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Emptying the Hulks: The First Three Convict Fleets to Australia: An alternative theory on the mounting of the breadfruit voyage: More emptying the hulks: The disappearance of George Moore: The ambitions of William Richards: Before the departure of the First Fleet: The Bligh-Campbell Connection: Some aspects of crewing the Bounty: The tenders for a breadfruit ship:


The Blackheath Connection

Chapter 36


Emptying the Hulks: The First Three Convict Fleets to Australia:


Here, an argument grows from a new understanding of the maritime history involved. For generations, Australian historians have regarded the first three fleets of convict ships as separate, with the arrival of the First Fleet, especially, proposing what in Australia's twentieth century became a day for the celebration of national origin - 26 January. ([1]) New information on The Blackheath Connection, however, makes it clear that the fleets were not separate, that behind their organisation lay coherent interest patterns and reasons. Reasons such as: a remarkable collection of men with vision, maritime expertise and commercial curiosity, patriotism and ambition living almost side-by-side in one suburb, several of them, regular government contractors. The first three convict fleets should be seen as a three-stage yet single movement.


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Here, there is also an important, long-range psycho-cultural point. One of the most convincing remarks about the attitude of Australians to maritime history was made by John Bach: "....It is still curious that the intense and rather spectacular early maritime experience should have left so little mark upon the national character. Perhaps there was at work some conscious repudiation of a tradition that was too closely associated with a Britain that had cast them out to that distant shore and appeared to have forgotten them..." ([2]) Now, however, with the discovery of The Blackheath Connection, it is arguable that the Australian national character was left so unmarked by "spectacular maritime experience" because of literary problems with history - with the creation, reading and writing of works of history. Literary problems extend widely, to the interpretation of the full range of aftermaths seen and felt in Britain after the American Revolution. Provision of solutions to any resulting literary problems requires the adoption of a more global outlook, not in respect of view about British Imperialism, but simply in order to explain the maritime-commercial impulses reigning in Blackheath, and elsewhere in London.


Here, providing solutions is a complex task, because as matters proceeded, religious sensibility in England was being encouraged to confront the institution of slavery - while a new form of state-sanctioned quasi-slavery was being created for a new land - Australia. In this context, the virtue of seeing the first three convict fleets as the result of a single impulse, energised by a single government decision in search of solutions to entrenched social problems, is that it narrows focus, realistically, while it expands knowledge and information. But while the convict fleets can be reconsidered, a new view has also to be adopted about the legend of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Simply by its timing, and reactions to it across several centuries, from 1790, the Bounty mutiny legend has distracted a great deal of attention from matters which were far more important to understandings of long-term trends in the history of the "founding" of European Australia than the outcome of a failed voyage to find cheaper food for slaves.

An alternative theory on the mounting of the breadfruit voyage:


One wonders how many friends or enemies of Governor Bligh in NSW knew (or cared?) about Bligh's earlier links with Campbell, respecting the mutiny on the Bounty, or anything else. It is for one thing difficult to believe that Bligh as governor would not have been influenced in his views on convict handling by his long-time mentor, Campbell. ([3]) Bligh was a Freemason, and he wears a Masonic symbol as depicted in a compilation brochure, Mutiny On The Bounty, which was prepared for the National Maritime Museum's lavish exhibition on the mutiny in 1989. ([4]) It has justly been remarked, "The mutiny on HMS Bounty, the most celebrated of all maritime mutinies, was of no importance. The ship was not engaged in great affairs.... Yet the mutiny became one of the most famous..." ([5])


The Bounty mutiny was largely due to the way the ship was crewed. The Bligh biographer, Gavin Kennedy, argues persuasively that Fletcher Christian became semi-suicidal, and irrational. Glynn Christian's book is elaborate on Christian's emotions as he was being driven by Bligh. ([6]) In general, the mutiny was a minor incident in British naval history, related to a special mission on behalf of West Indian slave owners, and invested with prestige by Sir Joseph Banks, The Royal Society, and George III, who was impressed by his sugar revenues.


Naturally also, George III took the mutiny and its aftermath as an affront to his authority, and naval dignity. The British navy adopted that view more slowly, but finally came to believe the hijacking of an armed naval vessel was a dangerous affront to naval discipline, not to be tolerated. Australians however, due to a perversity of the national historical imagination, have adopted the mutiny as an element of Australian history, which it was not. In particular, Australians minimise the links the voyage had with slavery in the West Indies.


Since 1990, only one historian of Bligh has ever wondered about and raised a single qualm about Bligh's links with Campbell as overseer of convicts, rather than a West India Merchant and rich shipowner - and he was never followed up. This was D. Bonner-Smith, in Some Remarks about the Mutiny of the Bounty. ([7]) In the 1930s there was a concerted burst of interest in Bligh and the Bounty in England, probably stimulated by publication of Mackaness' biography of Bligh. Bengt Danielsson wrote, but using no respectable historian's evidence, Bligh's "command was really the result of the influence of his wife's uncle Duncan Campbell, a ship-owner who had made a fortune slave-running and who also owned several large sugar plantations and a mercantile house in the West Indies." And it was he ([Campbell] "who had been chiefly instrumental in securing the support of Sir Joseph Banks for the scheme". But like every other writer, Danielsson does not suggest how, or even why, Banks knew Campbell. ([8])


There is also "the poetry connection" with Bligh and Bounty. ([9]) The Christian family on the Isle of Man had seen an acquaintance between young Fletcher Christian and his school mate, William Wordsworth. Coleridge also was a friend of the family. The evidence would appear to clinch Gavin Kennedy's views as long later, Coleridge wrote on the inspiration of the poem, The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner. ([10]) Shortly before Bounty sailed, Fletcher was visited by his brother Charles, who had recently been involved in a mutiny on an East India Company ship and been suspended for two years from Company service. Charles had sailed under one Capt. Rogers, who had been suspended from trading and fined 500. There is, however, information in the Campbell Letterbooks on matters of the crewing of Bounty which has never been published. ([11])


* * *


More emptying the hulks:


As various convicts went by land, the hammer and nail were laid into the bulkheads of Prince of Wales at Deptford. The other ships rested. In London, Campbell disputed with his hulks medicos, Dr Dodo Ecken and Dr Gustavus Irwin of the Woolwich Artillery, asserting that their latest charges for attending the hulks were excessive. ([12]) William Richards won a point by 9 February. His request to the East India Company that Lady Penrhyn not be penalized if she arrived late at Canton was granted; she could if necessary wait for the following season. (Had the Company refused, it might have offended her owner, Curtis, a powerful alderman whose brother Timothy about then was establishing a regular ship with the Company for China tea.) A midshipman on Lady was William, son of Timothy. ([13]) Timothy Curtis, maker of sea biscuits at 236 Wapping, was listed as Lloyd's Register subscriber of 1786 and 1787. In April 1798, Timothy Curtis sent out Nottingham Capt. J. Barfoot in East India Company service. ([14]) By then, his brother William annually sent out his own ship for tea, City of London. ([15]) ([16])


Over a weekend, lists of convict names were consulted for the preparation of further orders-in-council of 12 February. In Newgate, a Jewish girl, Esther Abrahams, pregnant, petitioned Lord Sydney for the Royal Mercy. ([17]) Her feeling was so strong that she went to see the Newgate Keeper, Akerman, so that her petition reached the Recorder of London, James Adair. Adair however did not recommend her to Sydney. Her petition was disallowed, although she was not informed so until just before the First Fleet sailed. On the same weekend, Lady Penrhyn arrived on the Motherbank, a sand bank off the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight, an anchorage for East Indiamen and ships under quarantine. Many writers, possibly gulled by the "romance" of East India shipping, have assumed the Motherbank was somehow special, but as a quarantine roads, it was far from special. The gathering was in train: the storeship Fishburn already waited at the Motherbank.


In London, George Teer at Deptford received orders to have Prince of Wales proceed immediately to Portsmouth where convicts from Newgate were due to arrive - presumably those waggoned down by Sir Sampson Wright's men - and it is not clear why these prisoners could not have been delivered on the Thames. But Prince of Wales moved slowly: there was bad weather, her sailors had initially been carousing, then they later threatened to go on strike if they did not get their river pay. In London on 16 February, surgeon John White received his orders to proceed to Plymouth. There would soon blow up a medical problem of some proportions that should also have been foreseen - too many embarkees living on salted provisions. White was faced with this as soon as he arrived at Plymouth.


There followed a flurry of ship movements and taking of stores. At Portsmouth a "medical man" would shortly interest himself in proceedings. He had visited the convicts and then declared that they were suffering en masse from a malignant fever and ought to go ashore. Surgeon Balmain on the contrary said the "malignant fever" was symptomatic only of mass hysteria. In this he was supported by John White, who recommended less bilge water and more fresh food and air. Lt. Shortland the navy agent for the embarkation also denied there was any malignant fever.


