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author,male,Bigge, John Thomas,42 addressee
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Bigge, 1822
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Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry into the State of the Colony of New South Wales.
My Lord,
Before I proceed to lay before your Lordship a statement of the manner in which the Convicts are employed and managed in the settlements of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, I have thought it expedient to preface such a statement with a few observations upon the transportation and treatment of them during the passage, as it is now conducted; upon the manner in which their disembarkation is effected; and the general circumstances that attend their introduction to the scenes of their future servitude and punishment.
Condition und Treatment of Convicts during the passage to New South Wales.
The transportation of convicts, as far as it regards their health, appears to have undergone very considerable improvement since the mortality that occurred in the ships General Hewit, Surrey, and Three Bees, in the year 1814.
The investigation that took place at Sydney, at that period, into the conduct of the masters of those vessels, and the report made to Governor Macquarrie by Mr. Redfern the assistant-surgeon on the colonial establishment, have furnished to His Majesty's government ample and very accurate means of providing against the recurrence of similar calamities.
The recommendations that were made by Mr. Redfern, under the several heads of clothing, diet, air, and medical assistance, appear, in as far as they have been adopted, to have been amply justified, by the diminished mortality in the voyages performed by convict ships from England to New South Wales; and of those that have not yet been adopted, there appears only to be one that is of material importance.
It has been truly observed by this gentleman, that in the voyages that are commenced in the later periods of the European winters, or the commencement of spring, and which terminate with the same seasons in New South Wales and in Van Dieman's Land, or the latitudes in which the latter part of the voyages are most frequently made, the convicts are exposed to great and sudden vicissitudes of climate; the greatest and most prejudicial being found to be that which occurs in the first removal of the convicts from the hulks to the transports in cold seasons, and when dressed in much lighter clothing than that to which they have been previously accustomed. The change of climate, likewise, that occurs after passing the Cape of Good Hope, in the 40th degree of south latitude, from the months of May and June to the months of September and October, requires greater warmth of clothing than that which can be afforded by the present allowance; and by indisposing the convicts to be as much upon deck as before, is the cause of obstructing the ventilation of the prison.
As a remedy for this evil, Mr. Redfern has suggested, that for convicts who are exposed to it, there should be provided woollen, instead of duck trowsers, together with flannel drawers and waistcoats.
Upon this recommendation, I would observe, and to meet the objection that Mr. Redfern has anticipated of the greater danger of contagion, and of the want of cleanliness from the use of woollen, rather than of linen clothing, that cloth or woollen trowsers and shirts are constantly worn by sailors in warm climates, and that with a view to secure the principal objects of additional warmth and cleanliness, two pair of flannel drawers to each convict, to be worn with the duck trowsers, might be advantageously substituted for the additional woollen trowsers that he has proposed. [2] 
Food. It seems to be generally admitted, that the allowance of food provided by the present scheme of victualling, is amply sufficient during the voyage; and the only evil, against which it is necessary now to provide, is the abstraction of any portion of the quantity allowed, or the substitution, that is not unfrequently attempted, of the good provisions found by government, for those of inferior quality, with which the transport ships, either through the avarice of their owners, or the fraud of their agents, are sometimes supplied.
An important check upon this abuse has been afforded by that article of the instructions to the surgeon superintendent, by which he is directed to attend the opening of every cask of provisions, and to note it in his journal. It would appear, however, from the evidence of the principal superintendent of convicts, William Hutchinson, that complaints are most frequent from them, respecting the short issues of provisions during the voyage, and that the captains of the transport ships, on approaching the port of destination, are in the habit of making compromises with the convicts, in money, to the amount of the quantity kept back. This appears to have taken place on board the Daphne convict ship, and was considered by the magistrates, to whom the complaint of the convicts was referred, as sufficient ground for dismissing it.
The practice also observed by the captains of convict ships, and permitted by the commissariat officers, of receiving back, from the remains of provisions and stores delivered at Sydney, the allowance of eighths for issuing them, seems to have admitted great opportunity, as well as temptation, for a fraudulent abduction of the government provisions.
This practice has now been checked by a particular instruction from the Navy Board, by which the captains of transport ships are expressly prohibited from making or receiving such deduction; and the allowance of eighths is only made when they pass their accounts to the satisfaction of the Victualling Board in London. As a further check, however, upon any fraudulent change in the issue of provisions that may escape the attention of the surgeon superintendent, it will be found useful to establish a regulation, that one person from each of the messes, into which the convicts are distributed, should be required to attend in rotation at the delivery and weighing of the provisions. In some of the transports this duty has been confined to one and the same individual of the mess throughout the whole voyage; but as it is obvious that the chances of successful corruption or imposition are less when tried with many than with few, the daily change in the delegation of individuals from the mess is much to be preferred to the other mode, and is not found to be attended with any inconvenience.
The complaints, however, of the convicts are not entirely confined to a subtraction of the proper allowance of their provisions. It frequently happens that various articles of store, or of wearing apparel furnished by their friends on leaving England, are put on board the ships for the convicts, and according to the evidence of William Hutchinson, the superintendent, they have not been always punctually delivered; and in some cases they have been damaged, or their contents purloined and appropriated by the sailors.
The communication that necessarily takes place between the convicts and the sailors during the passage, and the disposition that is common to both to dissipate their resources for the sake of some temporary enjoyment, to indulge their passion for gambling, or excite it in others, will render the decision of their complaints very difficult to the magistrates at Sydney.
