First Fleet

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The First Fleet entering Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 by Edmund Le Bihan The First Fleet entering Port Jackson, January 26, 1788, drawn 1888 A9333001h.jpg
The First Fleet entering Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 by Edmund Le Bihan

The First Fleet was the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people (accounts differ on the numbers), and a large quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving over the period of 18 to 20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival.

Portsmouth City & unitary authority area in England

Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, England, with a total population of 205,400 residents. The city of Portsmouth is nicknamed Pompey and is mainly built on Portsea Island, a flat, low-lying island measuring 24 square kilometres in area, just off the south-east coast of Hampshire. Portsmouth is the only island city in the United Kingdom, and is the only city whose population density exceeds that of London.

Penal colony remote settlement used to house convicts from the general population

A penal colony or exile colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Although the term can be used to refer to a correctional facility located in a remote location it is more commonly used to refer to communities of prisoners overseen by wardens or governors having absolute authority.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Contents

History

Background and planning

Convicts were originally transported to the Thirteen Colonies in North America, but after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. [1] On 6 December 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed for Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770. [2] [3]

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of colonies of Great Britain on the Atlantic coast of America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries which declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and Florida.

American Revolutionary War War between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which won independence as the United States of America

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.

James Cook 18th-century British explorer

Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

The First Fleet was commanded by Commodore Arthur Phillip, who was given instructions authorising him to make regulations and land grants in the colony. [4] The ships arrived at Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788 [5] ; HMS Supply arrived on 18 January, Alexander, Scarborough and Friendship arrived on 19 January, and the remaining ships on 20 January. [6] [7]

Commodore (Royal Navy) senior rank of the Royal Navy

Commodore (Cdre) is a rank of the Royal Navy above captain and below rear admiral. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-6. The rank is equivalent to brigadier in the British Army and Royal Marines and to air commodore in the Royal Air Force.

Arthur Phillip 18th and 19th-century British naval officer, Governor of New South Wales

Admiral Arthur Phillip was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia.

Botany Bay bay in Sydney

Botany Bay, an open oceanic embayment, is located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 13 km (8 mi) south of the Sydney central business district. Its source is the confluence of the Georges River at Taren Point and the Cooks River at Kyeemagh, which flows 10 km (6 mi) to the east before meeting its mouth at the Tasman Sea, midpoint between La Perouse and Kurnell.

The cost to Britain of outfitting and despatching the Fleet was £84,000 [8] (about £9.6 million as of 2015). [9]

Ships

The First Fleet included two Royal Navy escort ships, the ten-gun sixth-rate vessel HMS Sirius under the command of Captain John Hunter, and the armed tender HMS Supply commanded by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball.

HMS <i>Sirius</i> (1786) flagship of the First Fleet

HMS Sirius was the flagship of the First Fleet, which set out from Portsmouth, England, in 1787 to establish the first European colony in New South Wales, Australia. In 1790, the ship was wrecked on the reef, south east of Kingston Pier, in Slaughter Bay, Norfolk Island.

John Hunter (Royal Navy officer) Royal Navy officer and governor

Vice Admiral John Hunter was an officer of the Royal Navy, who succeeded Arthur Phillip as the second governor of New South Wales, Australia and served as such from 1795 to 1800.

HMS <i>Supply</i> (1759) Royal Navy armed tender (1759)

Launched in 1759, the third HMS Supply was a Royal Navy armed tender that played an important part in the foundation of Australia. The Navy sold her in 1792. She then served commercially until about 1806.

