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


1788 – 18-20, Botany Bay: Within 36 hours, between 18-20 January 1788  eleven (11) vessels, Britain’s first convict transportation fleet to New Holland (Australia), reached Botany Bay.

1788 – 26 January, Sydney Cove: The fleet, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of approximately 1,500, one-half convicted criminals, sailed nine (9)miles (14 km) north of Botany Bay to Port Jackson and the deep anchorage of Sydney Cove where the fleet commander Captain Arthur Phillip RN established a military and naval peopled by convicts and their guards.

‘Apart from the allowance of spirits two-thirds of the standard ration of troops serving in the West Indies…In determining the ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the [male] convicts’. Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Wilfrid Oldham.

Phillip realized ships bringing supplies from England would head for the wrong place – Botany Bay.

[So]Before leaving Botany Bay Phillip had messages painted on the rocks of Bare Island near where the Fleet had been moored, to guide the ships which Phillip believed were following closely from England to Sydney Cove. The Australian Story and Its Background, Bruce Mitchell, 1965.

During the long voyage from England – 13,000 miles (21,000 km) – soldiers and male convicts were issued the same ration.  Once landed the Navy Board mandated a ‘full standard ration be issued…no distinction was drawn beweeen marines and [male]convicts’. Women received two-thirds of the male ration, children one-quarter.

See: Analyse This

1788 – February, Sydney: The ration for one person for 7 days:

3.2kg bread or flour, 3.2kg salted beef OR 1.8kg salted pork, 1.7 litres dried peas, 170g butter, 227g rice OR an additonal 454g flour

At Port Jackson Fisburn, Borrowdale and Golden Grove, the fleet’ s three (3) storeships, were unloaded. An inventory showed every ‘ specie of provisions’ inadequate to feed such a large number for longer than a few months.

1788 – 14 February, Norfolk Island: Governor Phillip according to his instructions established a satellite settlement two (2) weeks sailing time  from Sydney at Norfolk Island. On 14 February, in HMS Supply, Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King sailed with a mix of soldiers, male and female convicts and their children to the island.

1788 – 13 March, Sydney: ‘The commissary made a deduction of 12 lb [5.5kg] per hundredweight [50.8 kg] of beef and 8 lb [3.5 kg] in the hundred weight of pork (i.e. 100 lb of beef must be cut into 28 pieces, and 104 lb of pork cut into 56 pieces’.

The relief ships Phillip ‘believed were following closely from England’ failed to arrive.

1788 –  MAY, Sydney: An inventory of livestock taken; ‘ 7 horses, 2 bulls, 5 cows, 29 sheep, 19 goats, 74 pigs, 18 turkeys, 29 geese, 35 ducks, 122 fowls, 87 chickens and 5 rabbits’.  

1788 – 15 May:  Two (2 ) bulls and five (5) cows wandered into the bush. One (1) cow remained, separated from the herd ,she went mad and was shot.

The sheep ‘died quickly’ and the pigs did not thrive.

See: A Clear and Present Danger – Starvation 

The stranded Englishmen survived on Aboriginal foods.  In the summer months it was mainly fish; ‘our customary method was to leave Sydney Cove about four in the afternoon [4pm] and go down the harbour and fish all night from one cove to another. We have made 23 hauls of the seine [trawling nets] in 1 night…’

In the winter months fish Sydney waters to spawn.

1788 – June, Sydney [winter] ‘the fish caught were trifling…they [Aborigines] seem very badly off for food, not having any fish’.

The Englishmen turned their hand to gathering the; many salutary herbs that made a wholesome drink and [are ] of gret use to our sick….Here is spinach, parsley, a sort of broad beans, several unknown vegetable…a sort of green berries that are pronounced a most excellent antiscorbutic [anti-scurvy] are gathered in abundance and a specie of sorrell, all of a peculiar fine acid…’

1788 – August: By the end of August, the coldest Sydney month, still no relief ships and ‘our stock of flour bore no proportion to the salt beef and pork’. Phillip ordered Captain Hunter RN prepare HMS Sirius for a voyage to Africa for food and medicines.

