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A Source Book of Australian History

Gwendolen H. Swinburne

Available as PDF, epub, and Kindle ebook.

Tags: Australia & New Zealand

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The Spaniard Torres was probably the first European to sight Australia (Cape Yorke); but Tasman was the first who consciously discovered the Great South Land. In his search for fresh fields for trade, he came upon Tasmania and New Zealand.

This book has 242 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1919.

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Excerpt from 'A Source Book of Australian History'

In 1783 England recognized the Independence of her American Colonies, and thus lost the settlements to which she usually transported her criminals. By 1786 her gaols had become woefully overcrowded, and consequently it was decided to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay. Captain Phillip was selected as commanding officer of the expedition.



George the Third, etc., to our trusty and well-beloved Captain Arthur Phillip, greeting:

We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10° 37' south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape, in the latitude of 43° 39' south, and of all the country inland to the westward as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of longitude reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitude aforesaid of 10° 37' south and 43° 39' south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts, and all other fortifications or other military works which now are or may be hereafter erected upon this said territory. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of Governor in and over our said territory by doing and performing all and all manner of things thereunto belonging, and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers and soldiers who shall be employed within our said territory, and all others whom it may concern, to obey you as Governor thereof; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and discipline of war, and likewise such orders and directions as we shall send you under our signet or sign manual, or by our High Treasurer or Commissioners of our Treasury for the time being, or one of our principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the trust we hereby repose in you.

Given at our Court at St. James's the twelfth day of October, 1786, in the twenty-sixth year of our reign.

By His Majesty's command.




Instructions for our trusty and well-beloved Arthur Phillip, Esq., our Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over our territory of New South Wales and its dependencies or to the Lieutenant Governor or Commander-in-Chief of the said territory for the time being. Given at our Court at St. James's the 25th day of April 1787 in the twenty-seventh year of our reign.

You are to fit yourself with all convenient speed, and to hold yourself in readiness to repair to your said command, and being arrived, to take upon you the execution of the trust we have reposed in you, as soon as conveniently may be, with all due solemnity to cause our said Commission under our Great Seal of Great Britain constituting you our Governor and Commander-in-Chief as aforesaid to be read and published.

And whereas we have ordered that about 600 male and 180 female convicts now under sentence or order of transportation whose names are contained in the list hereunto annexed should be removed out of the gaols and other places of confinement in this our kingdom, and be put on board of the several transport ships which have been taken up for their reception, it is our Royal will and pleasure that as soon as the said convicts, the several persons composing the civil establishments, and the stores, provisions, etc., provided for their use, shall be put on board the Supply, tender, and the transport ships named in the margin, and be in readiness to depart, that you do take them under your protection and proceed in the Sirius with the said tender and transports to the Port on the coast of New South Wales, situated in the latitude of 33° 41' called by the name of Botany Bay, agreeably to the instructions with which you will be furnished by the Commissioners of our Admiralty, in pursuance of our Royal commands already signified to them.

According to the best information which we have obtained, Botany Bay appears to be the most eligible situation upon the said coast for the first establishment, possessing a commodious harbour and other advantages which no part of the coast hitherto discovered affords. It is therefore our will and pleasure that you do immediately upon your landing, after taking measures for securing yourself and the people who accompany you as much as possible from any attacks or interruptions of the natives of that country, as well as for the preservation and safety of the public stores, proceed to the cultivation of the land, distributing the convicts for that purpose in such manner, and under such Inspectors and Overseers, and under such regulations as may appear to you to be necessary and best calculated for procuring supplies of grain and ground provisions.

The assortment of tools and utensils which have been provided for the use of the convicts and other persons who are to compose the intended settlement are to be distributed according to your discretion, and according to the employment assigned to the several persons. In the distribution, however, you will use every proper degree of economy, and be careful that the Commissary so transmit an account of the issues from time to time to the Commissioners of our Treasury to enable them to judge of the propriety or expediency of granting further supplies. The clothing of the convicts and the provisions issued to them, and the several civil and military establishments, must be accounted for in the same manner.

The increase of the stock of animals must depend entirely upon the measures you may adopt on the outset for their preservation; and as the Settlement will be amply supplied with vegetable productions, and most likely with fish, fresh provisions, excepting for the sick and convalescents, may in a great degree be dispensed with. For these reasons it will become you to be extremely cautious in permitting any cattle, sheep, hogs, etc., intended for propagating the breed of such animals to be slaughtered until a competent stock maybe acquired, to admit of your supplying the settlement from it with animal food without having further recourse to the places from whence such stock may have originally been obtained.

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