The First FleetPeriod Covered - 1st September 1786 to 30th June 1790
On 1st September, 1786, the British Government placed the first of a series of advertisements in the London The Morning Herald for the hiring of the required shipping. The offer was first taken up by William Richards Junior, a little-known Navy broker. Born in Dover in 1735, Richards was son of a tailor who, by the 1780s, was one of London's wealthier sons. He had business interests in America which appear to have commenced from a ship brokering business he established during the American Revolution. He lived on Queens Row, Walworth, and promoted himself as a 'prominent' shipbroker, mostly for the Navy.
No other tenders were received from merchants, indicating that London's commercial class was not excited by the new opportunity to explore and develop trade opportunities in the Pacific in spite of the bonus of having the outward voyages paid for by government. In time, 8this attitude was to change as, by 1789, Calvert and Co. agreed to in ship convicts to Australia and mounted half the Second Fleet and half the Third Fleet. Richards, who would be paid almost £54,000 for organising the First Fleet, wrote a wonderfully excited letter to William Pitt when forwarding his tender.
As a shipping enterprise, the First Fleet quickly lapsed into virtual chaos, due in no small part to opportunism, aggression, badly-directed energy, budgetary illogic and a lack of involvement by the British East India Company, which had the expertise to handle the task with ease had it chosen to assist in the project. As the Government had previously given the Company a monopoly on trade in the Far East, the enterprise could have been logically and profitably organised with the creation of a convict colony at New South Wales as a major element in an organised opening-up by Britain of new commercial and strategic opportunities in the Pacific.
By using more naval expertise than it did and the goodwill of sensible shipping contractors, the government could have created the perfect environment for and an excellent opportunity to create a successful new Pacific colony. Instead, jealousy, pomposity, protectionism and negativity on the part of the East India Company saw to it that this was not to be Alexander Dalrymple continued his opposition to the Botany Bay penal settlement. He found out about the scheme long before it became law, possibly through contacts at the Blackheath Golf Club, where he played. He believed it would invade the monopoly charter of the East India Company, so with the East India Company out of the equation, it was left to private merchants to supply the vessels for the first fleet. At the time, whaling was big business, and it is known that numerous companies involved in whaling had actively supported the exploration of the South Pacific, obviously with a view to setting up establishing business operations there. Three whaling investors, two being aldermen, placed ships in the First Fleet, though William Richards remained the main contractor.
The task of managing the fledgling penal colony of New South Wales was assigned to Arthur Phillip, a little known naval captain engaged in survey work for the British Admiralty at the time of his appointment. Born in London on 11th October, 1738, Phillip, a laconic, retiring and even lonely man, was the son of the language teacher, Jakob Phillip, from Frankfurt, Germany. Phillip had begun his arduous apprenticeship at Greenwich Hospital, a training school for the sons of seamen. His training culminated in two years of service at sea under Captain Redhead on the Fortune. Phillip first saw action in May 1756 aboard HMS Buckingham against the French off Minorca. His at-sea military service continued until 1763 when Phillip, then a lieutenant, began 12 years of enforced retirement on half pay, during which time he worked his farm at Lyndhurst in Hampshire. Upon his new appointment, Phillip's salary was doubled to £1000.
During his enforced retirement, Phillip had sought and was granted permission to serve on a Portuguese ship during Portugal's war with Spain . He gained a wealth of experience at this time, his duties including the successful transportation from Lisbon to Brazil of some 400 convicts. This, his farming experience and the fact that a near neighbour was the Treasurer of the Navy, Sir George Rose, are widely believed to be the major contributing factors in his selection for the post of Governor of the colony of New South Wales.
Phillip had little to do with formulating the structure of management of the men and women of the new colony. This was the Secretary of State Nepean's responsibility and he tossed around a number of options, including a judicial system of government and the one which was finally adopted, a military government.
