October.] On the 24th of October, Captain Arthur Phillip hoisted a pendant on board his Majesty’s ship the Sirius of 20 guns, then lying at Deptford. This ship was originally called the Berwick, and intended for the East India Company; but having, while on the stocks, met with some accident by fire, was purchased by Government for a store-ship, and as such had performed one voyage to America. Her burden was about 520 tons; and being, from her construction, well-calculated for this expedition, she was taken into the service as a man of war, and with her capacity changed also her name.
As the government of the intended colony, as well as the command of the Sirius, was given to Captain Phillip, it was thought necessary to appoint another captain to her, who might command her on any service in which she might be employed for the colony, while Captain Phillip should be engaged in his government. For this purpose an order was signed by his Majesty in Council, directing the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to appoint John Hunter esquire (then a master and commander) second captain of the Sirius, with the rank of post. Although this ship mounted only 20 guns, and those but six-pounders, yet on this particular service her establishment was not confined to what is usual in a ship of that class; but, with a first and second captain, she had also three lieutenants, a master, purser, surgeon and two mates, a boatswain, a gunner, and a subaltern’s detachment of marines.
The Supply brig was also put into commission, and the command given to Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. This vessel was to accompany the Sirius as an armed tender; and both ships, having completed their equipment at Deptford-yard, dropped down on the 10th of December to Long Reach, where they took in their guns, powder, and other stores.
1787.] January.] They were here joined by some of the transports, and continued waiting for orders until the 30th of January 1787, when they sailed for Spithead; which port, however, they were prevented from reaching, by heavy and contrary gales of wind, which they continued to experience both in the Downs and on their passage, until the latter end of the following month.
One or two of the transports had in the mean time arrived at Portsmouth, and the Charlotte and Alexander proceeded to Plymouth, where they were to receive the male and female convicts that were ready for them.
March.] On the 5th of March, the order for their embarkation, together with that of the detachment of marines provided as an escort, was sent from the Secretary of State’s office, with directions for their immediately joining the other ships of the expedition at the Motherbank. This was done accordingly; and, every necessary arrangement having taken place, the troops intended for the garrison embarked, and the convicts, male and female, were distributed in the different transports.