The Settlement at Port Jackson, by Watkin Tench

CHAPTER XVI

Transactions of the colony until 18th of December 1791, when I quitted it, with an Account of its state at that time.

The Gorgon had arrived on the 21st of September, and the hour of departure to England, for the marine battalion, drew nigh. If I be allowed to speak from my own feelings on the occasion, I will not say that we contemplated its approach with mingled sensations: we hailed it with rapture and exultation.

The ‘Supply’, ever the harbinger of welcome and glad tidings, proclaimed by her own departure, that ours was at hand. On the 26th of November she sailed for England. It was impossible to view our separation with insensibility: the little ship which had so often agitated our hopes and fears, which from long acquaintance we had learned to regard as part of ourselves, whose doors of hospitality had been ever thrown open to relieve our accumulated wants, and chase our solitary gloom!

In consequence of the offers made to the non-commissioned officers and privates of the marine battalion to remain in the country as settlers or to enter into the New South Wales corps, three corporals, one drummer and 59 privates accepted of grants of land, to settle at Norfolk Island and Rose Hill. Of these men, several were undoubtedly possessed of sufficient skill and industry, by the assistance of the pay which was due to them from the date of their embarkation, in the beginning of the year 1787, to the day on which they were discharged, to set out with reasonable hopes of being able to procure a maintenance. But the only apparent reason to which the behaviour of a majority of them could be ascribed was from infatuated affection to female convicts, whose characters and habits of life, I am sorry to say, promise from a connection neither honour nor tranquillity.

The narrative part of this work will, I conceive, be best brought to a termination by a description of the existing state of the colony, as taken by myself a few days previous to my embarkation in the Gorgon, to sail for England.

December 2nd, 1791. Went up to Rose Hill. Public buildings here have not greatly multiplied since my last survey. The storehouse and barrack have been long completed; also apartments for the chaplain of the regiment, and for the judge-advocate, in which last, criminal courts, when necessary, are held; but these are petty erections. In a colony which contains only a few hundred hovels built of twigs and mud, we feel consequential enough already to talk of a treasury, an admiralty, a public library and many other similar edifices, which are to form part of a magnificent square. The great road from near the landing place to the governor’s house is finished, and a very noble one it is, being of great breadth, and a mile long, in a strait line. In many places it is carried over gullies of considerable depth, which have been filled up with trunks of trees covered with earth. All the sawyers, carpenters and blacksmiths will soon be concentred under the direction of a very adequate person of the governor’s household. This plan is already so far advanced as to contain nine covered sawpits, which change of weather cannot disturb the operations of, an excellent workshed for the carpenters and a large new shop for the blacksmiths. It certainly promises to be of great public benefit. A new hospital has been talked of for the last two years, but is not yet begun. Two long sheds, built in the form of a tent and thatched, are however finished, and capable of holding 200 patients. The sick list of today contains 382 names. Rose Hill is less healthy than it used to be. The prevailing disorder is a dysentery, which often terminates fatally. There was lately one very violent putrid fever which, by timely removal of the patient, was prevented from spreading. Twenty-five men and two children died here in the month of November.

When at the hospital I saw and conversed with some of the ‘Chinese travellers’; four of them lay here, wounded by the natives. I asked these men if they really supposed it possible to reach China. They answered that they were certainly made to believe (they knew not how) that at a considerable distance to northward existed a large river, which separated this country from the back part of China; and that when it should be crossed (which was practicable) they would find themselves among a copper-coloured people, who would receive and treat them kindly. They added, that on the third day of their elopement, one of the party died of fatigue; another they saw butchered by the natives who, finding them unarmed, attacked them and put them to flight. This happened near Broken Bay, which harbour stopped their progress to the northward and forced them to turn to the right hand, by which means they soon after found themselves on the sea shore, where they wandered about in a destitute condition, picking up shellfish to allay hunger. Deeming the farther prosecution of their scheme impracticable, several of them agreed to return to Rose Hill, which with difficulty they accomplished, arriving almost famished. On their road back they met six fresh adventurers sallying forth to join them, to whom they related what had passed and persuaded them to relinquish their intention. There are at this time not less than thirty-eight convict men missing, who live in the woods by day, and at night enter the different farms and plunder for subsistence.

