‘Genocide means any of the following acts committed with 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; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intending to prevent births within the group; transferring children of the group to another group’. Article 2, United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

1788-1868: In the period 1788 to 1868 Britain transported approximately 163,000 convicted criminals to New Holland, then New South Wales, of whom only 25,000 were women. Of these 12,500 went directly to Van Diemens Land now Tasmania.

Britain sent 10,000 male criminals and zero women prisoners to West Australia between 1858 and 1868. Transportation, England to Australia, ended there in 1868.

1786 – 8 August, London: ‘His Majesty [George 111] has thought advisable to fix upon Botany Bay [with] two companies of marines to form a military establishment’.

1786 – 21 August:  Home Office informed Treasury; ‘to New South Wales…orders had been issued for the transportation of six hundred and eight (680) males and seventy (70) female convicts’.

‘Several [about 100] convicts had been tried as early as 1781 and 1782…many had already served five-sevenths of their time on embarkation and six-sevenths on disembarkation at Sydney’. Dr John Cobley, Crimes of the First Fleet, Angus and Robertson, 1982

1787 –  6 January, Portsmouth: The male to female ratio was amended; 100 less males, 100 more females.

The first of five hundred and eighty (580) male convicts boarded Alexander, one (1) nine (9) chartered transports. Together with two (2) warships HMS Sirius and HMS Supply and three (3) store-ships this large squadron of eleven (11) vessels, is known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’.

‘It was the custom in the eighteenth century for the authorities to consider the sex problems of convicts or others in similar positions’. Commentary, Historical Records of Australia, Vol. 1

So as; it is ‘well known…without a sufficient proportion of that [female] sex…it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders…HMS Supply…may be employed in conveying to the new settlement a further number of women from the Friendly islands, New Caledonia etc…from whence any number may be procured without difficulty’.  Home Office, Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay.

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: The ‘First Fleet’, with a complement of 1500 souls  – 1300 men and 221 women –  left England to sail 13,000 miles (21,000 km) across the globe to Botany Bay, then New Holland now Australia.


1788 – 18/20 January, Botany Bay: After eight (8) months voyaging 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’ the fleet, a testosterone fueled time-bomb, reached Botany Bay within thirty-six (36)  hours between 18-20 January 1788.

1788 – 26 January, Port Jackson: Arthur Phillip ordered the English fleet sailed nine (9) miles (15km) north of Botany Bay to; ‘a more eligible Situation’ – Sydney Cove sheltered deep within Port Jackson.

1788 – 7 February, Sydney Cove: Captain-General, now Governor Arthur Phillip, ‘raised English Colours…using a form of words’ he claimed British Sovereignty over ‘Our territory New South Wales from Cape York in the most northern extremity…to South Cape’.

1788 – September: By the middle of September 1788 all nine (9) chartered vessels Alexander, Charlotte, Prince of Wales, Friendship, Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale, with crews of approximately four hundred and forty (440)  merchant seamen, had left Sydney and returned to England.

“Rape is a biological possibility for the male”. Cited in Anne Summers, Damned Whores and God’s Police, Penguin, 1975

It is not possible to know the number of Aboriginal women raped and impregnated by merchant seamen between January 1788 and their departure for England by mid September 1788.

But as the; ‘disposition amongst men [is] to view sexual intercourse as one additional piece of weaponry in their armoury of power, one that they can use whenever and upon whomsoever pleases them’. Damned Whores and God’s Police. op.cit.

Given the differential in power and capacity to coerce – guns v spears – make it possible to extrapolate, the number to be considerable.

A military establishment’: In Britain’s long history of colonisation the invasion of Australia was unique. The first generation of occupiers 1788 to 1813 was almost exclusively criminal, military and male.

James Lavell born Sydney 1788 was the first named Anglo-Aboriginal child. His mother’s name is unknown, Henry Lavell, his convict father, was one (1) of that rare breed, a prisoner who returned a free man to England.


Governor Phillip did not order HMS Supply sail to ‘the Friendly islands [to] procure a further number of women’  as instructed because; ‘our present situation [starvation] would answer no other purpose than…[to] bring them [here] to pine away’.

In the same dispatch however Phillip emphasized; ‘the very small proportion of females makes the sending out of an additional number absolutely necessary’.

In December 1792 an ailing Governor Arthur Phillip after a five (5) year tenure as Britain’s first commissioned Governor  of Australia was repatriated  to England. He re-married, settled in the spa-town of Bath where he suicided in 1814.


‘The important investigations of [Manning] Clark, [L.L.] Robson, [A.G.L] Shaw have revealed that the majority of [male] convicts were sentenced at urban courts, usually single, aged between 20-45, commonly convicted of theft and the majority were convicted more than once’. Stephen Garton, Out of Luck, Poor Australians and Social Welfare 1788-1988, Allen and Unwin, 1990

1788: The First Fleet – two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel, two hundred and forty-five (245) marines, twenty (20) officials, five hundred and eighty-three (583) male convicts and only two hundred and twenty-one (221) women was a massive imbalance of the sexes.

