From Blighty to Oz

Blog entry posted in 'From Blighty to Oz', May 13, 2019.

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Back in the 18th century, if you were a criminal in Britain, chances are that you could be shipped off to America. In fact, about 52,000 convicts were sent there between 1717 and 1775. Then the American Revolution started in 1776, which brought such matters to a halt. :sceptical:

Where to now? Ah yes – there was that large piece of land on the other side of the world.... Australia! :nailbiting:

So it was that today, 13th May back in 1787 that the First Fleet left Portsmouth in Hampshire, bound for Botany Bay. This fleet of ships was made up of 6 convict ships, 2 naval ships and 3 supply ships, the Captain of this fleet being one Arthur Phillip. When the ships left England, there were 1420 people on board, including 14 children of the convicts. But by the end of the 8 month voyage, this total had reduced to 1373 – both convicts and crew had suffered deaths amongst their numbers. :(

Although not amongst the convicts on that First Fleet, I do have an ancestor who was sent to Australia back in 1837. Sophia Lawrence, aged 22, was charged with stealing one blanket, two pairs of silk stockings, two pairs of cotton stockings and two pairs of woollen stockings, the property of the Rev John Hailstone, Vicar of Shudy Camps in Cambridgeshire. She left her husband and young son behind, never to return. However, after she was awarded her Certificate of Freedom, she remarried. Her Australian descendants and I made contact about 15 years ago. ;)
Flook, Half Hour, Dogsday and 14 others like this.
  1. Dogsday
    I wonder how many of us have unknown (as yet) relatives who landed in America & Australia in that manner
    Daft Bat and Half Hour like this.
    Dogsday, May 13, 2019
  2. Half Hour
    My husband has oodles of ancestors who came over to the U in the late 1600's and early 1700's.. I'm sure some of them were not sent voluntarily.... Hehehe......
    Daft Bat likes this.
    Half Hour, May 13, 2019
  3. Sandiep
    oh dear I have one 3rd g grandfather transported for stealing a measuring tape, a gauging tool a brass measuring scale etc he left 5 children only 2 of which survived the last son he wouldn't have seen...……….he married again in Australia and had another 4 children.
    His brother had been transported earlier
    I also have a 3rd g grandmother who had a couple of convictions before being transported for stealing a watch she left 4 children and she also remarried in Australia and had another 5 children.

    we are a law abiding family now honestly!
    Daft Bat likes this.
    Sandiep, May 13, 2019
  4. Half Hour
    @Sandiep I often wonder how many of those people REALLY did steal something or if they were set up. Such cruel punishment to be sent away from your children.
    I also wonder if these people that re-married could be charged with bigamy?
    Daft Bat likes this.
    Half Hour, May 13, 2019
  5. HildaW
    I understand that as soon as the ship sailed the marriage of the partner left in UK was annulled, leaving that spouse free to remarry but I know of one lady who married very soon after her husband was placed on a hulk in Chatham - I am sure he was set up as he was reported to have stolen scissors and other hairdressing items from his employer ... the same man his wife hastily married as soon as he departed Yorkshire. He was a model prisoner and as soon as he got his ticket of leave he married in Sydney - did well and had a number of children.
    Daft Bat likes this.
    HildaW, May 21, 2019
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