Convicts and Settlers

Convicts, Black Markets and Settlers

The first 20 years of settlement saw a semi-lawless frontier culture develop. This coincided with the  arrival of the emancipated  Norfolk Islanders, and attempts by the  newly arrived Governor Lachlan Macquarie to curb self interest of the  more rapacious military settlers.

Productivity from convicts was gained through the task work system, whereby prisoners were encouraged through incentive payments self interest to produce articles on their own time which were bought by the  colonial government, for building   churches, houses etc. This led inevitably to black-markets & corruption.

Severe punishment stations were established  at Maria Island  & Macquarie Harbour.

 The Government had to purchase a constant supply of meat for the Commissariat and it was very difficult to ensure that it came from a legal source. Peter has written an account of this murky trade in his book Stock Thieves and Golfers, available here.

Stock Thieves and Golfers – a history of Kangaroo Bay and Rosny Farm 1803 – 1998

During the Probation period, road gangs lives isolated lives in tough conditions, but with the whole wide bush and neighbouring farms available to them when they could ‘slip the leash’. The Grass Tree Hill Road Gang who operated near Richmond took advantage where-ever they could find it.

Dobbers and Cobbers – Grass Tree Hill Road Gang

Convicts with specialist skills could (and did) game the system. The Government sawing stations had great difficulty in meeting their quotas for quality timber while at the same time providing a system of punishment for the convicts.

Something More than Coercion – Government Sawing Stations of North West Bay, Birch’s Bay and Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula, 1818-1832.

This is a discussion of the methods used by the Government to use timber-getting and milling as a punishment, while at the same time needing to reward good work in order to get the quality they needed for building the colony. It was largely doomed to fail.

From prize-fights, poker games, and profanities to ploughing matches and other games: making pastimes respectable in 19th century Tasmania.

A study of the amusements of 19th Century Tasmania and how they changed.

Cultures of the Wellington Range

The people who lived on the fringes of the Range, and how they made their living.

Canadian Patriots

Canadian Patriots

British Military in Van Diemen’s Land

Military engineers had a long history of involvement in British warfare; Cromwell’s army included six engineers. Constituted under the Board of Ordnance, the designation Royal Engineers was nominated in 1787, second only to the Royal Artillery in precedence. Unlike other requirements, the Royal Engineers required educational training and competence.

The Royal Engineers in Colonial Tasmania.