At Parramatta the principal labour was the getting in and housing the maize, and preparing ground for the next year’s grain. The foundations of two material buildings were laid, a town-hall and an hospital. The town-hall was intended to include a market-place for the sale of grain, fish, poultry, live stock, wearing apparel, and every other article that convicts might purchase or sell. An order establishing this regulation had been given out at Parramatta, and a clerk of the market appointed to register every commodity that was brought for sale or barter; directing, in the case of non-compliance, the forfeiture both of the purchase-money and of the article, to be given, one moiety to the informer, and the other to the hospital for the benefit of the sick.
This order was meant to prevent the selling or interchanging of stolen goods among the convicts; a measure that appeared to be daily becoming more necessary. The depredations which were committed, hourly it might be said, upon the maize, were very serious, and called for the interposition of some measure that might prevent them, as punishments, however severe, were not found effectually to answer the end. A convict who lived as a servant with an officer was tried by the criminal court for robbing his master, and being found guilty was sentenced to receive three hundred lashes.
The colony had now been so long established, that many convicts who had come out in the first fleet, and might be termed the first settlers in the country, had served the several terms of transportation to which they had been sentenced. Of the people of this description, some had become settlers; some had left the country; others, to use their own expressions, had taken themselves off the stores, that is to say, had declined receiving any farther provisions from the public stores or doing any public labour, but derived their support from such settlers or other persons as could employ and maintain them; while others, with somewhat more discretion, continued to labour for government, and to receive their provisions as usual from the commissary. Of the latter description, fourteen who were indulged with the choice of the place where they were to labour, preferred the settlement at Sydney, and there had one hut assigned to them for their residence. To prevent any imposition on the part of those who professed to be supported by settlers, they were directed to render an account at the end of each week of their respective employments; for people who had not any visible means of living would soon have become nuisances in the settlement.
It required something more than common application to adapt remedies to the various irregularities which from time to time grew up in the settlement, and something more than common ingenuity to counteract the artifices of those whose meditations were hourly directed to schemes of evasion or depredation.