An account of the English colony in New South Wales

An account of the English colony in New South Wales, 2nd edition (1804)
by David Collins
1047933An account of the English colony in New South Wales, 2nd edition1804David Collins

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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Engraved by A. Cardon from a Miniature by T. T. Barber

David Collins Esqr

Published March 10th 1804 by Cadell and Davies Strand.

AUGUST 1801:





By Lieutenant-Colonel COLLINS, of the Royal Marines;



“Many might be saved, who now suffer an ignominious and an early death; and many might be so much purified in the furnace of punishment and adversity, as to become the ornaments of that society of which they had formerly been the bane. The vices of mankind must frequently require the severity of justice; but a wise State will direct that severity to the greatest moral and political good.”


Printed by A. Strahan, Printers Street,


CHAP. Page
I. Transports hired to carry convicts to Botany Bay.—The Sirius and Supply commissioned.—Preparations for sailing.—Numbers embarked.—Fleet sails.—Regulations on board the transports.—Arrival of the Fleet at Teneriffe.—Some particulars respecting the town of Santa Cruz.—The fleet leaves Teneriffe, and puts to sea.—Arrive at the Brazils.—Transactions at Rio de Janeiro.—Passage to the Cape of Good Hope.—Depart for New South Wales.—Captain Phillip sails onward in the Supply.—January 1788.—The South Cape of New Holland made.—The Sirius and her convoy anchor in the harbour of Botany Bay.—The Governor proceeds to Port Jackson, where it is determined to fix the settlement.—Two French ships under M. De La Perouse arrive at Botany Bay.—The Sirius and convoy arrive at Port Jackson.—Commission and Letters Patent read.—Account of the different courts.—The Supply sent to Norfolk Island.—Transactions.—Natives.—Weather. 1
II. Broken Bay visited.—M. De La Perouse sails.—Transactions.—The Supply returns.—Lord Howe Island discovered.—Some convicts wounded by the natives.—Scurvy.—Excursions into the country.—Return of Stock in the colony in May.—A convict wounded.—Some rush-cutters killed by the natives.—Governor’s excursion.—Behaviour of the convicts.—Cattle lost.—Natives.—Earthquake.—Transports sail for England.—Supply sails for Norfolk Island.—Transactions.—Natives.—Convicts wounded.—Heavy rain.—Public works.—Sheep stolen.—Island discovered.—Fish.—Imposition on a convict.— Natives.—A convict murdered.—The Supply returns.—Settlement at Rose-hill.—Store-ships sail for England.—A native taken and brought up to the settlement.—Weather.—Climate.—Report of Deaths. 21
III. New Year’s Day—Her Majesty’s birth-day.—Convicts, how employed.—Their disposition to idleness and vice.—How occupied.—The Supply sails for Norfolk Island.—Public works.—Natives.—Convicts killed.—Stores robbed.—The Supply returns.—Insurrection projected at Norfolk Island.—Hurricane there.—Small-pox among the Natives.—Captain Hunter in the Sirius returns with supplies from the Cape of Good Hope.—Danger of wandering in the forests of an unknown country.—Convicts perform a play.—A reinforcement sent to Norfolk Island.—Governor Phillip makes an excursion of discovery. Transactions.—Hawkesbury River discovered.—Important papers left behind in England. 45
IV. Intelligence from Norfolk Island.—Police established at the principal settlement.—A successful haul of fish.—Provisions begin to sail.—Natives.—A launch completed.—Rats.—Ration reduced to two-thirds.—The Sirius returns to the Cove.—One of her mates lost in the woods.—the Supply sails for Norfolk Island.—A female convict executed.—Two natives taken.—Lieutenant Dawes's excursion.—The Supply returns.—Transactions. 66
V. The Supply sails again for Norfolk Island.—A pleasing delusion.—Extraordinary draught of fish.—The Supply returns from Norfolk Island.—A large number of settlers sent thither on board the Sirius and Supply.—Heavy rains.—Scarcity of provisions increasing to an alarming degree.—News brought of the loss of the Sirius.—Allowance of provisions still lower reduced.—The Supply sent to Batavia for relief.—Robberies frequent and daring.—Rose Hill.—Salt, and fishing-lines made.—The natives escape.—Transactions. 78