December 3rd, 1791. Began my survey of the cultivated land belonging to the public. The harvest has commenced. They are reaping both wheat and barley. The field between the barrack and the governor’s house contains wheat and maize, both very bad, but the former particularly so. In passing through the main street I was pleased to observe the gardens of the convicts look better than I had expected to find them. The vegetables in general are but mean, but the stalks of maize, with which they are interspersed, appear green and flourishing. The semicircular hill, which sweeps from the overseer of the cattle’s house to the governor’s house, is planted with maize, which, I am told, is the best here. It certainly looks in most parts very good — stout thick stalks with large spreading leaves — but I am surprised to find it so backward. It is at least a month later than that in the gardens at Sydney. Behind the maize is a field of wheat, which looks tolerably for this part of the world. It will, I reckon, yield about twelve bushels an acre. Continued my walk and looked at a little patch of wheat in the governor’s garden, which was sown in drills, the ground being first mixed with a clay which its discoverers pretended was marle. Whatever it be, this experiment bespeaks not much in favour of its enriching qualities; for the corn looks miserably, and is far exceeded by some neighbouring spots on which no such advantage has been bestowed. Went round the crescent at the bottom of the garden, which certainly in beauty of form and situation is unrivalled in New South Wales. Here are eight thousand vines planted, all of which in another season are expected to bear grapes. Besides the vines are several small fruit trees, which were brought in the Gorgon from the Cape, and look lively; on one of them are half a dozen apples as big as nutmegs. Although the soil of the crescent be poor, its aspect and circular figure, so advantageous for receiving and retaining the rays of the sun, eminently fit it for a vineyard. Passed the rivulet and looked at the corn land on its northern side. On the western side of Clarke’s* house the wheat and maize are bad, but on the eastern side is a field supposed to be the best in the colony. I thought it of good height, and the ears well filled, but it is far from thick.

[*Dod, who is mentioned in my former journal of this place, had died some months ago. And Mr. Clarke, who was put in his room, is one of the superintendants, sent out by government, on a salary of forty pounds per annum. He was bred to husbandry, under his father at Lewes in Sussex; and is, I conceive, competent to his office of principal conductor of the agriculture of Rose Hill.]

While I was looking at it, Clarke came up. I told him I thought he would reap fifteen or sixteen bushels an acre; he seemed to think seventeen or eighteen. I have now inspected all the European corn. A man of so little experience of these matters as myself cannot speak with much confidence. Perhaps the produce may average ten bushels an acre, or twelve at the outside. Allowance should, however, be made in estimating the quality of the soil, for the space occupied by roots of trees, for inadequate culture, and in some measure to want of rain. Less has fallen than was wished, but this spring was by no means so dry as the last. I find that the wheat grown at Rose Hill last year weighed fifty-seven pounds and a half per bushel. My next visit was to the cattle, which consists of two stallions, six mares, and two colts; besides sixteen cows, two cow-calves, and one bull-calf, which were brought out by the Gorgon. Two bulls which were on board died on the passage, so that on the young gentleman just mentioned depends the stocking of the colony.

The period of the inhabitants of New South Wales being supplied with animal food of their own raising is too remote for a prudent man to calculate. The cattle look in good condition, and I was surprised to hear that neither corn nor fodder is given to them. The enclosures in which they are confined furnish hardly a blade of grass at present. There are people appointed to tend them who have been used to this way of life, and who seem to execute it very well.

Sunday, December 4th, 1791. Divine service is now performed here every Sunday, either by the chaplain of the settlement or the chaplain of the regiment. I went to church today. Several hundred convicts were present, the majority of whom I thought looked the most miserable beings in the shape of humanity I ever beheld. They appeared to be worn down with fatigue.

