Effect of this upon the natives
Convicts secreted on board the Sylph
A general muster
A native child murdered
1796.] September.] In the former account of the English Colony of New South Wales, which was brought up to the 29th September, 1796, it will be seen, that on that day His Majesty’s ship the Reliance and the Britannia hired transport, sailed, with the Francis colonial schooner, for Norfolk island; whence, being there joined by the Supply, the Reliance was to sail to the Cape of Good Hope, to return with cattle for the colony, and the Britannia was to proceed to England.
The frequent commission of the most atrocious crimes, together with the dissipated, turbulent, and abandoned disposition of the convicts, which had more than ever at this time been manifest, determining the governor to enforce the most rigid discipline, he resolved on constructing a strong and capacious Log Prison at each of the towns of Sydney and Parramatta. It being absolutely necessary that these should be erected as expeditiously as possible, the safety of the inhabitants and security of their property, rendering any delay extremely dangerous, and the public gangs being very weak, he called upon every officer, settler, and housekeeper within the above-mentioned districts, to furnish a certain number of logs for this purpose, which were to be delivered at Sydney, or Parramatta, as might be most convenient to each person’s residence; and he had, in a very short time, the satisfaction of seeing the materials which were required brought in much faster than the carpenters could put them together.
Among other crimes committed by these people, must be mentioned a variety of impositions which were practised to deceive the commissary in the issue of provisions. To detect these, an order was given about the end of the month, which directed that every person belonging to each different mess should attend personally at the store on the next serving-day. The convicts had always been divided into messes, containing a certain number of persons; one of whom out of each mess was to attend at the store, and receive provisions for the whole number belonging to it.
On the day appointed, it appeared that many were victualled both at Sydney and Parramatta, and several other impositions were detected and abolished.
In a settlement which was still in a great measure dependant upon the mother country for food, it might have been supposed that these people would have endeavoured by their own industry to have increased, rather than by robbery and fraud to have lessened, the means of their support: but far too many of them were most incorrigibly flagitious. The most notorious of these were formed into a gaol gang, which was composed of such a set of hardened and worthless characters, that, although Saturday was always given up to the convicts for their own private avocations, as well as to enable them to appear clean and decent on Sunday at church, this gang was ordered, as an additional punishment, to work on the Saturday morning in repairing the roads and bridges near the town.