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

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into another; for, alas! at this period they could be all contained in
one. These pernicious vermin were found to be very numerous, and the
damage they had done much greater than the state of our stores would
admit. Eight casks of flour were at one time found wholly destroyed. From
the store, such as escaped the hunger of the different dogs that were
turned loose upon them flew to the gardens of individuals, where they
rioted upon the Indian corn which was growing, and did considerable

The presence of a captain being no longer deemed necessary at Rose Hill,
the military guard there for the protection of the stores was reduced to
a subaltern officer, and a proportionate number of privates. Mr. Dodd,
who had for some time been authorized by the governor to inflict corporal
punishment on the convicts for idleness, rioting, or other misdemeanors,
had obtained such an influence over them, that military coercion was not
so necessary as when the settlement was first established. Of this
person, the officers who had been on duty at Rose Hill from time to time
gave the most favourable reports, speaking of him as one in every respect
qualified to execute the trust which had been reposed in him by the

During this month a gang of convicts were employed at Sydney in forming a
convenient road from the hospital to the magazine and observatory on the
point; and a small hut, for the reception of a corporal's guard at the
hospital, was erected.

Of the few people who died in October, (one soldier, three women, and one
child), one was an unhappy woman who had been sent on board in a state of
insanity, and who had remained in that condition until the day of her
death; she and another of the three women died in child-bed; and the
soldier was carried off by a disorder which he brought with him into the
country. These circumstances tended to establish the good opinion
which was at first formed of the salubrity of the climate of New South

November.] This month opened with a serious, but prudent and necessary
alteration in our provisions. The ration which had hitherto been issued
was, on the first of the month, reduced to two thirds of every species,
spirits excepted, which continued as usual. This measure was calculated
to guard against accidents; and the necessity of it was obvious to every
one, from the great uncertainty as to the time when a supply might arrive
from England, and from the losses which had been and still were
occasioned by rats in the provision store. Two years provisions were
landed with us in the colony: we had been within two months of that time
disembarked, and the public store had been aided only by a small surplus
of the provisions which remained of what had been furnished by the
contractor for the passage, and the supply of four months flour which had
been received by the _Sirius_ from the Cape of Good Hope. All this did
not produce such an abundance as would justify any longer continuance of
the full ration; and although it was reasonable to suppose, as we had not
hitherto received any supplies, that ships would arrive before our
present stock was exhausted; yet, if the period of distress should ever
arrive, the consciousness that we had early foreseen and strove to guard
against its arrival would certainly soften the bitterness of our
reflections; and, guarding thus against the worst, that worst
providentially might never happen. The governor, whose humanity was at
all times conspicuous, directed that no alteration should he made in the
ration to be issued to the women. They were already upon two thirds of
the man's allowance; and many of them either had children who could very
well have eaten their own and part of the mother's ration, or they had
children at the breast; and although they did not labour, yet their
appetites were never so delicate as to have found the full ration too
much, had it been issued to them. The like reduction was enforced afloat
as well as on shore, the ships' companies of the _Sirius_ and _Supply_
being put to two thirds of the allowance usually issued to the king's
ships. This, as a deduction of the eighths allowed by custom to the
purser was made from their ration, was somewhat less than what was to be
issued in the settlement.

Thus opened the month of November in this settlement; where, though we
had not the accompanying gloom and vapour of our own climate to render it
terrific to our minds, yet we had that before us, in the midst of all our
sunshine, which gave it the complexion of the true November so inimical
to our countrymen.

It was soon observed, that of the provisions issued at this ration on the
Saturday the major part of the convicts had none left on the Tuesday
night; it was therefore ordered, that the provisions should be served in
future on the Saturdays and Wednesdays. By these means, the days which
would otherwise pass in hunger, or in thieving from the few who were more
provident, would be divided, and the people themselves be more able to
perform the labour which was required from them. Overseers and married
men were not included in this order.

On the 7th Captain Hunter brought the _Sirius_ into the cove completely
repaired. She had been strengthened with riders placed within board, her
copper had been carefully examined, and she was now in every respect fit
for sea. Previous to her quitting the careening cove, Mr. Hill, one of
the master's mates, having had some business at Sydney, was landed on his
return early in the morning on the north shore, opposite Sydney Cove,
from whence the walk to the ship was short; but he was never afterwards
heard of. Parties were sent day after day in quest of him for several
days. Guns were fired from the _Sirius_ every four hours, night and day,
but all to no effect. He had met with some fatal accident, which deprived
a wife of the pleasurable prospect of ever seeing him return to her and
to his friends. He had once before missed his way; and it was reported,
when his loss was confirmed, that he declared on the fatal morning, when
stepping out of the boat, that he expected to lose himself again for a
day or two. His conjecture was more than confirmed; he lost himself for
ever, and thus added one to the number of those unfortunate persons who
had perished in the woods of this country.

On the 11th the _Supply_ sailed for Norfolk Island, having on board
provisions and six male and eight female convicts for that colony. She
was to stop at Lord Howe Island, to endeavour to procure turtle for this
settlement; a supply of which, in its present situation, would have been
welcomed, not as a luxury, but as a necessary of life.

The night-watch was found of infinite utility. The commission of crimes,
since their institution, had been evidently less frequent, and they were
instrumental in bringing forward for punishment several offenders who
would otherwise have escaped. The fear and detestation in which they were
held by their fellow-prisoners was one proof of their assiduity in
searching for offences and in bringing them to light; and it possibly
might have been asserted with truth, that many streets in the metropolis
of London were not so well guarded and watched as the small, but rising
town of Sydney, in New South Wales.

By their activity, a woman (a female convict of the name of Ann Davis
alias Judith Jones), was apprehended for breaking into the house of
Robert Sidaway (a convict) in the daytime, and stealing several articles
of wearing apparel thereout. The criminal court being assembled, she was
tried and found guilty. On receiving sentence to die, she pleaded being
quick with child; but twelve of the discreetest women among the convicts,
all of whom had been mothers of children, being impanelled as a jury of
matrons, they pronounced that she was not pregnant; on which she was
executed the Monday following, acknowledging at that fatal moment which
generally gives birth and utterance to truth, that she was about to
suffer justly, and that an attempt which she made, when put on her
defence, to criminate another person (a woman whose character was so
notorious that she hoped to establish her own credit and innocence upon
her infamy), as well as her plea of pregnancy, were advanced merely for
the purpose of saving her life. She died generally reviled and unpitied
by the people of her own description.

The summer was observed to be the chief season of fish. A fishing-boat
belonging to the colony had so many fish in the seine, that had it not
burst at the moment of landing, it was imagined that a sufficiency would
have been taken to have served the settlement for a day; as it was, a
very considerable quantity was brought in; and not long after a boat
belonging to the _Sirius_ caught forty-seven of the large fish which
obtained among us the appellation of Light Horse Men, from the peculiar
conformation of the bone of the head, which gave the fish the appearance
of having on a light-horse man's helmet.

The governor, after the death of the native who was carried off by the
smallpox in May last, never had lost sight of a determination to procure
another the first favourable opportunity. A boat had several times gone
down the harbour for that purpose; but without succeeding, until the 25th
of this month, when the first lieutenant of the _Sirius_, accompanied by
the master, fortunately secured two natives, both men, and brought them
up to the settlement without any accident. Being well known to the
children, through their means every assurance was given them of their
perfect safety in our possession. They were taken up to the governor's,
the place intended for their future residence, where such restraint was
laid upon their persons as was judged requisite for their security.

The assurances of safety which were given them, and the steps which were
taken to keep them in a state of security, were not perfectly
satisfactory to the elder of the two; and he secretly determined to take
the first opportunity which offered of giving his attendants no further
trouble upon his account. The negligence of his keeper very soon gave him
the opportunity he desired; and he made his escape, taking with him into
the woods the fetter which had been rivetted to his ankle, and which
every one, who knew the circumstance, imagined he would never be able to
remove. His companion would have joined him in his flight, but fear
detained him a few minutes too late, and he was seized while tremblingly
alive to the joyful prospect of escaping.

During the month of November a brick house was begun on the east side of
the cove for the judge-advocate. The huts which were got up on our first
landing were slight and temporary; every shower of rain washed a portion
of the clay from between the interstices of the cabbage-tree of which
they were constructed; their covering was never tight; their size was
necessarily small and inconvenient; and although we had not hitherto been
so fortunate as to discover limestone any where near the settlement, yet
to occupy a brick house put together with mortar formed of the clay of
the country, and covered with tiles, became in point of comparative
comfort and convenience an object of some importance.

December.] Among the various business which came before the magistrates
at their weekly meetings, was one which occupied much of their time and
attention. The convicts who were employed about the provision store
informed the commissary, by letter, that from certain circumstances, they
had reason to accuse Mr. Zachariah Clark, his assistant, of embezzling
the public provisions. A complaint of such a nature, as well on account
of its importance to the settlement, as of its consequence to the person
accused, called for an immediate enquiry; and the judge-advocate and
Captain Hunter lost no time in bringing forward the necessary
investigation. The convicts charged Mr. Clark with having made at
different times, and applied to his own use, a considerable over-draught
of every species of provisions, and of the liquor which was in store. A
dread of these circumstances being one day discovered by others, when the
blame of concealment might involve them in a suspicion of participation,
induced them to step forward with the charge. The suspicious appearances,
however, were accounted for by Mr. Clark much to the satisfaction of the
magistrates under whose consideration they came. He stated, that
expecting to be employed in this country, he had brought out with him
large quantities of provisions, wine, rum, draught and bottled porter,
all of which he generally kept at the store; that when parties have
applied to him for provisions or spirits at an hour when the store was
shut, he had frequently supplied them from his own case, or stock which
he had for present use in his tent or in his house, and afterwards repaid
himself from the store; and that being ill with the scurvy for several
months after his arrival, he did not use any salt provisions, which gave
him a considerable credit for such articles at the store: from all which
circumstances the convicts who accused him might, as they were unknown to
them, be induced to imagine that he was taking up more than his ration
from time to time.

With Mr. Clark's ample and public acquittal from this accusation, a
commendation equally public was given to the convicts, who, noticing the
apparent over-draught of spirits and provisions, and ignorant at the same
time of the causes which occasioned it, had taken measures to have it

From the peculiarity of our situation, there was a sort of sacredness
about our store; and its preservation pure and undefiled was deemed as
necessary as the chastity of Caesar's wife. With us, it would not bear
even suspicion.

In the course of this month the harvest was got in; the ground in
cultivation at Rose Hill produced upwards of two hundred bushels of
wheat, about thirty-five bushels of barley, and a small quantity of oats
and Indian corn; all of which was intended to be reserved for feed. At
Sydney, the spot of ground called the Governor's Farm had been sown only
with barley, and produced about twenty-five bushels.

