AUSTRALIA - CONVICT SETTLERS

             

It has been shown that approximately two-thirds of the convicts transported to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land were tried in England, and approximately one-third in Ireland. Numbers tried in Scotland and abroad were relatively small, and if nationality is reckoned by country of birth rather than country of trial, these figures were not altered very much, except in the cased of Irish-born women convicted in England. Male convicts were transported in relatively small numbers prior to 1815, but thereafter the annual contingents sent out to Australia increased sharply, reaching a maximum figure in the 1930s. The prisoners transported for life formed approximately a quarter of these convicts, but it was far more common for a felon to receive a seven-year sentence, and every second convict was transported for that minimum period. Nor was the typical prisoner an "old lag", because the mean age of the convicts was approximately twenty-six years. In other words, the convicts were young, and thus it was to be expected that well over 50 per cent were single. In addition, certainly half, and probably two-thirds or thereabout, had formerly been punished by public justice, generally for forms of larceny.

It was certainly a feature of this particular era, and thus the analysis has indicated that the Irish differed from the overall picture of the convicts: they were older than the average felon, included more married men, had not been in trouble with the police so often, were frequently sent out to Australia for shorter periods of transportation than the English, and included in their ranks many unskilled men. All convict ships, whether from England or Ireland, unskilled men. All convict ships, whether from England or Ireland, included men who had, for one reason or another, moved from their place of birth. In fact, one man in every three had been tried elsewhere than in the county of his upbringing. In the same way as the Irish different from the general run of convicts, so did the English men tried in rural counties, for they included a relatively large number of convicts transported for life, were slightly older than the average (though still nearly all under thirty years of age), and were mostly agricultural workers. Irish tried outside Dublin and Cork differed more sharply still from the general pattern, for they were older, and included more married men. In number of former offences there was a difference, too, because the Irish country convict was as likely as not to be innocent of former offences. Seven-year sentences were common, and the men concerned (farm labourers as a rule) had been born in their county of trial.

Although certain rural convicts differed in general characteristics from other convicts, the urban prisoner was nearer to the typical felon sent to Australia. Men from the cities, and especially from London, demand most attention. The London-tried men were particularly prominent in the early years of settlement, and formed 25 per cent of the men transported prior to 1810. Also, when prisoners included a large number of very young men who had been offenders before transportation. Not only were the urban prisoners typically younger than expected, but the great majority were transported for forms of larceny, though not all, by any means, for offences which would carry only a small fine today. The offence-designated "other larcenies" accounted for approximately one-third of all male prisoners, the great majority of whom were people tried in London, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Surrey and Warwickshire. They were relatively young, included many persons transported for picking pockets, and were particularly prominent in the early years of transportation before 1820. They sprang almost entirely from the industrial classes. 

Other main offences were burglary and housebreaking, animal theft, robbery, and theft of wearing apparel. The burglars and housebreakers differed little from the general run of prisoners, measured in terms of age, marital status and so on, and the men transported for the theft of apparel appeared very similar types to those sent to Australia for "other larcenies." Men transported for animal stealing, however, included many Irish and English rural convicts, and these were punished severely by life sentences of transportation. They tended to be older than most convicts, and had among them a large number of men who had not been previously in trouble with the police. Men transported for robbery included more Irish than might have been expected from a general view of the convicts. Individuals transported for coining predominated among those transported for offences of a public nature, and many arrived around the year 1820. Other convicts transported for offences against  the state included a relatively large number of Irish transported for riots, routs and affrays. Assaults on the person accounted for transportation of a large number of Irish, too, and it has been observed how the condition of life in Ireland led to such offences being committed.

Though the turbulence of Irish rural life during the transportation period is well documented and well known, the background of the urban offender, whether from Dublin or the City of Cork, or from the English cities, is more relevant to a general discussion of the origin and character of the convicts. An inadequate police force, slums, and overcrowding, gave rise to city conditions nourishing a large criminal fringe of depredators. Though not all were confirmed criminals, the convicts went to Australia from the cities included many persistent offenders who were thieves from an early age. Women convicts comprise 15 per cent of the total number of prisoners transported to the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. They also were relatively young (though a little older than the men) and, in the majority of cases, had been in trouble with the law prior to their transportation. Also owning to a city background they included probably at least 20 per cent who were prostitutes: accounts of their trials confirmed that many were "on the town" when taken up. Nearly all were domestic servants, and transported for forms of larceny. One in every three had been tried in Ireland, and rather more had been born there. Approximately 10 per cent were tried in Scotland principally for larceny and a former conviction.