The Europeans made increasing demands on the Aborigines’ by now scarce resources, depriving them of food necessary to sustain them during the lean winter months when fish were absent.

1788 – 2 October, Africa HMS Sirius sailed to Cape Town for food and medicines.

‘We left Pt. Jackson…and pursuing our passage [to Cape Town] by way of Cape Horn, but with much cold and disagreeable wr. [weather]. We saw an astonishing number of ice islands…we kept our Christmas going round the Horn’. 

1788 – November, Summer: Fish returned to Sydney waters in greater numbers. Two (2) populations, one indigenous one introduced, competed with increasing hostility for the same resources;  ‘unabated animosity continued to prevail between the natives and us’.

To relieve some pressure the remaining store-ship Golden Grove ferried more marines and convicts to Norfolk Island where fish was plentiful year-round and vegetables grew in soil ‘found to suit grain and other seeds’.


1789 – January: The European population at Sydney was estimated at 1,100. Despite HMS Supply deploying her nets, desperation born of hunger was widespread. Thieving attracted severe punishment. The cat – o’nine – tails at the whippping post, became a feature of daily life.

But as every hand was needed to work often the punishment was metered out; ’50 [lashes on this day and 50 on every Saturday following until he received the above mentioned 400′ 

Others simply despaired. Convict and soldier alike displayed aberrant behaviours such as hoarding, demonstrated in 1944-5 by the Minnesota Starvation Experiment as typical of semi-starvation. Designed by Dr. Ancel Keyes durng Word War II the ‘Starvation Experiment’, studied the stress-effects of sustained semi-starvation. Its aim was to establish a safe re-feeding regime that would be needed in post-war Europe.

A convict Charles Wilson aged about 27 was found dead near the place where he worked. His body was decomposed the face black and the eyes full of maggots…it appeared he died through lack of nurishment and through weakness occasioned by the heat of the sun.

It was proved by those who knew him that he was accustomed to deny himslef even what was absolutely necessary to his existence, abstaining from his provisions and selling them for money, which he was reserving, and had somewhere concealed, in order to purchase his passage to England when his time should expire. In Buried Alive, Jack Egan, 1999. See: Anzac Heroes and England’s Cast-Aways

1789 –  March: Thieving was not confined to convicts .

1789 – 25 March: Seven (7) soldiers were charged with stealing from the ‘public stores’.

1789 – 26 March: Marine Joseph Hunt, who it is thought instigated the plot ratted. He turned ‘king’s evidence’ and escaped death his six (6) companions were ‘found guilty …death was a foregone conclusion.’

‘About half-past 2 o’clock they all Received Sentenced to Death and the gallows was erected before the Sentence was Cast upon them’.  

1789 – 27th March: ‘at 9 o’clock [they] was Executed between the 2 store housus….There was hardley a marine Present but Shed tears officers and men’.

The circumstances of their crime was thieving on a grand scale over an extended period;100 gallons liquor – old rum and Rio rum – 16 lb butter, a bag of bread, 8 lb leaf tobacco and 500 hundred weight of flour’.

The marines’ ‘modus operandi’ – counterfeit keys – was significant. Nothing held in the ‘public stores’, including smallpox dried scab-matter part of the fleet’s medical supplies, had been secure for quite some time.

1789 – April, Sydney: Came the first appearance of what became a daily occurrence in the Aboriginal community.

1789 – 15th April: ‘Found three natives under a rock a man, and two boys (of which one body was dead). The Governor being acquainted with it ordered the Man and Boy to the Hospital under care of the Surgon, having small pox’. In Dr. John Cobley, Sydney 1789-1790, 1992.  

‘Here we found an old man stretched before a few lighted sticks and a boy of nine or ten years old pouring water on his head from a shell which he held in his hand. Near them a female child dead, and a little further off, its unfortunate mother.

