A court of inquiry, composed of the officers of the regiment present at Sydney, was assembled immediately after the arrival of the Francis, to inquire into the complaint which had accompanied the soldiers from Norfolk Island; when, after five days deliberation, and examination of papers, witnesses, etc. they reported, that the conduct of the soldiers, in disobeying the orders of their officers, was reprehensible; but, on considering the provocations which had given birth to that disobedience. they recommended them to their commanding officer’s clemency.
On the 27th the schooner sailed a second time for Norfolk Island, for the purpose of conveying two officers of the New South Wales corps, and some non-commissioned officers and privates, in lieu of those who had been sent hither, and without whom the detachment on duty there would have been too much weakened.
The natives were again troublesome this month. Two several accounts were sent down from Parramatta, of their having attacked, robbed, and beaten some of the settlers’ wives who were repassing between their farms and Parramatta; and great quantities of corn continued to be stolen by them. One of these women (married to Trace, a settler at the foot of Prospect Hill) was so severely wounded by a party who robbed and stripped her of some of her wearing apparel, that she lay for a long time dangerously ill at the hospital. It was said, that the people who committed this and other acts of violence and cruelty were occasional visitors with others at Sydney. Could their persons have been properly identified, the lieutenant-governor would have taken serious notice of the offenders.
Notwithstanding the woods were infested by these people, numbers of the male convicts, idle, and dreading labour as a greater evil than the risk of being murdered, absented from the new settlements, and, after wandering about for a few days, got at length to Sydney almost naked, and so nearly starved, that in most cases humanity interfered between them and the punishment which they merited. They in general pleaded the insufficiency