Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/29

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.



Authorities.—Historical Records of New South Wales (especially Volume VII.). Report on Transportation, P.P., 1812, II. Report on Gaols, P.P., 1819, VII. Bigg's Reports, P.P., 1822 and 1823, Vols. XX and X. Report of Trial of Lieut.-Colonel Johnston. Eden's History of New Holland. Memoir of Samuel Marsden.

When Colonel Macquarie landed at Sydney at the close of 1809 the population of the settlement he was to govern was already over 10,000. In the twenty-two years which had passed since the foundation of the Colony of New South Wales in 1788, the numbers had increased at a rate of nearly 500 a year—an increase in population then without parallel in the course of modern colonisation. The cause was not far to seek; what would under a system of voluntary emigration have been remarkable, was but the natural result of forced emigration, of the system of "Colonising-Transportation" of which New South Wales was the first example. The custom of sending convicted criminals to the plantations was indeed an old one, and one not peculiar to England, but the system put into practice in 1788 differed in important features from any which had been practised before.

The final triumph of the North American Colonies in 1783, by closing that channel, had left a fast increasing number of prisoners on the hands of the Government. The previous course had been to send a large proportion of the convicts to serve as bond-servants to colonial planters and farmers. Once they were consigned to the masters of the merchant vessels who offered for this service, the direct responsibility of the Government was at an end, and the convicted criminal served out his sentence under a form of mild restraint. Indeed the mildness of the punishment was condemned in the House of Commons