Saturday, 11 April 2020

The First Fleet leaves Portsmouth

One of the projects during this period of social / physical isolation is to begin compiling information about the family history. Last term my seven year old grandson was asking questions about the convicts when he discovered that we have twelve convicts in our family including two who came on the First Fleet.
Today I decided to revisit the database, British Library Newspapers, which can be accessed from the website of the State Library of Victoria by those with a library card. Other major libraries will probably provide a similar service. The database provides access to digitised copies of articles published in Britain from the 1700s.

I used the advanced search option allowing me to search for a variety of terms such as "Botany Bay" and "Portsmouth" or "Botany Bay" and "Convicts" or just "Botany Bay" and restricting the time period of the search using the dates between option. I experimented  with a number of options.

Clicking the images below will provide a larger image.

On the surface the departure of the First Fleet for Botany Bay did not create much interest in the local press but aspects of the story can be discovered by exploring references to the departure of the ships during 1787.

The First Fleet left the Motherbank, Portsmouth, on 13 May 1787. From the beginning of the year convicts had left the gaols in which they had been imprisoned and loaded into wagons for the journey to Portsmouth. The Chelmsford Chronicle March 2 1787 carries a short report from the House of Commons, 26 February 1787.

On 7 May 1787 the Hampshire Chronicle added the following information about new convict arrivals aboard ships.
The following information about the ships at Portsmouth was provided on March 19 1787 in the Hampshire Chronicle. The paragraph in Home News listed the names of the ships that would be sailing to Botany Bay and also noted the captains of each ship and number of convicts and others on the vessels.

The Norfolk Chronicle reported on May 12 1787 that the fleet was ready to sail the next day.

A report dated 13 May appeared in the Northampton Mercury May 19 1787 that the ships had sailed that morning. The frigate, Hyaena, was to accompany them for the first part of the journey.
 The Hereford Journal May 17 1787 announced that the ships had sailed for Botany Bay.
A report on the initial progress of the fleet appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle May 26 1787 providing a quote forom a letter from Plymouth dated May 16.
Another short report in the Leeds Intelligencer May 22 1787 provided the coordinates of the ships when last sighted.
Over the ensuing months the newspapers provided information about the progress of the fleet either when a ship arriving in England reported a sighting of the ships or carried letters from First Fleet ships' officers.

The Hyaena brought a letter from an officer of the Friendship dated 20 May. A summary appeared in the Northampton Mercury 9 June 1787.

  Another report appeared in the Northampton Mercury June 30 1787.
The Hampshire Chronicle 30 July 1787 published part of a letter dated June 5 from Teneriffe written by an officer.
The ships of the First Fleet arrived in Rio de Janeiro in August to restock the food supply. This information appeared in the Stamford Mercury November 30 1787.

These snippets of information provide useful information on the commencement of the First Fleet voyage.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

2019 in review

2019 was a quieter year for family history research and resulted in only nineteen posts in my blog however quite some time was spent doing background reading and online courses on Future Learn which should help when writing family stories.

My Resolutions blog post at the end of 2018 listed a number of aims for the year - some of which I completed, some I started and some will have to go on the To Do List for 2020.

In 2018 I undertook the #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge but left undone topics for eight weeks in the middle of the year as we were overseas. I did write those posts in 2019 so that is one tick.

I also wrote that I was going to concentrate on organising my collection starting with purchasing new storage boxes from Archival Survival. Ten boxes have been assembled and await my attention near my desk. This is a definite project for the new year combined with plans for reorganising the computer room now that the cot that has been in the room for nine years is no longer required for grandchildren. There will also be more space when boxes of toys are stored in another room. The plan is to have new shelves to hold my boxes, books relating to my family history plus folders. Having the material in one place should make finding material more efficient, especially as this would be the perfect excuse to sort items properly.

