During Lord Sydney’s time as secretary of state, the Home Office was a clearing house. Its jurisdiction included overseeing of naval officers involved in trade regulation, secret service and special projects.

As a result Sydney crossed paths with three men who left their mark on history – Horotio Nelson, William Bligh and Arthur Phillip. Lord Sydney [the life and times of Tommy Townshend] Andrew Tink, 2011.

2020:  It is time to kill that old chestnut – Captain Arthur Phillip RN was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to command the First Fleet’.

Brazil: Key to the success of Britain’s Expeditionary Force, known as the ‘First Fleet’, had been laid nearly a decade earlier during Arthur Phillip’s three (3) year sojourn in Brazil.

Like ‘amity and kindness’ Australia’s foundation myth – benign colonisation; ‘New South Wales…peacefully annexed’ U.K. Privy Council [11] Cooper V Stuart [1889]’ nothing ‘plucked from obscurity’ does not pass the pub test.

Britain invaded New Holland on the cusp of ‘the greatest event of the late eighteenth century’ – the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars – February 1793 to June 1815.

New Holland guaranteed Britain domination over alternate sea routes to and from India , the Philipines and China. Via the Southern Oceans Spain’s South American Pacific Coast  ‘treasure colonies’ were vulnerable to attack.  See: Proximity Not Distance Drove Britain’s Invasion of New Holland

Rio de Janeiro: Seconded to the Portuguese Navy Phillip, fluent in Portuguese, established good relations with Viceroy Lavradio.  Based in Rio he reported directly to Lord Sandwich at the Admiralty.

When the fleet, en-route to Botany Bay put into Rio for supplies (August-September 1787), Phillip found Marquess Vasconcelos, Lavradio’s successor, held him in high regard.

In the race for New Holland Vasconcelos’ support proved vital to Britain’s victory over France. See: Britain By A Short Half-Head Arthur Phillip and Jean Francois La Perouse

‘The short term consequence [loss of America] were less dramatic than many expected. Though Britain’s eclipse as a world power was confidently predicted her economic recovery was swift and the colonial development of Australia, New Zealand, India and part of Africa went some way to compensating for the loss of the first British Empire’. J.A. Cannon, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, ed. Oxford Companion to British History.


‘In November [1784] Henry Dundas, possibly Pitt’s closest advisor, warned that ‘India is the first quarter to be attacked, we must never lose sight of keeping such a force there as well be sufficient to baffle or surprise’. Henry Dundas, cited Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Governor Spy, Hardie Grant Books, Victoria, 2013


‘His [Phillip’s ] failure to invite the French commander [La Perouse] there [Sydney Cove] reflect some fear that he might be known as a spy.’ Alan Frost, Arthur Phillip 1783-1814 His Voyaging

Arthur Phillip, the spy who never came in from the cold, lived in a world of intrigue. He joined Britain’s Secret Service in 1769 soon after divorcing his first wife.

France – 1773:  The Admiralty urgently needed information on the disposition and ordnance of the French Navy. Phillip spent all of 1773 in France spying and reporting his observations to the Admiralty.

Home Office: Phillip and Evan Nepean, a naval officer turned bureaucrat, had known each other since their navy days in the early 1770s. Records show Phillip’s ‘spy’ payments were made through Nepean’s Whitehall office.

Against all odds,  Britain lost the American Revolutionary War (1775-83).  Her ’empire in the west’ the thirteen (13) ‘New World’ colonies; North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia along with the right to ‘transport’ convicted criminals there.

‘The interventions of the French navy in the Channel [1779], off Gibraltar, in the West Indies, off Yorktown [1781], had clearly played a considerable part in Britain’s failure to win the war in America’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, 3rd ed. Fontana Press 1991

Paris – 1783 September:  After lengthy negotiations, The Treaty of Versailles signed in September 1783, brought a formal end to the American War.

Peace saw Britain, France, Spain and the Dutch jockeying for naval dominance.

‘It is generally appeared when we have been involved in a war with France, that Spain and Holland have engaged in hostilities against us’. John Hunter, An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, original ed.1793. Bibliobazaar ed. 2008


‘The peace to which Phillip returned in April 1784 was brittle and precarious. Anglo-French relations continued to be marked by mutual distrust and the administration in Whitehall remained wary. The immediate cause for British concern was France’s apparent designs on India and the East’. Michael Pembroke. ibid.

Britain’s defeat in the American war was due in very large part to France’s unstinting support of General George Washington.  A somewhat exasperated Washington wrote of his home-spun Patriot militia.