Naval escorts (depart England 13 May 1787) [10]
ShipTypeMasterCrew [11] Dep. EnglandArr. Botany BayDuration (days)
HMS Supply Yard craftLieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball  13 May 1787 from Spithead 18 January 1788250
HMS Sirius 10-gun shipCaptain John Hunter  13 May 1787 from Portsmouth 20 January 1788252

Convict transports

Convict transports (depart England 13 May 1787) [10]
ShipTypeMasterCrew [11] Arr. Botany BayDuration (days)Male convicts arrived (boarded)Female convicts arrived (boarded)
Alexander Barque Duncan Sinclair4019 January 1788251210 – two were pardonednone
Charlotte transport Thomas Gilbert 3020 January 178825210024
Friendship Brig Francis Walton2019 January 17882518024 – to Cape of Good Hope only
Lady Penrhyn transportWilliam Cropton Server3120 January 1788252none101
Prince of Wales Barque John Mason 2520 January 1788252247
Scarborough transportCaptain John Marshall 3019 January 1788251208none

Food and supply transports

Ropes, crockery, agricultural equipment and a miscellany of other stores were needed. Items transported included tools, agricultural implements, seeds, spirits, medical supplies, bandages, surgical instruments, handcuffs, leg irons and a prefabricated wooden frame for the colony's first Government House. [12] The party had to rely on its own provisions to survive until it could make use of local materials, assuming suitable supplies existed, and grow its own food and raise livestock.

Legcuffs

Legcuffs are physical restraints used on the ankles of a person to allow walking only with a restricted stride and to prevent running and effective physical resistance.

Food and supply transports (depart England 13 May 1787)
ShipTypeMasterCrewArr. Botany BayDuration (days)
Golden Grove storeshipWilliam SharpN/A20 January 1788252
Fishburn storeshipRobert BrownN/A20 January 1788252
Borrowdale storeshipHobson ReedN/A20 January 1788252

Scale models of all the ships are on display at the Museum of Sydney. The models were built by ship makers Lynne and Laurie Hadley, after researching the original plans, drawings and British archives. The replicas of the Supply, Charlotte, Scarborough, Friendship, Prince of Wales, Lady Penrhyn, Borrowdale, Alexander, Sirius, Fishburn and Golden Grove are made from Western Red or Syrian Cedar. [13]

Nine Sydney harbour ferries built in the mid-1980s are named after First Fleet vessels. The unused names are Lady Penrhyn and Prince of Wales.

People

The people of the fleet included seamen, marines and their families, government officials, and a large number of convicts, including women and children. All had been tried and convicted in Great Britain and almost all of them in England. However, many are known to have come to England from other parts of Great Britain and, especially, from Ireland; at least 14 are known to have come from the British colonies in North America; 12 are identified as black (born in Britain, Africa, the West Indies, North America, India or a European country or its colony). Further identifications are made on the basis of the surname, for example as typically an Irish name. [14] :421-4 [15] [16] [17] The convicts had committed a variety of crimes, including theft, perjury, fraud, assault, and robbery, for which they had variously been sentenced to penal transportation for 7 years, 14 years, or the term of their natural life. [18] [19]

The six convict transports each had a detachment of marines on board. Most of the families of the marines travelled aboard the Prince of Wales . [20] A number of people on the First Fleet kept diaries and journals of their experiences, including the surgeons, sailors, officers, soldiers, and ordinary seamen. There are at least eleven known manuscript Journals of the First Fleet in existence as well as some letters. [21]

The exact number of people directly associated with the First Fleet will likely never be established, as accounts of the event vary slightly. A total of 1,420 people have been identified as embarking on the First Fleet in 1787, and 1,373 are believed to have landed at Sydney Cove in January 1788. In her biographical dictionary of the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen gives the following statistics: [14] :445

Embarked at PortsmouthLanded at Sydney Cove
Officials and passengers1514
Ships' crews323306
Marines247245
Marines' wives and children4645 + 9 born
Convicts (men)582543
Convicts (women)193189
Convicts' children1411 + 11 born
Total1,4201,373

While the names of all crew members of Sirius and Supply are known, the six transports and three storeships may have carried as many as 110 more seamen than have been identified – no complete musters have survived for these ships. The total number of persons embarking on the First Fleet would, therefore, be approximately 1,530 with about 1,483 reaching Sydney Cove.

