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Historical Records of New Zealand

Phillip’s Views on the Conduct of the Expedition and the Treatment of convicts.*

page 67

Phillip’s Views on the Conduct of the Expedition and the Treatment of convicts.*

By arriving at the settlement two or three months before the transports many and very great advantages would be gained. Huts would be ready to receive the convicts who are sick, and they would find vegetables, of which it may naturally be supposed they will stand in great need, as the scurvy must make a great ravage amongst people naturally indolent and not cleanly.

Huts would be ready for the women; the stores would be properly lodg’d and defended from the convicts in such manner as to prevent their making any attempt on them. The cattle and stock would be likewise properly secured, and the ground marked out for the convicts; for lists of those intended to be sent being given to the commanding officers, mentioning their ages, crimes, trades, and characters, they might be so divided as to render few changes necessary, and the provisions would be ready for issuing without any waste. But if convicts’ provisions, &c., must be landed a few days after the ship’s arrival, and consequently mostly at the same time, great inconvenience will arise, and to keep the convicts more than a few days on board after they get into a port, considering the length of time which they must inevitably be confined, may be attended with consequences easier to conceive than to point out in a letter. Add to this, fevers of a malignant kind may make it necessary to have a second hospital.

A ship’s company is landed, huts rais’d, and the sick provided for in a couple of days; but here the greater number are convicts, in whom no confidence can be placed, and against whom both person and provision is to be guarded. Everything necessary for the settlement should be received at the Cape on board with the commanding officer, and nothing left for the transports but a certain proportion of live stock.

I may add, the short space of time left to choose a proper situation.

The confineing the convicts on board the ships requires some consideration. Sickness must be the consequence in so long a voyage (six months may be allow’d for the voyage—that is, from the time of leaveing England to the arrival in Botany Bay), and disagreeable consequences may be feared if they have the liberty of the deck. The sooner the crimes and behaviour of these people are known the better, as they may be divided, and

* Phillip’s handwriting, on small sheets of paper.

The MS. is continued, on foolscap, in another hand—evidently a copy of Phillipis’s paper.

page 68 the greatest villains particularly guarded against in one transport.

The women in general I should suppose possess neither virtue nor honesty. But there may be some for thefts who still retain some degree of virtue, and these should be permitted to keep together, and strict orders to the master of the transport should be given that they are not abused and insulted by the ship’s company, which is said to have been the case too often when they were sent to America.

At the ports we put into for water, &c., there may be some sick that may have fever of such a nature that it may be necessary for the sake of the rest to remove them out of the ship. In such a case, how am I to act?

The greatest care will be necessary to prevent any of the convicts from being sent that have any venereal complaints.

During the passage, when light airs or calms permit it, I shall visit the transports to see that they are kept clean and receive the allowance ordered by Government; and at these times shall endeavour to make them sensible of their situation, and that their happiness or misery is in their own hands,—that those who behave well will be rewarded by being allow’d to work occasionally on the small lotts of land set apart for them, and which they will be put in possession of at the expiration of the time for which they are transported.

On landing in Botany Bay it will be necessary to throw up a slight work as a defence against the natives—who, tho’ only seen in small numbers by Captn. Cook, may be very numerous on other parts of the coast—and against the convicts; for this my own little knowledge as a field engineer will be sufficient, and will be the work of a few days only; but some small cannon for a redoubt will be necessary. Within the lines the stores and provisions will be secured; and I should hope that the situation I should be able to take may admit of having the small rivers between the garrison and the convicts so situated that I may be able to prevent their having any intercourse with the natives.

