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The hulks are `quite full': No convicts for hard labour: Into the hearts of darkness: Whalers and sealers: `The ill-judged parsimony of ministers': The convict republic in the heart of darkness: Further into the heart of darkness: Duncan Campbell and questions of tobacco: The interest groups within the East India Company: `They must be resisted by force': Lord Beauchamp's committee: 1785. `Man and arm your ships': The unknown rise of the unknown Thomas Shelton: Botany Bay or Das Voltas?: A report never finally printed: Pulling down overcrowded gaols?


The Blackheath Connection

Chapter 29


The hulks are `quite full': No convicts for hard labour:


Something peculiar happened after October 1785 with the sentencing for convicts, or, at least, with Campbell's reception of convicts. He reported to Middlesex magistrate Sir Sampson Wright in January 1786 that since October, 1785, for a whole quarter, he had received no prisoners sentenced for hard labour. ([1]) Presumably he meant that all his prisoners had been sentenced for transportation. The situation was unique in the hulks history to that date! By then, Campbell, who managed hulks only on the Thames, had accommodation for 496 prisoners at hard labour. ([2]) His hulks by late 1785 were "quite full". By 20 March, 1785, he had wanted to put into service Ceres, an old East Indiaman, which he offered to Nepean for convicts sentenced for Africa. Something odd was happening with the sentencing of convicts, or, at least, with Campbell's reception of convicts. By December 1785, Boyick had reported to the gaoler at Shrewsbury that the Thames hulks were "quite full". Of convicts for transportation?


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Campbell was concerned because he could not rely on transportable convicts only as a reliable source of labour (once transportees were actually transported). And because he had no convicts, or fewer, for hard labour to send down to Cumberland Fort, Portsmouth, as arranged with Lord Sydney. By early April 1786, Campbell was forced to forage as far afield as Exeter, Warwick, and Oxford for convicts sentenced for hard labour. The London environs had dried up on Campbell, from early October 1785, and they remained dry. Campbell was concerned because he could not rely on transportable convicts as a steady source of labour (more so if they ended in finally being transported to some newly-chosen destination). As well, he had more pressures, since he had to send convicts for hard labour down to Cumberland Fort, Portsmouth, as arranged with Lord Sydney.


Never before in his career, and never later, did Campbell complain in a letter that he had any interruption in the reception of hard labour convicts to hulks. It is difficult to see how the movement of convicts to other hulk establishments could have disturbed his own reception of convicts. There seems to have been a change in the pattern of convict sentencing - which a cynic might ascribe as the result of magistrates colluding to change the pattern of sentencings. But for what motive? The change in the pattern had begun about the time Nautilus had departed to examine possible African locations for convict dumping. Was there a connection?


Coincidences should at least be noted. Some other events can be related to an argument that the government of London (aldermen and others) made a concerted effort to destabilise any effort by government to proliferate the hulks system. Their intention was to do everything possible to pressure a resumption of transportation. There was reason to feel that government was dilatory in resuming transportation, and in February, 1786, after new hulks were proposed for Portsmouth, the emergency-appointed Dunkirk was struck off the navy list and began to receive convicts from the Western Districts. Previously, Dunkirk had been receiving convicts meant only for Africa. There may well have been a fear arising that government would proliferate the hulks and fail to resume transportation? One way to thwart this would have been for magistrates to sentence fewer convicts to hard labour? At this time Dunkirk's convicts were destined to remain idle, government was intending to work more convicts at Cumberland Fort.


* * *


Into the hearts of darkness:


Around the name Bradley is arranged the strange story of how two brothers willing to buy sovereignty over an African island for the dumping of British convicts were later given hulks contracts as a reward. Associated, was the absurdity of prisoners being managed by contracts that could be passed to another person by death of a contract-holder and the later execution of his estate.

Disgusted with Britain's failure to consider a long-term solution to prison problems, Jeremy Bentham in 1785 went to Russia, there to visit his brother Samuel. ([3]) On this visit, largely due to Samuel, Betham stumbled on the idea which was to engross him for decades - an alarmingly soul-less design for a Kafka-esque prison he called a Panopticon. It was "a circular building constructed in such a way as to allow its occupants to be kept constantly in view from a single central position." Rather like the eye of God! Later, in 1790, Bentham would try to interest Irish authorities in a prison of similar design. He began to pamphleteer the idea in Britain from 1791. As it happened, in 1785 the British convict was being subjected to many incompatible ideas. By January, 1785, Nepean at the Home Office was fired about a location for convicts on the Gambia River, an island named Le Maine. ([4]) Shortly he despatched a civil servant, Richard Bradley, to negotiate for the "purchase" of the island. ([5]) Le Maine is present day McCarthy Island, site of the city of Georgetown,


James Bradley had approached his brother Richard about a venture to Le Maine in late 1784, and despite some misgivings had told Nepean that it might occur, as three brothers could arrange "a family venture". In London, Richard Bradley was in partnership with Henry Bradley, and Henry was willing to receive a stipulated number of convicts in the Gambia area. It was a plan similar to that offered by the African Committee for settling felons on the Gold Coast. ([6])


Some on the African Committee may have felt miffed Richard Bradley was sent to Le Maine, because their authority was superseded? As John Barnes wrote to Nepean on 3 January, 1785, Barnes wanted his associate from Liverpool, Capt. Robert Heatley, to go out. Heatley would not go unless Barnes got the business of provisioning. But Bradleys had powerful connections. James Bradley was a friend of Nepean and had been appointed chief clerk to the newly-formed India Board on 29 September, 1784. By May 1795 he was under-secretary there. At some point, he became first clerk for some Eastern settlements. ([7])


So as the African Committee was to discover from government, Richard Bradley had gone out from 5 January, 1785 to engage with the natives for possession of the Island. But, would the Africa Company be later willing to receive and employ 150 convicts if they had to be removed from Le Main? Richard Bradley, in what seems like a scene from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, had hired a sloop from 14 February to 16 April to take him up the Gambia River to assess his site, which cost him about 375 plus 50 guineas. He was cheated by a local trader, then had to entertain the natives. In all he had to negotiate with five chiefs, the king taking a hefty cut. Bradley derived an "instrument" with the chiefs for use of the island and returned to London to deliver it to Lord Sydney by 9 November, 1785. Then he found the whole Gambia scheme had fallen through completely. A lack of hard information, fear of the climate, concern about lack of security, Parliamentary protest, had killed the plan. And quite properly.


By 13 January, 1785, Barnes, governor of the Africa Company, was dealing with Nepean about the Gambia. Richard Bradley it was said would be sent out to "buy" an island, and here, Nepean's "indecent haste" has been remarked. ([8]) Despite the uncooperative attitude of the African Committee, which would have refused to take Le Maine convicts if the planned settlement failed, 20 convicts were hustled to Cape Coast Castle on Calvert's ship Recovery, Capt. Donald Trail. ([9]) On 13 January, 1785, Gillen records, some of Moore's Mercury mutineers were loaded in Anthony Calvert's Recovery, "then lying Africa-bound in the Thames, engaged to take some 20-22 convicts the African Committee had been browbeaten by Nepean into accepting". ([10]) Calvert had tendered Recovery with provisions for 150 convicts. (The Le Maine venture was budgeted to cost 10,000; the First Fleet venture is estimated to have cost over 80,000). On 20 January, 1785, the African Company censured Thomas King, (partner with Calvert), one of Recovery's owners, for breaking an agreement with the committee that the ship would not carry convicts. One objection was that the ship's insurance had to be re-negotiated. ([11])


* * *


Whalers and sealers:


During 1785 the Greenland whale fishery had been subsidised to the value of 84,122. ([12]) The South whalers sought equivalent subsidy in 1786. ([13]) In 1785, Sanderson says, England had out 136 whalers; Scots sent 13 Scots out. Peter Mestairs had out Jupiter and Triumph: on one of those ships was Capt. Daniel Coffin. But a new stirring became visible, interest in the north-west American coast. During 1785-1786, Captain James Hanna was employed by John Henry Cox, an East India Company interloper, to sail for north-west America from the China coast. Cox is credited with pioneering the trans-Pacific trip for the fur trade to North America. ([14]) From an East India Company view, Cox's backers were essentially "illegal". ([15]) By 17 January, 1789, the whaler Enderby had written to George Chalmers... "His Lordship [Lord Hawkesbury] first took the Fishery under his Protection in 1785": Enderby then gave statistics. ([16]) Richard Cadman Etches by 14 March was writing to Joseph Banks about plans to promote trade to the north-west coast of America via the King George's Sound Company. Etches was aware whales were also there. ([17])


On 7 January, the 1785 Africa Company Committee wrote to Lord Sydney, the committee was always ready to comply, but it could not, consistent with safety, take more convicts for the forts. ([18]) There was correspondence, 15 January, 1785 from the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to the owners of Recovery, and Capt. Andrew Hewson, about boats for convicts to be taken to Gravesend, naming Messrs Chamberlayn and White, ([19]) On 20 January, 1785 at the African Office, secretary Rutherfoord wrote to Thomas King [one of the owners] of Recovery ... the committee required King's immediate attendance about the convicts which been taken on Recovery, contrary to King's express agreement with the Company on 22 December, 1784, not to do this. ([20]) The committee ordered unanimously that the underwriters who insured the cargo be informed the convicts were aboard, and an offer made to them to cancel the insurance if they thought that proper, and a new insurance be made to an amount of 10,500 on the cargo, inserting in the new policy the number of convicts actually on board the said ship. The difference was to be deducted from some of the freight due the owners. It was all a quite peculiar nicety from slavers about the insurance of a ship carrying coerced human cargo!


