David Collins.

An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 With Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc. of The Native Inhabitants of That Country. to Which Are Added, Some Particulars o online

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Online LibraryDavid CollinsAn Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 With Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc. of The Native Inhabitants of That Country. to Which Are Added, Some Particulars o → online text (page 48 of 61)
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of four of the principals in this transaction, a warrant was made out to
apprehend them; but before it could be executed, the soldiers expressing
themselves convinced of the great impropriety of their conduct, and
offering to indemnify the sufferer for the damage they had done him, who
also personally petitioned the governor in their behalf, the warrant was

It was observed, that the most active of the soldiers in this affair had
formerly been convicts, who, not having changed their principles with
their condition, thus became the means of disgracing their fellow-soldiers.
The corps certainly was not much improved by the introduction of
people of this description among them. It might well have been
supposed, that being taken as good characters from the class of
prisoners, they would have felt themselves above mixing with any of them
afterwards; but it happened otherwise; they had nothing in them of that
pride which is termed _l'esprit du corps_; but at times mixed with the
convicts familiarly as former cornpanions; yet when they chose to quarrel
with, or complain of them, they meanly asserted their superiority as soldiers.

This intercourse had been strongly prohibited by their officers; but
living (as once before mentioned) in huts by themselves, it was carried
on without their knowledge. Most of them were now, however, ordered into
the barracks; but to give this regulation the full effect, a high brick
wall, or an inclosure of strong paling, round the barracks, was
requisite; the latter of these securities would have been put up some
time before, had there not been a want of the labouring hands necessary
to prepare and collect the materials.

On the 11th of this month the ship _Marquis Cornwallis_ anchored in the
cove from Ireland, with two hundred and thirty-three male and female
convicts of that country. We understood from her commander, Mr. Michael
Hogan, that a conspiracy had been formed to take the ship from him; but,
the circumstances of it being happily disclosed in time, he was enabled
to prevent it, and having sufficient evidence of the existence of the
conspiracy, he caused the principal part of those concerned to be
severely punished, first taking the opinions of all the free people who
were on board. A military guard, consisting of two subalterns and a
proportionate number of privates of the New South Wales corps
(principally drafts from other regiments), was embarked in this ship. The
prisoners were in general healthy; but some of those who had been
punished were not quite recovered, and on landing were sent to the
hospital. It appeared that the men were for the most part of the
description of people termed Defenders, desperate, and ripe for any
scheme from which danger and destruction were likely to ensue. The women
were of the same complexion; and their ingenuity and cruelty were
displayed in the part they were to take in the purposed insurrection,
which was the preparing of pulverised glass to mix with the flour of
which the seamen were to make their puddings. What an importation!

A few months provisions for these people, and the remainder* of the
mooring chains intended for his Majesty's ships the _Reliance_ and the
_Supply_, together with a patent under the great seal for assembling
criminal courts at Norfolk Island, arrived in this ship. She sailed from
Cork on the 9th of August last, and touched at the island of St. Helena
and the Cape of Good Hope, which latter place, we had the satisfaction of
hearing, had surrendered to his Majesty's arms, and was in our
possession. General Craig, the commander in chief on shore, and Commodore
Blankett, each sent an official communication of this important
circumstance to Governor Hunter, and stated their desire to assist in any
circumstance that might be of service to the settlement, when the season
should offer for sending the ships under his orders to the Cape for

[* Some part had arrived in the _Reliance_ and _Supply_.]

With infinite regret we heard of the death of Colonel Gordon, whose
attentions to this settlement, when opportunities presented themselves,
can never be forgotten. He was a favoured son of science, and liberally
extended the advantages which that science gave him wherever he thought
they could promote the welfare of his fellow-creatures.