VI. The Lady Juliana transport arrives from England.—The Guardian.—His Majesty’s birth-day.—Thanksgiving for his Majesty’s recovery.—The Justinian store-ship arrives.—Full ration ordered.—Three transports arrive.—Horrid state of the convicts on board.—Sick landed.—Instance of sagacity in a dog.—Mortality and number of sick.—A town marked out at Rose Hill.—Works in hand at Sydney.—Instructions respecting grants of land.—Boat upset and people drowned.—Convicts' claims on the master of the Neptune.— Transactions.—Whale.—Governor Phillip wounded by a native.—Intercourse opened with the natives.—Great haul of fish.—Convicts abscond with a boat.—Works.—Want of rain. 94
VII. Natives.—The Supply returns from Batavia.—Transactions there.—Criminal courts.—A boat with five people lost.—Public works.—A convict wounded by a native.—Armed parties sent out to avenge him.—A Dutch vessel arrives with supplies from Batavia.—Decrease by sickness and casualties in 1790.—A native killed.—Signal colours stolen.—The Supply sails for Norfolk Island.—Public works.—Terms offered for the hire of the Dutch snow to England.—The Supply returns with Captain Hunter from Norfolk Island.—Transactions.—The Supply sails again for Norfolk Island, and the Waaksamheyd for England.—William Bryant and other convicts escape.—Ration reduced.—Orders respecting marriage.—Port regulations. 115
VIII. The Supply arrives from Norfolk Island.—A canoe destroyed;–its evil effects.—Corn sown.—Battery begun.—Ground inclosed for cattle.—The Mary Ann arrives.—Ration improved.—The Matilda arrives.—The Mary Ann sails for Norfolk Island.—Settlers.—The Atlantic and Salamander arrive.—Full ration issued.—The William and Ann arrives.—Natives.—Public works.—The Salamander sails for, and the Mary Ann arrives from, Norfolk Island.—The Gorgon arrives.—Commission of emancipation, and public seal.—The Active and Queen arrive.—Complaints against the master of the Queen.—The Albemarle arrives.—Mutiny on board.—Transactions.—Public works.—Irish convicts abscond.—Whale fishery.—Ration altered.—Supply sails for England.—Grounds in cultivation.—Sick.—Whale fishery given up.—Marines embark.—Ration reduced.—Convicts emancipated.—Deaths in 1791. 132
IX. The Queen sails for Norfolk Island.—Whalers on their fishing voyages.—Convicts missing.—Depredations.—Proclamation.—Convict executed.—The Pitt with Lieutenant-Governor Grose arrives.—Goods selling.—Sickness.—The Pitt sails.—Mr. Burton killed.—Stormy weather.—Public works.—Regulations respecting persons who had served their terms of transportation.—Natives.—Mortality in April.—Appearance and state of the convicts.—Ration again reduced.—Quantity of flour in Store.—Settlers.—State of transactions with the natives.—Public works.—Average prices of grain, &c. at Sydney and at Parramatta.—Mortality decreases.—King’s birth-day.—The Atlantic returns from Bengal.—Account received of Bryant and his Companions.—Ration still further reduced.—Quantity of provisions received from Calcutta.—The Britannia arrives from England.—Ration increased.—Convict emancipated.—Public works.—The Britannia cleared.—Survey of Provisions.—Intelligence from Norfolk Island. 158
X. A vessel from America arrives.—Part of her cargo purchased.—George Barrington and others emancipated.—The Royal Admiral sails.—Arrival of the Kitty transport.—1001l. received by her.—Hospital built at Parramatta.—Harvest begun at Toongabbe.—Ration increased.—State of the cultivation previous to the Governor’s departure.—Governor Phillip sails for England.—Regulations made by the Lieutenant-Governor.—The Hope, an American ship, arrives.—Her cargo purchased for the colony.—The Chesterfield whaler arrives.—Extreme heat and conflagration.—Deaths in 1792.—Regulations respecting divine service.—The Hope sails.—The Bellona arrives.—Cargo damaged.—Information.—Two women and a child drowned.—Ration.—Kangooroo ground opened.—Settlers.—Transactions.—The Shah Hormuzear arrives.—Sickness and death.—Two Spanish ships arrive. 186