With an Act of Parliament thought necessary, a bill was drawn up in January 1787, by which officers of the army or navy could be empanelled. A procedure for granting land was developed and a surveyor to administer this was appointed (a retired German military man, Augustus Alt). Between October 1786 and April 1787, Phillip's commission was written, and more and more Phillip's role began to look like that of a day-to-day administrator. It read:
. . . We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10 degrees 37' south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape, in the latitude 43 degrees 39' south, and all the country inland and westward as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of longitude, reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitude aforesaid of 10 degrees 37' south and 43 degrees 39' south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts and all other fortifications or other military works, which now are or may be hereafter erected upon this said territory. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Governor in and over our said territory by doing and performing all and all manner of things thereunto belonging, and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers and soldiers who shall be employed within our said territory, and all others whom it may concern, to obey you as our Governor thereof; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and discipline of war, and likewise such orders and directions as we shall send you under our signet or sign manual, or by our High Treasurer or Commissioners of our Treasury, for the time being, or one of our Principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the trust we hereby repose in you.
Given at our Court at St, James's, the twelfth day of October 1786, in the twenty-sixth year of our reign.
By His Majesty's Command
Lord Sydney, now back in Government, had remained interested in the idea of a Botany Bay settlement, and was more willing to spend money on the project than other cabinet ministers. An old-fashioned Whig, he disliked the idea of convicts being made to be slaves of government and had voiced his opposition to the hulks when they were first introduced in 1776. Phillip on the other hand determined to regard the convicts as servants of the crown until their full terms had expired and expected to make numerous convicts independent of government control soon after the settlement had been established.
v Who owned the 'rights' to the convict's labour was another matter in need of settlement. With the First Fleet and subsequent convict shipping, the government paid for the transportation, temporarily assigning the 'properties' into the custody of the shipping contractors , their agents and ships' captains, during the period of transportation. In theory, at the destination, the Governor would receive the individually listed 'properties', verifying them against a list of names which contained information on the duration of each convict's sentence. Upon receipt of them, the Governor then had the right to exercise the labour of the convicts. Phillip, however, was not given information on the duration of all sentences, so the transportation of many such convicts was legally ineffectual. Needless to say, with no one there to argue the point, the plan continued and Phillip was left to sort out any problems as and when they arose. That the Government did not how many man-years of convict labour had been sent to NSW reflects the ad-hoc way the venture had been planned. This information should have been the basis for all planning, right down to the size of the food supply necessary for the colony, not to mention equipment needed.
Lady Penrhyn(convict transport) - 333 tons. built on the Thames in 1786 for alderman Curtis and skippered by Master William Sever. 114 ft long and 31 ft at the beam, the Alexander was skippered by Master Duncan Sinclair. Her First Fleet voyage was her maiden voyage and after it she was bought by Wedderburns. Lady Penrhyn, after whom the ship was named, was the wife of Lord Penrhyn, who spent 30,000 pounds in 1790 in an unsuccessful attempt to control the port of Liverpool. Richard Pennant, Baron Penrhyn, was the chairman between 1777-1783 of a powerful lobby group of West Indies merchants and planters. Lady Penrhyn sailed with 101 female convicts. The crew strength is believed to have been 32. Also on board were around 11 marines and officials, including a stowaway. On 5th May 1788, the Lady Penrhyn returned to England in the company of Scarborough and Charlotte via China, where a cargo of goods was picked up to help cover the cost of the voyage. After returning to England, Lady Penrhyn was put on the London - Jamaica run for which she had been built. Lady Penrhyn was captured in 1811 in the West Indies.
Alexander(convict transport) - 452 tons. She was the second largest ship in the fleet, a brig that had been built in Hull in 1783. She was chartered from William Walton & Co. for the trip to Australia. The crew strength for the voyage to Australia is not known, but given the size of the vessel, it is likely to have been around 40. The ship also carried around 26 marines to guard the convicts on board, along with officials for the colony. After its arrival at Sydney Cove, the Alexander remained in Sydney until the 14th July, when she sailed for England via Batavia under the command of Lieutenant John Shortland in the company of Borrowdale, Friendship and Prince of Wales. Little is known of her after her return journey. She disappeared from records in 1808.
Charlotte(convict transport) - 335 tons. 105 ft long and 28 ft at the beam. Built on the Thames in 1784, she carried 88 male and 20 female convicts. The crew strength was around 30. Also on board were marines and officials, believed to number 27. On 5th May 1788, the Charlotte returned to England in the company of Scarborough and Lady Penrhyn via China, where a cargo of goods was picked up to help cover the cost of the voyage. Skippered by Master Thomas Gilbert, Charlotte's return to England saw her transferred to the London - Jamaica run until she was sold to a Quebec merchant in 1818 prior to being lost off the coast of Newfoundland that same year.
