Thursday, 23 June 2016

England to New South Wales

England to New South Wales 
It was more than two years from her trial at the Old Bailey until Mary finally arrived in New South Wales to start a new life on the other side of the world.

Mary's trial at the Old Bailey was held on 7 May 1778. Twenty-five months later on 11 June 1790 Mary first walked on land at Port Jackson. During that time she had spent ten months in Newport Gaol situated around the corner from the court.

In the book, The Floating Brothel, Sian Rees describes the conditions in the gaol when Mary was a prisoner:

By December 1788, 151 female convicts were living in three female cells in Newgate, which had been built to house a maximum of 70. They lived on rations fixed for that theoretical maximum and not for the number actually confined. Each cell had one window opening on to an interior well. There were no beds. Instead, there was a ramp at one end of the room with a wooden beam fixed to its top end which served as mattress and pillow. To sleep on the ramp and beam was a privilege, to be paid for weekly. To rent a blanket woven of raw hemp cost extra. Those who could afford neither curled up together on stone slabs awash with saliva and urine. (1)

On 12 March 1789 Mary and 107 other female convicts were conveyed by cart to their new accommodation, the convict ship the Lady Juliana. The ship with its cargo of convicts remained moored on the Thames until early July when it finally left the river to travel to Portsmouth and then to Plymouth. The number of prisoners on board the ship when it sailed varies in different reports but the number was possibly 226 women.

A newspaper report about the ship appeared in The Times 7 February 1889 page 3:

The ship, Lady Juliana, which is ordered by Government to carry over the convicts to Botany Bay, is a fine river-built vessel, and was the first ship that was taken by the Americans on her passage from Jamaica to London, and was afterwards retaken by a man of war, and conveyed to England. One hundred marines are ordered by Government to be raised to go to Botany Bay in the Lady Juliana.(2)

Detailed records were kept of the voyage of the Lady Juliana and Charles Bateson's book, The convict ships 1797-1868, and Sian Rees book,  The floating brothel: the extraordinary true story of an eighteenth century ship and its cargo of female convicts, are recommended reading. The ship travelled to New South Wales via Teneriffe, Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town arriving at Port Jackson 6 June 1790. Only five convicts died during the trip. Bateson suggests that this was because
  • the women were issued with sufficient rations
  • the ship was kept clean and fumigated throughout the voyage
  • the women had free access to the deck instead of being confined below deck
  • long stays at ports visited with access to fresh provisions (3)
During the voyage the women had a daily routine which included cleaning the ship and cooking. Some of the women also sewed shirts to be sold when they arrived at the colony.

Michael Flynn's book, The Second Fleet: Britain's grim amarda of 1790 also provides information about the journey of the ships including the Lady Juliana. Flynn also includes biographies of the convicts. 

It was winter when the Lady Juliana arrived at Sydney Cove. Two and a half years after the establishment of the new settlement supplies in the colony were low and rations had been reduced. Attempts to grow crops were not as successful as had been hoped. New supplies were needed for the survival of the colony so when a ship carrying additional convicts and only limited supplies arrived it was not greeted with great enthusiasm.

This is illustrated by the reaction of Captain David Collins to the new arrivals:

... in the distressed situation of the colony, it was not a little mortifying to find on board the first ship that arrived, a cargo so unnecessary and unprofitable as two hundred and twenty-two females, instead of a cargo of provisions ... (4)

This was not an encouraging welcome for the women after their long journey and there were more convict ships to come. Fortunately the store ship, Justinian, also arrived.

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