and time required to finish it being deemed greater than the utility that
would be derived from it as a barrack, the two that were already occupied
conveniently and comfortably accommodating the detachment.

As every circumstance became of importance that might in its tendency
forward or retard the day whereon the colony was to be pronounced
independent of the mother-country for provisions, it was soon observed
with concern, that hitherto by far a greater proportion of males than
females had been produced by the animals we had brought for the purpose
of breeding. This, in any other situation, might not have been so nicely
remarked; but here, where a country was to be stocked, a litter of twelve
pigs whereof three only were females became a subject of conversation and
inquiry. Out of seven kids which had been produced in the last month, one
only was a female; and many similar instances had before occurred, but no
particular notice was attracted until their frequency rendered them
remarkable. This circumstance excited an anxious care in every one for
the preservation of such females as might be produced; and at the moment
now spoken of no person entertained an idea of slaughtering one of that
sort; indeed males were so abundant that fortunately there was no

On the 7th Lieutenant Ball returned from Norfolk Island, and from an
unsuccessful cruise of nearly six weeks in search of the island and
shoals for which he was directed to look. He sailed over the identical
spot on which Mr. Shortland had fixed the latitudes and longitudes of his
island and his shoal, without seeing either, and therefore concluded,
that they had not been placed far enough to the northward. The error
might have lain in copying the account from his log-book into his letter.

From Norfolk Island Lieutenant King wrote, that he had cleared seventeen
acres of ground upon the public account, all of which were either sown or
ready for sowing; that caterpillars had done much damage to some wheat
which had just come up; and that he was erecting a storehouse capable of
containing a large quantity of stores and provisions, and had made a
visible road from Sydney Bay to Cascade Bay. The pine trees, of the
utility of which such sanguine hopes had been entertained, were found to
be unfit for large masts or yards, being shakey or rotten at thirty or
forty feet from the butt; the wood was so brittle that it would not make
a good oar, and so porous that the water soaked through the planks of a
boat which had been built of it. Mr. King also lamented their ignorance
of the proper mode of preparing the flax plant, which rendered it useless
to them. A single pod of cotton had been found on the island, and a tree
had been discovered, the bark of which was strong, and of a texture like
cotton. A species of bird also had been met with, which burrowed in the
ground, and had been seen in such numbers about the summit of Mount Pitt,
the highest hill on the island, that they were contemplated as a resource
in any future season of distress, should they be found to visit the
island at stated periods, and to deposit their eggs on it. Mr. King spoke
well of the general behaviour of the subjects of his little government
since the detection of their late scheme to overturn it.

From the frequent commission of offences in this settlement and at Rose
Hill, where scarcely a night passed but complaint was made on the
following morning of a garden being robbed, or a house broken into, so
favourable a report could not be given of the general conduct of the
people. The frequency of these enormities had become so striking, that it
appeared absolutely necessary to devise some plan which might put a stop
to an evil that was every day increasing. The convicts who were employed
in making bricks, living in huts by themselves on the spot where their
work was performed, were suspected of being the perpetrators of most of
the offences committed at Sydney; and orders had been given, forbidding,
under pain of punishment, their being seen in town after sunset. These
depredations continuing, however, a convict of the name of Harris
presented to the judge-advocate a proposal for establishing a
night-watch, to be selected from among the convicts, with authority to
secure all persons of that description who should be found straggling
from the huts at improper hours. This proposal being submitted to the
governor, and the plan thoroughly digested and matured, the first attempt
toward a police in this settlement commenced on Saturday the 8th of
August. The following are the heads of the plan:

