Archive for October, 2009

ASLEEP IN THE DEEP – MERCHANT MEN OF THE FIRST FLEET

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

‘By Alexander, under care of Lieutenant Shortland, agent for the transports, I have sent dispatches to the Right Honourable the Lord Sydney and yourself, with a rough survey of Port Jackson….Lieutenant Shortland is likewise charged with a box of letters from Monsieur La Perouse for the French Ambassador’. Governor Phillip to Under-Secretary Nepean, July 10th 1788.

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‘Our wealth and power in India is their great and constant object of jealously; and they [the French] will never miss an opportunity of attempting to wrest it out of our hands’. Sir James Harris, cited Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Spy Governor. Hardie Grant Books, Sydney 2013

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‘The British had long sought to penetrate Spain’s jealously¬† guarded South American trade’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams – Pacific Explorations, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London, 2018

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‘When leaving Botany Bay, two French ships were seen in offing…there would seem to be “some justification for the saying that England won Australia by six days”. Edward Jenks, cited H.E. Egerton, A Short History of British Colonial History, Methuen, London 1928

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‘When Phillip planted the flag at Sydney Cove in 1788 he was not claiming the land for the British to take it away from the Aboriginal people but to make sure the French did not make the claim first’. The Honest History Book, Larissa Behrendt, Settlement or Invasion, ed. David Stephens & Alison Broinowski, NewSouth, 2017

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1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth England: A flotilla of eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of approximately 1500 souls (one-half convicted criminals), sailed from Portsmouth on a voyage of 13,000 miles (21,000 km) to invade the island continent of New Holland now Australia.

HMS Sirius and HMS Supply carried two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel and twenty (20) officials.

Two hundred and forty-five (245) marines guarding five hundred and eighty (580) male criminals ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies’ were distributed throughout nine (9) chartered vessels, three (3 )from the British East India Company. See: A Tale of Two Fleets

Merchant ships at that time were crewed to a standard formula related to tonnage; eight (8) seamen and one (1) boy per one hundred (100) ton.

With specialist warrant officers, the number of crewmen on the chartered ships, would have numbered approximately four hundred and forty (440) men.

The mission of this large naval expedition, fully funded by government, was to claim British sovereignty over the entire eastern coast of New Holland.

‘New Holland is a blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of India’. Anon. Historical Records of New South Wales

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