December, 5th. Made excursions this day to view the public settlements. Reached the first, which is about a mile in a north-west direction from the governor’s house. This settlement contains, by admeasurement, 134 acres, a part of which is planted with maize, very backward, but in general tolerably good, and beautifully green. Thirteen large huts, built in the form of a tent, are erected for the convicts who work here; but I could not learn the number of these last, being unable to find a superintendant or any person who could give me information. Ponds of water here sufficient to supply a thousand persons.

Walked on to the second settlement, about two miles farther, through an uncleared country. Here met Daveney, the person who planned and now superintends all the operations carried on here. He told me that he estimated the quantity of cleared ground here at 300 acres. He certainly over-rates it one-third, by the judgment of every other person. Six weeks ago this was a forest. it has been cleared, and the wood nearly burnt off the ground by 500 men, in the before-mentioned period, or rather in thirty days, for only that number have the convicts worked. He said it was too late to plant maize, and therefore he should sow turnips, which would help to meliorate and prepare it for next year. On examining the soil, I thought it in general light, though in some places loamy to the touch. He means to try the Rose Hill ‘marle’ upon it, with which he thinks it will incorporate well. I hope it will succeed better than the experiment in the governor’s garden. I wished to know whether he had chosen this ground simply from the conveniency of its situation to Rose Hill, and its easy form for tillage, and having water, or from any marks which he had thought indicated good soil. He said that what I had mentioned no doubt weighed with him, and that he judged the soil to be good, from the limbs of many of the trees growing on it being covered with moss.

“Are,” said I, “your 500 men still complete?”

“No; this day’s muster gave only 460. The rest are either sick and removed to the hospital, or are run away in the woods.”

“How much is each labourer’s daily task?”

“Seven rods. It was eight, but on their representing to the governor that it was beyond their strength to execute, he took off one.”

Thirteen large huts, similar to those beforementioned, contain all the people here. To every hut are appointed two men, as hutkeepers, whose only employment is to watch the huts in working hours to prevent them from being robbed. This has somewhat checked depredations, and those endless complaints of the convicts that they could not work because they had nothing to eat, their allowance being stolen. The working hours at this season (summer) are from five o’clock in the morning until ten; rest from ten to two; return to work at two; and continue till sunset. This surely cannot be called very severe toil; but on the other hand must be remembered the inadequacy of a ration of salt provisions, with few vegetables, and unassisted by any liquor but water.

Here finished my remarks on every thing of a public nature at Rose Hill. But having sufficient time, I determined to visit all the private settlers to inspect their labours, and learn from them their schemes, their hopes and expectations.

In pursuance of my resolution, I crossed the country to Prospect Hill, at the bottom of which live the following thirteen convicts, who have accepted allotments of ground, and are become settlers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Men's names.                      |  Trades. | Number of     | Number of acres
                                  |          | acres in each | in cultivation.
                                  |          | allotment.    |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
John Silverthorne                   Weaver       40                 1 3/4
Thomas Martin                         "          40                 1 1/2
John Nichols                        Gardener     40                 2
William Butler*, and his wife       Seaman       50 )
---- Lisk*                          Watchmaker   40 )               4
William Parish, wife, and a child   Seaman       60                 2 3/4
William Kilby, and his wife         Husbandman   60                 1 1/4
Edward Pugh, wife, and two children Carpenter    70                 2 1/2
Samuel Griffith
John Herbertt**
James Castle
Joseph Marlow***
John Williams, and his wife
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[*In partnership.[Butler and Lisk]

[**Not out of his time; but allowed to work here at his leisure hours, as he has declared his intention of settling.]

[***In a similar predicament with Herbert.]

The terms on which these allotments have been granted are: that the estates shall be fully ceded for ever to all who shall continue to cultivate for five years, or more; that they shall be free of all taxes for the first ten years; but after that period to pay an annual quit-rent of one shilling. The penalty on non-performance of any of these articles is forfeiture of the estate, and all the labour which may have been bestowed upon it. These people are to receive provisions, (the same quantity as the working convicts), clothes, and medicinal assistance, for eighteen months from the day on which they settled.