The female prisoners had little to recommend them, and, in the early years especially, they included many Londoners who had led dissolute lives in an Hogarthian capital. The Irish women appeared to be the best of a bad lot. Careers of the women convicts in Australia confirmed the impression that, although not surrendering themselves to abandonment completely, they yet were an indifferent group of settlers. The marriage-rate does not appear to have been as high as the discrepancy between the sexes in Australia suggested it would be. However, the records do not permit much speculation, although in 'Van Diemen's Land convicts did not demonstrate that they were irreclaimable. Nor could the lives of the convict men be followed as closely as might have been desired, but in Van Diemen's Land they were punished, on the average, five times each. One in ten was convicted for a serious offence before the superior courts of the colony, and another 10 per cent appeared never to have been punished at all. There is no reason to suppose the figures for New South Wales were much different, though this cannot be shown except by analogy. In the mother colony, the freed convicts settled to a trade in many cases, certainly in the years to the departure of Governor Macquarie, but the date do not permit close analysis. Spectacular success stories were very few. 

Anyone who is bold enough to generalise about why 150,000 people committed crimes is asking for trouble, but the great object of drawing the sample was to base speculation firmly on facts, to show what in fact did occur, and not what someone said was supposed to occur, to set the record straight, and to reduce levels of generality as much as possible. But the complex questions remain - why did the convicts sent to Australia commit offences? How "bad" were they? It is tempting to stray into the field of psychiatry when considering why a certain felon committed the offence which landed him finally on Australian soil, though by a recital of the circumstances of the crime, enough can be shown in some cases to let the facts speak for themselves. There is no true general delinquency or criminal activity - each case is a different one, and motives are different in some respects. And though the man may say why he committed a certain offence, is he telling the truth, and does he, in fact, know why he stole a certain article or assaulted someone, or whatever it was he aid? These are deep waters, and even if one wished to analyse particular cases in such a comprehensive way, the information is not available The person is long dead, and cannot be cross-examined or interviewed.  

What must be borne in mind, therefore, are the characteristics of the majority of the offenders sent to Australia, their age, place of trial, occupation, and their former offences. Then an examination can be made of the opinions of criminal law reformers and welfare workers and police, and from these sources and from the prisoners' statements, some common ground may be found. The gentlemen who gave evidence to parliamentary committees were of many kinds and, though generally amateurs, they were not overnight experts. The views of experienced magistrates, clerks of courts, and philanthropists have been quoted from reports of committees who turned to these people for the expert opinion they sought. The crime for which most men were transported was "other larcenies", and there were certain features of this offence which gave a good idea of the sort of person committing it, and getting himself transported to Australia. These features or characteristics of the offenders were three in number: they were youthful, came typically from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and Liverpool, and had formerly been punished. The question of why offences were committed now becomes more explicit, and concerns what is known of the conditions of life in those cities. They were not all the same, and varied throughout the transportation period, but they had in common the overcrowding undermanned police force, exploding population, and professional body of criminals that was remarked upon by so many observers. Indeed, these characteristics of large cities still exist. It is likely, therefore, that comments made specifically about London criminals apply with equal relevance o the other cities mentioned.

Extent of former offences suggested that these offenders were not newcomers to crime, but there is no common reason given by independent observers for their misbehaviour. For example, one person interested in the welfare of the destitute of the London streets and in prison discipline said that the reason for young men taking up a life of crime was the influence of bad company, the evil effect of their connection with loose women, and of distress. And a witness before a committee of parliament spoke sorrowfully of boys lodging in the open air under the green stalls in Convent Garden, because they dared not go home without money. Another opinion was that they had generally lost one parent, and therefore lacked that firm home control and affection without which the tendency to roam the streets and get into trouble was always present. Apart from poor upbringing (for whatever reason) and distress, there were other factors upon which comment was passed. Among these was the problem of unspeakable goals, which has no possible reformatory effect in most cases, and the question of the administration of the criminal law and its practice of condoning a kind of perjury when prosecutors and witnesses were permitted to undervalue stolen goods.

