You have 2 more free articles remaining

It was knocked down at the auction in South Cerney, Gloucestershire for £11,000.

Running to some 350pp in all, it presents a detailed account of life on board two different ships, but it is the pages in which George Thompson records convict runs he made as Master of the Joseph Somes that are the focus here.

Besides offering information about the passage, weather, repairs etc., they also detail incidents involving the prisoners, including punishments and deaths. The log was accompanied by a printed list of the convicts transported and photocopies of journals kept by the ship's surgeon on each voyage.

What emerges from the log and online records is that a large majority were very young, and that though some colonists welcomed them as cheap labour, others felt that the time had come for Britain to stop dumping unwanted miscreants, of any age.

In fact, transportation to New South Wales had ceased in 1840, and those arriving in Tasmania and Victoria on later voyages had been designated 'exiles', or free men, via a conditional royal pardon. Their prospects, however, were far from rosy.

One entry notes the death and committal to the deep of Ruben White, described as an "...imbecile convict aged 52 years [who] ...had been for a length of time insane and was a great nuisance to the other prisoners from his filthiness &c", but it is those relating to the younger prisoners, around three-quarters of whom were aged 14-20, that catch the eye.

“Publicly whipped at the gun”

"The chief mate ... caught the boy Hall coming out of the pantry where he had been in search of spirits and had an empty bottle; he at first refused to tell who had sent him, but the mate ...beat him with a rope and sent him aloft..."

It seems seaman called Grendell had "...desired him to go into the cabin & endeavour to get some wine..., but as he could not succeed he had gone into the pantry to try to get some rum instead. He had got the key of the pantry out of the assistant steward's pocket...", as he had seen another boy, Cox, do on more than one occasion.

Another notes that a Benjamin Ward was "...publicly whipped at the gun on the quarterdeck for disrespect to the Capn. of the Guard, ...disobedience of orders, ... stealing bread from the basket, ...threatening the life of J. Drewery (a prisoner) and obtaining a knife for the purpose of carrying his threat into execution".

Yet another 'exile boy', John Dixon, was "... publickly whipped at the gun (36 lashes) for disobedience of orders, and making a noise after hours''. 

The buyer's premium was 19.5%.