A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS – THE ENGLISHMEN OF THE FIRST FLEET

April 4th, 2018

‘A very tasty pea and ham soup washed down with tea from the leaves of the local sarsaparilla vine. In fact being British the colonists drank so much of the stuff that sarsaparilla remains almost extinct in the area around Sydney’. Tony Robinson’s History of Australia, Penguin 2011.

1788 – 18 January, Botany Bay: HMS Supply, the first of eleven (11) vessels making up the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of 1500 hungry souls, reached Botany Bay, in the island continent of New Holland, now Australia on 18th January 1788, almost immediately Supply deployed her seine [trawling] nets.

‘No sooner were the fish out of the water than they [Aborigines] began to lay hold of them as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own; upon which the officer of the boat, I think very properly, restrained them giving, however, to each of them a part. They did not at first seem very well pleased with this mode of procedure, but on observing with what justice this fish was distributed they appeared content’. John White, Chief Medical Officer, First Fleet Journal

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A HATCHET JOB: HEADS OFF THE BIDGIGAL OF BOTANY BAY

March 25th, 2018

‘In war the trophy head is a mark of supremacy and respect’. Frances Larson, Severed, Granta, 2015

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Cove: ‘The author of this publication [Captain Watkin Tench] received a direction to attend the governor [Arthur Phillip] at head quarters immediately.

I went, and his excellency informed me, that he had pitched upon me to execute the foregoing command…infuse universal terror…convince them of our superiority… if practicable, to bring away two [2] natives as prisoners and to put to death ten [10]. That we were to cut off, and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose, hatchets and bags would be furnished.

We were to proceed to the north arm of the [Botany] bay…destroy all weapons of war: no hut was to be burned: that all women and children were to remain uninjured’.  Marine Captain Watkin, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhadinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Can we know what drove Governor Phillip’s ferocity? Yes we can – simmering rebellion centred on the newly arrived New South Wales Corps (June 1790) ‘certain  officers’ in particular Lieutenant John Macarthur. Infantry troops they were to replace the marines of Sydney garrison who, in January 1788, invaded the island continent of New Holland.

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A LETHAL WEAPON: SMALLPOX – BOSTON 1775; ROBERT ROSS & DAVID COLLINS – SYDNEY 1789; MAJOR ROSS & CAPTAIN COLLINS

March 21st, 2018

BOSTON:

‘From time to time throughout history, peoples and governments around the world have used micro-organisms as efficient and cost-effective weapons of mass destruction. In 1763, in the earliest recorded deliberate release of a virus, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, British Commander-in-Chief in North America, authorized the distribution of smallpox-contaminated blankets to native Americans who were harassing European settlers around the garrison at Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania’. Professor Dorothy H. Crawford, The Invisible Enemy, Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Britain & the North American Indian Wars: Britain’s General Thomas Gage served as second-in-command to General Amherst during the Indian Wars he was implicated in the distribution of blankets infected with smallpox, specifically among Indian tribes at Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh.

 ‘We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital, I hope it will have the desired effect. “This act had the sanction of an impressive array of British officers, including Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander in chief at the time, and General Thomas Gage, who replaced Amherst and signed off on reimbursements for the “Sundries” used ” to convoy the Smallpox to the Indians”. Cited in Pox Americana: Professor Elizabeth A. Fenn, The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, 2001

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A BIOLOGICAL WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION – SMALLPOX APRIL 1789

March 14th, 2018

‘From time to time throughout history, peoples and governments around the world have used micro-organisms as efficient and cost-effective weapons of mass destruction’. Professor Dorothy H. Crawford, The Invisible Enemy, Edinburgh University Press, 2000

1788 – 18 January, Botany Bay: At 2.15pm on 18 January 1788 HMS Supply, one (1) of a large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of 1500 souls (one-half convicted criminals) anchored in the entrance to Botany Bay, New Holland now Australia.

‘The main battle was about having enough to eat’. The Story of Australia, Don, 1984.

See: Abandoned and Left To Starve Sydney January 1788 to June 1790

Captain Arthur Phillip RN the fleet commander was told more convicts and supplies would ‘follow shortly’ from England when no supply ships arrived it became clear survival would depend on appropriating fish and crustacean, the local Aborigines’ primary source of protein.

