‘The cultural arrogance of the British was evident even before the First Fleet sailed.

There was no recognition that the Aborigines had their own notion of right, that from their point of view they were entitled to defend themselves from invasion’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995


1790 – April: ‘per week without distinction…to every child of more than eighteen (18) months old and to every grown person two [2] pounds of pork, two and a half [2 ½] pounds of flour, two [2] pounds of rice, or a quart of pease.

The pork and rice we 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’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1961


‘On the 9th of the month [December 1790], a serjeant of marines, with three [3] convicts, among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Baneelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred) went out on a shooting party’. Tench. ibid.


1790 – 13 December, Sydney Headquarters: ‘Put to death ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring in two prisoners.I am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’. Governor Phillip, General Orders to Captain Tench, cited Tench. ibid


‘Indiscriminate and disproportionate’ Governor Phillip’s directive, put no limit on barbarity. He made it in response to the warrior Pemulwuy’s wounding of John  McIntyre who was one (1) of three (3) ‘First Fleet’ convict marksmen licensed to carry firearms.

‘But in this business of M’Entire I [Phillip] am fully persuaded that they [Aborigines] were unprovoked’, cited Tench.

Yet Tench tells us Phillip had detailed knowledge of McIntyre his own game-keeper. A year earlier, in December 1789 Bennalong, on Governor Phillip’s orders, had been kidnapped from Manly Beach.

He was held captive within British lines until he escaped in May of 1790.See: Kidnapped – Manly What’s In A Name

There can be no doubt Bennalong was the source of Phillip’s ‘dread and hatred’ intelligence .

Why ‘they’ when Pemulway identified by the ‘blemish in his left eye’, was the single known assailant.

The ‘but’ however refers to Phillip’s ,‘own spearing’ by Wileemarrin, ‘a native from Broken Bay’ that had taken place three (3) months previously – September 1790. See: Manly, Location Location Location


1790 – 1 January, Sydney: ‘We had been entirely cut off, no communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th May 1787 the date of our departure from Portsmouth.

Our impatience of news from Europe strongly marked the commencement of the year [as] we have now been two years in the country, and twenty-two months from England’. Tench. ibid.

Botany Bay – 1790, December 9:  Provocation – a serjeant of marines with three (3) armed convicts – John Randall, Patrick Burn and the ‘hated’ M’Intyre – were sent to Botany Bay to hunt kangaroo.

10 December:  In the early hours, ‘awakened by a rustling noise in the bushes…two Aborigines…one [Pemulwuy] launched his spear at M’Entire’. 

Sydney – 11 December: The wounded Mc Intyre begged not to be left to die in the bush. By evening the hunting party were back in Sydney Cove. See: Lieutenant William Dawes The Eternal Flame & Universal Terror

13 December: ‘His excellency pitched upon me [Tench] be ready to march at daylight…party, consisting of two captains, two subalterns and forty privates, with a proper number of non-commissioned officers from the garrison, with three days provisions…to execute the command ; kill ten [10] ……two [2] prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner……..

Governor Phillip’s rules of engagement, punishing both innocent and guilty, went far beyond what was legal.

‘Lieutenant William Dawses’ whose tour of duty it was to go out with that party refused that duty by letter’. Professor G.A. Wood, Lieutenant William Dawes and Captain Watkin Tench, Australian Historical Society Journal, Vol. 19, Part 1, 1924

With the ‘Rules and Disciplines of War’ in mind Captain Tench hesitated. Tench negotiated a change in the orders and the ‘scope of the order’ was altered.


‘Bring in six [6] of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay; or, if that should be found impracticable, to put that number [6] to death…bring back the heads of the slain’. Tench. ibid.

14 December 14:  ‘At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 14th we marched…with three days provisions, ropes to bind our prisoners, with hatchets and bags to cut off and contain the heads of the slain.