XI. The Spanish ships sail.—The Chesterfield returns from Norfolk Island.—A contract entered into for bringing cattle from India.—The Dædalus arrives.—Cattle lost.—Discoveries by Captain Vancouver.—Two natives of New Zealand brought in.—Bengal ship sails.—Phœnomenon in the sky.—Lands cleared by officers.—Mutiny on board the Kitty.—His Majesty’s birth-day.—State of the provision stores.—The Britannia arrives.—Loss of cattle.—General account of cattle purchased, lost in the passage, and landed in New South Wales.—Natives.—The Dædalus sails for Nootka.—Temporary church founded.—Criminal Court.—Counterfeit dollars in circulation.—Two soldiers desert.—The Boddington arrives.—General Court Martial held.—The Britannia chartered for Bengal.—Irish convicts steal a boat.—The Sugar-Cane arrives.—Intended mutiny on board prevented.—Excursion to the westward. 206
XII. The Boddington and Sugar-Cane sail.—A mill erected.—Thefts committed.—Two persons killed by lightning.—The Fairy arrives.—Farms sold.—The Francis returns from New Zealand.—Ration altered.—Transactions.—Harvest begun.—Criminal Court held.—A convict executed.—Provisions.—Natives.—Convicts.—Grants of land.—Settlers.—Expences, how to be calculated.—Deaths in 1793.—Prices of grain, stock, and labour.—Murder committed.—Provisions.—Storm at Parramatta.—Crops.—A settlement fixed at the Hawkesbury.—Natives.—The Francis returns from Norfolk Island.—Information.—The New Zealand natives sent to their own country.—Disturbance at Norfolk Island.—Court of Enquiry at Sydney.—The Francis returns to Norfolk Island.—Natives troublesome.—State of provisions. 228
XIII. Alarming state of the provisions.—The William arrives with supplies from England, and the Arthur from Bengal.—The amor patriæ natural to man in all parts of the world.—Information.—Mr. Bampton.—Captain Bligh.—Admiral Barrington transport lost.—Full ration issued.—Ingratitude and just punishment of the settlers.—Gaming.—Honesty of a native.—The Dædalus arrives.—Information.—Female inconstancy, and its consequences.—Native killed.—Disorder in the eyes prevalent.—The William sails.—Cultivation.—Excursion.—A store-ship arrives.—Captain Bampton.—Full ration.—The Britannia, Speedy, and Halcyon arrive.—Particulars.—Account of stock.—The Hope arrives.—The Fanny arrives from Bombay.—Two convicts executed.—Excursion to the Western Mountains.—The Francis returns.—Corn bills not paid.—The Resolution and Salamander arrive.—Gales of wind.—Natives.—Convict executed.—A settler murdered.—The natives.—The Surprise arrives.—Deaths.—The Lieutenant-Governor leaves the settlement.—The Experiment arrives.—Captain Paterson assumes the command.—Ration.—Deaths in 1794. 252
XIV. Gangs sent to till the public grounds.—The Francis sails.—Regulations for the Hawkesbury.—Transactions there.—Natives.—Weather.—Deaths.—Produce at the river.—Natives.—The Francis returns from Port Stephens.—Transactions there.—The Britannia arrives from the Cape.—The Fancy from New Zealand.—Information.—A native killed.—Weather.—Criminal Court.—Ration reduced.—The Britannia hired to procure provisions.—Natives at the Hawkesbury.—The Endeavour arrives.—Convicts.—Casualties.—Ration.—A criminal and civil court held.—Circumstances of the death of Daveney.—Salt made.—Wilson, Knight, and the natives.—The Providence arrives from England.—Four convicts brought from Port Stephens. —Storm.—The Fancy arrives from Norfolk Island.—The Supply and Reliance arrive.—Governor Hunter’s commission read.—Transactions.—Another arrival from England.—Colonial regulations.—The Sovereign store-ship arrives from England.—Convict executed.—Printing press employed.—Ration.—Information from Norfolk Island.—The cattle lost in 1788 discovered.—Bennillong’s conduct after his return from England.—Natives.—Meteorological phænomenon.—Deaths in 1795. 281