On Monday the 15th a criminal court was held for the trial of two
prisoners, William Britton a soldier, and John Reid a convict, for a
burglary in the house of the Rev. Mr. Johnson, committed in the night of
Sunday the 7th of this month. The evidence, though strong, was not
sufficient to convict them, and they were acquitted. While this court was
sitting, however, information was received, that black Caesar had that
morning been shot by one Wimbow. This man and another, allured by the
reward, had been for some days in quest of him. Finding his haunt, they
concealed themselves all night at the edge of a brush which they
perceived him enter at dusk. In the morning he came out, when, looking
round him and seeing his danger, he presented his musket; but before
he could pull the trigger Wimbow fired and shot him. He was taken
to the hut of Rose, a settler at Liberty Plains, where he died in
a few hours. Thus ended a man, who certainly, during his life,
could never have been estimated at more than one remove above the brute,
and who had given more trouble than any other convict in the settlement.

On the morning of the 18th the _Otter_ sailed for the north-west coast of
America. In her went Mr. Thomas Muir (one of the persons sent out in the
_Surprise_ for sedition) and several other convicts whose sentences of
transportation were not expired. Mr. Muir conceived that in withdrawing
(though clandestinely) from this country, he was only asserting his
freedom; and meant, if he should arrive in safety, to enjoy what he
deemed himself to have regained of it in America, until the time should
come when he might return to his own country with credit and comfort. He
purposed practising at the American bar as an advocate; a point of
information which he left behind him in a letter. In this country he
chiefly passed his time in literary ease and retirement, living out of
the town at a little spot of ground which he had purchased for the
purpose of seclusion.

A few days after the departure of this ship, the _Abigail_, another
American, arrived. As several prisoners had found a conveyance from this
place in the _Otter_, the governor directed the _Abigail_ to be anchored
in Neutral Bay (a bay on the north shore, a little below Rock Island),
where he imagined the communication would not be so easy as the ships of
that nation had found it in Sydney Cove. Her master, Christopher
Thornton, gave out that he was bound to Manilla and Canton, having on
board a cargo for those places. For part of that cargo, however, he met
with purchasers at this place, notwithstanding the glut of articles which
the late frequent arrivals must have thrown in. He expected to have found
here a snow, named the _Susan_, which he knew had sailed from Rhode
Island with a cargo expressly laid in for this market. He came direct
from that port without touching any where.

The frequent attacks and depredations to which the settlers situated on
the banks of the Hawkesbury, and other places, were exposed from the
natives, called upon them, for the protection of their families, and the
preservation of their crops, mutually to afford each other their
assistance upon every occasion of alarm, by assembling without delay
whenever any numerous bodies of natives were reported to be lurking about
their grounds; but they seldom or never showed the smallest disposition
to assist each other. Indolent and improvident even for their own safety
and interest, they in general neglected the means by which either could
be secured. This disposition being soon manifested to the governor, he
thought it necessary to issue a public order, stating his expectations
and directions, that all the people residing in the different districts
of the settlemerits, whether the alarm was on their own farms, or on the
farm of any other person, should upon such occasions immediately render
to each other such assistance as each man if attacked would himself wish
to receive; and he assured them, that if it should be hereafter proved,
that any settlers or other persons withdrew or kept back their assistance
from those who might be threatened, or who might be in danger of being
attacked, they would be proceeded against as persons disobeying the rules
and orders of the settlement. Such as had fire-arms were also positively
enjoined not wantonly to fire at, or take the lives of any of the
natives, as such an act would be considered a deliberate murder, and
subject the offender to such punishment as (if proved) the law might
direct to be inflicted. It had been intimated to the governor, that two
white men (Wilson and Knight) had been frequently seen with the natives
in their excursions, and were supposed to direct and assist in those acts
of hostility by which the settlers had lately suffered. He therefore
recommended to every one who knew or had heard of these people, and
particularly to the settlers who were so much annoyed by them, to use
every means in their power to secure them, that they might be so disposed
of as to prevent their being dangerous or troublesome in future. The
settlers were at the same time strictly prohibited from giving any
encouragement to the natives to lurk about their farms; as there could
not be a doubt, that if they had never met with the shelter which some
had afforded them, they would not at this time have furnished so much
cause to complaint.

Those natives who lived with the settlers had tasted the sweets of a
different mode of living, and, willing that their friends and companions
should partake, either stole from those with whom they were living, or
communicated from time to time such favourable opportunities as offered
of stealing from other settlers what they themselves were pleased with.