By nine o’clock this terrific procession reached the peninsula, at the head of Botany Bay.’ Tench. ibid. See: A Hatchet Job- Kill 6 & Cut Off Their Heads


‘Perched precariously on the edge of an impenetrable continent, the threat of starvation constantly present, death was never remote from the tiny colony’. Dr. Bryan Gandevia, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 61, Part 1, 1975 See: Abandoned and Left to Starve @ Sydney – January 1788 to June 1790

gggggg1790 – 3 June: The men, women and children of the ‘First Fleet’ were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Not until 3rd of June 1790 when the Lady Juliana with ‘London on her Stern’ sailed into Sydney Harbour was a word heard from England.See: Missing In Action HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

By December 1790 the garrison marines were a spent force.  Tench’s ‘terrific procession’ must have been drawn mainly from the fresh ranks of the newly arrived infantry troops of New South Wales Corps on the second fleet – ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’.

17 December: After three (3) unsuccessful days; ‘we bent our steps homeward…wading breast-high’ through water ‘as broad as the Thames at Westminster, were glad to find ourselves at Sydney, between one and two o’clock in the afternoon’ but without heads or prisoners.

However Tench’s troops returned to a very different settlement from the one they had left so recently. The heady smell of cooking filled with the air.

At first light that morning Waaksamheyd, the Dutch ship chartered at Jakarta by Lieutenant Henry Ball had returned from Batavia. See: Missing in Action. HMS Sirius & HMS Supply  




‘Here on the summit of the hill, every morning from daylight until the sun sunk, did we sweep the horizon, in hope of seeing a sail’. Tench.ibid.

1790 – 3 June, Sydney: Lady Juliana, dubbed ‘The Brothel Ship’ – first of four (4) vessels of a second fleet broke the ‘misery and horror’ of absolute isolation.

Juliana brought two hundred and twenty-six (226) women prisoners, eight (8) children with more on the way.

But, aside from a small flock of sheep salvaged from the wrecked HMS Guardian, not a substantial amount of food.

A day or so later, from the lookout erected earlier on South Head, Phillip and ‘his people’ watched as Justinian , a fully laden supply ship was caught in the vortex of a typical east-cost low and  very nearly went the way of HMS Guardian. See: TITANIC: HMS GUARDIAN – AUSTRALIA’S TITANIC

By the end of June 1790 the fleet’s death ships Neptune, Scarborough and Suprize arrived.  One hundred and fifteen (115) officers and men of the New South Wales Corps, first contingent of ‘twenty-five regiments of British infantry’ were distributed throughout these vessels.

Of approximately one thousand (1000) mainly male prisoners embarked at Plymouth two hundred and fifty-six (256) men and eleven (11) women died during the voyage.

Six hundred and ninety-two (692) male convicts and sixty-seven (67) females survived the horror passage. Of those landed alive 15% died within weeks of landing.

Captain William Hill who sailed in Suprize, wrote to William Wilberforce England’s leading parliamentary anti-slavery campaigner, ‘the slave trade is merciful compared with what I have seen in this fleet’. Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. 1 See: Britain’s Grim Armada – The Dead and the Living Dead 

The newcomers, five (5) months from London’s teeming streets found neither fortress or redoubt. Only tents and starving, weak, ragged, bare-foot ‘Robinson Cruscos‘ clinging precariously to life on a ration well below subsistence level.

None, soldier or criminal, could comprehend their new surroundings. Well documented animosity surfaced quickly between the newcomers and the  old lags of 1788.

1790 – September, Manly: A tipping point came in early September when a ‘monster’ whale stranded on Manly Beach.A large number of excited Aborigines gathered around it.

Governor Phillip was rowed across to Manly anxious to see if it was the type that produced the much valued spermacetti oil.

A ‘unhappy catastrophe’ developed between Phillip and Wileemarrin, a warrior from the Broken Bay area.

When the Governor ‘threw down a dirk he wore at his side’ Wileemarrin, speared him through the right shoulder.

