Convicts in Australia
- Convicts arrived in Australia in 1788, on the First Fleet.
- Many convicts were sentenced to deportation for minor crimes as life became very tough in Great Britain.
- Convicts formed a large percentage of the Australian population for the first few decades of settlement.
- Governor Lachlan Macquarie encouraged reformed convicts to participate in society.
- Many of Australia's early public works were completed by convict labour.
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Photograph © Penny Clay, graphic design by Beau Vandenberg © HHT
When Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in 1788, 751 convicts and their children disembarked, along with 252 marines and their families.
They made the eight month voyage from England, where the industrial revolution, overcrowding and unemployment had made life for the ordinary person very difficult and lead to poverty and increased rates.
People could be deported for crimes such as vagrancy (being homeless and unemployed) or robbery of goods less than a shilling (about $50 today), while stealing goods worth more than a shilling meant death by hanging.
Between 1788 and 1868, 165 000 convicts were transported to Australia and formed the majority of the population for the first few decades of this .
Under Governor Phillip, convicts were put to work according to their skills, building bridges, roads, hospitals and courthouses.
The first female convicts arrived in Van Dieman's Land in 1803.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie was the first Governor of New South Wales (1810-1821) to envisage the country as more than a penal colony, and encouraged reformed convicts to take up roles of responsibility within the community.
Good behaviour meant many convicts were granted a Ticket of Leave before their full sentence was served.
Two soldiers in colonial NSW steal a piece of cloth, with the intention of getting caught. [The play button is in middle of the screen.]
Two convicts steal a place in history is an excerpt from the documentary Rites of Passage, the second episode of the two-part series entitled Rogue Nation, produced in 2009. (From National Film and Sound Archive)
Convict databases and registries
- Irish convicts to NSW
- British transportation registers
- First fleet database – University of Wollongong
- Tasmanian convicts
- Western Australian convicts
- An overview of available records
- Indexes to NSW convict records
- Brief convict history of Norfolk Island
- Life on a convict ship
- First fleet rations
- A day in the life of a convict
- Convict life in NSW
- Heritage tourism
- Hyde Park Barracks
- Port Arthur
- Cascades female factory
- Parramatta female factory
- Images of convict life
- An account of the English colony in NSW
- Convict women in Port Jackson
This site uses Google Translate, a free language translation service, as an aid. Please note translation accuracy will vary across languages.
Doing it by the book
As a parent it's only natural to want to help your child, but when it comes to homework and study, the completed work should be theirs.
Here are some important points to remember to ensure your child is following good practice for a lifetime of learning.
- Norfolk Island
- Port Macquarie
- Port Arthur (TAS)
- Hyde Park Barracks - Convict Sydney Exhibition til 13/5/13
- Cockatoo Island
- Fremantle Prison (WA)
- Great North Road Convict Trail
- Old Government House Parramatta
- Brickendon–Woolmers Estates (TAS)
- Darlington Probation Station (TAS)
- Coal Mines Historic Site (TAS)