‘They come in, you cannot tell how; go, you cannot tell when; and act, you cannot tell where; consume your provisions, exhaust your stores and leave you at last at the critical moment’. George Washington cited Esmond Wright, Fabric of Freedom 1763-1800, The Making of America, Revised ed. Hill and Wang, New York, 1978

Chesapeake – 1781 September: Particularly galling for the British Admiralty had been the French Admiral de Grasse’s trouncing of a Royal Navy squadron at Chesapeake, The Battle of Virginia Capes.

The French Navy’s success at Chesapeake denied the British reinforcements and the landing of heavy artillery required to defeat General Washington’s Continental Army at Yorktown.

Yorktown – 1781 October:  Following devastating bombardment and, hand to hand combat by a combined force of French and American forces, the survivors of General Lord Charles Cornwallis’ large army surrendered at Yorktown.

Cornwallis’ defeat guaranteed America’s independence from the ‘mother country’.


England:  During the eight (8) years of conflict approximately 10,000 criminals sentenced ‘for transportation to America’ – were held over as stock-on-hand.

Britain’s goals soon overflowed. Legislation,  Hulks Act 1776,  allowed male convicts ‘for transportation’ be confined on decommissioned ships.

Not only were these ‘insanitary and overcrowded’ hulks moored along the Thames close to the heart of London a source of deadly diseases, should prisoners mutiny and escape, they would present a massive menace to law and order in the teeming metropolis.

The Home Office, with America now out of the equation, was charged with finding a place of exile for criminals reprieved death on condition of ‘banishment from the realm’

Africa 1785: Edmund  Burke’s passionate representations in the House of Commons finally put an end to the drip-feed of convicts ‘transported’ to West Africa. See:  Africa: In and Out of Africa

‘According to the accounts given by the late Captain Cook His Majesty has thought it advisable [18 August 1786] to fix on Botany Bay situated on the coast of New South Wales’. Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1

For the invasion of New Holland government implemented a traditional blend – criminals ‘too evil to remain within the kingdom’ – as soldiers.

‘In writing of the recruitment of criminals into armed forces, Stephen Conway observed. ‘It was still found necessary periodically to clear both the putrid and congested gaols and the equally overcrowded and insanitary hulks’. Conway, cited, Alan Frost, Botany Bay Mirages, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994

On the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks the eminent botanist who had accompanied the now dead Captain James Cook RN on the Endeavour voyage in 1770,  King George 111 ‘advised’ far-off New Holland ‘ideal’ for permanent exile.


‘New Holland is a blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of India…I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales. .Anon. Historical Records of New South Wales.

India:  Post the American war France, England’s arch-enemy, was anxious to expand its substantial military presence in India.  The government of Prime Minister Pitt was determined to get to New Holland before the French. Records. op.c it.

‘Should any disturbance happen in the East Indies, they might be transported tither before our enemies in Europe knew anything of the matter‘.


Brazil – 1786:  Captain Arthur Phillip ‘was in the Brazils’ keeping track of La Perouse,  already on the highseas in command of La Boussole and  L’Astrolabe making for New Holland, when informed of his selection to command a large expeditionary force of eleven (11) vessels into the Pacific and Southern Oceans

Phillip returned from Brazil to receive a multitude of formal instructions relating to the invasion of New Holland.  First of these was issued ‘according to the rules and disciplines of war laid out the Crown’s ‘secret’ intentions regarding the island continent of New Holland, now Australia.

London – October 12: ‘We reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be said governor of our territory called New South Wales…from the Northern extremity of the coast called Cape York…to the Southern extremity…South Cape.

And you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and disciplines of war’. Instructions, King George III to Captain Arthur Phillip RN. Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1


‘It seems clear that only a few men in the inner circle of government knew the exact purposes of the settlement…Since Sir George Young, an admiral who was intensely interested in the proposal to send the first fleet to New South Wales, did not know even in 1788 that Norfolk Island was part of the design…Eden [William Eden – later Lord Auckland] was probably not in that secretive circle. Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Gotham City, The Founding of Australia, The argument about Australia’s origins, ed. Jed Martin, 1978.

Phillip’s secret pre-emptive mission, designed to occupy territory and secure  strategic supremacy over the Indian, South Pacific and Southern oceans, was known to very few government officials.

The ‘exact purposes of the settlement‘ remained within cabinet. Prime Minister Pitt’s  ‘secretive inner circle of government’ Hawkesbury, Dundas and Mulgrave. See: Botany Bay – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & ‘Hush’ Christopher Robin Mark 2

‘Later in the [American] war special army companies composed entirely of convicts were sent to West Africa’. Roger Knight, First Fleet Studies from Terra Australis to Australia, ed. John Hardy and Alan Frost, 1989

Likewise all ‘First Fleet’ males, convict and soldier, apart from spirituous liquor, were ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies’.

