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Australian Convict Settlers
Transcript of Australian Convict Settlers
History of the Convict Settlers
On 21 January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove with a fleet of 751 convicts and their children. Two more convict fleets landed in 1790 and 1791. The first free settlers arrived in 1793. By 1821 The population had reached 30,000. By the final Fleet of ships in 1863 over 160,000 men and women had been transported on 806 ships. The reason for the end of the deportations was that by the mid-1800s the colony had enough people to sustain itself without exterior aid.
Demographics of the Convicts
Nearly all of the convicts were poor and illiterate, those few who had been educated had administrative jobs. The vast majority of the convicts were English and Welsh (70%), the rest were Irish (24%), and Scottish (5%). Not all of the convicts were from the UK, some came from other English Colonies such as India and Canada. The majority had committed petty theft, at that time stealing more than shilling (about $50 in today's money) was punishable by death or deportation, however other crimes included mutiny and desertion. About twenty percent of the first few ships were female, most of which were view as more useful as wives or servants. Ages ranged 11 to 82, many times the alternative was hanging.
Factors For Migration
The push factor is quite simple, the reason for most convict settlers to partake in the journey was forced deportation. At the time the British Government was faced with the problem of over-full jails. Lawlessness was out of control, the Industrial Revolution had created a spike of petty crime due to economic displacement large portions of the population and many crimes that had been punishable by death now carried a jail sentence instead. Without a proper place to imprison convicts the British Government decided to use convicts as labor in the recently established Penal Colony of New South Wales.
Effect on Australia
It has been estimated that two million Australians can trace their lineage back to convict settlers, even former Australian Prime Ministers. Many of the Convicts would earn their freedom and embrace their new lives. Convicts, while coming unwillingly, lead Australia to become self-sufficient.
The convicts were given jobs based on training. Masons, blacksmiths, carpenters were all giving jobs relative to their skills. While some were subject to leg irons and chain gangs many found themselves working for free men. Most were convicted of petty crime and would have to work for seven years before earning full freedom, however good behavior could lead to tickets of leave, certificates of freedom, even full pardons, so very few convict actually served the full sentence.