Excerpt from “1788” by Watkin Tench ~~Arrival~~

picture-1788-WatkinTenchOn the morning of the 20th, by ten o’clock, the whole of the fleet had cast anchor in Botany Bay, where to our mutual satisfaction we found the governor and the first division of transports. On inquiry we heard that the Supply had arrived on the 18th and the transports only the preceding day.
Thus, after a passage of exactly thirty-six weeks from Portsmouth, we happily effected our arduous undertaking with such a train of unexampled blessings as hardly ever attended a fleet in a like predicament. Of 212 marines we lost only one; and of 775 convicts put on board in England, but twenty-four perished in our route. To what cause are we to attribute this unhoped for success? I wish I could answer to the liberal manner in which government supplied the expedition. But when the reader is told that some of the necessary articles allowed to ships on a common passage to the West Indies were withheld from us; that portable soup, wheat, and pickled vegetables were not allowed, and that an inadequate quantity of essence of malt was the only antiscorbutic supplied, his surprise will redouble at the result of the voyage. For it must be remembered that the people thus sent out were not a ship’s company starting with every advantage of health and good living which a state of freedom produces, but the major part a miserable set of convicts, emaciated from confinement and in want of clothes and almost every conveniency to render so long a passage tolerable. I beg leave, however, to say that the provisions served on board were good and of a much superior quality to those usually supplied by contract. They were furnished by Messrs Richards and Thorn of Tower Street, London.


We had scarcely bid each other welcome on our arrival when an expedition up the bay was undertaken by the governor and lieutenant-governor, in order to explore the nature of the country and fix on a spot to begin our operations upon. None, however, which could be deemed very eligible being discovered, His Excellency proceeded in a boat to examine the opening to which Mr Cook had given the name of Port Jackson, on an idea that a shelter for shipping within it might be found. The boat returned on the evening of the 23rd with such an account of the harbour and advantages attending the place that it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence the next morning.


1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “1788” by Watkin Tench ~~Arrival~~

  1. Watkin Tench was born in Chester, England on 6 October 1758, and died in Devonport, England on 7 May 1833, aged 74 years. He was a member of the First Fleet, which established the first settlement in Australia in 1788.
    Port Jackson is the site of modern day Sydney.

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