G – FOR GENDER

Whitehall – 1786, 8 August: ‘His Majesty [King George 111] has thought advisable to fix upon Botany Bay…to form a military establishment [with] two companies of marines. Orders [were] issued for the transportation of six hundred and eighty [680] males and seventy [70] female convicts to New South Wales’. Lord Sydney Home Secretary to Treasury.   

London – 1786, August: An unsigned ‘Heads of a Plan for effectually disposing of convicts [and] the establishment of a colony in New South Wales’ was circulated via the Home Office to Treasury and the Admiralty

‘Without a sufficient proportion of that [female] sex it is well known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders’. Heads of a Plan for  Botany Bay, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1. Parts 1 & 2

Between 1788 to 1868 Britain transported 163,000 convicted criminals to Australia. Only 25,000 were women. Of these 12,595 went directly to Tasmania.

Between 1858 and 1868 West Australia, an embryonic white settlement, received 10,000 male and zero female prisoners. Hougoumont, the last convict transport, reached Fremantle in 1868 with two hundred and eighty (280) convicted criminals.

THE BACK STORY

 Portsmouth – 1787, 13 May: Commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN a large armed naval squadron of eleven (11) ships, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’, sailed from Portsmouth, England bound for Botany Bay, New Holland now Australia.

The convict numbers had been amended. Male convicts were decreased by one hundred (100). The women now numbered one hundred and ninety-three(193).

Overwhelmingly male the fleet’s complement, 1500 souls, consisted of four hundred and forty (440) merchant seamen, two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel, two hundred and forty-five (245) garrison marines, twenty (20) officials, including nine (9) physicians, one (1) male stow-a-way, Chaplain Richard Johnson his wife Mary, thirty-one (31) marine wives and approximately forty-five (45) free children.

The expedition’s five hundred and eighty (580) male convicts, rationed ‘as soldiers serving in the West Indies’, were available for combat.

‘It was the custom in the eighteenth century for the authorities to consider the sex problems of convicts or others in similar positions’. Commentary, Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. 1

Many of the additional one hundred (100) female prisoners were young women. Certified free of venereal disease selected to meet the heterosexual needs of officers.  Birth records confirm they served as traditional ‘camp-followers’.

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‘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. As seven [7] years transportation was the most common sentence, many had already served five-sevenths of their time on embarkation and six-sevenths on disembarkation at Sydney’. Dr John Cobley, Crimes of the First Fleet, Angus and Roberson, Sydney, 1982

While other European nations included convicts in their settler-mix Britain’s invasion and occupation of Australia was unique.  The European population between 1788 and 1823, the initial four (4) decades, was almost exclusively male, criminal and military.

By December 1792, at the end of Captain Arthur Phillip’s dramatic five (5) year tenure as Governor of New South Wales  the settlement had received 3,346 male and 766 female convicts.

By that time ( 1792) upwards of three hundred and fifty (350)s, mainly young men, had completed their sentences. They had their villainy rewarded with grants of Aboriginal land.

Free, stranded 13,000 miles (21,000 km) from home, most lived isolated lonely lives.  Most hungered, after many years of ‘situational homosexuality’, for heterosexual intercourse

The First Nations’ women were conscripted as comfort women’ for both criminal and conqueror. They bore the ‘gross irregularities and disorders’ flagged in Whitehall’s ‘Plan for Botany Bay’.

‘Rape is a biological possibility for the male”. This biological fact; when situated in a culture in which men monopolize political, economic, legal, military, religious and other forms of power has the potential to create a disposition amongst men to view sexual intercourse as one additional piece of weaponry in their armour of power, one that they can use whenever and upon whomsoever pleases them’. Anne Summers, Damned Whores and  God’s Police, Penguin, 1975

The seeds of the Stolen Generations came with the ‘First Fleet’. James Lavell, the first named Anglo-Aboriginal child was born at Sydney in 1788. His mother’s name is not known, Henry Lavell his father, was one of few convicts who returned to England a free man. See: A Viscous Circle – The Hangman’s Noose

ENGLAND – PUSH FACTORS

‘Before 1850 men greatly outnumbered women in the Australian colonies. For this there were three [3] main causes. First and by far the most important the British Government transported…six [6] times as many male convicts as female. Colonial Eve, Ed.Ruth Teale, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1978

Post the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) unemployment in Britain ballooned. Demobilised soldiers traumatised by years of brutal warfare joined desperate paupers whose ranks had been swollen already with Admiral Nelson’s men paid-off after the English fleet’s decisive defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in October 1805.

‘Second, army and naval personnel on active service [left families] in Britain…Third, the major sources of [colonial] income, whaling, sealing, farming and sheep breeding, were male preserves’. Colonial Eve. ibid.

 ‘THIRD’ – PULL FACTORS

‘The colony required that as many male convicts as possible should be sent thither, the prosperity of the country depending on their numbers; whilst, on the contrary, female convicts are as  great a drawback as the others are beneficial’. Dispatch, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, 30 April 1810

In New South Wales land lots of free land combined with an acute shortage of labour in the ‘male preserves’ saw a steady rise in numbers of common criminals sentenced to death and reprieved for transportation  ‘beyond the seas’.

By 1820 there were nine [9] white men in New South Wales, and ten [10] men in Van Diemens Land [Tasmania] for every white woman’. Stephen Garton, Out of Luck, Poor Australians and Social Welfare 1788-1988, Allen and Unwin, 1990

The census of 1828 put Australia’s mainland European population at 27,000 men and 9,000 women.

