It is natural to infer that Government understands it is simply landing these people in Africa, to let them shift for themselves, and get their Board in the best manner they can’. Richard Miles, Governor Cape Coast Castle to Home Office, London.

Englands’ Civil Wars ??????     go to Britons never never slaves  ggggggggggg

1644 – West Africa:  The third Anglo-Dutch War (1644)  waged during the English Civil War, a period driven by the energy of Oliver Cromwell, Cape Coast Castle was taken from the Dutch thereby England established a permanent foot-hold in West Africa.

1649 – Westminster: Following  the beheading of King Charles the First on …..1649 a Commonwealth was declared under Oliver Cromwell as its Protector.

The Monarchy and the House of Lords were abolished. Oliver Cromwell’s comprehensive ‘Western Design’ saw England pivot swing from passive defence of ‘the isles’ to taking the fight to the enemy.

For this he needed an amphibious navy. He gave this task to Robert Blake.  Blake drew up ‘The Articles of War’  a rigid written set of ‘Regulations and ‘Fighting Instructions’ to govern the country’s naval and military forces.

1654 – Jamaica: Under Blake, designated general-at-sea, England’s first amphibious naval expedition was directed towards north America via the Spanish West Indies.

Admiral William Penn commander was at sea and Robert Venables, commander of land forces. What could possibly go wrong. Everything!

Divide and rule – the split brought misery to the people they invaded and conquered. That misery lasted throughout English/British long history of invasion and colonisation.

In Australia that ‘misery’ has never been acknowledged let alone addressed. Our starting date must be 1642 and the beheading of King Charles the First an d the ascendency of Oliver Cromwell.

Why?Oliver Cromwell made return from banishment from the realm ?????

captured the poorly defended island of Jamaica from the Spanish garrison.

 1658-England: Oliver Cromwell died of natural causes in 1658. He was succeeded by Richard his son who proved unequal to the challenge. Richard went into exile returning later to England living in secrecy.

1660 – Holland: With Cromwell out of the way, after nine (9) years living in exile on the Continent, the Prince of Wales, son and heir of the beheaded King Charles 1, returned to England from the Netherlands

In May 1660 he entered London ‘in ‘triumph’.

1661 -London: King Charles 11s coronation took place on 23 April 1661 with much ceremony in Westminster Abbey. It is from this time the  various elements of the period are referred to as THE RESTORATION.

King Charles 11 married Catherine of Braganza a Portuguese princess and a bit of a worry. But although a Catholic, she came with an extremely attractive dowry – Bombay with seven (7) islands and Tangiers.

The King and Queen had no children together. Charles is better known for his taste in other women of a ‘certain class’. The most famous of these [Eleanor] Nell Gwynn, who for some reason is known for her ‘oranges’.

Charles and Nell had two (2) sons. She poor soul died aged thirty-seven (37) it is thought of syphilis. Charles continued on his merry way spreading his seed willy-nilly throughout the realms.

One illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, annoyed at being not recognised as a ‘true blue blood’ raised a rebellion. He was caught and executed for his impertinence in 1685.

Nevertheless King Charles 2’s reign continued to be dogged by fear of a Roman Catholic resurgence. And it appears Catholics were thick on the ground. His brother James, slated to be his heir, was also married to a Catholic.


1717/18: Following legislation, 4 Geo. 1 c.11, transportation to ‘an American colony’ became the normal sentence for criminals whose death sentence was ‘forgiven’ on condition they be banished from ‘the realm’.

Every convict sent to America was sold like a slave. The only essential difference…one was sold for life the other for a term of years’. Roger Ekirch, Bound for America, 1981

By the time of King George 111’s reign (1760-1820) – tied to twice yearly sittings of county courts – ‘transportation to America’  ran like clock-work.

‘To provide for the more speedy removal of convicts,  Geo. 1111, c15 declared that where the King’s mercy was extended to them on condition of transportation they were to be delivered to the contractor forthwith, instead of lying in prison until the next session of the court to plead their pardons‘. Wilfrid Oldham, British Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1990

America: Britain, between 1717 and 1775, exported  50,000 convicts to her North American colonies. as The transport merchant paid Treasury for each purchased prisoner so government made money from the trade

Once in America the ‘contractor’ made his money when he sold their ‘service’ – labour – to cotton and tobacco planters.

