First Report from the Committee appointed to enquire what Proceedings have been had in the Execution of… "An Act for the effectual transportation of Felons"…. CONVICTS, TRANSPORTATION.

First Report from the Committee… for the effectual transportation of felons…
First Report from the Committee appointed to enquire what Proceedings have been had in the Execution of… "An Act for the effectual transportation of Felons"…

London: 9 May 1785.

Foolscap, 20 pp., very good, neatly disbound; preserved in a red quarter morocco solander case.

The "legal basis" for transportation

Very uncommon: crucial discussions leading to the establishment of transportation to a colony at Botay Bay. This is the first report of the committee appointed to investigate transportation, and which ultimately led to the founding of the "thief colony" in New South Wales. Ferguson described the actual Act "for the effectual transportation of Felons" -- whose execution the Committee was set up to investigate -- as the "legal basis" of transportation.

Very uncommon: crucial discussions leading to the establishment of transportation to a colony at Botay Bay. This is the first report of the committee appointed to investigate transportation, and which ultimately led to the founding of the "thief colony" in New South Wales. Ferguson described the actual Act "for the effectual transportation of Felons" -- whose execution the Committee was set up to investigate -- as the "legal basis" of transportation.
'By April 1785, though Pitt, the Prime Minister, denied it, the government seemed to have decided on an African scheme… The result was a violent parliamentary attack, led by Edmund Burke, and the appointment of another Commons Committee to investigate. In evidence to it, Evan Nepean, the Under-Secretary, said that though the River Gambia plan 'was under the contemplation of government and preferred to every other', it had not been 'finally resolved on…'' (Shaw, Convicts & the Colonies, p. 46).
This is the report itself, of central importance for the transcript of an interview of Evan Nepean, who was interviewed extensively and responded regarding the hulks (Censor, Dunkirk, Ceres), the nature of the convictions of the proposed transportees, and in detail about the River Gambia - or "Lemane" - plan, including his admission that the British had no territorial rights in the region.
The African merchant John Barnes gave evidence regarding his experience on the River Gambia, and was matter-of-fact about the problems of climate, as was John Nevan, a captain in the African trade, who had been there for six months in 1784, and who 'owed his own Preservation to Bitters and Bark.' Thomas Nesbitt had traded there in 1780 and was voluble about the local tribes, while the English naturalist Henry Smeathman told tales of his own experience in Sierra Leone and gave some long overdue practical advice ('if 200 convicts were left on an Island in the River Gambia, without any Medical Assistance than what they might give to each other, not One in 100 would survive the first Six Months…'). Other experts were the Army Surgeon John Boon, Sir George Young (ultimately a supporter of Botany Bay), Commodore Thompson, and two members of the Committee, Call and Sturt. Little surprise, therefore, that the Committee condemned the proposed River Gambia colony, and ultimately stated its preference for the West Coast of Africa and the colony in Sierra Leone, the failure of which was recently studied in Emma Christopher's A Merciless Place.
Early documents like this relating to the establishment of New South Wales and the institution of transportation are important and often, like this example, rare.

Ferguson, 4a (note).

Price (AUD): $4,400.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504408

Condition Report