The Marine force in the first fleet under Captain Phillip numbered, including women and children, 253 persons, made up of a major commanding, 1 judge-advocate, 2 captains, 2 captain-lieutenants, 9 first lieutenants, 3 second lieutenants, 1 adjutant, 1 quarter-master, 12 sergeants, 12 corporals, 8 drummers, 160 privates, 30 women, and 12 children. The detachment was drawn from the Portsmouth and Plymouth divisions in equal numbers. This expedition to Botany Bay was a service more remote from home than any the corps had before been engaged in, and the men so looked upon it, as may be seen from the following tedious memorial, which one company addressed to the officer commanding:—
“We, the marines embarked on board the Scarborough, who have voluntarily entered on a dangerous expedition, replete with numberless difficulties, which in the faithful discharge of our duty we must necessarily be exposed to, and supposing ourselves to be on the same footing as if embarked on any of His Maj’s ships of war, or as the seamen and marines on the same expedition with us—we hope to receive the same indulgence, now conceive ourselves sorely aggrieved by finding the intentions of Government to make no allowance of spirituous liquor or wine after our arrival at the intended colony in New South Wales. A moderate distribution of the above-mentioned article being indispensibly requisite for the preservation of our lives, which change of climate and the extreme fatigue we shall be necessarily exposed to may probably endanger, we therefore humbly entreat you will be pleased to convey these our sentiments to Major Ross. Presuming, sir, that you will not only be satisfied that our demand is reasonable, but will also perceive the urgent necessity there is for a compliance with our request, we flatter ourselves you will also use your influence to cause a removal of the uneasiness we experience under the idea of being restricted in the supply of one of the principal necessarys of life, without which, for the reasons above stated, we cannot expect to survive the hardships incident to our situation. You may depend on a chearful and ready discharge of the public duties that may be enjoyned on us. The design of Government is, we hope, to have a feeling for the calamities we must encounter. So, as to induce them to provide in a moderate and reasonable degree for our maintenance and preservation, we beg leave to tender our most dutiful assurances of executing to the utmost of our power our several abilities in the duty assign’d, so that we remain in every respect loyal subjects to our king and worthy members of society.”
The request was granted, and a three years’ supply of spirits was put on board the transports.