However, let the convicts transported for larceny speak for themselves. A man sentenced to seven years' transportation ascribed the ruin of youths in London to "flash houses", low lodging-places, free concerts, and penny rooms. Another blamed his downfall on the fact that he was not favored with God-fearing parents, and another said that he found himself on a convict vessel because, after having been apprenticed, he joined wicked companions. A fourth convict, born in a village in Warwickshire, lost both parents, joined a band of musicians and, after being gaoled for six months for theft, was finally transported for seven years. A Welsh prisoner remarked that he was brought into contact with people who drank too much. Another blamed unemployment for his present unfortunate position. So the explanations continue. One person, observing to a convict that he had found his way to Van Diemen's Land through the door of  a public-house, was answered by a fervent. "You say right"; and the same writer was told by another prisoner that, though he had respectable parents, intemperance had led him to join a gang of thieves in Tothill Fields. Another prisoner also blamed his fate on drink; when in Van Diemen's Land he still thirsted for it, being several times flogged for drunkenness.

The views of a few convicts on why they were transported cannot and the question. Not enough spoke for one thing, and, for another, the attributing of motive is extremely difficult. Yet there is emphasis on bad company, temptation and drink. Were not distress, unemployment an d poverty the root cause of men getting into trouble with the law? Not according to one cause of men getting into trouble with the law? Not according to one prisoner, who said that many prisoners came from Birmingham because of drinking, and bad habits caused when wages were paid in a public-house, or the wages of several persons paid together, so that they had to visit a public-house for change, and not according to many witnesses before committees of enquiry. There was a surprising unanimity about this. Poverty was a very much smaller cause of crime than usually supposed, declared a count recorder with thirty years' experience in Birmingham. Scarcely one prisoner in eight, said the governor of Newgate gaol, committed offences through pressure of want, and the chief magistrate of Bow Street declared that depraved character caused more crime than want of employment. If, for argument's sake, the word of these three is accepted (and their evidence covers the twenty-five years which saw most convicts transported), is there any agreed reason for crime?  

There does indeed appear a certain amount of agreement, though it is tempting to laugh at nineteenth-century ideas that offences were caused by "moral-destination", and to point out the Calvinist implication of this judgment, especially when  the persons advancing it speak of idleness, and lack of training. Yet there is something to be said for this view, and for understanding what early nineteenth century commentators meant by it. The offenders were, in fact, "morally destitute", and evidently seldom thieves because of immediate want. But it is the causes of the destitution that are interesting, because the term, although a useful one, really one implies that person committed crimes either through original sin, or because they were not trained properly. This is hard to disagree with, assuming that the number of mentally unbalanced people among the convicts was small (it was very rare that men appeared insane). If by "lack of training" it is meant that young persons were turned out on the streets of cities when very young by careless and thoughtless parents, or were turned out by criminals to steal, or were being spoilt by indulgent parents, then it could be exoected that such people would become "morally destitute:. That such juveniles were tempted and fell, the secretary of a society concerned with delinquency found to be the case. Members of his organisation visited eight hundred boys lodged in prison and found the causes of their embarking on a life of thieving to be improper conduct of parents, the want of education, the want of suitable employment, violation of the Sabbath, and gambling in the public streets.

Respecting the juvenile offenders who formed such a proportion of those transported for "other larcenies", this point of "improper conduct of parents" seems the crucial one. If the persons are ignored who through some unexplained reason, suddenly committed an offence though brought up well, there can be no doubt the parental control and example must have been most important in keeping children out of the courts. Let it be assumed that parental control was lacking or non-existent. Of course, the child concerned could grow up, however roughly without committing crimes. This could be due to innate revulsion against commission of breaches of the law, or because of few bad examples, or because there was lack of temptation in the form of goods worth stealing. There were plenty of goods worth stealing, and plenty of bad examples, in the towns or cities of Britain during the transportation era.

The question is, why did parents neglect their children? As one answer, the Recorder of Birmingham gave evidence of 1852 in which he listed the following classes of children on prospective criminals: the children of criminals, illegitimate children, orphans, and the children of the very poor. This list is an interesting one, for all these classes of juveniles might commit offences because of lack of parental control, one of the reasons for commission of illegal acts. What proportion of non-existent parental control, there is no way of knowing, but the thieves who taught children, not always their own but waifs and strays, how to pick pockets. Oliver Twist is only partly a work of fiction, and the illegitimate and orphaned child, as well as the Noah Claypoles, fell a ready prey to the Fagins of the metropolis.

