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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lord Sydney to the Lords of The Admiralty

page 56

Lord Sydney to the Lords of The Admiralty.

Whitehall, 31st August, 1786.

My Lords,—

The King having been pleased to signify his Royal Commands that 750 of the convicts now in this kingdom under sentence of transportation should be sent to Botany Bay, on the coast of New South Wales, in the latitude of 33° south, at which place it is intended that the said convicts should form a settlement, and that the Lords of the Treasury should forthwith provide a sufficient number of vessels for their conveyance thither, together with provisions and other supplies for their subsistence, as well as tools to enable them to erect habitations, and also implements for agriculture; and it being his Majesty’s intention that a ship of war of a proper class, with part of her guns only on board, commanded by an able and discreet officer, and a sufficient establishment of inferior officers and men, together with a vessel of about 200 tons burthen, commanded also by an officer, should, as soon as the convict ships are ready, proceed with them to the new settlement, for the purpose of regulating their sailing, and for the preservation of peace and good order during the passage, as well as for other purposes after their arrival—

I am commanded to signify to your Lordships the King’s pleasure that you do forthwith cause a ship of war and a tender for those services to be fitted for sea with all possible expedition, and when the said convicts shall be put on board the ships which are preparing for their reception in the river Thames, to instruct the commander of the ship of war to take the convict ships under his protection, and proceed with them and the tender (which he will employ as he shall find occasion) to Botany Bay, calling off Plymouth, on his way thither, for another convict ship, the master of which will be directed to join the convoy from thence upon its appearance.

From the length of the voyage to New South Wales, the convoy will, of course, find it necessary to put into port on their way thither, for the purpose of recruiting their water. Your Lordships will, therefore, give instructions accordingly, only taking care that one of the places to be fixed upon for a rendezvous may be the Cape of Good Hope, from whence it is intended that as many supplies as possible for the new settlement shall be procured.

As it has been thought advisable that some military establishment shall be made at the new intended settlement, not only to enforce due subordination and obedience, but for the defence of the settlement against incursions of the natives, and as from the nature of the service to be performed it is highly expedient that it should be composed of men accustomed to and under proper page 57 discipline, his Majesty has been pleased to direct that 160 private marines, with a suitable number of officers and non-commission officers, shall proceed in the ship of war and the tender to the new settlement, where it is intended they shall be disembarked for the purposes before mentioned. They will be properly victualled by a commissary immediately after their landing, and provision has been also made for supplying them with such tools, implements, and utensils as they may have occasion for, to render their situation comfortable during their continuance at the new intended settlement, which it is designed shall not exceed a period of three years.

When these circumstances are known, it is very probable that many of the non-commissioned officers and men may express a desire of embarking upon this expedition; if the whole number to be employed upon it were to consist of persons of that description, it would upon many accounts be advisable to give them a preference. It is therefore his Majesty’s pleasure that their wishes in this respect should as much as possible be attended to, and that your Lordships should, if there should be occasion, hold out such further indulgences to them as may induce them to embark voluntarily upon this service, either by bounty or promise of discharge should they desire it upon their return, or at the expiration of three years, to be computed from the time of their landing at the new intended settlement should they prefer the remaining in that country.

I enclose to your Lordships herewith the heads of a plan* upon which the new settlement is to be formed, for your further information, together with the proposed establishment for its regulation and government; and as soon as I am acquainted by your Lordships with the names of the officers intended to command the ship of war and the marine corps I shall receive his Majesty’s further pleasure for preparing their commissions, and such instructions as may be requisite for their guidance.

From the nature of the services they are to execute under these instructions, entirely unconnected with maritime affairs, it would be proper that they should be immediately subordinate to the direction of this office, and upon that ground it is his Majesty’s pleasure that they should be directed after their arrival at New South Wales to follow such orders and directions as they may receive from his Majesty thro’ his Principal Secretary of State for this department.

I have, &c.,


* Ante, p. 53.