Memorial to HMS Sirius, Portsmouth, England, from which the First Fleet sailed
Sirius(man-o'-war) - 612 tons. Skippered by Captain John Hunter. The flagship of the First Fleet, the Sirius was built in 1780. She was bought by the Navy, refitted and re-named HMS Berwick in 1781. In 1786 she was badly burnt in a fire, rebuilt and renamed 'Sirius'. She carried 20 guns and had a ship's compliment of around 180 men. Sirius remained as at Sydney until October 1788 when she sailed to the Cape of Good Hope to obtain food supplies for the starving colony. After returning to Sydney she was wrecked off Norfolk Island on 14th April, 1790. The anchor of the Sirius is on public display in Macquarie Square, Sydney.
Scarborough(convict transport) - 430 tons. Built in Scarborough in 1782 and named after her town of origin. Sailed with both 1st and 2nd fleets. The crew strength was around 35. Also on board were around 25 marines and officials. Being a large vessel, the Scarborough carried 208 male convicts. On 5th May 1788, the Scarborough returned to England in the company of Charlotte and Lady Penrhyn via China, where a cargo of goods was picked up to help cover the cost of the voyage. She came back to Port Jackson with more convicts as part of the Second fleet. Apart from the Sirius and Supply, she was the only other ship from the first fleet to return to Australian waters. She was skippered by Master Kohn Marshall.
Friendship(convict transport) - 278 tons. A brig built in Scarborough in 1784. Carried 21 male and 21 female convicts. The crew strength was around 20. Some 33 marines and officials were also on board. At 75 feet in length, she was one of the light we ight ships of the fleet and was skippered by Master Francis Walton. After its arrival at Sydney Cove, the Friendship remained in Sydney until the 14th July, when she sailed for England via Batavia in the company of Borrowdale, Alexander and Prince of Wales. During the return voyage to England, scurvy was so rife there was insufficient crew to man her and she was subsequently scuttled in the straights of Macassar. The survivors were transferred to the Alexander.
Prince of Wales(convict transport) - 350(?) tons. Built on the Thames in 1786, she was the 2nd largest ship in the fleet. The crew strength was around 25. Also on board were around 44 marines and officials. This ship carried only one male convict and 49 female convicts. Prince of Wales was skippered by Master John Mason. After its arrival at Sydney Cove, the prince of Wales remained in Sydney until the 14th July, when she sailed for England via Batavia in the company of Borrowdale, Friendship and Alexander. After her return voyage to England, she operated in English waters until 1797 when her registration was transferred to Fort Royal, Martinique, after which little is known.
Borrowdale(Supplies, equipment and livestock) - 375 tons, 75 ft long, beam 22ft. Built in 1788 at Sunderland.Skippered by Master Readthorn Hobson, the Borrowdale had a crew strength of around 24. The Borrowdale is not known to have carried any convicts or other passengers. She is believed to have been named after the supplier of hats and female clothing for the first fleet. After its arrival at Sydney Cove, the Borrowdale remained in Sydney until the 14th July, when she sailed for England via Batavia in the company of Alexander, Friendship and Prince of Wales. Very little is known about this ship and it disappeared from the records after the return voyage to Engl and.
Fishburn(Supplies, equipment and livestock) - 378 tons. Built in 1780 in Whitby. She had a crew of around 30 and was skippered by Master Robert Brown. It is not known to have carried any convicts or other passengers. The Fishburn, in the company of the Golden Grove, left Port Jackson for England on 19 November, 1788. Like the other store ships, The Fishburn disappeared from all records after returning to England from her epic voyage.
Golden Grove(Supplies, equipment and livestock) - 331 tons. Built in 1780 in Whitby. She had a crew of around 20 and was skippered by Master Sharp. It is believed to have not carried any convicts, but did carry other officials for the colony. This ship had the distinction of carrying the Reverend Richard Johnson - the first chaplain to the colony - and his wife. The Golden Grove, in the company of the Fishburn , left Port Jackson for England on 19 November, 1788.After returning to England to work the London - Jamaica run, the Golde dn Grove disappeared from records after 1804.
