On the 19th the Neptune was cleared and discharged the service, having landed the cargo she brought out on government account in good condition. Preparatory to her sailing for China, she quitted the cove on the 22nd; soon after which, information being received that several convicts purposed to attempt making their escape in her from the colony, a small armed party of soldiers was sent on board her, under the direction of Lieutenant Long* of the marines, to search the ship, when one man and one woman were found on board. The man was one who had just arrived in the colony, and, being soon tired of his situation, had prevailed on some of the people to secrete him among the fire-wood which they had taken on board. In the night another person swam off to the ship, and was received by the guard. He pleaded being a free man, but as he had taken a very improper mode of quitting the colony, he was, by order of the governor, punished the day following, together with the convict who had been found concealed among the fire-wood. The Neptune sailed on the 24th, leaving behind her one mate Mr. Forfar, and two seamen; and the cove was once more without a ship.
[* Appointed by Governor Plillip, after the arrival of the New South Wales corps, to do the duty of town-adjutant.]
An excursion into the country had been undertaken this month by Captain Tench and some other officers. They were absent six days, and on their return we learned, that they had proceeded in a direction SSW of Rose Hill; that they met with fresh water running to the northward; found the traces of natives wherever they went, and passed through a very bad country intersected every where with deep ravines. They had reason to think, that in rainy weather the run of water which they met with rose above its ordinary level between thirty and forty feet. They saw a flock of emus twelve in number.
It having been found that the arms and ammunition which were entrusted to the convicts residing at the distant farms for their protection against the natives, were made a very different use of, an order was given recalling them, and prohibiting any convicts from going out with arms, except McIntire, Burn, and Randall, who were licensed game-killers.
The clergyman complaining of non-attendance at divine service, which it must be observed was generally performed in the open air, alike unsheltered from wind and rain, as from the fervor of the summer’s sun, it was ordered that three pounds of flour should be deducted from the ration of each overseer, and two pounds from that of each labouring convict, who should not attend prayers once on each Sunday, unless some reasonable excuse for their absence should be assigned.
Toward the latter end of the month a criminal court was held for the trial of Hugh Low, a convict, who had been in the Guardian, and who was in custody for stealing a sheep, the property of Mr. Palmer the commissary. Being most clearly convicted of the offence by the evidence of an accomplice and others, he received sentence of death, and, the governor not deeming it advisable to pardon an offence of that nature, suffered the next day, acknowledging the commission of the fact for which he died.