The founding of Australia differs to other British settlements, as it turned
into a debate, which has been discussed by people who related to the topic for
many years, whether Australia was established because of transporting criminals
or not. Being gaps in documentary evidences and misunderstanding of the
motivation of the government in reaching a decision for a settlement in
Australia caused a conflict between historians in the past. However, under the
new researches it is now possible to come to a conclusion why British colonised
this continent and to find out main reasons of Her interests. Thus it is clear
that Australia was not colonised for transporting the convicts.
Firstly, I believe that it is important to mention about the earliest visits of
Europe, which were made by the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch Voyagers, to
Australia. Besides this, it has been alleged that the continent was known to the
Chinese long before Europeans. There is a strong evidence that the West Coast of
Australia was touched by the Spaniards and Portuguese, during the first half of
the sixteenth century, the north and west coasts of Australia figure in the
maps of Spanish and Portuguese navigators as far back as about the year 1530,
and the discovery of islands in the Pacific followed. Captain Dampier discovered
one large island, comprising the two great divisions of New South Wales and New
Holland, in 1688. However, the British were not the first conqueror. The
question is not who conquered, but might be why did not European voyagers settle
in Australia if wanted to trade the Further East? Was it because of discovering
the Pacific islands? If the Pacific islands were strategically better than
Australia do we have to accept that the British settled because of convicts who
had to be transported somewhere? Shall we reject arguments of economical reason
lied behind of this settlement?
The Dutch East India Company devoted itself mainly to the importation of peppers
and spices, and for this reason concentrated its energies upon the Spice
Islands, Ceylon and Malabar coast of India. Thus, the Dutch took the control
of the trade to the Further East whereas the East India Company of British
fostered its trade with Surat, Bengal and after the foundation in 1639 with
Madras. Bantam in Java had been the East India Company’s chief spice and pepper
factory, but to establish a profitable trade with China and Japan could not be
possible as the Dutch were before the British. Batavia (Jacarta), the capital
of the Dutch Indies, was better placed than Calcutta or Madras to control the
trade to the Further East. For that reason the British had no choice other
than fighting the Dutch to control this trade. This competition came to an end
and the British gained a victory, the victory of Forde, over the Dutch. This
assured the predominance of the English in the Eastern Asia trade, but it did
not provide with full control. Thus, it was recommended that should this
settlement, Botany Bay, be made, we may enter into a commerce that would render
our trade to China.
In addition, the Russians were trading with China through the Aleutian and Foxes
Islands, from where they gained the most and best of their furs. Chinese have
been supplied with American furs by the Russian caravans so it was recommended
that it is now trying whether a trade may not be drove from Canton, to the
northern parts of China, by which we may supply them with the article directly,
and make our Chinese trade so much less disadvantageous. There is also a
prospect of considerably extending our woollen trade. We know that large
quantities of woollen cloth are smuggled to Japan by the Russians...
The independence of the United States was recognised by the Treaty of Versailles
signed on 3rd September 1783. From 1750 to 1775, over two decades, the British
had transported their criminals to its colonies in America. This was suspended
during the American War of Independence and convicts were placed in prison hulks
in the Thames. When Britain lost the war these convicts became a problem, as
they were needed to transport. However, the main problem was not where these
criminals to be sent, but the USA, who began to trade with India, China and
The Committee of the House of Commons and politicians recommended many suitable
places for convicts, but the government rejected all. Because, none of the
colonies would give better trade opportunities as well as economical and
strategic advantages than Australia. Direct trade with China through the old
route was subject to all the hazards of typhoons, calms, pirates and privateers.
Cook’s second voyage showed the new, quicker and safer route, but a safe
refitting base was necessary. Upon the recommendation of Captain Cook the
British Government determined to found a colony in Australia.
Moreover the British would gain huge profit through the fur trade, whaling and
sealing, and the trade with South America. Besides these having a base near to
India would be very useful in strengthen the British control there. The other
factors for this settlement were developing the British ship industry, the
excellence of the climate and the geographical advantages of the continent’s
position. On the other hand, convicts were transported to Australia, because
labour was necessary in flourishing trade so dumping of criminals could be a
reason as labour were necessary in this settlement. The Committee are of
opinion, that should His majesty think fit to establish a new settlement for
enlarging the commerce of His subjects, the labour of these convicts may be
employed to the most useful purposes-That there are commonly both husbandmen and
artificers among them, as well as men of talents and education.