I shall think it a great point gained if I can proceed in this business without having any dispute with the natives, a few of which I shall endeavour to pursuade to settle near us, and who I mean to furnish with everything that can tend to civilize them, and to give them a high opinion of the new guests, for which purpose it will be necessary to prevent the transports’ crews from having any intercourse with the natives, if possible. The convicts must have none, for if they have, the arms of the natives will be very formidable in their hands, the women abused, and the natives disgusted.

page 69

The keeping of the women apart merits great consideration, and I don’t know but it may be best if the most abandoned are permitted to receive the visits of the convicts in the limits allotted them at certain hours, and under certain restrictions; something of this kind was the case in Mill Bank formerly. The rest of the women I should keep apart, and by permitting the men to be in their company when not at work, they will, I should suppose, marry, in which case they should be encouraged, if they are industrious, by one day in the week more than the unmarried on their own lotts of ground.

The natives may, it is probable, permit their women to marry and live with the men after a certain time, in which case I should think it necessary to punish with severity the men who use the women ill, and I know of no punishment likely to answer the purpose of deterring others so well as exiling them to a distant spot, or to an island, where they would be obliged to work hard to gain their daily subsistence, and for which they would have the necessary tools, but no two to be together, if it could be avoided.

Rewarding and punishing the convicts must be left to the Governor; he will be answerable for his conduct, and death, I should think, will never be necessary—in fact, I doubt if the fear of death ever prevented a man of no principle from committing a bad action. There are two crimes that would merit death—murder and sodomy. For either of these crimes I would wish to confine the criminal till an opportunity offered of delivering him as a prisoner to the natives of New Zealand, and let them eat him. The dread of this will operate much stronger than the fear of death.

As the getting a large quantity of stock together will be my first great object, till that is obtained the garrison should, as in Gibralter, not be allowed to kill any animal without first reporting his stock, and receiving permission. This order would only be necessary for a certain time, and I mention it here only to show the necessity of a military government; and as I mean in every matter of this kind to sett the example, I think that I can say this will never occasion any uneasiness, but if it should, it will be absolutely necessary, otherwise we shall not do in ten years what I hope to do in four.

Women may be brought from the Friendly and other islands, a proper place prepared to receive them, and where they will be supported for a time, and lots of land assigned to such as marry with the soldiers of the garrison.

As I would not wish convicts to lay the foundations of an empire, I think they should ever remain separated from the garrison, and other settlers that may come from Europe, and not page 70 be allowed to mix with them, even after the 7 or 14 years for which they are transported may be expired.

The laws of this country will, of course, be introduced in [New] South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his Majesty’s forces take possession of the country: That there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves.

The cloathing for the convicts will last for a certain time, after which what means should I have of furnishing them with materials for their making their own cloaths?

It will be necessary to know how far I may permit the seamen and marines of the garrison to cultivate spots of land when the duty of the day is over, and how far I can give them hopes that the grounds they cultivate will be secured to them hereafter; likewise, how far I may permit any of the garrison to remain, when they are ordered Home in consequence of relief.

By what I am informed, hatchets and beads are the articles for barter—a few small grindstones for the chiefs; and as they use a light they hold it in their hands, small tin lamps on a very simple construction must be very acceptable.

Ships may arrive at Botany Bay in future. On account of the convicts, the orders of the port for no boats landing but in particular places, coming on shore and returning to the ships at stated hours, must be strictly inforced.

The saddles I mentioned will be absolutely necessary, for two horsemen will examine the country to a certain distance, when it might be dangerous to attempt it with half the garrison, for I am not of the general opinion that there are very few inhabitants in this country, at least so few as have been represented—but this article I take upon myself, as likewise the knifes, &c., that I mentioned.

Such fruit trees and cuttings that will bear removing should be added to the seeds carried from England, as likewise roots that will bear keeping that length of time out of the ground.

Two or three of the houses in question will be highly necessary, and there is no time to lose in giving the orders, if intended.

A certain quantity of the articles of husbandry, stores, corn, seeds, &c., of the articles for traffick, should be put on board the Berwick,* that in case of an accident we may not be in immediate want of those things, and the same on board the store-ship in which the Lt.-Gouvrnour goes.

* Renamed the Sirius.