Fish was plentiful during Sydney’s summer months and HMS Sirius and Supply’s trawling nets were deployed daily, as much as ‘400 hundred weight of fish being taken up…’

Weeks passed to months and still no relief. Winter came fish was scarce, two (2) populations – one indigenous one introduced – competed with increasing hostility for the same resources.

1788 – 2 October, Africa: HMS Sirius departed Sydney on a perilous lone voyage to the Cape of Good Hope where Captain John Hunter RN was to buy food and medicines from the Dutch at Cape Town. The passage via Cape Horne was estimated to take six (6) months.

1789

1789 – April: ‘A smallpox epidemic struck the Aboriginal population round Sydney. Inexplicably, the epidemic did not affect the European population, but Phillip estimated that it resulted in the death of 50% of the local Aboriginal community. People of Australia, Macquarie Series, Ed. Bryce Fraser, 1998.

‘It is true, that our surgeons had brought out variolous (smallpox) matter in bottles’. Tench ibid.

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ARTHUR PHILLIP – SOLDIER SPY – & EVAN NEPEAN – HANDLER – A MILITARY CAMPAIGN HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

March 6th, 2018

‘His [Phillip’s ] failure to invite the French commander [La Perouse] there [Sydney Cove] reflect some fear that he might be known as a spy.’ Alan Frost, Arthur Phillip 1783-1814 His Voyaging, 

Until quite recently it was generally held Arthur Phillip was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to command the ‘First Fleet’. But like ‘amity and kindness’, Australia’s foundation myth – benign colonisation – nothing could be further from the truth.

Brazil would prove to be the key to the success of the ‘First Fleet’ voyage and Phillip was very familiar with Brazil. A decade earlier he served there seconded to the Portuguese Navy. Fluent in Portuguese, the good relations he built during his four (4) years in Rio de Janerio, did much to ensure success.

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ENTRY WOUNDS – A SUMMARY: GUNS, GENDER, STARVATION, DISEASE – WE’RE BOUND FOR BOTANY BAY

March 6th, 2018

‘This book is book is about the history of Britain…To write about this country without saying something about the West Indies and India, about Australia and Argentina is unreal’. Eric Hobsbawn, Industry and Empire, Vol. 3, 1750 to the Present Day, 1982

Just as unreal would be to write about modern Australian history without saying something about Britain.

1786 – 12 October, London: ‘And you [Phillip] are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and disciplines of war.

We reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be said governor of our territory called New South Wales…from the Northern extremity of the coast called Cape York…to the Southern extremity…South Cape’. Instructions: King George III to Captain Arthur Phillip RN, Historical Records of New South Wales.

‘Amity and kindness’ our nation’s founding myth – benign colonisation – Monty Python’s ‘all things bright and beautiful’ is just that – myth.

GUNS

‘The troops sent to garrison the Australian colonies participated in the great struggle at the heart of the European conquest of this continent…They fought in one of the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British Empire and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of South Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Sydney, 1986

1787 – May 13, Portsmouth: An armed convoy of eleven (11) ships with a complement of 1500 souls, one half convicted criminals 750 men – 193 women, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’, sailed from Portsmouth England for Botany Bay New Holland, now Australia.

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and [male] convicts…the standard adopted was that of troops serving in the West Indies. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts To The Colonies, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1993

1788 – January, 18/20 Botany Bay: The fleet arrived at Botany Bay within thirty-six (36) hours between 18-20 January 1788.

1788 – January, 24, Botany Bay: Two (2) French ships – La Boussole – Captain La Perouse and L’Astrolabe – Captain Clonard – appeared in the entrance to Botany Bay.

1788 – 25 January, Port Jackson: Captain Phillip aboard HMS Supply quit Botany Bay and sailed nine (9) miles (14km) north to Sydney Cove a safe anchorage deep within Port Jackson. There Phillip raised the Union Jack from a hastily erected flagstaff thereby claiming Britain had beaten France to the punch. See: Australia – Britain By A Short Half-Head  

1788 – 7 February, Sydney: ‘We have come today to take possession of this fifth great continental division of the earth on behalf of the British people. I do not doubt that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made’. Governor Arthur Phillip, Historical Records of New South Wales. 

On the 7th of February with all the ‘pomp and circumstance of glorious war’ Governor Arthur Phillip, as per instructions, claimed British sovereignty over ‘our territory called New South Wales…from the Northern extremity of the coast called Cape York…to the Southern extremity…South Cape‘.