A knowledge of the interior parts of this extensive country was anxiously
desired by every one; but the difficulty of attaining it, and the various
employments in which we had all been necessarily engaged, had hitherto
prevented any material researches being made. The governor had penetrated
to the westward as far as Richmond Hill, perhaps between fifty and sixty
miles inland; but beyond that distance all was a blank. Early in this
month Lieutenant Dawes with a small party, taking with them just as much
provisions as they could conveniently carry, set off on an attempt to
reach the western mountains by and from the banks of the fresh water
river, first seen, some time since, by Captain Tench, and supposed to be
a branch of the Hawkesbury. From this excursion he returned on the ninth
day, without accomplishing his design, meeting with nothing, after
quitting the river, but ravines that were nearly inaccessible. He had,
notwithstanding the danger and difficulty of getting on through such a
country, reached within eleven miles of the mountains, by computation.
During his toilsome march he met with nothing very remarkable, except the
impressions of the cloven feet of an animal differing from other cloven
feet by the great width of the division in each. He was not fortunate
enough to see the animal that had made them.

In this journey Lieutenant Dawes's line of march, unfortunately and
unpleasantly for him, happened to lie, nearly from his setting out,
across a line of high and steep rocky precipices, which required much
caution in descending, as well as labour in ascending. Perhaps an open
country, which might have led him readily and conveniently to the point
he proposed to attain, was lying at no great distance from him either to
his right or left. To seek for that, however, might have required more
time than his stock of provisions would have admitted; and he was
compelled to return through the same unprofitable country which he had

On the 21st, between ten and eleven o'clock at night, the _Supply_
returned from Norfolk Island, having been absent six weeks within a day.
From thence Lieutenant King wrote that he expected his harvest would
produce from four to six months flour for all his inhabitants, exclusive
of a reserve of double feed for twenty acres of ground. Beside this
promising appearance, he had ten acres in cultivation with Indian corn,
which looked very well. His gardens had suffered much by the grub worm
and from a want of rain, of which they had had scarcely any since the
23rd of September last. The ground which was cleared for the crown
amounted to about twenty-eight acres, and he was busied in preparations
for building a redoubt on an eminence named by him Mount George.

The _Supply_, in her visit at Lord Howe Island, turned eighteen turtle;
several of which unluckily dying before she reached Norfolk Island, she
could leave only four there, and but three survived the short voyage
thence to this place.

Several thefts having been lately committed by the convicts, and the
offenders discovered by the vigilance of the members of our new police,
several of them were tried before the criminal court of juidicature.
Caesar the black, whose situation on Garden Island had been some time
back rendered more eligible, by being permitted to work without irons,
found means to make his escape, with a mind insensible alike to kindness
and to punishment, taking with him a canoe which lay there for the
convenience of the other people employed on the island, together with a
week's provisions belonging to them; and in a visit which he made them a
few nights after in his canoe, he took off an iron pot, a musket, and
some ammunition.

The working convicts at Sydney had lately been principally employed in
constructing two convenient kitchens and ovens for the use of the
detachment, adjoining to the quarters; building a house for the
judge-advocate; forming roads either in or leading to the town; and
removing the provisions from the old thatched storehouse to that in the
marine quarters, which, by being covered in with tiles, was not so liable
to an accident by fire, nor likely to prove so great an harbour for rats,
to guard against whom it had become necessary to take as many precautions
as against any other enemy. They, however, in defiance of every care
which was taken to shut them out, when the provisions were removed, found
means, by working under ground, to get in; and as it was now a matter of
much moment to preserve every ounce of provisions that belonged to us,
they were all taken out, and restowed with an attention suitable to their
important value.

At Rose Hill, where as yet there was not any night-watch established,
petty thefts and depredations were frequently committed, particularly on
the wheat as it ripened. The bakehouse also was robbed of a quantity of
flour by a person unknown. These offences were generally attributed to
the reduction which had taken place in the ration of provisions; and
every one dreaded how much the commission of them might be increased, if
accident or delay should render a still greater reduction necessary.

Mr. Dodd, the superintendant at that settlement, a few days before
Christmas, cut and sent down a cabbage which weighed twenty-six pounds.
The other vegetables productions of his garden, which was by no means a
rich mould, were plentiful and luxuriant.

Some people who had been out with a gun from Rose Hill brought in with
them, on their return, a tinder-box, to which chance conducted them in a
thick brush distinguished by the name of the New Brush, about six miles
from the settlement. This article was known to have belonged to the two
unfortunate soldiers who had been unaccounted for since last April, and
who, in great probability, found there a miserable period to their
existence. They also picked up in the same brush a piece of linen, said
to have formed part of a petticoat which belonged to Anne Smith, a female
convict who absconded a few days after our landing in the country. This
might have been carried thither and dropped by some natives in their way
through the brush; but it gave a strong colour to the supposition of her
having likewise perished, by some means or other, in the woods.


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


January.] Early in the new year the _Supply_ sailed again for Norfolk
Island with twenty-two male and two female convicts, and one child;
Lieutenant King having in his last letters intimated, that he could very
well find employment for a greater number of people than he then had
under his orders. With those convicts and some stores she sailed on the
7th, and on her return was to touch at Lord Howe island to procure

Of the convicts the period of whose sentences of transportation had
expired, and of whom mention was made in the transactions of July last,
one, who signified a wish of becoming a settler, had been sent up to Rose
Hill by the governor; where his excellency, having only waited to learn
with certainty that he had become a free man before he gave him a grant
of land, caused two acres of ground to be cleared of the timber which
stood on them, and a small hut to be built for him. This man had been
bred to the business of a farmer, and during his residence in this
country had shown a strong inclination to be industrious, and to return
to honest habits and pursuits. Rewarding him, therefore, was but holding
out encouragement to such good dispositions. The governor had, however,
another object in view, beside a wish to hold him up as a deserving
character: he was desirous of trying, by his means, in what time an
industrious active man, with certain assistance, would be enabled to
support himself in this country as a settler; and for that purpose, in
addition to what he caused to be done for him at first, he furnished him
with the tools and implements of husbandry necessary for cultivating his
ground, with a proportion of grain to sow it, and a small quantity of
live stock to begin with. He took possession of his ground the 21st of
November 1789, and under some disadvantages. An opinion had prevailed,
and had been pretty generally disseminated, that a man could not live in
this country; and in addition to this discouragement, although he still
received a ration from the public store, yet it was not a ration that
bore any proportion to the labour which his situation required from him.
The man himself, however, resolved to be industrious, and to surmount as
well as he was able whatever difficulties might lie in his way.

The flour which had been brought from England did not serve much beyond
the beginning of this month, and that imported from the Cape now supplied
its place. Every one began to look forward with much anxiety to the
arrival of supplies from England; and as it was reasonable to conclude
that every day might bring them on the coast, Captain Hunter, accompanied
by Mr. Worgan, the surgeon of the _Sirius_, and Mr. White, with six or
eight seamen, having chosen a spot proper for their purpose, erected a
flagstaff on the South Head of this harbour, whence, on the appearance of
a ship in the offing, a signal might be made, as well to convey the
wished-for information to the settlement, as to serve as a mark for the
stranger. An hut was built for their accommodation, and this little
establishment was of such importance, that our walks were daily directed
to a spot whence it could be seen; thus fondly indulging the delusion,
that the very circumstance of looking out for a sail would bring one into

A sufficient quantity of fish having been taken one night in this month,
to admit the serving of two pounds to each man, woman, and child
belonging to the detachment, the governor directed, that a boat should in
future be employed three times in the week to fish for the public; and
that the whole quantity caught should be issued at the above rate to
every person in turn. This allowance was in addition to the ration of
provisions; and was received with much satisfaction several times during
the month.

Caesar, after his escape from and subsequent visit at Garden Island,
found his way up to Rose Hill, whence he was brought on the 30th, very
much wounded by some natives whom he had met with in the woods. Being
fearful of severe punishment for some of his late offences, he reported,
on being brought in, that he had fallen in with our cattle which had been
so long lost; that they were increased by two calves; that they seemed to
be under the care of eight or ten natives, who attended them closely
while they grazed; and that, on his attempting to drive the cattle before
him, he was wounded by another party of the natives. The circumstance of
his being wounded was the only part of his story that met with any
credit, and that could not well be contradicted, as he had several spear
wounds about him in different parts of his body; but every thing else was
looked upon as a fabrication (and that not well contrived) to avert the
lash which he knew hung over him. He was well known to have as small a
share of veracity as of honesty. His wounds however requiring care and
rest, he was secured, and placed under the surgeon's care at the

Information was also received at this time from Rose Hill, that a convict
who had been employed to strike the sting ray, with another, on the
flats, having gone on shore, engaged in some quarrel with the natives,
who took all his clothes from him, severely wounded, and would inevitably
have killed him, but for the humane, friendly, and disinterested
interference of one of their own women, who happened to be present. This
accident, and many others of the same nature, could not have happened,
had the orders which he had received, not to land upon any account, been
attended to.

The bricklayers, having finished the judge-advocate's house, were
employed in building a dispensary on the west side contiguous to the
hospital, the medicines and chirurgical instruments being much exposed to
damps in the place where they had hitherto been necessarily kept.

Garden robberies were frequent, notwithstanding the utmost care and
vigilance were exerted to prevent them. A rainy tempestuous night always
afforded a cloak for the thief, and was generally followed in the morning
by some one complaining of his or her garden having been stripped of all
its produce.

February.] The first signal from the flagstaff at the South Head was
displayed on the 10th of February; and though every imagination first
turned toward the expected stranger, yet happening about the time at
which the _Supply_ was expected from Norfolk Island, conjecture soon
fixed on the right object; and the temporary suspence was put an end to,
by word being brought up to the settlement, that the _Supply_, unable to
get into Port Jackson, had borne up for Botany Bay, in which harbour she
anchored in the dusk of the evening. The next morning the letters which
she had brought were received. Lieutenant King wrote, that his people
continued healthy, and his settlement went on well. His wheat had
returned twenty fold, notwithstanding he had had much dry weather. He had
relinquished his intention of throwing up a redoubt on Mount George; but,
instead of that work, had employed his people in constructing a stockade
of piles round his house, inclosing an oblong square of one hundred feet
by one hundred and forty, within which he purposed erecting storehouses,
and a barrack for the military. He stated, that the convicts under his
orders had in general very good gardens, and that many of them would have
a very large produce of Indian corn.

The _Supply_ having in her way to Norfolk Island touched at Lord Howe
Island, Lieutenant Ball left the gunner and a small party to turn turtle,
but they met with no success; so that no dependance was to be placed on
that island for any material relief. The gunner examined the island, and
found fresh water in cavities, but not in any current.

The _Supply_ could not get round from Botany Bay until the 12th, when she
came to anchor in the cove, whence she had been absent just five weeks.

Lieutenant King having constantly written in high terms of the richness
of the soil of Norfolk Island, the governor, on comparing the situation
of the convicts there and in this settlement, where their gardens had not
that fertility to boast of, and where the ration from the store was with
too many hastily devoured, and with most derived but an uncertain and
scanty aid from any other source, determined, and about the middle of the
month announced his determination, to detach thither a large body of
convicts, male and female, together with two companies of the marines.
Some immediate advantages were expected to be derived from this measure;
the garden ground that would be left by those who embarked would be
possessed by those who remained, while the former would instantly on
their arrival at Norfolk Island participate in the produce of luxuriant
gardens, in a more constant supply of fish, and in the assistance that
was occasionally obtained from the birds which settled on Mount Pitt.