On 23 January, 1785 Treasury asked the Navy Board's opinion of Calvert's offer, one ship of 250 tons, Navy thought it a little high, otherwise alright. Orders for this effort were promulgated on 11 March but kept secret. ([21])


`The ill-judged parsimony of ministers':


In Historical Records of New South Wales, mention is made of Sir George Young's plan for New Zealand flax plants, and American loyalists, dated 13 January, 1785. Mysteriously, the next entry in HRNSW is not until the date of cabinet's decision to settle convicts at New South Wales, 18 August, 1786! The gap is of 19 months.


Gillen has noted that Lancashire magistrate Thomas Butterworth Bailey, who deposed to Beauchamp's committee, had complained strongly on 1 January, 1785 to Sydney that an Act for the construction of penitentiaries was not implemented due to "the ill judged Parsimony of Ministers of State, & of the Nobility & Gentry of all Parties, & their Aversion to any scheme which requires continued Attention, Watchfulness & Trouble". Quite oddly in the circumstances, Alderman Newnham - an apologist for transportation - put a Bill to Parliament to enable the Mayor and Commonalty of the citizens of London to pull down the gaols the Poultry and Wood St Compter and purchase some land to rebuild same. ([22]) The suggestion to reduce the number of usable gaols while there was a "crowded gaols" problem seems sardonic in the extreme - unless the idea was simply to embarrass government about the non-resumption of transportation.


On 3 February, 1785 in Parliament, questions had been asked about steps arising from the enactment of the 1784 legislation. (Act 24 Geo III c.56). Anthony Calvert on 4 February, 1785 wrote to Nepean offering to contract for the carriage of convicts to the island Le Maine. ([23]) On 9 February, 1785, a draft letter from the Home Office to Treasury explained the Gambia River scheme in flamboyant detail. ([24]) The opportunities to be grasped were as luxuriant as tropical vegetation. Still, at this time, Lord Sydney's interests in the policy on transportation were still governed by hope and restraint, the latter being for his self-protection. By 9 February, 1785, Sydney mentioned to Treasury the mission of Richard Bradley, who had hired a sloop for the job for 14-16 February, 1785. ([25]) Later - 13 February, 1786 - Bradleys were offering to contract for Plymouth hulks convicts, successfully. ([26])


* * *


The convict republic in the heart of darkness:


Whatever was the care of planning lying behind the February 1785 draft letter on the Gambia River scheme, Calvert's determination to transport convicts should be analysed. Calvert and his partners in association with the South whalers helped mount the Third Fleet to Australia, 1791. In 1789 they mounted three ships of the Second Fleet, which became the greatest atrocity in the history of convict transportation between 1718 and 1867. By mid-1786 they still wanted to take convicts to Africa, as did George Macaulay at that time; and here, Macaulay's interest remains mysterious, unless perhaps Macaulay, who had made money in the East India Company way, had made a secret deal with Camden, Calvert and King, who had made money from slaving interests? If not Macaulay, perhaps another City man? For a firm which included Macaulay made the first offer to government for a "first fleet" to Australia.


On 9 February, 1785, Lord Sydney wrote to the Treasury to indicate the King had decided to form a settlement of 450 convicts - now known to historians as a "convict republic". And that Richard Bradley had some weeks earlier been sent on a journey to purchase the Island of Le Maine in the Gambia River for this purpose. It seems, the convicts were to govern themselves, because on balance the African Committee was dead against the whole plan, or would only accept it most reluctantly. Calvert had little backing with the African Committee, overall, for his involvements.


Lord Sydney on 9 February wrote to the Treasury promoting the Le Maine location. Calvert's name was mentioned as being the likely contractor. But as Nepean had feared, public knowledge of the African plan produced an outrage. Many parliamentarians felt the plan, the destination and conditions there, would be far too savage and inhumane in effect upon the convicts. There was to be a House of Commons committee of investigation. Nepean still managed to keep the plans under wraps for a time, but on 4 March he asked Campbell to provide some accommodation for convicts intended for Africa (which became the hulk Ceres). It was thought some convicts for Africa would have to be held over until September when the rainy season in Africa would be over. ([27])


Nepean desired to keep heavy security on the very existence of the scheme to send felons to Africa. But at the slaving port, Bristol, something happened which may have been revenge. Nepean's secrecy wraps were removed, like the wrappings from an Egyptian mummy. The Bristol Journal by 5 February scooped what then passed for the national press and reported convicts were meant for Africa! (Journalists may have thought Bristol shippers could pick up an extra contract delivering those convicts? Or, members of the old convict contacting house Stephenson, Randolph and Cheston may have been watching London?). Picked up by London newspapers, this story helped spark a parliamentary furore. Nepean was greatly discomfited.


In mid-February, interestingly, the Recorder of London, as The Public Advertiser wrote in London, had told all the London aldermen of his recent meeting with Lord Sydney about the Gambian River plan. The Recorder himself had asked for an extra 50 convicts be transported. (In 1782, Justice Buller in London, by 1785 an alderman, had asked Campbell about any plans to send felons to Africa). Government meantime had lied to its questioners about African plans. Campbell by April did provide an extra hulk, Ceres, then had to take strict measures to keep order among the convicts for Africa. Public feeling on transportation had risen. A parliamentary committee of inquiry under Lord Beauchamp had killed the Gambian plan, had examined how to implement the 1784 legislation on transportation and despatched a ship to examine the suitability of Das Voltas, now Namibia.


* * *


Further into the heart of darkness:


William Cowdry was overseer on Dunkirk until March 1786, when Henry Bradley, the brother of Richard Bradley, took over that hulk. Henry Bradley, deceased by 1791, managed the Langston and Portsmouth hulks. Henry in 1788 was reimbursed over 4500 for the Plymouth hulks management. (The hulk Chatam was placed in service at Plymouth in 1787). The contracts then went to James Bradley, who died on 1 January, 1797. ([28]) Campbell after James Bradley's death had offered to manage the Portsmouth and Langston hulks. Dyne (who later changed his name to A. H. Bradley), was given those hulks contracts. ([29]) From 25 Berners Street, James Bradley's old address, then, Andrew Hawes Dyne wrote to Treasury offering to conduct the Bradley hulks contracts. ([30]) The kind of commercialism involved ceased from 1801 with Campbell's departure and when Pelham moved a new administrative broom, when magistrate Aaron Graham took over management of the hulks.


