‘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 – Sydney Headquarters, 13 December – General Orders:  ‘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


1790 – Botany Bay, 10 December: Governor Phillip’s General Orders were issued in response to the wounding of convict John McIntyre by  Bidjigal warrior  Pemulwuy.

At that time McIntyre was one (1) of four (4) ‘First Fleet’ convict marksmen licensed to carry firearms.

Pemulwuy  with a ‘blemish in his left eye’ was the known single assailant. Mc Intyre was still alive when Governor Phillip issued his ‘indiscriminate, disproportionate’ orders that put no limit on barbarity.

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

The ‘but’ referred to his ‘own spearing’ by Wileemarrin, ‘a native from Broken Bay’. That action had taken place on Manly Beach three (3) months prior – September 1790. See: Manly, Location Location Location

‘Unprovoked’? ‘ A shooting party…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’). Tench. op.cit.

A year earlier (December 1789) Bennalong and Colbee  had, on Phillip’s orders, been kidnapped from Manly Beach and held captive within British lines. Kidnapped – Manly What’s In A Name

Colbee, with Benalong’s help, escaped early. Surveillance was stepped up. Not until May 1790 did Bennalong manage to flee .See:


‘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

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.

One-half of the fleet’s overwhelmingly male complement – 1500 souls – consisted of two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel, four (4) companies of marines – two hundred and forty-five (245) officers and rank and file.

Twenty (20 officials, including nine (9) physicians, a newspaper foreign correspondent and about four hundred and forty (440) merchant seamen.

The other half were five hundred and eighty (580 )male criminals sentenced to death  but reprieved on condition ‘for transportation beyond the seas’. They were deemed ‘servants of the Crown[their] Service is for the Crown’    

‘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

Females numbered roughly two hundred and twenty-one (221). One hundred and eighty-nine (189)  prisoners, thirty-one (31) rank and file marine wives, Mrs. Johnson the Chaplain’s wife and approximately fifty (50) free children, twenty-two (22) born during the voyage.


Prior to America’s Revolutionary War of Independence (1775-1783) 50,000 British prisoners were reprieved death on condition of ‘exile from the realm’.

Shipped to America, a voyage of six (6) weeks, their ‘service’ was sold at regular ‘slave scrambles’ for the term of sentence be it 7, 14 years or life.

Whitehall – 1776, 1 April: Inevitably war brought an abrupt halt to America as Britain’s principal  penal destination. Judges continued to sentence ‘for….America’ and  Parliament passed the Hulks Act of 1776. See: April Fools’ Day

The legislation  introduced two (2) categories of prisoner. Those sentenced ‘for transportation’ their ‘service’ was for the Crown.

For most of the First Fleets’ five hundred and seventy (570) male convicts, rationed as ‘troops serving in the West Indies’, their service was as combatants.

One hundred and ninety (190 women) prisoners so sentenced, their ‘service’  was to satisfy the heterosexual demands of officers. See: Brokeback Mountain.


Botany Bay – 18-20 January: After a voyage of eight (8) months via Spanish Tenerife, Portuguese Brazil, and Dutch Cape Town the ‘First Fleet’ reached Botany Bay.

HMS Supply first to arrive immediately played out her seine [trawling] nets.

‘No sooner were the fish out of the water than they [Aborigines] began to lay hold of them as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own; upon which the officer of the boat, I think very properly; restrained them giving, however, to each of them a part.

They did not at first seem very well pleased with this mode of procedure, but on observing with what justice this fish was distributed they appeared content’. John White, First Fleet Journal of the fleet’s Chief Medical Officer. 

The Aborigines reckoned, like Captain James Cook RN who eighteen (18) years earlier(1770) in HMS Endeavour,  spent nine (9) days at Botany Bay, these ghostly strangers too would soon move on.

In this the First Nations’ were wrong. As was Governor Phillip. He believed that, as promised, supplies would ‘shortly follow’. See: On the rocks

The men, women and children of the ‘First Fleet’ had been left to fend for themselves. See: Abandoned and Left to Starve @ Sydney – January 1788 to June 1790

Neither black nor white – could have imagined the‘misery and horror’ that followed Britain’s callous abandonment of the ‘First Fleet’. See: A Plague of Locusts – The Englishmen of the First Fleet


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.

