British Colonialism in Sydney

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Travel History

By Phin Upham

You may have heard that Australia was once a drop-off point for British convicts. There is definitely truth to this description, but it had to do with the Declaration of Independence. England used to send its convicts to America, but the July 4th Declaration ended that and left England with a surplus of criminals.

So Britain looked at territory that was claimed in the name of England by James Cook, and founded a penal colony on what would become Sydney. The first fleet consisted of 11 ships and transported 850 convicts, but the location chosen was deemed unsuitable because the soil lacked nutrients and fresh water was scarce.

Eventually, Sydney was founded in February of 1788 named after Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney.

43,000 convicts would come to call Sydney home within just 4 years of the founding, and the colony seemed to be a barebones facility. Maps from the time don’t show structures onsite, and convicts were basically expected to fend for themselves once they arrived on the island.

Supplies quickly ran low, and residents (including officers of the Crown) began to suffer from starvation and outbreaks of smallpox. In 1810, things began to take a turn for the better. When Lachlan Macquarie became governor in 1810, he brought Christianity and education to the colony under Macquarie’s watch, Sydney began trading wool and quelled the Rum Rebellion of 1808. Sydney continued to come out of isolation, and by 1822 the town was basically modernized with banks and markets. Sydney even had working roads and other infrastructure. A true marvel in innovation, but a cruel form of capital punishment.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.


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