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1-084 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Broadside,un
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Ingleton, 1988
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1-084-plain.txt — 3 KB

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In the beginning of September 1797, a boat named the Cumberland, the largest and best in the colony belonging to government, was, on her passage to the Hawkesbury, whither she was carrying a few stores, taken possession of by a part of the boat's crew; being at the same time boarded by a small boat from the shore, the people in which seized and put off to sea, first landing the coxswain and three others, who were unwilling to accompany them, in Pitt Water in Broken Bay. Those men proceeded overland to Port Jackson, where they gave the first information of this daring and piratical transaction. Two boats, well manned and armed, were immediately dispatched after them, under the command of Lieutenant Shorthand of the Reliance.
One of these boats returned in a few days, without having seen any thing of them; but Lieutenant Shortland proceeded with the other, a whale boat, as far as Port Stephens, where he thought it probable they might have taken shelter; but on the 19th, having been absent thirteen days, he returned without discovering the smallest trace of them or the boat. His pursuit, however, had not been without its advantage; for on his return he entered a river which he named Hunter river, about ten leagues to the southward of Port Stephens, into which he carried three fathoms water, in the shoalest part of its entrance, finding deep water and good anchorage within.
The entrance of this river was but narrow, and covered by a high rocky Island, lying right off it, so as to leave a good passage round the north end of the island, between that and the shore. A reef connects the south part of the island with the south shore of the entrance of the river. In this harbour was found a very considerable quantity of coal of a very good sort, and lying so near the water side as to be conveniently shipped.
The month of October opened with a repetition of the vexatious circumstances that marked the opening of the preceeding month. In the night of the 2nd, a boat was taken from Parramatta by some people who got unobserved out of the harbour. The three men who were put on shore from the Cumberland at the time she was seized upon, from an unwillingness to accompany them, being in this party, it was supposed they were connected in some way with those who were in that boat, and whom they might know where to find. An armed boat from the Supply was immediately dispatched after them; but in three days returned, as unsuccessful as Lieutenant Shorthand had unfortunately been in his search.
From this circumstance there was reason to suppose they had stood off from the land; in which case, as the weather since their departure had been unusually bad, the wind blowing a gale from the southward, with much rain, and their boat being a very bad one, it was probable they had perished.
In these two boats 15 convicts had made their escape from the settlement; six of whom had been transported for life; six others were from Ireland, of whose term of transportation no account had been sent out; and of the remainder, one had to serve until the 23rd of May 1799, another until the 2nd of April 1801, and the third until the 15th of April 1804.
Whatever might be the fate of these people, the evil was of great extent; since all that could be known of them to their fellow prisoners was, that they had successfully effected their escape. Had Bryan and his party, who went off with one of the King's boats in the year 1791, instead of meeting with the compassion and lenity which were expressed in England for their sufferings, been sent back and tried in New South Wales, for taking away the boat, and other thefts which they had committed, it was probable that others might have been deterred from following their example.