* * *


Duncan Campbell and questions of tobacco:


It would be fascinating to know what links Campbell had with other London tobacco merchants. One of his letters only hinted, when he wrote to H. H. Mayor, Mincing Lane, 7 February, 1785. This letter had been left at Campbell's house at Blackheath. It mentioned Mr. Russell's house as part of a "pretty considerable" estate, at Sydenham, a moiety of which belonged to Campbell, who was not wishing to sell. ([31]) Was it one of the tobacco merchants Russell? There was an tantalising name Russell in America. In 1786, the head of the firm Lane, Son and Fraser went to America to look into debts, especially fearing the bankruptcy of Nathaniel Tracy, who'd been given an unwise advance in 1785, Lane stayed in the US for five years, using the legal advice of John Lowell and with assistance from Boston's leading banker, Thomas Russell. ([32])


On 10 February, 1785, Campbell wrote to Dr John Brockenbrough, brother of Austin, Virginia, by the ship Virginian Capt. Scott about landing goods at Hobs Hole. Brockenbrough had sent goods to Campbell by the George. Campbell said he could only dispense with tobacco with difficulty, at public sale. He also mentioned goods by a ship Nancy. ([33]) It is possible that a refreshed market in American tobacco was developing? And it is unlikely, if it existed, that Thomas Jefferson would have been unaware of such a market. ([34])


By about 29 June, 1785, and from April, it is possible Robert Morris was working a market in tobacco, selling to the French. ([35]) By 29 June, 1785, Morris was saying that the bills with which he redeemed his own notes were drawn on Paris, payable in London. But it is unknown who would have handled Morris' bills in London. It could have been a merchant such as Campbell, or Christopher Court? One clue is from the biographer of Francis Baring. Ziegler suggests it might have been Barings. By February 1786, anyway, Morris was experiencing reverses in his calculations, and profits. What seems important is that by 1793, a loss in London of less than 130,000, which he had to pay, was enough to begin to unravel Morris. It seems then, that this money might have been "linchpin money". A deposit perhaps on wider credit?


* * *


By January 1786, Thomas Jefferson in Paris wrote to the governor of Virginia, he had received proposals from Messrs Ross, Pleasants and Co. for sending US tobacco to the French Farmers-General. But, Mr. (Robert) Morris had in the meantime obtained the contract. Jefferson feared the situation here as a double monopoly, a baneful influence on commerce. Jefferson too had the view that the interests involved (Morris and the Farmers-General) could not be opposed, even by the country, that is, the US. Jefferson and Jay rather agreed Morris should not have such influence. The commerce of tobacco was in an agony, the price had gone down from 40 shilling to 22 shilling and 6d. per lawful weight. Jefferson could convey copies of documents, but he did not want any tobacco merchants in London seeing such copies. So evidently there was an American sensitivity about the views of London tobacco dealers.


Sumner asks, (p. 172), what really happened here? Robert Morris' associate, Gouvenour Morris, thought that Morris' tobacco contract was the only way to destroy the monopoly the Scots factors had possessed before the Revolution. Matters were not happy in the US' tobacco-producing states. In 1798, the Farmers-General in France were so dissatisfied with the quality of tobacco Morris sent, they sued. From what Sumner says, (p. 173), it seems Morris was making "attempts to control the exchange" in tobacco, a tactic stemming possibly from the delusions Morris had begun to experience from 1781, it is said, after his public office had ended. (Sumner says, in 1789, Gouvenour Morris went to France as an agent for Robert Morris to arrange the supply to France of American flour, rice, provisions and tobacco. He found things there falling apart. Here, Gouvenour Morris also saw Necker regarding the American debt). ([36]) As background, some of these matters were probably on Jefferson's mind when he met Duncan Campbell in London in 1786.


* * *


The interest groups within the East India Company:


Anthony Calvert on 4 February, 1785 wrote to Nepean offering to contract for the carriage of convicts to the island Le Maine. Calvert probably understood, Sydney had decided on Le Maine in the Gambia River... a "convict republic" was nearing reality. ([37]) The day previous, in Parliament, questions had been asked about steps arising from the enactment of the 1784 legislation. (Act 24 Geo III c.56). Lord Sydney on 9 February wrote to Treasury promoting the Le Maine location. Calvert's name was mentioned as being the likely contractor. But as Nepean had feared, public knowledge of the African plan produced repugnance for it. There was to be a House of Commons committee of investigation. Nepean still managed to keep plans under some wraps, but on 4 March he asked Campbell to provide some accommodation for convicts intended for Africa. Burke thundered eloquently in Parliament, and correctly, about "the gates of hell" opening. But by 9 February, 1785, plans were advanced for only 150 convicts to go to Le Maine, although a hope had been, the area could sustain 4,000 self governing convicts. It would have been madness to place confidence in such a place of supply! ([38])


On 11 February, 1785, Calvert wrote from No 11, Crescent, to Nepean, advising the freight of felons on Recovery Capt. Andrew Hewson was 262/16/6. Calvert advised he'd be glad to take convicts to settle the Isle of Corisco on the African Coast. ([39]) (Calvert by 3 July, 1782, was elected a director of the Africa Company). Some maritime writers suggest that the Brazils as whaling grounds were being fished out by about 1785-1786, but little material exists on any new concentration of whalers and sealers about Africa, which is one possibility that might have motivated Calvert here? Burke meanwhile attacked the African plan in Parliament.


By early 1785, Campbell had accommodation for 496 prisoners at hard labour. By 20 March, 1785, he wanted to put into service Ceres, which he offered to Nepean for convicts sentenced for Africa. ([40]) On 5 March, 1785, the Attorney-General was asked to draft an Order-in-Council under the 1784 Act to send convicts to Africa. ([41]) By 5 March, 1785, Campbell wrote to Nepean about convicts for Africa being held on a vessel. An idea was to keep the convicts till the end of August or early September for their transportation to Africa, till the rainy season was over. The gaols were crowded, infectious distempers were likely to break out. And about this time, it was decided to issue small beer to the hulks prisoners, the issue ended at 450 barrels annually. The brewer supplying the beer by mid-1786 was James Campbell. ([42]) Since the beer supply was an Ordnance Board matter, it need not be thought the overseer was trying to mollify prisoner resentments with the beer issue.


On 11 March, 1785, a draft order declaring and appointing Africa to be the place to which sundry convicts under sentence to be transported to parts beyond the seas, still to be conveyed on transports, was read and approved. With a list of convicts. And now that convicts might be moved, it is helpful to review the hulks establishment. From 15 March, in order of placement, new hulks in service after the enactment of Act 24 Geo III c.56 were (1) Ceres 15 March, 1785. (2) Fortunee hulk came into Langston Harbour after 13 January, 1786. (3) Dunkirk at the same time as Fortunee, February, 1786 was struck off Navy list and used to house convicts from the Western Districts; Henry Bradley, overseer: money to him - 453/6/6d. ([43]) (4) Firm February 1786 (5) Lion, March 1788 (6) Chatam, (7) Stanislaus (8) Prudentia was bought by Campbell on 12 January, 1790 for use as a hulk.


By 19 March, Edmund Burke in the House of Commons, not usually a friend of convicts, was thundering about the African plan that "The gates of Hell were there open night and day to receive the victims of the Law". ([44])


Campbell Letter 127:

London 19 March 1785

The Commissioner of His Majesty Navy

The Secretary of State having directed me to provide an additional Hulk with all possible expedition for a temporary reception of Convicts under Sentence of Transportation to Africa, I have provided a Vessel fit for that Service which will be ready in the course of next Week. it will assist me greatly in her dispatch if your Honours will permit me the use of the Hulk At Debtford [sic] to take out her lower Mast as she goes past to Woolwich which can not in the situation they now are in be otherwise done without considerable delay. Your Granting this request will Confer a great obligation on Gentleman ([45])


About 20 March, 1785, Campbell, who managed hulks only on the Thames, had accommodation for 496 prisoners at hard labour. By 20 March, he had wanted to put into service Ceres, an old East Indiaman, which he offered to Nepean for convicts sentenced for Africa, a new class of prisoner. ([46]) The fact the use of a special hulk was being contemplated indicated government's new-found determination. By the same date, the Attorney-General had been instructed to draft an order-in-council under the provisions of the Act of 1784, designating Africa as a location to where prisoners might be sent. Once such an order was passed, all that was required was that magistrates in future would be instructed to sentence prisoners for Africa rather than to transportation-at-large. Rumours concerning this flew about London, and Burke in particular attacked the move in the House as being beneath contempt, since the measure condemned prisoners to the hell of a tropical climate and a sure death trap. By 26 March, 1785, when judges sentenced to imprisonment, they did so without a great deal of thought about the consequences of their actions [within the system overall]. ([47]) Those for imprisonment became "permanent residents" as there was no way to alter any sentence of transportation.