Other sources indicate that the passengers consisted of 10 civil officers, 212 marines, including officers, 28 wives and 17 children of the marines, 81 free people, 504 male convicts and 192 female convicts; making the total number of free people 348 and the total number of prisoners 696, coming to a grand total of 1,044 people.

According to the first census of 1788 as reported by Governor Phillip to Lord Sydney, the white population of the colony was 1,030 and the colony also consisted of 7 horses, 29 sheep, 74 swine, 6 rabbits, and 7 cattle. [22]

The following statistics were provided by Governor Phillip: [23]

MaleFemaleChildrenTotal
Convicts & their children54818817753
Others2193424277
Total767222411,030

David Collins' book An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales gives the following details: [24]

The Alexander, of 453 tons, had on board 192 male convicts; 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 29 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony.

The Scarborough, of 418 tons, had on board 205 male convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 26 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony.

The Charlotte, of 346 tons, had on board 89 male and 20 female convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer, and 35 privates, with the principal surgeon of the colony.

The Lady Penrhyn, of 338 tons, had on board 101 female convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, and 3 privates, with a person acting as a surgeon's mate.

The Prince of Wales, of 334 tons, had on board 2 male and 50 female convicts; 2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 24 privates, with the surveyor-general of the colony.

The Friendship, … of 228 tons, had on board 76 male and 21 female convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer, and 36 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony.

There were on board, beside these, 28 women, 8 male and 6 female children, belonging to the soldiers of the detachment, together with 6 male and 7 female children belonging to the convicts.

The Fishburn store-ship was of 378 tons, the Borrowdale of 272 tons, and the Golden Grove of 331 tons. Golden Grove carried the chaplain for the colony, with his wife and a servant.

Not only these store-ships, but the men of war and transports were laden with provisions, implements of agriculture, camp equipage, clothing for the convicts, baggage, etc.

The Sirius carried as supernumeraries, the major commandant of the corps of marines embarked in the transports* [*This officer was also lieutenant-governor of the colony], the adjutant and quarter-master, the judge-advocate of the settlement, and the commissary; with one sergeant, three drummers, seven privates, four women, and a few artificers.

The chief surgeon for the First Fleet, John White, reported a total of 48 deaths and 28 births during the voyage. The deaths during the voyage included one marine, one marine's wife, one marine's child, 36 male convicts, four female convicts, and five children of convicts. [25]

Voyage

Lady Penrhyn Lady Penrhyn (sailing ship).jpg
Lady Penrhyn

The First Fleet left Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787. [26] The journey began with fine weather, and thus the convicts were allowed on deck. [27] The Fleet was accompanied by the armed frigate Hyena until it left English waters. [28] On 20 May 1787, one convict on the Scarborough reported a planned mutiny; those allegedly involved were flogged and two were transferred to Prince of Wales. [28] In general, however, most accounts of the voyage agree that the convicts were well behaved. [28] On 3 June 1787, the fleet anchored at Santa Cruz at Tenerife. [26] Here, fresh water, vegetables and meat were brought on board. Phillip and the chief officers were entertained by the local governor, while one convict tried unsuccessfully to escape. [29] On 10 June they set sail to cross the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, [26] taking advantage of favourable trade winds and ocean currents.

The weather became increasingly hot and humid as the Fleet sailed through the tropics. Vermin, such as rats, and parasites such as bedbugs, lice, cockroaches and fleas, tormented the convicts, officers and marines. Bilges became foul and the smell, especially below the closed hatches, was over-powering. [30] While Phillip gave orders that the bilge-water was to be pumped out daily and the bilges cleaned, these orders were not followed on the Alexander and a number of convicts fell sick and died. [30] Tropical rainstorms meant that the convicts could not exercise on deck as they had no change of clothes and no method of drying wet clothing. [30] Consequently, they were kept below in the foul, cramped holds. On the female transports, promiscuity between the convicts, the crew and marines was rampant, despite punishments for some of the men involved. [30] In the doldrums, Phillip was forced to ration the water to three pints a day. [30]

The Fleet reached Rio de Janeiro on 5 August and stayed for a month. [26] The ships were cleaned and water taken on board, repairs were made, and Phillip ordered large quantities of food. [27] The women convicts' clothing had become infested with lice and was burnt. As additional clothing for the female convicts had not arrived before the Fleet left England, [27] the women were issued with new clothes made from rice sacks. While the convicts remained below deck, the officers explored the city and were entertained by its inhabitants. [31] A convict and a marine were punished for passing forged quarter-dollars made from old buckles and pewter spoons.