It is not desirable, generally, that the convicts should arrive in New South Wales with money or the means of procuring it; and it is still less desirable that their possession of it should be known, except to the surgeon superintendent, the captain and mate of the ship. But in order to prevent the feeling of disappointment or exasperation that the loss of their property must occasion, and to diminish the temptations to gamble for it during the voyage, it would be advisable that a list of all packages allowed to be put on board for the convicts should be made out and attested by the captain and mate of each vessel previous to sailing; that they should be kept in a separate and secure place during the passage; and that the captain and mate should be held responsible for their delivery on the arrival of the ship at Sydney. [3] This arrangement would doubtless exclude access to the packages during the voyage, and interfere perhaps with the object of sending them on board; but to this it is a sufficient answer, that the possession of property leads only to thefts, and consequently to augmented punishment; and that the encumbrance of packages in the prison deck, if left in the possession of the convicts themselves, would be a great obstruction to ventilation and cleanliness.
The instructions furnished by the Navy Board to the surgeon superintendent, do not specify the frequent admission of the convicts on deck, as an important means of preserving their health; but as the instructions furnished to the master require him to comply with the applications of the surgeon for that as well as other purposes beneficial to the convicts, it was, doubtless, intended to leave a discretion to be exercised by the surgeons, as well in regulating the frequency of their access to the deck, as to their numbers at one and the same time. The exercise of this discretion depends of course upon the state of the weather and the capacity of the deck, but it likewise depends upon the experience of the surgeon superintendent, and the degree of confidence that this experience may lead him to place in the character of the convicts. It accordingly happens, that those surgeons and masters to whom this particular service is new, will not allow more than one half of the prisoners to remain on deck at one time, and will not take off their irons till an advanced period of the voyage: others, on the contrary, allow as many of them as please to come upon deck, and encourage them to remain there as long as they do not interfere with the operations of the ship, and frequently take off their irons, or a part of them, in a fortnight after having England.
The advantages arising from allowing the convicts a free access to the deck, in giving effectual ventilation to the prisons, and in preserving their health, are justly and strongly, described by Mr. Redfern in his report to Governor Macquarrie; and these advantages, and the feelings that accompany the enjoyment of them, are so important in preserving discipline as well as health during the voyage, that they ought not to be risked from au unwarrantable distrust of the convicts, or from an apprehension of any combined attempt to obtain possession of the ship. As the release from the incumbrance of irons is always an indulgence to the convicts, so is the return to the use of them a salutary punishment that may supersede the necessity of having recourse to flogging.
The fear of combinations amongst the convicts to take the ship, is proved by experience of later years to be groundless; and it may be safely affirmed, that if the instructions of the Navy Board are carried into due effect by the surgeon superintendent and the master, and if the convicts obtain the full allowance of provisions made to them by government, as well as reasonable access to the deck, they possess neither fidelity to each other, nor courage sufficient to make any simultaneous effort that may not be disconcerted by timely information, and punished before an act of aggression is committed. A short acquaintance with the characters of the convicts, promises of recommendation to the governor on their arrival in New South Wales, and an ordinary degree of skill in the business of preventive police, will at all times afford means of procuring information; and with a view to afford those of more complete protection against any open violence during the day, when the convicts are on deck, it is expedient that the ships that are taken up for this service, should, if possible, be provided with poops, upon which the military guard may at all times be posted. They are thus more completely separated from the convicts in the hours of duty or of exercise; and they are sufficiently elevated above the deck to observe their motions, and if necessary, to control them.
Although, in time transportation of female convicts to New South Wales, the preservation of their health has been more easily and generally accomplished than that of the males, yet no scheme of superintendence has yet been devised by which their intercourse with the crew can be entirely prevented. From the evidence of Mr. Cordeaux, Mr. Gyles, and Mr. Walker, who were passengers on board the convict ship Friendship, prostitution appears to have prevailed in a great degree, and the captain and surgeon at last connived at excesses that they had not the means to resist, or any hope of suppressing. The account given by Mr. Cyles, of the proceedings of the voyage, differs very materially from the testimony of Mr. Cordeaux and Mr. Walker; and the accounts of all are still more pointedly contradicted by the evidence of the superintendent Hutchinson, who states that the female convicts from the ship Friendship declared, on their arrival at Port Jackson, that they were perfectly satisfied with the conduct of the captain, a declaration that is further confirmed by the result of Mr. Secretary Campbell's muster of them, at the conclusion of which it is stated "that no complaints were made." [4] The characters likewise given by Mr. Gyles of several of the female convicts, differ as materially from those that were given by the master and surgeon superintendent of the Friendship on their arrival at Port Jackson.
Mr. Gyles has asserted that no precautions were adopted by the captain or surgeon to prevent an improper intercourse between the crew and the convicts; and it certainly appears, by the evidence of Mr. Cordeaux, that the very simple and obvious one of depositing the keys of the prison in a place of security during the night, was not resorted to till after a complaint was made at St. Helena, by the surgeon, to Admiral Plampin. In consequence of this neglect, a very general intercourse took place between the crew and the female convicts; and after it had been once permitted, the captain and the surgeon, though not without a sense of the advantages that they expected to derive from a strict performance of their duty, had lost that authority over their subordinate officers, that might have enabled them to have enforced some restraint upon the crew; their attempts to restore it were ineffectual, and, in making them, they were opposed by the vicious inclinations of the women themselves.
