January.] The lieutenant-governor having directed the commissary to dispose of the spirits purchased from the American to the military and civil officers of the colony, in which were included the superintendants, and some others in that line, it was found that it had been purchased by many individuals of the latter description with the particular view of retailing it among the convicts. He therefore found it necessary to declare in public orders, ’That it was his intention to make frequent inquiries on the subject; and it might be relied upon, that if it ever appeared that a convict was possessed of any of the liquor so supplied by the commissary, the conduct of those who had thought proper to abuse what was designed as an accommodation to the officers of the garrison, would not be passed over unnoticed.’
Some such order had indeed become very necessary; for the American spirit had by some means or other found its way among the convicts; and, a discreet use of it being wholly out of the question with those people, intoxication was become common among them. The free use of spirits had been hitherto most rigidly prohibited in the colony; that is to say, it was absolutely forbidden to the convicts. It might therefore have been expected, that when that restraint was in ever so small a degree removed, they would break out into acts of disorder and contempt of former prohibitions. It was therefore indispensable to the preservation of peace and good order in the settlement, to prevent, if possible, the existence of so great an evil as drunkenness; which, if suffered, would have been the parent of every irregularity. The fondness expressed by these people for even this pernicious American spirit was incredible; they hesitated not to go any lengths to procure it, and preferred receiving liquor for labour, to every other article of provisions or clothing that could be offered them.
The master of the Kitty having represented to the lieutenant-governor that the conduct of his ship’s company was at times so irregular and mutinous (some of them refusing to do their duty, going on shore and taking boats from the ship without permission) that he found it impossible to carry on the business of the ship, unless he could receive some assistance from the civil authority, the lieutenant-governor directed one, of whom the master particularly complained, Benjamin Williams, to receive one hundred lashes, and another, Adams, to receive twenty-five lashes. This in some measure checked the spirit of disobedience in the ship, and the duty was carried on better than before. Her preparations for Norfolk Island however went on but slowly, four or five of her hands having left her. These, together with some other seamen who had been left behind from the Royal Admiral, were either employed in the public boats belonging to the colony, or had entered into the New South Wales corps; into which corps also several convicts of good character had been lately received, to complete the company that had been formed from the marines under the command of Captain Johnston. This company was a valuable addition, being composed of many excellent soldiers from the marines; who entered into it voluntarily, and whose conduct had met the entire approbation of their officers.