First Fleet and Convict Collection




A collection of approximately 200 items relating to the First Fleet and the European occupation of Australia in 1788, the convict transportation system between 1787 and 1868 and the aftermath of the system. The collection consists of Acts of Parliament, convict transport log books, surgeons accounts, religious tracts, hulk reports, broadsheets, convict love tokens, illustrations, engravings, convict transportation documents, indents, Conditional Pardons and Certificates of Freedom.

There has been considerable academic debate about the reasons behind the European occupation of Australia in 1788. This occupation is now considered to have been driven be the desire to create a strategic port on the continant, a desire to secure a supply of naval timbers, an attempt to lock out other European powers from the region and a place of punishment for convicted felons. In 1784, under the Transportation and Penitentiaries Act, felons and other offenders in the hulks could be exiled to colonies overseas which included Gibraltar, Bermuda and in 1788, the colony of New South Wales. Between 1788 and 1868 over 160,000 men, women and children were transported to Australian colonies by the British and Irish Governments as punishment for criminal acts. Although many of the convicted prisoners were habitual or professional criminals with multiple offences recorded against them, a small number were political prisoners, social reformers, or one-off offenders. The collections contains a diverse range of materials including the CHARLOTTE Medal, an oil painting of the First Fleet vessel BORROWDALE, two convict sea chests, a woolwork picture of the convict transport MERMAID and the diary of a women passenger on board the convict ship PILOT on a voyage to NSW in 1817.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


1785-1900; Convicts; Diaries; Judicial records; Legislative acts; Penal colonies; Shipping; Transportation

Convict Love Tokens; Diaries; Documents; Journals

Convicts; Transportation

Coverage Spatial

News South Wales, Australia; Australia; Great Britain; Western Australia; Tasmania, Australia

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40