The conduct of the captain has been censured by Mr. Gyles for inhumanity, especially in the infliction of punishment; but it does not appear that in any instance it exceeded the compulsory, but injudicious, use of a wooden collar. The want of cleanliness that has been stated by the same person, in his letter to Mr. Marsden, as the effect of negligence on the part of the captain and surgeon, is imputed by Mr. Cordeaux to the perverse dispositions of the women, and the reluctance of the captain to have recourse to force, by which alone he thinks their dispositions could have been controlled.
The circumstances that took place on board the female convict ship Janus, are detailed in the minutes of evidence that were taken by myself upon the investigation, ordered by Governor Macquarrie, of the complaint of two female convicts that had been assigned to Mr. Bayley. It is to be remarked, that the advanced state of pregnancy in which these women were found to be previous to the departure of the captain and mate of the ship from Port Jackson, occasioned their complaints to be preferred through Mr. Bayley, their master, to the governor, although, at the muster that took place on board the ship, no complaint of any kind is recorded by Mr. Secretary Campbell to have been made to him, nor was any complaint addressed to any other quarter. From the evidence, however, it appears, that all the evils that unrestrained intercourse between the crew of the ship, and a number of licentious women could produce, existed to their full extent in the voyage of the Janus from England, during the stay of the vessel at Rio dc Janeiro, and its arrival at New South Wales. The death of the surgeon superintendent, on the passage from Rio de Janeiro to Port Jackson, has necessarily deprived the inquiry of satisfactory proofs of the attempts made by him to check the profligacy of the officers and crew; but it appears that the attempts of the captain were neither sincere nor effectual. With the knowledge, indeed, that the sailors could not fail to obtain of his participation, as well as the mate's, in the same intercourse in which they had so freely indulged, it was not to be expected that their admonitions, if sincere, could have been effectual. The captain has denied that his intercourse with Mary Long was of an improper or immoral kind; but the testimony of the Rev. Mr. Conolly and Mr. Therry both agree in the frequency and long duration of the visits of this woman to the captain's cabin; and it is also to be observed, that he has not denied the allegation made by her upon oath, of his being the father of the child with which she was pregnant when the inquiry took place.
Of the degree of resistance that may be expected to be made, to all attempts to impose restraint upon the crews of female convict ships, during their passage from England to New South Wales, the journal of Dr. Reed, surgeon superintendent of the ship Morley, may afford some means of forming a judgment. All the influence both in the captain, surgeon and passengers, that could be derived from good example, and all the advantages of a most patient and courageous resistance to the vicious inclinations of the crew, were not sufficient to prevent them from obtaining access to some of the women who had yielded to their persuasions. [5] It is necessary however to observe, that in the fitting of female convict ships for transportation, a greater degree of attention seems to have been paid to the comfort of the prisoners, than is consistent with the prevention of intercourse between them and the sailors. There seems to be no reason for not giving the same degree of strength to the stauncheons that surround the fore and after hatchways, that has been found so effectual in those of male convict ships; and with this precaution, there is less to be apprehended from the destruction or temporary removal of the wooden gratings that cover the hatchway, or the padlocks by which they are fastened. The most assailable points of the prison are the two small fore-hatchways that give light and air to the hospital; and here it is necessary that the iron gratings should be of the strongest description, for the descent from them to the hospital is easy, and the attempts to break through them are, in a great measure, removed, from the observation of the officers of the deck.
The apartment for the free women and children should always be placed between the sailors birth and the prison, and the partition should be made of exactly the same thickness and strength as that which separates the same apartments in the male convict ships.
In taking a review of the circumstances that have attended the transportation of male and female convicts from England and Ireland to New South Wales, and the gradual improvement that has taken place in the system during the last six years, it appears certain that the voyage may be performed. with perfect security to the health and persons of the convicts. For attaining these objects nothing more seems necessary than a strict adherence to the instructions issued by the Navy Board to the surgeons superintendent, at the commencement and during the progress of the voyage, and a determination manifested by the proper authorities in New South Wales to listen to and investigate any complaints that may be made known to them on its termination.
The course that has been adopted by Governor Macquarrie, certainly affords opportunities for the convicts to make complaints; but from the evidence of the superintendent Hutchinson, they are in many cases not effectual: and it appears, that if the captain of a transport succeeds in making a pecuniary compromise with the convicts previous to their arrival in port, and in silencing them at the muster, the conduct of the master is altogether withdrawn from judicial investigation, and does not come to the knowledge of that authority in England that alone has the power of punishing him, by witholding or making a deduction from the promised gratuity, or by mulcting the owners of the vessel in a portion of the freight.
The doctrine that has been held by the magistrates in Sydney upon this subject, can only apply to the complaints of the convicts before them ; but it is clear, that the pecuniary satisfaction paid to them for a subduction of time proper quantity of food by the captain, constitutes no satisfaction to the government, whose instructions he has violated, and who also, in ignorance of that violation, may award remuneration instead of punishment. In the detection of attempts to diminish the quantity of food allowed by government to the convicts on the passage, the authorities in New South Wales cannot exercise too much vigilance. An important control may, however, be beneficially exercised in England, by the agents of the Navy Board, in seeing, as well as certifying, that the several articles that are covenanted to be found by the owners of the transports, are actually on board before the ships leave their port. To no article of this description does the observation apply so materially as to the quantity of water; for its scarcity or its bad quality (especially when taken in, when the tide is high, in the river Thames,) furnishes the most specious pretext for stopping at Rio de Janeiro; and as the consumption of water on board the female convict ships is greater, generally, than in the male, and more essential to the preservation of their health, a larger supply than that of 120 gallons to each person, should be laid in, even if the supply of animal food should be diminished.