‘In British eyes it [First Fleet] has been seen, if it has been noticed at all, as a small, peacetime convoy, which founded a colony; it is overshadowed by greater events of the late eighteenth century’. Roger Knight. ibid.

‘If noticed at all – Arthur Phillip the spy and his ‘handler‘ Evan Nepean began a remarkably successful subterfuge. To this day the full scope of Phillip’s ‘small, peacetime convoy’ – its ‘parallel’ reality.

The invasion of New Holland falls within the planning arc for the ‘great events of the late eighteenth century’.

‘There were plans to use the [New South Wales] corps in expeditions against Panama, Peru and the Philippines, but nothing eventuated and the corps’ first experience of war came in January 1794 on the Hawkeskbury River north -west of Sydney’. Dr. Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney 1986  ‘.


‘Parallel to and dependent upon, the Anglo-French duel for command of the sea went their struggle for overseas bases and colonies; here too, the culminating point in a century-long race was reached, with Britain emerging in 1815 with a position so strengthened that she appeared to be the only real colonial power in the world’. Paul Kennedy, the Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Fontanta Press, 3rd ed. London, 1976

Africa:  Captain John Hunter RN in HMS Sirius departed Port Jackson on 2 October 1788 for a perilous voyage to Cape Town via treacherous Cape Horn. He was to buy food and medicines from the Dutch to save the starving English men, women and children of the ‘First Fleet’. See: Abandoned and Left to Starve Sydney – January 1788 to mid-June 1790

Port Jackson- May 1789: ‘after an absence of 219 days – 51 of which we lay in Table Bay Cape of Good Hope, so that, although during the  voyage we had fairly gone around the world, we had only seen 168 days in describing that circle…makes it [Port Jackson] an important Post, should it ever be necessary to carry..war in those seas…the [Pacific] coast of Chile and Peru’. Hunter Historical Journal. op.cit,


Mission accomplished. Phillip and Evan Nepean, who can best be described as Phillip’s handler, had chosen a code name to future-proof the authenticity of any communication between them.

‘I have taken this method because I wish to be unknown no person…shall ever know whence this proceeds, and I give my honor not a hint of it shall ever transpire’. Anon to Evan Nepean. Historical Records of New South Wales

Port Jackson: After the success of the Sirius voyage Phillip was able, through Evan Nepean, to inform Home Secretary Sydney; ‘It is much to the credit of those in office [Pitt administration] that an empire has been founded in the south, which time will render much superior to that which their predecessors [Prime Minister North] have lost in the west [America]’. Anon. ibid.

Nepean and Phillip’s subterfuge reflected the ambitions of another master-mariner and master-spy of another era and monarch.


‘The Way of War is A Way of Deception.  When deploying troops, appear not to be’. Sun-Tzu, The Art of War,  Penguin ed. 2002

Three (3) battalions: 200 Royal Naval personnel – HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, 245 marines, 570 male convicts all ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies’ distributed between Alexander, Friendship, Prince of Wales, Charlotte, Scarborough and Lady Penrhyn the fleet’s  six (6) troop transports and three (3) supply vessels – Fishburn, Golden Grove, Borrowdale, represent a formidable invasion force.

Captain-General Governor Arthur Phillip RN Commander the ‘First Fleet’ ‘according to the rules and disciplines of war’. Yet in Australia and Britain the ‘First Fleet’ continues to be sold; ‘as a small, peacetime convoy’. See: A Riddle ? When Is an Invasion Fleet not an nvasion fleet – When it was the First Fleet.


The Seven Years’ War 1756-63, regarded by European historians as the first global war. The American War of Independence 1775-83 followed by a ‘brittle and precarious peace’ then ‘Heads of a Plan’ to invade New Holland 1786.

1788: New Holland’s place in British history sits ‘[with]in a century- long race for command of the sea[s]’. The prescient invasion in 1788 perfectly positioned Britain for The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815.

Despite Australia’s‘ Continuing Constitutional Connection’ with Britain there is yet no acknowledgement of conquest and no treaty with Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples.

The invasion of New Holland ‘IF…NOTICED AT ALL’ is scorned by most of white Australia. But ‘what if’ to echo Paul Keating in his Redfern Speech ‘if it had been done to us’. See Why New Holland + Britain + India + France + Spanish South America = European Australia

2020 – Brexit – January 31:  In the United Kingdom the near destruction of Australia’s Sovereign First Nations is ignored. See:  Brexit The Crown and Continuing Connection

The ‘U.K. Privy Council, Cooper V Stuart, [1889]  – ruled no case to answer – ‘New South Wales was peacefully annexed to the Dominions’.




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