The birth of British Australia, 1788-1829

  • Created by: rakso181
  • Created on: 24-05-17 16:51

The penal colony at Botany Bay (1)

- Why?

  • Felons no longer being sent to Amer. after War of Independence
  • Preventing French territorial claim in Aus.
  • Late 1780s - prison overcrowding in England - urbanisation and slum poverty results in more crime 

First settlers:

- Convicts:

  • 1/2 to 2/3 have previous convictions
  • 732 convicts - 2/3 sentenced for minor theft and under 30
  • Majority of women are domestic servants and sentenced as prostitutes

- Others:

  • Over 600 personnel (marines, families, seamen, civil officers)
  • Major Robert Ross commands the marines
  • Governor Phillip relies on seamen and convicts as overseers and police 
1 of 18

The penal colony at Botany Bay (2)

- Initial settlement:

  • Bot. Bay recommended by botanist, Joseph Banks, to Parliamentry Committee - odd choice as no fresh water supply and soil unsuitable for cultivation 
  • Governor Phillip has absolute power but his even-handed handling prevented mutiny - 1788: bought extra supplies at government's expense
  • Livestock thats brought over is eaten/disappeared within 6 months - no plough to till the soil
  • Difficulty in making bricks due to lack of mortar
  • Costs the government £70,000 with government controlling distribution of supplies
  • Everyone in wattle and doub dwellings compared to governor's brick mansion

- Reasons for survival:

  • Good preperation for journey
  • Establishing 2nd colony at Norfolk Island 1790 - 183 convicts, 28 children and 81 marines - spreads rations better 
  • Phillip's control of food stores - insists on equal shares from 1 April 1790 - prevents rioting rioting but cuts manual labour time
  • Relocation to better farmland 16 miles away in Paramatta, which is more fertile - allows former convicts to subsist over their own land 
2 of 18

The Second Fleet

- Further private journeys improve in conditions 

- 'Lady Juliana' brings 222 female convicts, followed by store ship 'Justinian' 2 weeks later

- 1/4 transported died during voyage - 150 die after landing 

- Government contract journeys to private firm, 'Camden, Calvert and King'

- Bring supplies of livestock and crop

- Now 3000 between two settlements 

3 of 18

Irish prisoners

- 1791 - first ship of Irish prisoners 

- Irish prisoners considered particularly dangerous because of political and religious dissidence

- 1804 - attempted Irish rebellion against Governor King

4 of 18

Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1809-21 (1)

- Served his tenure during two significant economic developments:

  • 1812 - Brit. gov. send first shipment of sterling coins
  • End of Napoleonic Wars 1815 - increase in prisoners as Brit. econ. and crime rate worsens - provide labour for colonial economy

- New South Wales Corps:

  • 1792 - Replace marines and then replaced themselves after the Rum Rebellion 1809
  • Have significant powers, like control of alcohol imports as rum was the default currency without sterling - also used their London wages to trade with
  • Rum Rebellion against Bligh showed need for reigning in the corps

- Treatment of Emancipists and Convicts:

  • Ex-NSWC want to develop gentry of landowners
  • Emancipists and the Currency resented stranglehold of the Corps - Macquarie sides with them with some privates transferred to the 73rd regiment but most to the Isle of Guernsey, limiting the Corps' power
5 of 18

Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1809-21 (2)

-Treatment of Emancipists and Convicts ctd:

  • Carrot-stick approach with land grants and early pardons 
  • Difficult, re-offending convicts sent to Van Dieman's Land 

- Respectibility:

  • Efforts made to limit alcohol sales
  • Macquarie passes proclamation against cohabitation without benefit of a clergy
  • Women can inherit deceased husbands' property
  • Becomes less acceptable to put women in Government Store on landing 
6 of 18

Convict Experience

- Men:

  • Whaling is an important source of income
  • Skilled labour in high demand as Macquarie makes use of them to commission public buildings
  • New South Wales is overwhelmingly male (6:1)

- Women:

  • Many first experiences of Aus. were ones of non-consensual sex
  • Weave cloth for clothing 
  • Best chance as domestic servants or marriage for food, home and a future - if this doesn't work then they're thrown back into Government Store

- Both:

  • Extremely harsh punishment just for stealing 
  • 9 hours a day and 5 hours on a Saturday
7 of 18

Land Grants and Hawkesbury River

Land grants:

- Governor Phillip decides to use convict labour, rather than Aboriginals - serve their terms then given land grants

- Emancipists support land policies but not enough against the opposing Exclusives

- Macquarie hands out early pardons and tickets of leave, meaning they can be self-employed before the end of their sentence

- 'First Select Committee Report into theTransportation of Convicts' (1814) supports Mac.'s liberal penal system but not his early pardons/tickets of leave

Hawkesbury River:

- The first land grant given here in 1794

- Expansion 1800-09 in order to transport goods/people/crops along the river - Macquarie founds 5 towns in the region between 1810-11

8 of 18

The growth of Macquarie towns

- Mac. oversees development of public buildings/infrastructure, spending a lot of money for some vast developments

- Profits used to develop colony infrastructure rather than sent to London

- Townships developed along the Hawkesbury River 1810-11

- Hospital built in centre of Sydney, asking for builders' labour in return for liquor

- Building provides employment through depression, drought, floods etc.

