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Historical Records of New Zealand

Heads of a Plan.*

page 53

Heads of a Plan.*

Heads of a plan for effectually disposing of convicts, and rendering their transportation reciprocally beneficial both to themselves and to the State, by the establishment of a colony in New South Wales, a country which, by the fertility and salubrity of the climate, connected with the remoteness of its situation (from whence it is hardly possible for persons to return without permission), seems peculiarly adapted to answer the views of Government with respect to the providing a remedy for the evils likely to result from the late alarming and numerous increase of felons in this country, and more particularly in the metropolis.

It is proposed that a ship of war of a proper class, with a part of her guns mounted, and a sufficient number of men on board for her navigation, and a tender of about 200 tons burthen, commanded by discreet officers, should be got ready as soon as possible to serve as an escort to the convict ships, and for other purposes hereinafter mentioned.

That, in addition to their crews, they should take on board two companies of marines to form a military establishment on shore (not only for the protection of the settlement, if requisite, against the natives, but for the preservation of good order), together with an assortment of stores, utensils, and implements necessary for erecting habitations and for agriculture, and such quantities of provisions as may be proper for the use of the crews.

As many of the marines as possible should be artificers, such as carpenters, sawyers, smiths, potters (if possible), and some husbandmen. To have a chaplain on board, with a surgeon, and one mate at least; the former to remain at the settlement.

That these vessels should touch at the Cape of Good Hope, or any other places that may be convenient, for any seed that may be requisite to be taken from thence, and for such live stock as they can possibly contain, which, it is supposed, can be procured there without any sort of difficulty, and at the most reasonable rates, for the use of the settlement at large.

That Government should immediately provide a certain number of ships of a proper burthen to receive on board at least seven or eight hundred convicts, and that one of them should be properly fitted for the accommodation of the women, to prevent their intercourse with the men.

That these ships should take on board as much provisions as they can possibly stow, or at least a sufficient quantity for two years’ consumption; supposing one year to be issued at whole page 54 allowance, and the other year’s provisions at half allowance, which will last two years longer, by which time, it is presumed, the colony, with the live stock and grain which may be raised by a common industry on the part of the new settlers, will be fully sufficient for their maintenance and support.

That, in addition to the crews of the ships appointed to contain the convicts, a company of marines should be divided between them, to be employed as guards for preventing ill consequences that might arise from dissatisfaction amongst the convicts, and for the protection of the crew in the navigation of the ship from insults that might be offered by the convicts.

That each of the ships should have on board at least two surgeons’ mates, to attend to the wants of the sick, and should be supplied with a proper assortment of medicines and instruments, and that two of them should remain with the settlement.

After the arrival of the ships which are intended to convey the convicts, the ship of war and tender may be employed in obtaining live stock from the Cape, or from the Molucca Islands, a sufficient quantity of which may be brought from either of those places to the new settlement in two or three trips; or the tender, if it should be thought most adviseable, may be employed in conveying to the new settlement a further number of women from the Friendly Islands, New Caledonia, &c., which are contiguous thereto, and from whence any number may be procured without difficulty; and without a sufficient proportion of that sex it is well known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders.

The whole regulation and management of the settlement should be committed to the care of a discreet officer, and provision should be made in all cases, both civil and military, by special instructions under the Great Seal or otherwise, as may be thought proper.

Upon the whole, it may be observed with great force and truth that the difference of expence (whatever method of carrying the convicts thither may be adopted) that this mode of disposing of them and that of the usual ineffectual one is too trivial to be a consideration with Government, at least in comparison with the great object to be obtained by it, especially now the evil is increased to such an alarming degree, from the inadequacy of all other expedients that have hitherto been tried or suggested.

It may not be amiss to remark in favour of this plan that considerable advantage will arise from the cultivation of the New Zealand hemp or flax-plant in the new intended settlement, the supply of which would be of great consequence to us as a naval page 55 power, as our manufacturers are of opinion that canvas made of it would be superior in strength and beauty to any canvas made of the European material, and that a cable of the circumference of ten inches made from the former would be superior in strength to one of eighteen inches made of the latter. The threads or filaments of this New Zealand plant are formed by nature with the most exquisite delicacy, and may be so minutely divided as to be manufactured into the finest linens.

Most of the Asiatic productions may also without doubt be cultivated in the new settlement, and in a few years may render our recourse to our European neighbours for those productions unnecessary.

It may also be proper to attend to the possibility of procuring from New Zealand any quantity of masts and ship timber for the use of our fleets in India, as the distance between the two countrys is not greater than between Great Britain and America. It grows close to the water’s edge, is of size and quality superior to any hitherto known, and may be obtained without difficulty.

Staff Establishment for the Settlement at New South Wales:—

Yearly Salary.
£ s. d.
The Naval Commander to be appointed Governor or Superintendent-General 500 0 0
The Commanding Officer of the Marines to be appointed Lieut-Gov. or Dept. Superintendent 250 0 0
The Commissary of Stores and Provisions, for himself and assistants (to be appointed or named by the contractors for the provisions) 200 0 0
Pay of a surgeon £182 10 0
Ditto of two mates 182 10 0
365 0 0
Chaplain 182 10 0
£1,497 10 0

Estimate of clothing to serve a male convict for one year:—

No. Value each.
s. d. £ s. d.
Jackets 2 4 6 0 9 0
Woollen drawers 4 2 0 0 8 0
Hat 1 2 6 0 2 6
Shirts 3 3 0 0 9 0
Worsted stockings 4 pr. 1 0 0 4 0
Frocks 3 2 3 0 6 9
Trousers 3 2 3 0 6 9
Shoes 3 pr. 4 6 0 13 6
£2 19 6

The expence of clothing female convicts may be computed to amount to the like sum.

* Ante, p. 50.