To sum up, I do not agree that New South Wales was founded as a jail for British
convicts. Because, the British government had better alternative colonies or
unsettled lands for sending criminals. This would cost less and be easier than
sending them to Australia where voyages could take about eight months and be
very costly as well. An evidence to this that voyagers were recommended after
depositing criminals in Australia to go to China to buy goods and sell them when
returned, which would prevent merchants from high cost of the voyages.
convicts and recommendations to the government
American colonies were no longer available after the war for British criminals
whose crimes were punishable by transportation according to the British penal
system. Also crime was on the increase and the prisons and hulks were full.
Conditions in the prisons were terrible. Sir Charles Bunbury warned in the House
of Commons on 9 February 1791, saying; upon an average of the last ten,
criminals convicted of capital offences and sentenced to death had been double
in number, compared to those convicted within the period of the preceding twenty
years…. This alarmed the government to find an alternative solution. The
Recorder of London had a long conference with Lord Sidney on the subject of the
present situation of the prisons of the metropolis, and the number of convicts
that are increasing to an alarming degree, owing to the delay of sending abroad
those under sentence of transportation.
Some plans were suggested. For example, the island of Lemane (Le Main), about
400 miles up the River Gambia in Africa, was suggested by John Barnes, who was
the Africa Company’s Governor and said that “transportation to Africa would have
given them a most suitable outward cargo for their ships, and, hence, a greater
return from each voyage”. However, this recommendation was found not suitable.
Secondly, South West Coast of Africa was recommended by the Committee of the
House, because there was no settler at all; The soil was productive and many
animals were exist; In the mountainous parts there was a vein of Copper Ore,
which contained one third of pure metal. Moreover, this land would have provided
future commerce in the South Seas. Nevertheless, this plan and sending criminals
to Das Voltas Bay in South West Africa and to Caffre Coast, which Pemberton and
William Dalrymple had recommended as having good harbours and fertile
hinterland, both were rejected by the government. Despite the rejection of
Africa for a settlement of convicts, the administration decided again for
Africa: “It may be advisable to change the place to the Southern Coast of Africa
or near Angra de Voltas… Sydney also asked the Africa Company to take
convicts into their forts. His idea was that the slavers should take some two
hundred felons annually, and set them to cultivating cotton and vegetables.
Unfortunately, the merchants sharply objected to this idea.
In addition, Captain John Blankett suggested that either Tristan da Cunha or
Madagascar. According to his report the prevailing winds gave outward-bound
ships a favourable passage there, and that land and sea offered rich food
supplies, but again this was considered as not suitable because these islands
were small, lacked anchorages, and they were very cold in winter. In this
way the smallest expense would be possible to the Government and convicts would
have been used as labourer. And Madagascar was not considered, because of the
objection of the Dutch. Unguarded transportation to inhabited colonies such as
Nova Scotia, Newfoundland or Honduras was impossible for the same reason,
just as settlement on the African Caffre Coast would offend the Dutch.
The issue of sending criminals was discussed in the House of Commons and Mr.
Burke, focused on Africa for a settlement and expenses of transport, said, “some
regard should, in these times of difficulty and distress, be paid to frugality
and economy. The Business of transporting convicts, among other inconveniences,
was attended with a very considerable expense…” He wished to know and what part
of the world it was intended, by the minister, they should be sent. He hoped it
was not to Gambia, which though represented as a wholesome place, was the
capital seat of plague, pestilence, and famine…He wished to know whether any
contract had yet been entered into for sending these convicts to the coast of
Additionally, according to a news of the Times, the plan, which Lord Dorchester
has sent home from Quebec for establishing two new settlements in Canada, near
the Lakes of Brigon and Carleton, where it has been recommended to settle a
colony of convicts advantageously to this country, comes very opportunely to
relieve the prison-ships in our different harbours, and also the prisons of the
metropolis and the country goals, which are still excessively crowded with
convicts, both men and women, occasioned by the want of intelligence from Botany
Bay with regard to the success of that undertaking. The Quebec plan seems
far more eligible than any other which has been proposed for temporary relief,
and is not likely to be attended with the melancholy consequences which followed
the transportation of the Irish convicts. During the year of 1788 the
Government were more concerned about Canada for a settlement and more news
appeared in the press. Saturday two large ships were contracted for by
Government, which are ordered to be got ready as soon as possible to carry over
the convicts to America. The Government was serious in sending the criminals
to North America and in December 1788 so a further step was taken. Once
criminals’ sentences was changed to go to Canada instead of their former
sentences to New South Wales.