The settlement was divided into four districts, over each of which was
placed a watch consisting of three persons, one principal and two
subordinate watchmen. These, being selected from among those convicts
whose conduct and character had been unexceptionable since their landing,
were vested with authority to patrol at all hours in the night, to visit
such places as might be deemed requisite for the discovery of any felony,
trespass, or misdemeanor, and to secure for examination all persons that
might appear to be concerned therein; for which purpose they were
directed to enter any suspected hut or dwelling or to use any other means
that might appear expedient. They were required to detain and give
information to the nearest guardhouse of any soldier or seaman who should
be found straggling after the taptoo had been beat. They were to use
their utmost endeavours to trace out offenders on receiving accounts of
any depredation; and in addition to their night duty, they were directed
to take cognizance of such convicts as gamed, or sold or bartered their
slops or provisions, and report them for punishment. A return of all
occurrences during the night was to be made to the judge-advocate; and
the military were required to furnish the watch with any assistance they
might be in need of, beyond what the civil power could give them. They
were provided each with a short staff, to distinguish them during the
night, and to denote their office in the colony; and were instructed not
to receive any stipulated encouragement or reward from any individual for
the conviction of offenders, but to expect that negligence or misconduct
in the execution of their trust would be punished with the utmost rigour.
It was to have been wished, that a watch established for the preservation
of public and private property had been formed of free people, and that
necessity had not compelled us, in selecting the first members of our
little police, to appoint them from a body of men in whose eyes, it could
not be denied, the property of individuals had never before been sacred.
But there was not any choice. The military had their line of duty marked
out for them, and between them and the convict there was no description
of people from whom overseers or watchmen could be provided. It might,
however, be supposed, that among the convicts there must be many who
would feel a pride in being distinguished from their fellows, and a pride
that might give birth to a returning principle of honesty. It was hoped
that the convicts whom we had chosen were of this description; some
effort had become necessary to detect the various offenders who were
prowling about with security under cover of the night; and the convicts
who had any property were themselves interested in defeating such
practices. They promised fidelity and diligence, from which the scorn of
their fellow-prisoners should not induce them to swerve, and began with a
confidence of success the duty which they had themselves offered to

The _Sirius_, on being closely inspected and surveyed by her own
carpenter and the carpenter of the _Supply_, was found to be so much
weakened, that the repairs which were requisite to put her in a state fit
to encounter the storms of this coast would require the labour of four
men for six months and twenty-four days, not including Sundays in the
calculation. This was unfortunate; the resources of a king's yard were
not to be found in the careening cove in Port Jackson; people who looked
forward beyond the event of the morrow began to think that her services
might be wanted before she could be in a condition to render them; and it
was considered a matter of the utmost moment, to bestow the labour that
she required in as little time and with as much skill as the
circumstances of our situation would admit.

12th.] Such attentions as were within our power were shown to the
anniversary of his royal highness the Prince of Wales's birthday; and
although the table of our festivity was not crowned with luxuries or
delicacies, yet the glass that was consecrated on that occasion to his
royal highness's name was in no part of the British dominions accompanied
with more sincere wishes for his happiness.

On the 20th, Daniel Gordon, a convict, was brought to trial for stealing
a quantity of provisions and clothes, the property of persons employed by
the lieutenant-governor at some ground which he had in cultivation near
the settlement. The prisoner appearing wild and incoherent on being
brought before the court, the principal surgeon of the settlement was
directed to examine him, and giving it as his opinion, upon oath, that
the man's pulse very strongly indicated either a delirium or
intoxication, his trial was put off until the following morning, when,
the same appearances of wildness continuing on him, witnesses were
examined as to the tenor of his conduct during his being in confinement
for the offence; and the court were of opinion from their testimony,
'That the prisoner was not in a state of mind to be put upon his trial.'
He was therefore placed under the care of the surgeon at the hospital,
and the court broke up.

It was generally supposed, that a firm belief that his offence would be
fixed upon him occasioned the derangement of intellect which appeared. He
was a notorious offender, and had been once pardoned in this country
under the gallows. Many of his fellow-prisoners gave him credit for the
ability with which he had acted his part, and perhaps he deserved their
applause; but disordered as he appeared before the court, their humanity
would not suffer them to proceed against a wretch who either had not, or
affected not to have, a sufficient sense of his situation.

Slops were served to the convicts during this month, and the detachment
received the remainder of the shoes which they brought from England.