To clear and cultivate the land, a hatchet, a tomahawk, two hoes, a spade and a shovel, are given to each person, whether man or woman; and a certain number of cross-cut saws among the whole. To stock their farms, two sow pigs were promised to each settler, but they almost all say they have not yet received any, of which they complain loudly. They all received grain to sow and plant for the first year. They settled here in July and August last. Most of them were obliged to build their own houses; and wretched hovels three-fourths of them are. Should any of them fall sick, the rest are bound to assist the sick person two days in a month, provided the sickness lasts not longer than two months; four days labour in each year, from every person, being all that he is entitled to. To give protection to this settlement, a corporal and two soldiers are encamped in the centre of the farms, as the natives once attacked the settlers and burnt one of their houses. These guards are, however, inevitably at such a distance from some of the farms as to be unable to afford them any assistance in case of another attack.

With all these people I conversed and inspected their labours. Some I found tranquil and determined to persevere, provided encouragement should be given. Others were in a state of despondency, and predicted that they should starve unless the period of eighteen months during which they are to be clothed and fed, should be extended to three years. Their cultivation is yet in its infancy, and therefore opinions should not be hastily formed of what it may arrive at, with moderate skill and industry. They have at present little in the ground besides maize, and that looks not very promising. Some small patches of wheat which I saw are miserable indeed. The greatest part of the land I think but indifferent, being light and stoney. Of the thirteen farms ten are unprovided with water; and at some of them they are obliged to fetch this necessary article from the distance of a mile and a half. All the settlers complain sadly of being frequently robbed by the runaway convicts, who plunder them incessantly.

December 6th. Visited the settlements to the northward of the rivulet. The nearest of them lies about a mile due north of Mr. Clarke’s house. Here are only the undernamed five settlers.

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Men's names.                      |  Trades. | Number of     | Number of acres
                                  |          | acres in each | in cultivation.
                                  |          | allotment.    |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thomas Brown*, wife, and child       ---           60 )
William Bradbury*                    ---           30 )              3 1/2
William Mold*                        ---           30 )
Simon Burne, and wife               Hosier         50                3
----Parr, and wife              Merchant's clerk   50                3 1/2
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[*These three cultivate in partnership.(Brown, Bradbury, Mold.)]

These settlers are placed on the same footing in every respect which concerns their tenure and the assistance to be granted to them as those at Prospect Hill. Near them is water. Parr and Burne are men of great industry. They have both good houses which they hired people to build for them. Parr told me that he had expended thirteen guineas on his land, which nevertheless he does not seem pleased with. Of the three poor fellows who work in partnership, one (Bradbury) is run away. This man had been allowed to settle, on a belief, from his own assurance, that his term of transportation was expired; but it was afterwards discovered that he had been cast for life. Hereupon he grew desperate, and declared he would rather perish at once than remain as a convict. He disappeared a week ago and has never since been heard of. Were I compelled to settle in New South Wales, I should fix my residence here, both from the appearance of the soil, and its proximity to Rose Hill. A corporal and two privates are encamped here to guard this settlement, as at Prospect.

Proceeded to the settlement called the Ponds, a name which I suppose it derived from several ponds of water which are near the farms. Here reside the fourteen following settlers.

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Men's names.                      |  Trades. | Number of     | Number of acres
                                  |          | acres in each | in cultivation.
                                  |          | allotment.    |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thomas Kelly                      Servant             30          1 1/2
William Hubbard, and wife         Plasterer           50          2 1/4
Curtis Brand, and wife            Carpenter           50          3
John Ramsay, and wife             Seaman              50          3 1/2
William Field                     ---                 30          2 1/2
John Richards*                    Stone-cutter        30 )        4 1/2
John Summers*                     Husbandman          30 )
----Varnell                       ---                 30          1
Anthony Rope**, and wife, and
two children                      Bricklayer          70          1
Joseph Bishop, and wife           None                50          1 1/2
Mathew Everingham, and wife       Attorney's clerk    50          2
John Anderson, and wife           ---                 50          2
Edward Elliot***                  Husbandman          30 )        2
Joseph Marshall***                Weaver              30 )
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[*They (Richards and Summers) cultivate in partnership.]

