October.] Captain Hunter, having been sworn as a magistrate soon after the arrival of the fleet, continued to act in that capacity until his departure for the Cape of Good Hope, sitting generally once a week, with the judge-advocate and the surveyor-general, to inquire into petty offences. Saturday was commonly set apart for these examinations; that day being given to the convicts for the purpose of collecting vegetables and attending to their huts and gardens.
The detachment also finding it convenient to collect vegetables, and being obliged to go for them as far as Botany Bay, the convicts were ordered to avail themselves of the protection they might find by going in company with an armed party; an never, upon any account, to straggle from the soldiers, or go to Botany Bay without them, on pain of severe punishment. Notwithstanding this order and precaution, however, a convict, who had been looked upon as a good man (no complaint having been made of him since his landing, either for dishonesty or idleness), having gone out with an armed party to procure vegetables at Botany Bay, straggled from them, though repeatedly cautioned against it, and was killed by the natives. On the return of the soldiers from the bay, he was found lying dead in the path, his head beat to a Jelly, a spear driven through it, another through his body, and one arm broken. Some people were immediately sent out to bury him; and in the course of the month the parties who went by the spot for vegetables three times reported that his body was above ground, having been, it was supposed, torn up by the natives’ dogs. This poor wretch furnished another instance of the consequences that attended a disobedience of orders which had been purposely given to prevent these accidents; and as nothing of the kind was known to happen, but where a neglect and contempt of all order was first shown, every misfortune of the kind might be attributed, not to the manners and disposition of the natives, but to the obstinacy and ignorance of our people.
On the departure of the Sirius, one pound of flour was deducted from the weekly ration of those who received the full proportion, and two-thirds of a pound from such as were at two-thirds allowance. The settlement was to continue at this ration until the return of the Sirius, which was expected not to exceed six months. But public labour was not affected by this reduction. The cellar being completed and ready for the reception of the spirits that were on board the Fishburn, they were landed from that ship; and she, being cleared and discharged from government employ, hove down, and prepared for her return to England.
A gang of convicts were employed in rolling timber together, to form a bridge over the stream at the head of the cove; and such other public works as were in hand went on as usual; those employed on them in general barely exerting themselves beyond what was necessary to avoid immediate punishment for idleness.