The Expedition to Port Jackson
Our passage to Port Jackson took up but few hours and those were spent far from unpleasantly. The evening was bright and the prospect before us such as might justify sanguine expectation. Having passed between the capes which form its entrance, we found ourselves in a port superior in extent and excellency to all we had seen before. We continued to run up the harbour about four miles in a westerly direction, enjoying the luxuriant prospect of its shores covered with trees to the water’s edge, among which many of the Indians were frequently seen, till we arrived at a small snug cove on the southern side, on whose banks the plan of our operations was destined to commence.
A Description of the Landing at Port Jackson, 1788
the landing of a part of the marines and convicts took place the next day, and on the following the remainder was disembarked. Business now sat on every brow and the scene, to an indifferent spectator to contemplate it, would have been highly picturesque and amusing. In one place a party cutting down the woods: a second setting up a blacksmiths forge, a third dragging along a load of stones or provisions, here an officer pitching his marquee, with a detachment of troops parading on one side of him, and a cook’s fire blazing up on the other. Through the unwearied diligence of those at the head of the different departments, regularity was, however, soon introduced and, as far as the unsettled state of matters would allow, confusion gave place to system.
Into the head of the cove, on which our establishment is fixed, runs a small stream, which serves to divide the adjacent country to a little distance, in the direction of north and south. On the eastern side of this rivulet the Governor fixed his place of residence, with a large body of convicts encamped near him; and on the western side was disposed the remaining part of these people, near the marine encampment. From this last two guards, consisting of two subalterns, as many sergeants, four corporals, two drummers and forty-two private men, under the orders of a Captain of the day (to whom all reports were made) daily mounted for the public security, with such directions to use force, in case of necessity, as left no room for those who were the object of the order, but to remain peaceable, or perish by the bayonet.
The First Church Service 1788
On the Sunday after our landing divine service was performed under a great tree by the Rev. Mr Johnson, chaplain of the settlement, in the presence of the troops and convicts, whose behaviour on the occasion was equally regular and attentive. In the course of our passage this had been repeated every Sunday while the ships were in port, and in addition to it Mr Johnson had furnished them with books to promote instruction and piety.
The Commission February 1788
Owing to the multiplicity of pressing business necessary to be performed immediately after landing, it was found impossible to read the commissions and take possession of the colony in form until the 7th of February. On that day all the officers of guard took post in the marine battalion which was drawn up and marched off the parade, with music playing and colours flying, to an adjacent ground which had been cleared for the occasion, whereon the convicts were assembled to hear His Majesty’s commission read, appointing His Excellency Arthur Phillip, Esq governor and captain-general in and over the territory of New South Wales and its dependencies: together with the act of parliament for establishing trials by law with the same: and patents under the Great Seal of Great Britain for holding the civil and criminal courts judicature, by which all cases of life and death, as well as matters of property were to be decided.
When the judge advocate had finished reading, His Excellency addressed himself to the convicts in a pointed and judicious speech, informing them of his future intentions, which were invariably to cherish and render happy those who showed a disposition to amendment, and to let the rigour of the law take its course against such as might dare to transgress the bounds prescribed. At the close three volleys were fired in honour of the occasion and the battalion marched back to their parade, where they were reviewed by the governor, who was received with all the honours due to his rank.
Shortage of Fresh Food, April 1788
On the 6th May the Supply sailed for Lord Howe Island, to take on board turtle for the settlement: but after waiting there several days was obliged to return without having seen one, owing we apprehended to the advanced season of the year. Three of the transports also, which were engaged by the East India Company to proceed to China, to take on board a lading of tea, sailed about this time for Canton. The unsuccessful return of the Supply cast a general damp on our spirits, for by this time fresh provisions were becoming scarcer then in a blockaded town.
Watkin Tench, (1758-1833). A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay: (London 1789) and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales (London 1793)