* * *


`They must be resisted by force':


While Parliament debated, Campbell had Ceres readied for supervision by Stewart Erskine by 5 April. Even by then, Campbell knew the prisoners destined for Africa remained in a very ugly mood. He strictly warned Erskine to be beware of any sort of violence or combination amongst them. Campbell, Akerman of Newgate and Nepean had all met with Lord Sydney on 2 April. ([48]) By 1785, Newgate housed 600 convicts - its population Akerman said had doubled since 1780 (after destruction during the Gordon riots) without the gaol being increased in size. ([49]) The first two hulks, Justitia and Censor, originally meant to house 380 men between them, the number in each rose until in 1785 they had more than 250 convicts in each. By 1785, four more hulks and two hospital ships added to their number (hulks remaining at Portsmouth and Plymouth).


Sydney at the meeting had expressed displeasure on being shown a letter from Erskine mentioning prisoner misbehaviour. Harsh measures were to be used if necessary, but nor was it a time when the government should receive any adverse publicity. Late on 2 April, Akerman had received orders from the Secretary of State to send 100 people down to Ceres on the following Tuesday. Campbell kept Erskine continually informed on developments and on what to expect, an indication of the anxiety felt by Nepean and Sydney.


* * *


Campbell Letter 128:

April 2 [1785]

[This letter is Campbell to Stewart Erskine at Woolwich. Lord Sydney was displeased at Erskine's letter as shown him by Campbell, describing the behaviour of the transports for Africa.]



But all Events Good order must be kept up. .... If any violence is offered on their part in attempt to escape made they must be resisted by force. Rosamond carried down a lighter your Boat and I hope ... I have sent Saunce to consult and receive your directions as to the dry provisions for the new Ship ..... I doubt not every despatch will be used to get the Ceres ready to receive the Compliment of Transports as they will be forced upon as quick as we can take them I pray you as things are now situated to man Your Ships well for fear of any Mutinous attempt.

Since writing the above I have seen Akerman who has received Orders from the Secretary of State to carry down 100 people on Thursday, he seems to think he will be able to accomplish that Order but cannot positively say for certain till tomorrow evening when he is to let me know & Monday morning he will hear from me on that Score mean time you will be making every preparation ... ([50])


But as Nepean had feared, public knowledge of the African plan produced repugnance for it. There was to be a House of Commons committee of investigation. On 11 April, 1785, Lord Beauchamp called for the formation of a committee of inquiry into the 1784 Act. The committee was composed of Burke, Eden, Fox, Hussey, Luttrell, Sheridan. ([51]) In brief, Beauchamp's Committee ruled out the Gambia as a suitable location for the dumping of convicts, and decided the mouth of the Orange River, at Das Voltas, modern Namibia, should be investigated for any similar purposes envisaged.


Government in the meantime had virtually lied to its questioners about African plans whilst at the same time, much to the distress of ill-informed and cost-pressed provincial officials, Government stonewalled those calling for the resumption of transportation and/or a sensible and consistent outlook on the sentencing of prisoners for transportation, or respited to it.


On Monday 1 March, 1784, Charles Peyton was capitally convicted for stealing a plate from Daniel Smith of New Windsor, at the Berkshire Assizes, then reprieved to transportation to America. He was put on the hulk Censor, from which he escaped. After recapture he was hanged on 29 April, 1785. ([52]) Sometimes in this period, a convict might spend their entire term of seven years on the hulks and not be transported - and all such exceptions confuse the generalities historians might wish to draw about the period.


* * *


Lord Beauchamp's committee: 1785:


Beauchamp's committee sitting from April 1785 sought information in four distinct areas of inquiry. (1) On the application of the 1784 legislation concerning the sentencing of prisoners to transportation; (2) The expense of undertaking such transportation; (3) On the question of British sovereignty over territory where such convicts might be put; (4) And on various locations which might offer success. Only one merchant, Anthony Calvert, was willing to offer his services as a convict contractor whilst Beauchamp's Committee was sitting. ([53]) With the convening of Beauchamp's committee, Nepean conceded that sovereignty over Le Maine had not been conferred on Britain. The New Zealand historian Mackay has not been impressed by Nepean's performance, which indicated the scheme was "hastily received, poorly planned and even callous". (Meantime, the 1770s system of respites and pardonings from hard labour on the hulks had been obliterated by the terms of the 1784 Act).


Campbell, Akerman, Nepean and Lord Sydney had all met on 2 April. Campbell to Erskine on 2 April, 1785 had written that Lord Sydney was displeased at Erskine's letter on the misbehaviour of the transports for Africa. He advised Erskine, escapes were to be resisted by force, expect 100 people on Tuesday. Campbell knew the prisoners for Africa were in a very ugly mood and he strictly warned Erskine to be beware of any sort of violence or combination being made by the prisoners placed on Ceres. Late on 2 April, Akerman received orders from the Secretary of State to send 100 people down to the Ceres the following Tuesday. On 2 April, Campbell was facing mutiny by his convicts intended for Africa, and he ordered his deputy hulks superintendent, Stewart Erskine at Woolwich, ([54]) to "man Your Ships well for fear of any Mutinous attempt."


Campbell wrote to Erskine, 4 April, 1785, directing Erskine to break any combination amongst the prisoners. "Man and arm your ships". Campbell was so fearful of a later mutiny on the ships for Africa he gave Erskine directions on how to feed the prisoners to prevent discontent rising on his ships or any others. This was in fact a nice touch of advice derived from knowledge about how people behave differently on ship voyages when their diet is varied. Campbell wanted the "new visitors" - the prisoners for Africa - to be divided, and was not entirely sure whether the newcomers would be ordered to labour or not.


Campbell Letter 129:

London 4 April 1785

Capt Stewart Erskine


I send this by my man to acquaint you, agreeable to promise, that your new Visitors will be down tomorrow, you can guess at what time by the State of the Tide. I have ordered the Butcher to send down this day what is necessary for your new Guests. I would have you begin with those sparingly in your allowances I think three hot Meals preposterous for the Transports it is indulging rather too much and cannot be continued when on their passage &c may create discontent and Mutiny, therefore it is better to begin so that you can increase rather than diminish I think you had better say nothing on the head of a reduction of the Censor's allowance for a day or two, if there is a necessity for a reduction. .....You are right in your idea of not giving up points out it may require some adress to break their unanimity, when once they are divided you will soon bring them to a sense of their errors in refusing to comply with the laws of their Country. Those new coming are not yet ordered to Labour & perhaps will not, so that they are on a different footing but this to yourself at present ........


... I shall see you in a few days. perhaps before then you may be able to break the Combination

Man and Arm Your Ships ([55])< /p>


And at this time, 8 April, 1785, Campbell was thinking of buying a farm adjoining Kingsdown - except that he was annoyed at houses "very small and measly". So he did not want to buy. ([56])


* * *


`Man and arm your ships':


On 11 April, Lord Beauchamp had moved for information to be provided on the intentions of government, as he was concerned that territory involved might not be British. The orders-in-council pertaining to the affair were made known on 12 April. By 20 April, Beauchamp sat in the committee chair to examine the operation of Act 24 Geo III c.56, less than a year after its enactment. The committee gave its first report on 9 May. ([57]) Campbell had requirements just then to contact county gaolers.


Campbell Letter 130:

London 15th April 1785

L Scott


I am desired by Mr Campbell to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 11 Inst and to acquaint you that he has no objection to your bringing up the four convicts for hard Labour on the Thames about a fortnight hence and he will receive at same time the five Convicts under Sentence of Transportation, if you produce the Secretary of States Order for conveying them to the Hulk at Woolwich. ([58])< /p>


By 24 April, 1785, the navy's Capt. Edward Thompson was recommending occupation of the Island of Sao Tome of the west African coast, since he had reconnoitered southern African reaches in 1784. But on 1 May, 1785 he told Beauchamp's Committee that a convict colony in West Africa would be unsuitable due to trade piracy, tropical sun and wild natives. In April he told Nepean that having regularly attended Tyburn hangings, and found convicts terrified of dissections, there ought to be more dissection as a powerful deterrent. ([59])


During May, when Beauchamp's Committee gave its first report, Ceres was accommodating 150 felons for Africa. A transport ship could have gone to Africa by then, had not the African season been too advanced. And in that connection, the name Calvert was mentioned by Beauchamp's committee. The African scheme by mid-year was well-advanced in all but practice. By 6 May, Campbell's clerk Boyick advised the gaoler at Maidstone that his five convicts for Africa could be put on Ceres whenever the gaoler could deliver them.


