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The rise of the British empire - Australia
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Extract from the records of the convict colony of New South Wales, 1792
(Catalogue ref: CO 201/8 f131)
  • This document is one small extract from the records of the prison colony set up in New South Wales in 1788.
  • It gives details of the number of convicts in the various parts of the colony and shows that the governor was concerned to make sure that the colony had enough supplies.
  • New South Wales turned out to be a very harsh environment for the convicts and for free colonists. It was many years before New South Wales was able to produce enough food to support its British population.
  • In the 1600s and 1700s Britain transported convicts to America. After the American Revolution of 1776 this was no longer an option.
  • By the time Cook mapped and claimed Australia in 1770 Britain's jails were already overcrowded. Once prisoners could not be transported, the prisons reached crisis point.
  • In 1788 the first convict colony in Australia was set up with about 750 convicts. From then until 1868 Britain transported about 160,000 convicts to Australia.
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