An English Fleet in Table Bay in 1787 by Robert Dodd. Robert Dodd-English ships in Table Bay-0673.jpg
An English Fleet in Table Bay in 1787 by Robert Dodd.

The Fleet left Rio de Janeiro on 4 September to run before the westerlies to the Table Bay in southern Africa, which it reached on 13 October. [32] This was the last port of call, so the main task was to stock up on plants, seeds and livestock for their arrival in Australia. [33] The livestock taken on board from Cape Town destined for the new colony included two bulls, seven cows, one stallion, three mares, 44 sheep, 32 pigs, four goats and "a very large quantity of poultry of every kind". [34] Women convicts on the Friendship were moved to other transports to make room for livestock purchased there. The convicts were provided with fresh beef and mutton, bread and vegetables, to build up their strength for the journey and maintain their health. [33] The Dutch colony of Cape Town was the last outpost of European settlement which the fleet members would see for years, perhaps for the rest of their lives. "Before them stretched the awesome, lonely void of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and beyond that lay nothing they could imagine." [35]

Assisted by the gales in the "Roaring Forties" latitudes below the 40th parallel, the heavily laden transports surged through the violent seas. In the last two months of the voyage, the Fleet faced challenging conditions, spending some days becalmed and on others covering significant distances; the Friendship travelled 166 miles one day, while a seaman was blown from the Prince of Wales at night and drowned. [36] Water was rationed as supplies ran low, and the supply of other goods including wine ran out altogether on some vessels. [36] Van Diemen's Land was sighted from the Friendship on 4 January 1788. [36] A freak storm struck as they began to head north around the island, damaging the sails and masts of some of the ships.

On 25 November, Phillip had transferred to the Supply. With Alexander, Friendship and Scarborough, the fastest ships in the Fleet, which were carrying most of the male convicts, the Supply hastened ahead to prepare for the arrival of the rest. Phillip intended to select a suitable location, find good water, clear the ground, and perhaps even have some huts and other structures built before the others arrived. This was a planned move, discussed by the Home Office and the Admiralty prior to the Fleet's departure. [37] However, this "flying squadron" reached Botany Bay only hours before the rest of the Fleet, so no preparatory work was possible. [38] Supply reached Botany Bay on 18 January 1788; the three fastest transports in the advance group arrived on 19 January; slower ships, including Sirius, arrived on 20 January. [39]

This was one of the world's greatest sea voyages – eleven vessels carrying about 1,487 people and stores [34] had travelled for 252 days for more than 15,000 miles (24,000 km) without losing a ship. Forty-eight people died on the journey, a death rate of just over three per cent.

Arrival in Australia

The First Fleet arrives in Port Jackson, 27 January 1788, by William Bradley, an officer on HMS Sirius. First Fleet entering Sydney 1788 Bradley.jpg
The First Fleet arrives in Port Jackson, 27 January 1788, by William Bradley, an officer on HMS Sirius.