The supplies of medicine that are sent for the use of the convict ships, seem to comprise every article of use, or of comfort, that can be found necessary; but from the great accumulation of lime-juice and bark that has taken place in the Sydney hospital, it would appear that larger quantities of these medicines are supplied than the experience of several years seems to require; and that, on the other hand, it would be advisable to increase the quantities of every species of purgative medicine, this alteration embracing equally the demand that exists during the voyage, and in the hospitals in New South Wales. [6] 
The accommodation now afforded to convicts in the prisons of the transport ships, by allotting eighteen inches to each convict in every sleeping birth, is quite sufficient; and the only improvement that seems to be required in the fitting of these vessels, is one that would contribute to enforce discipline, by affording a Separation of the well conducted convicts from the refractory and turbulent. It would, however, effect a change in the present construction of the hospitals, that seems to have been adopted upon some consideration of the advantages and disadvantages attending their position in the fore or after part of the vessel, and which, although condemned by very many of the surgeons appointed to this service, has certainly been confirmed by a successful experience of four years.
The fore part of the ship that is now devoted to the hospital would indisputably form the best situation for a separate place of confinement for offenders, as all the inconveniences arising from bad or suspended ventilation, increased motion, leakage and opening of the sides of the vessel in bad weather, are necessarily felt there, in a greater degree than in the other parts of the ship. These reasons equally concur in rendering the same place unfit for an hospital. It is asserted, however, that the introduction of the hospital into the after parts of the ship, whereby it would be placed next to the crew and guard, might augment the dangers of infection to them ; and that the men, whose lives are the least valuable, ought to incur the greater risk. It is further alleged, that any arrangement by which the personal inspection of the surgeons is frequently directed to the whole of the prison (which must be the case if they have to traverse it, on their visits to the hospital,) ought not to be exchanged for another and more commodious position of that apartment, unless the advantages of such a change are clear and decisive. The advantages on one side consist of a greater degree of comfort and better ventilation to the hospital patients, with the means of providing in separate place of confinement for the refractory and ill disposed, in a portion of the space at present occupied by the hospital ; and on the other, a more constant inspection of the prison by the surgeons superintendent, economy of space in the ship, the appropriation of the best and most airy part of it to the separate use of the juvenile convicts; and that immediate control over the others that is now afforded to the military guard, which would be lost, if the hospital were interposed between their apartment and the prison.
In making the present arrangement it does not appear that any medical authority was consulted; and if the danger of infection formed one of the reasons for making it, it may well be doubted whether that danger is not augmented by confining it to that part of the ship where there must always be the least degree of ventilation and the greatest degree of damp. As a strict examination of the convicts, both male and female, by the surgeon superintendent, before admission into the ship, and a determined rejection of any that are infected with contagious disorders, has, during the last few years, prevented the introduction of them into convict ships, their occurrence during the voyage has been very rare; but in case such a calamity should occur, the present situation of the hospitals would not only render the cure of such diseases more difficult, but must necessarily expose a greater number of persons to their influence than if they were placed in the after part of the ship between the apartment of the sailors and the guard and the prison. The control of the guard over the prison would certainly be removed; but until some medical authority has sanctioned the present situation of the hospital, it would appear, that the object of security from any sudden violence of the convicts, has been preferred to that of security from the contagion of disease.
The present plan of fitting the convict ships, does not admit of any classification of the prisoners beyond that of appointing the best conducted to the situation of wardsmen; nor can any plan be devised, that will not, in a greater or less degree, impede ventilation. The separation of the boys from the men has sometimes been attended with this consequence; and although the introduction of schools, during the voyage, should by all means be encouraged, it appears doubtful whether greater mischiefs did not arise from placing the boys by themselves during the night, than by distributing them in small numbers amongst the other convicts: a separate birth should continue to be provided for facilitating the means of their instruction during the day, and all the arrangements for separating them at night should be left to the discretion of the surgeon superintendent.
The space that is allotted for the seamen and military guard, being scarcely adequate to their accommodation for so long a voyage, it is of importance that no addition should be made to the number of passengers for which the arrangements are first calculated. [7] Instances have occurred, in which free passengers, and wives of soldiers of the guard, have been permitted to embark after the convicts, and much inconvenience and a great deal of ill-will has been created by the difficulty of providing for their accommodation. This observation applies more particularly to the female convict ships, in which & great number of free women and their children are always allowed to embark; but more especially those that touch at Cork to complete their number; and it has moreover been observed, that the admixture of Irish female convicts with the English, and the delay that is consequent to their reception at Cork, while it prolongs the voyage, interrupts a course of discipline which, when once established, it is material to maintain, and which is found to be much checked by any delay of the ship in a foreign harbour.
The exercise of authority over the convicts during the passage, and the doubts that have arisen respecting its nature, are points that require some consideration.
The several acts of parliament that regulate the transportation of offenders to places beyond the seas, have in most cases adopted the provisions of the 4th Geo. 1. c. 11, by which a property in the services of the convicts is assigned to the person who contracts to transport them. The security of the contractor, and the interest that he feels in safely conveying the convicts to their place of destination, and in discharging the obligations of his bond, naturally pointed out him or his agent as the persons in whom the chief control over them was to be vested. By the charter party the owner covenants that the captain of this convict ship shall obey all orders that he may receive from the Commissioners of the Navy, and that he shall attend to all such requisitions as may be made by the surgeon superintendent, to admit the convicts upon deck, and to promote cleanliness und ventilation, "as much as possible consistent with safety." By the instructions of the Navy Board likewise, with which every master of a convict ship is furnished, he is directed to comply with such regulations as the surgeon superintendent may think necessary, respecting the management of the convicts, and their treatment while on board.