However, none of the recommendations and suggestions I have indicated was
considered by the Government. Despite the rejection there was still a doubt
where the criminals to transport. Even after having a decision on Botany Bay in
1786 this had been discussed in the Parliament in 1791. From this point of
view, It was clear that the Government decided to settle in Botany Bay whatever
cost to the state and it was well known that it would be very costly. Cost of
voyage for 7 months was not less than £30 a man, if the ship carried only 200 it
would be £40 a man. In contrast, whereas the Government had alternatives,
for example Canada, against which there was no dissatisfaction, it against
determined on Australia. Because, as I expressed before, the sending criminals
there was only for labouring.
Advantages of Botany Bay
The accounts of Captain Cook and the people, who accompanied him on his last
voyage about Australia were considered as a colony where convicts to be
transported. “A late voyager there says, that, during the whole of his
travels, he was never in a more agreeable and healthy climate than the continent
of Botany Bay; and has repeatedly declared, that if he could leave his present
engagements, he would make one of the intended colony. He adds, that the sea
there is plentifully supplied with a variety of delicate fish, and that he has
seen the mark of cloven-footed animals on the shore, through he never saw the
species of the beasts”. And the transportation to Botany Bay has the
advantage of the former mode of transportation to America…
James Matra (1745-1806), the American-born midshipman on Cook’s first voyage, in
1783 argued the advantages of establishing a naval base and place of settlement
there for displaced American loyalists.
Secondly, Botany Bay offered a shelter from all winds and a strategic advantage
in any war. “In case of a war with Spain this kingdom will find great advantage
from a settlement at Botany Bay; for the cruisers will greatly interrupt, if not
totally destroy their lucrative commerce from the Philippine Islands to
Aquapulco, besides annoying their settlements on the coast of South
America”. Also the British might occupy the area without violating either
the dictates of humanity or the decorum of European politics. Sir George
Young, who first suggested Madagascar this time, recommended New South Wales as
Disadvantages of Botany Bay and the Government Decision
Although the advantages of Botany Bay, it was told that there were some
disadvantages. According to a news appeared in the press in 1786 the settlement
plan in Australia was not recommended. “A plan is said to be formed, and how
actually carrying into execution, for settling a new colony at Botany Bay in New
Holland, at which place Lieutenant Cook, in his survey of the eastern coast of
that continent in 1770, made some stay to repair his ships and to refresh his
men. As the ostensible design of the projectors is to prepare a settlement for
the reception of felons, no place, in the opinion of many, can be more improper
for that purpose than Botany Bay, to which it is impossible they can be
transported, when they arrive, without a miracle. The Eastern Coast of New
Holland is perhaps the most barren, least inhabited, and worst cultivated
country in the southern hemisphere, and Botany Bay is at too great a distance
from any European settlement to receive either succour or friendly assistance…If
this report is true, the expense will be equal to that of an expedition to the
South Sea against an enemy; and if it is to be continued with every freight of
felons, it will annihilate the surplus that is intended for augmenting the fund
appropriated for the payment of the national debt-it is certainly a most
extravagant scheme, and probably will be reconsidered”. Moreover, sending
the criminals to Canada instead of Botany Bay has occasioned continual enquires,
but no alarm ought to take place when the extreme distance of New South
Wales. Related to this, according to a news in Gentleman’s Magazine,
established in 1731, the Project of sending criminals to Botany Bay did not seem
to have answered the expectations of those who proposed and strongly recommended
Consequently, the colony of New South Wales was established as a convict
settlement by an Order in Council dated 6 December 1785, before which Sir Joseph
Banks testified in 1779 before a parliamentary Select Committee on the
salubrious advantages of Botany Bay for a convict settlement. “Government
has been very assiduous in the selection of convicts for Botany Bay-the most
integious in evert branch of English manufacture being amongst them”. Thus,
Botany Bay, while it had not been thought as the first choice, was chosen by the
government in 1786. King George III officially announced to Parliament on 22
January 1787 that a plan had been made ‘to remove the inconvenience which arose
from the crowded state of the goals in the different parts of the Kingdom.
