Convicts are criminals that were sentenced to social or political crimes in Britain (usually for terms of 7 to 14 years, or life) and transported to one of many penal settlements.
In fact, the colony of New South Wales was primarily founded in order to receive English convicts following the loss of the American colonies in 1775. Convicts were transported to Australia by ship under government contract and upon arrival, were committed to government service in the construction of roads, bridges and buildings etc. or assigned to private settlers as labourers or servants (see assignment system).
Convicts included men, women and children. For the first 30 years of settlement, they formed the bulk of the population and played a great part in the early development and colonization of Australia.
Violent criminals and serious offenders were assigned to chain gangs, employed on roads, coal mines, or sent to isolated penal settlements.
Point Puer, a Tasmanian settlement was established to rehabilitate delinquent boys.
Transported women were generally assigned as servants or confined in barracks; the Female Factory at Parramatta, New South Wales was built for the reception of women who could not be placed or were in transit to a place of employment.
Convict welfare was controlled by policy of the government. Emphasis was either on punishment or reformation, and varied greatly until final abolition of transportation in each state. Overseers had complete control over convicts in public service and magistrates passed sentences on offenders in private service.
Good behaviour generally earned a convict a ticket-of-leave, conditional or full pardon; many received land grants and government stores when their sentences expired.
Convict Treatment
The Assignment System
Early Escapes.
The Castle Hill Rising
The Female Factory
Isaac Solomons
The Arrival of the Hashemy
I came across this true historical snippet and wonder if this is the beginning of the Irish joke.
1 November 1791: Twenty male convicts and one female from the Queen's Irish prisoners took to the bush with the aim of walking to China, which they believed to be about six weeks away.
21st November 1791: Eighteen Irish runaways were brought in, exhausted, naked and starving. Three others had perished in the bush. Four were sent to hospital with wounds inflicted by the Aborigines. Some later absconded a second time