Archive for January, 2016


Monday, January 25th, 2016

1788 -Sydney Cove, July: ‘Yesterday twenty [20] of the natives came down to the beach, each armed with a number of spears, and seized on a good part of the fish caught in the seine [trawling nets]…several stood at a small distance with their spears poised ready to throw them if any resistance was made’. Governor Arthur Phillip to Under-Secretary Evan Nepean, July 10, 1788, Frank Murcott Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales


‘They [Aborigines] are not pleased with our remaining amongst them, as they see we deprive them of fish, which is almost their only support’ . Governor  Philip to Evan  Nepean, September 1788  


Sydney- 1789, January:  ‘From the intelligence of our friends and connections we had been entirely cut off, no communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th of May 1787, the day of our departure from Portsmouth’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961


 Sydney – 1789, April: ‘An extraordinary calamity was now observed among the natives…pustules similar to those  occasioned by smallpox were thickly spread on the bodies but how a disease, to which our former observations had led us to believe them strangers could have introduced itself, and have spread so widely, seems inexplicable’. Tench. ibid.     


‘The epidemic not only killed a significant proportion of the indigenous population but also destabilised society…there is no easy answer to the fraught quest of [Aboriginal] clan boundaries in Sydney, particularly because an epidemic in 1789 caused massive disruption of the indigenous peoples in the area‘. Pauline Curby, Randwick [A History], 2010.


By a strange coincidence, smallpox reached Port Jackson at about the same time as the First Fleet’. Cassandra Pybus, Black Founders, UNSW Press, 2006 



Monday, January 11th, 2016

In 1792 the military power was significantly strengthened when Phillip, due to ill health, returned to England [from Sydney Cove]. Not a Rum Rebellion But a Military Insurrection. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 92, John McMahon, 2006

1792 – December: In On the 12th of December 1792 Governor Arthur Phillip RN, after a five (5) year tenure as Britain’s first commissioned governor of New South Wales (1788-1792,  departed Sydney for home. However Whitehall failed to appoint an immediate successor.

By default, the immense power invested in the naval Governor Arthur Phillip, said to be unique in Britain’s long history of colonisation, fell to the military.

‘The other great change came in the arrival with the second fleet of the first contingent of the New South Wales Corps in June 1790’. att. Pacific Explorations

In June 1790 the first contingent of Infantry, the New South Wales Corps, arrived to relieve the marines of the ‘First Fleet’ who, like Governor Phillip, were overdue for repatriation. 

London Gazette October 1789

Unfortunately for the First Nation’s Peoples their Commandant Major Grose remained in London and continued recruiting to satisfy establishment requirements.

The inevitable power vacuum was filled swiftly by Lieutenant John Macarthur a scheming parasitic junior officer.

1791: Grose, a wounded veteran of the American War (1775-1783), arrived at Sydney in 1791 aboard Pitt a vessel of the 3rd fleet.

1792 – December: Following Phillip’s departure on the 12th of December, the next day the 13th, Major Grose sacked all civil magistrates appointed by his predecessor.

‘Grose, commander of the New South Wales Corp must have realized that in superseding the magistrates he was making an alteration in judicial government which was contrary to the Royal Instructions expressed both in Phillip’s Commission and the Letters Patent establishing the Court of Law…The settlement [as a consequence] was ruled as a military oligarchy’. William Foster, Journal Royal Australia Historical Society, Vol. 1, part 3, 1968

Grose proved a lackadaisical leader. He elevated Lieutenant Macarthur to the role of paymaster. The day to day running of the colony was handed over to him.

‘Lieutenant John Macarthur a leading figure in the military ‘mafia’ which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property owning elite.

This [‘mafia’] shift was commercially launched in 1793 when Macarthur organised a cartel [of officers] that using credit accessed against pay bought 7,500 gallons of rum and other cargo of an American trader and sold it in the colony at a huge profit’. Pacific Explorations etc ????? 

At this time(1793) Captain John Hunter RN Britain’s second commissioned naval governor was still  on the high seas.

‘His commission as captain-general and governor-in-chief was dated 6 February 1794…[but] Hunter did not sail until 25 February [1795] arrived in [Sydney] 7 September 1795 and assumed office four days later.

For the length of the interregnum [December 1792 -September 1795] the British government was greatly at fault’. J.J. Auchmuty, Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Between December 1792 and September 1795 New South Wales functioned as a military dictatorship.



Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

1785 – August, Brest: ‘In 1785 Louis XVI quietly sent the Comte de la Perouse with two ships La Boussole & L’Astrolabe to survey likely spots for French settlements. Aboard were copper plates engraved with the royal arms to be used as permanent notification of French ownership’. Australian Discovery and Exploration, Michael Cannon, 1987