China, East Asia Trade and Trade with South America
Trade with China was certainly important to Britain. It was the source of tea,
which had become an item of mass consumption, rivalling sugar as the most
valuable import. Tea thus could be introduced and cultivated in India. The
other chief articles were being imported from China were silk, cotton, silk
goods and earthenware. It could be argued that the British changed its policy
after the loss of America in the 18th century. It could be but, on the other
hand, the East Asia was becoming more and more important because of extreme
importance of trade. It was not merely Britain turned its face to the East also
French, Dutch and Russians were already trading with China. The most
important thing was beginning of the American danger in this trade. Another
competitor but could possibly be more active than others. This could not be
risked. Later the competition with the USA would cause crisis in Britain.
The British made efforts starting from 1760s to establish bases on the route
from India and China from which Indian goods could be sold to local merchants in
return for commodities that would find a market in China. The first of such
bases was settled on a permanent footing in 1786 at Penang on the Malay
coast. However, to extent the commercial trade Britain needed a base, which
had to be better then Penang and Canton. Henry Dundas instructed this problem to
Lord Macartney in his letter in 1792.
For that reason, it is expected that considerable advantages to the China trade
will arise from the settlement in New South Wales. This also would provide short
voyages to the traders. In 1787 the British was leading the trade with
China. According to a news of the Times on 25 of July 1787, letters from Canton
fay, “the English have almost entirely engrossed the traffic of this country
(China) to Europe, only eleven other ships of all the European and other nations
having arrived for cargoes in the course of the last eighteen months”.
Furthermore, the India Company sent the last season to China, from Europe and
their settlements in India 700.000 sterling of silver in specie, and 300.000
worth of woollen cloth. The East trade was massive, from which Britain hoped to
gain huge profit.
America after its independence wanted to be active in China trade and made
attempts for it. For example in 1786 a vessel were to be prepared to sail to
China. More news appeared in the press in Britain about increasing American
trade. According to letters received from Philadelphia two ships arrived from
Canton, China, laden with teas and other East India commodities that the voyages
had turned out exceedingly profitable, and that there were fifteen ships were
trading from the United States of America to the East Indies. The
competition between Britain and America was considerable. Americans were
carrying illicit trade in the Dutch East Indies. It was suggested that the
English and French should have taken the Americans to attempt an illicit trade
with the Dutch Settlements. This was a proof how the trade with China and
East had been vital of importance so Britain established a settlement in
Australia to take the control of this trade.
On the other hand it became possible to increase trade and profit with the South
America through the Australian settlement. For example, the Botany fleet arrived
at the Cape on the 13th of October, after a passage from Rio de Janeiro of only
five weeks and four days…. By the end of the eighteenth century the volume
of British trade with Latin America was increasing greatly and the capacity of
Spain or Portugal to maintain control over their colonies was in steep
decline. Wealth of South America was massive and the British aims were
also to control this trade through a base, Australia.
As a result of the British policy to settle in Botany Bay and control the trade.
Imports and exports of the British Empire were in rise. Between 1780 and 1789
imports were £13.8 million. This doubled in two decades, 1800-1809, to £28.7
million; exports between 1780-89 was £10.2 million and this increased to £25.4
million, more than doubled, during the same period, 1800-1809.
Britain in the early 18th century relied heavily on sea-going vessels which were
made of wood. The majority of the nations 18th century merchant, fishing, and
naval vessels were constructed in shipyards in Britain and her North American
colonies. For example, in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution,
approximately 40% of the British shipping was constructed in these colonies.
However, during the American war British traders had to turn to high-priced ship
builders in Europe.
