There can be no question of right or wrong in such a case [as New Holland]. The only right is that of superiority of race, and the greater inherent capability on the part of the whites; the only real wrong on the part of the blacks their all-round inferiority and their inability to till the ground or even make use of its natural pastures. Their disappearance was a natural necessity’. James Collier, The Pastoral Age in Australasia, London, 1911. Reprint, Forgotten Books, 2018

‘The essentials of Britain’s foreign policy are bound to be basically two; trade and defence, particularly the defence of trade. There is no hard and fast line between foreign policy and other aspects of policy; domestic, economic and colonial’. C.M. Woodhouse, British Foreign Policy since WW II, 1961

As the 1600s morphed into the 1700s science progressed and maritime technology advanced exploration and exploitation. Competing territorial and trade ambitions burgeoned throughout Europe, none as fierce as those between traditional enemies Britain France and Spain.

‘When the expanding [colonial] plantation economy demanded more labor than could be supplied by white servants, Africans were imported as slaves: that is ‘chattel’ slaves…chattel slavery, the most debased form of bondage.

In its most extreme form it evolved in British America, took form in British-American law, in response to the need for a totally reliable, totally exploitable, and infinitely creatable labour force’. Professor Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of the British Peripheries, Esso Lecture, 1988, Canberra.

The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) a series of agreements brought a formal end to the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14). Under its terms Britain became the largest exporter of ‘chattel’ slaves.

In 1772 Britain’s participation in the very profitable cruel  Atlantic Negro slave trade came under closer scrutiny when:

‘Lord Mansfield made his famous judgement in Somerset’s case (1772), by which slavery was declared illegal in this country‘. J.H. Plumb, England In The Eighteenth Century (1714-1815), Pelican 1965, p. 159 

Following the Mansfield decision William Wilberforce and the anti-slavery movement in general redoubled efforts to abolish all forms of human trafficking including England’s export of convicted criminals.

Since legislation, Geo. 1 The Transportation Act of 1717[18], each year Britain off-loaded 1000 prisoners reprieved death on condition they be transported ‘out of the realm’.

Shipped to America they were sold at regular ‘slave scrambles’. To be more precise – their labour was sold through a middle man. Sex, skill, physical and mental condition determined the sale price, buyers were mainly plantation owners. See: Britons Never Never Shall be Slaves

‘The factors who handled convict sales often had pre-existing customer orders that they met when convicts with the desired appropriate skills became available’. Edith M. Ziegler, Harlots, Hussies & Poor Unfortunate Women, Crime, Transportation & The Servitude of Female Convicts 1718-1783, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2014

Meanwhile Frenchmen – Lozier Bouvet, Yves de Kerguele, Jean-Francois-Marie de Surville and Louis-Antoine Bougainville and Englishmen -William Dampier, Samuel Wallis, John Byron and James Cook shadowed each other across the world’s oceans.

1770 – New Holland: In late April 1770 England’s Lieutenant James Cook RN landed at Botany Bay and planted a tenuous foothold on the island continent of New Holland.

1775 – America: Conflict between Britain and America’s Patriot rebels, the War of American Independence (1775-1783), brought an abrupt end to the lucrative convict trade.

1783 – September, Paris:  For eight (8) years both armies endured the rigours of a particularly savage brutal war that came to a formal end in September 1783 via the Treaty of Versailles.

Britain lost her ‘thirteen (13) middle colonies’North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia – and the right to send convicted criminals to America.

During the eight (8) years of conflict approximately 10,000 criminals were reprieved death on condition of ‘transportation to America’. As a stop-gap measure Parliament passed the Hulks Act in 1776 adding ‘banished from the kingdom…beyond the seas’.

The legislation allowed male convicts, stock-on-hand awaiting export, be confined on floating-prisons moored along the River Thames. Female prisoners were excluded  from these hulks.

Post the American war (1775-1783); ‘it became clear that the upsurge in French shipbuilding activity had reached new heights and that the French and the Dutch were manoeuvring for advantage in India and the East’. Michael Pembroke,  Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Governor Spy, Hardie Grant Books, 2013 

It is highly unlikely without the massive amount of French – men, money and munitions – that supported General George Washington, leader of the Patriot’s home spun pitch-fork and spade militia, America could not have won the war.

