Thursday, November 12, 2009

Discovery by Convicts

Conditions aboard a typical convict ship on its way to Australia.
Picture courtesy of Dulwich Hill Public School
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Many of us know about the convict ships that sailed from England to Australia beginning in the late 1700s to well into the 19th century.

Around 1780 the English came up with the expeditious idea to not only save money housing those convicted of petty crimes in expensive prisons, but to use their (free) labor to tame the Australian wilderness and develop the newly discovered continent for settlement! For decades, these "Undesirables", as they were known, were shipped by the hundreds under miserable conditions to ports in Australia and Tasmania, by the now well-known "Roaring Forties" trade route across the southern Indian Ocean. Most of the convicts were men, but about one in three of these ships carried women.

In 1799, The convict ship Lady Marie left Liverpool, England carrying 380 female prisoners on its manifest (no males), a crew of 42 as well as 82 soldiers-as-guards (all male). The supply ship Swallowtail carried a crew of 31 and enough supplies to begin a small settlement.

Next: Cecelia O'Hassett and Capt. Hayes