XV. The Arthur arrives from India.—Francis from Norfolk Island.—Playhouse opened.—Stills destroyed.—Ceres store-ship arrived.—And Experiment from India.—Ship Otter from America.—Natives.—Deaths.—A transport arrives with prisoners from Ireland.—A criminal court held.—Black Cæsar shot.—Otter takes away Mr. Muir.—Abigail from America arrives.—A forgery committed.—Works.—Particulars respecting Mr. Hampton, and of the fate of Captain Hill and Mr. Carter.—A schooner arrives from Dusky Bay.—Crops bad.—Robberies committed.—Natives.—Bennillong.—Cornwallis sails.—Gerald and Skirving die.—Orders.—The Supply returns.—The Susan arrives from North America.—And the Indispensable from England.—A Criminal and Civil Court held.—Sick.—Thefts committed.—The Britannia arrives from Bengal.—Mr. Raven’s opinion on the passage to India.—State of the settlers.—The Governor goes to Mount Hunter.—Deaths.—Two men killed.—Consequent Regulations.—The Britannia hired to proceed to England.—Report of the natives.—A criminal court assembled.—A settler executed for murder.—The Swan sails.—Ship from Boston.—Deaths.—Weather.—A temporary church opened at Parramatta.—The Supply sails.—Account of stock.—Land in cultivation, and numbers in the colony.—A murder committed.—Britannia sails for England.—General observations. 318
XVI. State of Norfolk Island.—Account of the New Zealanders.—Remarks on the manners and customs of the natives of New South Wales. 336
XVII. Regulations and proceedings of the Governor.—A man found dead.—A woman murdered.—Character of the settlers at the river.—Houses numbered at Sydney.—Bennillong claims protection from the Governor.—Weather in October.—Two victuallers arrive from England.—Civil appointment.—A Criminal Court held.—Executions.—One man hung in chains.—Effect of this upon the natives.—A general muster.—Regulations.—A native girl murdered.—Weather.—The Governor visits Richmond Hill.—His transactions there.—A stack of wheat burnt.—The clergyman’s attention to the children.—The Governor goes to Botany Bay.—George’s River.—Lightning and its effects.—The natives.—Weather.—Number of men not victualled by government who had been convicts.—An extraordinary theft.—Court of criminal judicature twice held.—One man suffered death.—The natives attack the settlers.—Weather. 396
XVIII. Report revived of a white woman being with the natives.—Some civil regulations.—Natives burn a house.—The Governor goes on an excursion.—Particulars thereof.—A valuable tree discovered.—Weather.—The natives again troublesome.—The Supply arrives from the Cape—A ship wrecked to the southward.—Particulars.—Assistance sent to the wreck.—Two accidents.—The Britannia arrives from England.—The Ganges arrives from Ireland.—Some runaways taken.—The Reliance arrives from the Cape.—New gaol finished.—The Francis returns from the wreck.—Boat missing.—Gale of wind.—Cattle from the Cape landed.—Coal discovered.—Natives.—Bennillong.—Boat seized and carried off to sea.—More coal found; and a new river.—The people left by Captain Bampton at New Zealand arrive at Norfolk Island.—The Deptford arrives from Madras.—Excursion to the Cow Pasture.—Walk from Mount Taurus to the sea coast.—Weather.—Another boat carried off.—The criminal court thrice assembled.—Particulars.—Natives very troublesome; seize a boat.—An attempt to seize another boat frustrated.—Ingratitude.—An amphibious animal discovered.—Weather. 407
XIX. Cole-be’s encounter with Ye-ra-ni-be.—Ye-ra-ni-be killed.—Various particulars respecting the natives.—Bennillong.—Schools at Sydney.—The Francis sails for the wreck.—Weather.—House burnt.—Account of live stock and ground in cultivation.—Attempt of some Irish convicts to desert in search of a new settlement.—A settler’s boat stolen.—Particulars.—The Francis returns from the southward.—Works.—Conjectures as to a strait.—Natives.—A convict providentially saved.—Weather.—The Francis again sails for the wreck.—Bennillong and his wife.—Report respecting the wild cattle.—Account of a journey to the westward.—Description of a new bird.—Mr. Bass returns from an excursion in an open boat to the southward.—Particulars of it.—Three Irishmen picked up.—Weather in February.—The Francis returns from Preservation Island.—A trusty person sent to look for a salt hill, said to be discovered.—The wild cattle seen.—A new animal, the Wom-bat, found.—Some Irish runaways give themselves up.—The criminal court meets.—Three men executed.—Discoveries prosecuted.—An old woman accused of dreaming. 429