Britain now, having lost her ’empire in the west’, was in danger of being squeezed out of the Newfoundland fishing grounds by both France and newly independent America, and determined to establish ‘an empire in the south [and] the sea route to Asia via the Southern Oceans’ an area known to be teeming with seal and whale.

The British Government feared, a triumphant France, planned to usurp England’s earlier claim to New Holland made in 1770 by the then Lieutenant James Cook RN.

1784 – France: Knowledge that King Louis XVI intended sending French ships into the southern oceans, under command of Comte Jean-Francois La Perouse, became known to the War Office through Britain’s network of spies prominent among them Arthur Phillip.

Fluent in French German Dutch Spanish and Portuguese, Arthur Phillip, the spy who never came in from the cold, was an exceptionally effective spy.

‘On 11 March 1784, during the debate that preceded Act 24, Geo. III, C 74, the Solicitor General plainly stated that convicts while on the hulks, were in the eye of the law in a state of transportation; they were supposed to be “on the way to America”. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to The Colonies, Library of Australian History, 1993


‘From the passing of this Act [24] the sentence “transportation overseas” became the usual one, the King in Council later determining the destination of the convicted. Because of this the hulks span the gap between the American and the Australian systems of transportation and as such must be considered in any treatment of the transport form of punishment’. Oldham. op.cit.

1786 – 25 April, London: King George III ordered the invasion of New Holland under command of Captain Arthur Phillip RN. All males , convicts and military, were rationed ‘as troops serving in the West Indies’.

‘Phillip was a man of outstanding ability, an unusual man in his own or any day. He had that steadiness of mind that can embrace the most trivial detail without losing sight of the main issues; he had imaginative grasp allied with the most uncompromising common sense’. Margaret Barnard Eldershaw, Phillip of Australia, 1972.

The manning and victualling of the ‘First Fleet’ expeditionary force followed a precedent connected directly to the Hulks Act of 1776. Britain’s use of criminals as soldiers to invade New Holland was in no way unique.

Later in the [American] war special army companies composed entirely of convicts were sent to West Africa’. Roger Knight First Fleet, Studies from Terra Australia to Australia, ed. John Hardy and Alan Frost, 1989

The Hulks legislation provided transportation ‘out of the realm’ as ‘severe punishment short of death’. Of the ‘First Fleet’ complement 1500 souls, one-half were common criminals deemed ‘in a state of transportation’. See: April Fools’ Day – The Hulks Act

‘In determining the ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the [male] convicts…the standard adopted was of troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham.

Two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel crew of HMS Supply HMS Sirius, four hundred and forty (440) merchant seamen crew of six (6) transports and three (3) supply ships, two hundred and forty-five (245) marines and, five hundred and eighty (580) male convicts rationed as ‘troops serving in the ‘West Indies’ all available for combat.

The fleet’s female component numbered two hundred and twenty-two (222). One hundred and ninety (190) ‘convicted’ women – camp followers, thirty-one (31) rank and file marines wives, Mary wife of Rev Richard Johnson the fleet Chaplain and approximately forty (40) free children.

1787 – 25 April, London: Captain Arthur Phillip RN selected for his ‘experience in military affairs received his commission and Letters Patent and final preparations were made for the fleet’s departure.

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: The armed squadron of eleven (11) ships, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ under command of Captain Arthur Phillip RN,  with a complement of 1500 souls sailed from Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787 to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia.

1788 – 18/20 January, Botany Bay: HMS Supply with Phillip aboard was first to arrive at Botany Bay after a voyage of eight (8) months traversing 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’. His technical skill as administrator and master-mariner saw the entire convoy safely at anchor within  thirty-six (36 )hours.

Phillip’s experience ‘in military matters’ ensured England had got the better of France so when, within five (5) years – February 1793 – Republican France declared war on Britain the Royal Navy’s ‘domination’ of ‘the sea-route to Asia via the southern oceans’ had been  achieved.

‘New Holland is a good blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of IndiaI need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales’. Anon, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1

1788 – 24 January, Botany Bay: Four (4) days later the masts of two (2) French ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe – commanded by Comte Jean-Francois La Perouse – appeared at the entrance to Botany Bay Sirius cannon denied the French entry.  See: A Band of Brothers and Mortal Enemies

1788- 25 January, Port Jackson: Three (3) days earlier Phillip with a scouting party sailed firstly south, then nine (9) miles fourteen (14) km to the north in search of water and a more secure site than Botany Bay had entered the finest harbour ‘[w]here a thousand Ships of the Line may lie in Perfect Safety’.

