The First Fleet

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The First Fleet In 1788-1868 more than one hundred and sixty thousand men were transported from Britain to (what was then) Botany Bay, New Holland. They traveled in terrible conditions and came in many sailing ships in which the voyage sometimes took as long as ten months but rarely took as many as eight or nine. They came to Botany bay because of the good climate and friendly citizens although originally thinking the land shabby with bad soil. Also they had to leave Britain because of the social and economic conditions that gave rise to crime. Also there was a big problem in crime; e.g. hulks, the justice system etc. About the end of the eighteenth century, English towns and cities were overflowing with people, many of whom could not find work. Stealing and other criminal activities resulted and became a way of life, taking the place of work. Children were trained at an early age how to pick pockets, and watches and other such belongings were sold to buy food and clothes. Adults committed many other crimes as well; highway robbery and robbery in the streets , breaking into houses and shops to steal what they could, cheating and murdering and doing whatever they could to bring them money. Crime was easy in thick populated areas because police were few and patrolled by foot and criminals could run off and soon be lost in the crowds of people or among the thousands of cramped houses and shops. It got so bad that notices were posted on walls and fences warning people that if they stood looking around in public places or into shop windows they could be robbed. The British Government had no choice but to issue more policemen and harsher penalties. They did not wish to spend money building new jails, so old sailing ships were converted into the floating prisons known as "hulks". Convicts travelled in dark prisons below the decks and little was done to make the journey pleasant, nor even ensure that the convicts survived the journey. Cramped close together in the narrow spaces between the decks, badly fed and rarely allowed into the light and air, they were either freezing cold or suffocating with heat. There were no means them of keeping food fresh, and the convicts were almost always half starved and often sick. The lack of fresh fruit and vegetables caused the disease of scurvy. To add to this they were often brutally treated by their soldier guards. About 1000 people finally arrived in the First Fleet at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, appointed

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