It was soon realised that Botany Bay did not live up to the glowing account that the explorer Captain James Cook had provided. [40] The bay was open and unprotected, the water was too shallow to allow the ships to anchor close to the shore, fresh water was scarce, and the soil was poor. [41] First contact was made with the local indigenous people, the Eora, who seemed curious but suspicious of the newcomers. The area was studded with enormously strong trees. When the convicts tried to cut them down, their tools broke and the tree trunks had to be blasted out of the ground with gunpowder. The primitive huts built for the officers and officials quickly collapsed in rainstorms. The marines had a habit of getting drunk and not guarding the convicts properly, whilst their commander, Major Robert Ross, drove Phillip to despair with his arrogant and lazy attitude. Crucially, Phillip worried that his fledgling colony was exposed to attack from Aborigines or foreign powers. Although his initial instructions were to establish the colony at Botany Bay, he was authorised to establish the colony elsewhere if necessary. [42]

An engraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788, from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay. Sirius is in the foreground; convict transports such as Prince of Wales are depicted to the left. View of Botany Bay.jpg
An engraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788, from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay. Sirius is in the foreground; convict transports such as Prince of Wales are depicted to the left.

On 21 January, Phillip and a party which included John Hunter, departed the Bay in three small boats to explore other bays to the north. [44] Phillip discovered that Port Jackson, about 12 kilometres to the north, was an excellent site for a colony with sheltered anchorages, fresh water and fertile soil. [44] Cook had seen and named the harbour, but had not entered it. [44] Phillip's impressions of the harbour were recorded in a letter he sent to England later: "the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security ...". The party returned to Botany Bay on 23 January. [44]

On the morning of 24 January, the party was startled when two French ships, the Astrolabe and the Boussole, were seen just outside Botany Bay. This was a scientific expedition led by Jean-François de La Pérouse. The French had expected to find a thriving colony where they could repair ships and restock supplies, not a newly arrived fleet of convicts considerably more poorly provisioned than themselves. [45] There was some cordial contact between the French and British officers, but Phillip and La Pérouse never met. The French ships remained until 10 March before setting sail on their return voyage. They were not seen again and were later discovered to have been shipwrecked off the coast of Vanikoro in the present-day Solomon Islands. [46]

On 26 January 1788, the Fleet weighed anchor and sailed to Port Jackson. [26] The site selected for the anchorage had deep water close to the shore, was sheltered, and had a small stream flowing into it. Phillip named it Sydney Cove, after Lord Sydney the British Home Secretary. [44] This date is celebrated as Australia Day, marking the beginning of British settlement. [47] The British flag was planted and formal possession taken. This was done by Phillip and some officers and marines from the Supply, with the remainder of Supply's crew and the convicts observing from on board ship. The remaining ships of the Fleet did not arrive at Sydney Cove until later that day. [48]

First contact

The First Fleet encountered indigenous Australians when they landed at Botany Bay. The Cadigal people of the Botany Bay area witnessed the Fleet arrive and six days later the two ships of French explorer La Pérouse, the Astrolabe and the Boussole, sailed into the bay. [49] When the Fleet moved to Sydney Cove seeking better conditions for establishing the colony, they encountered the Eora people, including the Bidjigal clan. A number of the First Fleet journals record encounters with Aboriginal people. [50]

Although the official policy of the British Government was to establish friendly relations with Aboriginal people, [42] and Arthur Phillip ordered that the Aboriginal people should be well treated, it was not long before conflict began. The colonists did not sign treaties with the original inhabitants of the land. [51] Between 1790 and 1810, Pemulwuy of the Bidjigal clan led the local people in a series of attacks against the British colonisers. [52]

After January 1788

The ships of the First Fleet mostly did not remain in the colony. Some returned to England, while others left for other ports. Some remained at the service of the Governor of the colony for some months: some of these were sent to Norfolk Island where a second penal colony was established.

1788

1789

1790:

Last survivors

On 26 January 1842, the Colonial Government in Sydney awarded a life pension of 1 shilling a day to three surviving members of the First Fleet. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser reported, on Saturday 29 January 1842: "The Government have ordered a pension of one shilling per diem to be paid to the survivors of those who came by the first vessel into the Colony. The number of these really 'old hands' is now reduced to three, of whom, two are now in the Benevolent Asylum, and the other is a fine hale old fellow, who can do a day's work with more spirit than many of the young fellows lately arrived in the Colony." [72] The names of the three recipients are not given.

