Toward the latter end of the month information was received of some nefarious practices which had been carrying on at the store at Parramatta; the sum of which was, that the two convicts who had been employed in issuing the provisions under the storekeeper had been for some time in the habit of serving out on each issuing-day an extra allowance of provisions to one, or occasionally to two messes. The messes consisted of six people, and one of these six (taking any mess he chose) used to be previously informed by one or other of the convicts who served the provisions, that an extra allowance for the whole mess would be served to him, which he was to receive and convey away, taking care to return the allowance to them at night, then to be divided into three shares. To accomplish this fraud, an opportunity was to be taken of the storekeeper’s absence, which might happen during the course of a long serving, and for which they took care to watch. On his return the mess for which one allowance had just been served was publicly called, and the whole served a second time. With this practice they had trusted nine or ten different people; and the wife of one man, who had assisted in the crime, in a fit of drunkenness confessed the whole.
On examination before the judge-advocate it appeared, in addition to the above circumstances, that this scheme had been carried on for about two months past; but there was little doubt of its having existed much longer.
It was no difficult matter to discover the persons who had assisted in this practice; and on their being taken up several confessed the share that they and others had had in it: upon which the lieutenant-governor ordered them all to be severely punished.
In the Kitty arrived one of the superintendants who had at Norfolk Island been employed in manufacturing the flax plant; but which, for want of some necessary tools, he could not bring to much perfection. These had been written for to England, and he came hither to be employed at these settlements till they should arrive. He was now sent up to Toongabbie, to superintend the delivery of provisions at that place.
Notwithstanding the orders which had been given respecting spirits being in the possession of the convicts, on a search made in some suspected houses, fourteen or fifteen gallons were found in one night; and, being seized by the watchmen and the guard, were divided among them as a stimulus to future vigilance. The evil effect of this spirit was perceptible in the number of prisoners which were to be found every morning in the watch-house; for, when intoxicated, it could not be expected that people of this description would be very careful to avoid breaking the peace.