The numbers…a minimum of more than 1200 convicts were taken annually from the gaols of the British Isles and the stream, as far as it is recorded, was fairly steady’. Oldham. ibid.

In 1775 revolution, America’s War of Independence (1775-1783), brought an abrupt halt to the convict trade. The judicial system was slow to react.

Judges continued to reprieve death on condition of ‘transportation to America’ . Gaols became grossly overcrowded.

England: Parliament passed the Hulks Act in 1776. This legislation changed the ‘status’ of convicts under ‘order of transportation’ they became ‘servants of the realm…service is for the state’.

‘If contemporary opinion can be accepted, labour on the hulks was a form of punishment particularly dreaded. Death reduced the number on the hulks much more than did pardon or escape’. Oldham. ibid.

So bad were the conditions on these filthy decommissioned ships moored along the River Thames,only male prisoners could legally be confined on them.

‘The prisoners were supposed to be the most hardened, serious offenders yet they included boys under ten years of age. The weak were at the mercy of the tough once the ships had been battened down for the night.

Like transportation the hulks were not operated by the state but delegated to a private contractor [who]…had no stake in the prisoners’ work, which was for government projects’. Richard Byrne, Prisons and Punishments of London, 1992

Until prisoners left ‘English waters’ the Home Office retained responsibility for those sentenced ‘to transportation’. Government waited impatiently to be delivered of what should have been certain victory ‘from such haphazard material…[as] Washington’s creation…a people’s army’.


[Washington said of his men] ‘they come in, you cannot tell how; go, you cannot tell when’.

‘But it was from such haphazard material, from country store-keepers and clerks, from  pine-woods squirrel -hunters with buckskin shirts and long Kentucky rifles from unkempt mechanics and farmers with sun-cracked hands that Washington built a people’s army . It was his creation’.  Esmond Wright, Fabric of Freedom, The Making of America,  Hill and Wang, New York,  revised ed. 1978 

America: In 1776 America made her Declaration of Independence and France entered the war in 1777. Almost immediately the French poured massive amounts of money, munitions and military know-how in support of General George Washington’s home-spun militia.

Spain joined in a Bourbon alliance with France in 1778 and their combined navies prepared an impressive armada to invade the English Channel.

‘The final battles of the American Revolution were fought not in North America but in India, another theater where Britain and France were vying for political dominance. In both the United States and India as well as throughout the developing world ‘legacies of that distant war persist’. David K. Allison, Larrie D. Ferreiro eds.  Essays in the American Revolution – A World War, Smithsonian, 2015

Britain lost her thirteen ‘New World’ colonies and the right to send convicted criminals there; ‘legacies of that distant war persist’ in throughout the British Empire including Australia.

What to do with an ever increasing number of prisoners on hulks and in  gaol? Let’s take three (3) Limpus, Woodhamand Rugless.


It is natural to infer that Government understands it is simply landing these people in Africa, to let them shift for themselves, and get their Board in the best manner they can’. Richard Miles, Governor Cape Coast Castle to Home Office, London.

West Africa –  1782 November 6: Government turned to Africa as a permanent penal destination. At the end of 1782 the Den Keyser was chartered to transport forty (40) or so criminals to Senegal, on Africa’s west coast.

They were to serve sentences of seven (7), fourteen (14) years or life at the fort settlements of Goree and Cape Coast Castle. Samuel Woodham and John Rugless were destined for a life-time of military service.

Whereas civilian prisoners like Thomas Limpus were simply dumped in Africa and left to ‘shift for themselves’.

Goree – 1782  December 3: After a month a sea Den Keyser arrived off Goree but permission to land was denied. A Mexican stand-off between ship and shore lasted four (4) days.

On the 7th of December, twenty (20) prisoners including Thomas Limpus were allowed ashore. However Captain William Lacey the local Lieutenant-Governor, who had replaced the murderous Governor Joseph Wall, ‘sent [the others] off and would not give them any victuals’.