At the same time that this intention was made public, the day of their
departure was fixed. The whole were to embark on board the _Sirius_ and
the _Supply_ in the beginning of the following month, and were, if no
ship arrived from England to prevent them, to sail on the 5th. Should,
unfortunately, the necessity of adopting the measure then exist, the
_Sirius_ was to proceed to China directly from Norfolk Island to procure
a supply of provisions for the colony. China was chosen, under an idea
that salt provisions were to be obtained there, and that it was
preferable to sending to any of the islands in those seas, or to the Cape
of Good Hope at this season of the year, when the _Sirius_ and her crew
would have had to encounter the cold and boisterous weather of a winter's
passage thither.

As the numbers on Norfolk Island would be considerably increased by the
arrival of this detachment from hence, the governor judged the presence
of Major Ross necessary there, as lieutenant-governor of the territory.
Lieutenant King was to be recalled and return to this settlement.

Preparations were immediately set on foot for the embarkation of the
marines and other persons who were to quit this colony. It had been a
part of the first determinations on this business, that the _Sirius_
should, as I have mentioned, proceed directly from Norfolk Island on her
voyage to China; but Captain Hunter having represented the absolute
necessity he should be under of touching somewhere to wood and water,
owing to the number he should have on board, that idea was given up, and
Captain Hunter was directed to return with the _Sirius_ to this port for
the above purposes of wooding and watering. An additional reason offered
itself to influence this determination; it was hoped, that before she
could return, the arrival of the expected supplies would have rendered
the voyage altogether unnecessary; and it was but reasonable to suppose
that this would happen. The governor had, in all his dispatches,
uniformly declared the strong necessity there was of having at least two
years provisions in store for some time to come; and as this information,
together with an exact account of the situation of the colony, had been
transmitted by seven different conveyances, if only one had arrived safe,
it could not reasonably be doubted that supplies would be immediately
dispatched. From the length of time too which had elapsed since the
departure of the last ships* that sailed from hence direct for England
(full fifteen months), it was as reasonable to suppose that they might
arrive within the time that the _Sirius_ would be absent.

[* The _Golden Grove_ and the _Fishburn_ sailed from this port the 19th
of November 1788, intending to make their passage round by Cape Horn, to
which the season was most favourable.]

The month passed in the arrangements and preparations requisite on this
occasion, to which the weather was extremely unfavourable, heavy rains,
with gales of wind, prevailing nearly the whole time. The rain came down
in torrents, filling up every trench and cavity which had been dug about
the settlement, and causing much damage to the miserable mud tenements
which were occupied by the convicts. By these rains, a pit which had been
dug for the purpose of procuring clay to plaister the walls of a hut, was
filled with water; and a boy upwards of two years of age, belonging to
one of the female convicts, falling into it, was drowned. The surgeons
tried, but without success, to save his life, using the methods practised
by the Humane Society. Yet bad as the weather was, several gardens were
robbed, and, as at this time they abounded with melons and pumpkins, they
became the object of depredation in common with other productions of the

A brick building, fifty-nine feet in front, designed for a guard-house,
of which the foundation had been laid a few days before the heavy rains
commenced, suffered much by their continuance. The situation of this
building was on the east side of the cove, at the upper part, contiguous
to the bridge over the run of water, and convenient for detaching
assistance to any part of the place where it might be requisite.

On the 1st of March a reduction in the allowance of spirits took place;
the half pint _per diem_, which had hitherto been issued to each man who
was entitled to receive it, was to be discontinued, and only the half of
that allowance served. Thus was the gradual decrease in our stores
followed by a diminution of our daily comforts and necessaries.

One immediate consequence, and that an evil one, was the effect of the
intended embarkation for Norfolk Island. It being found that great
quantities of stock were killed, an order was immediately given to
prevent the further destruction of an article so essential in our present
situation, until some necessary regulations could be published; but the
officers and people who were about to embark were not included in this
prohibition. The mention of future regulations in this order instantly
begat an opinion among the convicts, that on the departure of the ships
all the live stock in the colony would be called in, or that the owners
would be deprived of the benefits which might result from the possession
of it. Under colour, therefore, of its belonging to those who were
exempted in the late order, nearly all the stock in the settlement was in
the course of a few nights destroyed; a wound being thereby given to the
independence of the colony that could not easily be salved, and whose
injurious effects time and much attention alone could remove.

The expected supplies not having arrived, on the 3rd, the two companies
of marines with their officers and the colours of the corps embarked on
board the _Sirius_ and the _Supply_. With them also embarked the
lieutenant-governor, and Mr. Considen the senior assistant surgeon of the
settlement. On the day following, one hundred and sixteen male and
sixty-eight female convicts, with twenty-seven children, were put on
board; among the male convicts the governor had sent the troublesome and
incorrigible Caesar, on whom he had bestowed a pardon. With these also
was sent, though of a very different description, a person whose exemplary
conduct had raised him from the situation of a convict to the privileges
of a free man. John Irving had since our landing in the country been
employed as an assistant at the hospital. He was bred a surgeon, and in
no instance whatever, since the commission of the offence for which he
was transported, had he given cause of complaint. He was now sent to
Norfolk Island, to act as an assistant to the medical gentlemen there.

On the 5th the _Sirius_ and the _Supply_ left the cove, but did not get to
sea until the following day, when at the close of the evening they were
scarcely to be discerned from the South Head. At the little post at this
place Captain Hunter left the gunner, a midshipman, and six of the
_Sirius's_ people. Mr. Maxwell, one of her lieutenants, having been for a
considerable time past in a melancholy and declining way, and his
disorder pronounced by the surgeons to be insanity, he was discharged
from the ship, and had taken up his residence on shore under the care of
the surgeon, with proper people who were left from the ship to attend
him. This was the second officer whose situation in the _Sirius_ it
became necessary to have filled. Lieutenant King, the commandant of
Norfolk Island, had for some time been discharged from the ship's books;
and Mr. Newton Fowell, a young gentleman of the _Sirius's_ quarter-deck,
being deemed well qualified, was appointed by the governor (as the naval
commanding officer) to succeed him. To fill the vacancy occasioned by Mr.
Maxwell's unfortunate state of health, Mr. Henry Waterhouse, a young
gentleman of promising abilities, was taken from the quarter-deck. Both
these appointments were to wait the confirmation of the lords
commissioners of the admiralty.

Immediately after the departure of these ships, the governor directed his
attention to the regulation of the people who were left at Sydney, and to
the preservation of the stock in the colony. For these purposes, he
himself visited the different huts and gardens whose tenants had just
quitted them, distributing them to such convicts as were either in
miserable hovels, or without any shelter at all. It was true, that by
this arrangement the idle found themselves provided for by the labour of
many who had been industrious; but they were at the same time assured,
that unless they kept in good cultivation the gardens which they were
allowed to possess, they would be turned out from the comforts of a good
hut, to live under a rock or a tree. That they might have time for this
purpose, the afternoon of Wednesday and the whole of Saturday in each
week were given to them. Much room was made every where by the numbers
who had embarked (in all two hundred and eighty-one persons); the
military quarters had a deserted aspect; and the whole settlement
appeared as if famine had already thinned it of half its numbers. The
little society that was in the place was broken up, and every man seemed
left to brood in solitary silence over the dreary prospect before him.

With respect to the stock, his excellency directed, that no hogs under
three months old should be killed, nor were any to be butchered without
information being first given at headquarters.

Those who bred poultry were left at liberty to dispose of it in such
manner as they thought proper; and the commissary was directed to
purchase for the use of the hospital such live stock as the owners were
desirous of selling, complying with the above regulations, and receiving
one shilling a pound as the price.

Some provisions which yet remained in the old large thatched store were
removed for greater security into the store in the marine quarters. It
was strongly suspected, that an attempt had been made to obtain some part
of these provisions in the night; and some convicts were examined before
the judge-advocate on suspicion of having taken some flour from the
store; but nothing appeared that could materially affect them. The
provisions, when all collected together under one roof and into one view,
afforded but a melancholy reflection; it was well that we had even them.

On the 27th of the month, the long-expected signal not having been
displayed, it became necessary to put the colony upon a still shorter
ration of provisions. It was a painful but a necessary duty. The governor
directed that the provisions should in future be served daily; for which
purpose the store was to be opened from one to three in the afternoon.
The ration for the week was to consist of four pounds of flour, two
pounds and a half of pork, and one pound and a half of rice, and these
were to be issued to every person in the settlement without distinction;
but as the public labour must naturally be affected by this reduction,
the working hours were in future to be from sunrise, with a small
interval for breakfast, until one o'clock: the afternoons were to be
allowed the people to receive their provisions and work in their gardens.
These alterations in the ration and in the hours of labour, however, were
not to commence until the 1st of the following month.

At Rose Hill similar regulations were made by the governor. The garden
ground was enlarged; those who were in bad huts were placed in better;
and every thing was said that could stimulate them to be industrious.
This, with a few exceptions, appeared to be the principal labour both
there and at Sydney; and the nightwatch were called upon by the common
interest to be more than ever active and sedulous in their efforts to
protect public and private property; for robberies of gardens and houses
were daily and nightly committed. Damage was also received from the
little stock which remained alive; the owners, not having wherewith to
feed them, were obliged to turn them loose to browse among the grass and
shrubs, or turn up the ground for the fern-root; and as they wandered
without any one to prevent their doing mischief, they but too often found
an easy passage over fences and through barriers which were now grown
weak and perishing. It was however ordered, that the stock should be kept
up during the night, and every damage that could be proved to have been
received during that time was to be made good by the owners of the stock
that might be caught trespassing; or the animals themselves were to be

The carpenters were employed in preparing a roof for a new storehouse,
those which were first erected being now decaying, and having been always
insecure. It was never expected to get up a building of one hundred feet
in front, which this was designed to be, upon so reduced a ration as the
present; but while the people did labour, it was proper to turn that
little labour to the public account.

The working gangs being now so much reduced by the late embarkation, the
hoy was employed in bringing the timber necessary for this building from
the coves where it was cut down and deposited for that purpose. This
vessel, when unemployed for public services, was given to the officers,
and by them sent down the harbour to procure cabbage-tree for their
stock, in the preservation and maintenance of which every one felt an
immediate and anxious concern.

The weather had been very wet during this month; torrents of rain again
laid every place under water; many little habitations, which had
withstood the inundations of the last month, now suffered considerably;
several chimneys fell in; but this was owing, perhaps, as much to their
being built by job or taskwork (which the workmen hurried over in general
to get a day or two to themselves) as to the heavy rains.

April.] The reduced ration and the change in the working hours commenced,
as was directed, on the 1st of this month; much time was not consumed at
the store, and the people went away to dress the scanty allowance which
they had received.

Attention to our religious duties was never omitted. Divine service was
performed in one of our emptied storehouses on the morning of the next
day, being Good Friday; and the convicts were recommended to employ the
remainder of it in their gardens. But, notwithstanding the evident
necessity that existed for every man's endeavouring to assist himself,
very few were observed to be so profitably occupied.

As every saving that could be made in the article of provisions was of
consequence in the present situation of the stores, it was directed on
the 3rd, that such fish as should in future be taken by the public boats
should be issued at the store, in the proportion of ten pounds of fish to
two pounds and a half of pork; and one hundred and fifty pounds of fish,
which had been brought up before the issuing of provisions commenced on
that day, were served out agreeable to that order.