The apparent contradiction that arises from giving a property in the services of the convicts, and the custody of their persons to the master of the ship, while his orders as well as the covenants entered into by the owner of the vessel, enjoin him to comply with the directions of the surgeon superintendent, has given rise to frequent altercations between them during time voyage; the surgeon superintendent contending, that the master is bound to comply with all directions that he may give him touching the management of the convicts, and under all circumstances that do not affect the safety of the ship.
This qualification has likewise been construed by some to be limited only to the safe navigation of the vessel, and not to comprise the possible case of a mutiny amongst the convicts. The masters, on the other hand, maintain that they have a greater share of authority over the convicts, and that the personal interest they have at stake in safely conveying them, as well as from the interest of their owners in the vessel, they are fitter judges of all circumstances that may affect their security.
The two points in which such a collision of authority have most frequently occurred, are the admission of the convicts to the deck, and the taking off their irons, at an early period after leaving England; both, it has been observed, of considerable importance to the maintenance of their health and discipline.
It is the interest of the surgeon superintendent to deliver the number intrusted to him in a good state of health; it is the interest of the master to deliver them only in safety; and the heavy penalty into which he enters, for the punctual fulfilment of this part of his duty, must naturally outweigh the contingent value of the remuneration that is promised for his general good conduct and humane treatment, or the consideration of prejudice or loss that an opposite line of conduct may occasion to his owners.
It is the opinion of Mr. Judge Advocate Wylde, that to remedy these doubts, and the discussions that take place between the masters and the surgeons superintendent of convict ships, the authority of the surgeon should be more defined, and that to him should also be given the property in their services, and the safe custody of their persons. [8] 
It would, however, be too great a risk for the government to separate the responsibility for the custody and delivery of the persons of the convicts from the individual in command of the ship, or from those who hold a property in it. While that responsibility remains with the captain, it is difficult to take away from him all discretion whatever in support of it. The surgeon superintendent has the power of entering upon his journal the refusal of the captain to comply with his request, and of causing an investigation of this refusal to be made on the arrival of the ship in New South Wales; and the faithful and fearless exercise of this power by time surgeon, forms the only security for a compliance with his requests that the nature of the service will admit.
The necessity of resorting to corporal punishment of the convicts during the passage, and the assumption of authority for this purpose by the surgeon in some cases, and in others by the master, have likewise furnished ground for disputes between them. The power of inflicting it is not at present given to either by any law or instruction; and those who have had recourse to it, have been content to rest their justification upon the circumstances of each particular case.
Complaints of undue severity of corporal punishment during the passage have been very rare of late; and as a resort to it on some occasions is necessary, where the use of handcuffs and double irons are found to be ineffectual, it appears that some legislative sanction should be given to the infliction of moderate corporal punishment, and that the power of ordering it should be vested in the surgeon superintendent, rather than in the captain of the transport. To the same officer should likewise be confided all discretion in the application of the military force; and to prevent misunderstandings to which the want of instructions on this head have given rise, the officer commanding it should be ordered to comply with such requisitions for assistance as the surgeon superintendent may think necessary. The want of authority to inflict punishment on the soldiers of the guard. in case of repeated drunkenness or misconduct, has been felt on several occasions ; and as the detachments that are sent on this duty generally consist of young recruits, it is expedient that all temptation to excess should be as much as possible avoided or diminished. With this view, the regulation that prevails in the issue of spirits to troops on service, of diluting them with a proportion of two-thirds of water, should be strictly enjoined, except on the occurrence of any cold or wet weather.
Considering the difficulties that always attend the adjustment of authority on board vessels employed in the transport of troops as well as of convicts, it does not appear to be expedient or practicable to vary the measure or the principle upon which the Present distribution of it proceeds, further than by giving a power, of ordering moderate punishment, to the surgeon superintendent, and impressing upon the minds of the captains of transports, the penal consequences, to themselves and their owners, of an unwarrantable Opposition to the surgeon's requests.
A subject of no less difficulty occurs in providing means of employment to the male convicts; and it does not appear that any have been recommended that would not in a great degree endanger the safety of the vessel, or interfere with the space required for stores and provisions.
The establishment of schools under the authority of the surgeon, and especially amongst the boys, has always been attended with good effects; and although there has been no want experienced latterly in the supply of religious books, and of bibles and testaments, yet it does not appear that they are accompanied by any of the common elementary school books; a supply of both should be sent to the surgeon for distribution, and use on the voyage; and he should be instructed to deliver them to one of the resident chaplains at Sydney, and held to produce his receipt for them.
The employment of the convicts in such parts of the navigation of the vessels as are not performed aloft, may safely and advantageously be resorted to. They are generally willing to take part in it, and the mechanics find it their interest to make themselves useful in return for occasional indulgences of food, and freer admission to the deck. The greater proportion, however, during the passage, are sunk in indolence, to which the ordinary duties of washing and cleansing the prisons, though highly salutary in themselves, and performed with great regularity, afford but slight interruption.