Campbell Letter 131:

London 6 May 1785

The Gaoler of Maidstone

I am desired by Mr Campbell to acquaint you that if you have Recd Lord Sydneys Order for removing the five convicts for Africa in your Custody the sooner they are put on Board the Ceres Hulk at Woolwich the better Capt Erskine will receive your prisoners on your showing him this letter & delivering to him the Secretary of State's order, the Surgeon's Certificate & List with the Names Ages &c as directed by Act of Parliament. ([60])< /p>


By 9 May, 1785, Beauchamp's Committee had heard much against a Le Maine destination, and scotched it, even though Richard Bradley was still up the Gambia River treating for territory (and did not get back until November 1785, with the desired territory). ([61]) The committee then turned to the views of Matra. Joseph Banks deposed on 10 May. Campbell deposed 12 May on the likely costs of transportation. ([62]) Beauchamp's committee is said to have interviewed Campbell. ([63]) If they did, his evidence was not printed. It happens that Campbell's surviving papers contain no notes he might have made before speaking to any of the committees of inquiry to which he gave evidence, and the dates when he was engaged in dealing with such committees can only be inferred in a roundabout way from material in his letterbooks. Coggan, speaking for the East India Company on 12 May, also gave an opinion on New South Wales as a destination.


The Committee wished to interview Sir Joseph Banks. Oddly enough, and it depends on whose historic records are being considered, Carter writes: "The figure of Sir Joseph Banks is still only faintly etched on the historic records of the past two centuries."... Yet, Banks was president of The Royal Society for an unbroken 42 years from 1778... he had many distinguished visitors, yet was a private man. Amongst disparate pictures of him, he was disparaged as "the great Panjandrum of British science", a disputatious gouty old man determined to keep his power versus the dilettante explorer who never grew old, a kind of prolific inspirer of talented men who had his finger in every interesting scientific pie including the continents of Australia and Africa, who once in an unbelievable moment of depression thought he might live on a riverside of eastern Australia, north of Sydney. ([64]) One should say, if Banks is too-little known in England, it is because of his connections with the non-respectable settlement of an Australian convict colony. He also probably exercised considerable influence as a Freemason, which may well have suited any desires he had to be shielded from limelight.


Banks gave testimony on 9-10 May, and Matra also. Banks again recommended Botany Bay for any convict colony, mentioning the timid disposition of the natives. But Beauchamp's committee plumped for Thompson's Das Voltas site, and on 22 August, Lord Sydney asked the Admiralty to nominate a commodore to survey the area. HM Nautilus Capt. T. B. Thompson was used, sailing at the end of September 1785 to return on 23 July, 1786. Das Voltas turned out a barren shore, treeless, waterless, with no useful harbour. ([65]) (On 18 August, 1786, Sydney and others without bothering Parliament in the least vetoed Das Voltas and on Saturday 19 August, 1786, Cabinet planned to colonize Botany Bay.) Sydney soon had to inform the Treasury. ([66]) And historians since then have been unable to agree on what it meant. It is peculiar that even today, British historians behave as if the entire topic is surrounded by electric fences!


In summing up, Beauchamp's committee ruled out the Gambian location and suggested a naval sloop be sent to examine Das Voltas Bay. The committee gave its first report on 9 May. Somewhat contradictorily, Treasury on 13 May had a draft order declaring and appointing Africa as a place "to which Sundry Convicts under Sentence to be transported to parts beyond the Seas, still to be conveyed on Transports." ([67]) Evidently, as the Recorder for London had mentioned, lists of convicts for Africa had been drawn up whilst Beauchamp's committee was still sitting. The prisoners on Ceres probably knew this, hence their ugly mood, and Campbell's fear of another serious rising. So just as Campbell gave evidence about any transportation to Australia, he was fearful of damage to his hulks by convicts frightened by Africa!


* * *


The unknown rise of the unknown Thomas Shelton:


There arose a document that is today difficult to interpret, regarding the 1784 Act, as the situation arose that only one official would become responsible to make contracts and receive bond monies and securities for convict transportation. He was Thomas Shelton, at the Old Bailey. A "Shelton document" surfaced about May 1785:


... Thos Shelton to ??, nd, An Account of the Names Of The Offenders Who Have Been Convicted At Several Sessions Of The Delivery .... Newgate ....Ordered To Be Transported Beyond The Seas ... Since ... Delivered To Duncan Campbell ... And Also To Mr George [sic] Richards Who Contracted And Gave Security To Transport Them. Delivered To Mr Campbell 23rd May, 1785, [lists of names in batches, a total of 958 names..., the packet was countersigned Brummell. Shelton drew a fee of 295/7/8 for each delivery].


George Richards never existed, so the document was probably created some time after a perhaps little-known delivery. The name Richards (contractor for the First Fleet) could not have come to Shelton's attention until September 1786. It is difficult to suggest which batch of convicts this might refer. Logically, it might refer to convicts delivered to George Moore, except for the number of prisoners mentioned - 958. Information on Shelton himself does not surface until December, 1786, when he began to handle the documents of First Fleet convicts. But in the archives of the Corporation of the City of London it is noted that: "Solicitor, Bills 165, 347, Paid &c, to defend Wm Shelton Clerk of Arraign against an Action brought by Clerk of Peace for Middlesex"... Nearby is a note, Shelton was "a redemptioner of the city". ([68]) That is, he assisted men of means to obtain the freedom of the City, which was essential to any man wishing to exercise a trade or handicraft within the City. The privileges included immunity from tolls at markets and fairs in England, freedom from impressment into the armed forces and a right to vote at ward and parliamentary elections. Till 1835, all freemen were admitted through membership of one of the City Companies, or trade and craft guilds, by patrimony as child of an existing freeman in lawful wedlock, after "servitude" as an apprentice, or by redemption (purchase), which usually required payment of a higher fee and also required approval of the court of aldermen. (There were also Honoris Causa, or honorary freemen, the highest honour the City could bestow).


It is now known that in the 1790s, Shelton was a home office spy helping suppress the organisation of the working class. ([69]) Linebaugh treats Patrick Colquhuon's efforts to suppress working class organisations - initially those for silk weavers. Many men mentioned in respect of convict administration and penal matters were all creatures of prevailing ideology. And the ideology was, at a time of social change, during an industrial revolution, after the trade disaster of the loss of the American colonies, that recalcitrant members of the lower orders would be brutally disciplined. We can say, if Sir Joseph Banks's career is still obscured (?), partly because of his connections with sending convicts to Australia (?), Shelton's career is even more shadowy.


On 2 February, 1785, twenty young men had been hanged outside Newgate, the eldest under thirty. The Public Advertiser mourned such human sacrifices as being too worthy of the Aztecs. ([70]) Gillen records that of 153 people capitally convicted in the Old Bailey sessions of 1785, 77 would be hanged, including one woman and a boy of 14. Between July and December 1785, 60 men would die on the Ceres hulk alone. Lord Sydney at Whitehall on 22 February, 1789, wrote to the Lords Treasury about an account from Shelton for fees due to him for delivering these felons and asking it be paid (295). The point is that Shelton's handling of documents remained haphazard till he died. This is just another factor making analysis of convict transportation to Australia difficult, despite the paper trail left in the wake of each convict. ([71])



* * *

Campbell Letter 132:

London 11 May 1785

Vice Admiral Campbell

Hearing from my Cousr the Commiss that you was to set out this day for Portsmouth & that your stay there would be longer than (??) I take this opportunity of Wishing you ....... there is on board the Winchelsea frigate under yr Command a young kinsman of mine Son of a Most Worthy Gentleman of much Respect & Consideration in Jamaica, his friends here have importuned me to mention him to you I would think under no small obligation to me ..... if opportunity offers Eat a Bit of Mutton at your Table he is a very fine Boy about 16 a Midshipman ....... his name Colin Campbell ([72])


Botany Bay or Das Voltas? A report never finally printed:


May 1785: Details:


On 9 May, 1785, On plans for transportation to Africa ([73])... A letter from Sydney to Lords Treasury, 9 February, 1785. Also, an interim report from Lord Beauchamp dated 9 May. The final report of Beauchamp's Committee was never printed. The committee heard evidence on the desirability of Botany Bay but ignored it and recommended Das Voltas instead. In any "convict republic" the felons were to be left to their own devices, self governing. ([74])


12 May, 1785: Testimony of Duncan Campbell, Minutes, House of Commons Committee on Convicts. ([75]) 13 May, 1785, draft order declaring and appointing Africa to be the place to which sundry Convicts under sentence to be transported to parts beyond the seas, still to be conveyed on Transports, Read and approved. With a list of convicts, and a similar matter examined on 11 March, 1785. James Matra commented about 23 May on Campbell's estimates of 30-40 per convict transported to New South Wales, by which time NSW had been waylaid by enthusiasm for Das Voltas, a cheaper alternative. The Committee's final report was made on 21 June, then given to the House of Commons on 28 July, 1785. ([76])


Campbell Letter 133:

Mincing Lane Thursday

12 Oclock

William Hamilton

I have just received your Note, I will be with you tomorrow at One O'Clock to finish the Kingsdown business; but as I wish to remind you of a few questions necessary to be fully explained at that (?) I think you had better approach Mr Dunn (???).([77])


While ever there was a possibility of the resumption of transportation, Campbell himself was considering acquiring more land in Kent. At the time, he was probably more concerned to have continuity for his "public works" projects with men sent for hard labour, than questions of transportation. ([78]) He was after all liasing with government departments concerning work to be performed by hard labour men. ([79]) Campbell also had other matters on his mind. On 24 May, 1785 he wrote to John Rose near Leeds Town Virginia; he had been waiting for Rose to write regarding the US legislation's view on the much injured and distressed British creditors: "My situation in that respect has really become more disagreeable than most men" ...


