Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Colonial Events 1803


Exploration of the site of Melbourne by Charles Grimes


Disappearance of George Bass after leaving Port Jackson in the Venus.


Australia's first newspaper the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser published....

The Hull Packet (England)
4 October 1803
Botany Bay

- We are in possession of seven of the first Newspapers printed at Botany Bay. These Papers, although printed in a style that 40 years ago would have seemed elegant in this country, are not noticed as literary productions, but as the first essay of a colony. It is now 18 years since the first establishment was made in New South Wales. It appears clearly from the Botany Bay papers that the state of society at this colony is already greatly advanced. Public sales, articles, lost and found, and even servants wanted, and articles of millinery and jewellery, and all other such matters, are advertised in the same manner as in the most wealthy English settlements

March 11

Arrival of the convict ship Glatton. Master James Colnett. Convict Richard Binder arrived on the Glatton. Richard Binder later held the licence for the Australian Inn in Newcastle. Joseph Onus also arrived as a prisoner on the Glatton.

April 10

St. John's Church, Parramatta established.

April 12

Entertainment on HMS Buffalo Sydney, Sunday April 17 - On Tuesday last, a fete was given on board His Majesty's ship Buffalo by Captain Kent, at which were present His Excellency the Governor and Mrs. King; Lieut. Col. and Mrs. Paterson; with several other officers, civil, military and naval and the wives of those who are married. The Ladies were received by Mrs. Kent, who did the honors of the table. At four o'clock the company sat down to a hospitable and plentiful dinner. In the evening the band of the New South Wales Corps was introduced, dancing took place, and at a late hour after supper, the company withdrew, highly gratified and amused with their entertainment - The Hull Packet 25 October 1803

One of the crew on board the Buffalo was William John Cole, R.N., K.H. who died in 1856......
May 15, At Lechlade, aged 68 William J. Cole., R.N., - Captain Cole was a genuine specimen of the true English sailor - a very lion in war, a lamb in times of peace. He was a native of London, and entered the navy Jan 5, 1802, as second class boy, on board the Buffalo store ship, commanded by that excellent officer the late Captain Kent, with whom after visiting India witnessing the first settlement ever formed in Van Diemns Land and performing much surveying duty, he returned to England in December 1805, on board the Investigator, a very small vessel, whose crew, on their arrival at Liverpool, were rewarded with double pay for their exertions and the hardships they had endured in having effected a passage from Port Jackson to the above place without touching at any intermediate port. The voyage had occupied a period of five months, during eleven weeks of which the men had been restricted to half a pint of water each day. - Gentleman's Magazine 1856

April 28

Departure of the Calcutta from England with 307 male convicts. Captain Woodriff. In February The Duke of Northumberland sent from his estate at Alnwick castle a number of sheep with two rams of a particular breed to embark on the Calcutta. It was hoped they would prove a great advantage to the colony as the sheep were known to invariably produce from 2 to 4 lambs (The Newcastle Courant, 26 Feb., 1803)


Total white population in May 1803... 7097 men, women and children


Freemasonry banned

May 12

Arrival of convict ship Rolla.


First officially recognized Roman Catholic mass celebrated by Father Dixon


Arrival of Mathew Flinders in Port Jackson after circumnavigating Australia


Lieutenant Bowen departed to form a settlement at Van Diemen's Land


Postal service established between Sydney and Parramatta

August 17

Cato and Porpoise wrecked on the Barrier reef


European settlement in Van Diemen's Land. Lieut. Bowen, 35 convicts and 13 soldier

September 16

Death of naturalist Nicholas Baudin at Mauritius

September 24

The Cumberland (under Captain Matthew Flinders), the Rolla and the Francis on their voyage from Port Jackson to Wreck Reef sheltered overnight at Port Stephens during a south easterly gale. (The Cumberland, 28 tons, schooner, was built in Port Jackson during the years 1800 - 1801 under the supervision of Thomas Moore. When he was in command of this vessel, Matthew Flinders was arrested and imprisoned at the Isle of France (Mauritius) HRA., Series 1, vol. II, Note 47, p.712)

September 26

Convict Joseph Samuels reprieved by Gov. King after three attempts at executing him failed.


Colonial vessel Nancy launched at Green Hills

October 7

Matthew Flinders on the Cumberland, reached Wreck Reef. Friday. Flinders writes of the Cumberland:- 'This is a good property, but of all the filthy little things I ever saw, this schooner, for bugs, lice, fleas, weavels, mosquitos, cockroaches (large and small), and mice, rises superior to them all. We have almost got the better of the fleas, lice and mosquitos, but in spite of boiling water and daily destruction amongst them, the bugs, still keep their ground. I have never stripped myself before the last two nights, but usually slept upon the lee locker with my clothes, on, notwithstanding which I have at least a hundred lumps upon my body and arms; and before this vile bug like smell will leave me, must I believe, as well as my clothes, undergo a good boiling in the large kettle. I shall set my old friend Tim to work upon the mice' (HR NSW Volume 5, p241)

October 9

Arrival of the Calcutta and Ocean at Port Phillip. Attempt at settlement at Port Phillip Bay abandoned James Hingston Tuckey was first Lieutenant on the Calcutta.


Death of Surgeon William Balmain

December 26

Arrival of the ship Calcutta at Port Jackson. On board the Calcutta was convict John Fawkner, his wife and two children Elizabeth and John Pascoe Fawkner '

December 27

Escape of William Buckley from the Port Phillip expedition. Buckley remained with a tribe of aborigines for 32 years. ('Buckley's chance') ......William Buckley was born at Macclesfield in Cheshire. He served for a short period in the Cheshire militia, but was removed, on account of his splendid figure, to the 4th or King's Own regiment. He was convicted of participation in a conspiracy at Gibraltar, and sentenced to transportation. He was transported on the Calcutta in 1803 to Port Phillip, Victoria with the expedition under Lieut-Gov. Collins, which was sent to form a settlement in that locality in 1803. After the arrival of the expedition at Port Phillip, Buckley was employed as a servant to the lieut-governor. In the month of November 1803, he with two others deserted from the camp; and after Collins removed from Port Phillip, Buckley lived with the natives for nearly thirty two years. He was discovered on the 12th July 1835 by some men who were left at Indented head, Port Phillip by John Batman after the conclusion of his treaty with the natives - Historical Records of Australia


Matthew Flinders detained at Mauritius

Drought conditions throughout colony