At that time, Capt. James Hill, deputy overseer of the Fortunee hulk, was himself ill. Just as Campbell had warned him, the cold of the hulks would put him at risk. Due to Hill's illness, Robert Burn, then another superintendent for Campbell of the hulks convicts at Langston Harbour, swore an oath before Sir John Carter at Portsmouth on the veracity of a return on the number of hulks inmates. ([18])


Campbell Letter 157:

Adelphi 20 Feb 1787

William Hamilton

Mincing Lane

As the time of my Annual Balancing my Books now draws near, I shall be much obliged if you will furnish me with your state of the Acct between us, there being some Articles, Vizt Wine and a Cable which I cannot make a Statement of. Your Complyance will be esteemed a favour by Dear Sir ([19])


On 22 February, 1787, Sydney told the Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland that penal problems were now well in hand, and Scotland soon to be attended to, but there is little evidence anything happened. ([20]) However, as is evident from Shelton's later contracts, whenever Shelton had to transport a Scots prisoner, he was obliged to write to Scotland to obtain relevant documentation. With all future transportation, Shelton always noted when his prisoners were either Scots, or, had come to his attention after a court martial. ([21])


22 February, 1787: Some 210 convicts were sent to Portsmouth from Thames hulks, About 22 February, John Townsend conveyed 100 convicts from Newgate to Portsmouth. Sir Sampson Wright also incurred expenses for a similar movement of convicts. ([22]) There is no record of this movement of prisoners in Campbell's letterbooks.


Two hundred and ten convicts had been sent from Woolwich in thirty guarded wagons to Portsmouth. The numbers arriving had been awaited with community trepidation. As the wagons passed in drear procession the town residents had closed up their shop windows and doors, fearful for their lives and property. The streets were lined with troops as prisoners passed along to Point Beach where boats waited to carry them onto the transports. When on the boats the convicts let up a cry they often gave - three great Huzzahs! ([23])


When the convicts had arrived on 2 March, Capt. Marshall on Scarborough had become apprehensive about the lack of fittings on his ship and written to Secretary Stephens. For once, officialdom acted quickly. By the 13th, carpenters had built a house on Scarborough's quarter deck for Capt. Marshall to sleep in - after the convicts were secured.


Phillip before the male convicts had arrived had ordered reports on provisions. Phillip complained of the flour, criticised the contractor and wished to blame Richards for all delay. The marines on Scarborough found the ship had no arrangements for prisoner security. The alarmed Capt. Marshall was at a loss and applied to Commissioner Martin for the use of HM Gorgon for the temporary reception of the convicts who ought to have gone straight onto Scarborough. This was granted, and the convicts on HM Gorgon were given the same treatment as the prisoners on hulk Firm.


Bad weather continued on 3 March. The marines were to be alerted about impending arrivals of prisoners on Friendship and Charlotte at Plymouth. There was suspense, as the prisoners on the hulk Dunkirk, some of whom had mutinied on George Moore's ships, and were reputed to be a rough bunch, were to be moved. The women amongst them, in an administrative scandal, had been very badly used by their guards. By 4 March, Scarborough was made secure and took 185 convicts. (The Portsmouth marines were ordered by Major-General Arthur Tooker Collins, those at Plymouth by Lt.-General Smith). Surgeon John White at Plymouth on the 5th or the 7th delivered orders from the Secretary of State and the Admiralty, then went to Portsmouth. White about now was beginning the journal he had promised to his friend Thomas Wilson of Gower Street, London, that he would keep. (The later result of this friendship was that south of Melbourne, Victoria, Wilson's Promontory was named after Collins' friend).


The marines were alerted for duty by 9 March, and put aboard the ships with their baggage. The prisoners were brought from Dunkirk, "all secured in irons except for the women". Amongst them were Mary Bryant (or Broad), in the third year of her seven-year sentence, and James Ruse, in the fifth year of his seven-year term. On 11 March, surgeon John White went to Portsmouth: the ships there went to Plymouth the next day.


When the major work of the embarkation had been accomplished, Phillip found some rest in which to consider his resources and the broader aspects of things. On 12 March he complained to Lord Sydney about the contractor's provisions for the marines (which ought to have long been worked out between Richards and the Navy Office), although perhaps Richards' suppliers were to blame (and these were probably Neavis and Aislabie). Phillip's views were made known to Nepean. Phillip had another view, realistic to the point of being cold-blooded. He suggested the expedition might be better off if the more abandoned of the women were sent out, as they would provide the easing of the men's natural hungers. For it would be either those women, or the native women from Botany Bay and/or the Pacific who would suffer. ([24]) Most of the London female convicts were said to be suffering VD. The VD of the women on Lady Penrhyn almost ensured the disease was transmitted to the women of Tahiti when the ship called there.


Now, it became necessary to count everyone. Major Ross of the marines conducted his muster of the Alexander, Lady Penrhyn and Scarborough convicts on 13 March. Ross' muster was sent to Nepean and lo and behold, a last few more convicts arrived. On 14 March the turnkey of Chester Gaol brought two female convicts to Prince of Wales. Other extra convicts came later. Indeed, if the ships logs entries preserved in HRNSW can be believed, a few late convicts arrived after the First Fleet had sailed! Or on the same morning. ([25])


The ensuing wait must have infuriated everybody. As Charlotte (the 16th) and Friendship (the 15th) arrived from Plymouth, all sail got together. Surgeon John White when he arrived was horrified to realise that for months, all the convicts for months had been fed so far on salt meat, the poorest diet possible for people expected to make a long sea voyage (Richards if no one else should have known far better, but White should possibly have inquired earlier about pre-embarkation diet, too). White immediately rectified all diets. Then the surgeons had to try to stem the gaol fever raging on Alexander, the first ship to embark prisoners.


Campbell reported...


Campbell Letter 158:

Adelphi March 20 1787

Evan Nepean Esq

A sudden indisposition with which I was seized yesterday still confines me to my Chambers, Otherwise I would have waited upon you to know whether the Irons sent to Portsmo with the sundry Convicts for Botany Bay are to be returned because we cannot receive aboard so many people into the Hulks till either these are returned or new ones are made. I therefore request the favour of you to direct me what is fit to be done on this occassion. The Ceres will soon be filled. It is for that reason I am the more desirous of your answer. With great Respect I am ([26])


On 22 March, the prisoners on Alexander were taken off again while she was whitewashed all day. Henry Bradley the overseer of Dunkirk was busy reporting his hulk after her convicts had been put on the First Fleet ships. In London, James Boyick (while Campbell suffered gout) made a list of convicts sentenced for transportation, but who from illness or other reasons had not been sent, for the information of Stewart Erskine on the Thames hulks. Such a list would have to be checked against any names ordered up by a king's warrant. At the time, the Thames hulk Ceres was soon expected to be filled again.


Campbell Letter 159:

[Per James Boyick]

London March 27, 1787

Capt Erskine Woolwich

I am desired by Mr Campbell to send you the inclosed list of sundry Convicts included in His Majesty's Warrants for Transportation to New South Wales, but who from sickness or other causes were thought unfit to be removed with the other Prisoners ....

I am ([27])


On 29 March, Alexander was again smoked and washed as the medical men conducted their running battle against a situation beyond their medical capability. Irritating late arrivals still came, recently sentenced, or older sheep rounded up by the yapping of the roaming dogs of the Clerks of the Peace and the Assize. On 28 March the turnkey of Lincoln Gaol brought four female convicts and one child to Prince of Wales. Six more women arrived next day. One on 12 April, three more on 19 April. Others would come. On 31 March, William Richards had reported to Nepean the list of women for whom contracts had been made and signed, but who were not yet aboard Lady Penrhyn. ([28]) The indication was that further discrepancies had arisen with the finding of convicts vis-a-vis the lists of names earlier circulated. But perhaps Nepean with a vengeance was taking Phillip's advice about the disposal of "abandoned women"?


Richards about 1 April had compiled his "General Return of convicts for Botany Bay". ([29]) During April 1787, Phillip, reading his draft instructions, asked, how was he supposed to react if any European ships should oppose his arrival on the NSW coast? ([30]) Phillip was probably thinking of La Perouse, although when he first saw ships at Botany Bay, he thought they were Dutchmen sent to dispossess Britain in NSW. As for the Aboriginals of NSW? In 1787, Geo III conveyed to Phillip.... "It is our will and pleasure that you do, immediately upon your landing, after taking measures for securing yourself and the people who accompany you from attacks or interruptions of the natives... [and] proceed to the cultivation of the land". ([31])


* * *


The disappearance of George Moore:


A legend is that George Moore by now was HM Consul at Salonica, but this cannot be verified. ([32]) On 2 April, 1787, respecting 51 men and seven women, George Moore late of London, now HM Consul in Salonica (as he said himself), signed over convicts from an earlier-failed transportations to his nephew, Thomas Quayle of Princes Court, Westminster, gentleman, to give them to Richards. A document was allegedly signed in Salonica, on 2 April, 1797. Thomas Quayle signed these prisoners over to Richards on 10 June, 1787. At first sight the transaction seem irregular, but it was made necessary by the legislation regarding the property in the service of the body of the convict.


* * *


Campbell was also preparing for a visit to the hulks by the prison reformer John Howard. ([33]) There arose probably the only record on anyone ever calling the hulks "sweet", but the remark was made by Boyick, not Campbell.