September.] In England some dependence had been placed on fish as a
resource for the settlement, but sufficient for a general distribution
had not hitherto been caught at any one time. On the 4th of this month
the people belonging to the _Supply_ had a very large haul; their seine
was so full, that had they hauled it ashore it must have burst; the ropes
of it were therefore made fast on shore, and the seine was suffered to
lie until left dry by the tide. The fish were brought up to the
settlement, and distributed among the military and convicts. A night or
two after this, a fishing-boat caught about one hundred dozen of small
fish; but this was precarious, and, happening after the provisions were
served, no other advantage could be derived from the circumstance, than
that of every man's having a fish-meal.

On the 10th a criminal court of judicature was assembled for the trial of
Henry Wright, a private soldier in the detachment, for a rape on a child
of eight years of age; of which heinous offence being found guilty, he
received sentence to die; but being recommended by the court to the
governor, his excellency was pleased to pardon him, on condition of his
residing, during the term of his natural life, at Norfolk Island. This
was an offence that did not seem to require an immediate example; the
chastity of the female part of the settlement had never been so rigid, as
to drive men to so desperate an act; and it was believed, that beside the
wretch in question there was not in the colony a man of any description
who would have attempted it.

On the 12th, the butter, which had hitherto been served at six ounces per
week to each man in the settlement, being expended, the like quantity of
sugar was directed to be issued in its stead. This was the first of the
provisions brought from England which had wholly failed; and, fortunately,
the failure was in an article which could be the best spared. It never
had been very good, and was not, strictly speaking, a necessary of life.

A small boat belonging to a gentleman of the settlement, having been too
deeply laden with cabbage-trees which had been collected in a bay down
the harbour for the purpose of building, was overset on her return to the
cove, by touching on a rock which lay off one of the points. There were
three people in her, two of whom swam on shore; the third remained five
hours on her keel, and was accidentally met with and picked up by the
people of a fishing boat.

Captain Hunter, unwilling to lose any opportunity of rendering a service
to the colony, while the repairs of his ship were going on, surveyed the
two adjoining harbours of Broken Bay and Botany Bay; and correct charts
were thus obtained of these two harbours, so admirably situated with
relation to Port Jackson.

The natives, who had for some time past given very little interruption,
toward the end of the month attacked Henry Hacking, one of the
quarter-masters of the _Sirius_, who, being reckoned a good shot, was
allowed to shoot for the officers and ship's company. His account was,
that, being in the woods, a stone was thrown at him from one of two
natives whom he perceived behind him, and that on looking about he found
dispersed among the trees a number that could not be less than forty.
Wishing to intimidate them, he several times only presented his piece
toward them; but, finding that they followed him, he at last gave them
the contents, which happened to be small shot for birds. These he
replaced with buckshot, and got rid of his troublesome and designing
followers by discharging his piece a second time. They all made off; but
some of them stumbling as they ran, he apprehended they had been wounded.
This account met with more credit than could usually be allowed to such
tales, as the person who gave it was held in great estimation by the
officers of his ship both as a man and as a seaman.

Mr. Palmer, the purser of the _Sirius_, having occasion to cut timber in
a cove down the harbour, was visited by some natives, who took an
opportunity of concealing two of his axes in the bushes. On his missing
the implements, the natives went off in some consternation, leaving two
children behind them, whom Mr. Palmer detained, and would have brought up
to the settlement, had not their friends ransomed them with the property
that had been stolen.

At Rose Hill, where the corn promised well, an Emu had been killed, which
stood seven feet high, was a female, and when opened was found to contain
exactly fifty eggs.

October.] The launch that was begun in May last by the carpenter of the
_Supply_, being completed, was put into the water the 5th of October.
From the quantity of wood used in her construction she appeared to be a
mere bed of timber, and, when launched, was named by the convicts, with
an happiness that is sometimes visible in the allusions of the lower
order of people, The Rose Hill Packet*. She was very soon employed in
transporting provisions to Rose Hill, and going up with the tide of
flood, at the top of high water, passed very well over the flats at the
upper part of the harbour.

[* She was afterwards generally known by the name of The Lump, a word
more strictly applying to her size and construction.]

Our enemies the rats, who worked unseen, and attacked us where we were
most vulnerable, being again observed in numbers about the provision
store, the commissary caused the provisions to be moved out of one store

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