At this time several persons who had served their term of transportation
were applying for permission to provide for themselves. Of this
description were Wilson and Knight; but they preferred a vagrant life
with the natives; and the consideration that if taken they would be dealt
with in a manner that would prevent their getting among them again, now
led them on to every kind of mischief. They demonstrated to the natives
of how little use a musket was when once discharged, and this effectually
removed that terror of our fire-arms with which it had been our constant
endeavour to inspire them.

Several articles having been brought for sale in the _Marquis
Cornwallis_, a shop was opened on shore. As money, or orders on or by any
of the responsible officers* of the colony, were taken at this shop for
goods, an opportunity was afforded to some knowing ones among the
prisoners to play off, not only base money, as counterfeit Spanish
dollars and rupees, but forged notes or orders. One forged note for ten
pound ten shillings, bearing the commissary's name, was passed at the
shop, but fortunately discovered before the recollection of the persons
who offered it was effaced, though not in time to recover the property.
The whole party was apprehended, and committed for trial.

[* Such as the commissary, paymaster of the corps, and officers who paid

Discharging the storeships formed the principal labour of this month;
which being completed, the assistants required from the farms to unload
them were returned.

The bricklayers' gang were employed in erecting a small hut for the
accommodation of an officer within the paling of the guardhouse at
Sydney, the main guard being now commanded by a subaltern officer.

Mr. Henry Brewer, the provost-marshal of the territory, worn out with age
and infirmities, being incapable of the duties of his office, which now
required a very active and a much younger man to execute, and at this
time very much indisposed, the governor appointed to that situation
Mr. Thomas Smyth, then acting as a storekeeper at this place, until
Mr. Brewer should be able to return to the duties of it.

During one or two hot days in this month the shrubs and brushwood about
the west point of the cove caught fire, and burnt within a few yards of
the magazine. On its being extinguished, the powder was removed for a few
days on board the _Supply_, until some security against any future
accident of that kind could be thrown up round the building.

March.] Late in the evening of the 5th of March his Majesty's ship the
_Reliance_ returned from Norfolk Island. In her came Mr. D'Arcy
Wentworth. This person arrived at New South Wales in the _Neptune_
transport, and went immediately to Norfolk Island, where he was employed,
first as a superintendant of convicts, and afterwards as an assistant to
the surgeon at the hospital there, having been bred to that profession.

By letters received from Mr. Bampton, who sailed from his place in the
_Endeavour_ in the month of September last, we now heard, that on his
reaching Dusky Bay in New Zealand his ship unfortunately proved so leaky,
that with the advice and consent of his officers and people she was run
on shore and scuttled. By good fortune the vessel which had been built by
the carpenter of the _Britannia_ (when left there with Mr. John Leith the
mate, and others, in that ship's first voyage hence to the Cape of Good
Hope) being found in the same state as she had been left by them, they
completed and launched her, according to a previous agreement between the
two commanders. It may be remembered, that in addition to the large
number of persons which Mr. Bampton had permission to ship at this port,
nearly as many more found means to secrete themselves on board his ship
and the _Fancy_. For these, as well as his officers and ship's company,
he had now to provide a passage from the truly desolate shores of New
Zealand. He accordingly, after fitting as a schooner the vessel which he
had launched, and naming her the _Providence_, sailed with her and the
_Fancy_ for Norfolk Island, having on board as many of the officers and
people who reached Dusky Bay with him as they could contain, leaving the
remainder to proceed in a vessel which one Hatherleigh (formerly a
carpenter's mate of the _Sirius_, who happened to be with him) undertook
to construct out of the _Endeavour's_ long-boat. The _Fancy_ and
_Providence_ arrived safe at Norfolk Island, whence they sailed for China
on the 31st day of January last.

This unlucky termination of the voyage of the _Endeavour_ brought to our
recollection the difficulties and dangers which Mr. Bampton met with in
the _Shah Hormuzear_, when, on his return to India from this country, he
attempted to ascertain a passage for future navigators between New
Holland and New Guinea.