Mr. Maxwell, whose disorder at times admitted of his going out alone, was
fortunately brought up from the lower part of the harbour, where he had
passed nearly two days, without sustenance, in rowing from one side to
the other, in a small boat by himself. He was noticed by a sergeant who
had been fishing, and who observed him rowing under the dangerous rocks
of the middle-head, where he must soon have been dashed to pieces, but
for his fortunate interposition. After this escape he was more narrowly

While occupied in listening to the tale, of his distresses, the _Supply_
returned from Norfolk Island, with an account that was of itself almost
sufficient to have deranged the strongest intellect among us. A load of
accumulated evils seemed bursting at once upon our heads. The ships that
were expected with supplies were still to be anxiously looked for; and
the _Sirius_, which was to have gone in quest of relief to our
distresses, was lost upon the reef at Norfolk Island, on the 19th of last
month. This was a blow which, as it was unexpected, fell with increased
weight, and on every one the whole weight seemed to have fallen.

This untoward accident happened in the following manner:

Captain Hunter was extremely fortunate in having a short passage hence to
Norfolk Island, arriving there in seven days after he sailed. The
soldiers, and a considerable part of the convicts, were immediately
landed in Cascade Bay, which happened at the time to be the leeward side
of the island. Bad weather immediately ensued, and for several days, the
provisions could not be landed, so high was the surf occasioned by it.
This delay, together with a knowledge that the provisions on the island
were not adequate to the additional numbers that were now to be
victualled, caused him to be particularly anxious to get the provisions
on shore. The bad weather had separated the _Sirius_ from the _Supply_;
but meeting with a favourable slant of wind on the 19th, Captain Hunter
gained the island from which he had been driven, and stood for Sydney
Bay, at the south end of it, where he found the _Supply_; and it being
signified by signal from the shore (where they could form the best
judgment) that the landing might be effected with any boat, he brought to
in the windward part of the bay, with the ship's head off the shore, got
out the boats, and loaded them with provisions. When the boats had put
off from the ship, it being perceived that she settled very much to
leeward, the tacks were got on board, and every sail set that was
possible to get her free from the shore. Notwithstanding which, she could
not weather the reef off the south-west end of the bay, the wind having
at that time very unfavourably shifted two points. The ship was then
thrown in stays, which she missed, being with great difficulty wore clear
of the breakers, and brought to the wind on the other tack, when every
sail was again set. Finding that she still drifted fast upon the shore,
another attempt was made to stay her; but being out of trim, it did not
succeed. All the sheets and hallyards were then ordered to be let fly,
and an anchor to be cut away; but before it reached the ground, she
struck with violence on the reef, very soon bulged, and was irrecoverably
lost. Her officers and people were all saved, having been dragged on
shore, through the surf, on a grating.

This day, which untoward circumstances had rendered so gloomy to us, was
remarkably fine, and at the unfortunate moment of this calamity there was
very little wind. On the next or second day after, permission was given
to two convicts (one of whom, James Brannegan, was an overseer) to get
off to the ship, and endeavour to bring on shore what live hogs they
might be able to save; but with all that lamentable want of resolution
and consideration which is characteristic of the lower order of people
when temptations are placed before them, they both got intoxicated with
the liquor which had escaped the plunder of the seamen, and set the ship
on fire in two places. A light on board the ship being observed from the
shore, several shot were fired at it, but the wretches would neither put
it out, nor come on shore; when a young man of the name of Ascott, a
convict, with great intrepidity went off through the surf, extinguished
the fire, and forced them out of the ship.

The lieutenant-governor, immediately after the loss of the Sirius, called
a council of all the naval and marine officers in the settlement, when it
was unanimously determined that martial law should be proclaimed; that
all private stock, poultry excepted, should be considered as the property
of the state; that justice should be administered by a court-martial to
be composed of seven officers, five of whom were to concur in a sentence
of death; and that there should be two locks upon the door of the public
store, whereof one key was to be in the keeping of a person to be
appointed by Captain Hunter in behalf of the seamen; the other to be kept
by a person to be appointed in behalf of the military. The day following,
the troops, seamen, and convicts, being assembled, these resolutions were
publicly read, and the whole confirmed their engagement of abiding by
them by passing under the king's colour, which was displayed on the

In the _Supply_ arrived the late commandant of Norfolk Island, two
lieutenants, four petty officers, twenty-four seamen, and two marines,
lately belonging to the _Sirius_. These officers spoke in high terms of
the activity and conduct of Mr. Keltie the master, Mr. Brooks the
boatswain, and Mr. Donovan a midshipman of the _Sirius_, who ventured off
to the ship in one of the island boats through a very dangerous surf, and
brought on shore the end of the hawser, to which was slung the grating
that saved the lives of the officers and people. They likewise somewhat
blunted the edge of this calamity, by assurances that it was highly
probable, from the favourable appearance of the weather when the _Supply_
left Norfolk Island, that all or at least the greatest part of the
provisions would be landed from the _Sirius_.

The general melancholy which prevailed in this settlement when the above
unwelcome intelligence was made public need not be described; and when
the _Supply_ came to an anchor in the cove every one looked up to her as
to their only remaining hope.

In this exigency the governor thought it necessary to assemble all the
officers of the settlement, civil and Military, to determine on what
measures were necessary to be adopted. At this meeting, when the
situation of the colony was thoroughly weighed and placed in every point
of view, it was determined to reduce still lower what was already too
low; the ration was to be no more then two pounds and a half of flour,
two pounds of pork, one pint of peas, and one pound of rice, for each
person for seven days. This allowance was to be issued to all
descriptions of people in the colony, children under eighteen months
excepted, who were to have only one pound of salt meat. Every exertion
was to be made here, and at Botany Bay, in fishing for the general
benefit. All private boats were to be surrendered to the public use;
every effort was to be put in practice to prevent the robbing of gardens;
and, as one step toward this, all suspicious characters were to be
secured and locked up during the night. People were to be employed to
kill, for the public, the animals that the country afforded; and every
step was to be taken that could save a pound of the salt provisions in
store, It was proposed to take all the hogs in the settlement as public
property; but as it was absolutely necessary to keep some breeding sows,
and the stock being small and very poor, that idea was abandoned.

In pursuance of these resolutions, the few convicts who had been employed
to shoot for individuals were given up for the public benefit; and a
fishery was established at Botany Bay, under the inspection of one of the
midshipmen of the _Sirius_. But this plan, not being found to answer, was
soon relinquished. The quantity of fish that was from time to time taken
was very inconsiderable, and the labour of transporting it by land from
thence was greater than the advantage which was expected to be derived
from it. The boats were therefore recalled, and employed with rather more
success at Sydney.

It was well known, that the integrity of the people employed in fishing
could not be depended upon; the officers of the settlement therefore
voluntarily took upon themselves the unpleasant task of superintending
them; and it became a general duty, which every one cheerfully performed.
The fishing-boat never went out without an officer, either by night or by

On the 7th, about four hundred weight of fish being brought up, it was
issued agreeable to the order; and could the like quantity have been
brought in daily, some saving might have been made at the store, which
would have repaid the labour that was employed to obtain it. But the
quantity taken during this month, after the 7th, was not often much more
than equal to supplying the people employed in the boats with one pound
of fish per man, which was allowed them in addition to their ration. The
small boats, the property of individuals, were therefore returned to
their owners, and the people who had been employed in them, together with
the seamen of the _Sirius_ now here, were placed in the large boats
belonging to the settlement.

Neither was much advantage obtained by employing people to shoot for the
public. At the end of the month only three small kangaroos had been
brought in. The convicts who were employed on this service, three in
number, were considered as good marksmen, and were allowed a ration of
flour instead of their salt provisions, the better to enable them to
sustain the labour and fatigue of traversing the woods of this country.

The necessity of procuring relief became every day more pressing. The
voyage of the _Sirius_ to China was at an end; and nothing had yet
arrived from England, though hourly expected. It was the natural and
general opinion, that our present situation was to be attributed to
accident rather than to procrastination. It was more probable, that the
vessels which had been dispatched by the British government had met with
some distress, that had either compelled them to return or had wholly
prevented them from any further prosecution of the voyage, than that any
delay should have taken place in their departure. The governor,
therefore, determined on sending the _Supply_ armed tender to Batavia;
and, as her commander was most zealously active in his preparations for
the voyage, she was soon ready for sea. Her tonnage, however, was
trifling when compared with our necessities. Lieutenant Ball was,
therefore, directed to procure a supply of eight months provisions for
himself, and to hire a vessel and purchase 200,000 pounds of flour,
80,000 pounds of beef, 60,000 pounds of pork, and 70,000 pounds of rice;
together with some necessaries for the hospital, such as sugar, sago,
hogs lard, vinegar, and dongaree. The expectation of this relief was
indeed distant, but yet it was more to be depended upon than that which
might be coming from England. A given time was fixed for the return of
the _Supply_; but it was impossible to say when a vessel might arrive
from Europe. Whatever might be our distress for provisions, it would be
some alleviation to look on to a certain fixed period when it might be
expected to be removed. Lieutenant Ball's passage lay through the regions
of fine weather, and the hope of every one was fixed upon the little
vessel that was to convey him; yet it was painful to contemplate our very
existence as depending upon her safety; to consider that a rough sea, a
hidden rock, or the violence of elemental strife, might in one fatal
moment precipitate us, with the little bark that had all our hopes on
board, to the lowest abyss of misery. In the well-known ability and
undoubted exertions of her commander however, under God, all placed their
dependance; and from that principle, when she sailed, instead of
predicting mischance, we all, with one wish for her safe return, fixed
and anticipated the period at which it might reasonably be expected.

She sailed on Saturday the 17th of April, having on board Lieutenant
King, the late commandant of Norfolk Island, who was charged with the
governor's dispatches for the secretary of state, and Mr. Andrew Miller,
the late commissary, whose ill state of health obliging him to resign
that employment, the governor permitted him to return to England. and had
appointed Mr. John Palmer, the purser of the _Sirius_, to supply his

Lieutenant Newton Fowell, of the _Sirius_, was, together with the gunner
of that ship, also embarked. The _Supply_ was to touch at Norfolk Island,
if practicable, and take on board Lieutenant Bradley of the _Sirius_,
who, from his knowledge of the coast, was chosen by the governor to
proceed to Batavia, and was to return to this port in whatever vessel
might be freighted by Lieutenant Ball; Mr. Fowell and the gunner were to
be left at the island.

Mr. Palmer received his appointment from his excellency on the 12th of
this month, on which day the following was the state of the provisions in
the public store, viz

Pork 23,851 pounds,) Which was 26th Aug.---4 months 14 days.
Beef 1,280 pounds,) to serve
Rice 24,455 pounds,) at the 13th Sept.--5 months 1 day.
Peas 17 bushels,) ration
Flour 56,884 pounds,) then issued 19th Dec.---8 months 7 days.
Biscuit 1,924 pounds,) until

The duration of the _Supply's_ voyage was generally expected to be six
months; a period at which, if no relief arrived in the mean time from
England, we should be found without salt provisions, rice, and peas.

In the above statement three hundred bushels of wheat, which had been
produced at Rose Hill, were not included, being reserved for seed.