One aim was to write posts about musicians in the family and I wrote a two on that topic (although one was published on New Year's Eve 2018). I also wrote several posts on sport - one on the Stawell Gift which my father attended annually. Towards the end of the year, on two occasions, I repeated a talk that I first made three years previously about my father's involvement reporting on the Melbourne Olympic Games. Discussion at these talks resulted in the compilation of two more posts on this topic.

A number of history based television shows during the year provided background material on ancestors who lived many centuries ago. The SBS series, The Rise of the Clans, hosted by Neil Oliver had two episodes on Robert the Bruce and his family.  The End of Empire: the Rise and Fall of Dynasties on the History Channel was about the Saxon king, Edgar, who is credited with being the first King of All England. Another episode in this series was about Charlemagne - a topic for another occasion. The Family Legend prompt in the #52Ancestors challenge allowed for a post on  the branch of the family tree with the royal connections.

Events relating to 50 year anniversaries in our lifetime formed two more posts plus a post on significant trees in family gardens.

I have also read a number of books during the year, many of them relating to events in my family history.


In 2019 I took out an unlimited subscription to Future Learn online courses for a year and had a wonderful time exploring courses primarily relating to history and archaeology but also literature, health and even science. I also spent some time exploring the Italian language as two of my grandchildren learn Italian at school.

The University of Strathclyde ran three excellent online courses towards the end of the year 
Working lives in the Factories and Mills: Textile History and Heritage
Working Lives in the Coalmines: Mining History and Heritage
Working Lives on Britain's Railways: Railway History and Heritage. 
(With family who worked in the textile industry and in the railways, these will be very useful).

Lancaster University 
Lancaster Castle and Northern English history - more family connections. 
Humphry Davy (invention of the miners' lamp and other scientific discoveries).

University of Glasgow 
The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation. This course complemented The Rise of the Clans television series. 
Early Modern Scottish Paleography
The History of Royal Fashion (the last 500 years).

University of Edinburgh 
Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites
How to Read a Novel (a look at modern fiction)

British Film Institute 
The Living Picture Craze: an Introduction to Victorian Film

University of Aberdeen 
Walter Scott: the Man behind the Monument

Royal Holloway, University of London 
Beyond the Ballot (the campaign for women's right to vote in Britain).
Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the Nineteenth Century.

Trinity College, Dublin 
The History of the Book in the Early Modern period: 1450 to 1800. 
The Book of Kells.

University of Groningen 
The Scientific Revolution (how seventeenth century science shaped the modern world)

University of Exeter 
Empire (debate about the British Empire)

University of Newcastle (Australia)
 Great Southern Land: Introducing Australian History

National Maritime Museum 
Confronting Captain Cook - Memorialisation in Museums and Public Spaces

University of Reading 
Rome (exploring the ancient city using 3D models)
Archaeology (this was one of the first courses that I did some years ago)

Durham University 
Archaeology and the Battle of Dunbar 1650: From the Scottish Battlefield to the New World.  
Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology.

Griffith University 
Written in Bone: an Introduction to Forensic and Bioarchaeology. 
A Question of Time (what dating fossils can tell about evolution).
Music Psychology: Why does Bohemian Rhapsody feel so good?

Monash University - Food as Medicine

Other Future Learn history related courses that I have done in other years include:
Lancaster University
Radical Spirituality (new seventeenth century religions including Quakers)

University of Southampton
Agincourt 1415

Newcastle University (UK)
Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

University of Leicester
England in the Time of King Richard III

Monash University
World War I: A History in 100 Stories

UNSW Canberra
World War 1: Lessons and Legacy of the Great War

Trinity College, Dublin
Irish Lives in War and Revolution

Future Learn has courses on many topics so it is well worth exploring to see if there is anything of interest. If you just want to do a course and don't want access to the material after the conclusion of the course, there is no charge. This year I decided to pay the annual fee for additional access to the material, allowing me to refer to some of the topics as required.

Last year I was asked why I didn't join U3A. My reply was that I didn't need to as I have Future Learn

It has been an interesting year exploring a wide variety of topics, however this year my resolution is to concentrate on writing at least part of the family story for my family.