Campbell Letter 160:

[Written by James Boyick]

London 3 April, 1787

Capt Hill

Portsmo -

I am desired by Mr Campbell to acquaint that it is very probable Mr Howard and some other Gentlemen will pay you a visit soon, he therefore begs your particular attention to the cleanliness of the Ship & Convicts, for if Mr H should find any thing wrong in that respect it would give Mr Campbell much concern. If the Hospital is as clean and sweet as when I saw it last, I think the Gentlemen will be much pleased when they examine it. Mr Campbell has not a doubt you continue to observe his directions as to washing and fumigating between decks. You will receive in a few days 12 dozen of Hose for the Convicts I am ([34])


John Howard was probably wishing to surprise Campbell and his hulks administration and find some irregularity after the upheavals of such a large embarkation and the resultant movement of convict numbers. If so, he was probably disappointed, though Howard may also have been searching for evidence for his theories about the transmission of gaol fever. Horrors could be discovered. On 1 April, 1787, Joseph Clack the gaoler of Reading carried eleven convicts aboard the hulks, all but three of them dead, as he told a horrified John Howard on 12 July, 1788. ([35])


Howard's statistics are perhaps the most trustworthy available. All his figures indicate a rising trend. The "increase in crime" was demonstrated by the increase in the numbers of felons held on the hulks. During 1787 he estimated there were 1237 such felons. Later in 1787 he visited the hulks again. Campbell kept himself aware of Howard's movements. On 3 April, Campbell advised James Hill at Portsmouth that Howard was to inspect, and Campbell wanted Hill's hulk washed and fumigated.


Higgins the Lancaster gaoler on 5 April, 1787 wrote "Last week Mr Crosfield of Lincoln's Inn sent down to the Clerk of the Peace of this county a contract to be executed by the contracting Magistrates, and at the same time remarked, that as there was no time to lost, the Convicts might be sent as soon as the Contract was signed, which I have done, and expect by the time you will receive this you will have an application for an Order to put them on board." ([36])


Regarding any final contract for the First Fleet, there were certainly bonds and contracts for the convicts sent out in almost all cases - in theory. ([37]) William Richards in his covering letter of 1 April, 1787, gave the convict names all under separate headings for each ship and separate headings for those for whom bonds and contracts have been signed. Those then on board for whom bonds and contracts had been signed, those for whom bonds and contracts had been signed but who were not on board, and those for whom bonds and contracts had not been signed at all but who were on board. Gillen has remarked, "these seem to have been left with the captains of the various transports and I have always wondered why Phillip did not get someone to sit down with the captains of the various transports and make copies instead of writing home for proper lists that he did not receive until years later..."


* * *


The lighters early in April were taken away from the much-fumigated Alexander and the prisoners re-boarded. Newly-sentenced prisoners still arrived. Susannah Blanchard, convicted at Surrey Assizes, Kingston-upon-Thames by Sir Henry Gould, sentenced for transportation, was soon aboard Prince of Wales. The inexorable machine known as the Rule of Law drove on to fill the numbers. ([38]) Humphrey Minchin MP in 1787 complained to the house of the additions to the laws providing death as a penalty, and called for reform of the penal laws. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, "A business of such immense extent ought not to be rashly considered." Which meant it would not be considered at all. No capital statute was removed till 1808.


William Richards with the names listed on his "General Return" had the information for a transaction involving convicts from the Dunkirk, harking back to the debacles of George Moore in 1784. Moore transferred his rights to the property in the service he had of a number of convicts to his nephew, Thomas Quayle, who transferred those same rights to Richards. This was purely a formality, but a necessary one.


The ambitions of William Richards:


Richards was a curious mix, humane and well-intentioned, inefficient, with an imagination bent not by vice, but idealism. Since he had taken the contract for the First Fleet, he had begun to see visions of how great business could be conducted in future. On 4 April, Richards contacted the commissioners of the Navy to advertise to them his current status as the contractor for Botany Bay. He emphasised that he had received "repeated applications" from people interested in future embarkations. It is difficult to see why he thought the navy would be in the least interested or even able to assist him. He also offered to provide the Honble Commissioners with a convict hulk, saying, "I am equally willing to contract for them at any port." Here again was the note first struck in 1776-1777 by Campbell, ideas about hulks on "any navigable river". Before the fleet had even left, Richards was emboldened to make his offer due to the "crowded state of the gaols". The later Banks-Richards correspondence continued these themes to the point of tedium. ([39])


One wonders if William Campbell, one of the commissioners of the navy, ever told his relative Duncan about Richards' wishing to manage a convict hulk? Richards could only have found out about a hulk "on any navigable river" even being possible, from his own or someone else's study of the legislation. Hence his apparent indifference to precisely where the offer might be found useful to the government. Richards maintained his interest in such ideas for years, conceiving larger, more grandiose plans - to keep the custody of felons in Britain, to transport them to NSW, to supply NSW. His mind worked to link all the options he had so far observed, but why he thought he might get the business and suffer no competition, cannot be answered.


Richards was to find that far tougher merchants than himself could conceive similar ambitions about carrying convicts and supplies to NSW. It is also noticeable that while Richards' First Fleet agent, Zacariah Clark, remained in NSW and kept his employer well-informed on developments, Clark was generally ineffective as an agent. It is still not clear why Clark remained in the colony, or under which official rubric he remained. Clark ended sadly, accused in NSW, it is not known if accused justly, of incest with his daughter. ([40])


The problems Richards gave himself in following years are interesting because they throw a sidelight on what happened amongst merchants at Blackheath. Many of Richards ideas would have been useful to the colony, and it is a pity government did not apply them itself, if it refused to let Richards apply them. ([41]) Richards also gave himself a quite reasonable framework to work within. He accepted the legislation, he accepted what he took to be government intentions for the new colony's management. He saw NSW's rehabilitative possibilities for offenders in a positive and sincere light and supported them philosophically. He was quite prepared to abide by the wishes of the East India Company, which might suggest he had sought advice from persons connected with the Company, and Middleton is known to have been a large shareholder in the Company. ([42])


The reasons for Richards' failures are many. There were few London merchants interested in Australasian or even Pacific waters; the East India Company was lethargic or negative about the Pacific, more recently resentful at not being consulted by government about the Botany Bay venture. Government used Richards' capital outrageously whilst they made him wait to send out Lady Juliana of the Second Fleet, when he was also vainly fighting them for reimbursement for his scuttled First Fleet ship, Friendship. Government sought cheaper rates for convict carriage, and allowed less scrupulous merchants to undercut Richards, in effect pulling the rug out of from under a merchant who would have served them well.


In short, Richards either walked straight into a set-up, or became a patsy. The set-up was created by government. Where Richards was a patsy, he was the first man allowing himself to mount ships to open the Pacific, more importantly, to condition the East India Company to the idea that convict-carrying ships could backload China tea. Richards originally asked the Company humbly if he could do this, not aggressively. He was anyway willing to abide by the Company's wishes because he had enough business to satisfy him... but given the Company's earliest suspicion of an ulterior motive, government may have used all this to lull the Company into a false sense of security?


There had after all been only two expressions of interest in providing First Fleet shipping, from Turnbull, Macaulay and Gregory, then Richards. The Blackheath merchants it seems, had simply allowed Richards to create the precedent. If there was to be conflict with the East India Company, Richards would take the brunt of it. So Richards was allowed to test the Pacific waters before other merchants with different ideas made their moves. When these merchants moved, they literally rolled Richards, and government made no murmur, since it too had achieved its gaols, more to the point, secretly, cheaply, and with little outcry in the press, so far. It may even have been due to the number of parliamentarians who were stockholders in the East India Company, that the king and senior ministers had chosen a period when parliament was not sitting to decide to send convicts to New South Wales, to reduce outcry on behalf of the East India Company and its monopoly over the Pacific. If so, the ploy was skilful and worked well. On 4 April, Richards must have been relieved when the directors of the East India Company excused his three ships under charter to them from any requirement to be in Canton by 15 January, 1788. ([43]) This would make life easier for Governor Phillip, who would not have to race to unload his convicts in order to meet a schedule for ship turnarounds.

* * *


Before the departure of the First Fleet:


On 18 April, 1787, Sir James Marriott, judge of the high court of the admiralty, considered the commission of Robert Ross of the marines and their tour of duty, probably in respect of the code of laws drawn up for the new colony's administration. Lord Sydney on 20 April provided rulings on several points recently raised by Governor Phillip. One instruction he provided bade Phillip not to be delayed in the disembarkation at Botany Bay on the pretence on searching for a more eligible place, an order that Philip later disobeyed happily enough. ([44]) Such an order could even have been a courtesy to the merchantmen, providing them less delay in sailing for Canton to load tea. So a small irony here is that Sydney is named for a Lord whose order had already been disobeyed when the British flag was first run up a pole at Sydney Cove.


Phillip was given further instructions on Wednesday 25 April, about when Richards was due to go to Portsmouth to see to the sick. On 18 April, Nepean in a letter to Sir Charles Middleton had mentioned Phillip's complaints about deficiencies of clothing, but closed by apologising for even bothering Middleton, and saying that Phillip would anyway be gone by Saturday (21st April). ([45]) On 19 April, five women on Lady Penrhyn were put in irons for "blatant prostitution" and the second mate was dismissed from the ship. Lt. John Watts was entered into the ship's log as a passenger to China. Phillip the same day is said to have been "importuned by merchants". Unfortunately, these merchant names were not recorded.


