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Eighteenth Century England

Life in England in the late eighteenth century was very hard for many people.

Money was scarce and people found it hard to feed themselves or their families.

With very little money, many poor people turned to crime to survive.

People stole food for their families.

However, the penalties for crimes such as these were very harsh.

Transportation to penal colonies in America were often handed out to petty criminals as well as those who had committed much more serious crimes.

John Hill stole a handkerchief and was transported for seven years!

Prisoners were sent to America to help build their new colonies. After some time these prisoners were released.

Many of these people were troublesome in their new land and following the War of Independence in America, the people refused to take any more convicts from England.

British authorities had to find a new way to cope with the problems of so many prisoners. Many prisoners lived on board hulks or bottoms of ships in ports while awaiting transportation.


Captain James Cook's discovery of new land in New Holland solved this problem. The British Government was determined to settle the land before the French and it would be the convicts who would be used to colonise New Holland.

The journey to New Holland is known as The First Fleet.

Go to First Fleet