We have now been two years in the country, and twenty-two months from England…in which long period no supplies except what had been procured by [HMS] Sirius at the Cape of Good Hope had reached us...’

 Our impatience of news from Europe strongly marked the commencement of the year. 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’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1961

Phillip ordered 50% of Sydney’s white population to an off-shore island where, as early as February 1788 to prevent the French occupying it, ‘an outpost of British Empire’ had been established. See: Britain by a short half-head

1790 – Norfolk Island, 6 March: HMS Sirius and HMS Supply departed Sydney at the beginning of March. Sirius was to sail onto China,  arrange a rescue and return to England. See 219 days (pending)

1790 – 19 March: Sirius struck a submerged reef and sank.The evacuees and Sirius crew, one hundred and sixty (160) Royal Naval personnel, were taken off without loss. A substantial white population was now marooned on the island.

1790 – Sydney, April: HMS Supply returned to Sydney with the bad news – no China rescue.

An immediate decrease was made in the ration; ‘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’. Tench

Tench points out; ‘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’. 

1790 – Jakarta, 17 April: Phillip consulted his senior officers. Most were veterans of the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Their decision – HMS Supply would sail to Java, present-day Indonesia.

Tonnes of supplies were to be purchased from the Dutch. Lieutenant Henry Ball RN was to charter a ship to bring them to Sydney as soon as possible.

As tiny Supply (170 tons) sailed through Sydney’s towering headland Tench wrote; Pride, Pomp and Circumstance of Glorious War were no more, all our labour and attention were turned on one object – the procuring of food’. 



1790 – 3 June, Sydney: Lady Juliana, dubbed ‘The Brothel Ship’ – entered an empty Sydney Harbour at the beginning of June 1790 breaking the ‘misery and horror’ of absolute isolation.d.See: Missing In Action HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

Lady Juliana was first of four (4) vessels that made up Britain’s second fleet. She carried one hundred twenty-six (126) ‘useless’ female convicts and eight (8) free children.

By the end of June 1790 Neptune, Scarborough and Suprize the fleet’s death ships arrived with one thousand (1000) males and sixty-seven (67) female prisoners. See: Britain’s Grim Armada – The Dead and the Living Dead 

One hundred and fifteen (115) officers and men, first contingent of ‘twenty-five regiments of British infantry’ the New South Wales Corps, acting as guards, were distributed throughout these vessels.

One-quarter (25%) of prisoners embarked at Plymouth died on the horror passage. Six hundred and ninety-two (692) male convicts and sixty-seven (67) of seventy-eight (78) females, survived.

Of those landed alive 15% died within weeks of landing.Many survivors never regained their physical strength or moral integrity.

Captain William Hill sailed in Suprize. He 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’. Frank Murcott Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. 1


The main battle was about having enough to eat’. Don Watson, The Story of Australia (A Children’s Book) 

The newcomers, most from the teeming streets of London,were bewildered. Where were the forts and barracks? No houses only tents offered protection for the weak, ragged, bare-foot ‘Robinson Cruscos‘.

None, soldier or criminal, could comprehend their new surroundings. ‘Without distinction’ soldier, sailor, convict clung to life on a ration well below subsistence level.

Aside from a small flock of sheep salvaged from the wrecked HMS Guardian, Juliana had brought few supplies.The delivery of another thousand (1000) empty stomachs severely exacerbated Governor Phillip’s problems.

And then there was the gritty question of land grants. Little wonder 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. Local Eora peoples gathered in large numbers to celebrate the return of their totem that signalled the return of warmth and abundance.


Governor Phillip was rowed across to Manly anxious to see if the whale was the type that produced the much valued frictionless oil so beneficial in the textile trade.

Then, what Tench described as an ‘unhappy catastrophe’, developed between Phillip and Wileemarrin a warrior from the Broken Bay area.