We do not know to what extent the "children of the very poor" were liable to be sent to Australia from the cities for thieving. This raises the whole question of poverty as a source of crime, and although it has been observed that witnesses decried the effect of poverty, the subject must be looked into more closely. Before this is done, the other three main causes of crime can be glanced at, namely, the want of education, violation of the Sabbath, and gambling in the streets. The two last-mentioned are rather manifestations of neglect by parents or guardians, and should properly be regarded not as fundamental causes of an offence. For instance, there are plenty of examples of picking pockets, and the theft of all sorts of objects, for which it is impossible that want was the immediate cause. No one steals a barrel which turns out to have oysters in it because he is hungry, and this is what the observers of the day remarked. However, the person could have stolen the barrel with the object of getting money by selling it, and this is almost certainly what did occur. Though theft was not for immediate gain in the sense of filling the belly, there is no doubt that it was seldom for sheer fun and the excitement of risk.

Once the youthful thief had started leading a double life by thieving part-time while he was an apprentice, or fell in with gangs of thieves and committed offences professionally, there were plenty of opportunities for him to continue. Among these was the want of an effective police force till Peel's police in London in 1829, the vicious system of rewards which led police officers to overlook minor depredations, the prevalence of receivers of stolen property, the number of "flash homes" which studded London around the City, and the existence throughout the country of cheap lodging-houses were calculated only to encourage immorality and crime, especially among the young. some people chose to be poor and miserable. The youth who ran away from a good position because he sought adventure in London did not do so because his parents were poverty-stricken, but there were not many youthful convicts who appear to have had good homes. The necessary conditions for commission of offences leading to transportation were many, but poverty was the principal one. It was not, however, so much individual poverty was the principal one. It was not, however, so much individual poverty that bred an atmosphere of lawlessness, and its concentration. Together with crowded conditions and the other factors mentioned, such as inadequate and sometimes corrupt policing of the law, poverty must be regarded as a principal cause of crime. There is little doubt that only the few adventure-minded youths chose to live in the way they did in St Giles's lodging-houses. For the rest, they were victims of the times. As a police magistrate said at the end of the eighteenth century, the increase in crime "may fairly be attributed to the demand for labour being much less than the supply and from the greater number of depraved characters...periodically discharged". It is highly significant that such an experienced magistrate as Patrick Colquhoun felt unable to explain crime to terms of one cause only.

Explanation of why convicts committed larceny apply with almost equal relevance to other forms of crime such as housebreaking and burglary. There is a difference, however, in that the burglar would probably act with more premeditation; he would be more determined man than the pickpocket who acted on impulse and purloined a tempting watch. That such offences reflected a more serious hurt to the community than did petty larceny was recognised in the severity of the punishment. Some convicts explained why they broke into houses, and there is no reason to suppose the initial parental carelessness or individual misfortune did not start the felon on the road to transportation. There could be a strong case made out that chance alone, i.e. the sort of person he first encountered, directed the potential Australian convict to burglary or housebreaking, crime was, at least in London, highly specialised. There was a certain inevitability about the law-breaker's progress once he started and tasted the sweets of easy money.

In the cases of "other larcenies" and housebreaking and burglary, it is clear that human motive is not easily or conveniently analysed. Ideally, each individual case should be examined, a motive allotted and a conclusion drawn. But the records seldom hint or motive and we are forced back all too often to a subjective judgment. Nevertheless, it is clear that want was not the immediate cause of conviction and transportation, though it played a part in creating the necessary conditions the commission of crimes to become a possibility in some cases and a necessity in others. The parent inured to a semi-criminal existence himself, or who was unable to look after his children because he had to work very long hours to earn enough to live, probably neglected his children because of poverty and his miserable housing. yet this charitable explanation does not fit all convicts. There is evidence that some were no more or less than "visitors".

It is not necessary to speculate much concerning why the two offences of "other larcenis" and burglary/housebreaking were combined in the country. Some indications have been given earlier of the conditions of agricultural workers, and there is firmer ground for supposing that poverty was a direct cause of criminal acts. Especially is the case of Ireland does this appear so, though a heritage of lawlessness should not be overlooked. In England, too, some prisoners committed offences as an indirect result of agricultural distress in the period after the struggle with Napoleon had ended. For instance, one youthful prisoner said that he committed a theft because his father, an agricultural labourer with ten children, had no money, and an ob server thought that the increase in crime was due to distress among the farm workers, together with vicious habits created by poaching, which was in turn stimulated by the great increase in game. In some parishes unemployment was so widespread that in the late 1820s single men were not employed at all by farmers, and by 1836 it was said that crime had increased in the country because there was more unemployment, and because men given relief were "all thrown together into gravel pits and stone pits" to work, and thus were able to murmur and plot mischief.

