On the 30th an officer, who had been collecting rushes in a cove up the harbour, found and brought to the hospital the bodies of two convicts who had been employed for some time in cutting rushes there, pierced through in many places with spears, and the head of one beaten to a jelly. As it was improbable that these murders should be committed without provocation, inquiry was made, and it appeared that these unfortunate men had, a few days previous to their being found, taken away and detained a canoe belonging to the natives, for which act of violence and injustice they paid with their lives.
Notwithstanding these circumstances, a party of natives in their canoes went alongside the Sirius, and some submitted to the operation of shaving: after which they landed on the western point of the cove, where they examined every thing they saw with the greatest attention, and went away peaceably, and apparently were not under any apprehension of resentment on our parts for the murders above-mentioned.
June.] The governor, however, on hearing that the two rushcutters had been killed, thought it absolutely necessary to endeavour to find out, and, if possible, secure the people who killed them; for which purpose he set off with a strong party well armed, and landed in the cove where their bodies had been found; whence he struck across the country to Botany Bay, where on the beach he saw about fifty canoes, but none of their owners. In a cove on the sea-side, between Botany Bay and Port Jackson, he suddenly fell in with an armed party of natives, in number between two and three hundred, men, women, and children. With these a friendly intercourse directly took place, and some spears, etc. were exchanged for hatchets; but the murderers of the rush-cutters, if they were amongst them, could not be discovered in the crowd. The governor hoped to have found the people still at the place where the men had been killed, in which case he would have endeavoured to secure some of them; but, not having any fixed residence, they had, perhaps, left the spot immediately after glutting their sanguinary resentment.
His Majesty’s birthday was kept with every attention that it was possible to distinguish it by in this country; the morning was ushered in by the discharge of twenty-one guns from the Sirius and Supply; on shore the colours were hoisted at the flag-staff, and at noon the detachment of marines fired three volleys; after which the officers of the civil and military establishment waited upon the governor, and paid their respects to his excellency in honor of the day. At one o’clock the ships of war again fired twenty-one guns each; and the transports in the cove made up the same number between them, according to their irregular method on those occasions. The officers of the navy and settlement were entertained by the governor at dinner, and, among other toasts, named and fixed the boundaries of the first county