Phillip ‘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 Beach was the place from where, on two (2) separate occasions, three (3) Aboriginal men Ararbanoo, now dead, Bennalong and Colbee, had been kidnapped. 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 ordering there be ‘no reprisals’. Yet he later insisted ‘in this business of M’Entire…I am fully persuaded that they [Aborigines] were unprovoked’.

The ambiguity of Phillip’s responses reflect a deliberate and desperate strategy. Take off the heat create ‘mischief’. See: A Tethered Goat – John M’Intyre   

‘Phillip was authorised to see to the defence of the colony’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, History of Law in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney

That authorisation applied from where-ever and from whom-so-ever such threat arose. Phillip knew ‘168 days’ how much England had to lose. See: 219 days …. and Macarthur the man who made enemies


‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups …these raids had begun by December 1790’. Kercher. ibid

Phillip’s ‘no reprisals’ in particular raised the ire of ‘certain officers’. Led by Lieutenant John Macarthur, the teetotaller who went on to put ‘rum’ into the New South Wales ‘Rum’ Corps.

For Macarthur, a junior officer wet behind the ears, this looked as good as it gets. True Phillip in the midst of a hostile military had no naval support, this was not an opportunity to pass up. See: Missing in Action. HMS Sirius wrecked  & HMS Supply @ Jakarta 

Botany Bay – 1790, December 9:  ‘Provocation’ – a serjeant of marines with three (3) armed convict marksmen  – John Randall, Patrick Burn and the ‘hated’ John M’Intyre – were sent overland 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 in the bush to die. By evening the hunters were back in Sydney Cove with the wounded convict.

Sydney – 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….’

The attacker was known. Governor Phillip’s rules of engagement, punishing both innocent and guilty, went beyond what was legal.See: Lieutenant William Dawes The Eternal Flame & Universal Terror

Sydney – 13 December: ‘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’. 

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


‘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

Captain Tench,with the ‘Rules and Disciplines of War’ in mind, hesitated. Invited, Tench negotiated a change. 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’. Governor Phillip cited Tench. ibid.

Long before December 1790 the garrison marines were a spent force.The rank and file of Tench’s ‘terrific procession’ must have been principally infantry troops. See: A Tethered Goat – John M’Intyre

The local Eora were at a low ebb. The previous year (1789) they had lost 50% of their number to smallpox. The survivors were struggling to regroup: See: Dead Aborigines Don’t Eat

‘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

1790 – Botany Bay, 17 December: After three (3) unsuccessful days, no heads no prisoners, ‘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’.Tench. ibid.

Tench’s troops returned to a very different settlement from the one they had left so recently. The heady smell of cooking filled the air. At first light that morning Waaksamheyd, the Dutch ship from Jakarta had arrived.

A double-edged sword she brought more than food and medicines. She brought hope of insurrection and escape. See: The Great Escape from Botany Bay and Boswell Goes Into Bat 


What Governor Captain Arthur Phillip RN had was guile and loyalty to King and Country. He was not one to give up and had been down this road before.See: From Here To Eternity


‘Our first expedition [14th December]]  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’.

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 however was a whole new deal with significant tactical alterations. See: England Expects (pending)

‘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.’

Then Tench tells us there was guile, a sop to the enemy within, Macarthur and ‘certain officers’ of the New South Wales Corps.

‘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’.

1790 – 23 December: At dawn on the 23rd 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 – Sydney, Boxing day: ‘Two natives…detected in robbing a potatoe garden…the [drunken] ardour of the [hung-over] 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 and 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


‘Few personal documents relating to Phillip survive, his low personal profile and the secret work in which he was sometimes involved help make him one of the least-known founders of any modern state in this case – Australia’. Pacific Explorations, Bloomsbury, 2018

Governor Arthur ‘Phillip…the least-known founder of any modern state – Australia’ can we find him? Yes we can.




From a lookout erected earlier on South Head, Phillip and ‘his people’ had watched in anguish as Justinian , a fully laden supply ship from England 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

Her master Captain Benjamin Maitland took Justinian out to sea and sailed north as far as Stockton before the storm abated sufficiently for her to return to Sydney.



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.




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

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

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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