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1788 - Woman Convict
A Letter from Botany Bay
Sydney

[14 Nov. 1788] I take the first opportunity that has been given us, to acquaint you with our disconsolate situation in this solitary waste of the creation. Our passage, you may have heard by the first ships, was tolerably favourable; but the inconveniences since suffered for want of shelter, bedding &c. are not to be imagined by any stranger. However, we have now two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive of, deserve that name: windows they have none, as from the Governor's house, &c. now nearly finished, no glass could be spared; so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. At the extremity of the lines, where, since our arrival, the dead are buried there is a place called the church-yard, but we hear as soon as a sufficient quantity of bricks can be made, a church is to be built, and named St. Philip, after the Governor. Notwithstanding all our presents, the savages continue to do us all the injury they can, which makes the soldiers' duty very hard, and much disaffection among the officers. I know not how many of our people have been killed. As for the distresses of the women, they are past description, as they are deprived of tea and other things they were indulged in, in the voyage, by the seamen: and as they are all totally unprovided with clothes, those who have young children are quite wretched. Besides this, though a number of marriages have taken place, several women who became pregnant on the voyage, and are since left by their partners, who have returned to England, are not likely even here to form any connections. We are comforted with the hopes of a supply of tea from China, and flattered with getting riches when the settlement is complete, and the hamp which the place produces is brought to perfection. Our kangaroo cats are like mutton, but much leaner; and here is a kind of chickweed so much in taste like our spinage, that no difference can be discerned. Something like ground ivy is used for tea; but scarcity of salt and sugar makes our best meals insipid. The separation of several of us to an uninhabited island was like a second transportation. In short, everyone is taken up with their own misfortunes, that they have no pity to bestow upon others. All our letters are examined by an officer; but a friend takes this for me privately. The ships sail tonight.

Aspinall, A.; Smith, A. (ed.)
English Historical Documents 1783-1832
London 1959

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