October.] The month of October opened with a repetition of the vexatious circumstances that marked the opening of the preceding month. In the night of the 2nd, a boat was taken from Parramatta by some people who got unobserved out of the harbour. The three men who were put on shore from the Cumberland at the time she was seized upon, from an unwillingness to accompany them, being in this party, it was supposed they were connected in some way with those who were in that boat, and whom they might know where to find. An armed boat from the Supply was immediately dispatched after them; but in three days returned, as unsuccessful as Lieutenant Shortland had unfortunately been in his search.
From this circumstance there was reason to suppose that they had stood off from the land; in which case, as the weather since their departure had been unusually bad, the wind blowing a gale from the southward, with much rain, and their boat being a very bad one, it was probable they had perished.
In these two boats 15 convicts had made their escape from the settlement; six of whom had been transported for life; six others were from Ireland, of whose term of transportation no account had been sent out; and of the remainder, one had to serve until the 23rd of May 1799, another until the 2nd of April 1801, and the third until the 15th of April 1804.
Whatever might be the fate of these people, the evil was of great extent; since all that could be known of them to their fellow prisoners was, that they had successfully effected their escape. Had Bryan and his party, who went off with one of the King’s boats in the year 1791, instead of meeting with the compassion and lenity which were expressed in England for their sufferings, been sent back and tried in New South Wales, for taking away the boat, and other thefts which they had committed, it was probable that others might have been deterred from following their example.
On this occasion an order was published, stating that, as, for the private convenience of various individuals, permission had been granted for the building of boats under certain dimensions, yet those boats had been frequently found so improperly secured in the night, and left by their respective owners in situations so favourable to the views of those ignorant beings who were perpetually looking out for means to escape from the settlement, the governor therefore found it expedient positively to prohibit the building of a boat of any kind without having previously obtained his express permission; and to declare, that if any of the boats then in use in the settlement should thenceforward be found improperly secured at night, or left with oars, rudder, masts, or sails on board, they would be laid on shore and burnt.
Such was the increase of crimes, that thrice in this month was the court of criminal judicature assembled. The offences that came under their cognisance were those of murder, perjury, forgery, and theft.