Posts Tagged ‘convicts’

A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS – THE ENGLISHMEN OF THE FIRST FLEET

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

‘A very tasty pea and ham soup washed down with tea from the leaves of the local sarsaparilla vine. In fact being British the colonists drank so much of the stuff that sarsaparilla remains almost extinct in the area around Sydney’. Tony Robinson’s History of Australia, Penguin 2011.

1788 – 18 January, Botany Bay: HMS Supply, the first of eleven (11) vessels making up the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of 1500 hungry souls, reached Botany Bay, in the island continent of New Holland, now Australia on 18th January 1788, almost immediately Supply deployed 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, Chief Medical Officer, First Fleet Journal

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A HATCHET JOB: HEADS OFF THE BIDGIGAL OF BOTANY BAY

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

‘In war the trophy head is a mark of supremacy and respect’. Frances Larson, Severed, Granta, 2015

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Cove: ‘The author of this publication [Captain Watkin Tench] received a direction to attend the governor [Arthur Phillip] at head quarters immediately.

I went, and his excellency informed me, that he had pitched upon me to execute the foregoing command…infuse universal terror…convince them of our superiority… if practicable, to bring away two [2] natives as prisoners and to put to death ten [10]. That we were to cut off, and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose, hatchets and bags would be furnished.

We were to proceed to the north arm of the [Botany] bay…destroy all weapons of war: no hut was to be burned: that all women and children were to remain uninjured’.  Marine Captain Watkin, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhadinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Can we know what drove Governor Phillip’s ferocity? Yes we can – simmering rebellion centred on ‘certain  officers’ of the newly arrived New South Wales Corps (June 1790)  in particular Lieutenant John Macarthur.

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A LETHAL WEAPON: SMALLPOX – BOSTON 1775; ROBERT ROSS & DAVID COLLINS – SYDNEY 1789; MAJOR ROSS & CAPTAIN COLLINS

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

BOSTON:

‘From time to time throughout history, peoples and governments around the world have used micro-organisms as efficient and cost-effective weapons of mass destruction. In 1763, in the earliest recorded deliberate release of a virus, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, British Commander-in-Chief in North America, authorized the distribution of smallpox-contaminated blankets to native Americans who were harassing European settlers around the garrison at Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania’. Professor Dorothy H. Crawford, The Invisible Enemy, Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Britain & the North American Indian Wars: Britain’s General Thomas Gage served as second-in-command to General Amherst during the Indian Wars he was implicated in the distribution of blankets infected with smallpox, specifically among Indian tribes at Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh.

 ‘We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital, I hope it will have the desired effect. “This act had the sanction of an impressive array of British officers, including Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander in chief at the time, and General Thomas Gage, who replaced Amherst and signed off on reimbursements for the “Sundries” used ” to convoy the Smallpox to the Indians”. Cited in Pox Americana: Professor Elizabeth A. Fenn, The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, 2001

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AIR-BRUSHED – SEX & TRANSPORTATION – 138,000 MEN & 25,000 WOMEN

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

‘The tender [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; and without a sufficient proportion of that sex it is well known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders’. 1786 – Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay

1788-1813: While other European nations included convicts in their settler-mix Britain’s occupation of Australia was unique, in so far as, the first generation 1788-1813 was almost exclusively male.

‘The fact itself of causing the existence of a human being is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. 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.

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ANALYSE THIS

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

‘On 1 April 1776 [‘whereas the transportation of convicts to H.M. Colonies in America is found to be attended with various inconveniences’] Lord North moved to bring in a Bill to authorise for a limited time punishment, by hard labour, of offenders who were liable to transportation’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1993

1775- April, America: Conflict between England and her American colonies – the War of Independence (1775-1783) – brought a sudden halt to convict transportation to America.

‘Convict transportation in its original manifestation was a uniquely American phenomenon.’ Anthony Vaver Bound With An Iron Chain, The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 convicts to Colonial America, Pickpocket Publishing, 2011

England’s convicted criminals, reprieved death and commuted ‘for transportation to America’ were held over in England’s gaols. These prisons, previously short-term holding pens, were quickly overwhelmed.

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REAR WINDOW & ‘THE BUSINESS OF WAR’ : 7 FEBRUARY 2018 – 7 FEBRUARY 1788

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

1788 – 7 February, Port Jackson: ‘We have come today to take possession of this fifth great continental division of the earth on behalf of the British people. I do not doubt that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made.

How grand a prospect which lies before this youthful nation’. Governor Arthur Phillip RN, Historical Records of New South Wales.

How ‘grand a prospect’ lay before The First Peoples of this ancient land?

