Several of the settlers who had farms at or near Parramatta, notwithstanding the extreme drought of the season preceding the saving of their corn, had such crops that they found themselves enabled to take off from the public store, some one, and others two convicts, to assist in preparing their grounds for the next season. The salt provisions with which they supplied them they procured by bartering their corn for that article, reserving a sufficiency for the support of themselves and families, and for seed. Mr. Schaffer from a small patch of ground got in about two hundred bushels of Indian corn; and with the assistance of four convicts expected to have thirty acres in cultivation the next season. But others of the settlers, inattentive to their own interests, and more desirous of acquiring for the present what they deemed comforts, than studious to provide for the future, not only neglected the cultivation of their lands, but sold the breeding stock with which they had been supplied by order of the governor. Two settlers of the former description having clearly forfeited their grants, and it being understood that they did not intend to proceed to cultivation any further than to save appearances till they could get away, their grants were taken from them, and other settlers placed on the grounds. But exclusive of the idle people, of which there were but few, the settlers were found in general to be doing very well, their farms promising to place them shortly in a state of independence on the public stores in the articles of provisions and grain; and it must not be omitted in this account, that they had to combat with the bad effects of a short and reduced ration nearly the whole of the time that they had been employed in cultivating ground on their own account.
Many complaints having been made by the settlers, of depredations committed on their Indian corn by some of the convicts, it was ordered, that every convict residing at Parramatta, who should be fully convicted before a magistrate of stealing Indian corn, should, in addition to such corporal punishment as he might think it necessary to adjudge, be sent from Parramatta to the New Grounds, there to be employed in cultivation. Mr. Richard Atkins, who came out in the Pitt, and who had been sworn a Justice of the peace, went up to Parramatta to reside there, the constant presence of a magistrate being deemed by the governor indispensable at that settlement.
It was soon perceived, that the punishment of being sent from Parramatta was more dreaded by the convicts than any corporal correction, however severe, that could have been inflicted on them. The being deprived of a comfortable hut and garden, and quitting a place whence the communication with Sydney was frequent, particularly when shipping were in the cove, operated so powerfully with one offender, who was ordered out to the New Grounds, that he chose rather to make an attempt to destroy himself than be sent thither; and had very nearly effected his purpose, having made an incision in his neck of such depth as to lay bare the carotid artery.