The governor, from a motive that did him immortal honor, in this season
of general distress, gave up three hundred weight of flour which was his
excellency's private property, declaring that he wished not to see any
thing more at his table than the ration which was received in common from
the public store, without any distinction of persons; and to this
resolution he rigidly adhered, wishing that if a convict complained, he
might see that want was not unfelt even at Government house.

On the 20th of the month, the following was the ration issued from the
public store to each man for seven days, or to seven people for one day:
flour, 21/2 pounds, rice, 2 pounds, pork, 2 pounds. The peas were all
expended. Was this a ration for a labouring man? The two pounds of pork,
when boiled, from the length of time it had been in store. shrunk away to
nothing; and when divided among seven people for their day's sustenance,
barely afforded three or four morsels to each.

The inevitable consequences of this scarcity of provisions ensued; labour
stood nearly suspended for want of energy to proceed; and the
countenances of the people plainly bespoke the hardships they underwent.
The convicts, however, were employed for the public in the forenoons; and
such labour was obtained from them as their situation would allow. The
guard-house on the east side was finished and taken possession of during
the month.

There being many among the convicts who availed themselves of this
peculiar situation to commit thefts, it became necessary to punish with
severity all who were fully convicted before the court of criminal
jurisdiction. One convict was executed for breaking into a house, and
several others were sentenced to severe corporal punishments. Garden
robberies were the principal offences committed. These people had been
assembled by the governor, and informed that very severe punishment would
follow the conviction of persons guilty of robbing gardens, as a
necessary step toward preventing the continuance of such an evil; and he
strongly inculcated the absolute necessity that existed for every man to
cultivate his own garden, instead of robbing that of another. To the few
who, from never having been industrious, had not any ground sown or
planted with vegetables, he allotted a small but sufficient spot for
their use, and encouraged them in their labour by his presence and
directions; but they preferred any thing to honest industry. These
people, though the major part of them were, during the night, locked up
in the building lately occupied as a guardhouse, were ever on the watch
to commit depredations on the unwary during the hours in which they were
at large, and never suffered an opportunity to escape them. A female
convict, who came down from Rose Hill, was robbed of her week's
provisions; and as it was impossible to replace them from the public
store, she was left to subsist on what she could obtain from the bounty
(never more truly laudable than at this distressing juncture) of others
who commiserated her situation.

One male convict was executed; one female convict and one child died. The
female convict occasioned her own death, by overloading her stomach with
flour and greens, of which she made a mess during the day, and ate
heartily; but, not being satisfied, she rose in the night and finished
it. This was one of the evil effects of the reduced ration.

May.] The expedient of shooting for the public not being found to answer
the expectations which had been formed of it, sixty pounds of pork only
having been saved, the game-killers were called in, and the general
exertion was directed to the business of fishing. The seine and the hooks
and lines were employed, and with various success; the best of which
afforded but a very trifling relief.

As the _Sirius_ was fated not to return to perform her intended voyage to
India, the biscuit which had been baked for that purpose was issued, in
lieu of flour, that article being served again when the biscuit was
expended; and it lasted only through seven days.

It was naturally expected, that the miserable allowance which was issued
would affect the healths of the labouring convicts. A circumstance
occurred on the 12th of this month, which seemed to favor this idea; an
elderly man dropped down at the store, whither he had repaired with
others to receive his day's subsistence. Fainting with hunger, and unable
through age to hold up any longer, he was carried to the hospital, where
he died the next morning. On being opened, his stomach was found quite
empty. It appeared, that not having any utensil of his own wherein to
cook his provisions, nor share in any, he was frequently compelled, short
as his allowance for the day was, to give a part of it to any one who
would supply him with a vessel to dress his victuals; and at those times
when he did not choose to afford this deduction, he was accustomed to eat
his rice and other provisions undressed, which brought on indigestion,
and at length killed him.

It might have been supposed, that the severity of the punishments which
had been ordered by the criminal court on offenders convicted of robbing
gardens would have deterred others from committing that offence; but
while there was a vegetable to steal, there were those who would steal
it, wholly regardless as to the injustice done to the person they robbed,
and of the consequences that might ensue to themselves. For this sort of
robbery the criminal court was twice assembled in the present month. The
clergyman had taken a convict in his garden in the act of stealing
potatoes. Example was necessary, and the court that tried him, finding
that the severity of former courts did not prevent the commission of the
same offence, instead of the great weight of corporal punishment which
had marked their former sentences, directed this prisoner to receive
three hundred lashes, his ration of flour to be stopped for six months,
and himself to be chained for that time to two public delinquents who had
been detected in the fact of robbing the governor's garden, and who had
been ordered by the justices to work for a certain time in irons.

This sentence was carried into execution; but the governor remitted,
after some days trial, that part of it which respected the prisoner's
ration of flour, without which he could not long have existed.

The governor's garden had been the object of frequent depredation;
scarcely a night passed that it was not robbed, notwithstanding that many
received vegetables from it by his excellency's order. Two convicts had
been taken up, who confessed that within the space of a month they had
robbed it seven or eight times, and that they had killed a hog belonging
to an officer. These were the people who were ordered by the justices to
work in irons. A soldier, a man of infamous character, had been detected
robbing the garden while sentinel in the neighbourhood of it, and, being
tried by a court-martial for quitting his post, was sentenced and
received five hundred lashes. Yet all this was not sufficient: on the
evening of the 26th, a seaman belonging to the _Sirius_ got into the
governor's garden, and was fired at by a watchman who had been stationed
there for some nights past, and wounded, as it afterwards appeared, but
so slightly as not to prevent his effecting his escape; leaving, however,
a bag behind him, filled with vegetables. On close examination it was
fixed upon him, and, being brought before a criminal court, he was
sentenced to receive five hundred lashes; but at the same time was
recommended to the governor's clemency, on account of a good character
which had been given him in court. The governor, as it was his garden
that was robbed, attended to the recommendation, remitting four out of
the five hundred lashes which had been ordered him*. Being, after this,
villain enough to accuse some of his shipmates of crimes which he
acknowledged existed only in his own malicious mind, he received, by
order of the justices, a further punishment of fifty lashes.

[* Sixty pounds of flour, which had been offered as a reward for bringing
to justice a garden-thief, were paid to the watchman who fired at him.]

So great was either the villainy of the people, or the necessities of the
times, that a prisoner lying at the hospital under sentence of corporal
punishment having received a part of it, five hundred lashes, contrived
to get his irons off from one leg, and in that situation was caught
robbing a farm. On being brought in, he received another portion of his

Among other thefts committed in this season of general distress, was one
by a convict employed in the fishing boats, who found means to secrete
several pounds of fish in a bag, which he meant to secure in addition to
the allowance which was to be made him for having been out on that duty.
To deter others from committing the like offence, which might, by
repetition, amount to a serious evil, he was ordered to receive one
hundred lashes.

At Rose Hill the convicts conducted themselves with much greater
propriety; not a theft nor any act of ill behaviour having been for some
time past heard of among them*.

[* They had vegetables in great abundance.]

At that settlement a kangaroo had been killed of one hundred and eighty
pounds weight; and the people reported that they were much molested by
the native dogs, which had been seen together in great numbers, and,
coming by night about the settlement, had killed some hogs which were not

The colony had hitherto been supplied with salt from the public stores, a
quantity being always shaken off from the salt provisions, and reserved
for use by the store-keepers; but the daily consumption of salt
provisions was now become so inconsiderable, and they had been so long in
store, that little or none of that article was to be procured. Two large
iron boilers were therefore erected at the east point of the cove; some
people were employed to boil the salt water, and the salt which was
produced by this very simple process was issued to the convicts.

Our fishing tackle began now, with our other necessaries, to decrease. To
remedy this inconvenience, we were driven by necessity to avail ourselves
of some knowledge which we had gained from the natives; and one of the
convicts (a rope-maker) was employed to spin lines from the bark of a
tree which they used for the same purpose.

The native who had been taken in November last convinced us how far
before every other consideration he deemed the possession of his liberty,
by very artfully effecting his escape from the governor's house, where he
had been treated with every indulgence and had enjoyed every comfort
which it was in his excellency's power to give him. He managed his escape
so ingeniously, that it was not suspected until he had completed it, and
all search was rendered fruitless. The boy and the girl appeared to
remain perfectly contented among us, and declared that they knew their
countryman would never return.

During this month the bricklayer's gang and some carpenters were sent
down to the Look-out, to erect two huts for the midshipmen and seamen of
the _Sirius_ who were stationed there, where the stonemason's gang were
employed quarrying stone for two chimneys.

The greatest quantity of fish caught at any one time in this month was
two hundred pounds. Once the seine was full; but through either the
wilfulness or the ignorance of the people employed to land it, the
greatest part of its contents escaped. Upwards of two thousand pounds
were taken in the course of the month, which produced a saving of five
hundred pounds of pork at the store, the allowance of thirty-one men for
four weeks.

Very little labour could be enforced from people who had nothing to eat.
Nevertheless, as it was necessary to think of some preparations for the
next season, the convicts were employed in getting the ground ready both
at Sydney and at Rose Hill for the reception of wheat and barley. The
quantity of either article, however, to be now sown, fell far short of
what our necessities required.


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

June.] The first and second days of this month were exceedingly
unfavourable to our situation; heavy rain and blowing weather obstructed
labour and prevented fishing. But it was decreed that on the 3rd we
should experience sensations to which we had been strangers ever since
our departure from England. About half past three in the afternoon of
this day, to the inexpressible satisfaction of every heart in the
settlement, the long-looked-for signal for a ship was made at the South
Head. Every countenance was instantly cheered, and wore the lively
expressions of eagerness, joy, and anxiety; the whole settlement was in
motion and confusion. Notwithstanding it blew very strong at the time,
the governor's secretary, accompanied by Captain Tench and Mr. White,
immediately went off, and at some risk (for a heavy sea was running in
the harbour's mouth) reached the ship for which the signal had been made
just in time to give directions which placed her in safety in Spring
Cove. She proved to be the _Lady Juliana_ transport from London, last
from Plymouth; from which latter place we learned, with no small degree
of wonder and mortification, that she sailed on the 29th day of last July
(full ten months ago) with two hundred and twenty-two female convicts on

We had long conjectured, that the non-arrival of supplies must be owing
either to accident or delays in the voyage, and not to any backwardness
on the part of government in sending them out. We now found that our
disappointment was to be ascribed to both misfortune and delay. The _Lady
Juliana_, we have seen, sailed in July last, and in the month of
September following his majesty's ship _Guardian_, of forty-four guns,
commanded by Lieutenant Edward Riou, sailed from England, having on
board, with what was in the _Lady Juliana_, two years provisions, viz
295,344 pounds of flour, 149,856 pounds of beef, and 303,632 pounds of
pork, for the settlement; a supply of clothing for the marines serving on
shore, and for those belonging to the _Sirius_ and _Supply_; together
with a large quantity of sails and cordage for those ships and for the
uses of the colony; sixteen chests of medicines; fifteen casks of wine; a
quantity of blankets and bedding for the hospital; and a large supply of
unmade clothing for the convicts; with an ample assortment of tools and
implements of agriculture.