The practices of thieving from each other, quarrelling and gambling for their allowances of wine and lime-juice, are the common offences that occur during the voyage; and they are most easily restrained and punished, by depriving the convicts of money and keeping it in deposit for them; and by strictly observing that the allowance of wine and lime-juice is taken by every convict in the presence of an officer, at the place of distribution. [9] The issue of these two articles is rightly left to the discretion of the surgeon superintendent; and a temporary deduction of the allowance of wine is not unfrequently resorted to as a salutary punishment, and is rendered more effectual, by obliging the offending individuals to attend and administer the allowance they have forfeited to those who conduct themselves well.
It is generally observed, that the convicts from London are found to be more seriously affected by scurvy, debility and pneumonic diseases than those of more robust habits, and who have been accustomed to agricultural pursuits; and it is equally observable, that the moral habits of the first of these classes of convicts are more depraved, and that they are consequently less easily controlled than those from the country.
The convicts embarked in Ireland generally arrive in New South Wales in a very healthy state; and are found to be more obedient and more sensible of kind treatment during the passage than any other class. Their Separation from their native country is observed to make a stronger impression upon their minds, both on their departure and during the voyage; and the ignorance in which most of them are respecting their future fate, tends to preserve those salutary impressions until its termination.
The aged and the infirm convicts frequently suffer so much from debility and the use of salt provisions, that the surgeons find it necessary to support them with a constant diet of preserved meat and other medical comforts; and unless such convicts have received sentences of transportation for life, it seems to be a great aggravation of their bodily sufferings, as well as great augmentation of expense, to send them to New South Wales for any shorter periods.
Mental suffering forms but a small part of the punishment of the voyage. Instances have occurred in which it has both produced disease and aggravated it; and this has unfortunately occurred in cases where it would have been more desirable to have diminished punishment than to have augmented it. The pressure of the voyage, where it is felt at all, weighs most heavily upon those feelings that are most respectable, and which are perhaps the last that the worst men lose. Such instances are rare, and as the voyage is now conducted, it produces no greater degree of bodily inconvenience to ordinary men than many are exposed to who are not in a state of punishment, and certainly it is not found to be productive of injury to their constitutions. The uninterrupted association, however, amongst the convicts, to which it gives rise, and the habitual indolence that it encourages, are strong reasons for abridging its continuance.
The experience of many years has now established the safety, as well as ease, with which the voyage to New South Wales may be performed. No ships have arrived in a disabled state in consequence of disasters at sea, and none have occurred in that part of the voyage where they are most to be apprehended, viz. in Bass's Straits. The principal causes of delay Have arisen in cases where ships Have attempted to keep too near the West coast of Africa before they have passed the Equator, or when they have arrived on the western coast of New South Wales in the months of December, January and February. In the first of these events they have generally repaired to the Island of St. Helena for a fresh supply of water; and in the latter, some inconvenience has been sustained from its exhaustion, and from the delay in making a passage through Bass's Straits against easterly winds, or in rounding the south-west cape of Van Dieman's Land.
With a view to meet these difficulties, an accurate calculation of the supply of water should be made soon after passing the Equator, as it is during that period of the voyage that the consumption is the greatest, and that disease most generally begins to show itself.
It is from a consideration of both these circumstances, that the expediency of resorting to Rio de Janeiro, or to the Cape of Good Hope, or the possibility of making the voyage direct, should be regulated; and the supply of water should be required to be stated on the log-book of the captain, and the journal of the surgeon, as the principal justification of stopping at either of these ports. The detentions at Rio de Janeiro, and the difficulties experienced in obtaining water there, together with the introduction of spirits among the convicts, are evils of serious importance. [10] 
The attention of the captain and surgeon, instead of being devoted to the care of the ship and convicts, is much interrupted by commercial speculations of their own. The convicts, for the sake of security, are ordered to resume their irons; and it may well be doubted whether these circumstances, combined with the effect of a very warm temperature, do not counterbalance the advantages of a temporary change in their diet, and a more abundant supply of water.
The Cape of Good Hope is a better place of resort for convict ships, except in the three winter months of June, July and August; and it may be remarked, that the detention of vessels at that place has not been so protracted as at Rio de Janeiro.
Circumstances may arise in the passage from England to the Line, and so much delay, and consequently such an exhaustion of the stock of water may take place, that a resort to one or other of those places may become unavoidable; but the captains and surgeons superintendent should be enjoined to make time voyage direct if possible, and should be held to give a very clear proof of the necessity of any deviation.
A reference to a return of voyages performed by different convict ships from England and Ireland to New South Wales, from the year 1810 to the end of the year 1820, with which I was favoured by the Commissioners of the Navy Board, and the abstract that I have since made from it, will show the comparative advantages attending the three different courses. The average length of 44 direct voyages, made during the above periods, is found to be 27 days. The number of convicts so conveyed was 7,657, and out of these, 71 died on the passage, and 97 were landed sick. The average length of 38 voyages, touching at Rio de Janeiro in the passage, is found to be 156 days; and out of 6,470 convicts conveyed, 132 died, and 123 were landed sick. The average length of 11 voyages, and touching at the Cape of Good Hope, is found to be 146 days; and out of 1,912 convicts conveyed, nine died on the passage, and 57 were landed sick.
The advantages, therefore, of the direct passage from England to New South Wales are very apparent, both in the point of economy of the lives, as well as the subsistence of the convicts.
The temptations to the masters, and to the surgeons superintendent to touch at Rio de Janeiro, and to purchase sugar and tobacco there, have at all times been great. The profits upon the sale of these adventures in New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, will always tempt them to create pretexts for the circuitous passages, as long as it is understood that they will be allowed to land their goods on their arrival.