The body of the woman showed that famine, superadded to disease, had occasioned her death…but how a disease to which our former observations had led us to suppose them strangers could at once have introduced itself and have spread so widely seemed inexplicable. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961.See: A Lethal Weapon: Smallpox – Boston 1775 – Sydney 1789

1789 – 8 May: HMS Sirius returned to Sydney from Cape Town. Sirius brought a years’ supply of food for her crew together with medicines, rice and 127,000 lb of flour for the colony, an amount considered;‘not flattering as it represented four (4) months at full ration’.

Most of these provisions were for crew of the two (2) warships, HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, and what could be spared was given to the colony.

1789 – 9th May: Death of Joseph Jefferies, a native American, from smallpox. The young adventurer had joined the crew of HMS Supply at Rio (August 1787) where the fleet was re-provisioning. Joseph Jefferies was the only ‘First Fleeter’ to contract the virus.See: Joseph Jefferies: From New York to Rio and Old Sydney Town – One, Then There Was None 

1789 – 15th May: Arabanoo,  a  young male Aboriginal kidnapped on Phillip’s orders, died from smallpox.. At the time of his death Arabanoo was living within military lines.

1789 – September: ‘[the] butter being expended….This was the first of the provisions brought from England that has wholly failed’.

1789 – November;  ‘This month opened with a serious but prudent and necessary alteration in our provisions…reduced to two-thirds of every species….A like reduction for Sirius and Supply, two-thirds of what was usually issued (5,000 calories) to king’s ships’.


1790 – February, Norfolk Island: Phillip was forced to split the European population. He sent one-half to Norfolk Island.

The Englishmen at Sydney were now staring down the barrell;  with death from starvation the pay-off.

1790 – 6 March, Norfolk Island:  HMS Sirius and HMS Supply sailed from Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island with 50% of  Phillip’s ‘people’  together with six (6) months of provisions.

Sirius, after landing her evacuees and provisions, was ordered to sail onto China and arrange a rescue missionMeanwhile Supply would return and support the Sydney settlement with her trawling nets.

1790 – March, Sydney: ‘ It became necessary to put the colony upon a still shorter ration of provisions….The governor directed that the provisions should in future be served daily…without distinction… the ration issue for the week to consist of four pound [1.8 kg] flour, 2-1/2 pound [1.2 kg] salted pork, and one and a half pound [700g] rice’.

1790 – 27 March, Sydney: With so little food to eat, from the 27th March 1790, work hours were reduced; sunrise – breakfast – 1 pm; ‘the afternoons were to be allowed the people to receive their provisions and work in their gardens. 

A letter written by an un-named convict, published in England, expressed the despair of being  abandoned to starvation.

‘ To give a just description of the hardships that the meanest of us endure, and the anxieties suffered by the rest, is more than I can pretend to. In all the Crusoe-like adventures I ever read or heard of I do not recollect anything like it’.

1790, April, Sydney: HMS Supply returned from Norfolk Island.

1790 – 5th April;  ‘the flag on South Head was hoisted…the governor determined to go down to the harbour…I [Tench] could not help turning to the governor…Sir, prepare yourself for bad news’.

Supply brought devastating news. The brave HMS Sirius the vessel that, in 1788-89 , had successfully undertaken a lone perilous voyage to Africa in order to purchase food at Cape Town was now lost to the sea.

Sirius, while attempting to land on Norfolk Island, ran aground on submerged rocks and, stuck fast, ‘broke up in pounding surf ‘. 

Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN who, in February 1788 had established a satellite settlement on Norfolk Island, returned to Sydney in HMS Supply  together with thirty (30) of the Sirius crew. The majority of the ship’s one hundred and sixty (160) naval personnel remained stranded on the island along with the evacuees.

1790 – 7th April, Sydney:  Supply’s trawling nets were deployed; an activity so sorely missed during her absence on Norfolk Island.