At the Cape of Good Hope Lieutenant Riou took on board a quantity of
stock for the settlement, and completed a garden which had been prepared
under the immediate direction of Sir Joseph Banks, and in which there
were near one hundred and fifty of the finest fruit trees, several of
them bearing fruit.

There was scarcely an officer in the colony that had not his share of
private property embarked on board of this richly freighted ship; their
respective friends having procured permission from government for that

But it was as painful then to learn, as it will ever be to recollect,
that on the 23rd day of December preceding, the _Guardian_ struck against
an island of ice in latitude 45 degrees 54 minutes South, and longitude
41 degrees 30 minutes East, whereby she received so much injury, that
Lieutenant Riou was compelled, in order to save her from instantly
sinking, to throw overboard the greatest part of her valuable cargo both
on the public and private account. The stock was all killed, (seven
horses, sixteen cows, two bulls, a number of sheep, goats, and two deer,)
the garden destroyed, and the ship herself saved only by the
interposition of Providence, and the admirable conduct of the commander.

The _Guardian_ was a fast-sailing ship, and would probably have arrived
in the latter end of January or the beginning of February last. At that
period the large quantity of live stock in the colony was daily
increasing; the people required for labour were, comparatively with their
present state, strong and healthy; the necessity of dividing the
Convicts, and sending the _Sirius_ to Norfolk Island, would not have
existed; the ration of provisions, instead of the diminutions which had
been necessarily directed, would have been increased to the full
allowance; and the tillage of the ground consequently proceeded in with
that spirit which must be exerted to the utmost before the settlement
could render itself independent of the mother country for subsistence.

But to what a distance was that period now thrown by this unfortunate
accident, and by the delay which took place in the voyage of the _Lady
Juliana_! Government had placed a naval officer in this transport,
Lieutenant Thomas Edgar*, for the purpose of seeing justice done to the
convicts as to their provisions, cleanliness, etc. and to guard against
any unnecessary delays on the voyage. Being directed to follow the route
of the _Sirius_ and her convoy, he called at Teneriffe and St. Iago, stayed
seven weeks at Rio de Janeiro, and one month at the Cape of Good Hope;
completing his circuitous voyage of ten months duration by arriving here
on the 3rd day of June 1790.

[* He had sailed with the late Captain Cook.]

On Lieutenant Edgar's arrival at the Cape he found the _Guardian_ lying
there, Lieutenant Riou having just safely regained that port, from which
he had sailed but a short time, with every fair prospect of speedily and
happily executing the orders with which he was entrusted, and of
conveying to this colony the assistance of which it stood so much in
need. Unhappily for us, she was now lying a wreck, with difficulty and at
an immense expense preserved from sinking at her anchors.

Beside the common share which we all bore in this calamity, we had to
lament that the efforts of our several friends, in amply supplying the
wants that they concluded must have been occasioned by an absence of
three years, were all rendered ineffectual, the private articles having
been among the first things that were thrown overboard to lighten the

[* The private property of the officers was all stowed, as the best and
safest place in the ship, in the gun-room. Some officers were great

Government had sent out in the _Guardian_ twenty-five male convicts, who
were either farmers or artificers, together with seven persons engaged to
serve as superintendants of convicts, for three years from their landing,
at salaries of forty pounds per annum each. Of these, two, who were
professed gardeners, were supposed to be drowned, having left the ship
soon after she struck, with several other persons in boats, and not been
heard of when the _Lady Juliana_ left the Cape. The superintendants who
remained came on in the transport; but the convicts, of whose conduct
Lieutenant Riou spoke in the highest terms, were detained at the Cape.

A clergyman also was on board the _Guardian_, the Rev. Mr. Crowther, who
had been appointed, at a salary of eight shillings per diem, to divide
the religious duties of the settlement with Mr. Johnson. This gentleman
left the ship with the master and purser in the long-boat, taking
provisions and water with them; and of five boats which were launched on
the same perilous enterprise, this was the only one that conducted her
passengers into safety. They were fortunately, after many days sailing,
picked up by a French ship, which took them into the Cape, and thence to

One-third of the stores and provisions intended for the colony were put
on board the transport, the remaining two-thirds were on board the
_Guardian_; none of which it was supposed would ever reach the
settlement, the small quantity excepted (seventy-five barrels of flour)
which was put on board the transport at the Cape. The Dutch at that place
were profiting by our misfortune, their warehouses being let out at an
immense expense to receive such of the provisions and stores as remained
on board the _Guardian_ when she got in.

In addition to the above distressing circumstances, we learned that one
thousand convicts of both sexes were to sail at the latter end of the
last year, and that a corps of foot was raising for the service of this
country under the command of a major-commandant, Francis Grose esq. from
the 29th foot, of which regiment, he was major. The transports which
sailed hence in May, July, and November 1788 (the _Friendship_ excepted)
arrived in England within a very short time of each other; and their
arrival relieved the public from anxiety upon our account.

The joy that was diffused by the arrival of the transports was
considerably checked by the variety of unpleasant and unwelcome
intelligence which she brought. We learned that our beloved Sovereign had
been attacked and for some months afflicted with a dangerous and alarming
illness, though now happily recovered. Our distance from his person had
not lessened our attachment, and the day following the receipt of this
information being the anniversary of his Majesty's birth, it was kept
with every mark of distinction that was in our power. The governor
pardoned all offenders who were under confinement, or under sentence of
corporal punishment; the ration was increased for that day, that every
one might rejoice; at the governor's table, where all the officers of the
settlement and garrison were met, many prosperous and happy years were
fervently wished to be added to his Majesty's life; and Wednesday the
9th was appointed for a public thanksgiving on occasion of his recovery.

The _Lady Juliana_ was, by strong westerly winds and bad weather,
prevented from reaching the cove until the 6th, when, the weather
moderating, she was towed up to the settlement. The convicts on board her
appeared to have been well treated during their long passage, and
preparations for landing them were immediately made; but, in the
distressed situation of the colony, it was not a little mortifying to
find on board the first ship that arrived, a cargo so unnecessary and
unprofitable as two hundred and twenty-two females, instead of a cargo of
provisions; the supply of provisions on board her was so inconsiderable
as to permit only an addition of one pound and a half of flour being made
to the weekly ration. Had the _Guardian_ arrived, perhaps we should never
again have been in want.

On the 9th, being the day appointed for returning thanks to Almighty God
for his Majesty's happy restoration to health, the attendance on divine
service was very full. A sermon on the occasion was preached by the Rev.
Mr. Johnson, who took his text from the book of Proverbs, 'By me kings
reign.' The officers were afterwards entertained at the governor's, when
an address on the occasion of the meeting was resolved to be sent to his

When the women were landed on the 11th, many of them appeared to be
loaded with the infirmities incident to old age, and to be very improper
subjects for any of the purposes of an infant colony. Instead of being
capable of labour, they seemed to require attendance themselves, and were
never likely to be any other than a burden to the settlement, which must
sensibly feel the hardship of having to support by the labour of those
who could toll, and who at the best were but few, a description of people
utterly incapable of using any exertion toward their own maintenance.

When the women were disembarked, and the provisions and stores landed, it
was found that twenty casks of flour (from the unfitness of the ship to
perform such a voyage, being old and far from tight) were totally
destroyed. This was a serious loss to us, when only four pounds of flour
constituted the allowance of that article for one man for seven days.

From this situation of distress, however, we were in a short time
afterwards effectually relieved, and the colony might be pronounced to be
restored, by the arrival (on the 20th) of the _Justinian_ storeship, Mr.
Benjamin Maitland master, from England, after a short passage of only
five months. Mr. Maitland, on the 2nd of this month, the day preceding
the arrival of the _Lady Juliana_, was off the entrance of this harbour,
and would certainly have been found by that ship at anchor within the
heads, had he not, by a sudden change of the wind, aided by a current,
been driven as far to the northward as Black Head, in latitude 32 degrees
S. where he was very nearly lost in an heavy gale of wind; but which he
providentially rode out, having been obliged to come to an anchor, though
close in with some dangerous rocks. The wind was dead on the shore, and
the rocks so close when he anchored, that the rebound of the wave
prevented him from riding any considerable strain on his cable. Had that
failed him, we should never have seen the _Justinian_ or her valuable
cargo, which was found to consist of stores and provisions, trusted, it
was true, to one ship; but as she had happily arrived in safety, and was
full, we all rejoiced that we had not to wait for the arrival of a second
before the colony could be restored to its former plenty.

We now learned that three transports might be hourly expected, having on
board the thousand convicts of whose destination we had received some
information by the _Lady Juliana_, together with detachments of the corps
raised for the service of this country. The remainder of this corps
(which was intended to consist of three hundred men) were to come out in
the _Gorgon_ man of war, of forty-four guns. This ship was also to bring
out Major Grose, who had been appointed lieutenant-governor of the
territory in the room of Major Ross, which officer, together with the
marines under his command, were intended to return to England in that

Of the change which had been effected in the system of government in
France we now first received information, and we heard with pleasure that
it was not likely to interrupt the tranquillity of our own happy
nation--happy in a constitution which might well excite the admiration
and become the model of other states not so free.

The _Justinian_ had sailed on the 17th of last January from Falmouth, and
touched only at St. Iago, avoiding, as she had not any convicts on board,
the circuitous passage by the Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope.

On the day following her arrival, every thing seemed getting into its
former train; the full ration was ordered to be issued; instead of daily,
it was to be served weekly as formerly; and the drum for labour was to
beat as usual in the afternoons at one o'clock. How general was the wish,
that no future necessity might ever occasion another deduction in the
ration, or an alteration in the labour of the people!

That Norfolk Island, whose situation at this time every one was fearful
might call loudly for relief, should as quickly as possible reap her
share of the benefit introduced among us by these arrivals, it was
intended to send the _Lady Juliana_ thither; and as she required some
repairs, without which she could not proceed to sea, some carpenters from
the shore were sent on board her, and employed to sheath her bends, which
were extremely defective.

A shop was opened on shore by the master of this ship, at the hut lately
occupied as a bakehouse for the _Supply_, for the sale of some articles
of grocery, glass, millinery, perfumery, and stationary; but the risk of
bringing them out having been most injudiciously estimated too highly,
as was evident from the increase on the first cost, which could not be
disguised, they did not go off so quickly as the owners supposed they

A report having been circulated soon after the establishing of this
settlement, that a considerable sum of money had been subscribed in
England, to be expended in articles for the benefit of the convicts who
embarked for this country, which articles had been entrusted to the Rev.
Mr. Johnson, to be disposed of according to the intention of the
subscribers after our arrival, Mr. Johnson wrote to his friends in
England to confute this report; and by accounts lately received, it
appeared that no such public collection had ever been made; at Mr.
Johnson's request, therefore, the governor published a contradiction of
the above report in the general orders of the settlement. The convicts
had hitherto imagined that they had a right to the articles which had
from time to time been distributed among them; but Mr. Johnson now
thought it necessary that they should know it was to his bounty they were
indebted for them, and that consequently the partakers of it were to be
of his own selection.