- Road built over the Blue Mountains, opening new graizing lands - 1820: boosts the wool industry

9 of 18


- At least 300,000 when the Brit. arrive, having existed there for at least 50,000 years - based on hunting with constant migration, not cultivation 

- In harmony with the harsh environment 

- British arrival and Eora:

  • Captain Cook obtains native consent and terms Aus. 'Nobody's Land' as the Aboriginals aren't a threat to cultivation 
  • Abor. seen as savages living primitively 
  • 2500 Abor. live in Eora region of New South Wales - tension when convicts and Abor. steal from eachother - 30 May 1788: two convicts butchered and murdered by local abor.
  • Abor. disagree with harsh Brit. justice - showed the mutual incomprehesion between them
  • 1789 - First Fleet transports smallpox, creating an epidemic wiping out 50% of the coastal Abor. population - four theories as to how it got there: biological warfare, from trading Makassan sailors, via clothing/goods on the First Fleet, or a virulent form of chicken pox
  • Governor Phillip favours non-aggressive policy due to his interest in Abor. - although still organises punitive expeditions in response to attacks on settlers 
  • Martial law passed to force Abor. inland so Brit. can dominate fishing industries in New South Wales
10 of 18

Genocide in Van Dieman's Land

- Inhabitants hunted to make way for wool farms - Governor Arthur declares martial law on retaliating Abor.

- Starvation in the early years so guns given to convicts to hunt kangaroo - feel no guilt in killing Abor.

- Consequences:

  • Late 1820s - increase in white population causes raids by Abor. as their food supplies are destroyed
  • Proclamation restricts Abor. to Settled Districts 
  • 1876 - last Tasmanian Abor. dies 
11 of 18

Penal settlement in Van Dieman's Land 1803

- Used for the tougher prisoners

- 1803 - settle in Port Risdon (Hobart) for its strategic value and whaling oppurtunities

- Governors here operate semi-independently due to communication difficulties

- Totalitarian system developed under Governor Arthur (1823-37)

- Convicts work 7 levels of punishment before their freedom with no early pardons

- Settlers warned and punished for being friendly with convicts  

12 of 18

Whaling and sealing


  • Begins with the arrival of the Third Fleet 1791
  • 1805 - Scottish merchant, Robert Campbell, breaks East India Co. monopoly with 260 tons of whale oil
  • Use 'open-bottom dories' which were cheap


  • Clubbed seals to death when they were on the beaches
  • 1826 - Governor Arthur warns that trade was threatened by annihilation as they hunted through the breeding season 


  • Exports of whale bone, whale oil and seal skins help the colony to buy goods
  • Trades dominated by the Emancipists and the Currency
13 of 18

Whaling and sealing


  • Begins with the arrival of the Third Fleet 1791
  • 1805 - Scottish merchant, Robert Campbell, breaks East India Co. monopoly with 260 tons of whale oil
  • Use 'open-bottom dories' which were cheap


  • Clubbed seals to death when they were on the beaches
  • 1826 - Governor Arthur warns that trade was threatened by annihilation as they hunted through the breeding season 


  • Exports of whale bone, whale oil and seal skins help the colony to buy goods
  • Trades dominated by the Emancipists and the Currency
14 of 18

Wool Industry

- Until 1830s - wool is the second most important source of income

- Sheep stations established and the trade booms

- 1805 - Sheep population grows to 20,000 when the colony starts to grow enough grain

 - John Macarthur imports merino sheep

- The industry explodes between 1820-40 with exports valued at £2 mill. by 1830

15 of 18

Blue Mountains

- 1813 - crossed the mountains due to drought and the search for more grassland to help the wool industry

- 1814 - Macquarie commissions a road over the mountains  

- Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth successfully survey the route

- 1824 - Australian Agricultural Company established by the Royal Charter and given 1 million acres in New South Wales

- 1825 - Sheep farming begins in new territory

16 of 18

First British settlement in Western Aus.

- Recommendation of Captain Stirling who has little agricultural knowledge

- Want to forestall French movement 

- 1791 - Surveyed and claimed for Brit. by George Vancouver

- 1828 - Cap. Stirling establishes Swan River Co. 

- 1829 - first settlers in West. Aus. at Swan River - this first free colony struggles with famine at first

17 of 18

Political Development

- Governors have almost unlimited power due to their distance from London

- Macquarie credited with transforming a penal settlement into a colony but receives far more scrutiny due to the large size of the free population and the increased communication with London

- His downfall comes about from the Exclusive opposition to the promotion of Emancipists

- Thomas Bigge's enquiry observes that they should abandon early pardons/tickets of leave/land grants

- New South Wales Act 1823 - creates a legislative council to advise governors, makes the justice system independent, and operates Van Dieman's Land as a seperate colony

- 1820s - land grants given to private companies, showing the more traditional Brit. imperialism

- 1829 - Governor's power restricted by frequent communication with London

18 of 18


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The British Empire and the fall of colonialism resources »