Little is known of Lt. Watts, who appended various material to the first book on Britain's Australian venture, a different sort of saga for the British sailor-pirate, Phillip's Voyage of 1789. ([46]) The publisher Stockdale in an advertisement thanked the subscribers to the book, including the Marquis of Salisbury, Lord Sydney, Lord Hood, Joseph Banks, Rose of the treasury, Nepean, Stephens, Sir Chas Middleton comptroller of the Navy, Sir A. S. Hammond (one of commissioners of the navy), Dalrymple and Chalmers. It is all quite fascinating. Arthur Phillip was a former "spy" now on duty. Lt. Watts on Lady Penrhyn was on leave of absence from the navy.


Lt. Watts as "passenger to China" was a blind. His secret orders from alderman George Macaulay, who chartered the ship from Curtis, of April-May 1787, if not earlier, were not opened on Lady Penrhyn until May 1788. ([47]) Arthur Bowes, the ship's surgeon, wrote as follows when the orders were opened on 18 May, 1788, "This day at 12 o'Clock in the presence of Mr Watts, Capt Sever, Mr Anstis and myself the papers relative to our future destination were open'd wh. specified the Mackenzie M'Cauly [sic] had engaged to pay such a Sum of Money pr. Month for the hire of the Ship after She was discharged at Botany Bay, for so many months previous to her going to China, the Ship to be navigated by Capt Sever under the Direction of Mr Watts ..... Now the Plan was for the Ship to go to the North West Coast of America to trade for Furrs, under the management of Mr Watts whom M'Cauly had appointed to that Trust - After wh. the Ship was to proceed on her voyage to China where she was Charter'd to take in a Cargo of tea on acct. of the East India Co. but as the Voyage was rather an uncomfortable one & not free from danger it was thought necessary to promise premiums to the different Officers & People in the Ship, & wh. premiums Mr Watts was authorized to use his discretion, in giving so as the sum so distributed did not exceed two hundred pounds & wh. he intended upon his Arrival at China to assign as follows..."


Macaulay would have been interested in the following information. In November 1787, the Portlock-Dixon ships from north-west America reached Canton with 2552 sea-otter skins sold for some 50,000 dollars, or less than 20 dollars per skin, an inadequate profit for which Richard Etches blamed the two captains. But Carter says the fault lay with the way the East India Company established its rules, and by then, from 1786, Etches had already promoted another expedition with Prince of Wales Capt. James Colnett and Princess of Wales Capt. Charles Duncan, with an East India Company licence with even worse terms of trade. These ships left London in September 1786. Aboard was a Joseph Banks contact, Archibald Menzies. Carter says it was to be a troubled voyage, although Banks finally obtained many new specimens. ([48])


But if Richards by May 1787 knew nothing about Macaulay's "secret" chartering of the ship, then he may indeed have been gulled, and so perhaps had the East India Company - by two London alderman! Whether Richards knew about Macaulay's "secret" deal or not, the matter has remained invisible to historians for two centuries. One reason for this is that Lady Penrhyn carried women only. Sensational and even lurid sexual innuendo has surrounded her voyage ever since, and coloured historians' perceptions, preventing the asking of questions about why two London alderman, one an investor in whaling, had a ship in the First Fleet in the first place! ([49])


On 26th April, Richards furnished a return which indicates he may have been at Portsmouth earlier than expected. He returned again to Portsmouth on the 29th. At Portsmouth on 2 May, Phillip was expected for the departure of the convoy, and he informed John Hunter, who had a commission to succeed Phillip in view of Phillip's death or absence, he would be at Portsmouth on 6 May. Phillip then went to London where among other things he obtained an excellent chronometer for the voyage to Botany Bay. The turnkey of Newgate Gaol had in the meantime travelled down to Portsmouth with 37 female convicts who were placed on Prince of Wales on 3 May. Amongst them was Esther Abrahams with her child. Later Esther was transferred to Lady Penrhyn where the women allegedly fought and thieved amongst themselves. Godfrey Lee Farrant, Registrar, provided on the Letters Patent constituting the vice-admiralty court at NSW, where civil justice would be in woefully short supply. On 5 May, Rev. Johnson preached on the Lady, but found his congregation distracted by the spectacle of a revenue cutter chasing down smugglers. On 6 May, as the last full return was made of convicts about to be transported, three men died on Alexander.


* * *


The Bligh-Campbell Connection:


As noted earlier, Hinton East ([50]) writing to Joseph Banks in July, 1784, had asserted the "infinite importance" of breadfruit to the West Indies. ([51]) East hoped the Assembly of Jamaica would again take steps to re-awaken English interest in breadfruit. Brief mention has been made of the receiver-general on Jamaica in the 1780s, the botanically minded Hinton East, and some matters concerning Sir Joseph Banks and the estate of Elisha Biscoe [in Jamaica]. Only one of Bligh's biographers, Hough, has suggested that Banks owned or had an interest in a Jamaican plantation, but if Banks had such land, it would have added financial incentive to his botanical motives for transplanting breadfruit to gain cost effectiveness in slave rations. Political disturbances wracked Jamaica during 1787, and a hurricane caused damage of 50,000. Both Campbell and Banks would have known of this. West India planters must have been worried, since slaves - property, not people - were starving. ([52]) There was also the problem of the dispute between Britain and the United States over the West Indian carrying trade, that Campbell and Thomas Jefferson had not got near to discussing in April 1786. Jefferson wanted the US to supply the West Indies in her own ships bottoms, Britain did not.


William Bligh would become captain of HMAV Bounty. How would he make his way from the merchant marine to Jamaica, back into the navy? Just how did Bligh found out he had been given command of a breadfruit voyage? If from Campbell, how did Campbell find out the breadfruit voyage was to be mounted, officially? Did Sir Joseph Banks know Campbell? If not, and if Banks did not personally know Bligh personally, how was Bligh recommended to Banks? If not by the agency of Bligh's relative, Campbell? The problem of the Bounty mutiny legend, as Pacific maritime history, is precisely that it has been ripped from the context of Pacific maritime history, vis-a-vis convict transportation. But hopefully, facts can do legends great harm.


No records or even opinions have even been sighted to the effect that Campbell and Banks were acquainted in such a way that led them to meet even irregularly, though Banks and Solander had helped set up a hulks hospital after 1777. Much is unclear and imprecise concerning Banks' promotion of Bligh for the voyage, as it is concerning Campbell's part in proceedings. It is also necessary to consider the not-informal business of retrieving Bligh from the West India mercantile and arranging his re-entry into the navy, whilst Bligh himself was unaware of proceedings.


Owen Rutter in his 1936 biography of Bligh referred to a family legend (which is not true) that Bligh might also have sailed on Campbell's ship Mary. Also, that Bligh had sailed on Campbell's Charlotte, a ship name not mentioned in Campbell's Letterbooks. These conjectures are harder to understand when it is known that Bligh's biographer Mackaness had the Campbell Letterbooks in his possession for 20 years.


Carter, as biographer of Banks, says, that by about 23 May, 1787, Banks had already decided that Bligh would command the expedition; that Campbell was a merchant and shipping contractor, known to the Pitt administration and known to Banks as an authority on the costs of convict transportation. Although, Carter does not say how Campbell might have become such an expert. Bligh's first hints of the command had been given Bligh by Campbell in May 1787, although Carter also does not say how or why Campbell might have conveyed such hints. ([53]) Allen in Bounty Bastard, (p. 60), suggests that Bligh's success in Campbell's service attracted the attention of many people, including Sir Joseph Banks. Again, Hough does not suggest how this might have occurred!


By July 1787, Bligh on Britannia was proceeding back from Jamaica to London for Campbell. Aboard were chief Mate, Edward Lamb, second mate (some say, midshipman) Fletcher Christian. ([54]) When Bligh stepped on Bounty, Lamb became captain of Britannia, and retained a poor opinion of Christian's personality. (Christian was 23 when he became Bligh's master's mate on Bounty). Also on Britannia were Norton, the stout quartermaster, and Lawrence Lebogue from the Channel Islands, sailmaker. Also a boy, Tom Ellison, aged 15, of whom Campbell was reputedly fond. (Montgomerie in his book on Bligh (p. 43) says Campbell had recommended Ellison to Bligh, who was to give attention on Britannia to Ellison's education. Ellison became a mutineer, later hanged for it). All these men but Lamb went on Bounty with Bligh, as it turned out. ([55]) After the Bounty mutiny, Capt. Edward Lamb came to Bligh's defense when Fletcher's brother, lawyer Edward Christian, tried to rehabilitate Fletcher's reputation. Lamb thought himself in possession of good knowledge of the characters of Bligh and Fletcher. His offer to assist Bligh's case is dated 28 October, 1794, recorded in Bligh's Narrative. ([56])


* * *


By 31 July, 1787 Britannia was off the Downs, by 5 August tied up on the Thames. Then Bligh heard from Campbell of his good fortune in being given the breadfruit voyage, he wrote to Banks, on 6 August, 1787, from No. 4 Broad St., St. George's East, "Sir, I arrived yesterday from Jamaica and should have instantly paid my respects to you had not Mr. Campbell told me you were not to return from the country till Thursday. I have heard the flattering news of your great goodness to me, intending to honour me with the command of the vessel which you propose should go to the South Seas..." ([57])< /p>


It is precisely at this point, that writers on Bligh have never stopped to ask, who was Mr. Campbell and how did he know of Banks' plans? Campbell's business with the British Creditors is probably why he was not active in West India merchants' lobbying, but Campbell is known to historians of the Bounty mutiny chiefly as "an influential West India merchant".