Campbell offered Rose a commission on debt recovery, and said that Mr. Hodge was currently in London seeing Campbell, and would return to Virginia in the fall (this was probably a son of the Thomas Hodge who used to dispose of Campbell's convicts). ([80]) The American historian, Emory Evans, writing on Planter Indebtedness, says the American idea to permanently repudiate debts to British merchants did not seem to take root till 1784, and then it came from a different generation of people who were assisted by Patrick Henry. This in fact is consistent with the continual tenor of politeness Campbell used regarding his American debtors. He was rarely aggressive, never threatening. Though he was a conservative who naturally deplored the situation arising in the United States, Campbell always in his letters used a gentlemanly approach.


Thomas Devine the Scots historian of the tobacco trade has treated the furore in Virginia over debt recovery. ([81]) In October 1784, some 54 (Scots) tobacco merchants sent a message to the Virginia Assembly stating their willingness to accept annual payments for debts owed them. A Bill failed to pass the US senate, so in 1785, many outport merchants in Britain joined forces to plead their cause to ministers - in which case, their names ended up before Duncan Campbell and the London committee of aggrieved British merchants. In May 1785, John Adams arrived in London and the committee appointed in London met with Adams at a Picadilly hotel on 9 June. (Duncan Campbell was probably present, and he said later, he thought Adams' demands "immoderate". Adams also saw Pitt). Annual instalments were agreed on, as the US simply could not pay their debts, and some British merchants - not including Campbell - reluctantly renounced their claims to interest on their debt monies. Carmarthen thought the British deserved every possible attention. Dundas and Sydney also gave their support. It was said a British minister would go to America to see what could be done. For years till 1787, the US attitude looked somewhat better for the British wanting to recover debts. But by the end of 1787, matters were at a standoff. The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce remained glum about the situation. Meanwhile, British Commissioners also sat in judgement on the claims of Britain's Loyalists, and James Matra may have remained interested in their deliberations.


* * *


By June 1785, the House of Commons Committee on Transportation had narrowed the room for government manoeuvres by recognizing the potential cost of transportation to a much more accessible site, Das Voltas, stating the need for some compensating advantage, to indemnify the public against the cost. Also in June 1785, nostalgia arose for the old American system of transportation. The committee felt that "The old System of transporting to America answered every good purpose which could be expected from it". ([82]) Meanwhile, the armchair colonists, John Call and Young, wanted a commercially-orientated naval stores settlement on Norfolk Island, a suggestion earning a withering reply from Alexander Dalrymple ([83]) on behalf of the East India Company, who wrote for the information of the Company directors.


By 5 June, 1785 the Committee for the Rebuilding of Newgate Prison (and the Keeper's House) was dissolved. ([84]) In July, 1785, doubtless irritated with delays in legislation being implemented, the Lord Mayor of London wrote to the Secretary of State urging the usual "speedy resumption" of transportation. But the fact still was, government still had nowhere suitable to send the convicts. During 1785, George Moore was still willing to take convicts to North or South America, Sir Joseph Banks had again suggested Botany Bay at New South Wales, and others had been interested in various locations in Africa. By July 1785, Cabinet had been talking of Canada, the West Indies or the West Coast of Africa. Useful shipping lanes, a naval depot, and/or some trading prospects had implicitly become part of discussions, but there were no specifics about which ship men might be interested, apart from the slavers, Camden Calvert and King, already trading from Cape Coast Castle. Or, vaguely, "the East India Company" - which wanted no convicts.


The East India Company always expressed distaste for the new colony in Australia. Why? One, a sense of insult: it felt its charter had risked being abridged by a careless government. Two, Australia had no large, thriving population as seen in Africa, India and China, whereas the British mercantilist thrived on a large indigenous population familiar with its own resources. The reason London's other senior merchants avoided the Australian colony in droves was Australia's low population, which fact ironically made the region attractive as a convict dumping ground. In turn, this implies that if merchants would ignore the colony, the government would have to help support any free emigrants to New South Wales, a considerable incentive for any cost-conscious government to overlook promoting emigration there.


Campbell must have been further involved in debt recovery business, as he was referred to by members of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, which had been started in the early 1780s by Patrick Colquhuon, as "Chairman of the American Merchants' Committee". ([85]) Thus, later, John Adams spoke of Campbell as "the principal man amongst them". In April 1786 Jefferson identified Campbell again as "Chairman of the Committee of American Merchants, who is also Chairman of the whole body of British merchants". Campbell was also chairman of the "Committee of merchants trading to Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina."


Olson comments, "under Campbell's leadership the merchants took a significant step toward establishing a national lobby including representatives of the outports as well as London." This new committee was regularly consulted by ministers, Shelburne, Pitt, Carmarthen, Dundas. Olson says they succeeded in prevailing on Pitt's ministry in dropping proposed legislation limiting American ability to collect debts from loyalists in Britain, pressured the government to consult them before proposing a tobacco excise bill, and kept an initially reluctant ministry from abandoning American forts until some arrangement was made for collecting merchants' debts. ([86]) So as we read history, today... Lord Beauchamp's Committee was hearing evidence from Campbell on convict transportation, (which will interest Australians). Campbell himself would have been far more interested in preparing to meet John Adams about debt recovery (which has interested Americans). And little of this has interested British historians!


Campbell was certainly not a Great-Man-In-History, but since he had the ear of government at times when he was also, as hulks overseer, a quasi-legal functionary, he was too large to be one of the-little-people-of-history. Here, Campbell poses entertaining problems about the way historians perceive individuals in history - and almost everything on Campbell is already on the record, somewhere or other in Australia, in Britain, or in the United States, undigested. It remains difficult to balance the reputation of Britain's arch convict contractor, not because of events, but because of the way historians have reported events. Campbell was corrupt, says the hulks historian, Branch Johnson. Yet Campbell was given respect by John Adams and Jefferson as one of the leaders of the British fight to retrieve American debts! If Campbell was corrupt, he might become a prime early example of how a corrupt government functionary might influence history in unexpected ways, or blind historians to trends in information? As we shall see, there is still another fragment split off from Campbell's personality to consider - "the influential West India merchant" who promoted Bligh as captain of HMAV Bounty. While historians have gotten Campbell mostly wrong, what Campbell himself wanted, most of all, was as much as possible of the 35,000 he said he was owed in North America. With these literary problems of person-perception-in-history, something strangely anti-creative has had a persistent effect on history writing in Australia.


* * *


Campbell Letter 134:

London 23 June 1785

Mrs Jessie Campbell

Old Aberdeen

This day just as I was going into the Country .... the Bill which I sincerely wish may meet with acceptance its fate you will be informed by Mr Boyick as soon as possible. ... Inclosed you will receive a letter which came under cover to me by Lieut Gibbons who I have not yet seen I find he has called upon me when I was in the Country. I hope to have a favourable account of the Captain by him...([87])< /p>


By now, Campbell was beginning his Kent land investment program in earnest, hence his being "in the country" with increasing frequency.


Campbell Letter 135:

Mincing Lane

28 June 1785

Arthur Shakespeare Esqr

If it is really in your power to take up your Brothers Bond it will be a real favour just at this time when I have a very large Sum to pay for my Kent Purchase, Should this be inconvenient for you to Comply with at present I must request you to spare me 1000 [pounds] for Two Months and if then you are in want of it I will return the same. With Compliments to Mrs Shakespeare I remain ([88])< /p>


* * *


Pulling down overcrowded gaols?


