The party of convicts having, during the course of the month, been gradually increased, the subaltern’s command was augmented by a captain with an additional number of private men; and it being found necessary that the commanding officer should be vested with civil power and authority sufficient to inflict corporal punishment on the convicts for idleness and other petty offences, the governor constituted him a justice of the peace for the county of Cumberland for that purpose.
10th. While this little settlement was establishing itself, the Golden Grove returned from Norfolk Island, having been absent five weeks and four days. It brought letters from Lieutenant King, the commandant, who wrote in very favourable terms of his young colony. His people continued healthy, having fish and vegetables in abundance; by the former of which he was enabled to save some of his salted provisions. He had also the promise of a good crop from the grain which had been last sown, and his gardens wore the most flourishing appearance.
A coconut perfectly fresh, and a piece of wood said to resemble the handle of a fly-flap as made at the Friendly Islands, together with the remains of two canoes, had been found among the rocks, perhaps blown from some island which might lie at no great distance.
The Golden Grove, on her return to this port, saw a very dangerous reef, the south end of which, according to the observation of Mr. Blackburn (the master of the Supply) who commanded her for the voyage, lay in the latitude of 29 degrees 25 minutes South, and longitude 159 degrees 29 minutes East. It appeared to extend, when she was about four leagues from it, from the NE by N to N.
The Golden Grove brought from Norfolk Island a lower yard and a top-gallant-mast for herself, and the like for the Fishburn.
A soldier belonging to the detachment, who was employed with some others in preparing shingles at a little distance from the settlement, was reported by his comrades, toward the latter end of last month, to be missing from the hut or tent, and parties were sent out in search of him; but returning constantly without success, he was at length given up; and a convict who was employed in assisting the party, and who had been the last person seen with him, was taken into custody; but on his examination nothing appeared that could at all affect him.
Another soldier of the detachment died at the hospital of the bruises he received in fighting with one of his comrades, who was, with three others, taken into custody, and afterward tried upon a charge of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter. Instead of burning in the hand, (which would not have been in this country an adequate punishment), each was sentenced to receive two hundred lashes.
The two storeships sailed for England on the 19th. By these ships the governor sent home dispatches, and he strongly recommended to the masters to make their passage round by the south cape of this country; but it was conjectured that they intended to go round Cape Horn, and touch at Rio de Janeiro.