The timber appeared fit for all the purposes of house building and ship building
in Botany Bay so this advantage of the Botany Bay and especially Norfolk
Islands was considered in this settlement. Thus, the supply of timber and naval
materials would influence the distribution of shipbuilding activity with in the
Empire. With the navigation laws, which excluded foreign-built shipping from the
domestic market, but reflected the capacity of the British shipbuilding industry
to meet a substantial, growing and varied demand. From this point of view,
account of the number of ships, and their tonnage, fitted out in Great Britain
for the Southern whale fishery increased; where there was no ships and no trade
between 1763 and 1775, 12 ships traded with 1.977 tonnage in 1776 and 18 ships
with 4.155 tonnage in 1786.
Obviously, after the independence of America the criminals in Britain became
problem as crime was increasing and prisons had no place for more people. This
situation alarmed the government to find a land to transport the convicts out of
Britain. However, this was not the answer to why did the British settle in
Australia? It was decided to settle in Botany Bay where there had been better
alternatives. Therefore, the aim of the government was different as the British
was looking for mainly to control the Eastern trade and use these convicts for
Her benefits so I believe that I have proved this in my essay that this
settlement was not made for transporting criminals.
Firstly, the trade with China in East Asia had been always important to who were
interested in having influence over other nations. The trade was massive and so
Britain wanted to get higher percentage of it. There had been competition in
this trade between European powers for long time. However, this competition
became harder when America attempted to be active in this trade. After a careful
consideration the British government realised that without a base close to China
it would not be possible to control this trade and prevent America from it.
Botany Bay had many advantages such as having a strategic position and being a
shelter to trading ships as well as the British navy’s vessels. Secondly,
through this settlement in Australia the British would get their ships repaired
and using timber it would be possible to build ships with less cost. Moreover,
the government knew that whale fishery would also bring high profit. On the
other hand the importance of the South American trade encouraged the British, as
Spain was loosing control over Her colonies.
To sum up, after considering all these advantages of Australia to Britain that
the idea of necessity of this continent for the criminals seems so weak or
unacceptable. Therefore economical factors in this settlement must be considered
if wanted to find out why British settled in Australia.
Geoffrey, The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia’s History,
CLARK, Charles Manning Hope, A History of Australia, 6 vols. 1962-1987.
HUGHES, Robert, The Fatal Shore, 1987.
RUDÉ, George, Protest and Punishment: The Story of the Social and Political
Protestors Transported to Australia, 1788-1868, 1978.
SHARP, Andrew, The Discovery of Australia, 1963.
SHAW, Alan George Lewers, Convicts and the Colonies: A Study of Renal
Transportation from Great Britain and Ireland to Australia and Other Parts of
the British Empire, 1966.
SHAW, Alan George Lewers, A Short History of Australia, 1955.
STOCKDALE, John (edit), The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, 1789,
BEAGLEHOLE, John Cawte, The Life of Captain James Cook, 1974.
WITHEY, Lynne, Voyages of Discovery: Captain Cook and The Exploration of the
*King’s College London,
University of London
[i] “…where the Government itself would use the convicts to colonise a region
not previously settled by British or other Europeans, in order to increase the
nation’s empire, and add to her capacity to defend her commerce”. FROST, Alan,
Convicts and Empire, A Naval Question 1776-1811, Oxford University press, Oxford
[ii] They made several landfalls upon the coasts of Australia between 1606-1644.
The last Dutchman, Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603-1659), sailed around Australia and
Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), sighting New Zealand, but failed to interest
further the Dutch East India Company. NEWMAN, Gerald (edit), Britain in the
Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing Inc., New
York~London 1997, p.33.
[iii] BECKE, Louis and JEFFERY, Walter, The Naval Pioneers of Australia, London
[iv] STEPHENS, Morse H., “The Administrative History of the British Dependencies
in the Further East”, The American Historical Review, vol. 4, No. 2, Jan. 1899,
pp. 246-272, p.246.
[v] It was founded in 1614 by Jan Pietersz Coen who said that “Your Honours know
by experience that trade in Asia must be driven and maintained under the
protection and favour of Your Honours’ own weapons, and that the weapons must be
paid for by the profits from the trade; so that we can not carry on trade
without war nor war without trade”, The Times History of the World, London 1999,
[vi] Ibid., p.247-8.