Wileemarrin had every reason to interpret Phillip’s action as aggression.

Manly was the place where earlier on two (2) separate occasions three (3) Aboriginal men Ararbanoo, Bennalong and Colbee, had been seized and taken captive. See: Manly Location, Location, Location.

‘The tremendous monster, who had occasioned the unhappy catastrophe just recorded was fated to be the cause of farther mischief to us’. Tench. ibid.

Phillip owned his part in the melee and ordered there be no reprisals. But that decision ‘was fated to…cause…farther mischief’.

Seen as weakness it raised ire among ‘certain officers’ of the New South Wales Corps led by Lieutenant John Macarthur the teetotaller who went on to put ‘rum’ into the New South Wales ‘Rum’ Corps.



1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: Commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN the ‘First Fleet’ a large armed amphibious expeditionary force of   eleven (11) vessels sailed from England in mid May 1787 to invade the island continent of New Holland.

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the [male] convicts. Apart the allowance of spirits the standard adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, ed. W. Hugh Oldham, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1990

One-half of the fleet’s overwhelmingly male complement – 1500 – consisted of two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel, four (4) companies of marines – two hundred and forty-five (245) officers and rank and file – thirty-one (31) marine wives and about four hundred and forty (440) merchant seamen.

The other half were convicted criminals. In the midst of America’s Revolutionary War of Independence (1775-1783) The Hulks Act of 1776 legislated two (2) categories of prisoner.

Those reprieved death and sentenced ‘for transportation beyond the seas’, were deemed ‘Servants of the Crown [their] Service is for the Crown’.

Five hundred and seventy (570) men rationed as ‘troops serving in the West Indies’ their ‘service’ for the Crown was as combatants. One hundred and ninety (190 women) prisoners their ‘service’ for the use of officers. See: Brokeback Mountain.


1788 – 18-20 January, Botany Bay: After traversing 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’ by mid-January 1788 the fleet was safely anchored in Botany Bay.

Lack of water and protection for the fleet caused Phillip to immediately set off in one (1) of three (3) small boats to find a reliable water source and examine the surrounding country.

21 January, Port Jackson: Using Lieutenant James Cook’s charts of 1770 the scouting party came upon a vast harbour.

22 January, Sydney Cove: Phillip chose a ‘snug’ cove from a myriad bays and inlets, naming it after Lord Sydney of the Home Office.

23 January, Botany Bay: ‘The boats returned on the evening of the 23d. with such an account of the harbour and advantages attending the place, that it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence the next morning’. Tench. ibid.

24 January, Botany Bay: Comte Jean- Francoise La Perouse in command of La Boussole and L’Astrolabe arrived in the entrance to the wide open bay.

Bad weather and, the sight of HMS Sirius gun-ports open for business, forced them back out to sea and out of sight.

25 January, Port Jackson: Captain Phillip quit Botany Bay and made for Port Jackson nine (9) miles (14 km) to the north arriving there late that evening.

26 January, Sydney Cove: Victory over France; ‘at daylight a marine party from the Supply and everybody else who would be spared, began clearing a small area near the Tank Stream. A flagstaff was erected to its east from which the Union Jack was flown’. Tench. ibid. See: Australia: Britain By A Short Half-Head

26 January, Port Jackson: During the day the remaining English fleet departed Botany Bay for Port Jackson.  By nightfall the entire English fleet was moored alongside Supply.

6 February: Two (2) weeks later the convict women and their children landed from the ships that had been home for just on a year.

7 February, Sydney Cove: ‘The battalion was drawn up on parade…music playing…convicts assembled…His Majesty’s commission read….Nor have Government been backward in arming Mr. Phillip with a plenitude of power’. Tench ibid.






‘Our first expedition having so totally failed the governor resolved to try the fate of a second and the; ‘painful pre-eminence’ again devolved on me…the orders under which I [Tench] was commanded to act differing in no respect from the last’.