The circumstances under which that permission has been given and continued, will more properly be discussed when the subject of the trade of New South Wales is considered. I will at present only remark, that a great temptation to a violation of the rules prescribed to them by the Navy Board, has been held out to such of the surgeons superintendent as were proceeding to New South Wales on appointments from England, by a practice that has long prevailed in the colony of allowing such persons the liberty of importing both spirits and tobacco free of duty. The last instance in which it occurred, was that of Dr. Bromley, surgeon of the female convict ship Wellington; who, it appears, was allowed to land 150 gallons of spirits, one hogshead and six dozen bottles of wine, and 10 baskets of tobacco at Port Jackson. Dr. Bromley likewise availed himself of the very unusual and protracted stay of the ship Wellington at Rio de Janeiro, to put on board several articles that he conceived would be useful to him in the colony, limiting their extent only to the tonnage that had been allowed to him in England.
The transportation of female convicts to New South Wales, is a subject that presents more difficulty than any that occurs in the subjects now under consideration.
In consequence of the freer admission to the deck that is allowed to the female convicts during the passage, their health is rarely affected by the same causes that are prejudicial to that of the male convicts; and the proportionate loss occasioned during a period of ten years, appears to be considerably less.
The allowance of provisions and medical comforts to the female convicts, is ample; and it appears that change of climate and regularity of diet have operated very favourably on the constitutions of many that had been debilitated by previous habits of licentiousness and vice. [11] 
The same complaints respecting the conduct of the masters of the transports, in withholding the due allowance of provisions, are found to occur amongst the female convicts as amongst the males, and the same compromises of that offence take place on their approach to the port of destination.
The moral effects of separation from their native country are less sensibly felt by the female convicts; and when the first sensations of the sea voyage are subdued, their minds are more elevated by the prospects before them, than depressed by the recollection of those they have just quitted.
It has been found, that the establishment of schools, and the continuance, as far as circumstances will permit, of that salutary system of instruction and discipline that has been introduced into the female wards of Newgate, has tended materially to preserve good order and decent conduct. The want of means of employment for the women, is one of the great difficulties with which the most zealous promoters of this system have had to contend. Of the means that have yet been devised, those are obviously the best that are the most simple, and that are likely to afford a regulated profit at the end, rather than in the middle of the voyage. Of these, the most practicable appear to me to be the employment of weaving and making straw hats for the use of the male convicts in New South Wales; and that of making up the striped linen shirts that are issued to them there, as part of their allowance of clothing. A portion of the profits of their labour might be allowed to be received on landing, and the remainder might be held in deposit, and liable to be forfeited by misconduct.
All employments that have a tendency to encourage a passion for dress should be studiously avoided; and the female convicts should be compelled to consider, that the dress that is provided by the government is that which is most suitable to their condition: nothing, indeed, can be more unsuitable to it than the appearance that they have been allowed to make on their arrival in New South Wales, and nothing that ought to be more speedily checked, whenever a proper place of reception is completed, for those who are not assigned to individuals on their first arrival.
For the superintendence of the labour of the female convicts during the voyage, it would be very desirable to employ one of the numerous free women that are allowed to take their passage in the female convict ships. The selection of one female convict for the superintendence of all the rest, produces jealousy of her power without obedience to it; whereas a delegation of a small portion of authority to a married female of good character, who has opportunities that the surgeon cannot, and personally ought not to have, of watching and detecting misconduct both during the night and day, will enable him to punish with more certainty and effect, and to avoid that suspicion of guilty connivance, which, if once established amongst the convicts or crew, becomes a prelude and pretext for their disorders. The performance of this duty on board a female convict ship, must be subject to the direction and authority of the surgeon, who should also have the power of recommending a remuneration to be given by the governor of New South Wales, regulated by the merits of the individual, and not exceeding ten pounds.
The instructions issued by the Navy Board to the surgeons superintendent and the masters of female convict ships, impose strict injunctions upon them to afford good example to their officers and crew, and to use their utmost endeavours to prevent improper intercourse between them and the female convicts. The repeated instances in which these injunctions have been violated, prove the difficulty, and, perhaps, the impossibility of entirely preventing it; and the best security against that violation is to be found in the characters of the surgeons and masters to whom this difficult task is assigned.
The instance of the ship Morley, commanded by Captain Brown, and superintended by Dr. Reed, and the occurrences that took place upon the voyage, together with the behaviour and appearance of the females upon their arrival in New South Wales, strongly attest the benefits that are derivable from good example, employment and attention to religious duties during the voyage. That these advantages were neither wholly attained, nor permanent in this instance, are facts that take away nothing from the merit or the importance of the service: under other circumstances, its value to the colony of New South Wales is capable of being realized, and at the present moment is well worth estimating, either in comparison with every instance that preceded it, or is a proof of what is practicable for the future. The difficulty that is most embarrassing, arises from the want of means of punishing the women and the sailors during the voyage, for the improper intercourse that takes place between them. [12] 
The confinement of the women to the prison-deck is not an effectual punishment, and it frequently causes a greater degree of annoyance to the well-conducted prisoners than to the parties themselves. Deprivation of the ordinary comforts, the use of a wooden collar and shaving the head, are the only practicable punishments that can be resorted to, and they are in some degree effectual, though their operation is unequal, and depends upon the character and the greater or less degree of sensibility to shame in the party that suffers them.