The female convicts who had lately arrived attending at divine service on
the first Sunday after their landing, Mr. Johnson, with much propriety,
in his discourse, touched upon their situation, and described it so
forcibly as to draw tears from many who were the least hardened among

Early in the morning of the 23rd, one of the men at the Lookout discerned
a sail to the northward, but, the weather coming on thick, soon lost
sight of it. The bad weather continuing, it was not seen again until the
25th, when word was brought up to the settlement, that a large ship,
apparently under jury-masts, was seen in the offing; and on the following
day the _Surprise_ transport, Nicholas Anstis master (late chief mate of
the _Lady Penrhyn_) anchored in the cove from England, having on board
one captain, one lieutenant, one surgeon's mate, one serjeant, one
corporal, one drummer, and twenty-three privates of the New South Wales
corps; together with two hundred and eighteen male convicts. She sailed
on the 19th of January from Portsmouth in company with two other
transports, with whom she parted between the Cape of Good Hope and this

We had the mortification to learn, that the prisoners in this ship were
very unhealthy, upwards of one hundred being now in the sick list on
board. They had been very sickly also during the passage, and had buried
forty-two of these unfortunate people. A portable hospital had
fortunately been received by the _Justinian_, and there now appeared but
too great a probability that we should soon have patients enough to fill
it; for the signal was flying at the South Head for the other transports,
and we were led to expect them in as unhealthy a state as that which had
just arrived.

On the evening of Monday the 28th, the _Neptune_ and _Scarborough_
transports anchored off Garden Island, and were warped into the cove the
following morning.

We were not mistaken in our expectations of the state in which they might
arrive. By noon the following day, two hundred sick had been landed from
the different transports. The west side afforded a scene truly
distressing and miserable; upwards of thirty tents were pitched in front
of the hospital, the portable one not being yet put up; all of which, as
well as the hospital and the adjacent huts, were filled with people, many
of whom were labouring under the complicated diseases of scurvy and the
dysentery, and others in the last stage of either of those terrible
disorders, or yielding to the attacks of an infectious fever.

The appearance of those who did not require medical assistance was lean
and emaciated. Several of these miserable people died in the boats as
they were rowing on shore, or on the wharf as they were lifting out of
the boats; both the living and the dead exhibiting more horrid spectacles
than had ever been witnessed in this country. All this was to be
attributed to confinement, and that of the worst species, confinement in
a small space and in irons, not put on singly, but many of them chained
together. On board the _Scarborough_ a plan had been formed to take the
ship, which would certainly have been attempted, but for a discovery
which was fortunately made by one of the convicts (Samuel Burt) who had
too much principle left to enter into it. This necessarily, _on board
that ship_, occasioned much future circumspection; but Captain Marshall's
humanity considerably lessened the severity which the insurgents might
naturally have expected. On board the other ships, the masters, who had
the entire direction of the prisoners, never suffered them to be at large
on deck, and but few at a time were permitted there. This consequently
gave birth to many diseases. It was said, that on board the _Neptune_
several had died in irons; and what added to the horror of such a
circumstance was, that their deaths were concealed, for the purpose of
sharing their allowance of provisions, until chance, and the
offensiveness of a corpse, directed the surgeon, or some one who had
authority in the ship, to the spot where it lay.

A contract had been entered into by government with Messrs. Calvert,
Camden, and King, merchants of London, for the transporting of one
thousand convicts, and government engaged to pay L17 7s 6d per head for
every convict they embarked. This sum being as well for their provisions
as for their transportation, no interest for their preservation was
created in the owners, and the dead were more profitable (if profit alone
was consulted by them, and the credit of their house was not at stake)
than the living.

The following accounts of the numbers who died on board each ship were
given in by the masters:

Men Women Children
On board the _Lady Juliana_ 0 5 2
On board the _Surprise_ 42 0 0
On board the _Scarborough_ 68 0 0
On board the _Neptune_ 151 11 2
Total 261 16 4

All possible expedition was used to get the sick on shore; for even while
they remained on board many died. The bodies were taken over to the north
shore, and there interred.

Parties were immediately sent into the woods to collect the acid berry of
the country, which for its extreme acetosity was deemed by the surgeons a
most powerful antiscorbutic. Among other regulations, orders were given
for baking a certain quantity of flour into pound loaves, to be
distributed daily among the sick, as it was not in their power to prepare
it themselves. Wine and other necessaries being given judiciously among
those whose situations required such comforts, many of the wretches had
recourse to stratagem to obtain more than their share by presenting
themselves, under different names and appearances, to those who had the
delivery of them, or by exciting the compassion of those who could order

Blankets were immediately sent to the hospital in sufficient numbers to
make every patient comfortable; notwithstanding which, they watched the
moment when any one died to strip him of his covering (although dying
themselves) and could only be prevented by the utmost vigilance from
exercising such inhumanity in every instance.

The detachment from the New South Wales corps, consisting of one captain,
three subalterns, and a proportionate number of non-commissioned officers
and privates, was immediately disembarked, and room being made in the
marine barracks, they took possession of the quarters allotted for them.

Lieutenant Shapcote, the naval agent on board the _Neptune_, died between
the Cape of Good Hope and this place. A son of this gentleman arrived in
the _Justinian_, to which ship he belonged, and received the first
account of his father's death, on going aboard the _Neptune_ to
congratulate him on his arrival.

An instance of sagacity in a dog occurred on the arrival of the
_Scarborough_, too remarkable to pass unnoticed; Mr. Marshall, the master
of the ship, on quitting Port Jackson in May 1788, left a Newfoundland
dog with Mr. Clark (the agent on the part of the contractor, who remained
in the colony), which he had brought from England. On the return of his
old master, Hector swam off to the ship, and getting on board, recognised
him, and manifested, in every manner suitable to his nature, his Joy at
seeing him; nor could the animal be persuaded to quit him again,
accompanying him always when he went on shore, and returning with him on

At a muster of the convicts which was directed during this month, one man
only was unaccounted for, James Haydon. Soon after the muster was over,
word was brought to the commissary, that his body had been found drowned
in Long Cove, at the back of the settlement. Upon inquiry into the cause
of his death, it appeared that he had a few days before stolen some
tobacco out of an officer's garden in which he had been employed, and,
being threatened with punishment, had absconded. He was considered as a
well-behaved man; and if he preferred death to shame and punishment,
which he had been heard to declare he did, and which his death seemed to
confirm, he was deserving a better fate.

The total number of sick on the last day of the month was three hundred
and forty-nine.

July.] The melancholy scenes which closed the last month appeared
unchanged at the beginning of this. The morning generally opened with the
attendants of the sick passing frequently backwards and forwards from the
hospital to the burying-ground with the miserable victims of the night.
Every exertion was made to get up the portable hospital; but, although we
were informed that it had been put up in London in a very few hours, we
did not complete it until the 7th, when it was instantly filled with
patients. On the 13th, there were four hundred and eighty-eight persons
under medical treatment at and about the hospital--a dreadful sick list!

Such of the convicts from the ships as were in a tolerable state of
health, both male and female, were sent up to Rose Hill, to be employed
in agriculture and other labours. A subaltern's detachment from the New
South Wales corps was at the same time sent up for the military duty of
that settlement in conjunction with the marine corps.

There also the governor in the course of the month laid down the lines of
a regular town. The principal street was marked out to extend one mile,
commencing near the landing-place, and running in a direction west, to
the foot of the rising ground named Rose Hill, and in which his
excellency purposed to erect a small house for his own residence whenever
he should visit that settlement. On each side of this street, whose width
was to be two hundred and five feet, huts were to be erected capable of
containing ten persons each, and at the distance of sixty feet one from
the other; and garden ground for each hut was allotted in the rear. As
the huts were to be built of such combustible materials as wattles and
plaster, and to be covered with thatch, the width of the street, and the
distance they were placed from each other, operated as an useful
precaution against fire; and by beginning on so wide a scale the
inhabitants of the town at some future day would possess their own
accommodations and comforts more readily, each upon his own allotment,
than if crowded into a small space.

While these works were going on at Rose Hill, the labouring convicts at
Sydney were employed in constructing a new brick storehouse, discharging
the transports, and forming a road from the town to the brick-kilns, for
the greater ease and expedition in bringing in bricks to the different

Our stores now wore a more respectable appearance than they had done for
some time. In addition to the provisions put on board the transports in
England, Lieutenant Riou had forwarded by those ships four hundred
tierces of beef and two hundred tierces of pork, which he had saved from
the wreck of the _Guardian_, and which we had the satisfaction to find
were nothing the worse for the accident which befel her. These, with the
seventy-five casks of flour which were brought on by the _Lady Juliana_,
formed the amount of what we were now to receive of the large cargo of
that unfortunate ship.

Lieutenant Riou also sent by these ships the twenty male convicts which
had been selected as artificers and put on board the _Guardian_ in
England; and with them he sent the most pointed recommendations in their
favour, describing their conduct, both before and after the accident
which happened to the ship under his command, in the strongest terms of

The _Lady Juliana_ being found on inspection to require such extensive
repairs as would too long delay the dispatching the necessary supplies to
Norfolk Island, the governor directed the _Surprise_ transport and
_Justinian_ storeship to proceed thither.

By the 19th, the _Justinian_ was cleared of her cargo, excepting about
five hundred casks of provisions, which were not to be taken out
until she arrived at Norfolk Island; and both that ship and the
_Surprise_ were preparing with all expedition for sailing. The
_Justinian_, however, from the circumstance of retaining some part of her
large cargo on board, was ready first, and sailed on the 28th. The
master, Mr. Benjamin Maitland, was directed to follow his former orders
after landing his stores and provisions at Norfolk Island, and proceed to
Canton to freight home with teas upon account of government. She was
hired by the month at fifteen shillings and sixpence per ton, and was to
be in government employ until her return to Deptford. By this ship the
governor sent dispatches to the secretary of state.

The _Lady Juliana_, having received some repairs by the carpenters of the
colony at the time when it was designed she should to Norfolk Island,
and some others by the assistance of her own carpenters, sailed a day or
two after the _Justinian_ for Canton. From the extravagant price set on
his goods by the master, his shop had turned out badly; and it was said
that he took many articles to sea, which he must of necessity throw
overboard before he reached Canton.

The governor received by these ships dispatches from the secretary of
state, containing, among other articles of information, instructions
respecting the granting of lands and the allotting of ground in
townships. Soon after their arrival it was declared in public orders:

That, in consequence of the assurances that were given to the
non-commissioned officers and men belonging to the detachment of marines,
on their embarking for the service of this country, that such of them as
should behave well should be allowed to quit the service on their return
to England, or be discharged abroad upon the relief, and permitted to
settle in the country; his Majesty had been graciously pleased to direct
the following terms to be held out as an encouragement to such
non-commissioned officers and private men of the marines as might be
desirous of becoming settlers in this country, or in any of the islands
comprised within the government of the continent* of New South Wales, on
the arrival of the corps raised and intended for the service of this
country, and for their relief, viz.

[* Now so called officially for the first time.]

To every non-commissioned officer, an allotment of one hundred and thirty
acres of land if single, and one hundred and fifty if married.