In the course of this narrative, the different reports received
respecting the fate of the boat which landed on Tate Island have been
stated. In a Calcutta newspaper, brought here by Mr. McClellan in the
_Experiment_, we now found a printed account of the whole of that
transaction, which filled up that chasm in the story which the parties
themselves alone could supply.

By referring to the account given in the month of July 1794, as
communicated by Mr. Dell, it will appear, that the ship, having been
driven to leeward of the island after the boat left her, was three days
before she could work up to it. When Mr. Dell went on shore to search for
Captain Hill and his companions, he could only, at his return, produce,
what he thought incontestable proofs of their having been murdered; such
as their greatcoats, a lanthorn, tomahawk, etc. and three hands, one of
which, from a certain mark, was supposed to have belonged to Mr. Carter.
Of the boat, after the most diligent search round the island, he could
find no trace. By the account now published, and which bore every mark of
authenticity, it appeared, that when the boat, in which these unfortunate
gentlemen were, had reached the island (on the 3rd of July 1793), the
natives received them very kindly, and conducted them to a convenient
place for landing. After distributing some presents among them, with
which they appeared very much satisfied, it was proposed that Mr. Carter,
Shaw (the mate of the _Chesterfield_), and Ascott, should proceed to the
top of a high point of land which they had noticed, and that Captain Hill
should stay by the boat, with her crew, consisting of four seamen
belonging to the _Chesterfield_.

The inland party, taking the precaution to arm, and provide themselves
with a necessary quantity of ammunition, set off. Nothing unfriendly
occurred during their walk, though several little circumstances
happened, which induced Ascott to suspect that the natives had some
design on them; an idea, however, which was scouted by his companions.

On their return from the hill, hostile designs became apparent, and the
natives seemed to be deterred from murdering them merely by the activity
of Ascott, who, by presenting his musket occasionally, kept them off;
but, notwithstanding his activity and vigilance, the natives at length
made their attack. They began by attempting to take Ascott's musket from
him, finding he was the most likely to annoy them; directly after which,
Mr. Carter, who was the foremost of the party, was heard to exclaim, 'My
God, my God, they have murdered me.' Ascott, who still retained his
musket, immediately fired, on which the natives left them and fled into
the bushes. Ascott now had time to look about him, and saw what he justly
deemed a horrid spectacle, Mr. Carter lying bleeding on the ground, and
Mr. Shaw with a large wound in his throat under the left jaw. They were
both however able to rise, and proceed down the hill to the boat. On
their arrival at the beach they called to their companions to fire; but,
to their extreme horror, they perceived Captain Hill and one of the
seamen lying dead on the sand, cut and mangled in a most barbarous
manner. Two others of the seamen they saw floating on the water, with
their throats cut from ear to ear. The fourth sailor they found dead in
the boat, mangled in the same shocking manner. With much difficulty these
unhappy people got into their boat, and, cutting her grapnel, pulled off
from this treacherous shore. While this was performing, they clearly saw
the natives, whom in their account they term voracious cannibals,
dragging the bodies of Captain Hill and the seamen from the beach toward
some large fires, which they supposed were prepared for the occasion,
yelling and howling at the same time most dismally.

These wretched survivors of their companions having seen, from the top of
the hill whither their ill-fated curiosity had led them, a large
sand-bank not far from the island, determined to run under the lee of it,
as they very reasonably hoped that boats would the next morning be sent
after them from the ship. They experienced very little rest or ease that
night, and when daylight appeared found they had drifted nearly out of
sight of the island, and to leeward of the sand-bank.

Deeming it in vain to attempt reaching the bank, after examining what was
left in the boat, (a few of the trifles which they had put into her to
buy the friendship of the natives, and Ascott's greatcoat, but neither a
compass nor a morsel of provisions,) they determined, by the advice of
Shaw, who of these three miserable people was the only one that
understood any thing of navigation, to run direct for Timor, for which
place the wind was then happily fair. To the westward, therefore, they
directed their course, trusting (as the printed account stated) to that
Providence which had delivered them from the cannibals at Tate Island.*

[* The narrative of this most horrible affair, as printed at Calcutta,
was reprinted entire in the _European Magazine_ for May and June 1797.]

