THE EARLY HISTORY OF NEW SOUTH
Mr. James Bonwick, the veteran Australian historian, who has been commissioned by the New South Wales Government to make searches in the Record Office with a view to the discovery of documents bearing upon the early history of the colony, has just found some items of interest, though not important information relating to the years 1786, 1787, and 1788. These consist of several journals and logs connected with the sailing of the first fleet to Port Jackson, kept by the masters of some of the transport ships which, accompanied Governor Phillip. They are not the official records of the voyage, as given by the officers of H.M. ships Sirius and Supply, but accounts from humbler pens. Several of the fast-sailing transport and store ships went ahead with Governor Phillip when he left Captain Hunter in charge of the slower vessels soon after quitting Capetown, the intention of the Commodore being to gain time to prepare for the arrival of the main body, though he failed to reach Botany Bay very long before the remainder of the fleet These logs are not all of equal interest, and, says Mr. Bonwick, exhibit marked differences in orthography and composition, some having been kept by educated persons, while others are the work of almost illiterate hands. They commence at the end of the year 1786, and are continued to the voyage to the Antipodes, and in some cases hack home to London.
The " Golden Groves Logg Book " begins on Sunday, October 22, 1786, and states that the ship " came out of Talor (Taylor) and Young's dock. Dropped down to Deptford." The entry for November 8 is, " Received on board 150 barrells of flour for Botany Bay." Gravesend was reached on the 15th, and Spithead on tho 24th. On May 12, 1787, the log states that the Golden Groves "received three empty puncheons for water for the chaplain; came on board, said chaplain with his wife and servants." On the following day "the Commodore made signal for sailing; at 6:00am weighed anchor and came to sail in company with Sirius, Commodore Phillips, Supply, tender; Alexander, Scarborough, Charlotte, Lady Penryn, Friendship, and Prince of Wales, transports; with the Fishburne and Borrowdale, storeships. At 9:00am, abreast of the Needel Point." The fleet arrived at Teneriffe on June 6, and here we learn that "at 7:00am the agent signalled for all masters." This order came from Lieutenant Shortland, who desired a conference with the several captains. On July 17 a vessel was spoken bound from London to the Falkland Islands. Rio de Janeiro was reached on August 7, when exchanges of stores took place between the transports.
At this place also a fortnight later, the captain "received on board 500 billets of' wood for the use of Mr. Johnston. We are not informed, says Mr. Bonwick, why the chaplain required so many billets of wood, unless he was accommodated with a private fireplace on board the crowded ship. On reaching the Cape on October 14th they took on board 10 sheep, four goats and two hogs, for Botany Bay, together with a number of towels. The fleet remained a whole month at the Cape, and, on November 10th, we are told that the people were put on the exceedingly small allowance of three pints of water a day for all purposes. On tho 25th the commodore went on board the Supply and parted company, and took the Alexander, Scarborough, and Friendship with him." On the 27th. the log reads:-"All the above ships out of sight" The voyage, which occupied eight months, came to an end on January 20, 1788, the entry in the log book being : "P.M. at 8. entrance of Botany Bay N.N.W. 5 or 6 leagues. Sigl. to come within hail to acquaint us to stand off and on all night A.M., at 12, sigl. to tack, at 4 made sail. The entrance of the above bay north, at past 7 abreast of Point Solander and Cape Banks. At 8 came too in 8 fathoms, found here the Supply and three transports who had arrived the day before. On 27th, at 5, entered Port Jackson. At 7 came too with small Br. in 7 fathoms." For the 14th of the following month the entry is, "Sailed his Majesty's brigg Supply for the island of New Norfolk." On the 27th we had the grim laconic jotting, "A man was condemned and hanged." The Supply returned on March 19. On April 21 the log states "Received an order for our people to go and cut wood to build huts for the women." On May l8 the fact is set forth that the chaplain, " Mr. Johnston, read prayers to the ship's company." We may hope that we are not to infer from this isolated mention of the chaplain and prayers that this was not the sole occasion on which he performed his pastoral duties. The birthday of George III, was duly observed, as appears from the following entry:-"June 4, H.M. Ships Sirius and Supply fired 63 guns each in honour of H.M. birthday, and each transport fired five guns." August 12 was the birthday of the Prince of Wales, when the Sirius fired a salute of 21 guns, "and the marines on shore fired three volays."
A gold discovery, about which, says Mr. Bonwick, there are conflicting accounts in colonial history, is thus referred to :-"August 28, governor ordered a sectional over the ship on account of some gold being found by a oonvict and sold on
Ordered to Norfolk Island, the master wrote on September 8 :-"Came on board from H.M. ship Sirius, one corporal and five marines, with, a sergeant from tho' garrison with 21 men convicts and 11 women do. Three free people for Norfolk Island. Likewise Mr. Blackburne and four seamen and Supply jollyboat to assist in landing at Norfolk Island. Received 10 hogs, two goats, two geese, two turkeys for Norfolk." The Golden Groves was accompanied by H.M. Sirius. The difficulties of landing at Norfolk Island are thus referred to : 'October 29, sent the boat on shore, but the surph (surf) raising so high prevented her from getting off again."
Accompanied by the Fishburn, the Golden Groves left Port Jackson for England, taking a course to the northward of New Zealand. Her "logg book" says Mr. Bonwick, in conclusion, though chronicling far fewer facts respecting the settlements than that of some of the other transports, sets forth a simple tale told by a seaman a hundred years ago.