To every private man, eighty acres of land if single, one hundred if
married; and ten acres of land for each child at the time of granting the
allotment; free of all fees, taxes, quit-rents, and other
acknowledgments, for the term of five years; at the expiration of which
term to be liable to an annual quit-rent of one shilling for every fifty

As a further encouragement, a bounty was offered of three pounds per man
to every non-commissioned officer and private man who would enlist in the
new corps (to form a company to be officered from the marines) and an
allotment of double the above proportion of land if they behaved well for
five years, to be granted them at the expiration of that time; the said
allotments not to be subject to any fee or tax for ten years, and then to
be liable to an annual quit-rent of one shilling for every fifty acres.

And upon their discharge at either of the above periods they were to be
supplied with clothing and one year's provisions, with feed grain,
tools, and implements of agriculture. The service of a certain number of
convicts was to be assigned to them for their labour when they could make
it appear that they could maintain, feed, and clothe them. In these
instructions no mention was made of granting lands to officers; and to
other persons who might emigrate and be desirous of settling in this
country, no greater proportion of land was to be allotted than what was
to be granted to a non-commissioned officer of the marines.

Government, between every allotment, reserved to itself a space on either
side, which, as crown land, was equal to the largest grant, not to be
granted, but leased only to individuals for the term of fourteen years.

Provision was made for the church, by allotting in each township which
should be marked out four hundred acres for the maintenance of a
minister; and half of that number was to be allotted for the maintenance
of a school master.

If the allotments should happen to be made on the banks of any navigable
river or creek, care was to be taken that the breadth of each track did
not extend along the banks thereof more than one-third of the length of
such track, in order that no settler should engross more than his
proportion of the benefit which would accrue from such a situation. And
it was also directed, that the good and the bad land should be as equally
divided as circumstances would allow.

No new regulations were directed to take place in respect of granting
lands to convicts emancipated or discharged; the original instructions,
under which each male convict if single was to have thirty, if married
fifty, and ten acres for every child he might have at the time of
settling, remained in force.

The particular conditions required by the crown from a settler were, the
residing upon the ground, proceeding to the improvement and cultivation
of his allotment, and reserving such of the timber thereof as might be
fit for naval purposes for the use of his Majesty.

The period fixed by government for victualling a settler from the public
stores, twelve months, was in general looked upon as too short, and it
was thought not practicable for any one at the end of that period to
maintain himself, unless during that time he should have very great
assistance given him, and be fortunate in his crops.

About the latter end of this month a spermaceti whale was seen in the
harbour, and some boats from the transports went after it with harpoons;
but, from the ignorance of the people in the use of them, the fish
escaped unhurt. In a few days afterwards word was received that a punt
belonging to Lieutenant Poulden had been pursued by a whale and overset,
by which accident young Mr. Ferguson (a midshipman of the _Sirius_) and
two soldiers were unfortunately drowned. The soldiers, with another of
their companions, who saved his life by swimming, had been down the
harbour fishing, and, calling at the Look-out, took in Mr. Ferguson, who
had sat up all the preceding night to write to his father, Captain James
Ferguson, lieutenant-governor of Greenwich hospital, and was now bringing
his letters to Sydney for the purpose of sending them by the _Justinian_.

Mr. Ferguson was a steady well-disposed young man, and the service, in
all probability, by this extraordinary accident, lost a good officer.

The _Scarborough_ was cleared this month, and, being discharged from
government employ, the master was left at liberty to proceed to Canton,
where he was to load home with teas.

Much irregularity was committed by the seamen of the transports, who
found means to get on shore at night, notwithstanding the port orders;
and one, a sailor from the _Neptune_, was punished with twenty-five lashes
for being found on shore without any permission at eleven o'clock at

The sick list, now consisting of only three hundred and thirty-two
persons, was found to be daily decreasing, and the mortality was
infinitely less at the end, than at the beginning of the month.

August.] The _Surprise_ transport sailed on the first of August for
Norfolk Island, having on board thirty-five male and one hundred and
fifty female convicts, two of the superintendants lately arrived, and one
deputy commissary, Mr. Thomas Freeman, appointed such by the governor's
warrant. There came out in the _Neptune_ a person of the name of
Wentworth, who, being desirous of some employment in this country, was
now sent to Norfolk Island to act as an assistant to the surgeon there,
being reputed to have the necessary requisites for such a situation.

On the 8th, the _Scarborough_ sailed for Canton, and the _Neptune_ was
preparing to follow her as soon as she could be cleared of the cargo she
had on board upon account of government. While this was delivering, some
of the convicts who came out in that ship put in before the
judge-advocate their claims upon the master, Mr. Donald Trail, not only
for clothing and other articles, but for money, which they stated to have
been taken from them at the time of their embarkation, and had never
since been returned to them. Many of these claims were disputed by Mr.
Trail, and others were settled to the satisfaction of the claimants; but
of their clothing, knives, buckles, etc. he could give no other account,
than that he was directed by the naval agent, Lieutenant Shapcote, to
destroy them at their embarkation for obvious reasons, tending to the
safety of the ship and for the preservation of their healths.

On the 19th the _Neptune_ was cleared and discharged the service, having
landed the cargo she brought out on government account in good
condition. Preparatory to her sailing for China, she quitted the cove on
the 22nd; soon after which, information being received that several
convicts purposed to attempt making their escape in her from the colony,
a small armed party of soldiers was sent on board her, under the
direction of Lieutenant Long* of the marines, to search the ship, when
one man and one woman were found on board. The man was one who had just
arrived in the colony, and, being soon tired of his situation, had
prevailed on some of the people to secrete him among the fire-wood which
they had taken on board. In the night another person swam off to the
ship, and was received by the guard. He pleaded being a free man, but as
he had taken a very improper mode of quitting the colony, he was, by
order of the governor, punished the day following, together with the
convict who had been found concealed among the fire-wood. The _Neptune_
sailed on the 24th, leaving behind her one mate Mr. Forfar, and two
seamen; and the cove was once more without a ship.

[* Appointed by Governor Plillip, after the arrival of the New South
Wales corps, to do the duty of town-adjutant.]

An excursion into the country had been undertaken this month by Captain
Tench and some other officers. They were absent six days, and on their
return we learned, that they had proceeded in a direction SSW of Rose
Hill; that they met with fresh water running to the northward; found the
traces of natives wherever they went, and passed through a very bad
country intersected every where with deep ravines. They had reason to
think, that in rainy weather the run of water which they met with rose
above its ordinary level between thirty and forty feet. They saw a flock
of emus twelve in number.

It having been found that the arms and ammunition which were entrusted to
the convicts residing at the distant farms for their protection against
the natives, were made a very different use of, an order was given
recalling them, and prohibiting any convicts from going out with arms,
except McIntire, Burn, and Randall, who were licensed game-killers.

The clergyman complaining of non-attendance at divine service, which it
must be observed was generally performed in the open air, alike
unsheltered from wind and rain, as from the fervor of the summer's sun,
it was ordered that three pounds of flour should be deducted from the
ration of each overseer, and two pounds from that of each labouring
convict, who should not attend prayers once on each Sunday, unless some
reasonable excuse for their absence should be assigned.

Toward the latter end of the month a criminal court was held for the
trial of Hugh Low, a convict, who had been in the _Guardian_, and who was
in custody for stealing a sheep, the property of Mr. Palmer the
commissary. Being most clearly convicted of the offence by the evidence
of an accomplice and others, he received sentence of death, and, the
governor not deeming it advisable to pardon an offence of that nature,
suffered the next day, acknowledging the commission of the fact for which
he died.

The preservation of our stock was an object of so much consequence to the
colony, that it became indispensably necessary to protect it by every
means in our power. Had any lenity been extended to this offender on
account of his good conduct in a particular situation, it might have been
the cause of many depredations being made upon the stock, which it was
hoped his punishment would prevent.

On the 28th a pair of shoes were served to each convict. The female
convicts were employed in making the slops for the men, which had been
now sent out unmade. Each woman who could work at her needle had
materials for two shirts given her at a time, and while so employed was
not to be taken for any other labour.

The storehouse which was begun in July was finished this month, and was
got up and covered in without any rain. Its dimensions were one hundred
feet by twenty-two.

At Rose Hill the convicts were employed in constructing the new town
which had been marked out, building the huts, and forming the principal
street. The governor, who personally directed all these works, caused a
spot of ground for a capacious garden to be allotted for the use of the
New South Wales corps, contiguous to the spot whereon his excellency
meant to erect the barracks for that corps.

In addition to the flagstaff which had been erected on the South Head of
the harbour, the governor determined to construct a column, of a height
sufficient to be seen from some distance at sea, and the stonemasons were
sent down to quarry stone upon the spot for the building.

The body of one of the unfortunate people who were drowned at the latter
end of July last with Mr. Ferguson was found about the close of this
month, washed on shore in Rose Bay, and very much disfigured. The whale
which occasioned this accident, we were informed, had never found its way
out of the harbour, but, getting on shore in Manly Bay, was killed by the
natives, and was the cause of numbers of them being at this time
assembled to partake of the repasts which it afforded them.


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

September.] Since the escape of Bennillong the native in May last,
nothing had been heard of him, nor had any thing worthy of notice
occurred among the other natives. In the beginning of this month,
however, they were brought forward again by a circumstance which seemed
at first to threaten the colony with a loss that must have been for some
time severely felt; but which was succeeded by an opening of that
amicable intercourse with these people which the governor had always
laboured to establish, and which was at last purchased by a most
unpleasant accident to himself, and at the risk of his life.

The governor, who had uniformly directed every undertaking in person
since the formation of the colony, went down in the morning of the 7th to
the South Head, accompanied by Captain Collins and Lieutenant Waterhouse,
to give some instructions to the people employed in erecting a column at
that place. As he was returning to the settlement, he received
information, by a boat which had landed Mr. White and some other
gentlemen in the lower part of the harbour (they were going on an
excursion towards Broken Bay) that Bennillong had been seen there by Mr.
White, and had sent the governor as a present a piece of the whale which
was then lying in the wash of the surf on the beach. Anxious to see him
again, the governor, after taking some arms from the party at the
Look-out, which he thought the more requisite in this visit as he heard
the cove was full of natives, went down and landed at the place where the
whale was lying. Here he not only saw Bennillong, but Cole-be also, who
had made his escape from the governor's house a few days after his
capture. At first his excellency trusted himself alone with these people;
but the few months Bennillong had been away had so altered his person,
that the governor, until joined by Mr. Collins and Mr. Waterhouse, did
not perfectly recollect his old acquaintance. Bennillong had been always
much attached to Mr. Collins, and testified with much warmth his
satisfaction at seeing him again. Several articles of wearing apparel
were now given to him and his companions (taken for that purpose from the
people in the boat, who, all but one man, remained on their oars to be
ready in case of any accident), and a promise was exacted from the
governor by Bennillong to return in two days with more, and also with
some hatchets or tomahawks. The cove was full of natives allured by the
attractions of a whale feast; and it being remarked during the conference
that the twenty or thirty which appeared were drawing themselves into a
circle round the governor and his small unarmed party (for that was
literally and most inexcusably their situation) the governor proposed
retiring to the boat by degrees; but Bennillong, who had presented to him
several natives by name, pointed out one, whom the governor, thinking to
take particular notice of, stepped forward to meet, holding out both his
hands toward him. The savage not understanding this civility, and perhaps
thinking that he was going to seize him as a prisoner, lifted a spear

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