There was also some scientific jealousy over the breadfruit trip. Sir George Yonge had wanted breadfruit taken into East India Company territory, and the French were reputed to be offering 20,000 for a successful breadfruit transplantation. ([58]) Yonge pursued the matter vigourously. In September 1788, Molesworth had written to Banks reporting Yonge had said the French had forestalled Britain in introducing the breadfruit to the West Indies, but that the credit should belong to Britain. Yonge once saw Bligh about the matter of the first breadfruit voyage, only to find Bligh so vague about the nature of his voyage, Yonge wrote to Banks in complaint and in wonder at Bligh's suitability for the task. It may have been that the West Indians wanted an exclusive victory. It may have been thought in some circles that a Botany Bay transport could have dropped some breadfruit to some location in India. ([59]) (This might have presupposed an unobtainable level of co-operation from the East India Company?)


Given information provided earlier on golfing life at Blackheath, London, it now seems that a necessary link in information handling between some Scots West India merchant(s), Campbell, and The Royal Society, where Banks was so influential, or, with The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, was formed on the golf links of Blackheath. And here a qualification must be made. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce was established in 1754, but it was not known as Royal until 1908. ([60]) Matters concerned with a breadfruit voyage are not the only matters associated with Britain's endeavours in the Pacific from 1786 which can be associated with the Society. Between 1786-1789 the Society was interested in supplies of hemp, and members of the Board of Trade were close to the Society. Which is to say, that if some Society members promoted a breadfruit voyage, or were interested in other commodities from the Pacific (such as New Zealand hemp), they were also interested in the progress of the South Whale Fishery, and they also agreed that convicts ought to be transported.


In history there are three kinds of coincidences - those with no discernible meaning except to individuals. Those coincidences from which something historically meaningful happened to spring unexpectedly. And apparent coincidences which are the result of a series of actions intended to be taken, and which can be linked back to a causal agent, and finally are not coincidences at all. Deep in the background as the First Fleet was mounted, the third kind of coincidence occurred, not to be recognised as such.


* * *


Firstly, Campbell was not in fact an "influential merchant" in the London-based West India lobby, despite much insistence that he was. No West India lobby group is mentioned in Campbell's surviving papers, though the British Creditors are. It is impossible to tell from Campbell's Letterbooks the names of London sugar dealers he must have dealt with for many years. But whether he was influential or merely well-known as a man involved since 1753 in West India trade, Campbell had a closer connection to Bligh and the voyage of Bounty, than almost any other Londoner, due more to his links with members of The Society for the Encouragement of Arts than to his links with other West India merchants or their lobby group.


Rutter in Turbulent Journey thought that Campbell was a member of the Standing Committee of West Indian Planters and Merchants, but no such group is mentioned explicitly in any of the Campbell Letterbooks. Somewhere in the facts of the Bligh-Campbell connection is an explanation of why, today, we can consider a breadfruit voyage designed to provide cost effectiveness in the feeding of slaves on a regularly hurricane-ravaged West Indian island, Jamaica, then read on the Mutiny on the Bounty, but learn so amazingly little of the men of the West India lobby group, absentee owners of Jamaican land, slave owners, slavery in general, the British-US wrangle over the profits of supplying the West Indies, London's sugar refining industry and its commercial links to the import, distribution and consumption of tea. The legend of the mutiny on the Bounty has been torn loose from its moorings in significant industries of the day and been left roaming lostly in the Pacific, like the Ancient Mariner, wishing that someone would sit to listen to the story.


In books on Bligh, most references to the Bligh-Campbell connection are either inadequate, plainly wrong, or misleading. In information handling terms, this oddity of historiography has an obverse. In a title on slavery, such as Hall's book on the West India Committee, ([61]) little attention was given to a foodstuff transplantation project such as the Bounty voyage. The slaves had not liked breadfruit - the project for this reason had been fated to fail.


Some aspects of crewing the Bounty:


Before stepping onto Bounty, Bligh and Christian had sailed together several times on Campbell's Jamaica ships. ([62]) A descendant of Christian, Glynn, in his book of personal discovery of the mutineer, Fragile Paradise, writes: "It is strange that Bligh, a man dogged in the pursuit of his duty to the king, allowed himself to sail with neither the muscle he needed to man the ship nor the muscle he needed for discipline". Kennedy, ([63]) in his biography of Bligh, makes the same point, showing that by attending to the fancies of others, as well as to some of his own, Bligh "appeared to dilute the strength of his crew". Too much attention to family concerns and linkages was just one of the reasons Bligh's crewing was inadequate. Bounty was not crewed as a naval vessel usually was, whether the king was interested in her or not. Despite Bligh's alleged liking for the extremes of naval disciplines, he had not himself been under that discipline for four years, as he had been sailing between London-Jamaica. Bligh crewed the ship with too many friends, old shipmates and acquaintances, including men recommended by his family. There was no single reason disaster could be expected, yet disaster struck.


Most writers on Bligh agree the seeds of the Bounty mutiny lay in the way the ship was crewed, but here, attention is needed to those close to Bligh who had an influence on the crewing, especially Campbell, Richard Betham who policed smuggling on the Isle of Man, and their associates. ([64]) In general, Bligh, although a magnificent sailor technically and practically, was a poor manager of men. On top of this, he has been badly maligned, his family history has been unresearched or misread. Bligh could not resist becoming puffed up by any authority he happened to be given, and he suffered a personality disorder, and a rigidity, expressed by his inexcusably foul mouth and losses of temper, interpersonal problems that were rooted in a gross insensitivity to the feelings and awarenesses of others. Bligh simply had no capacity for empathy.


On 21 September, 1787, Bligh's father-in-law Richard Betham on the Isle of Man wrote to Bligh, "I'm much obliged to you for your attention to young Heywood, and getting him a berth on board the vessel. He is an ingenious young Lad and has always been a favourite of mine and indeed everybody here, And indeed the reason of my insisting so strenuously upon his going the voyage with you is that after I had mentioned the matter to Mrs Bligh, his family have fallen into a great deal of distress on account of their father's losing the Duke of Atholl's business. And I thought it would not appear well in me to drop this matter, if it could possibly be done without any prejudice to you; as this would seem deserting them in their adversity. and I found they would regard it as great disappointment. I hope he will be of some service to you." ([65])< /p>


Later, Heywood stayed at Bligh's house until Bounty sailed. If Betham's motives in being insistent in crewing the ship were kindly, they certainly came unstuck in the Pacific Ocean on the night of 28 April, 1789, at 4.30am, when Heywood joined in the mutiny. Richard Betham in 1787 was in ill health - he would die in 1789. He may have wished to make some peace before he died, since he himself was a government representative on the Isle of Man. Thus, Betham promoted young Manxmen for the voyage. Young Heywood, aged 14, was decorated with the three-legged Manx tattoo, became a mutineer, but after being pardoned in October 1792 later distinguished himself in naval service. ([66])


In the 1780s, meanwhile, the Blackheath golf course was a primitive 5-7 hole golf course. It provided entertainment for a class of wealthy - but not top-ranking - merchants, mostly Scots. One famous and often-reproduced illustration survives from those early days at Blackheath - depicting the West Indian merchant William Innes (1719-1795), ([67]) dressed in his red coat, caddy nearby, enjoying his game. Written records from those Blackheath days survive only from 1784. In 1792 the club had 45 members. And according to records held at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICS) in Russell Square, London, William Innes was on the Committee of West India merchants meeting at the London Tavern on 3 March, 1786. The West India merchants can hardly have lacked access to skilled sea captains who could have accomplished such a voyage as Bligh finally made, so perhaps Bligh's path to Bounty was unique?


One possible scenario is simple: Stimulated in late 1786 by talk of ships despatching convicts into the Pacific, William Innes, a keen golfer who often attended meetings of the West India merchants, had mentioned to his fellow golfers, Campbell and Macaulay, who are deeply involved in convict transportation business, that the West India merchants are taking a renewed interest in a breadfruit voyage. The three agree that the time has come to do something. There is another unnoticed coincidence associated here... Macaulay ([68]) and Campbell both backed men who had been with Cook's third voyage to return to the Pacific... Lt. Watts for Macaulay, and Bligh for Campbell. At the time, it was rather the British sailor-pirate fashion with both the navy and merchants to employ "men who'd been out with Cook", such as Portlock. Etches, who were then interested in north west America - Nootka Sound. It remains important, that Campbell knew Bligh, and alderman Macaulay knew Lt. Watts. It may have been that some months earlier, Curtis and Macaulay had been hoping that Lady Penrhyn would go to Tahiti for breadfruit as the First Fleet transport to be detached for the purpose? If so, conversations at Blackheath about transplanting breadfruit could have started as early as mid-August, 1786? What is not known, is information on any action taken by Campbell's relatives on Jamaica to promote any such project.


Meanwhile... ICS microfilm on the West Indian merchants carries an entry dated 13 February, 1787: A note from Mr Pitt to Mr Samuel Long was read as follows:


"Mr Pitt presents his Compliments to Mr Long and begs leave to acquaint him that directions have been given for collecting as many of the Bread Fruit Trees as possible, and that every Opportunity has been taken to have them conveyed to our West Indies Islands".


