At the head of a party of convicts who were said to have formed a design of seizing a boat and effecting their escape, was J. C. Morris, one of those convicts who left England in the Guardian, and who, from their meritorious behaviour before and after the disaster that befel that ship, received conditional emancipation by his Majesty’s command. Morris was at Norfolk Island when the intimation of the royal bounty reached this country. Being permitted to return to this settlement, he obtained a grant of thirty acres of land at the Eastern Farms, in an advantageous situation on the northside of the creek leading to Parramatta. Here it soon became evident that he had not the industry necessary for a bona fide settler, and that, instead of cultivating his own ground, he lent himself to his neighbours, who were to repay his labour by working for him at a future day. The governor deemed this a clear forfeiture of his grant, in which it was unequivocally expressed, that he held the thirty acres on condition of his residing within the same, and proceeding to the improvement and cultivation thereof. Being no longer a settler, he declared himself able to procure his daily support without the assistance of the public stores, from which, it must be remarked, he had been maintained all the time he held his grant. Soon after this, it was said, he formed the plan of going off with a boat; yet not so cautiously, but that information was given of it to the governor, who resolved to send him back to Norfolk Island, whence an escape was by no means so practicable as from this place; and he was, very much against his inclination, put on board the Atlantic for that purpose. He found means, however, to get on shore in the night preceding her departure; and she sailed without him. A reward being offered for apprehending him, he was soon taken, and sent up to Parramatta, there to be confined on a reduced ration, until an opportunity offered of sending him to Norfolk island.
During the month the governor thought it necessary to issue some regulations to be observed by those convicts whose sentences of transportation had expired. The number of people of this description in the colony had been so much increased of late, that it had become requisite to determine with precision the line in which they were to move. Having emerged from the condition of convicts, and got rid of the restraint which was necessarily imposed on them while under that subjection, many of them seemed to have forgotten that they were still amenable to the regulations of the colony, and appeared to have shaken off, with the yoke of bondage, all restraint and dependence whatsoever. They were, therefore, called upon to declare their intentions respecting their future mode of living. Those who wished to be allowed to provide for themselves were informed, that on application to the judge-advocate, they would receive a certificate of their having served their several periods of transportation, which certificate they would deposit with the commissary as his voucher for striking them off the provision and clothing lists; and once a week they were to report in what manner and for whom they had been employed.