One of the most curious of the measures taken in a London of "overcrowded gaols" in 1785 had been in May-July (about 20 July?) when the Mayor and Commonalty of the Citizens of London had a Bill put by aldermen Newnham and Watson for the pulling down of the Poultry and the Wood St Compter and the rebuilding of same. The Bill had no support, but it may be viewed as another strike in the Londoners' struggle against a tardy, ineffectual government, and also at the rising costs of prison administration. London has just gotten over the cost of renovating Newgate after its being damaged during the Gordon riots. Newnham was a great proponent of transportation, and it might be thought he was transparently, even sardonically, attempting to reduce convict accommodation so as to increase the political pressure for transportation to be resumed. ([89]) At the time, Newgate housed 600 felons. ([90])


By 20 July, 1785, too, eleven convicts in Leicester Jail had petitioned that their sentences be carried out, as for three years they'd been chained in stone walls, living on bread, with no exercise. ([91]) Prisoner matters regularly affected London aldermen personally as they pursued their civic duties.


* * *


[Finis Chapter 29]

Words 10294 words with footnotes 12578 pages 30 footnotes 111


[1] Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: On 12 January, 1786, Campbell made an oath regarding one of his hulks returns. 13 January, 1786: Campbell to Lord Sydney, quarterly return for hulk Ceres, from 12 Oct. the year previous.

[2] It is not known if an item from House of Commons Journal refers to the hulks overseer or not: 12 Jan., 1785, To Duncan Campbell for 326 days as ??? Commissary of Stores in North Britain, to Dec. 24, 1785, 154. House of Commons Journal, Vol. 42, p. 596.

[3] R. V. Jackson, `Luxury in Punishment: Jeremy Bentham on the Cost of the Convict Colony in NSW', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 23, No. 90, April 1988., pp. 42-59.

[4] Le Maine is present day McCarthy Island, site of the city of Georgetown.

[5] Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 32. Richard Bradley's Will: PROB/6/162, 11 Nov., 1786.

[6] Richard Bradley bought the Island of Le Maine in Africa at the instructions of the Home Office, thus: Oldham, Britain's Convicts, Ch 6, pp. 95ff and notes thereto. House of Commons Journal, Vol. 43, p. 411, re 457/10/6 to Bradley per Thomas Cotton; O'Brien, Foundation, p. 121. On Bradleys variously, T1/690, No. 295; T1/691, No. 543; T1/696, No. 1644).

[7] He resided at 49 Rathbone Place 1788-1791 and died in January 1797 while at 25 Berners St. His sister Frances had married Andrew Hawes Dyne. I am indebted to Mollie Gillen for much information on Bradleys.

[8] Mackay, Exile, pp. 45-47. Plans were advanced for 150 convicts to be sent to Le Maine, which was thought to be able to sustain 4,000 self-governing convicts.

[9] HO 42/6f.36... a bill due to owners of Recovery.

[10] PRO T1/619 cited in Hawkings, Bound for Australia, p. 1. Lloyd's Register, 1786-87 lists Recovery, Capt. D. Trail 250 tons to Africa for Calvert.

[11] T 70 69, T/70/145, HO/42/6.

[12] Steven, Trade, Tactics and Territory, p. 71.

[13] Ivan T. Sanderson, Follow The Whale. London, Cassell and Co., 1956., variously. Sanderson lists the Acts expanding the waters available to the whalers, introduction, p. xix.

[14] Steven, Trade, Tactics and Territory, pp. 39-40; Harlow, Founding of Second British Empire, pp. 43ff.

[15] Steven Trade, Tactics and Territory, pp. 39ff, p. 48. On 3 September, 1785 were dated Instructions from Richard and Cadman Etches to Portlock, for a John Cadman Etches expedition to North-west coast America.

[16] Dakin, Whalemen Adventurers, introduction. An Enderby partner at Paul's Wharf, London, was Buxton, from the family into which Enderby had married. By 1785, Enderbys had 17 ships out, all commanded by American loyalists. By 1790, Enderbys and the South whalers were estimated to have out about 68 ships.

[17] Dakin, Whalemen Adventurers; Steven, Trade, Tactics and Territory, pp. 40-48.

[18] PRO T 70 69 4352.

[19] HO 42/6 4370.

[20] PRO T/70/145 4349.

[21] Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 32.

[22] House of Commons Journal, Vol. 40, pp. 960-1019.

[23] 1 Jan., 1785: Le Maine: Nepean to committee; Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 32. See T1/614.

[24] Oldham, Britain's Convicts, Note 471, quoting T1/614. See also T1/624.

[25] John Barnes did not approve Richard Bradley for this mission, favouring Capt. Heatley. James Bradley's letter re Richard in Africa, 1782. CJ, XLII, 30, April 30, 1987, Thomas Cotton, payment, to R. Bradley for the purchase of Le Maine. Le Maine cost about 374/15/- plus 50 guineas for his trouble. O'Brien, Foundation, p. 121.

[26] T54, pp. 642-644; Henry Bradley, merchant of Plymouth Dock from about 26 March, 1787; died 22 March, 1797, PROBII/1183. Henry Bradley is noted as a merchant of Plymouth Dock about March 26, 1787. (He died March 22, 1797). Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 46.

[27] Mackay, Exile, pp. 47-48; and Alan Atkinson, `The Convict Republic', The Push from The Bush: A Bulletin of Social History, No. 18, October 1984., pp. 66-84. Also Geoffrey Blainey, `The Tyranny of Distance', Ch. 13 of Martin's Founding, pp. 82ff. Also, O'Brien, Foundation, variously; Oldham, Britain's Convicts, Chapter 6.

[28] T1/778.

[29] Bradley's Will: PROB/11/1970.

[30] Mollie Gillen notes on Henry Bradley, merchant of Plymouth Dock about 26 March, 1787 - he had died by 22 March, 1797. He offered to contract for Plymouth convicts over 13 Feb.-10 March 10, 1786, T54, pp. 642-44.

[31] Duncan Campbell Business Letterbooks, Vol. 5, ML A3229: Campbell to H. H. Mayor, Mincing Lane, 7 February, 1785.

[32] Kellock, `London Merchants', p. 114.

[33] Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Vol. 5, p. 21, Campbell about Feb. 1785 sent goods to Jamaica by ship Trelawney. Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Vol. 5, p. 23, Campbell to Moore Brockenbrough, 10 Feb., 1785; Brockenbrough had sent tobacco to Campbell by ship Providence, also on public sale; goods had also been sent to Campbell by the Nancy.

[34] C. Northcote Parkinson, (Ed.), The Trade Winds: A Study of British Overseas Trade during the French Wars 1793-1815. London, Allen and Unwin, 1948, Herbert Heaton, The American Trade, [after 1786]. From 1787-1804, a ship the Pigou completed two round trips London to Philadelphia - Roebuck also sailed 1791-1801 from Bristol to the US, and in 1791-1797, William Penn had two cargoes yearly London-Philadelphia.

[35] Sumner, Robert Morris, Vol. 2, pp. 171-173.

[36] Sumner, Robert Morris, Vol. 2, p. 175.

[37] See Calvert to Nepean, 4 Feb., 1785, referred to in Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 32; Gillen, Botany Bay Decision, pp. 749-750. The purchase of Le Maine: Oldham, Britain's Convicts, Chapter 6.Alan Atkinson, `The Convict Republic', The Push from The Bush: A Bulletin of Social History, No. 18, October 1984., pp. 66-84. Also, O'Brien, Foundation, variously

[38] Mackay, Exile, pp. 45-7.

[39] HO 42/6 4370; PRO, T/70/145.

[40] Campbell to Commissioners of the Navy, concerning the hulk Ceres for prisoners for Africa, 19 March, 1785, ML A3229, p. 29. On Nepean's queries into average numbers of convicts transportable, see Campbell to Nepean, 29 July, 1785, in which Campbell mentioned being unable to find his copy of the 1779 report stemming from Bunbury's Committee of Inquiry.

[41] O'Brien, Foundation, p. 171.

[42] Hogg, The Royal Arsenal, p. 478, citing Ordnance Bill Book, Series III, PRO/WO/52/24.

[43] House of Commons Journal, Vol. 43, p. 448.