By March 1787 had arisen an idea, being that Governor Phillip would detach a Botany Bay ship to gather flax plants from New Zealand and Queen Charlotte Sound, and breadfruit from Tahiti, mangosteens and other fruits from Princes Island, spice plants from Isle de France. This idea was re-examined during March 1787 and Banks became so dissatisfied he sent revised ideas to Lord Hawkesbury at the Board of Trade, to Mulgrave at the Admiralty and Sydney at the Home office on 30 March, 1787. Banks' views helped frame notice of 5 May regarding a breadfruit ship. ([69])


George III had great affection for the Caribbean sugar islands. He is reputed to have once been with Pitt, driving in his carriage. Looking out his window he noticed an ostentatious West India merchant driving about in an extremely rich carriage, attended by men in livery. Leaning back, the king said to Pitt, "Sugar, sugar, eh? All that sugar. How are the duties, Pitt, how are the duties?" Doubtless it was in this vein that Lord Sydney would have looked favourably on the request of the West India merchants and planters for assistance with the breadfruit voyage.


On 2 May, 1787, Campbell wrote undramatically to his son Dugald in Jamaica, "I wish Bligh home soon as thereby he may stand a chance of employment in his own line, but of this more by and by..." ([70]) A poor trader, ([71]) Bligh was never entirely happy with his performance as a commercial ship's captain, as showed during his last commercial voyage. About May 1787, Bligh would have been on Black River on the south western shore of Jamaica, loading sugar from Briscoe's estate. Briscoe's sugars that year were mediocre, not rich. Yet one writer on Bligh, Hough, in Bounty Bastard (pp. 63-64), says Bligh and Christian were "arranging to embark one more rich sugar cargo from Campbell's Briscoe's Estate" ([72]) into Britannia. Campbell probably had no interests in any Briscoe's estate. (Bligh historians seem to have done as little research on Briscoe as they have done on Campbell, or for that matter, the Jamaican plantations which would in theory use the breadfruit to feed slaves).


Campbell did however between 1784-88 have commercial arrangements with Briscoe, who had been a friend of Duncan's brother-in-law, John Saltspring, on at least four occasions. So Bligh was merely getting into Britannia some of Briscoe's sugar, which Briscoe had sometime earlier asked Campbell to carry. ([73]) Earlier, Campbell had written to Dugald that Britannia was a bit large to be getting to Briscoe up the Black River, "And how was an offer to be taken up?" As for a rich cargo, Bligh was apologetic when he got back, but he'd done the best he could.


Following up Pitt's message to the West India men, Lord Sydney on 5 May, 1787 told the Admiralty that a vessel was to be got up in the light of the merchants' wishes. Half of the plants would go to St. Vincent, half to Jamaica. ([74]) The fact the breadfruit voyage was finally mooted successfully is presumed to be the result of a petition from Jamaican and/or London-based West India merchants to George III. ([75]) Sydney informed, "some able and discreet officer" was to be chosen, and a vessel taken up for the purpose from public tender. The vessel chosen, Bethia, cost 1950 from Welbank Sharp and Brown. ([76]) Bligh, who had not previously met Banks, examined Bethia on 16 August at Deptford Yard.


Campbell in London on 5 May, 1787 as it happens wrote to Capt. James Marshall of the Scarborough concerning a sum of four guineas sent from the Duke of Montaigne for the convict Charles Peet, to be delivered by one of Campbell's hulksmen, either David Burn or his brother Robert. At the time, Campbell was ordering matters aboard the hulks Fortunee (Langston Harbour) and Ceres (Thames) after the recent large movements of prisoner numbers. (During 1787, Campbell had 799 convicted felons aboard Justitia, Censor and Ceres, most of them awaiting transportation. (Campbell's supply of hard labour men had indeed dried up.) ([77])


In another context, Campbell was writing a letter indicating how poor was the information then current about the management of what Australians now call the First Fleet.


Campbell Letter 161:

London 8 May 1787

Wm Deacon


Yesterdays post brought me your letter of the 5th Inst. ..... I pray you Sir to accept my best thanks for your kind attention and very polite invitation. The first visit I make to Portsmo I certainly will pay my Respect to you I am Sir

PS The Convicts intended for Botany Bay are I believe victualled by different Contractors. Vizt the Owners of the respective Ships. The Commanding Officers of that expedition was taken leave two days since so that they will sail immediately. ([78])


Campbell here gave Deacon wrong information. The fleet would not sail quite immediately, the convicts were not vittled by the owners of the respective ships, they were vittled by William Richards. If anyone as close to events as Campbell could have had wrong information at such a point in time, it is not surprising that historians have had trouble sorting matters out. It is hard to understand how Campbell did not realise that William Richards had contracted for all the non-naval vessels.


On Campbell's Britannia at Green Island (Jamaica) by Saltspring barquentine, Bligh on 11 June, 1787 wrote to Campbell: ([79]) "I fully thought I should have sailed yesterday but Ten [tierces?] of Sugar that I expected are not quite ready. & I am to stay until Thursday, I shall be perfectly happy to get away from this distress'd place which I think is beyond all description and which another storm must entirely put an end to: But the seasons are so fine that the poor people begin again to hope to make a great Crop next year if the usual calamities do not attend them. We have from the bad times not been able to sell either of the Boats & the purchaser we expected could neither find security or money - indeed it gives me much concern that I have seen so much money sunk in your employ, for it is but a poor satisfaction to a grateful man to say that the best has been done to prevent it. With my utmost endeavours I have not been able to procure but (?) to the Bag of Cotton some Copper & 74 3/4 Tons of Logwood and this except the Wood all out of the Parish which I believe is one of the greatest proportions. My Applications to other places I found had no effect for I had no Connections or Interest..."


It appears also that while on his way home from Jamaica with Briscoe's sugar - and Fletcher Christian - Bligh had no idea he might shortly be back in the navy on a voyage with the king's blessing. ([80]) Perhaps, William Campbell, one of the commissioners of the navy, a distant relative of Campbell, may have made Bligh's re-entry into the navy easier?


At the time, the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), with its offices in the Adelphi at 8 John Adam Street had the following board members: President Lord Romney, Vice President, the Duke of Richmond (with whom Campbell was soon to deal, as Richmond wanted the use of convict labour on fortifications), Sir Watkin Lewes [a noted London alderman, and Freemason], Rt Hon Sir General G. A. Elliot, James Davison, Mr. Samuel and Mr. Hayward (the latter two may have been bureaucrats in the areas of colonies and trade). ([81])Campbell merely joined the RSA and promoted Bligh as commander of the proposed breadfruit voyage. On 9 May, 1787, Campbell, proposed by John Parish, joined the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and was accepted. He remained a member until about six months before his death in 1803, till June 1802. ([82])


* * *


It takes merely 45 seconds to walk from Campbell's address at the time, 3 Robert Street, to the Society chambers, which were in 1786, and still remain at 8 John Adam Street, the Adelphi. This was only four days before the First Fleet left: and not until about February-March had Campbell finished his work of handling documentation on transportable convicts. The supposition then, is that as a member (not a Fellow) of The Society - Arts and Manufactures, (RSA) and presumably with Sir Joseph Banks also being influential in that body, Campbell helped push the breadfruit project to fruition by proposing a suitable commander for the voyage.


The facts on Campbell's joining the Society, into which no writer on Bligh has apparently ever inquired, clears up one knotty matter: that Campbell actually knew Sir Joseph Banks. Or, that once he was a member of the Society, that if he did not know Banks, he could at least ensure a message was passed to Banks through the RSA. This of course is how Campbell could pass on to Bligh the information, that Bligh would command the breadfruit voyage. This is where Mackaness' biography of Bligh deflected attention from the facts, after Mackaness had failed to inspect Campbell's Letterbooks. Even if he was familiar with all the contents of Historical Records of New South Wales and Historical Records Australia, Mackaness could easily have realised, if he read Campbell's Letterbooks, that their contents could easily have filled out the information in those records.


If, as Carter says, that by about 23 May, 1787, Banks had already decided that Bligh would command the expedition, it would suggest Campbell had successfully promoted Bligh in only 14 days. However, Banks and Campbell may even have first become noddingly acquainted in 1779, when both had given evidence to a committee of inquiry chaired by Sir Charles Bunbury - the committee to which Banks had suggested a convict colony could conceivably be created at Botany Bay. Banks and Daniel Solander had earlier seen to the establishment of a hospital on the hulk Censor, but for this they needed only Campbell's permission, not his acquaintance. Alternatively, if Banks and Campbell were both active Freemasons, they may have known each other well for years!


* * *


The tenders for a breadfruit ship:


On 10 May, 1787, government advertised for a vessel for the breadfruit voyage. The incoming tenders were made into a short list of five ships by 16 May. Campbell on 15 May tendered his ship Lynx, 300 tons, with a third flush deck able to be put on her, new sheathed. Campbell considered her "a compleat little ship". This was all a handy idea as Bligh had sailed Lynx and knew her well.