Supply(armed tender) - 670 tons. The smallest vessel of the fleet (70 feet long), the Supply arrived first. Her crew consisted of 42 men and she also carried 12 marines and officials. Skippered by Captain Henry Bull, Supply led the fleet most of the way because of her speed. Little is known of this brig's early history, but it is believed she was built in America in 1759 and was commissioned by the Admiralty in October 1786. After her first fleet voyage, the Supply returned to England where she was renamed Thomas & Nancy. Records indicate she carried coal on the Thames until around 1806.
The bay in Portsmouth, England, from which the First Fleet sailed
"... at 4am fired gun and made the signal to weigh, weigh'd and made sail, in company with the Hyaena frigate Supply armed with tender, six transports and three store ships, at 9 fired a gun and made the sign'l for the convoy to make more sail. With thee words the logbook of HMS Sirius recorded the departure of what we know today as The First Fleet. The eleven ships of the fleet under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip left Portsmouth, England early on Sunday 13th May 1787 bound for a virtually unknown shore eight months and half a world away. The escort vessel, HMS Hyaena stayed with the fleet until it was clear of the English channel and into open waters.
3 June 1787: Arrival at Teneriffe in the Canary Islands three weeks after leaving England. Fresh water and vegetables were taken on at Santa Cruz on Teneriffe, the first port of call. Marine Captain Watkin Tench recorded: "During our short stay we had every day some fresh proof of his Excellency's esteem and attention, and had the honour of dining with him, in a style of equal elegance and splendor".
2 August, 1787: Arrival at Rio de Janeiro. Captain Arthur Phillip recorded: "Stormy seas were succeeded by warm weather and favourable winds. Land was sighted on 2 August 1787, and by 6 August the even ships in the Fleet were anchored in the harbour at Rio de Janeiro".
13 October 1787: Arrival at the Cape of Good Hope. By dark all eleven ships were anchored in Table Bay. Whilst in port, provisions were loaded. Corn was in short supply, but cattle and other supplies were found to be plentiful, and taken on board. The convicts were treated to the luxury of fresh meat and vegetables. On 12 November 1787 the Fleet set sail for their final destination, Botany Bay.
18 January 1788: arrival of Supply at Botany Bay.
19th January 1788, the day on which the all the ships of the First Fleet came to anchor in Botany Bay, would have been the day on which Governor Arthur Phillip founded the colony of New South Wales at Botany Bay were it not for the fact that what he saw there was quite different to what Joseph Banks had described Botany Bay as being. Phillip found few trees, the meadows Banks had waxed lyrical about were in fact marshlands, the vegetation of which was dry and had turned brown under the hot summer sun. The river to the north of the bay (Cooks River) was swampy and uninviting, and it was Phillip's view that an alternate site had to be found and found quickly. He decided to disregard his instructions and sail north in search of a more suitable site at either Broken Bay or Port Jackson, which Cook had not entered, but had marked on his map as being a safe harbour. Phillip found Port Jackson to be '... one of the finest harbours in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line might ride in perfect security.'
He spent the best part of a day traversing the harbour's southern shore before selecting what he named Sydney Cove as the site for the new colony. It was almost a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Nestled between two rocky headlands, it provided a safe anchorage for his ships with deep water close to the eastern shore. The cove had a small stream flowing into it and a forest of large trees covering the hillside that were sufficiently far apart to allow easy access on foot. The size of the trees and the lush undergrowth indicated to Philip that the soil was fertile and the new colony would have plenty of timber for fuel and building. He could not have been further from the truth. The trees were to prove almost impossible to chop down, within a year the gardens he would establish there would fail and a few years hence the stream would deteriorate into a string of stagnent pools.