Now winter was just around the corner; ‘ about four hundred weight [203 kg] of fish being  brought up, it was issued’ to the Europeans. This proved to be the last big haul of the season.

1790 – 12 April, Sydney: ‘ On 12th of this month: two and one-half pounds of flour, two pounds of pork and two pounds of rice for seven men for one day, at which ration there will be pork until the 26th August, rice until the 13th September and flour until the 19th of December’.

‘When the age of this provision is recollected, its inadequacy will more strikingly appear. The pork and rice were brought with us from England. The pork had been salted between three and four years, and every grain of rice was a moving body from the inhabitants lodged within it’.First Fleet Journal Captain Watkin Tench

1790 – 14 April, Batavia: Governor Phillip called a Meeting-in-Council; the situation was desperate and a difficult decision was made. Phillip ordered HMS Supply to Batavia to buy food and medicines.

Difficult and desperate as it meant with Supply gone not only would there be no more trawling for fish with her went any hope of escape. The settlement would be completely cut-off  from the outside world. Nevertheless HMS Supply had to go to Batavia.

Her captain Lieutenant Ball was authorised to ‘draw bills on the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury for what you purchase for the use of this settlement….The species and quantity of provisions wanted is flour 200,000 pounds, beef 80,000 pounds, pork 60,000 pounds and rice 70,000 pounds’.

HMS Supply would bring back as much flour and rice as she could carry. Ball was to charter a Dutch vessel [Waaksamheyd] to bring urgently needed medicines and 400 tons of supplies to Sydney – as quickly as possible.

Governor Phillip prepared papers for Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King, his trusted friend and confidant. King was instructed to ‘make the best of my way to England with Governor Phillip’s dispatches’.

In short Lieutenant King was to return to England as Phillip’s emissary and impress on upon both Whitehall and the Admiralty the absolue necessity to support, for both strategic and commercial reasons, Britain’s naval and military presence in the southern oceans. .

Lieutenant King’s orders to; ‘make the best of my way to England with Governor Phillip’s dispatches’.

See: Arthur Phillip – An Enigma In A Parallel Universe: A New World & The Oldest Land. 

1790 – 17 April, Batavia: ‘ as the Supply, Captain Ball, sailed for Batavia’. Captain Tench turned to Virgil’s Aeneid; ‘In te omnis domus inclinata recumbit – Our frail state depends utterly on you’….We followed her with anxious eyes until she was longer visible’. 

1790 – June, Sydney: A ship flying England’s flag was sighted off Sydney Heads.

1790 – 3 June: ‘The flag’s up resounded in every direction…letters, letters…news burst upon us like meridian splendour on a blind man’.

The ship, Lady Juliana a convict transport, had on board two hundred and twenty-five (225) female prisoners but little food for the colony. However she did carry an amount of flour, some salted provisions and a small flock of sheep salvaged from Australian’s Titanic – HMS Guardian.

See: Titanic – Australia’s Titanic, HMS Guardian – The Missing Link

1790 – June: Three (3) more ships of ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’ – Neptune, Scarborough and Suprize –  arrived in Sydney before the end of June 1790.

These ships delivered broken bodies and broken minds; the result of brutal, inhumane punishments, starvation and murder.

One-quarter of the mainly male convicts died during the voyage; ‘of 1038 convicts embarked at Plymouth; 237 died on the voyage, 486 landed sick, of these 124 died in hospital at Sydney’.

See: A Grim Armada – Convicts – Britain’s First Transportation Fleet – The Dead & The LIving Dead   

1790 – 20th June: ‘ We were joyfully surprised on the 20th of the month to see another sail [Justinian] enter the harbour…and our rapture doubled on finding that she was laden entirely with provisions for our use. Full allowance, and general congratulations immediately took place’.

Justinian a fully laden storeship – carried the first relief supplies to arrive from England.