Without provisions, destitute of water, and almost without bodily
strength, it cannot be doubted that their sufferings were very great
before they reached a place of safety and relief. They left the island on
the 3rd of July, the day on which their companions were butchered. On the
7th, having the preceding day passed a sand-bank covered with birds, they
providentially, in the morning, found two small birds in the boat, one of
which they immediately divided into three parts, and were considerably
relieved by eating it. On the 8th they found themselves with land on
both sides. Through these straits they passed, and continued their course
to the westward. All that could be done with their wounds was to keep
them clean by opening them occasionally, and washing them with salt
water. On the 11th they saw land, and pushed their boat into a bay, all
agreeing that they had better trust to the chance of being well received
on shore, than to that of perishing in the course of a day or two more at
sea. Here they procured some water and a roasted yam from the natives,
who also gave them to understand that Timor was to the southward of them.
Not thinking themselves quite so safe here as they would be at Coupang,
they again embarked. They soon after found a proa in chase of them, which
they eluded by standing with their boat over a reef that the proa would
not encounter. On the morning of the 13th they saw a point of land ahead,
which, with the wind as it then was, they could not weather. They
therefore ran into a small bay, where the natives received them, calling
out 'Bligh! Bligh!' Here they landed, were hospitably received, and
providentially saved from the horror of perishing by famine.

This place was called by the natives Sarrett, and was distinct from Timor
Land, which was the first place they refreshed at. They were also
informed, that there was another small island to the northward, called by
them Fardatte, but which in some charts was named Ta-na-bor. They also
understood that a proa came yearly from Banda to trade at Tanabor, and
that her arrival was expected in the course of seven or eight months.

They were much gratified with this information, and soon found that they
had fallen into the hands of a hospitable and humane race of people.

On the 25th of July Mr. Carter's wound was entirely healed, after having
had thirteen pieces of the fractured skull taken out. But this gentleman
was fated not long to survive his sufferings. He remained in perfect
health until the 17th of November, when he caught a fever, of which he
died on the 10th of December, much regretted by his two friends (for
adversity makes friends of those who perhaps, in other situations, would
never have shaken hands).

The two survivors waited in anxious expectation for the arrival of the
annual trading proa from Banda. To their great joy she came on the 12th
of March 1794.

For Banda they sailed on the 10th of April, and arrived there on the 1st
of May following, where they were received with the greatest hospitality
by the governor, who supplied them with every thing necessary for people
in their situation, and provided them with a passage on board an Indiaman
bound to Batavia, where they arrived on the 10th of the following
October; adding another to the many instances of escape from the perils
which attend on those whose hard fate have driven them to navigate the
ocean in an open boat.

Hard indeed was the fate of Captain Hill and Mr. Carter. They were
gentlemen of liberal education, qualified to adorn the circles of life in
which their rank in society placed them. How lamentable thus to perish,
the one by the hands and rude weapons of barbarous savages, cut off in
the prime of life and most perfect enjoyment of his faculties, lost for
ever to a mother and sister whom he tenderly loved, his body mangled,
roasted, and devoured by cannibals; the other, after escaping from those
cannibals, to perish* in a country where all were strangers to him,
except his two companions in misery Shaw and Ascott, to give up all his
future prospects in life, never more to meet the cheering eye of
friendship or of love, and without having had the melancholy satisfaction
of recounting his perils, his escape, and sufferings, to those who would
sympathise with him in the tale of his sorrows.

[* It is evident, if this account be true, that Mr. Dell must have been
mistaken in his opinion of having carried on board the _Shah Hormuzear_ a
hand which, from a certain mark on it, he knew to have belonged to Mr.

On the 17th the vessel built by the shipwright Hatherleigh at Dusky Bay
arrived, with some of the people left behind by Mr. Bampton. They were so

Online LibraryDavid CollinsAn Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 With Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc. of The Native Inhabitants of That Country. to Which Are Added, Some Particulars o → online text (page 48 of 61)