Had he sailed around just one more headland, he would have discov ered a far more suitable place to bring 'a thousand sail of the line (to) ride in perfect security, the giant harbour within a harbour that is Walsh Bay, Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Johnstons Bay, Blackwattle Bay, Rozelle Bay and White Bay. Within a generation, the settlement Phillip was about to establish would outgrow Sydney Cove as its port and would re-establish the majority of its maritime activities in these large sheltered bays beyond Sydney Town. Though its ability to grow crops would have been on a par with Sydney Cove, Cockle Bay also had a stream to provide fresh water, but had the added advantage of ample clay to allow the immediate production of bricks, something the sandy valley behind Sydney Cove lacked. Without the benefit of hindsight, Phillip made his choice, went ashore, raised the King's colours and claimed the land for Britain - Cook had already done this some 18 years previous, but on this occasion, the western boundary of New South Wales was extended beyond Cook's claim, doubling the size of the area of British sovereignty. Phillip signaled the rest of the fleet to enter the harbour and over the course of the next week, the 777 convicts and convicts' children, 252 Marines, 20 officers and 443 seamen were brought ashore at Cattle Point (later Bennelong Point) to start their new life in the Antipodes.
Founding of the Colony of New South Wales, 1788
The majority of the British parliamentarians who passed the laws which brought the penal colony at Sydney Cove into being had seen it as nothing more than an 'out of the way' repository for England's unwanted criminals and a solution to a problem that otherwise wasn't going to go away. But many supporters in the British community at large saw the idea of a penal colony in New South Wales from a different perspective. Those in church circles, joined by the likes of William Wilberforce who by this time had entered parlia ment and was actively lobbying for social reform, saw the act of transportation to New South Wales as a chance to bring freedom of sorts to these poor wretches and give them a far better chance to make something of their lives than that facing them in Britain's penal system.
The common belief in the middle and upper classes was 'once a criminal, always a criminal'. Criminal activity was believed to be genetic, a state of being one is born with that no amount of reformation can change. A new line of thought, based on Christian principals of forgiveness, salvation and the restoration of hope, which were enjoying a revival among the working class of England at the time, said that, given the right environment and encouragement, law breakers could become law-abiding citizens. Its proponents believed that the transportees' involvement in the creation of a new home and a new environment fo pr themselves would instill the convicts with new hope and a self respect that they would otherwise never experience. They looked to the future and a day when these people would no longer be convicts but free men with families, homes and jobs. They has the foresight to see that irrespective of what the British Government thought or did, the days of the settlement on Sydney Cove as a convict outpost would always be numbered, and its growth into a thriving community such as the American colonies had become was inevitable. The man entrusted with the task of teaching the Christian principles of salvation, hope, love and forgiveness to the convicts was Rev. Richard Johnson, a 31-year old Evangelical Anglican minister. Johnson had been carefully selected by a group of influential Christian leaders including Wilberforce and Rev. John Newton, a reformed slave trader and the au mthor of the hymn 'Amazing Grace'. Newton had been strongly influenced by the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement.
Johnson (1753-1827), born in Welton, Yorkshire, had taken his holy orders in 1786, the year he was appointed chaplain to the settlement at New South Wales. He arrived on HMS Sirius, accompanied by his wife, Mary (Burton), who he had married on 4th December, 1786. Johnson was already a successful farmer, having growing citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, wheat, barley and tobacco on his own land. Johnson was a man with a deep sense of calling. Aware that the First Fleet organisers had only included one solitary prayer book in the list of provisions for the new colony, he ensured there was no shortage of Christian reading material by including in his personal baggage 100 Bibles, 400 Testaments and 500 Psalters, 10 ]0 Osterwald's 'Necessity for Reading the Scriptures', 25 'Plain Exhortations to Prisoners', 200 'Sermon on the Mount', 200 'Exercises Against Lying', 50 Woodward's 'Caution to Swearers' and 200 'Christian Soldiers'. These were distributed by Johnson on the occasion of the first church service in Australia. In his tenth year as Colonial Chaplain Johnson applied for leave for health reasons. He finally left for England on the Buffalo in 1800, but would never return. As a sign of respect to the Aborigines, to whom he showed great compassion, Johnson gave his daughter who was born in New South Wales an aboriginal name, Milbah.