Full allowance (if eight [8] pounds of flour, and either seven [7] pounds of pork, served alternately, per week, without either peas, oatmeal, spirits, butter or cheese, can be so called so) is yet kept up; but if the Dutch snow [Waaksamheyd] does not arrive soon [from Batavia] it must be shortened, as the casks in the store house, I observed yesterday are woefully decreased. Watkin Tench, in Buried Alive, Jack Egan. 

Justinian’s provisions were welcome but the additonal numbers landing from the second fleet in such wretched condition requiring feeding and care placed great strain on Justinian’s provisions and the colony’s; ‘nearly exhausted medicine -chest’.

1790 July, Winter: ‘fish is by no means plenty at least, they are not in abundance’.

The Aborigines were extremely hungry, if  they quite rightly felt entitled to a fair share of Justinian’s bounty sadly they were proved wrong. What was given was given grudgingly.

‘With the natives we are hand in glove. They throng the camp every day and sometimes by their clamour and importunity for bread and meat (of which they now all eat greedily) are become very troublesome God knows we have little enough for ourselves!

1790 – September, Sydney: In an atmosphere of anger born of hunger and frustration an Aborigine speared Governor Phillip through the shoulder.

1790 – 7 September, Manly:  ‘the Indian, [one of a group] stepping back with one foot, aimed his lance with such force and dexterity that, striking the governor’s right shoulder just above the collar-bone, the point glancing downward came out at his back, having made a wound of many inches’.

1790 – 16 September, Spring; ‘The fishing boats had the greatest success…near 4000 of fish…being taken in two [2] hauls of the seine…they were issued to this settlement [Sydney] and to that at Rose Hill’.

The pressure of  maintaining what Phillip regarded as a valuable ‘outpost of Empire’ in the southern oceans, and keeping an increasing population of Europeans alive, blinded Phillip to the morality of the situation – robbing Aboriginies of  ‘their only support’.

‘We had not yet been able to reconcile the natives to the deprivation of those parts of this harbour which we occupied. While they entertained the idea of our having dispossessed them of their residences, they must always consider us as enemies’. Judge Advocate, Marine Captain David Collins, in Buried Alive, Jack Egan

1790 – October: Thieving among the convicts and soldiers accelerated, floggings ‘at the cart’s tail’ increased, three (3) executions ‘on the gallows…all recent arrivals’ and ‘inanition’ – death from starvation  – steadily mounted.

1790 – 19 October, SydneyHMS Supply returned from Batavia after an absence of six (6) months and two (2) days with good news and bad. The bad new; ‘200,000 pounds of flour was not to be had’…200,000 pounds of rice’ full of weevils made up the shortfall.

The good news; Lieutenant Ball had, as instructed, chartered a Dutch vessel the Waaksamheyd. Midshipman Ormsby remained in Batavia to keep a sharp eye on the quality of the merchandise, supervise its loading and press her master, Captain Deter Smith, to sail for Sydney without delay.

1790 – December, Sydney: Organised gangs of convicts accompanied by marines were ordered out into the bush to shoot game and gather foods.

1790 – 9 December:‘ A sergeant of marines with three [3] convicts, among whom was Macentire the governor’s game-keeper [ sent to hunt kangaroo]…. ‘About one o’clock [1  am] the sergeant was awakened by a rustling noise in the bushes near him….One of them [Pemulwy] jumped on a fallen tree and without giving the least warning of his intention, launched his spear at [the hated] Macentire] and lodged it in his left side’.

1790 – 13 December: Phillip’s response to Mc Entire’s wounding; ‘make a severe example…infuse a universal terror… convince them of our superiority’.

Watkin Tench led a party of; ‘four [4] officers and forty [40] marines…three [3] days provisions, ropes to bind our prisoners…and hatchets and bags to cut off and contain the heads of the slain’.

Tench’s task; ‘bring back two [ 2] natives as prisoners and put ten [10] to death and bring back the heads of the slain in bags …furnished for the purpose’.