Campbell Letter 162:

Adelphi 15 May 1787

Honble Commissir

of the Navy

I have a ship the Lynx well known to your Board having formerly been one of His Majesty's Sloops of War, tho' constructed for the Merchant service, if her burthen being above 300 tons measurment can be dispensed with she may from having a third flush deck be navigated with very little more expence than a vessel of 250 Tons being a full burthensome Roomy Vessel & if intended for a long voyage will in my opinion have many advantages in point of all sorts of accomodation. Should she upon examination be found fit for the Service intended, my price is 2200... About three years since I gave to your Board 2300 - for this very Ship with hardly any Stores. She is now well found was new Sheathed last year & is as compleat a little Ship as any in the Thames.

With the greatest respect I am

She lyes in the Greenland Dock Lockt up with the keys in my possession - ([83])


Other merchants tendering included: ([84]) Dawson of King Edward Stairs, the William Pitt 240 tons, value 1200; Etches of Newcastle offered a new ship of 240-250 tons for 9/10/- per ton. The hemp contractors Welbank, Sharpe and Brown offered their 270-ton Shepherdess, lying at Pickle Herring Chain, value 2050. That is, Welbank Sharp and Brown tendered two ships, Shepherdess and Bethia. A late offer was Harriott. ([85]) (Since the 1960s, Australian historians have argued that a desire for flax as one of Britain's necessary naval stores was one of the reasons Britain settled Australasia - an argument about Imperial strategy - but they have not noticed flax merchants Welbank, Sharpe and Brown offering a ship for breadfruit, nor, after 1800, Welbank, Brown and Petyt taking contracts for convict transportation.


Mackaness in his biography of Bligh unaccountably states that Campbell owned Bethia. (Naturally, a book on Bligh of 1972 repeats this error in a picture caption). Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance mentions that Bligh in 1787 may have been intended to take two pots of flax to or from New Zealand, but it is unknown if the Welbank firm as hemp contractors had put in a word there. ([86]) Given the ways business operated in those days, Brown, Welbank and Sharpe may have known about curiosity about flax in the Pacific, having heard of discussions about the Botany Bay expedition, just lately setting sail. And of course, Bethia was renamed Bounty. She was chosen by recommendation of Mitchell, assistant to the surveyor of the Navy, ([87]) chosen because she best fitted Banks' specifications - and could be refitted easily, at a cost finally of 4456, making the total investment in her over 6406. Mitchell, with Sir Joseph Banks and someone who was to proceed to the Society Islands on the voyage, met aboard Bethia on 31 May.


The offer of a ship Harriott raises other doubts, especially about Mackaness' poor reading of the Campbell letterbooks in his possession. Rutter in Turbulent Journey (1936) mentioned that Mackaness felt that the ship's name Bethia implied some connection to Betham, Campbell's relatives. Along this line of logic, a ship Harriott would also reinforce a connection, as Harriott was the name of the sister of Elizabeth, Bligh's wife (that is, Harriott Colden, by now living in Edinburgh). It is quite strange that Rutter and Mackaness, evidently in contact, could have entertained such daft conjectures without going deeper into the Campbell Letterbooks. Rutter did say these conjectures could not be substantiated. The deeper problem is that the conjectures arose without a reading of Campbell's Letterbooks. ([88])


* * *


[Finis Chapter 36]

Words 11854 words with footnotes 14157 pages 25 footnotes 88


[1] The date was regularly celebrated by the 1820s, as Sydney Gazette regularly reminded its readers.

[2] John Bach, A Maritime History of Australia. Melbourne, Nelson, 1976.

[3] Alan Atkinson, `The Little Revolution in New South Wales, 1808', The International History Review, Vol. XII, No. 1, Feb. 1990., p. 68.

[4] Mutiny On The Bounty, 1789-1989. London. Manorial Research PLC. 1989. ISBN 0 9513128 2 0., p. 64 (iii). As Mackaness, Bligh's 1931 biographer recorded, Bligh once spoke of Campbell as his "friend, guide and philosopher", a formula term. See also, variously, George Mackaness, The Life of Vice-Admiral Bligh, Vol. 1. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1931., p. 37. I have referred to Mackaness' treatment of the Campbell Letterbooks in my Commentary in Oldham, Britain's Convicts. Gavin Kennedy, Bligh. London, Duckworth, 1978; and Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise: The Discovery of Fletcher Christian, Bounty Mutineer. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1982.

[5] Paul Brunton, Awake Bold Bligh: William Bligh's Letters describing the Mutiny on HMS Bounty. Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1989., p. 1.

[6] Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, pp. 111ff and p. 179.

[7] The Mariner's Mirror, Vol. 22, No. 2, April 1936.

[8] Bengt Danielsson, (Trans. from the Swedish), What Happened on the Bounty. London, Allen and Unwin, 1962., p. 21.

[9] Peter Clarke, The Norfolk: Bounty: Pitcairn Saga. Viking, 1986., pp. 27-29. Also Bernard Smith, Imagining The Pacific: In the Wake of the Cook Voyages. Melbourne University Press, 1992.

[10] Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 256ff.

[11] Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, remarks on Bounty's crewing, pp. 60, 64.

[12] Duncan Campbell to [Dr] Gustavus Irwin, Woolwich, 6 Feb., 1787.

[13] I am grateful to Mr. Michael Rimmer of Queensland for some information on Curtis.

[14] Stackpole, Whales and Destiny, pp. 94-95; in 1787-1789, newcomers to the whale fisheries were Timothy and William Curtis, with William engaging in some activity in the Greenland Fishery.

[15] Timothy and William and Clarke, Curtis, biscuit makers, 236 Wapping, 1800 Holden's Directory referring to 1799 addresses; Alderman William Curtis and MP, merchant, Old South Sea House, 1800 Holden's Directory referring to 1799 addresses. According to Lloyd's Registers for 1797, Timothy Curtis had out Nottingham Capt. J. Barfoot, by April 1796. (A new subscriber to Lloyd's in 1797 was Benjamin Disraeli, the later British prime minister).

[16] West India shipping: Parkinson informs, West Indiamen were given a fresh coat of paint as they sailed down the Trades, sides yellow or black, occasionally red, mouldings picked out in black, yellow or white, many painted yellow all over.

[17] George F. Bergman, `Esther Johnston, The Lieutenant Governor's Wife: The Amazing Story Of A Jewish Convict Girl', Australian Jewish Historical Society, September 1966; Reprinted in Journal of the Fellowship of the First Fleeters, Vol. II, No.1, September, 1971.

[18] Treasury Board Papers, Reel 3550.

[19] Campbell Letter 156: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Transcript from ML A3229, p. 269.

[20] Except in Shelton's Accounts.

[21] Mackay, Exile, p. 23.

[22] Bill Beatty, Early Australia: With Shame Remembered. Sydney, Cassell, 1962., p. 6.

[23] Martin in Martin's Founding, p. 173.

[24] Phillip to Nepean, HRNSW, Vol. 1, part 2, p. 52.

[25] HRNSW, Vol. 2, Ships Logs, pp. 400ff. The latecomers from Lancaster, log entry 13 May, Prince of Wales.

[26] Campbell Letter No. 157: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, ML A3229.

[27] Campbell Letter No 158: Duncan Campbell Business Letterbooks, ML A3299, p. 283, James Boyick, chief clerk for Campbell to Stewart Erskine, 27 March, 1787. Campbell to Nepean, 20 March, 1787. ML A3229.

[28] Ships Logs, HRNSW, Vol. 2, pp. 399ff.

[29] 1 April, 1787: Oldham, Britain's Convicts, p. 207. Treasury Board Papers, T1/655.

[30] Frost, p. 90, in Alan Frost, `The Colonisation of New South Wales', pp. 85-93, in European Voyaging Towards Australia, Edited by John Hardy and Alan Frost, Occasional Paper No. 9. Canberra, Australian Academy of The Humanities, 1990. Frost cites Geo III, Commission of Arthur Phillip, 26 March, and 2 April, 1787, PRO CO 202/5, ff. 7-8. Also, Phillip to Nepean circa 11 April, 1787, PRO CO 20/21, f. 131.

[31] Robert Hughes in The Fatal Shore notes buildings to be contemplated at Sydney, and that only one third of convicts could work.

[32] CO 201 2 YIP 00740. On Moore, information per Mollie Gillen. See also, Oldham, Britain's Convicts, p. 132.

[33] Further to Howard's career, see D. L. Howard, John Howard: Prison Reformer. London, Christopher Johnson, 1958.

[34] Campbell Letter No. 159: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229. "Mr. Howard" was John Howard the prison reformer who from the 1770s had tried to talk humanity to England's jailers. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 43, provides a broader context.

[35] Howard, State of the Prisons, p. 256.

[36] In a letter to the present author of 3 January, 1990, Mollie Gillen noted there was no contract for the First Fleet, citing HO 42/11.

[37] Here, see Wm. Richards Jnr's listings under his covering letter of 1 April, [1787?] CO 201/2 f 264ff. Gillen did a full study of all Phillip's correspondence here. One of Phillip's complaints is lodged in HRNSW, Vol. 1, part 2, p. 154. Gillen however also suspects it is possible the captains simply took their lists back home, in which case, it was partly Phillip's own fault he lacked information.

[38] Gillen, `His Majesty's Mercy', p. 54.

[39] Offers on hulks. T1/655, Richards to Commissioners Navy, also offering "a hulk at every port".

[40] See his entry in Gillen, Founders.

[41] S. J. Butlin, The Foundation of the Australian Monetary System, 1788-1851. Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1968., on some of Richards' ideas for currency in the new colony.