[vii] HARLOW, V.T. and MADDEN, F., British Colonial Developments 1774-1834:
Select Documents, Oxford 1953, p.429.
[viii] MARTIN, Ged (edit), The Founding of Australia, The Argument About
Australia’s Origins, Hale-Iremonger Pty Ltd., Sydney 1978, p.11, see same
expression about Russians’ trade with China in HARLOW, V.T. and MADDEN, F.,
British Colonial Developments 1774-1834: Select Documents, Oxford 1953, p.429.
[ix] The Times, 3 October 1789.
[x] HARLOW, V.T. and MADDEN, F., British Colonial Developments 1774-1834: Select
Documents, Oxford 1953, p.429. (Document 22: James Maria Matra: A Proposal for
Establishing a Settlement in New South Wales, 23 August 1783).
[xi] DALLAS, K.M., “The First Settlements in Australia: considered in relation
to sea-power in world politics”, The Founding of Australia by Ged Martin, Sydney
1978, pp.39-49, p.42.
[xii] BELL, G.M. (Esq), “Historical and Statistical View of the Colony of
Victoria”, Journal of the Statistical Society of London, vol. 17, No.3, (Sept.,
1854), pp.259-274, p.260.
[xiii] HARLOW, V.T. and MADDEN, F., British Colonial Developments 1774-1834:
Select Documents, Oxford 1953, p.433.
[xiv] The Parliamentary History of England, 1789-1791, vol. XXVIII, London 1815,
[xv] Gentleman’s Magazine, Historical Chronicle, 8 Monday 1788, vol. LVIII /
part 2, London 1788, p.1116.
[xvi] FROST, Alan, Convicts and Empire, A Naval Question 1776-1811, Oxford
University press, Oxford 1980, p.119.
[xvii] Ibid., p.41.
[xviii] Sir George Young, who was born in 1732 and entered the Royal Navy in
1746 and 3 years later in 1749 he joined the East India Company Marine, also
proposed the settlement of Madagascar.
[xix] FROST, Alan, Convicts and Empire, A Naval Question 1776-1811, Oxford
University press, Oxford 1980, p.119.
[xx] However, a sketch of the principle British settlement in Bay of Honduras,
showing the situation and form of the works thrown up by the Inhabitants for
their mutual defence, had been done by order, and under the directions of
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Barrow in 1797; see this sketch at PRO; MPG 1/562
1797, Superintendent~Commanding in Chief, David Lamb Engineer, May the 2nd 1797.
[xxi] CROWLEY, F.K. (edit), A New History of Australia, William Heinemann
Australia Pty Ltd, Melbourne 1974, p.5.
[xxii] The Parliamentary History of England, 1st February 1785-5th of May 1786,
vol. XXV, London 1815, pp.391-392.
[xxiii] The Times, 30 August 1788.
[xxiv] The Times, 30 September 1788.
[xxv] The Times, 8 December 1788.
[xxvi] The two storeships taken up by Government are ordered to be completely
fitted up by February, about which time the convicts at Woolwich, who are very
numerous, will be embarked for Canada and Nova-Scotia. The number to go out will
be 400. Many are petitioning for that voyage instead of Botany Bay, and behave
better on that account; The Times, 11 December 1788.
[xxvii] The Times, 17 September 1788; It is expected that the convicts in
Newgate, who are now under sentence of transportation to Botany Bay, will be
called up again to the bar of the Old Bailey, at the close of the present
sessions, to have their sentences changed to go to the new settlements in
Canada, near the Lakes Brigon and Charleton, instead of their former sentences
to New South Wales…; and if the sentences of the men and women prisoners
intended for Botany Bay, can be changed in the present sessions by the Judges
and the Recorder, without waiting for another Act of Parliament, similar to that
for empowering his Majesty to establish a settlement in New South Wales,..