Tench had a more level-headed response to the spearing of the much hated Macentire who ‘had a deserved reputation for cruelty’.

Tench persuaded Phillip; ‘would it not be better…instead of destroying ten [10] persons, the capture of six [6] …as out of this number, a part might be set aside for retaliation [ presumbably hanging] ; and the rest, at a proper time, liberated, after having seen the fate of their comrades and being made sensible of the cause of their own detention’.

No heads – white or black – were lost on this occasion; ‘We could not get near enough to effect our purpose…. We pursued; but a contest between heavy-armed Europeans fettered by ligatures, and naked unencumbered Indians, was too unequal; to last long. They darted into the wood and disappeared….we were sensible that no hope of success remained’. 

 1790 – 17 December, Sydney:  Waaksamheyd the vessel chartered by Lieutenant Ball arrived from Batavia.


‘Notwithstanding the supplies which have arrived from Batavia [on Waaksamheyd] short allowance was again proclamed.’

1791 – March, England:  Waaksamheyd sailed for England with Captain John Hunter RN and the crew of HMS Sirius retrieved from Norfolk Island.

1791 – 26 March, Sydney: The ration was reduced ; ‘four [4] pound flour, five [5] pound rice, seven [7 ] pound beef or four [4] pound pork; women and children over 10 years, two-thirds; children between 2 and 10 years one-half of the men’s ration; children under 2 years, one-quarter of that ration’.

1791 – 2 April, Hawkesbury River: ‘ a long drought has nearly exhausted all the vegetables…reduced work hours’.

Further ration reductions had to be made;  ‘three [3] pound flour…rice…pork or four & one-half pound beef…Of this allowance the flour is the best article..rice …full of weevile… pork ill-flavoured, rusty and smoked…the beef  lean and cured with spices truly unpalatable’.

1791 – July, Sydney: Mary Anne, a convict transport, arrived with one hundred and forty-four (144)  women convicts.

Other ships arrived at intervals with mainly male prisoners; ‘their appearance was  truly deplorable, the generality of them being weak and emaciated…’

We have received upwards of 2,000 people by [this] fleet including soldiers of the New South Wales Corps who took passsge on the convict transports and the supply of provisions which they brought with them was calculated to serve them for nine [9] months but as we have the same number of people in the colony before they were added and not an ounce of provisions for them being sent out, it give us only four [4] months’ supply for the whole. David Collins, in Buried Alive, Jack Egan, 1999.

1791 – August: convicts landed from Matilda – 205 males (24 died on passage),  Atlantic  202 males (18 deaths),  Salamander155 males ( 5 deaths),  William and Ann  – 181 males ( 7 deaths).

1791 – September: Active 154 males ( 21 deaths),  Queen from Ireland – 22 females, 126 males (7 male deaths)

1791 – 21 September: ‘HMS Gorgan from England with stores and provisions for the settlement’.

Gorgan landed 30 male convicts and; ‘1 bull-calf (3 bulls died on passage) 16 cows (23 embarked), 68 live sheep and 11 hogs, 200 fruit trees’.

1791 – October: Albermarle 6 females , 250 males (32 male deaths) , Britannia129 males ( 21 deaths), The Admiral Barrington –264 males (36 deaths); ‘the generality of them being weak and emaciated’.

1791 – November:  forty-two (42) deaths recorded at Sydney.

1791 – 30 November, Sydney:  The population– persons of all description;  Sydney – 1,259,  Rose Hill – 1,628 – Norfolk Island – 1,172 –  total:  4059′.   

1791 – 18 December, England: HMS Gorgan ‘sailed in a fair wind for England’ with eighty – six (86) marines including Major Robert Ross, Captains Watkin Tench and William Dawes, twenty-one (21) marine wives and forty-seven (47)  children; in all one hundred and fifty-four (154) persons.

1791 – 20 December, Sydney: Rations again reduced and were now to be issued daily.  Work hours for the weak and starving prisoners were also reduced.