XX. The Nautilus arrives from Otaheite.—Missionaries.—The Barwell arrives.—A Judge Advocate sent out.—Natives.—Ground fixed on for the missionaries.—The Hunter arrives from Bengal.—Regulations.—The commander of the Sydney-Cove dies.—Three southern whalers arrive, and an American from the Isle of France.—A transport with female convicts arrives from England.—Natives.—An extraordinary custom among them.—The Barwell sails.—The Semiramis arrives from Rhode Island.—The church at Sydney burnt.—Reflections.—Some vessels sail; the Nautilus and Norfolk for Van Diemen’s Land.—Another fire in the town.—A ship arrives from the Cape with cattle.—Bennillong.—The Governor’s steward destroys himself.—State of the harvest.—The Francis returns.—A battery.—Return of stock and cultivated land.—Unruly behaviour of the Irish.—The Norfolk sloop returns from Van Diemen’s Land.—Particulars.—Curious petrifactions.—The Wom-bat described. 448
XXI. The Norfolk proceeds on her voyage.—Discover Port Dalrymple.—Account of the country within it.—Natural production.—Animals.—Sagacity and numbers of the black swan.—Inhabitants.—Range of the thermometer.—Pass Table Cape.—Proceed to the southward and westward.—The Norfolk passes the Strait.—Observations thereon.—Proceeds to the southward.—De Witt’s Isles.—Enter the Derwent River.—Observations on the Derwent.—Some natives seen.—Particulars of one.—Venomous snake.—Comparison between New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.—Arrive at Port Jackson.—Advantages of Bass Strait. 471
XXII. Agricultural concerns.—The Criminal Court assembled.—A man tried for killing a native.—Two men executed.—The public gaol burnt.—Observations.—Great drought.—A flood at the river.—Natives.—A Spanish prize arrives.—Norfolk Island.—Resources in New South Wales.—The Buffalo arrives from England, and brings cattle from the Cape.—Natives.—Tempestuous weather.—Effects.—The Albion whaler arrives from England.—Her quick passage.—A Missionary murdered.—The murderers tried and executed.—The Hilsborough arrives from England.—Mortality on board.—The Governor visits the settlers upon George’s river.—The Norfolk sloop returns from an excursion to the northward.—Account of her proceedings.—Enters Shoal-Bay.—Particulars respecting it.—Enters Glass-house Bay.—Lieutenant Flinders meets some natives.—Particulars.—Point Skirmish.—Proceeds to a river in Glass-house Bay. 486
XXIII. Further proceedings in Glass-house Bay.—Red Cliff Point.—Moreton Bay.—The sloop prepared for an attack on the natives.—The event.—Enter Pumice-stone river.—See some natives.—The leak in the sloop stopped.—Interviews with natives.—Mr. Flinders visits the Glass-house Peaks.—Account of the country.—Return down the river.—Other interviews with natives.—Their manner of singing.—Dancing.—Other particulars of, and some conjectures respecting them—Quit Pumice-stone river and Glass-house Bay.—The Norfolk proceeds to Hervey’s Bay.—Some account of it.—She returns to Port Jackson.—Public works.—The Governor crosses the Nepean.—The Reliance sails for Norfolk Island.—The Walker arrives from England with Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson.—Dispatches received.—Storm of wind.—Settlers dissatisfied.—A Spanish prize arrives.—A criminal court held.—Gaol burnt at Parramatta. 504
XXIV. The Swallow packet arrives, on her way to China.—Articles sold.—The Minerva arrives from Ireland with convicts; and the Fhynne from Bengal.—Three settlers tried for murdering two natives.—A soldier shoots himself.—A whaler, with a Spanish vessel, her prize, arrives.—The Hunter from Calcutta, and the Friendship with Irish convicts, arrive.—Inutility of some of these prisoners.—Tax on spirits to complete the gaol.—A mountain eagle shot.—Flood occasioned by bad weather.—Criminal-court held.—The Speedy arrives from England, with Lieutenant-Governor King.—The Buffalo from the Cape.—Reports of seditious meetings.—Correspondence relative to Indian convicts, and persons at Calcutta wishing to become settlers in New South Wales.—Five men executed.—The Buffalo ordered for sea.—Cattle purchased.—Spirits landed and seized—Death of Wilson.—Rumours of insurrection renewed.—Volunteer corps.—The Governor quits the settlement.—Live stock, &c.—The Buffalo sails for England; touches at Norfolk Island.—Conclusion; with Vocabularies of the Languages of New South Wales and New Zealand. 521