[xxviii] Charles Bunbury said, “…certain convicts should be sentenced to
transportation, if a proper place to send them to were not found by ministers,
reports had been abroad, that our settlements in New South Wales were not fit
for the purpose”…Mr. Jeckyll said “with regard to our settlements in New South
Wales, many had their doubts as to the visdom of that system of colonisation. It
had been stated, that the soil was sterile…He understood there were at this time
1850 convicts on the point of sailing for New South Wales, He could not but in
candour suppose that the present motion having been made, the sailing of this
additional number of transports would be suspended till the subject of the
motion had been regularly discussed”, because the Government wanted to be sure
all the requirements were met this settlement. Therefore, Mr. Pitt replied “he
had no objection to the motion; on the contrary, he was glad it had been made,
because if reports prevailed that the settlement at Botany Bay was disastrous,
and contrary to the purpose intended, it was most desirable that the public
should be relieved from the prejudices which such opinions necessarily created,
by having the real situation of the colony explained, and stated upon grounds of
authority…In point of expense, no cheaper mode of disposing of the convicts, he
was satisfied, could be found. The chief expense of the establishment of the
colony was already passed and paid. Why, then, were they unless strong reasons
indeed operated to enforce the measure, to begin de nova, and make a new colony.
The Parliamentary History of England, vol. XXVIII, 1789-1791, 9 February 1791,
[xxix] This figures include the costs of a Surgeon and medicine and all
[xxx] The government instituted transportation to New South Wales as a regular
punishment, under the penal code in 1787.
[xxxi] The Times, 26 February 1787.
[xxxii] The Times, 30 March 1787.
[xxxiii] NEWMAN, Gerald (edit), Britain in the Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An
Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing Inc., New York~London 1997, p.33.
[xxxiv] The Times, 6 January 1787.
[xxxv] FROST, Alan, Convicts and Empire, A Naval Question 1776-1811, Oxford
University press, Oxford 1980, p.122.
[xxxvi] Gentleman’s Magazine, Historical Chronicle, 1786, vol. 56 / part 2,
London 1786, p.903. A similar news about disadvantages of Botany Bay took place
later in this magazine on 6 November 1786, expressing, While the plan for
settling a colony at Botany Bay is preparing to be carried into execution, the
more objections that are made to it the better: Government will, by that means,
be enabled to obviate them; to provide for every known want and supposed danger.
You have observed that the Eastern coast of New Holland is the least inhabited,
and worst cultivated, country in the southern hemisphere. To this it has been
answered, that the want of cultivation is no proof of the barraness of the soil,
nor the deficiency of inhabitants a reason why the natural productions of the
climate should not be sufficient for the support of a greater number…
[xxxvii] The Times, 30 September 1788.
[xxxviii] Gentleman’s Magazine, Historical Chronicle, 8 Monday 1788, vol. LVIII
/ part 2, London 1788, p.1116.
[xxxix] Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), A scientist, an expert botanist. He had
been in the Captain Jame’s Cook’s first Pacific voyage in 1768-1771; NEWMAN,
Gerald (edit), Britain in the Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An Encyclopedia, Garland
Publishing Inc., New York~London 1997, p.33. see for more info about Sir Joseph,
GREGORY, Jeremy and STEVENSON, John, Britain in the Eighteenth Century
1688-1820, London and New York 2000, p.370.
[xl] NEWMAN, Gerald (edit), Britain in the Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An
Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing Inc., New York~London 1997, p.33. also see, for
Sir Banks’s evidences urging the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay,
BECKE, Louis and JEFFERY, Walter, The Naval Pioneers of Australia, London 1899,
[xli] The Times, 26 February 1787.
[xlii] CROWLEY, F.K. (edit), A New History of Australia, William Heinemann
Australia Pty Ltd, Melbourne 1974, p.1.
[xliii] MARSHALL, P.J., “Britain Without America-A Second Empire”, The Oxford
History of the British Empire, The Eighteenth Century, vol.2, Oxford University
press, Oxford 2001, p.582.
[xliv] “Although the great share of the trade of both India and China ought and
probably will be in the hands of Great Britain, still France, Holland, Denmark,
Sweden, and other countries will certainly have a share…” British Colonial
Developments 1774-1834, Henry Dundas to W.W.Grenville, 2 September 1787, p.13.
[xlv] “The unofficial trade war with the United States was telling heavily upon
England. The loss of the American market and the hard winter of 1811-12 had
brought widespread unemployment and a business crises” CHURCHILL, Winston (Sir),
The Great Republic A History of America, London 2002, p.109.
