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


1788 – 18-20, Botany Bay: An invasion fleet, eleven (11) vessels known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’, between 18-20 January 1788 sailed into an open and very wide bay – Botany Bay – on the south-east coast of the then New Holland, now Australia.

One-half of the fleet’s overwhelmingly complement of approximately 1500 were convicted criminals. But criminals with a difference. See: All The King’s Men – The Criminals of the First Fleet

‘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.

1788 – 24 January, Botany Bay: Four (4) days later two (2) French ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe appeared over the horizon. At the sight of Sirius with gun ports open cannon at the ready, they turned south and sought safety at Point Sutherland.

1788 – 25 January, Port Jackson: Captain Phillip boarded HMS Supply and quit Botany Bay that; ‘offered no Security for large Ships’ for the deep anchorage of Sydney Cove where on the 22nd Phillip had found an excellent harbour; ‘[w]here a Thousand Sail of the Line may ride in most perfect Security’.

1788 – 26 January, Sydney: At first light Phillip landed and raised ‘English Colours’. By evening the remainder of the fleet had sailed the nine (9) miles (25km) north and, just on dark, anchored alongside Supply. See: Australia: Britain By A Short Half-Head 

‘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. See: On The Rocks

During the long voyage from England – 13,000 miles (21,000 km) – while soldiers and male convicts were issued the same ration Sir Charles Middleton of the Navy’s Victualling Board insisted they only be allowed two-thirds of the full active service ration.  

But once landed the ‘full standard ration be issued…no distinction was drawn betweeen marines and [male]convicts’. Women received two-thirds of the male ration and children one-quarter. See: Analyse This

XXXX chec the amounts and look at metric conversions

7 pounds (3.2kg) bread or flour, 4 pounds (3.2kg) salted beef OR 2 pounds (1.8kg) salted pork, 3 pints (1.7 litres) pease, 6 ozs (170g) butter, 1 pound of flour or one-half pound (227g) rice OR an additional 454g flour

When Fisburn, Borrowdale and Golden Grove, the fleet’ s three (3) store-ships, were unloaded an inventory showed every ‘specie of provisions’ sufficient to feed such a large number for longer than a few months.

Phillip ‘believed were following closely from England’ but they failed to arrive.  See: A Clear and Present Danger – Starvation 

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

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’.

1788 –  MAY, Sydney: An inventory of livestock revealed; ‘ 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 the lone cow separated from the herd went mad, was shot and eaten.

Many of the sheep fed dry fodder on the long last leg 68 days from Cape Town, when turned out onto fresh grass, developed acidosis and ‘died quickly’.

The stranded Englishmen survived on Aboriginal foods.

Tench says in the summer months protein 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…’

1788 – June, Sydney: But in winter fish leave Sydney waters to spawn now;‘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.’ Tench. ibid.

1788 – August: By the end of August, the coldest month, still no relief ships; ‘our stock of flour bore no proportion to the salt beef and pork’ so 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 extremely scarce resources, depriving them of food necessary to sustain their families 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’. Newton Fowell, Sirius Letters, ed. Nancy Irvine,

1788 – November, Sydney: Fish returned in greater numbers and Phillip wrote; ‘unabated animosity continued to prevail between the natives and us’.

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


1789 – January: The European population at Sydney was now estimated at 1100 and despite HMS Supply deploying her nets, desperation born of hunger was widespread. Thieving attracted severe punishment. Floggings with the vicious cat-o’-nine tails either at the triangle or through the settlement tied onto a moving cart became a feature of daily life.

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

While most convicts and soldiers stole food to eat others stole to hoard – stress behaviour typical of prolonged semi-starvation.

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment (1944-5) designed by Dr. Ancel Keyes during Word War II aimed to establish a safe re-feeding regime that would be needed in post-war Europe. Some of Keye’s volunteers, all white male conscientious objectors, hoarded food as their ration was progressively reduced.

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 nourishment and through weakness occasioned by the heat of the sun.

It was proved by those who knew him that he was accustomed to deny himself 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’. Jack Egan, In Buried Alive, 1999. See: Anzac Heroes and England’s Cast-Aways

1789 –  25 March: Thieving was not confined to convicts. Seven (7) soldiers were charged with stealing from the ‘public stores’.

1789 – 26 March: Marine Joseph Hunt, it is thought he instigated the plot ratted, turned ‘king’s evidence’ 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 marines’ crime had been 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 ‘modus operandi’ – counterfeit keys – was significant for nothing in the ‘public stores’, including smallpox dried scab-matter part of the fleet’s medical supplies, had not been secure for quite some time.

‘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 – April, Sydney: Smallpox – multiple deaths – became a daily occurrence among the Cadigal.

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 Surgeon, having small pox.

‘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’. Dr John Cobley, Sydney 1789-1790, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1992.  

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; ‘not flattering as it represented four (4) months at full ration’ most for the king’s ships, HMS Sirius and HMS Supply and what could be spared for the colony.

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

1789 – 15th May: Arabanoo, a  young Aboriginal man, kidnapped on Phillip’s orders and held captive within British lines, died from smallpox.

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: The death of 50 % of the Aboriginal population the previous year(1789) had taken pressure off local food resources. The English were staring down the barrel of starvation with death the only pay-off so Phillip drew on that experience and evacuated 50% of ‘his people’ to Norfolk Island. See: ‘Terror’ Arthur Phillip – The Elephant In The Room

1790 – 6 March, Norfolk Island:  HMS Sirius and HMS Supply sailed from Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island with on-half of the white population and provisions for six (6) months.

Sirius was to sail onto China and arrange a rescue mission, Supply would return and with her trawling nets support the Sydney settlement.

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 work hours were reduced; up at sunrise work – breakfast – finish 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, 5 April, Sydney: HMS Supply returned from Norfolk Island;  ‘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. Brave HMS Sirius the vessel that, in 1788-89, sailed to Africa for provisions was gone. While attempting to land on Norfolk Island Sirius ran aground on submerged rocks, stuck fast she ‘broke up in pounding surf 

Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN who, in February 1788 had established a satellite settlement on Norfolk Island, returned in Supply  together with thirty (30) of the Sirius crew leaving one hundred and thirty (130) naval personnel stranded along with the evacuees.

1790 – 7th April, Sydney:  Supply’s trawling nets, so sorely missed during her absence were deployed; ‘about four hundred weight [203 kg] of fish being  brought up, it was issued’.

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’. Tench. ibid.

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

Difficult and desperate for with Supply gone not only would there be no more trawling for fish with her went any hope of escape. Sydney and Norfolk Island would be completely cut-off  from each other and from the outside world.

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’.

Supply would bring back as much flour and rice as she could carry and 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 absolute necessity to retain, for both strategic and commercial reasons, Britain’s naval and military presence in the southern oceans. 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’ 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’.

Lady Juliana a convict transport, with two hundred and twenty-five (225) female prisoners had little food for the colony. However she did carry a small amount of flour, some salted provisions and a small flock of sheep salvaged from 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. 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’.

The second fleet’s legacy; survivors broken in body, mind and morality most went to on mete out brutality and murder among the First Australians. 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 stores-ship – 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 additional numbers from the second fleet in such wretched condition and 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 extremely hungry, quite rightly felt entitled to a fair share of Justinian’s bounty sadly in this 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! Tench. ibid

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 local 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, Cited Egan, Buried Alive 

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.