ancestryink fisherman

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Floating Prison Hulks

Since my last post, I have been able to fully flesh out the family tree of my Words With Friends Australian opponent.   From that research, I feel I should correct and update some of the findings included in my last post regarding:  The Prison Ship.

The image posted in last entry, shows what is actually known as a "prison hulk."  These ships were not used to transport convicts from England to Australia (thankfully - since it looks incredibly top-heavy.)  They were actually tied up to shore and used as a floating prison, to alleviate some of the full-to-bursting London prisons.   Think of our floating casinos and restaurants - but not as fun.

Here is a sectional view of a prison hulk*.  Prisoners had daily work routines consisting of working around the docks, cleaning arsenal, etc.  Like most jails, there was an ever present likelihood of riot, as well as peace among the convicts.



And below is an image of the last convict ship to transport prisoners to Australia.  Though much of the relocating had slowed down in the 1850's, this last voyage occurred in 1868.  There were around 200 prisoners on board, and another 100 or so passengers.  Apparently many of the prisoners were literate, yielding a number of logs and diaries about the 89 day voyage.

Hougoumont:  credit: Wikimedia
A mind-boggling fact about Australia's early population:  in 1821, the population was around 30,000.  By the end of the penal transportation era, the population had soared to 1 million.  This was Australia - now on the cusp of becoming an independent, self-sustaining land. 

The convict history of Australia is incredibly complicated in the collective national consciousness.  I would not begin to talk about this without further research.  Again, refer to the last post for good sources of information on the convict ships and population.

* Credit for image: prison hulk sectional of the ship "Defence." 

Source for information about "Hougoumont:"  Australian Geographic.com





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