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‘FEAR OF THE MOB’

Great Britain’s cities and towns teemed with pick-pockets and petty thieves.  Armed foot-pads and hardened criminals roamed the streets and alleyways. Ruthless highwaymen terrorised the roads.

The deserving ‘impotent poor’ starved slowly in parish work-houses. The ‘undeserving poor’ displaced rural, wornout domestic and factory workers, eking a living in slave-like conditions, threw their support behind organised revolutionaries such as Ludities and Blankeeteers.

At Spithead and Nore the Royal Navy’s mutinous sailors rioted for better wages and relief from brutal disciplinary practices.

The disastrous ‘Irish Famine’ was exacerbated by greedy absentee English landlords demanding more product be exported to fill their groaning dining tables.

And in Scotland the savage removal of tenant-crofters from both Highlands and Lowlands caused widespread destitution.

 Jurist Sir Samuel Romilly sought radical penal reform.  While he fought to end such horrors as ‘the accused be taken from this place to a place of execution to be ‘hung, drawn and quartered’ his efforts probably contributed to a up-tick in ‘transportation from the realm’.

By the end of 1831, approximately 56,000 British convicts had been transported to Australia. From 1832 Britain shipped   prisoners at the rate of 5000 per year – 73% male,  27% female.

Intellectuals, John Tooke and John Wilkes, agitated for a Bill of Rights. Reformers, among them Earl Shaftesbury, advocated for a ten (10) hour working day.

He called for a halt to the use of boys as young as four (4) years being squeezed into the deepest, darkest spaces of coal mines and from being prodded up stifling ash-filled chimneys.

Shaftesbury’s Mines Bill also sought to assure women could no longer be forced to work semi-naked in coal mines where temperatures could exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Transportation to New South Wales ended in 1841. After 1841 both male and female convicts were sent directly to Tasmania. During the period 1803 to 1852 approximately 67,200 convicts – 54,650 men and 12,595 women were transported to Tasmania.

EMIGRANTS

‘With the cessation of transportation to the eastern mainland thousands of assisted migrants were brought to supply the labour market’. Australia, Russell Ward, 1965.

A ‘bounty’ system was established to  assist emigrants escape the gin filled hell-hole that was Queen Victoria’s England. Paupers strong enough to survive the horrendous rigours of vile parish work-house were bundled into cargo ships.

Then came ne’er-do-wells; disgraced sons of Britain’s upper and her merchant middle classes whose families paid them to  disappear ‘beyond the seas‘. Most could read and write so they rose to positions of power from where they lorded over the ‘other’  – black and white.

‘In the sixty [60] odd years after the First Fleeters landed at Sydney Cove the population increased slowly to 405,000’. Ibid.

GOLD

1851-61: ‘In the decade of the Gold Rush, 1851-1861, this figure [405,000] grew to about 1,146,000. In these ten [10] years the white population of the continent nearly trebled, while that of the infant colony of Victoria increased six-fold from 87,000 to 540,000’. Ward. ibid.

As if two (2) genocidal gender assaults – convicts and paupers – were not enough a third wave swamped the land. The future biological integrity of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples again came under intense pressure this time from greedy men in search of the golden goose’.

‘Historians have argued that…imbalance [of the sexes] was responsible for a high incidence of male sexual violence towards women in the colony’. Garton. ibid.

From Great Britain came 500,000; England and Wales contributed 300,000, Ireland 100,000,  Scots 100,000. Odds and ends – Americans, Europeans and New Zealanders numbered about 5,000.

‘By 1859 there were around 50,000 Chinese in Australia.  David Walker, Anxious Nation, Australia and the Rise of Asia 1850-1938, University of Queensland Press, 1999.

Between 1842 and 1859 Britain and China were engaged in the Opium Wars. Australia’s ‘Britishness’ its laws, pride and prejudices held sway; ‘there was to be no intermarriage’ with the Chinese.

Fear and hatred of the First Australians by, what were now second and third generation ‘currency’ white Australians, collided with the horror of Chinese diggers.

Further cause for hatred of the Chinese sprang from their work ethic. Like Aborigines work practices were collaborative, to benefit the group. This was in stark contrast to the Brits and the whites who similarly worked hard but for themselves. Secretive, dominated only by self-interest.

In New South Wales ‘the rush that never ended’ began at Bathurst. In July 1861 the battle-lines of war snaked across from China to a little outpost of the British Empire – Lambing Flats-  now the peaceful town of Young, where cherry blossoms bloom in the spring.

But in 1861 fear that the Chinese lust for gold would be matched by their lust for white women ‘sparked a battle for supremacy’ culminated in the Battle of Lambing Flats.

1851-1871: The primary decades of the gold rush 1851-71 saw Australia’s total population rocket to one and 3/4 million (1.75,000,000) the vast majority men.

1870: In September 1870 the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, last of twenty-five (25) regiments of British Infantry serving between 1788 and 1870 and, who Dr Peter Stanley asserts, ‘participated in the great struggle at the heart of the European conquest of this continent’ departed for Britain.

EPILOGUE

To believe that Britain can forget its history is to believe that the Russians should not discuss the crimes of Stalin or the Germans the crimes of Nazism.There is a need for a re-writing of history, for the purging of some guilt by its contemplation’. Donald Horne, God is an Englishman, Penguin Books, 1969

See: Machiavellian Macarthur

 

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