[44] O'Brien, Foundation, p. 119. For orders-in-council, see O'Brien; and T1/624ff, draft orders changing prisoners' destination from America to Africa.

[45] Campbell Letter No. 127: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 29. The additional hulk was Ceres. The hulk at "Debtford" would have been a Navy hulk. 19 March, 1785: Campbell to Commissioners Navy, 19 March, 1785, re urgent orders to set up a hulk for convicts for Africa. Sydney to Treasury re Le Maine. O'Brien, Foundation, p. 119; Frost, Convicts and Empire, pp. 32-34. 19 March, 1785: Campbell to Commissioners Navy, 19 March, 1785. 20 March, 1785, Sydney to Lords Comm of Treasury re Campbell's offer of a vessel. March-May 1785, T1/617, From John Kirby, Keeper of Wood St Compter, detailed accounts 1783-1785, for prisoners awaiting transportation. T1/624, Draft of Orders changing place mentioned in Sentences of Transportation from America to Africa.

[46] Campbell to Commissioners of HM Navy, 19 March, 1785. Campbell could have the hulk he offered by next week if the navy would have allowed him use of one of the hulks at the Deptford Naval yard for removal of Ceres' mast as she went down to Woolwich. See Sydney to Lords Comm Treasury, 20 March, 1785, T1/478ff. indicating haste in the measure's implementation.

[47] Mackay, Exile, p. 14; p. 102, Note 16. HO/7.1.

[48] Campbell to Akerman, 1 April, 1785. Campbell wanted to see Akerman that night before meeting with Nepean at 11 am next morning. Campbell was shortly writing to gaolers at Glocester, Horsham, Stafford, on 15 April for prisoners; and to Hereford, Devonshire, Lancaster, 19 April. On April 19, the gaoler for Dorchester had six prisoners for hard labour, delivered to Campbell over 1-5 May. London by comparison only provided transports for Campbell's attention.

[49] Mackay, Exile, pp. 13-16.

[50] Campbell Letter 128: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229. The "new guests" were convicts sentenced for transportation to Africa, prone to violent protest on their treatment, and upon their destination.

[51] O'Brien, Foundation.

[52] Mollie Gillen, `His Majesty's Mercy: The Circumstances of the First Fleet', The Push, No. 29, 1991., p. 58.

[53] Mackay, Exile, pp. 47-48. Item: 1 Dec., 1785, To Anty Calvert Esqr for Freight of Provisions for Africa Co. in 1781 for use of troops on coast of Africa, 199; House of Commons Journal, Vol. 41, 1786, p. 344.

[54] Campbell to Stewart Erskine, 2 April, 4 April, 1785, Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, ML A3229, ML A3229, p. 31. Erskine, who worked for Campbell as deputy hulks superintendent from late 1776, lived in Fludyer Street, Greenwich, close to both Blackheath and the hulks.

[55] Campbell Letter No. 129: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 31.

[56] Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, a minor business letter, 9 April, 1785, Vol. 5, p. 32. ML A3229.

[57] O'Brien, Foundation, p. 120 provides a report on the issues.

[58] Campbell Letter 130: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3228, p. 428..

[59] Mackay, Exile, p. 30.

[60] Campbell Letter 131: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3228, p. 429.

[61] Mackay, Exile, pp. 48-49.

[62] HO 7/1/79. Ekirch, Bound for America, p. 113, Note 2. And cited in Ekirch, p. 24, 29 Jan., 1787, CO 201/2/209, PRO. 1785: 12 May; Testimony of Duncan Campbell, Minutes, House of Commons Committee on Convicts.

[63] Clark, `Choice of Botany Bay', in Martin's Founding, p. 67.

[64] Carter, Banks, p. viii.

[65] Carter, Banks, pp. 214ff. Aboard Nautilus was surgeon William Balmain, later at Sydney, the first man to sell off Australian land to an investor abroad, a surgeon-trader named Gilchrist in India, being part of the Sydney suburb still called Balmain. Gillen, `His Majesty's Mercy', p. 102.

[66] Carter, Banks, pp. 214ff calls Nepean's management "meticulous", which it was not.

[67] T1/624, giving a list of names. See Martin in Martin's Founding, p. 163.

[68] CLRO Rep 190, 1785-86. This section is indebted to some notes from James Sewell, archivist, Corporation of London Records Office, Guildhall, Aldermanbury, London EC2P 2EJ, on Freedom Records of Freemen of the City of London, in the care of the Australian Society of Genealogists, Sydney. The records of admission to 1916 are now in the custody of Corporation of London Records Office, Guildhall London EC2 2EJ.

[69] Clive Emsley, `The home office and its sources of information and investigation, 1791-1801', English Historical Review, Vol. 94, July 1979., pp. 532-561. Linebaugh, The London Hanged, pp. 408ff.

[70] Mollie Gillen, `His Majesty's Mercy': The Circumstances of the First Fleet', The Push, No. 29, 1991., pp. 47.

[71] Shelton's Contracts [1789-1829 for convict transportation to Australia], PRO AO 3/291, are two boxes with 228 contracts for convict transportation, 1789-1829, plus a bundle of letters. Matters arising are discussed in Byrnes, `The Blackheath Connection'.

[72] Campbell Letter 132: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229. It had been thought that Campbell's "Cousr the commissioner" was William Campbell at the Navy Board, but this cannot be verified, in which case the cousin remains unknown. Item: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Vol. 5, pp. 27-28; in May 1785, sugar was sent to Campbell from John Skelhorn, of Jamaica on the ship Duke of Chandos, also at London on 18 July 1785 Campbell wrote to Dr. John Patterson Jamaica, who had sent rum to Campbell by the ship Finlay.

[73] Lord Beauchamp: Inquiry 1785. CJ, Vol. 40, col. 1164., here, Vol. 1161. Alan Atkinson, `The Convict Republic', The Push From The Bush: A Bulletin of Social History, No. 18, October 1984., pp. 66-84, embodying material arising from Beauchamp's Committee in 1785.

[74] There is also mention of a lunatic "convict republic" in Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore, pp. 63ff.

[75] HO 7/1/79 in Ekirch, Bound for America, p. 113, Note 2. 13 May, 1785, Treasury Board Papers, Reel 3549.

[76] Mackay, Exile, p. 53.

[77] Campbell Letter 133: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 55: This letter, undated, was placed mid-1785. The "Kingsdown business" involved a land purchase at or near Blackheath. The estate was later inherited by Mrs. Newell Campbell, according to the notes of WDC in ML A3232. William Hamilton was a Blackheath man and golfer. In mid-1786 he moved into Campbell's Mincing Lane address.

[78] Zena Bamping, West Kingsdown: The Story of Three Villages in Kent. (2nd Ed) London, Tyger Press, 1991., has some references to Campbell.

[79] As with the convicts being worked at Cumberland Fort.

[80] Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Vol. 5, Campbell to John Rose near Leeds Town, Virginia, 24 May, 1785.

[81] Thomas M. Devine, The Tobacco Lords: A Study of the Tobacco Merchants of Glasgow and their Trading Activities, 1740-1790. Edinburgh, Donald, 1975., p. 157.

[82] A. Roger Ekirch, `Secret Convict Trade', pp. 1291. [the cultural obsession resurfaces]. Parliamentary Committee on Convicts, HO/ 42/6.

[83] Mackay, Exile, p. 2, p. 33. I have never read a convincing opinion on why the East India Company was against settlement of the Pacific area. However, this "withering reply" puts Dalrymple's 1786 "Admonition" against the thief colony at Botany Bay in useful perspective. Dalrymple was also a Blackheath golfer, which was possibly how he originally found some of his information on likely Botany Bay developments.

[84] From R. R. Sharpe, Newgate, cited earlier. George Dance had been the architect, according to Hughes in The Fatal Shore.

[85] Olson, `Virginia Merchants of London', p. 386.

[86] As cited by Olson, see 24 June, 1789, Hansard, The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. XXVIII (London, 1816), 180.

[87] Campbell Letter 134: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 52.

[88] Campbell Letter 135: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 51.

[89] House of Commons Journal, Vol. 40, 1784-85, p. 1149.

[90] Mackay, Exile, p. 16. Newnham's Bill, 20 July, 1785, House of Commons Journal, Vol. 40 [1784-85], p. 1149; House of Commons Journal, Vol. 40, pp. 960-1019.

[91] Mackay, Exile, p. 19

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