1790: By December 1793, upwards of three hundred and fifty (350) men had served their sentence. Freed they joined soldiers and sailors also ‘usually single, aged between 20 and 45’ who too lived lonely sex-starved lives 13,000 miles (21,000 km) from kith and kin.

The First Nations’ women were conscripted as ‘comfort women’ for both criminal and conqueror. They bore the brunt of the; ‘gross irregularities and disorders’ flagged in the Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay.


1790 January, Sydney Cove: ‘ The misery and horror of [our] situation cannot be imparted even by those who have suffered under  it…Here on the summit of the hill [South Head], every morning from daylight until the sun sunk, did we sweep the horizon, in the hope of seeing a sail. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed.F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

The Robinson Cruscos of the ‘First Fleet’, confined mainly to an area centred on Sydney’s circular Cove, were left to starve. Despondent Tench turned to Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello; ‘Pride, pomp and circumstances of glorious war were no more’.

‘Our impatience of news from Europe strongly marked the commencement of the year [1790]. We have now been two [2] years in the country, and thirty-two [32] months from England, in which long period no supplies…no communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th of May, 1787, the day of our departure from Portsmouth..dejection overspread every countenance’. Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years. ibid.


Not until the begining of June 1790 was the ‘misery and horror’ of profound isolation broken with the arrival of  a convict transport Lady Juliana.

1790 – 3 June: Lady Juliana, was first of four (4) vessels that made up a second fleet. She brought two hundred and twenty-six (226) women prisoners, their eight (8) children, but no supplies.

With the arrival of Suprize, Scarborough and Neptune, aptly named ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’, overnight  the white population of Sydney doubled. Of one thousand (1000) male convicts and seventy-eight (78) women embarked on the three (3) ships one-quarter (25%) died during the horrifying voyage. Another 15% died within weeks of landing.

Most second fleet survivors remained permanently physically and mentally damaged by their experiences. Emotionally diminished and morally degraded, when these brutalized individuals were released they fell on the ‘other’ – the Aboriginal.


1836 – January, Sydney: Charles Darwin arrived in Sydney aboard the Beagle in January 1836. A few days later the young experienced horseman struck out westwards towards Bathurst to visit “Wallerwang” a sheep station.

Darwin was born in 1809 so was  similar in age to prisoners he encountered on the road. There is no doubt Darwin, who went on to father ten (10) children, related viscerally to their unmet sexual needs.

[Men in] iron gangs or parties of convicts who have committed here some offense, appeared the least like England. They were working in chains, under the charge of senteries with loaded arms…I believe the years of assignment are passed away with discontent and unhappiness. As an intelligent man remarked to me, the convicts know no pleasure beyond sensuality, and in this they are not gratified’. Charles Darwin,Voyage of the Beagle.

After five (5) years at sea separated from friends and a family more closely entwined than most, Darwin identified as seminal this ‘absence of [sexual] comfort’.

‘The usual number of assigned convict-servants here [Wallerawang] is about forty [40] but at present time there were rather more…Although the farm was well stocked with every necessary, there was an apparent absence of comfort; and not one single woman resided here. Voyage of the Beagle. op.cit.

Demand for heterosexual intercourse by ‘hardened, profligate men’, made immoral and mad by unmet needs, generated the ‘gross irregularities and disorder’ inherent in the British Government’s ‘Plan for Botany Bay’.

‘The brightest tints on the surrounding woods could not make me [Darwin] forget that forty hardened, profligate men were ceasing from their daily labour, like the slaves from Africa, yet without their holy claim for compassion’. 

A brutal penal system produced cruel debased human beings.

‘I call upon you to remember that cruel punishments have an inevitable tendency to produce cruelty’. Sir Samuel Romilly, House of Commons, Hansard.

For the First Nations’ women and girls there was no refuge from cruelty and sexual violence and when, as Anne Summer’s reminds, ‘men monopolized political, economic, legal, military, religious and [all] other forms of power’, no avenue of appeal.

‘To bestow a life which may either be a curse or a blessing, unless the being on whom it is bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being’. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Collins Fontana, 1977 

Following World War Two (1933-1945) and near destruction of European Jewry – The Holocaust – the United Nations 1948 Genocide Convention codified conduct constituting the crime of genocide in International Law.

‘Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as: killing…causing serious bodily or mental harm…deliberately inflicting…conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction…imposing measures intending to prevent births within the group…transferring children of the group to another group.

QED: Britain – Australia’s First Peoples  and genocide.

 Link: G – for Gender

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