Not all country convicts were victims of the hard times. Approximately one-third of all the prisoners had been born outside the country in which they were tried and, though there is little information from the convicts themselves as to why they were on the move, descriptive evidence shows that at least some of them were not travelling because they were compelled to do so in order to earn a living: one convict admitted that "I was what might be called a travelling thief". And a similar person made a detailed statement of his life which pertain very much to men who were transported. This man began his statement by remarking that if he spoke in the cant of his brotherhood, the listener would no more able to understand him than if he spoke a foreign language. He then, without hesitation, named all the fairs and "statties" (fairs held by statute where servants were hired) which he followed up and down the country. He had started in Manchester with two other young men who had each received a transportation sentence for theft, and who "had been at it for eight or nine years" (i.e. had been thieving). He had them proceeded to Leek fair with a young man from Kidderminster, who was subsequently transported for stealing a piece of cloth. Two other accomplices were later transported for stealing a piece of cloth. Two other accomplices were later transported at Leicester cheese fair. This thief then went on to the York "statties", where there was on hand that most important person in the world of low-breakers, a "fence", or receiver of stolen property. This man went about the country with his wife ("since transported") and a horse and cart, and had been seen in three different guises in one day at Boston. 

Most travelling thieves worked in "mobs", disclosed this man, and assumed the countryman's dress, green smock-coats for Wiltshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire, blue and drab for Nottinghamshire and the Midland counties; and whites and drabs in Staffordshire and Lincolnshire. "Jerry-shops were started by thieves for the accommodation of their friends, he asserted. Such properties were sometimes transported, including one at Chester "who had gone sixteen or seventeen years, and used to boast that the ship was never made, not the wood grown to make one that would carry him over the water "lagged" (ironed)". There is no way, however, of knowing how many of the convicts were travelling thieves, though they existed. for instance, in Northumberland at the end of the 1830s, of 2168 prisoners tried by jury or magistrates, 261 were stated to be strangers to the town, or trampers travelling up and down the country. Of the total number committed to trial, 25 per cent were strangers, and 10 per cent of the persons summarily convicted were also unknown locally. Other sorts of offences apart from the main ones need not be commented on at length. Earlier conclusions were directed towards Irish agrarian offences, and it was shown that a climate of lawlessness and rural distress made the Irish convict from the country rather a different sort of person from his town brother. Nevertheless, doubtless the Irish countryside had its quota of men for whom crime would have been attractive, famine or no famine, evictions or no eviction. But evidence suggests that the Irish countryman sent to Australia was not hardened to crime in the same way as the city thief. 

Of offences against the person, little also need be said: men who committed these explained their actions in a great deal of detail. In the case of the Irish, once again land troubles and local family feuds were prominent as a cause of assaults, and it is difficult to have much sympathy with convicts who beat people almost to death, no matter what the provocation, and despite the fact that there was no evidence of malice aforethought. There were so few political offenders that they are scarcely worth troubling about among the mass of convicts, but their motives were clear in most cases. Running through the history of transportation as reflected in the literature concerning it, is the question of how many convicts tried to get transported. Accounts of this are contradictory. The convicts themselves scarcely ever said they had been induced to commit offences in order to get transported. Typical of the few who did is the statement by a man transported for stealing a parcel out of a cart, and who was noted as having formerly been transported. This he denied: "I said that to get transported." Statements by convicts are available for Van Diemen's Land only, and there is, of course, no reason for a convict to admit that he wished to be transported. What evidence is there, by those who should have known, that men sought to be sent to Australia in chains?

In 1812 evidence was recorded from a bulk official that it was necessary for the safety of the hulks to remove those who had been guilty of the most atrocious crimes. Because the same individual said in 1819 that only approximately one-third of those on the hulks would actually be transported to Australia, it appears that the convict determined on transportation would first have to commit an offence for which he would not be hanged, and then behave in such a way on the hulks that his superiors would be glad to be rid of him. All in all, courting transportation must have been a very risky business, and the man concerned would have to misbehave very cleverly even to get to some of the hulks, for it is noteworthy that in 1822 the hulks were receptacles for the worst characters. 