1791 – 24 December, Christmas Eve: ‘From the state of the provisions the governor… could only give one (1)  pound of flour to each woman in the settlement’.

1791 – 25 December, Christmas night‘one and twenty (21) gallons of spirits stolen from the stores’.  


During 1792 three (3) more convict transports arrived with ‘ weak and emaciated’  prisoners in need of medical attention.

1792 – 14 February: The first of these Pitt – arrived with 319 male convicts (20 deaths), 58 females (9 deaths) and Major Francis Grose to take command of the New South Wales Corps.

Grose was accompanied by approximately two hundred (200) officers and men. Thirteen (13) soldiers, five (5) soldiers’ wives and seven (7) seamen ‘died on the passage’.  

1792 – 31 March: At Sydney eighty-seven [ 87] deaths recorded; ‘most [new arrivals] so thoroughly exhausted that they expired without a groan’. 

1792 – April: Ration reduced to; ‘3 pound flour, two (2) pound maize and four (4) pound of pork’.

1792 – May: ‘Flour ration halved’, flour was replaced with an increased issue of  locally grown maize (Indian Corn). 

1792 – 20 June: Atlantic arrived with food from Calcutta – ‘soujee [Bengal flour], rice and dahl’. Unfortunately most was unfit for human consumption and fed to the animals.

David Collin’s commented;‘ the universal and earnest wish that no cause might ever again induce us to try it [food from Calcutta].

1792 – 2 July: Ration; ‘2 pound pork, 4 pound maize, 1 pint bad rice, 1 pound dohl or pea flour, 1 &1/2 lb of a specie of flour called ‘Bengal’ soujee’.

1792 – 26 July: Britannia from England brought supplies and provisions; ’12 months’ clothing for convicts, 4 months flour, and 8 months beef or pork…for every decription of persons in the settlement’.

1792 – 27 July: Rations increased with Britannia’s  provisions; ‘4 pound local maize [Indian corn], 3 pound soujee, 7 pound beef or 4 pound pork, 3 pints of peas as usual 2/3 for each woman and 1/4 for every child  over 10 years’.

However as each convict was required to grind his own maize several ‘convicts died from feeding on it in its crude state when carrying the grain to the public granary’.  

1792 – October: : Mr. Raven, Britannia’s master, agreed to let his ship for E2000 pounds – 11 shares at E200 pounds each; ‘to fetch a cargo of provisions and stock for the gentlemen and officers of the settlement taken up at their own expense’.  

This commercial arrangement with the Britannia, prompted by Lieutenant John Macarthur, was instigated by Major Grose on behalf of his troops – the New south Wales ‘Rum’ Corps.

Governor Phillip disagreed with the Grose initiative; ‘I am sorry, that I cannot, with propriety, take any official step in this business’.    Nevertheless the ‘business’ went ahead.

The New South Wales Corps’ venture with Britannia served as a template for the trading cartels of the New South Wales Corps that held a stranglehold over all commercial dealings in the colony until the arrival of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

1792 – 7 October: Royal Admiral arrived from England with convicts; 289 males, 47 females, 21 soldiers of the NSW Corps and 3 free settlers – a farmer, a master miller and a master-carpenter.

1792 – 24 October, Rio & Cape TownBritannia sailed to Rio and the Cape of Good Hope for‘the gentlemen and officers of the settlement’. See: An Elephant In The Room – The New South Wales ‘Rum’ Corps

1810 – 1 January, Sydney:  Governor Lachlan Macquarie, accompanied by a regiment of Scots troops – the 73rd Black Watch – took up his commission as Britain’s fifth Governor of New South Wales on the first day of January 1810 and took on the ‘Rum Corps’.


  1. Matthew C. Kriner Says:

    I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  2. admin Says:


    I am using the blog to store information that I believe demonstrates a more realistic interpretation of the first generation of British occupation of Australia and the effect of that occupation on the First Peoples of Australia.

    However I am not technically savvy.