Gov. Phillip had decreed that the whole colony should attend the first service which was held in a clearing on Sunday, 3rd February 1788 near where the head office of Westpac Banking Corporation stands in George Street. Standing under a tree in circumstances similar to Jesus of Biblical times when He gave the Sermon on the Mount, Johnson delivered his message based on Psalm 116 verse 12: 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?' At first it would seem an odd scripture around which to base an address to a group of convicts who had just been dumped unceremoniously in a hot, inhospitable land on the other side of the world. But as Johnson read on, the appropriateness of the words became clearer in the message of hope and salvation he proclaimed: 'The cords of death entangle me ... I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: 'O Lord save me!' For you, O Lord have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.' Johnson reminded his convict audience that they had been sav ed from the death-ridden prisons of Britain, and that in spite of the tears and heartache they were all feeling, they had been given the chance of a new life in a new land and should seize the opportunity before them. He read on: 'How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord'.
In the main, Johnson's sermon fell on deaf ears. His lot was not to be an easy one. Though Phillip may have privately supported the principles Johnson taught, he was reluctant to be seen by those under his authority as supportve of the chaplain's strong evangelical stance. Many of the military were already proving to be a handful by openly defying Phillip's authority. Johnson was left very much to his own devices to the point where he could not even get official assistance in the construction of a church. He eventually built it himself with convict help out of his own money at a cost of 67 pounds, 12 shillings and 11 pence halfpenny. Richard Johnson Square on the corner of Bligh and Hunter Streets marks the spot where it stood for four years until it was burned down by a group of convicts who rebelled against being forced to attend services there. Being Chaplain to the colony, Johnson's official duties included 'the appropriate observance of religion and good order among the inhabitants and to take steps for the due celebration of public worship' as circumstances would permit. This included the reading of the Book of Common Prayer to the colonials every Sunday and Holy Day in both Sydney and Parramatta. Though attendance by all convicts was compulsory, Johnson rarely had a full congregation. His efforts were hampered by soldiers who not only opposed his views and resented being forced to attend the services, they often walked out mid way through his sermons and barred convicts who wanted to attend church from entering.
Johnson's duties included recording birth, deaths and marriages in the colony. The first child he baptised was William Tilley on the voyage out aboard Lady Penrhyn on 20th April 1787. The first burial was James Bradley on board the "Alexander" on 3rd February 1787, and the first marriage was between William Parr and Mary MacCormick, performed on the site of his church on 10th February 1788. Within the first month of settlement, he had officiated at 14 weddings. In the first 5 years he conducted 226 baptisms, 220 marriages and 851 burials. Among his other duties were executing laws against Sabbath breaking, swearing, stealing and profanity. He loathed the times when his duties required him to act as magistrate or to officiate at hangings, as on these occasions he was seen by the convicts as being part of the establishment ruling over them rather than the friend helping them, something he so much desired to be.
In spite of the odds stacked against him, Governor Phillip was a forward thinking person who very much shared the belief that Sydney Cove's days as a convict outpost were numbered and it would be only a matter of time before it grew into a thriving community. From the time he first stepped ashore, every act was performed with this in mind and every decision made was a step towards ensuring it happened. The Governors who immediately followed Phillip had other things on their minds and none shared his vision until the arrival of Lachlan Macquarie in 1810 when Sydney would again come under the influence of a Governor who saw the potential of the settlement as a community rather than a prison and was prepared to take on the powers that be to make sure it was realised.
Phillip's far-sighted dream for the penal colony was documented in his 'Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, the official account of the founding of the colony of New South Wales which he wrote for the Colonial Secretary Lord Sydney in July 1788'. To Phillip, the creation of a town for the residents to live in and take pride in as their home as opposed to a prison to stop them escaping was his primary goal. 'The aim,' he wrote, 'is to preserve a kind of uniformity in the buildings, prevent narrow streets and exclude many inconveniences which a rapid increase of inhabitants might otherwise occasion hereafter'. He recommended the name Albion for the settlement - Sydney at that time was only the name of the cove on which the settlement had been established. Albion was the old Roman name for England because the sandstone heads of Port Jackson reminded him of the white chalk cliffs seen when approaching England. He planned to officially bequeath the name Albion at a ceremony to commemorate the laying of the first stone of his new government house, on the King s birthday, 4th June 1788. But the ceremony was postponed, and Phillip never got around to the naming.