Hulk officials, questioned in 1835, said that convicts appeared to have a general wish for transportation, and a boy aged ten announced that he would like to go to Australia, although he had heard that the prisoners worked in chains, and "that those who had good characters were sold to Masters". Another person, a chaplain at Millbank penitentiary, said he found some men anxious to be off because they conceived they would enjoy good employment, and have good masters. The governor of Newgate gaol declared that men did not dread transportation, and that nineteen out of twenty were glad to go, and a prisoner, and that nineteen out of twenty were glad to go and a prisoner sentenced to seven years' transportation said that, in his experience, his fellows did not fear transportation, except for two men who had been out previously. Some country offenders, as well as those who had been out previously. Some country offenders, as well as those from the towns, were not deterred by transportation, except for two men who had been out previously. Some country offenders, as well as those from the towns, were not deterred by transportation, observed one Bedfordshire magistrate: letters from men in New South Wales as prisoners made the people at home very careless about transportation, and the witness had seen one letter from a Bedford man, now in Australia, who was the owner of a large estate. 

Contrary views were held, however, by the Keeper of Newgate. He said that persons sentenced to transportation dreaded it, and used every means in their power to stay in the country and behaved well for that purpose. An Australian resident thought otherwise yet again, he was in no doubt that men committed offences to get sent out, fancying it was an easy life. Governor Arthur contradicted him; he did not think any convict got himself deliberately transported, for "if it had operated to any extent, I must have heard of it". So the difference in views goes on, and there is no way of proving the matter one way or the other. Obviously all these people could speak only from their own experience, which might have been extensive or limited. It would be more rewarding to regard the subject as one concerning two groups of convicts, namely, the English and Irish. There are grounds for supposing that the Irish would fear transportation more than the English, being not so accustomed to crime, and probably more attached to their families, for the Irish were older than the English and included more married men. The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland summed up these differences when he commented that transportation was viewed with the greatest terror by the Irish, and the severance of home ties, except there starvation was the alternative to transportation, had been regarded with more fear than any term of imprisonment.

A neat division between the two nationalities over-simplifies the case. Who can doubt that the Dublin thief thought differently of case. Who can doubt that the Dublin thief thought differently of transportation than the married man with a family in Co. Sligo, transported to Australia for a fight concerning a piece of land, or that the man of Kent transported for machine-braking did not look upon his fate rather differently than a fifteen-year-old pickpocket from London, who had been previously in trouble more times then he could remember? There is little evidence that men tried to be transported, and what a prisoner said to his fellow-prisoners after he was in gaol is not a very safe guide to his actions and thoughts prior to apprehension. The town thief was probably not deterred by transportation, but when he was caught and transported, he made the best of his fate. Wakefield records hearing men in Newgate sentenced to transportation looking forward to going out to botany Bay, but this was when they were not in a position to do anything else. The man who committed an offence as a result of need or in desperation, and who had not been imprisoned previously would be the man to dread transportation when awaiting his trial, not the man whose life consisted of constant risk of such a fate. As was pronounced in 1837, the London thieves did not worry about transportation, but the agricultural workers entertained a vague and ignorant horror of it.

The evidence of offences committed in Van Diemen's Land, which received the worst of the convicts, does not demonstrate that convicts were vicious criminals incapable of reformation, or unable to cease their criminal activity. There is no evidence that Australia received an element of the British population which was incapable of work or intelligent exertion. A shipload of prisoners who gave every indication in their home land of being desperate men, or persistent criminals at least, were subjected to a profound change in terms of their environment. Being uprooted from old haunts and companions, good or bad, shipped around the world, and set down as a shepherd on a sheep station, must have been a salutary shock to all convicts. There is evidence that this shock treatment was not unsuccessful, and that despite bad masters and the stresses and strains of life in a penal colony, the twenty-five-year-old urban convict transported for theft, though addicted to the bottle more than his free fellow-settlers, nevertheless was presented with a golden opportunity to make a fresh start. It could be done and it was done. Backsiliders and vicious criminals there were, but the abundance of hard work, the relative abundance of food, and the lack of temptations "up country" all tended to favour redemption. That he probably remained a bachelor and eked out his last days in a home, or lived in a humpy doing odd jobs, or remained a jealous and crotchety old retainer to a landed family, and not altogether the convict's fault, but a factor explained by the demographic history of Australia. given the severity of transportation, and a bad master, it must still be asked of the convict, what would have become of him in Britain had he stayed after being imprisoned instead of transported? Would he have spent his life in and out of gaol, or would he have emigrated? Or would he have died in the work-house?

The convicts were neither simply "village Hampdens" nor merely "ne'er-do-wells from the city slums". But if the Hampdens are placed on the side of a scale and ne'er-do-wells on the other, the scale and tip toward the ne'er-do-wells. 

AUSTRALIA - WOMAN CONVICTS

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