‘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

1786 – August, London: 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

1788-1868: Britain transported 163,000 convicted criminals to Australia. Only 25,000 were women, 12,595 went directly to Tasmania.West Australia received 10,000 male and zero female prisoners.

In 1868 Hougoumont, the last convict transport, reached Freemantle with two hundred and eighty (280) convicted criminals.


1786 – 8 August, London: ‘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.   

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: 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 were later amended; males decreased by one hundred (100), females increased by one hundred (100).

The fleet’s complement, 1500 souls, was overwhelmingly male; 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 seven (7) 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.

One-half, seven hundred and fifty (750), were convicted criminals. Five hundred and eighty (580) male convicts rationed ‘as soldiers serving in the West Indies’ and available for combat.

Selected to meet the heterosexual needs of officers one hundred and ninety-three (193) women prisoners can be characterised as traditional ‘camp-followers’. Many of the additional one hundred (100) female prisoners were young women certified free of venereal disease and birth records reveal they served the purpose for which they were selected.

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

‘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

By December 1792, at the end of Captain Arthur Phillip’s dramatic five (5) year tenure as Governor of New South Wales – January 1788 to December 1792 – the settlement had received 3,346 male and 766 female convicts.

“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

By December 1792 upwards of three hundred and fifty (350) prisoners, mainly young men had completed their sentences. They then had their villainy rewarded with grants of Aboriginal land. Free and, stranded 13,000 miles (21,000 km) from home, most lived isolated lonely lives.

After many years of ‘situational homosexuality’ most hungered for heterosexual intercourse to be exacted; ‘from whomsoever please[d] them’.

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’.

Two hundred (200) sailors, two hundred and forty-five (245) soldiers, and five hundred and eighty (580) male prisoners; ‘rape [was] one additional piece of weaponry in their armoury of power’.

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


‘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) ‘push’ factors in England multiplied. Following Wellington’s land victory over Napoleon, June 1815, unemployment ballooned.

‘Second, army and naval personnel [left] their families in Britain’. ibid.

Demobilised soldiers traumatised by years of brutal warfare were thrown onto the scrap-heap. They joined desperate paupers whose ranks already 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.

‘Third, the major sources of [colonial] income, whaling, sealing, farming and sheep breeding, were male preserves’. Colonial Eve. ibid


‘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 ‘pull’ factors; land lots of ‘terra nullius’  – no mans land – free at a gun’s muzzle and, 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 ‘out of the kingdom…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.

In Britain other elements drove a rapid escalation in transportation, principally fear of the ‘mob’. Great Britain’s cities and towns teemed with pick-pockets, petty thieves and hardened criminals, armed foot-pads roamed the streets and ruthless highwaymen terrorised the roads.

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

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

Add to the mix the disastrous Irish Famine exacerbated by greedy absentee English landlords demanding more product be exported to fill their over-laden coffers and groaning dining tables.

In Scotland widespread destitution followed the savage removal of crofters from both Highlands and Lowlands.

‘The accused be taken from this place to a place of execution to be ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. Jurist Sir Samuel Romilly sought radical penal reform and fought to end such horrors.

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, prodded up stifling ash-filled chimneys and squeezed into coal mines’ deepest, darkest spaces.

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

By the end of 1831, approximately 56,000 British convicts had been transported to Australia – 73% male and 27% female. From 1832 Britain shipped prisoners at the rate of 5,000 per year.

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.


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

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

Then came n’re-do-wells; disgraced sons of Britain’s upper and merchant middle classes whose families paid them to  disappear. Most could read and write and 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.


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’. ibid.

As if two (2) genocidal gender assaults – convicts and paupers – were not enough a third wave swamped the land. Gold, began what Geoffrey Blainey characterised as ‘the rush that never ended’ ; in New South Wales the rush began at Bathurst.

The future biological integrity of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples again came under intense pressure this time by greedy men in search of the golden goose’.

From Great Britain came 500,000; England and Wales contributed 300,000, Ireland 100,000, the 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.

Fear and hatred of the First Australians by second and third generation ‘currency’ white Australians collided with horror of  Chinese diggers. Britain and China were enemies between 1842 and 1859 the two (2) were engaged in the Opium Wars.

In Australia ‘Britishness’  its laws, pride and prejudices held sway; ‘there was to be no intermarriage’ with the  Chinese.

A further cause for hatred sprang from the Chinese work ethic. Like Aborigines their work practices were collaborative, to benefit the group. In stark contrast to the Brits and Australians, whose similarly worked hard but for themselves, secretive dominated by self-interest.

In July 1861 the battle-lines of war extended from China to a little outpost of the British Empire – then Lambing Flats now the peaceful New South Wales town of Young, where cherry blossoms bloom in the spring. But in 1861 fear the Chinese lust for gold was matched by a lust for white women ‘sparked a battle for supremacy’ culminated in the Battle of Lambing Flats.

‘Historians have argued that…imbalance [of the sexes] was responsible for a high incidence of male sexual violence towards women in the colony’. Stephen Garton, Out of Luck, Poor Australians and Social Welfare 1788-1988, 1990.

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.

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

Link: Machiavellian Macarthur

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