The streets of Albion were to be a uniform 200 ft wide to allow for the 'proper circulation of air' and that building allotments be of a standard 60 by 150 feet. Phillip's suggested name was never adopted and the name of the cove around which the settlement grew up came into use more by a 6ccident than by design as the name of the settlement. Augustus Alt, selected before the First Fleet sailed as the colony's first Surveyor General, was assigned an assistant, Lieutenant Dawes, and was given the task of laying out the town in accordance with Phillip's plan. It incorporated a town centre set in a grid pattern on the western hillside above where the tank stream entered the cove. Alt's plan of Sydney Cove dated July 1788 and drawn by Dawes shows a main street running in a south-easterly direction from the eastern shoreline of Sydney Cove where the Tank Stream entered the cove, to the top of the rise where York and Jamison Streets now meet. This street, running through the centre of the grid, was to be a grand avenue which when looked down would give a panoramic view across the waters of Sydney Cove to Bennelong Point. What a majestic sight that would have been today had Phillip's plans been implemented.
Due no doubt to more pressing tasks placed on Phillip's shoulders such as the establishment of order in what was little more than a bush camp, not to mention the lack of manpower, most of Phillip's ideas never got beyond the planning stage. Apart from Lang Street, which has the honour of being the oldest (and first) street in Sydney, and for that matter Australia, none of the streets on Alt's map eventuated. Instead, a rough path trodden down by convicts taking water from the stream to the hospital became the colony's main thoroughfare, and after a succession of name changes, widenin gs, straightenings and modifications, became George Street.
A walkway which lead from the soldiers' barracks to a small bridge across the stream continued up the hill on the other bank in front of the government tents and huts to the top of the next ridge. It became Bridge Street. The area set aside by Phillip for government offices on its southern side is still occupied by Government buildings today. Phillip also reserved a large area beyond the ridge to the east of the settlement as a common. This area remained set aside but undeveloped until the arrival of Governor Macquarie who, during his tenure, established The Domain, The Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park and Moore Park. All are part of the land that had been allocat ed for public space by Phillip in 1788.
Map of Sydney Cove, 1788
The first thing Phillip did after bringing the men ashore was to organise the building of shelters and the planting of vegetables and cereal crops. He quickly found out that this was not going to be an easy task. The few axes that they brought with them were quickly blunted as their blades hit the hard timber of the local trees with a deadening thud. The wood was found to be quite unsuitable for building construction. Furthermore, there were only a handful of people who had any idea about building. Those responsible for organising the First Fleet had given little thought to the type of manpower and the kinds of tools they would need to be able to erect a settlement in the Australian bush.
Of the 1,530 people in the First Fleet, there were just a handful of experienced carpenters, one stonemason, one brickmaker, three plasterers and five bricklayers. The majority of the rest of the convicts were city dwellers who knew nothing of farming or building construction. There were no architects, no designers, no surveyors. Lieutenant William Dawes had learnt a little about building and engineering from his father in Portsmouth, England, and gave what assistance he could. Parramatta's town centre, based on the British symmetrical grid pattern in which streets ran at right angles to each other, was drawn by Dawes, and is the only sur Gviving legacy of his contribution towards the creation of the new colony. Because of the lack of experienced manpower, the buildings constructed in the settlement's formative years were rudimentary in design and built for functionality rather than architectural detail. The majority started to collapse before they were completed and had to be replaced once people with skills in construction entered the work force.
The first dwellings were tents brought out from England that were strung between the trees in an area roughly bounded by Loftus Street, Bridge Street, Grosvenor Street, Gloucester Street and Argyle Street. A prefabricated building of timber and oiled canvas which the first fleeters brought with them was erected on a rise beyond the east eastern bank of the stream. It became a temporary government house, but it was neither wind or water proof. Mud daub huts quickly replaced the tents. The huts were rudimentary in design and construction, and in all probability the campsites of the local aboriginal tribes would have given them a few hints as to the available materials and how best to utilise them had they bothered to observe them. The straight, long trunks of cabbage tree palms, found in abundance in the valleys beyond the colony, were cut and split into lengths for wall panels. These were attached to timber frames made from locally cut she-oak. Mud was daubed over the panels to keep out the wind and rain. Gangs of convicts were assigned to the gathering of reeds from nearby Rushcutters Bay (hence its name) which were used in the creation of thatched roofs, and the cutting of timber, though shingles made from she-oak were later substituted. Most huts were single room dwellings, rectangular in shape, between three to five metres square.