[**A convict who means to settle here; and is permitted to work in his leisure hours.]

[***They (Elliot and Marshall) cultivate in partnership.]

The Prospect Hill terms of settlement extend to this place. My private remarks were not many. Some spots which I passed over I thought desirable, particularly Ramsay’s farm; and he deserves a good spot, for he is a civil, sober, industrious man. Besides his corn land, he has a well laid out little garden, in which I found him and his wife busily at work. He praised her industry to me; and said he did not doubt of succeeding. It is not often seen that sailors make good farmers; but this man I think bids fair to contradict the observation. The gentleman of no trade (his own words to me) will, I apprehend, at the conclusion of the time when victualling from the store is to cease, have the honour of returning to drag a timber or brick cart for his maintenance. The little maize he has planted is done in so slovenly a style as to promise a very poor crop. He who looks forward to eat grapes from his own vine, and to sit under the shade of his own fig-tree, must labour in every country. He must exert more than ordinary activity. The attorney’s clerk I also thought out of his province. I dare believe that he finds cultivating his own land not half so easy a task as he formerly found that of stringing together volumes of tautology to encumber, or convey away, that of his neighbour. Hubbard’s farm, and Kelly’s also, deserve regard, from being better managed than most of the others. The people here complain sadly of a destructive grub which destroys the young plants of maize. Many of the settlers have been obliged to plant twice, nay thrice, on the same land, from the depredations of these reptiles. There is the same guard here as at the other settlements.

Nothing now remains for inspection but the farms on the river side.

December 7th. Went to Scheffer’s farm. I found him at home, conversed with him, and walked with him over all his cultivated ground. He had 140 acres granted to him, fourteen of which are in cultivation, twelve in maize, one in wheat and one in vines and tobacco. He has besides twenty-three acres on which the trees are cut down but not burnt off the land. He resigned his appointment and began his farm last May, and had at first five convicts to assist him; he has now four. All his maize, except three acres, is mean. This he thinks may be attributed to three causes: a middling soil; too dry a spring; and from the ground not being sufficiently pulverized before the seed was put into it. The wheat is thin and poor: he does not reckon its produce at more than eight or nine bushels. His vines, 900 in number, are flourishing, and will, he supposes, bear fruit next year. His tobacco plants are not very luxuriant: to these two last articles he means principally to direct his exertions. He says (and truly) that they will always be saleable and profitable. On one of the boundaries of his land is plenty of water. A very good brick house is nearly completed for his use, by the governor; and in the meantime he lives in a very decent one, which was built for him on his settling here. He is to be supplied with provisions from the public store, and with medical assistance for eighteen months, reckoning from last May. At the expiration of this period he is bound to support himself and the four convicts are to be withdrawn. But if he shall then, or at any future period, declare himself able to maintain a moderate number of these people for their labour, they will be assigned to him.

Mr. Scheffer is a man of industry and respectable character. He came out to this country as superintendant of convicts, at a salary of forty pounds per annum, and brought with him a daughter of twelve years old. He is by birth a Hessian, and served in America, in a corps of Yaghers, with the rank of lieutenant. He never was professionally, in any part of life, a farmer, but he told me, that his father owned a small estate on the banks of the Rhine, on which he resided, and that he had always been fond of looking at and assisting in his labours, particularly in the vineyard. In walking along, he more than once shook his head and made some mortifying observations on the soil of his present domain, compared with the banks of his native stream. He assured me that (exclusive of the sacrifice of his salary) he has expended more than forty pounds in advancing his ground to the state in which I saw it. Of the probability of success in his undertaking, he spoke with moderation and good sense. Sometimes he said he had almost despaired, and had often balanced about relinquishing it; but had as often been checked by recollecting that hardly any difficulty can arise which vigour and perseverance will not overcome. I asked him what was the tenure on which he held his estate. He offered to show the written document, saying that it was exactly the same as Ruse’s. I therefore declined to trouble him, and took my leave with wishes for his success and prosperity.

