Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Colonial Events 1788


On the outward journey, soon after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, Captain Phillip transferred to the tender Supply, hoping to make an advance survey of their destination at Botany Bay; he placed Hunter in the Sirius in command of the main convoy, though in the result the entire fleet of eleven ships made Botany Bay within the three days.

January 18

Arrival of Governor Phillip at Botany Bay

January 19

Arrival in Botany Bay, of the First Fleet Ships :

Alexander, Captain Duncan Sinclair, (210 male convicts) Marine Officers - Lieut. J. Johnston, Lieut. Shairp. Assistant Surgeon William Balmain.

Scarborough (210 male convicts) Marine Officers - Captain Shea, Lieut. Kellow, Lieut. Morrison. Surgeon Mr. Dennis Considen.

Friendship (male and female convicts) Assistant Surgeon Thomas Arndell; Marine Officers - Capt. Lieut. Meredith, Lieut. Clarke, Lieut. Faddy.

January 20

Arrival of the remainder of the First Fleet:
Sirius - 26 guns. Captain John Hunter, Quartermaster Henry Hacking. Surgeon George Worgan. George Raper was Midshipman on the Sirius. Purser John Palmer. Daniel Southwell also Midshipman promoted to Lieutenant on the voyage. William Reed seaman

Charlotte (male and female convicts) Captain Thomas Gilbert, Surgeon John White, Marine Officers - Captain Tench, Lieut. Cresswell, Lieut. Poulden

Prince of Wales (female convicts) Marine Officers: Lieut. Davy, Lieut. Timmins

Lady Penrhyn (female convicts) Marine Officers: Capt. Campbell, Lieut. G. Johnston, Lieut. William Collins, surgeon John Turnpenny Altree

Store ships Golden Grove (Commander William Sharp, Rev. Richard Johnson) Fishburn (Commander Matthew Brown) and Borrowdale (Commander Hobson Reed) with provisions, implements, clothing etc.

January 21

Governor Phillip accompanied by officers set off in three open boats to examine the coast in the hope of finding a more suitable site for settlement than Botany Bay. Finding in a cove of 'this noble and capacious harbour' a sufficiency of water and soil, he returned to Botany Bay after an absence of 3 days and gave directions for immediate removal to Port Jackson.

January 23

Arrival of La Perouse to the coast of New Holland in the ships L'Astrolabe and La Bussole. Abbe Moages, chaplain, celebrated the first Mass in Australian Territory.

January 25

With a party of marines and some artificers, Captain Phillip anchored off the mouth of Sydney Cove.

January 26

In the evening of the 26th the whole of the party present assembled where they had first landed in Sydney Cove and a union jack was displayed. The marines fired several vollies and toasts to the health of His Majesty and the success of the new colony were given. Disembarkation of the troops and remainder of the convicts on this day.

A portable canvas house brought for the Governor was erected on the East side of Sydney Cove and a detachment of marines were encamped at the head of the Cove. The main body of the convicts were placed on the West side - Collins - Account of the Colony of NSW

January 28

French ships L'Astrolabe and La Bussole under Commanders De la Perouse and De d' Angle anchored in Botany Bay. Assisted into Botany Bay by Lieut. Henry Ball of HMS Supply


Introduction of Flash Language, a forerunner of Australian Slang - Watkin Tench who arrived on the Charlotte with the First Fleet in 1788 wrote A leading distinction, which marked the convicts on their outset in the colony, was a use of what is called the Flash or kiddy language. In some of our early courts of justice an interpreter was frequently necessary to translate the deposition of the witness and the defence of the prisoner. I have ever been of opinion that an abolition of this unnatural jargon would open the path to reformation. And my observations on these people have constantly instructed me that indulgence in this infatuating cant is more deeply associated with depravity and continuance in vice than is generally supposed


Colony of New South Wales formally proclaimed and Governor's commission read, appointing Captain Arthur Phillip to be captain general and governor in chief over the territory of New South Wales. The ceremony was performed by the judge-advocate, David Collins. - An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales: With Remarks By David Collins, p. 7 .


Building of the first hospital commenced


Discovery of Lord Howe Island by Lieut. Ball

February 3

First Church Service in Australia conducted by Rev. Richard Johnson at Sydney Cove.

February 6

Philip Gidley King appointed Superintendent and commandant of Norfolk Island - Departed on 14th February in the Supply for Norfolk Is. with a petty officer, surgeon's mate, two marines, two men who understood cultivation of flax and 9 men and 6 female convicts.

February 17

Pere Le Receveur, O.F.M., of the French expedition, who died of wounds received at the Navigators ' Islands, was buried at La Perouse Point, Botany Bay. The second white man and the first priest buried in Australia.

February 27

First Execution in the colony - Convict Thomas Barrett hanged for stealing provisions. Thomas Barrett arrived on the Charlotte. He had been a survivor of the Mercury Mutiny in 1784 and is believed to have engraved the Charlotte Medallion.

February - March

Formal establishment of settlement at Norfolk Island.

March 2

Governor Phillip led an expedition to Broken Bay.

March 10

Departure of Jean-François de Galaup La Perouse {Comte de La Pérouse} from Botany Bay after a six week stay. He was not heard of again.

May 30

Convicts William Okey and Samuel Davis killed while cutting rushes


On the point of land which formed the west side of Sydney Cove, an Observatory building was constructed under the direction of Lieutenant Dawes who was charged with observing the expected comet. (HRA.,Vol.1., p47)

July 20

Departure of Lieutenant Ball on the Golden Grove with provisions for Norfolk Island. Strong gales on the passage there. Returned to Sydney 26th August.

August 7

Buildings damaged by heavy rain

August 12

Duel fought between Surgeon-General John White and his assistant William Balmain

October 2

Departure of the Sirius to the Cape to obtain provisions after the failure of crops and destruction of grains and seeds

October 2

Departure of the Golden Grove store ship for Norfolk Island with provisions and a detachment of marines, 2 seamen and 11 convict women.

October 4

Convict Cooper Handley murdered by aborigines

December 30

Capture of Arabanoo