When clay deposits to the south of Sydney Cove were discovered, a rudimentary brickworks was established and the construction of brick buildings commenced. Mortar for the bricks was made from a crushed oyster shell mixture which was in plentiful supply. Shell fish were an integral part of the local Aboriginal's diet, and the mounds of discarded oyster shells left at various sites around the harbour including Bennelong Point became an important resource. When the shell deposits ran out, lime mortar made by fellow convicts at the Norfolk Island penal settlement replaced the local product.
Brickfields, in the vicinity of Haymarket, is the name given to the locality where the first clay deposits were found and brickmaking was commenced during the first months of colonial settlement. A violent storm hit Brickfields Hill in August 1788. In the storm a kiln collapsed o, thousands of half dried bricks were destroyed and the huts of the Brickfields Hill community disintegrated. Brickfields has the distinction of being the first area away from the main cove settlement to be cleared and developed. The track beaten through the bush from Sydney Cove to Brickfields became George Street. Hay and Quay Streets follow the path of the satellite settlement's first water supply, a small creek which flowed into Long Bay (later known as Cockle Bay) from marshes which would eventually be drained and cleared to make way for Central Railway Station. It was from Brickfield that Australia's first major cross country thoroughfare, Parramatta Road, was to make its way to Rose Hill (later called by its Aboriginal name, Parramatta), the colony's first inland settlement.
While the soft sandstone of the Sydney basin was a natural canvas for the art of the native population, to the new settlers it was an ideal raw material for the construction of buildings, and in abundant supply. The first fleet's lone stonemason, Samuel Peyton, a Londoner who was transported for larceny, was put to work training a number of unskilled convict labourers in his craft. He established the first quarry on what was to be known as Bennelong Point, and over a period of some 40 years, the hillside was slowly chiselled away to create the sheer rock face that lines the eastern shore of Sydney Cove today. When more stonemasons arrived with the second fleet, quarries were established in Kent Street in The Rocks, on George Street near Cornwall Lane and later at Cockle Bay. By the 1860s, Pyrmont would become the main source of sandstone for Sydney and whilst its quarries left deep scars on the area's landscape, its stone was used to create some of Sydney's finest 19th century buildings.
Gov. Phillip was quick to establish law and order in the fledgling colony. On 7th February, 1788, he mustered the colony to hear Judge Advocate Geoege Collins read Phillip's commission and letters and documents pertaining to the establishment of criminal and civil courts. The colony's first criminal court sat on 11th February, with Collins presiding and 3 naval officers and 3 marines acting as members. Three convicts were brought to trial and all were found guilty. One received 200 lashes for hitting a marine; one received 50 lashes for stealing some firewood; the third was put in irons and marooned on Pinchgut Island in Sydney Harbour for a week for stealing bread.
The first sitting of the Court of Civil Jurisdiction (the Civil Court) took place on 1st July 1788 when convicts Henry Kable and his wife were awarded 20 in damages from Duncan Sinclair, the master of the convict transport Alexander, who was held reponsible for their not receiving clothing belonging to them. This court was the main tribunal for dealing with civil claims until 1814 when a Supreme Court was established to deal with civil matters only. The Court of Civil Jurisdiction was empowered to deal with such matters as disputes over the ownership of land, breach of contract, trespasses of the person, nuisance, defamation, negligence, wills, probate and intestate administration. No jury was allowed and a judge advocate, with two "fit and proper persons" appointed by the governor, adjudicated.
During the colony's first year, attempts to grow cereal crops were made at various locations around Sydney but most of these plants withered and died, having being planted in the middle of a hot, humid Sydney summer. Records indicate the first prod Fuce garden was planted on Garden Island, which gave the island its name. Here, the crew of HMS Sirius planted seeds to grow fruit and vegetables so that they would become self sufficient and not have to draw on the limited suppliess brought out with the First Fleet. Crews of the other ships are believed to have established similar gardens for themselves at other locations at this time though there is no record of how successful they were.