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February 1788

February 1st. We had the most tremendous thunder and lightning, with heavy rain, I ever remember to have seen.

2d. This morning five sheep, belonging to the lieutenant-governor and quarter-master, were killed by lightning under a tree, at the foot of which a shed had been built for them. The branches and trunk of the tree were shivered and rent in a very extraordinary manner.




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5th. A storehouse has been begun, for the purpose of receiving the stores and provisions of the three transports bound to China. On a muster of the convicts this morning, some were found to be missing, and supposed to have gone to Botany Bay, in hopes of being received on board the French ships, which are said to be short of hands, and made more so by the loss they had recently sustained, as before mentioned.

7th. The governor's commission, and that for establishing a criminal court of judicature, admiralty court, &c. were read. After this was done the troops under arms fired three volleys, when his excellency thanked the soldiers for their steady and good conduct, which Major Ross caused to be inserted in the general order book. The governor then addressed the convicts in a short speech, extremely well adapted to the people he had to govern and who were then before him. Among many circumstances that would tend to their future happiness and comfort, he recommended marriage, assuring them that an indiscriminate and illegal intercourse would be punished with the greatest severity and rigour. Honesty, obedience, and industry, he told them, would make their situation comfortable, whereas


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a contrary line of conduct would subject them to ignominy, severities, and punishment. When the ceremony was concluded, his excellency, attended by all the officers of the colony, withdrew to a tent pitched for the occasion, where a cold dinner was laid out; and, after the cloth was removed, many loyal and public toasts were drank.

8th. A party of the gentlemen of the garrison set out by land to pay a visit to the French at Botany Bay, from whom they met with the most hospitable, polite, and friendly reception and treatment. Many of the convicts who had been missing had been at Botany Bay. They had offered themselves to the French navigators on any terms, but not one of them had been received. This refusal obliged them to return; and when they came back they were real objects of pity. Conscious of the punishment that awaited so imprudent and improper an experiment, they had stayed out as long as the cravings of nature would permit, and were nearly half starved. A woman, named Ann Smith, and a man have never since been heard of. They are supposed to have missed their way as they returned, and to have perished for want. As the French commodore had given his honour that he would not admit any of them on


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board, it cannot be thought he would take them. The convict, it is true, was a Frenchman, named Peter Paris, and it is possible, on that account, he might have been concealed, through pity, by his countrymen, and carried off without the knowledge of the commanding officer. At the very time the party from hence were gone by land to Botany Bay, Captain Clonnard came round in a boat, on a visit of ceremony from Monsieur de la Peyrouse to the governor. He brought with him some dispatches, which he requested might be forwarded to the French ambassador at the court of London, by the first transports that sailed for England. The captain stayed all night and returned the next morning. This day, for the first time, a Kangaroo was shot and brought into camp. Some of the natives passed pretty close to the Sirius, without seeming to express, by their countenance or actions, either fear, curiosity, or surprise. During the course of this week fourteen marriages were solemnized. The criminal court, consisting of six officers of his Majesty's forces by land or sea, with the judge advocate, sat for the first time, before whom several convicts were tried for petty larceny. Some of them were acquitted, others sentenced to receive corporal punishment, and one or two were, by


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the decision of the court, ordered to a barren rock, or little island, in the middle of the harbour, there to remain on bread and water for a stated time.

12th. The commissions were read a second time, at the desire of some of the officers whose situation with the battalion prevented them from being present at the first reading, after which the lieutenant-governor and judge advocate were sworn in justices of the peace, and Lieutenant King (second of the Sirius) superintendant and commanding officer of New Norfolk Island, an appointment given him by the governor.

14th. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island, with Lieutenant King and his detachment, consisting of Mr. Cunningham, master's mate, and Mr. Jameson, surgeon's first mate, of the Sirius, two marines, and twelve male and female convicts. The governor furnished him with provisions and stores of every kind for six months, and with tools for cutting down timber, which last employment was the purpose of his mission.

27th. Thomas Barrett, Henry Lovel, and Joseph Hall, were brought before the criminal court and tried for feloniously and fraudulently taking away from the public


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store beef and pease, the property of the crown. They were convicted on the clearest evidence, and, sentence of death being passed on them, they were, about six o'clock the same evening, taken to the fatal tree, where Barrett was launched into eternity, after having confessed to the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who attended him, that he was guilty of the crime, and had long merited the ignominious death which he was about to suffer, and to which he said he had been brought by bad company and evil example. Lovel and Hall were respited until six o'clock the next evening. When that awful hour arrived, they were led to the place of execution, and, just as they were on the point of ascending the ladder, the judge advocate arrived with the governor's pardon, on condition of their being banished to some uninhabited place.

29th. Daniel Gordon and John Williams were tried and convicted of stealing wine, the property of Mr. Zachariah Clarke. Williams being an ignorant black youth, the court recommended him to the governor as a proper object of mercy, and he was accordingly pardoned. Gordon, who was another black, had his sentence of death, while at the gallows, changed to banishment with Lovel and Hall.




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30th. John Freeman was tried for stealing from another convict seven pounds of flour. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged; but while under the ladder, with the rope about his neck, he was offered his free pardon on condition of performing the duty of the common executioner as long as he remained in this country; which, after some little pause, he reluctantly accepted. William Sheerman, his accomplice, was sentenced to receive on his bare back, with a cat-o'nine-tails, three hundred lashes, which were inflicted.

Colour plate facing page 129 of 'Cassowary of New South Wales'



A New Holland Cassowary was brought into camp. This bird stands seven feet high, measuring from the ground to the upper part of the head, and, in every respect, is much larger than the common Cassowary of all authors, and differs so much therefrom, in its form, as to clearly prove it a new species. The colour of the plumage is greatly similar, consisting of a mixture of dirty brown and grey; on the belly it was somewhat whiter; and the remarkable structure of the feathers, in having two quills with their webs arising out of one shaft, is seen in this as well as the common sort. It differs materially in wanting the horny appendage on the top of the head. The head and beak


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are much more like those of the ostrich than the common Cassowary, both in shape and size. Upon the upper part of the head the feathers, with which it is but thinly covered, are very small, looking more like hair than feathers, and in having the neck pretty well clothed with them, except the chin and throat, which are so thinly covered that the skin, which is there of a purplish colour, may be seen clearly. The small wings are exceedingly short, which form a ridiculous contrast with the body, as they are even less than those of the Cassowary: they have no large quills in them, being only covered with the small feathers that grow all over the body. Another singularity also presents itself in this species, which is in respect to the legs. As to the back part of them, the whole length is indented, or sawed, in a remarkable manner. The toes are three in number, the middle one long, the other two short, with strong claws, not unlike the same part of the common species. On examining the viscera, they differed from that of every other species of the feathered kind which I had ever seen, particularly in having no gizzard, or second stomach, and the liver was so very small that it did not exceed in size that of a black-


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bird. To this liver was joined a large gall-bladder, well distended with bile. The crop, or stomach, was filled with at least six or seven pounds of grass, flowers, and a few berries and seeds. The intestinal canal was at least six yards long, very wide, and of a regular cylindrical shape from the opening of the stomach to the vent. The heart and lungs were separated by a diaphragm or midriff, and bore a tolerable proportion to the size of the bird. The flesh of this bird was very good, and tasted not unlike young tender beef.

This bird is supposed to be not uncommon in New Holland, as it has been frequently seen by our settlers both at Botany Bay and Port Jackson, but is exceedingly shy and runs faster than a grey-hound. One of them, however, has been shot.note

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