1790 – 22 December: The second raid ‘differing in no respect from the last’ emphasised Governor Phillip’s clear intent: ‘to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group, such as; killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group’. United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. See: G is for Genocide  – Testosterone Fuelled

The second raid was a whole new deal. Tench made significant tactical alterations.

‘It was determined, being full moon, that our operations should be carried on in the night, both for the sake of secrecy, and for avoiding the extreme heat of the day.’

And there was a significant sop to the enemy within ‘certain officers’ of the New South Wales Corps led by Lieutenant John Macarthur.

We feigned that our preparations were directed against Broken  Bay; and that [Wileemarrin] the man who had wounded the governor was the object of punishment’.

Early morning on the 23rd December the detachment sighted; ‘five Indians on the beach, we pursued; but the contest between heavy-armed Europeans and naked unencumbered Indians, was too unequal to last long. They darted into the wood and disappeared.

1790 – 24 Christmas Eve: Our final effort was made at half past one o’clock next morning ; and after four hours toil, ended as those preceding it had done, in disappointment and vexation. At nine o’clock…we returned to Sydney to report our fruitless peregrination’.

Not ‘fruitless’ Tench tells ‘if we could not retaliate on the murderer of M’Entire, we found no difficulty in punishing offences committed within our own observations’. 

1790 – December, Sydney: ‘Two natives…detected in robbing a potatoe garden…the ardour of the soldiers transported them so far, that instead of capturing the offenders, they fired among them… the women were taken…two men escaped…one…Ban-g-ai died’. Tench. ibid.


‘Henry Reynolds argues that the unsuccessful operations against the Bidjigal were the prototype for future punitive expeditions which only ended with the Conistan Massacre of 1928’. Reynolds, cited Peter Turbet, The Occupation of the Sydney Region 1788-1816, Rosenberg, Sydney, 2011.

Governor Phillip’s orders of December 1790 his;‘fixed determination to repeat it whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’ remained extant.

They served as a template for;‘twenty-five [(25] regiments of British infantry who served in the colonies between 1790 and 1870… They fought in the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British empire, and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of southern Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1790-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1986

YYYYYYY’Phillip was authorised to see to the defence of the colony’. Kercher. op.cit.

Phillip’s orders applied from where-ever and from whom-so-ever such threat arose.

If not Pemulwuy the perpetrator or, Willamarrin the feint,  who was the target?

2020: Surely the time has come to investigate John McIntyre’s death and Governor Arthur Phillip’s motives. See: The Switch 1790 – Context – War With France 1793-1815

YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY    Under the Hulks Act of 1776 convicts reprieved death on condition of transportation; ‘their service…is for the Crown’.

>>>>>>>>’But in this business of M’Entire…I [Phillip] am fully persuaded that they [Aborigines] were unprovoked’. All evidence is to the contrary. See: A Tethered Goat – John M’Intyre

‘For the Sydney people to lose around 50 per cent or more of their military capability in a few weeks was a crushing blow’. Stephen Gapps, The Sydney Wars, Conflict in the early colony 1788-1817, NewSouth Books, 2018

In December 1790 Sydney’s Aborigines were at a low ebb. The previous year, April 1789, an outbreak of smallpox raged through their community killing 50% their number.

<<<<<<<<<The survivors were struggling to regroup. See: Smallpox: A Lethal Weapon Boston – 1775  Major Ross & Captain Collins – Sydney – 1789

YYYYYYYYYBotany Bay – 1790,  December 22: ‘Our first expedition [14th] having so totally failed, the governor resolved to try the fate of a second; and the painful pre-eminence’ again devolved on me….The orders under which I [Tench] was commanded to act differing in no respect from the last’.  Tench. ibid.

The orders may not have differed but how Tench went about the business differed markedly; we feigned that our preparations were directed against…Willamarrin’. Tench. ibid.
















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