William Hubbard: Hubbard was convicted in the Kingston Assizes in Surrey, England, on 24 March 1784 for theft. [73] He was transported to Australia on the Scarborough in the First Fleet. He married Mary Goulding on 19 December 1790 in Rose Hill. In 1803 he received a land grant of 70 acres at Mulgrave Place. He died on 18 May 1843 at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. His age was given as 76 when he was buried at Christ Church St. Lawrence, Sydney on 22 May 1843.

John McCarthy: McCarthy was a Marine who sailed on the Friendship. [74] McCarthy was born in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, circa Christmas 1745. He first served in the colony of New South Wales, then at Norfolk Island where he took up a land grant of 60 acres (Lot 110). He married the first fleet convict Ann Beardsley on Norfolk Island in November 1791 after his discharge a month earlier. In 1808, on the close of Norfolk Island settlement, he resettled in Van Diemen's Land and later took a land grant (80 acres at Melville) in lieu of the one forfeited on Norfolk Island. The last few years of his life were spent at the home of his granddaughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Budd, at a place called Kinlochewe Inn near Donnybrook, Victoria. McCarthy died on 24 July 1846, [75] six months past his 100 birthday.

John Limeburner: The South Australian Register reported, in an article dated Wednesday 3 November 1847: "John Limeburner, the oldest colonist in Sydney, died in September last, at the advanced age of 104 years. He helped to pitch the first tent in Sydney, and remembered the first display of the British flag there, which was hoisted on a swamp oak-tree, then growing on a spot now occupied as the Water-Police Court. He was the last of those called the 'first-fleeters' (arrivals by the first convict ships) and, notwithstanding his great age, retained his faculties to the last." [76] John Limeburner was a convict on the Charlotte. He was convicted on 9 July 1785 at New Sarum, Wiltshire of theft of a waistcoat, a shirt and stockings. [77] He married Elizabeth Ireland in 1790 at Rosehill and together they establish a 50-acre farm at Prospect. [78] He died at Ashfield in September 1847 and is buried at St John's, Ashfield.

John Jones: Jones was a Marine on the First Fleet and sailed on the Alexander. He is listed in the N.S.W. 1828 Census as aged 82 and living at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. [79] He is said to have died at the Benevolent Asylum in 1848. [80]

Samuel King: King was a scribbler (a worker in a scribbling mill [81] ) before he became a Marine. He was a Marine with the First Fleet on board the flagship Sirius (1786). [82] He shipped to Norfolk Island on Golden Grove in September 1788, where he lived with Mary Rolt, a convict who arrived with the First Fleet on the Prince of Wales. He received a grant of 60 acres (Lot No. 13) at Cascade Stream in 1791. Mary Rolt returned to England on the Britannia in October 1796. King was resettled in Van Diemen's Land, boarding the City of Edinburgh on 3 September 1808, and landed in Hobart on 3 October. [83] He married Elizabeth Thackery on 28 January 1810. He died on 21 October 1849 at 86 years of age and was buried in the Wesleyan cemetery at Lawitta Road, Back River.

John Small: Convicted 14 March 1785 at the Devon Lent Assizes held at Exeter for Robbery King's Highway. Sentenced to hang, reprieved to 7 years' transportation. Arrived on the Charlotte in First Fleet 1788. Certificate of freedom 1792. Land Grant 1794, 30 acre "Small's Farm" at Eastern Farms (Ryde). Married October 1788 Mary Parker also a First Fleet convict who arrived on Lady Penrhyn. John Small died on 2 October 1850 at age of 90 years. [84] [85]

