Free Settler or Felon?

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Colonial Events 1798
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  ........  Estimated white population approximately 5,000    

January 2 .........Wilson's Promontory and Phillip Island sighted by George Bass   

January 14...........An exploratory party consisting of four convicts, their guards and John Wilson who arrived on the Alexander and John Price a free man, servant of Governor Hunter, set out in January 1798, under instructions from Governor Hunter, to prove to convicts that there was no colony beyond the fringe of settlement.    

January 25..........George Bass arrived at Phillip Island   

February 9..........Three men returned to Sydney after their exhausting stint in the bush around Cowpastures. They brought with them a Lyrebird described by David Collins as a variety of bird of Paradise.

According to George Barrington in History of New South Wales, John Wilson, a convict who had lived for some time with the natives, was the first person ever in the colony to shoot a 'bird of paradise'. Wilson also had the distinction of Rescuing Charles Grimes when he was attacked by natives at Port Stephens in 1795. Wilson himself was later speared and killed by natives.    

May 14..........Hail Storm in Sydney stones 6" diameter      

May 14..........The Nautilus arrived in Port Jackson with Missionaries rescued from Otaheite     

May 18........Arrival of the Barwell. Master John Cameron. Passengers included Hunter Valley settlers McDougall and Bowman families; Richard Dore, deputy Judge-Advocate, and 287 male prisoners. Convict lawyer/poet Michael Massey Robinson was transported on the Barwell.    

July 18..........Arrival of the Britannia. Master Robert Turnbull. Surgeon Martin Mason      

October 7.........Departure of Bass & Flinders in the Nautilus to investigate the possibility of a strait north of Van Diemen's Land.

.........Arrival of the Norfolk from Bengal with cargo of merchandise and stock      

October.........Fire destroyed the first church in Australia      

November.......Supplies of clothing urgently needed.....Suffer me here, my dear sir, to beseech you to recollect that the whole colony are actually naked; that no cloathing worth mentioning has been received here for more than two years. The Sylph, storeship, brought the last supply and I mention'd then that the whole or nearly all, we then receiv'd would be immediately issued to cloath the people Since that time the most studied economy has been practised to endeavour to cover the nakedness of the people and at this moment the anxiety which I experience from daily and hourly petitions is excessive. Not a blanket to wrap themselves up in during the night, and I fear for the consequences to the general health of the settlement....Governor Hunter to Under Secretary King 1st November 1798 (HRA Vol2, p234.) 

November 7.....Government Order issued requesting that names of female servants be forwarded to authorities.      

December 1......Merchandise in the colony at exorbitant prices.

A Letter home to England written in 1798.....

Portsmouth Telegraph or Mottley's Naval and Military Journal
February 3, 1800 New South Wales
Extract of a letter from Mr. Black of the ship Indispensable dated Sydney, Port Jackson Dec 1., 1798

'I am as yet unable in inform you when I shall leave this place. It is doubted that the ship must be condemned here; and her cargo sent home by some other conveyance, in consequence of the iron work in her bottom being defective, which we fear cannot be repaired here. She is, however, now out on a cruize, Living ashore here is excessively expensive, every article of provisions bearing a most exorbitant price; at this time mutton is 2s pr lb; goat's flesh 1s 6d.; port 1s 3d; fowls abut 4s and 5s; gees 12s; tea 3 per pound; spirits 50s per gallon, and other things in proportion. The demand for spirits is beyond conception. There are in the Colony about 6000 inhabitants, and upon a moderate calculation, it is computed they expend 100 gallons weekly, notwithstanding the repeated positive orders of Government to prohibit the importation of that article.'

December........ Drought in the summer of 1798 - 99.      




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