The use of violent and indecent language is one of the worst consequences of the intercourse between the women and the crew, and the efforts made to correct it by the master and the officers of the ship, only lead to fresh insults and to greater provocation. The punishment and correction of the women, therefore, should be left, as much as possible, to the direction of the surgeon superintendent. The punishment of the crew for holding improper intercourse with them, in the voyages from England to New South Wales, is, according to the present state of the law, not provided for; and as no master of a ship, however well disposed, will incur the risk of a mutiny of his crew for the sole purpose of preventing it, or the great degree of personal responsibility that would accrue from the infliction even of a moderate degree of corporal punishment, it would be advisable that the provisions of 37 Geo. III. c. 73, which at present are confined to ships trading to His Majesty's colonies and plantations in the West Indies, should be extended to those employed in conveying male and female convicts to New South Wales.
The punishment provided by that act, consists of a forfeiture of the wages and property of any seaman guilty of disobedience of such lawful commands as the master may think necessary to issue, for the effectual government of the vessel, and for suppressing vice and immorality of all kinds.
To give the master a power of inflicting corporal punishment for such an offence, would be dangerous; but as the forfeiture of wages may afford some check, though not an effectual one, over the licentious conduct of the sailors, it would be expedient to give it; and the power of awarding the forfeiture should be given to two or more magistrates of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, subject to an appeal to the Vice-admiralty court at Sydney.
A great improvement has undoubtedly arisen in the transportation of convicts, from the appointment of naval surgeons to the superintendence of the ships taken up for this service. Much attention has been paid by them to the instructions of the Navy Board, that enjoin an attention to the performance of religious duties; and their efforts in preserving health have been no less conspicuous and successful. In promoting these, it does not often happen that they meet with direct opposition from the masters of convict ships; but as there are points in their conduct, respecting which no other individual than the surgeon can be expected to hold a control, or afford information, it is of 110 small importance to make the surgeons as independent as possible of the favour of the master and the bounty of the owners.
During the continuance of peace, it is not likely that any difficulty will be experienced in obtaining the services of the naval surgeons, in the transportation of convicts; but as the knowledge that they acquire by one voyage in the management of the convicts, gives them a confidence that is eminently advantageous on the second, it seems desirable, that such as return to England, with as much expedition as possible, and bring certificates of their good conduct, should have the preference of a second appointment. This arrangement, when established, will have the twofold advantage of stimulating them to a faithful performance of their duty, and of detaching them from those considerations of personal advantage, which they not unfrequently have sought, by stipulating with the owners for a continuance of their medical services in the ships that proceed from New South Wales to India. This stipulation is also very generally connected with that of extending them to the officers and crew of the convict ships in the passage from England, in return for a table allowance found either by the captain or the owners; and an instance occurred lately, in which a surgeon of a convict ship recovered from the captain, in an action brought in the Supreme court of New South Wales, the estimated amount of medical advice and services performed by him for the captain and the crew, during this period. [13] It does not appear very clearly from the printed instructions of the Navy Board that are given to the surgeons, whether the medical attendance of the ship's officers and crew is included in the duty to which they are appointed; and as it is of importance to remove from the minds of the surgeons all expectation of reward from any other quarter than that from whence they derive their appointment, in the first instance, or may hereafter hope to receive another, it is expedient that all further doubt upon this point should be removed. On the other hand, it is only reasonable, that the surgeons should receive the full amount of the sum that they have to pay for their passage from New South Wales to England, which cannot be estimated at less than 95l. when it is made direct, as well as an allowance for lodging money during their residence in Sydney. The augmentation of expense occasioned by these allowances will be amply compensated by the inducement, that they will hold out to men of respectability to engage, and to continue in the service; and it will leave no excuse for want of vigilance in observing, and of fidelity in exposing the corrupt application of the liberal provision that is made by government for the use of the convicts.

Debarkation and Muster of the Convicts, Male and Female.
The interval that elapses between the arrival of a convict ship in New South Wales, and the debarkation of the convicts, is one that affords the fullest exercise for their ingenuity in the arts of imposition and concealment, and also in devising the means of their future indulgence.
The selection of mechanics for the government works is so much dreaded, for the reasons that will be stated hereafter, necessary to award a punishment to all those who should be their trades.
The vigilance of the chief engineer at Sydney is particularly directed to this object; and if he fails in accomplishing it, when the convicts are yet on board, the superintendent Hutchinson is not slow in acquiring information, by which the concealed mechanic is taken from the employment of the individual who may have secured him, and is made to join one of the government gangs.
It will likewise happen, that from a hope of being employed in Sydney, several will declare themselves to be mechanics who have little or no knowledge of the trade they profess. Those who have brought money or goods with them, are actively employed in placing or selling them advantageously; in acquainting their friends with their arrival, or in soliciting those to whom they may be recommended, or those whom they can afford to pay, to apply for them as assigned servants.
The position that the convict ships take in the harbour, during the interval between arrival and debarkation, is not such as to insure a proper degree of vigilance in preventing communication with the shore; all are anchored and sometimes crowded in Sydney cove; whereas it would not be attended with any real inconvenience if they were made to anchor in front of Dawes's battery, where they would lie between the guns and the observation of that work and those of the new fort on Bennelong's Point, and would be compelled to remain there until the morning appointed for the debarkation. The sentries on board are ordered to prevent persons from visiting the ships without a permission of the naval officer; but this duty is feebly performed; and until the establishment of the police guard boat, there were no effectual means of preventing communication between the ships and the shore. Even at present, the government and other boats manned with convicts are frequently seen hovering round the convict ships; and the naval officer's boat, in which they are first visited, is manned by convict sailors, and steered by a coxswain, who is an emancipated convict.