Elizabeth Thackery: Elizabeth "Betty" King (née Thackery) was tried and convicted of theft on 4 May 1786 at Manchester Quarter Sessions, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. She sailed on the Friendship, but was transferred to the Charlotte at the Cape of Good Hope. She was shipped to Norfolk Island on the Sirius (1786) in 1790 and lived there with James Dodding. In August 1800 she bought 10 acres of land from Samuel King at Cascade Stream. Elizabeth and James were relocated to Van Diemen's Land in December 1807 [86] but parted company sometime afterwards. On 28 January 1810 Elizabeth married "First Fleeter" Private Samuel King (above) and lived with him until his death in 1849. Betty King died in New Norfolk, Tasmania on 7 August 1856, aged 89 years. She is buried in the churchyard of the Methodist Chapel, Lawitta Road, Back River, next to her husband, and the marked grave bears a First Fleet plaque. She was one of the first British women to land in Australia and was the last "First Fleeter" to die.

Legacy

Smallpox

Historians have disagreed over whether those aboard the First Fleet were responsible for introducing smallpox to Australia's indigenous population, and if so, whether this was the consequence of deliberate action.

In 1914, J. H. L. Cumpston, director of the Australian Quarantine Service put forward the hypothesis that smallpox arrived with British settlers. [87] Some researchers have argued that any such release may have been a deliberate attempt to decimate the indigenous population. [88] [89] Hypothetical scenarios for such an action might have included: an act of revenge by an aggrieved individual, a response to attacks by indigenous people, [90] or part of an orchestrated assault by the New South Wales Marine Corps, intended to clear the path for colonial expansion. [91] [92] Seth Carus, a former Deputy Director of the National Defense University in the United States wrote in 2015 that there was a "strong circumstantial case supporting the theory that someone deliberately introduced smallpox in the Aboriginal population." [93]

Chris Warren, "Was Sydney's smallpox outbreak of 1789 an act of biological warfare against Aboriginal tribes?", ABC Radio National – Ockhams Razor (podcast) (2014); 13 minutes.

Other historians have disputed the idea that there was a deliberate release of smallpox virus and/or suggest that it arrived with visitors to Australia other than the First Fleet. [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] It has been suggested that live smallpox virus may have been introduced accidentally when Aboriginal people came into contact with variolous matter brought by the First Fleet for use in anti-smallpox inoculations. [99] [100] [101]

In 2002, historian Judy Campbell offered a further theory, that smallpox had arrived in Australia through contact with fishermen from Makassar in Indonesia, where smallpox was endemic. [96] [102] In 2011, Macknight stated: “The overwhelming probability must be that it [smallpox] was introduced, like the later epidemics, by [Indonesian] trepangers ... and spread across the continent to arrive in Sydney quite independently of the new settlement there." [103]

There is a fourth theory, that the 1789 epidemic was not smallpox but chickenpox – to which indigenous Australians also had no inherited resistance – that happened to be affecting, or was carried by, members of the First Fleet. [104] [105] This theory has also been disputed. [106] [107]

Commemoration Garden

The First Fleet Memorial Garden, Wallabadah, New South Wales Wallabadah.jpg
The First Fleet Memorial Garden, Wallabadah, New South Wales

After Ray Collins, a stonemason, completed years of research into the First Fleet, he sought approval from about nine councils to construct a commemorative garden in recognition of these immigrants. Liverpool Plains Shire Council was ultimately the only council to accept his offer to supply the materials and construct the garden free of charge. The site chosen was a disused caravan park on the banks of Quirindi Creek at Wallabadah, New South Wales. In September 2002 Collins commenced work on the project. Additional support was later provided by Neil McGarry in the form of some signs and the council contributed $28,000 for pathways and fencing. Collins hand-chiseled the names of all those who came to Australia on the eleven ships in 1788 on stone tablets along the garden pathways. The stories of those who arrived on the ships, their life, and first encounters with the Australian country are presented throughout the garden. [108] On 26 January 2005, the First Fleet Garden was opened as the major memorial to the First Fleet immigrants. Previously the only other specific memorial to the First Fleeters was an obelisk at Brighton-Le-Sands, New South Wales. [109] The surrounding area has a barbecue, tables, and amenities.