1. Portrait of the Author, Fronting the Title.
2. Chart of the three Harbours of Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay; shewing the Ground cultivated by the Colonists, with the Courses of the Rivers Hawkesbury, Nepean, &c. &c. Page 1
3. View of the Governor’s House at Rose Hill, 104
4. By Water to Parramatta, 136
5. Eastern View of Sydney, 172
6. Direct South-View of Sydney, 192
7. South-East View in Sydney, 200
8. Western View of Sydney Cove, 204
9. North View of Sydney Cove, 232
10. The Brick-field Hill, 299
11. View of Sydney, on the South-side of Norfolk Island, 336
12. Fac-simile of a Chart of New Zealand, drawn by Too-gee, 344
13. Yoo-long Erah-ba-diang, No. 1.
14. Ditto, 2.
15. Ditto, 3.
16. Ditto, 4. 374
17. Ditto, 5.
18. Ditto, 6.
19. Ditto, 7.
20. Ditto, 8.
21. Ceremony of burning a Corpse, 393
22. Ornithorhynchus Paradoxus, 426
23. Mænura Superba, 441
24. Western View of Toongabbe, 442
25. Baker’s (the Superintendant) Farm, on the banks of the Hawkesbury, Page 454
26. Portrait of Ben-nil-long, 455
27. The Wom-bat, 469
28. Saunderson’s Farm, 489
29. A Night-scene in the neighbourhood of Sydney, 493
30. A Scene by Moon-light, 524
31. The Mountain Eagle, 526
32. Natives under a Rock in bad Weather, 530
33. The Emu of New South Wales, 534
34. Plan and Elevation of the Church at Parramatta, 537


Page 318. for Chap. xiv, read Chap. xv.

— 331. line 15, for Mares, 57, read Mares and Horses, 57.

— 407. for Chap. xix, read Chap. xviii.