[xlvi] MARSHALL, P.J., “Britain Without America-A Second Empire”, The Oxford
History of the British Empire, The Eighteenth Century, vol.2, Oxford University
press, Oxford 2001, p.581.
[xlvii] Ibid., p.581.
[xlviii] He said, “that the great extent of our commercial concerns in China
requires a place of security as a depôt for such of our goods as can not be sold
off or shipped during the short season that is allowed for our shipping to
arrive and depart; and that for this purpose we wish to obtain a grant of a
small tract of ground or detached island, but in a more convenient situation
than Canton, where our present warehouses are at a great distance from our
ships, and where we are not able to restrain the irregularities which are
occasionally committed by the seamen of the Company’s ships, and those of
private traders.” British Colonial Developments 1774-1834, Instructions by Henry
Dundas to Lord Macartney, 8 September 1792, doc.27, p.46. He also mentioned his
ambition in another letter to Captain Erasmus, who was in command of the lion
which took the Macartney mission to China, saying, “I have only to observe that
the great object of my mission is to spread the use of British manufactures
throughout every part of Asia…”; British Colonial Developments 1774-1834, 27
July 1793, Doc.29.
[xlix] “It sometimes happen in the voyage to China, that missing the trade-wind,
the ships are obliged to go to Batavia, and four months are lost in the voyage:
now they will be able to proceed to Botany Bay, or whatever other Bay on the
coast of this immense island may be thought, on survey, more advisable, and from
thence proceed to China at a much less loss of time than heretofore”. The Times,
18 October 1786. Similar news; “By the Indus, Captain Dixon, just arrived from
China, after a remarkable quick passage, of only 24 days, we have the agreeable
account of the safe arrivals there, of the Glatton and Woodcote on the 8th and
10th December”, The Times, 26 July 1788, East India Intelligence-From the Madras
Courier of the 16th January 1788.
[l] “Notwithstanding the accounts that are frequently given of the situation of
affairs in America, and of all kinds of commerce being at a stand, we have it
from a gentlemen…: He likewise informs us, that they were preparing to fit out a
vessel from that port to sail for Canton in China”, The Times 9 June 1786.
According to another news, “Such is the encouragement derived from the late
adventures from America to India and China, that a subscription is now open, and
very rapidly filling, in the city of Philadelphia, for establishing a perpetual
company in that trade”, The Times, 12 July 1787.
[li] The Times, 6 May 1788.
[lii] The Times, 31 October 1786.
[liii] Gentleman’s Magazine, Historical Chronicle, 30 April 1788, vol. LVIII /
part 1, London 1788.
[liv] MARSHALL, P.J., “Britain Without America-A Second Empire”, The Oxford
History of the British Empire, The Eighteenth Century, vol.2, Oxford University
press, Oxford 2001, p.580.
[lv] “The prodigious wealth which Europe draws in gold and silver from South
America, may be calculated from the following circumstance: that in the capital
of Mexico there was actually coined last year, to the value of five hundred,
seventy-two thousand, two hundred and fifty-two dollars in gold, and eighteen
millions in silver, and all this exclusive of the gold and silver sent home in
bars, or of the money coined in Peru. This immense wealth, however, belongs only
nominally to Spain; it is remitted to almost every nation in Europe which has
dealings with that country, through the medium of the native Spanish merchants,
in whose name the bullion or dollars are entered, and who have never yet, even
in time of war, violated the confidence reposed in them: this is an instance of
national honour, maintained by private individuals, not to be paralleled in the
history of any other nation, ancient and modern.” The Times, 21 August 1786.
[lvi] COOK, Chris and STEVENSON, John, The Longman Handbook of Modern British
History 1714-2001, 4th edition, p.245.
[lvii] NEWMAN, Gerald (edit), Britain in the Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An
Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing Inc., New York~London 1997, p.655.
[lviii] FROST, Alan, Convicts and Empire, A Naval Question 1776-1811, Oxford
University press, Oxford 1980, p.39.
[lix] NEWMAN, Gerald (edit), Britain in the Hanoverian Age 1714-1837, An
Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing Inc., New York~London 1997, p.655.
[lx] LAMBERT, Sheila (edit), House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth
Century, George III Fisheries 1785 and 1786, Custom House, London 10th April
1786, 1975, p.519.