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AIR-BRUSHED – SEX & TRANSPORTATION – 138,000 MEN & 25,000 WOMEN

February 28th, 2018

‘The tender [HMS Supply] …may be employed in conveying to the new settlement a further number of women from the Friendly islands, New Caledonia etc…from whence any number may be procured without difficulty; and without a sufficient proportion of that sex it is well known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders’. 1786 – Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay

1788-1813: While other European nations included convicts in their settler-mix Britain’s occupation of Australia was unique, in so far as, the first generation 1788-1813 was almost exclusively male.

‘The fact itself of causing the existence of a human being is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To bestow a life which may either be a curse or a blessing, unless the being on whom it is bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being’. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: 138,000 KING’S MEN & 25,000 WOMEN – A MILITARY CAMPAIGN

February 28th, 2018

‘Dear Jack…I value Death nothing but it is in leaving you my dear behind and no one to look after you’. Denis Prendergast, Oxford Book of Australian Letters, ed. Brenda Niall and John Thompson, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998

1788 – 1868: Of 163,000 convicted criminals transported from the British Isles to Australia between 1788 and 1868 only 25,000 were women. Of these 12,500 went directly to Tasmania and none (zero) to West Australia. See: G is for Genocide

‘The tender [Supply] may be employed in conveying to the new settlement a further number of women from the Friendly Islands, New Caledonia etc. from whence any number may be procured without difficulty; and without a sufficient proportion of that sex it is well known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders’. London, Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay, 1786

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TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD – THOMAS BARRETT

February 21st, 2018

THOMAS BARRETT: ‘He may have been the maker of the Botany Bay Medallion…a skilfully engraved metal medallion inscribed with a relief description of the voyage dated 20 January 1788 and a representation of the Charlotte at anchor in Botany Bay. Mollie Gillen, Founders of Australia, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1990

1788 – February 27, Sydney Cove: Thomas Barret was the first person executed in Australia. Dr John White, Chief Medical Officer of the ‘First Fleet’, almost certainly witnessed and probably certified Barrett’s death. See: From Here to Eternity 

It is believed Thomas Barrrett engraved the ‘Botany Bay Medallion’ fashioned from a ‘ silver coloured metal kidney dish’ belonging to Dr. White.

Barrett, possibly the son of Irish immigrants, was born in London in 1758. His profile is not that of the usual ‘First Fleet’ illiterate, dead-beat common criminal. Unusual for those times he could read and, judging by the ‘Botany Bay Medallion’, wrote a fine hand.

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A WORM-HOLE: RICHARD ATKIN’S DIARY & THE FIRST BLACK HOLE

February 21st, 2018

‘You are also with the consent of the natives to take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great  Britain, or if you find the country uninhabited take possession for His Majesty by setting up proper marks and inscriptions as first discoverers and possessors’. British Admiralty Instructions to Lieutenant James Cook RN, 1768. 

1770 – April, Possession Island: In 1770 in the name of His Majesty King George III of England Lieutenant James Cook RN laid claim to New Holland, naming the country New Wales.

1788 – January 26/27/28, Sydney: Commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN a British army – 1455 – comprising five hundred and seventy (570) male criminals – ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies’ – two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel, two hundred and forty-five (245) marines, four hundred and forty (440) merchant seamen and twenty (20) officials disembarked at Warrane (Sydney Cove). See: A Tale of Two Fleets

‘Military power was the most decisive fact about the early settlements; it was the frame within which everything else happened’. R. Connell and T.H. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History, Documents, Narrative and Argument, 1980.

1788 – 7 February, Port Jackson: Captain-General, now Governor Arthur Phillip RN, raised the Union Jack and; ‘using a form of words’ took ‘effective occupation’ of the island continent of New Holland, now Australia, for the British Empire.

‘You cannot overrate the solicitude of H.M. Government on the subject of the Aborigines of New Holland. It is impossible to contemplate the condition or the prospects of that unfortunate race without the deepest commiseration. Still it is impossible that the government should forget that the original aggression was ours’. Lord John Russell to Sir George Gipps, Despatch, 21 December 1838, Series 1, Vol. XX.

The winner-takes-all mindset of Britain’s ‘original aggression’ laid down in 1788 was set in stone during two (2) critical periods of absolute military rule between 1792-1795 and 1808-1810.

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