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This Day in History

Australian History

Tuesday, January 19, 1790. :   The second fleet of convicts sets sail from England to New South Wales.

     The First Fleet of convicts, which established the colony of New South Wales, arrived in Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. The Second Fleet left England with a cargo of 1026 convicts, bound for New South Wales, on 19 January 1790. The Fleet comprised six ships: Justinian, Lady Juliana, Surprize, Neptune, Scarborough and Guardian, although the latter struck ice and was unable to complete the voyage.

The Second Fleet became notorious for its cruelty to the mostly female convicts. The convicts were limited to a starvation diet, despite the provision of adequate foods, and hundreds of them succumbed to scurvy, fever and dysentery. 267 died during the voyage, compared to the loss of between 30 and 40 convicts on the First Fleet voyage under Captain Arthur Phillip. When they disembarked, marks of cruelty were evident in the injuries shown on the convicts. The condition of the convicts led to public outcry in England, and although attempts were made to bring the perpetrators of the cruelty to justice, the crew members responsible were never prosecuted.

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