Cape Coast Castle: A day or so later, 10th of December 1782, the remaining convicts reached Cape Coast Castle. In February 1783 Richard Miles, Lieutenant-Governor of Cape Coast Castle, wrote to the Home Office concerning the unannounced arrival of Den Keyser.

Miles complained convicts had ‘landed…naked and diseased on the sandy Shore of Cape Coast Castle. No provision whatever is made for them the grand consideration seems to be, to get them out of Europe at all Events’.

Goree – 1783: Meanwhile Limpus at Goree sized up his situation and decided to get away as soon as possible. After a few days working for food he joined as crew of a trading ship due to depart for England.

‘Any convict who returned before the expiration of his period of servitude was to become liable to a sentence of death’. Oldham. ibid.

London: Limpus was back in London by mid-August 1783.

Goree:  Meantime Samuel Woodham and John Rugless joined their assigned military detachment. Most of the garrison troops had been at this outpost of Empire for some time.

Many, eaten up by venereal disease, were more than a little mad. The fort was more or less defenceless as most soldiers had traded their weapons for food grog and sex.

Officers flogged the rank and file mercilessly. In one incident Lieutenant-Governor Joseph Wall ordered Sergeant Armstrong, received eight hundred (800) lashes. Armstrong died.

Woodham and Rugless saw nothing good could come from staying at Goree. At the first opportunity they, like Limpus, worked their passage home to England. See: Three Amigos + One Thomas Barrett

 England – October/November 1784:  Woodham and Rugless were back in England by the end of 1784 and soon again in trouble with the law.


‘The administration gave no consideration to the date of expiry of sentences and several of the First Fleet convicts had been tried as early as 1781 and 1782’. Dr John Cobley, Crimes Of The First Fleet, Angus and Robertson, 1982

Portsmouth:  Thomas Limpus, Samuel Woodham and John Rugless departed England ‘bound for Botany Bay’ on the ‘First Fleet’ on 13 May 1787.

Sydney Cove – 1788 January 26: The three (3) men disembarked at Sydney Cove in January 1788 where Limpus met up with Thomas Barrett an old friend from the Dunkirk hulk. See: A Vicious Circle – The Hangmans Noose 

Biographical information taken from: Mollie Gillen, Founders of Australia, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1989. 


London – 1802: Governor Joseph Wall had been recalled to England in1782. Tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty of murdering Sergeant Armstrong, he was executed outside Newgate prison in 1802, before a rowdy crowd baying for blood.

Sydney – 1825 November : In a chilling echo; Major-General Ralph Darling, then Governor of New South Wales, in 1825 inflicted severe sadistic punishment on two (2) soldiers of the New South Wales Corps Privates Joseph Sudds and Patrick Thompson.

Both  were due for repatriation but neither wanted to return to England. In the hope of being detained in Sydney for a short time they stole some cloth from a Sydney shop.

‘On 22 November [1825] they were stripped of their uniforms and dressed in convicts’ clothing. Sudds and Thompson were drummed out of the regiment to the tune of the Rogue’s March.

Iron chains, personally designed by Governor Darling, were hung from a spiked iron collar around the prisoners’ necks, to the waist, then to the ankle. The chains [weighed 6.35kg] were three times heavier than the chains worn by convicts in the road gangs.

The two prisoners were unable to stand erect or to lie down at full length. Sudds was already ill when first sentenced and by this time could hardly stand. In this, and wearing the heavy iron collar and chains, his illness worsened and he died five days later’.

Patrick Thompson was put to work at Emu Plains on a road-gang. When he could no longer stand he was loaded onto a cart and taken to the Penrith lock-up where his heavy spiked  neck iron was removed. Thompson survived.

‘Despite the critical twenty-year role the New South Wales Corps played in shaping the colony, and the calls for a written history of the corps since 1970, there has been none’. Stephen Gapps, The Sydney Wars, New South Press, 2018 

Governor Darling was more fortunate than Governor Wall he died a respected Knight of the Realm.


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