Trace your family tree - Australian and English family trees
The Australia of today, along with the spirit
of its people, was created mainly by convicts transported from
England. The European settlement of Australia was established
by British convicts, along with British marines and their
families, in 1788.
Late eighteenth century London, with a population of over 950,000, was rife with crime. The streets were filled with hawkers, horse drawn vehicles, sewage, beggars, pickpockets, prostitutes. Death and disease were rampant.
Convict transportation to America had ended after Engand's defeat in the
American Revolutionary War. England's convicts were held on floating prison ships known as 'hulks'. The hulks were disused old navy ships anchored in the Thames River and at Portsmouth and Plymouth harbours. These hulks were used as gaols from 1776 until circa 1850. Conditions on the hulks were much worse than prisons. The prisoners worked during the day and were chained to their bunks at night. The low hygiene standards caused the death of many prisoners from typhoid and cholera.
Britain made the decision to send her
convicts to New Holland, recently discovered by Captain Cook (1770). The
First Fleet comprising 775 convicts,
marines, ships crews and officials and their families
arrived in New Holland (Australia) in 1788.
On 26th January 1788 settlement in Sydney
Cove began. The second fleet arrived in 1790 and 1791 and 1793 saw
the first free settlers arrive. Between 1788 and the end of convict
transportation to Australia, in 1853, more than 152,000 convicts
were sent to New Holland.
Life was very harsh for the convicts, forced to work 10 to 14 hours per day, often in leg irons. Food was scarce. They endured floods, droughts, fires and conflict with the aboriginal peoples.
The convicts established the beautiful country in which we now live and this website is maintained in an endeavour to record their stories. Many Australians are descended from convicts and it is hoped that may trace their history through these pages.
A Letter to my Ancestors
'Twas some years ago that I began to learn about your lives
your trials and tribulations, your siblings, husbands and wives.
You were but shadows in the past, your faces were unknown
but now you are reality - your persona now is shown.
Slowly through those years your stories did unfold
and now with love and tenderness they are ready to be told.
As I uncovered secrets you may have wished to hide,
I learned they were a part of you and I tell them now with pride.
In conclusion my dear ancestors, I would like to say,
If it was not for your strength and courage I'd not be here today.
....Pamela R Chismon
(author of The Devonshires From Cornwall)