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.