Phillip fearing La Perouse too would sail north boarded Supply and returned to Port Jackson arriving there just on dark. The fleet was to follow when the rough weather abated.

1788 – 26 January, Sydney Cove:  At first light Captain Phillip landed from HMS Supply raised ‘English colours’ – the Union Jack  of Queen Anne –  from a hastily erected flag-staff at Sydney Cove deep within Port Jackson and claimed victory over France. See: Australia – Britain By A Short Half-Head

‘Raising the flag was one of the acts recognised as an assertion of a prior claim against other colonial powers eyeing off the same land.’ Larissa Behrendt, The Honest History Book, Ed. David Stephens & Alison Broinowski, New South Publishing, Sydney 2017 

Phillip was elated, by the narrowest of margins, he had succeeded in what he knew to be the main game – getting to Botany Bay before the French and occupying New Holland, the gateway to and from India and via the Southern Oceans to the fabulous wealth of Spain’s South American Colonies.

‘There would be ‘some justification for the saying that England won Australia by six days’. Edward Jenks’, History of Australian Colonies, cited in British Colonial Policy, Hugh E. Egerton, 1928

1788 – 26 January, Sydney Cove: Later that same day the remaining English ships left Botany Bay anchoring alongside Supply just as darkness fell.

1788 – 27/28, Sydney Cove: Marines and male convicts landed over the following two (2) days, found their land-legs and set about clearing the ground for settlement.

1788 – 6 February: ‘ Between 6am and 6 pm’ all two hundred and twenty-two (221) women and approximately forth (40) free children were rowed ashore in squally rain on the 6th of February.

1788 – 7 February, Sydney Cove: Captain-General, Governor Arthur Phillip RN, at mid-day on February 7th 1788, without consent of Australia’s First Peoples or seeking a treaty, with flags flying a band playing, the battalion assembled – all the ‘pomp and circumstance of glorious war’ claimed British sovereignty over their lands. See: Rear Window:  7 February 2018 – 7 February 1788  

‘The short term consequences [of the War of American Independence] were less than many expected. Though Britain’s eclipse as a world power was confidently predicted her economic recovery was swift, and the colonial development of Australia, New Zealand India and part of Africa went some way to compensating for the loss of the first British empire’. Professor J.A.C. Cannon, Oxford Companion to British History, ed. John Cannon, 1997


‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child’. Cicero, Marcus Tullius, cited Jonathan Holslag, The Political History of the World, Pelican Books, 2017 

“Dispossession” is a concept which has never reflected the actual circumstance at any time…Determined Aborigines could, if they wished, have fought off slow-moving sheep, bullock drays and men on foot. Spears and muskets were an approximate match as weapons.

Whites and blacks got along fairly well in the Sydney coastal region from the start….Inland Sydney west of Parramatta had more lethal conflict. The worst incident was a massacre at Appin in 1816 when soldiers, in pursuit of the killers of nine whites on the newly settled upper Nepean River, killed an officially estimated fourteen Aborigines, including two of the settlers’ killers.

The big exception to this [spear-musket] generalisation was violent conflict in the mid-1820s in the Bathurst-Mudgee district and the mid-Hunter. Official estimates indicate the total number of Aborigines killed as forty to fifty, but critics suspect this is too low. Both episodes have been attributed to provocative white mistakes rather than to indigenous resistance’. Robert Murray, To the Land, Boys, We Live In. Quadrant 543, January-February, 2018

By way of deception Britain deemed New Holland ‘terra nullius’ – an empty land – ‘vacuum domicillium’ without inhabitants’ from the Northern extremity of the coast called Cape York…to the Southern extremity…South Cape’ subject therefore to conquest. See: A Cracker-Jack Opinion – No Sweat

In 1992 Australia’s High Court in Mabo No. 2 found ‘terra nullius [to be] ‘legal fiction’.

‘The tragedy of the Aborigines in pioneering Australia was that they died early and did not have many children…The number bottomed at 7434 in 1901‘. Murray. op.cit.  See: G is for Genocide






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