[42] Knight, `The First Fleet, its state', p. 127, in John Hardy and Alan Frost, (Eds), Studies From Terra Australis to Australia. Occasional Paper No 6. Canberra, Australian Academy of The Humanities, 1989.

[43] Oldham, Britain's Convicts, p. 143.

[44] HRNSW, Vol. 1, part 2, p. 83.

[45] Nepean to Middleton, HRNSW, Vol. 1, part 2, p. 79.

[46] James Auchmuty, (Ed.), The Voyage of Gov. Phillip to Botany Bay, Nov 25, 1789, Dedicated by John Stockdale to the Marquis of Salisbury, Lord Chamberlain to HM Household; p. 339, Auchmuty says, transportation, totally unknown to the common law of England, but the ancient practice of abjuration of the realm bore a strong resemblance to the Roman institution whereby the felon chose "perdere patriam, quam vitam", a note from Eden's Discourse on Banishment. Watts on leave, p. 363.

[47] The initial evidence used here about Curtis and Macaulay comes partly from Arthur Phillip, The Voyage Of Governor Phillip To Botany Bay. Sydney, Hutchinson of Australia, 1982. (Originally published in 1789). In the section by Macaulay's employee, Lt. Watts, Ch. XX, is recorded information useful in piecing together the involvements of Macaulay and Curtis. On Macaulay's Pitt in 1792, see Jack-Hinton, Search for the Islands of Solomon, p. 318, Note 3 and p. 319.

[48] Carter, Banks, p. 222.

[49] See The Journal of A. Bowes-Smith, Surgeon in the Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789, Sydney, Trustees of the State Public Library, New South Wales, 1979.

[50] On Hinton East and other interested parties, see Dawson, The Banks Letters, earlier cited. Also, Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, pp. 53ff; Owen Rutter, Turbulent Journey - A Life of William Bligh, Vice-Admiral of the Blue. London, Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1936., pp 76ff.

[51] Kennedy, Bligh, p. 15 mentions Hinton East meeting Banks in London in 1786..

[52] On feeding slaves more cheaply in the West Indies in 1787: Davies, Royal Africa Company, p. 332, notes that in 1684 the Jamaicans were complaining that Gambia slaves were used to eating much flesh meat, (and were expensive), and hence would not like the diet allowed them on Jamaica.

[53] Carter, Banks, p. 220.

[54] Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, pp. 50-52. Charles Nordhorf and James Norman Hall in their 1932 novel Mutiny on the Bounty at first would have one believe Christian was a naval man, but there is a note in Ch. 3 that Bligh had known Christian some years in the Jamaica trade. See "Mr. Campbell", Nordhorf and Hall, p. 8. Also, D. Bonner Smith, `Some Remarks about the Mutiny of the Bounty', The Mariner's Mirror, Vol. 22, No. 2, April 1936. Gavin Kennedy, A Book of the "Bounty": William Bligh And Others. edited by George Mackaness, New Introduction by Gavin Kennedy Ph.D. London, Dent/Everyman, 1981.

[55] Bounty's crew: Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 22ff; Hough, Bligh and Christian, pp. 73ff.

[56] Mackaness, Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 46.

[57] C. Knight, `HM Armed Vessel "Bounty"', The Mariner's Mirror, Vol. 22, No. 2, April 1936., pp. 183-199., also quoted in Glynn Christian, op cit, p. 59. Bligh to Banks, 6 Aug., 1787, HRNSW, Vol. 1, part 2, p. 109.

[58] Kennedy, Bligh, p. 20, Note 4; Hough, Bligh and Christian, pp. 77-78; Dawson, The Banks Letters, p. 615, pp. 884ff.

[59] Dawson, Banks Letters, p. 825.

[60] D. G. C. Allan, `The Society of Arts and Government, 1754-1800: Public Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in Eighteenth Century England', Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer, 1974., pp. 434-452. The Society negotiated their Adelphi property with the Adam Brothers, some of whom were Society members, in 1771.

[61] Douglas Hall, A Brief History of the West India Committee. Caribbean University Press, 1971.

[62] Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, p. 179 is elaborate on Christian's emotions about feeling driven by Bligh. A contributing factor to the mutiny on the Bounty was Bligh's necessary switch to naval discipline, a form of ship life to which Christian could not easily accommodate himself.

[63] Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 17-59.

[64] Linebaugh in The London Hanged, p. 331, suggests a reason for the mutiny in line with a general repressiveness inflicted on the working class in the era under review.

[65] Mackaness, Life of Bligh, p. 59, Vol. 1; Kennedy, Bligh, p. 24; Hallet to Banks, in Dawson, The Banks Letters, p. 380.

[66] Heywood is later said to have carried some dread secret about Fletcher Christian to his grave. Long later, Heywood evidently inspired the character Roger Byam in Nordhorf and Hall's 1932 novel on the mutiny. In English genealogy, the surname Byam appears closely intermarried with notable planter families of Antigua, with some connections to the name Warner, leader of the first settlement of Barbados from 1625.

[67] William Innis (1719-1795) a West India merchant and a golfer at Blackheath, is illustrated in Plate 82 in Neil Rhind, The Heath, cited earlier.

[68] Hughes, Chronicle of Blackheath Golfers, p. 4 recorded Macaulay as a member of the Blackheath Golf Club in 1787 and as club captain in 1793.

[69] Carter, Banks, pp. 218-219.

[70] Duncan wrote to his son Dugald Campbell, Jamaica, a good friend of Bligh, on 2 May, 1787. Richard Hough, Captain Bligh and Mr Christian. London, Hutchinson, 1972., p. 64.

[71] The Mitchell Library, Sydney, holds various of William Bligh's letter to Duncan Campbell on commercial matters. ML, CY Reel 178, Safe 1/40: William Bligh, Letters 1782-1805. Mackaness, Life Of Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 49.

[72] Kenneth S. Allen, That Bounty Bastard - The True Story of Capt. William Bligh. London, Robert Hale, 1976., p. 64. On Briscoe's estate, see also Bligh's apology to Campbell for a poor cargo, Mackaness, Life of Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 43. Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 14ff.

[73] Campbell to Dugald Campbell, 2 May, 1787, Duncan Campbell Letterbooks. Mackaness, Life of Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 49. Allen, That Bounty Bastard. The letter Bligh-Campbell is in the ML's safe for Blighiana as noted above.

[74] HO 28, Australian National Library microfilm 1163, unsigned; presumably from Sydney or someone of equivalent rank.

[75] Lord Sydney to Lords Commissioners of the Navy, HO 28. Australian National Library, microfilm, 1163.

[76] Carter, Banks, p. 220.

[77] On convict Charles Peet: John Cobley, The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1970., p. 213.

[78] Campbell Letter No. 161: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks: Transcript from ML A3229, p. 298. Campbell in the ps to William Deacon was three times mistaken. He misjudged the date of the First Fleet departure, which was 13 May, 1787. The convicts overall were victualled by William Richards Jnr.; and the owners of the vessels had no connection with the convict victualling.

[79] ML CY Reel 178, William Bligh Letters 1782-1805, safe 1/40, p. 275. For example, Duncan Campbell to Neil Campbell and Co. at Greenock, London, 14 March, 1787, ML A3229, re a vessel to Green Island, Jamaica.

[80] Glynn Christian, Fragile Paradise, remarks on the Bounty crewing, pp. 60-64. Relevant letters from the Campbell Letterbooks include: Campbell to John Sheppard, 21 Sept., 1787; Also, Richard Betham to Bligh, 21 Sept., 1787; Mackaness, Life of Bligh, p. 59, Vol. 1. [Note to the superscript: Duncan Campbell, London, to Dugald Campbell, Jamaica, 30 August, 1787, cited in Mackaness, Life of Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 51].

[81] Source: The Royal Calendar: The 1786 listing for membership of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

[82] Manuscript, Subscription Register, Royal Society ACC - of the Society of Arts, 1773-1802 [The Premium Society]. Copy, RSA Library, 8 John Adam St., The Adelphi, London. I am indebted to Mr. John Goddard, then RSA librarian, for checking these original ledgers. Almost nothing is known of this John Parish. He was probably not the John Parish, sometimes of Hamburg, associate of the American financier, Robert Morris, noted in Ernest Samhaber, Merchants Make History: How Trade has Influenced the Course of History Throughout the World. London, Harrap, 1963. But, a man from Gibraltar. [Duncan Campbell Esq., Adelphi, was proposed to join the RSA (to be a member, not a "Fellow") by one John Parish Esq., and was elected on 9 May, 1787, paying 2/2/- subscription.

[83] Campbell Letter No. 162: Duncan Campbell Letterbooks, Transcript from ML A3229: Duncan Campbell to the Navy, 15 May, 1787.

[84] On tenders, see Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 19ff; Mackaness, Life of Bligh, Vol. 1, pp. 50ff; Hough, Bligh and Christian, p. 64.

[85] C. Knight, cited above, Remarks, pp. 183-199.

[86] Blainey, Tyranny of Distance, p. 344, Note 55.

[87] The contractor for the ship's refit was Mr. John Burr.

[88] See also, Kennedy, Bligh, pp. 19ff; Mackaness, Life of Bligh, Vol. 1, p. 50; Rutter, Turbulent Journey, pp. 78ff; C. Knight in The Mariner's Mirror, earlier cited.

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