This certainly was not an unpromising view of the agricultural part of the settlement. Much might be expected from the exertions of three hundred and fifty-five people, and the greatest advantage would have been derived from their labours had they been less prone to dissipation and useless traffic—a traffic which most of them entered into solely with a view to indulging themselves in their favourite propensity of drinking.
Independent of the wild herd of cattle to the westward, the live stock belonging to the Crown, and to individuals, was annually increasing to a great amount; but it was not yet sufficiently numerous to admit of supplying the colony with animal food. To begin too early to apply it to that use, would only have retarded the time when the colony would be independent of any other country for provisions; and none but superfluous males were ever killed.
On the 26th of this month the Hillsborough transport arrived from England, whence she had sailed with three hundred male convicts on board; but, from the raging of a gaol fever, that made its appearance soon after her departure, ninety-five had died during the voyage, and six more were added to the number in a few days after they were landed.
It was impossible that any ship could have been better fitted by Government for the accommodation of prisoners during such a voyage than was the Hillsborough; but, unfortunately, they brought with them, perhaps lurking in their clothing, a disease which bade defiance to all the measures that could be taken for their comfort and convenience.
The hospitals were immediately filled with the survivors, from whom no labour could, for a length of time, be expected; and they were supplied with fresh meat.
None of the military having been embarked in this ship, the owners had put on board a certain number of people, to act as a guard; and on the commissary’s mustering them and the ship’s company, pursuant to a request to that purpose from the commissioners of the Transport Board, it appeared, that the terms of the charter-party had been strictly complied with.
The erecting of the public gaol advancing but slowly, the constables of the different divisions of the town of Sydney were directed to give information to the inhabitants of their respective divisions, that, as this building was a work in which they were all interested, they were to furnish from each of the four divisions, viz from King’s, Nepean’s, Banks’s, Maskelyne’s (such being their names), and from that of the Brickfields, five men each day, with a watchman to attend them. These were to be relieved by a like number of men every day, and this assistance was to be continued so long as the gentlemen who had the direction of the work should have occasion for them.
Had the convicts who arrived in the Hillsborough been in a condition to labour, this requisition would have been unnecessary.