Near Mr. Scheffer’s farm is a small patch of land cleared by Lieutenant Townson of the New South Wales corps, about two acres of which are in maize and wheat, both looking very bad.

Proceeded to the farm of Mr. Arndell, one of the assistant surgeons. This gentleman has six acres in cultivation as follows: rather more than four in maize, one in wheat, and the remainder in oats and barley. The wheat looks tolerably good, rather thin but of a good height, and the ears well filled. His farming servant guesses the produce will be twelve bushels,* and I do not think he over-rates it. The maize he guesses at thirty bushels, which from appearances it may yield, but not more. The oats and barley are not contemptible. This ground has been turned up but once The aspect of it is nearly south, on a declivity of the river, or arm of the sea, on which Rose Hill stands. It was cleared of wood about nine months ago, and sown this year for the first time.

[*I have received a letter from Port Jackson, dated in April 1792, which states that the crop of wheat turned out fifteen bushels, and the maize rather more than forty bushels.]

December 8th. Went this morning to the farm of Christopher Magee, a convict settler, nearly opposite to that of Mr. Scheffen. The situation of this farm is very eligible, provided the river in floods does not inundate it, which I think doubtful. This man was bred to husbandry, and lived eight years in America; he has no less than eight acres in cultivation, five and a half in maize, one in wheat, and one and a half in tobacco. From the wheat he does not expect more than ten bushels, but he is extravagant enough to rate the produce of maize at 100 bushels (perhaps he may get fifty); on tobacco he means to go largely hereafter. He began to clear this ground in April, but did not settle until last July. I asked by what means he had been able to accomplish so much? He answered, “By industry, and by hiring all the convicts I could get to work in their leisure hours, besides some little assistance which the governor has occasionally thrown in.” His greatest impediment is want of water, being obliged to fetch all he uses more than half a mile. He sunk a well, and found water, but it was brackish and not fit to drink. If this man shall continue in habits of industry and sobriety, I think him sure of succeeding.

Reached Ruse’s farm,* and begged to look at his grant, the material part of which runs thus: “A lot of thirty acres, to be called Experiment Farm; the said lot to be holden, free of all taxes, quit-rents, &c. for ten years, provided that the occupier, his heirs or assigns, shall reside within the same, and proceed to the improvement thereof; reserving, however, for the use of the crown, all timber now growing, or which hereafter shall grow, fit for naval purposes. At the expiration of ten years, an annual quit-rent of one shilling shall be paid by the occupier in acknowledgment.”

[*See the state of this farm in my former Rose Hill journal of November 1790, thirteen months before.]

Ruse now lives in a comfortable brick house, built for him by the governor. He has eleven acres and a half in cultivation, and several more which have been cleared by convicts in their leisure hours, on condition of receiving the first year’s crop. He means to cultivate little besides maize; wheat is so much less productive. Of the culture of vineyards and tobacco he is ignorant; and, with great good sense, he declared that he would not quit the path he knew, for an uncertainty. His livestock consists of four breeding sows and thirty fowls. He has been taken from the store (that is, has supplied himself with provisions) for some months past; and his wife is to be taken off at Christmas, at which time, if he deems himself able to maintain a convict labourer, one is to be given to him.

