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