The Library is closed onsite, open online. See updates here.
Transportation wasn’t limited to Australia - it was a method various governments had been using for dealing with convicted criminals. The most common reason for transportation was theft – this included pickpocketing, shoplifting, stealing horses and sheep, highway robbery, housebreaking and receiving stolen goods. In some cases, the theft was associated with violence.
You didn’t have to steal much to be exiled– even pinching a handkerchief was deemed a transportable offence.
Less common reasons for being transported were the crimes of rape, manslaughter, murder, forgery and even bigamy.
Governor Phillip often employed convicts according to their skills; they may have been carpenters, servants, cooks, farmers or shepherds before they were transported.
Convicts were a source of labour to build roads, bridges, courthouses, hospitals and other public buildings, or to work on government farms, while educated convicts may have been given jobs such as record-keeping for the government administration. Female convicts, on the other hand, were generally employed as domestic servants to the officers.