Crossed the river in a boat to Robert Webb’s farm. This man was one of the seamen of the ‘Sirius’, and has taken, in conjunction with his brother (also a seaman of the same ship) a grant of sixty acres, on the same terms as Ruse, save that the annual quit-rent is to commence at the expiration of five years, instead of ten. The brother is gone to England to receive the wages due to them both for their services, which money is to be expended by him in whatever he judges will be most conducive to the success of their plan. Webb expects to do well; talks as a man should talk who has just set out on a doubtful enterprise which he is bound to pursue. He is sanguine in hope, and looks only at the bright side of the prospect. He has received great encouragement and assistance from the governor. He has five acres cleared and planted with maize, which looks thriving, and promises to yield a decent crop. His house and a small one adjoining for pigs and poultry were built for him by the governor, who also gave him two sows and seven fowls, to which he adds a little stock of his own acquiring.

Near Webb is placed William Read, another seaman of the ‘Sirius’, on the same terms, and to whom equal encouragement has been granted.

My survey of Rose Hill is now closed. I have inspected every piece of ground in cultivation here, both public and private, and have written from actual examination only.

But before I bade adieu to Rose Hill, in all probability for the last time of my life, it struck me that there yet remained one object of consideration not to be slighted: Barrington had been in the settlement between two and three months, and I had not seen him.

I saw him with curiosity. He is tall, approaching to six feet, slender, and his gait and manner, bespeak liveliness and activity. Of that elegance and fashion, with which my imagination had decked him (I know not why), I could distinguish no trace. Great allowance should, however, be made for depression and unavoidable deficiency of dress. His face is thoughtful and intelligent; to a strong cast of countenance he adds a penetrating eye, and a prominent forehead. His whole demeanour is humble, not servile. Both on his passage from England, and since his arrival here, his conduct has been irreproachable. He is appointed high-constable of the settlement of Rose Hill, a post of some respectability, and certainly one of importance to those who live here. His knowledge of men, particularly of that part of them into whose morals, manners and behaviour he is ordered especially to inspect, eminently fit him for the office.

I cannot quit him without bearing my testimony that his talents promise to be directed in future to make reparation to society for the offences he has heretofore committed against it.

The number of persons of all descriptions at Rose Hill at this period will be seen in the following return.

A return of the number of persons at Rose Hill, 3rd of December 1791

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Quality.             |Men.|Women.|                Children                    
                     |    |      |  of 10 years  | of 2 years  | under 2 years
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Convicts*             1336   133         0              9             17
Troops                  94     9         1              5              2
Civil Department         7     0         0              0              0
Seamen Settlers          3     0         0              0              0
Free Persons             0     7         2              1              2
Total number of
persons               1440   149         3             15             21
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[*The convicts who are become settlers, are included in this number.]

Of my Sydney journal, I find no part sufficiently interesting to be worth extraction. This place had long been considered only as a depot for stores. It exhibited nothing but a few old scattered huts and some sterile gardens. Cultivation of the ground was abandoned, and all our strength transferred to Rose Hill. Sydney, nevertheless, continued to be the place of the governor’s residence, and consequently the headquarters of the colony. No public building of note, except a storehouse, had been erected since my last statement. The barracks, so long talked of, so long promised, for the accommodation and discipline of the troops, were not even begun when I left the country; and instead of a new hospital, the old one was patched up and, with the assistance of one brought ready-framed from England, served to contain the sick.

The employment of the male convicts here, as at Rose Hill, was the public labour. Of the women, the majority were compelled to make shirts, trousers and other necessary parts of dress for the men, from materials delivered to them from the stores, into which they returned every Saturday night the produce of their labour, a stipulated weekly task being assigned to them. In a more early stage, government sent out all articles of clothing ready made; but, by adopting the present judicious plan, not only a public saving is effected, but employment of a suitable nature created for those who would otherwise consume leisure in idle pursuits only.

On the 26th of November 1791, the number of persons, of all descriptions, at Sydney, was 1259, to which, if 1628 at Rose Hill and 1172 at Norfolk Island be added, the total number of persons in New South Wales and its dependency will be found to amount to 4059.*

[*A very considerable addition to this number has been made since I quitted the settlement, by fresh troops and convicts sent thither from England.]

On the 13th of December 1791, the marine battalion embarked on board His Majesty’s ship Gorgon, and on the 18th sailed for England.

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