Colonial Events 1788



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January 18.....

Arrival in Botany Bay of the Supply, 12 guns -  first ship of the First Fleet at Botany Bay. Captain Arthur Phillip. Lieutenant H.L. Ball. Surgeon Mr. James Callam

On the outward journey, soon after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, Captain Phillip transferred to the tender Supply, hoping to make an advance survey of their destination at Botany Bay; he placed Hunter in the Sirius in command of the main convoy, though in the result the entire fleet of eleven ships made Botany Bay within the three days 18 to 20 January 1788 (1)

John Shortland (senior) was appointed naval agent to the First Fleet. He also procured appointments on the expedition for his sons, John Shortland and Thomas George Shortland.

National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4078, N7012B


January 19.....

Arrival in Botany Bay, of the ships

Alexander, Captain Duncan Sinclair, (210 male convicts) Marine Officers - Lieut. J. Johnston, Lieut. Shairp. Assistant Surgeon William Balmain.(Read the story of Robert Abel, one of the convicts on the Alexander at London Lives)

Scarborough (210 male convicts) Marine Officers - Captain Shea, Lieut. Kellow, Lieut. Morrison. Surgeon Mr. Dennis Considen.

Friendship (male and female convicts) Marine Officers - Capt. Lieut. Meredith, Lieut. Clarke, Lieut. Faddy

Read an excerpt of Governor Phillip's dispatch to Lord Sydney

January 20.....


Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

Arrival of the remainder of the ships of the First Fleet

Sirius - 26 guns. Commander Arthur Phillip, Captain John Hunter, Quartermaster Henry Hacking. Surgeon George Worgan. George Raper was Midshipman on the Sirius.  Purser John Palmer.

Journal of surgeon George Worgan at Project Gutenbern

Daniel Southwell also Midshipman promoted to Lieutenant on the voyage. Captain William Bradley's Journal 

Images from William Bradley's Journal; William Reed seaman

Charlotte  (male and female convicts) Captain Thomas Gilbert, Surgeon John White,  Marine Officers - Captain Tench, Lieut. Cresswell, Lieut. Poulden

Prince of Wales (female convicts) Marine Officers: Lieut. Davy, Lieut. Timmins

Lady Penrhyn (female convicts) Marine Officers: Capt. Campbell, Lieut. G. Johnston, Lieut. William Collins, surgeon John Turnpenny Altree

and Store ships

Golden Grove (Commander William Sharp, Rev. Richard Johnson), Fishburn (Commander Matthew Brown) and Borrowdale (Commander Hobson Reed) with provisions, implements, clothing etc. 


January 21.....

Governor Phillip accompanied by officers set off in three open boats to examine the coast in the hope of finding a more suitable site for settlement than Botany Bay. Finding in a cove of 'this noble and capacious harbour' a sufficiency of water and soil, he returned to Botany Bay after an absence of 3 days and gave directions for immediate removal to Port Jackson.

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January 23.....

Arrival of La Perouse to the coast of 'New Holland'

A Sketch of the life of Jean Francoise Gallaup de La Perouse

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The Monthly Review By Ralph Griffiths, George Edward Griffiths


January 25..... With a party of marines and some artificers, Governor Phillip anchored off the mouth of the Cove
January 26...... In the evening of the 26th the whole of the party present assembled where they had first landed and a union jack was displayed. The marines fired several vollies and toasts to the health of His Majesty and the success of the new colony were given.

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The Monthly Review By Ralph Griffiths, George Edward Griffiths  

January 27......

Disembarkation of the troops and remainder of the convicts on this day. A portable canvas house brought for the Governor was erected on the East side of Sydney Cove and a detachment of marines were encamped at the head of the Cove. The main body of the convicts were placed on the West side

A List of Convicts of the First Fleet


January 28

French ships L'Astrolabe and La Bussole under Commanders De la Perouse and De d' Angle anchored in Botany Bay. Assisted into Botany Bay by Lieut. Henry Ball of HMS Supply


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The History of Modern Europe and a view of the progress of societ By Charles Coote, William Russell

February 3.....
First Church Service in Australia conducted by Rev. Richard Johnson at Sydney Cove

More about Rev. Johnson at the State Library of NSW

February..... From the History of Sydney Hospital by Dr. J. Frederick Watson on the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone of the hospital......In the beginning of February, 1788, the erection of the first hospital was commenced on the west side of Sydney Cove, near what are now known as the Commissariat Stores, George street North; it was completed by twelve convict carpenters and sixteen hired men from the ships. An soon as it was finished it was filled, and the overflow occupied tents around it. Some of the drugs were found to have perished during the prolonged voyage, and others were of inferior quality; but it is interesting to read that the native sarsaparilla proved to be powerfully anti-scorbutic, and an infusion of "wild myrtle" astringent in dysentery, the honour of these discoveries being claimed by Dennis Considen. (Sydney Morning Herald 28 October 1911)

February 6.....

Philip Gidley King appointed Superintendent and commandant of Norfolk Island - Departed on 14th February in the Supply for Norfolk with a petty officer, surgeon's mate, two marines, two men who understood cultivation of flax and 9 men and 6 female convicts.

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The Monthly Review By Ralph Griffiths, George Edward Griffiths

February 7.....

Colony of NSW formally proclaimed and Governor's commission read, appointing Captain Arthur Phillip to be captain general and governor in chief over the territory of New South Wales. The ceremony was performed by the judge-advocate, David Collins.

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An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales From Its First Settlement in January 1788, to August 1801 By David Collins



Discovery of Lord Howe Island by Lieut. Ball

The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay With an Account of the Establishment of the Colonies of Port Jackson & Norfolk Island By Arthur Phillip, John Marshall, John Stockdale, Henry Lidgbird Ball

February 27......
First Execution in the colony - Convict Thomas Barrett hanged for stealing provisions

Thomas Barrett arrived on the Charlotte. He had been a survivor of the Mercury Mutiny in 1784 and is believed to have engraved the Charlotte Medallion.


Formal establishment of settlement at Norfolk Island

Lieutenant King's description of Norfolk Island

March 2 Governor Phillip led an expedition to Broken Bay. Others on the expedition included Lieutenant William Bradley, Jacob Nagle and George Worgan
March 10.....

Departure of Jean-François de Galaup La Perouse {Comte de La Pérouse} from Botany Bay after a six week stay.  He was not heard of again.

La Perouse in Sydney in 1909. (The camp site of La Perouse during his 6 week stay)

The fate of La Perouse.........


May 30...... Convicts William Okey and Samuel Davis killed while cutting rushes
July...... On the point of land which formed the west side of Sydney Cove, an Observatory building was constructed under the direction of Lieutenant Dawes who was charged with observing the expected comet. (HRA.,Vol.1., p47)
July 20......

Departure of Lieutenant Ball on the Golden Grove with provisions for Norfolk Island. Strong gales on the passage there. Returned to Sydney 26th August.

Providence Petrel- Extinct on Norfolk Island by 1800

August 7...... Buildings damaged by heavy rain
August 12..... Duel fought between Surgeon-General White and his assistant Major William Balmain
October 2..... Departure of the Sirius to the Cape to obtain provisions after the failure of crops and destruction of grains and seeds
October 2.....
Departure of the Golden Grove store ship for Norfolk Island with provisions and a detachment of marines, 2 seamen and 11 convict women

David Collins' description of Norfolk Island in November when the Golden Grove returned to headquarters

October 4..... Convict Cooper Handley murdered by aborigines
December 30....

Capture of Arabanoo


"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in
1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. 



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