1838 – 21 December, London: ‘You cannot overrate the solicitude of H. M. Government on the subject of the Aborigines of New Holland. It is impossible to contemplate the condition or the prospects of that unfortunate race without the deepest commiseration.  Still it is impossible that the government should forget that the original aggression was ours’ Lord John Russell to [Governor] Sir George Gipps, 21 December 1838, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1. Vol. XX

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AUSTRALIA’S HEROES – ENGLAND’S CASTAWAYS

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

‘How might the desolation and separation from loved ones, the lack of recourse from arbitrary decision and the sheer hopelessness of fate be tallied?…Gaoler and gaoled communicated across a gulf of mutual antagonism: against the formally declared and forcibly imposed authority’. Stuart Macintyre, 2004 A Concise History of Australia, 2004

It is risky to compare the heroes of one society with the cast-offs of another. Especially so when the comparison made is between Britain’s convict-soldiers, transported to Australia at the end of the 18th century and Australian soldiers, prisoners of the Japanese, in the middle of the 20th century.

‘Historians, like scientists have had only one comprehensive source of information on the subject of starvation. In Prisoners of the Japanese Gaven Daws compared the hunger of the men in the Minnesota [Experiment] to the privations suffered by Allied prisoners in the Pacific Theater. Todd Tucker,The Great Starvation Experiment, 2006

1944-45, America: A unique experiment conducted by Dr. Ancel Keys during World War II permits such comparison. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment with thirty-six (36) white American male conscientious objectors, all volunteers aged between twenty-three (23) and thirty-six (36) years, took place between November 1944 and December 1945.

1788

‘The administration gave no consideration to the date of expiry of sentences and several of the First Fleet had been tried as early as 1781 and 1782. As seven years transportation was the most common sentence, many had already served five-sevenths of their time on embarkation and six-sevenths on disembarkation at Sydney Cove’. Dr. John Cobley, Crimes of the First fleet, Angus and Robertson, Sydney

No matter how offensive the comparison may appear, Australia’s heroes and England’s cast-offs have much in common. Each group suffered and died under ‘forcibly imposed authority’. (more…)

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT- TAKE TWO – CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILLIP RN & MAJOR ROBERT ROSS – MARINE COMMANDER

Friday, September 8th, 2017

‘From 1788 there had been continuous disputation between the civil power represented by the autocratic uniformed naval governors, and the military’. John McMahon, Not a Rum Rebellion but a Military Insurrection, Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 92, 2006

1788 – Sydney: The chain of command at Sydney was dysfunctional. For many reasons relations between Captain Arthur Phillip an officer of the Royal Navy and Marine Commander Major Robert Ross of the Royal Navy’s military arm were toxic.

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THREE AMIGOS + ONE – THOMAS BARRETT

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

‘The grand consideration seems to be, to get them [convicted criminals] out of Europe at all Events…simply landing these people in Africa., to let them shift for themselves’. Governor Richard Miles, Cape Coast Castle to Home Office, London. Cited in Mollie Gillen, Founders of Australia, Library of Australian History.

1781 – 30 May, London: Samuel Woodham and John Rugless, then aged about 16 years – described in court papers as ‘boys’ – appeared at the Old Bailey indicted for assault and highway robbery.

Found guilty of stealing a silver shirt buckle, a cotton handkerchief and 14 (fourteen) shillings in coin both were sentenced to hang. Reprieved and commuted for a life-time of military service in Africa they were lodged in London’s infamous Newgate gaol to await shipment.

1782 – 8 October, Westminster:  Thomas Limpus appeared at the General Quarter Sessions charged with theft of a handkerchief. Found guilty he was sentenced to seven (7) years exile in Africa.

Biographical information taken from Mollie Gillen’s Founders of Australia. (more…)

AFRICA: IN AND OUT OF AFRICA – THOMAS LIMPUS, JOHN RUGLESS, SAMUEL WOODHAM

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

It is natural to infer that Government understands it is simply landing these people in Africa, to let them shift for themselves, and get their Board in the best manner they can’. Richard Miles, Cape Coast Castle to Home Office, London.

1782 – 6 November, England: Government chartered the Den Keyser to transport forty (40) or so criminals reprieved death from England to Senegal on Africa’s west coast.

They were to serve sentences of seven (7), fourteen (14) years or life at the fort settlements of Goree and Cape Coast Castle. In 1644 the English established a permanent foot-hold on West Africa when its  forces captured Cape Coast Castle, the main Dutch base in West Africa,captured from the Dutch in 1644 during the third Anglo-Dutch War.

Convicts Samuel Woodham and John Rugless were destined for a life-time of military service. Civilian prisoners like Thomas Limpus; reprieved to be ‘banished from this realm’ would be dumped and left to ‘shift for themselves’.

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