See also

Related Research Articles

Philip Gidley King British Colonial governor

Captain Philip Gidley King was the third Governor of New South Wales, and did much to organise the young colony in the face of great obstacles.

Watkin Tench Royal Marines general

Lieutenant General Watkin Tench was a British marine officer who is best known for publishing two books describing his experiences in the First Fleet, which established the first settlement in Australia in 1788. His two accounts, Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson provide an account of the arrival and first four years of the colony.

Colony of New South Wales British colony which later became a state of Australia

The Colony of New South Wales was a colony of the British Empire from 1788 to 1900, when it became a State of the Commonwealth of Australia. At its greatest extent, the colony of New South Wales included the present-day Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, the Northern Territory as well as New Zealand. The first "responsible" self-government of New South Wales was formed on 6 June 1856 with Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson appointed by Governor Sir William Denison as its first Colonial Secretary.

Charlotte was an English merchant ship built in the River Thames in 1784 and chartered in 1786 to carry convicts as part of the First Fleet to New South Wales. She returned to Britain from Botany Bay via China, where she picked up a cargo for the British East India Company. Charlotte then spent much of the rest of her career as a West Indiaman in the London-Jamaica trade. She may have been lost off Newfoundland in 1818; in any case, she disappears from the lists by 1821.

Alexander was a merchant ship launched at Hull in 1783 or 1784. She was one of the vessels in the First Fleet, that the British government hired to transport convicts for the European colonisation of Australia in 1788. On her return voyage from Australia the British East India Company permitted her to carry a cargo from Canton back to Britain. Thereafter she traded out of London until 1809, when she is no longer listed.

The Second Fleet was a convoy of six ships carrying settlers, convicts and supplies to Sydney Cove, Australia in 1789. It followed the First Fleet which established European settlement in Australia in the previous year.

The history of Australia from 1788–1850 covers the early colonial period of Australia's history, from the arrival in 1788 of the First Fleet of British ships at Sydney, New South Wales, who established the penal colony, the scientific exploration of the continent and later, establishment of other Australian colonies.

The following lists events that happened during 1788 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1789 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1790 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1791 in Australia.

Peter Kenney Hibbs was an English mariner and a member of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788.

Journals of the First Fleet

There are 20 known contemporary accounts of the First Fleet made by people sailing in the Fleet, including journals and letters. The eleven ships of the Fleet, carrying over 1,000 convicts, soldiers and seamen, left England on 13 May 1787 and arrived in Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788 before relocating to Port Jackson to establish the first European settlement in Australia, a penal colony which became Sydney. At least 12 people on the Fleet kept a journal of their experiences, some of which were later published, while others wrote letters home during the voyage or soon after their arrival in Australia. These personal accounts of the voyage were made by people including surgeons, officers, soldiers, ordinary seamen, and Captain Arthur Phillip, who commanded the expedition. Only one known account, that of James Martin, was by a transported convict. Their journals document the day-to-day experiences of those in the Fleet, and record significant events including the first contact between the European settlers and the Aboriginal people of the area. In 2009, the manuscript journals were included in The Australian Memory of the World Register, a regional register associated with the UNESCO international Memory of the World programme.

First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage

The First Fleet Reenactment Voyage was a project to assemble a fleet of tall ships to sail from England to Australia in a historical reenactment of the First Fleet that colonised Australia in 1788. The reenactment was first conceived in 1977 and organised to commemorate Australia's bicentenary of colonisation. Despite opposition and minimal funding from the Australian government, the project attracted the support of high-profile adventurers Thor Heyerdahl, Alan Villiers, and Sir Edmund Hillary, as well as former Australian political figures and the British Royal Family. Several corporations offered to sponsor the fleet as a whole or individual ships, and additional money was raised by selling "training crew" berths for the various legs of the voyage.

James Scott (d.1796) was a Sergeant of Marines in the New South Wales Marine Corps and commander of the first quarter guard in New South Wales. He is notable for his journal describing his experiences in the First Fleet, which established the first European settlement in Australia in 1788.

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Bibliography

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