The natives who lived among us assured us from time to time, that the report formerly propagated of ships having been seen on the coast had a foundation in reality; and as every one remembered that the Justinian, after making the heads of Port Jackson, had been kept at sea for three weeks, a fond hope was cherished that the sun had shone upon the whitened sails of some approaching vessel, which had been discovered by the penetrating eyes of our savage neighbours at Botany Bay. In this anxiety and expectation we remained till the 26th, when the long-wished-for signal was made, and in a few hours after the Britannia storeship, Mr. William Raven master, anchored in the cove, after a passage of twenty-three weeks from Falmouth, having sailed from thence on the 15th of last February, the day after the arrival of the Pitt in this country.
The Britannia was the first of three ships that were to be dispatched hither, having on board twelve months clothing for the convicts, four months flour, and eight months beef and pork for every description of persons in the settlements, at full allowance, calculating their numbers at four thousand six hundred and thirty-nine, which it was at home supposed they might amount to after the arrival of the Pitt. It was still a matter of uncertainty in England, even at the departure of the Britannia, whether the merchants of Calcutta had supplied this country with provisions; and under the idea that some circumstance might have prevented them, this supply was ordered to be forwarded. The Kitty transport, one of the three ships which were to contain these supplies, had sailed from Deptford, at the time the Britannia passed through the Downs; her arrival therefore might be daily expected, and in her, or on board of the other ship, it was imagined that fifteen families of Quakers, who had made proposals to government to be received in this country as settlers, were to take their passage.
It was with great pleasure heard in the colony, that some steps had been taken toward prosecuting Donald Trail, the master of the Neptune transport, for his treatment of the convicts with which he sailed from England for this settlement in the year 1790. The sickness and mortality which prevailed among them excited a suspicion that they had been improperly treated; and information upon oath was soon procured of many acts of neglect, ill usage, and cruelty toward them.
In the consequence of the arrival of the Britannia, the commissary was on the following day directed to issue, until further orders, the following weekly ration, viz to each man 4 pounds of maize, 3 pounds of soujee, 7 pounds of beef, or in lieu thereof 4 lbs. of pork, 3 pints of peas or dholl, and 1/2 a pound of rice.
Two thirds of the man’s ration was directed to be issued to each woman and to every child above ten years of age; one half of the man’s ration to each child above two, and under ten years of age; and one fourth of the man’s ration to each child under two years of age.