Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000

Account of a voyage to New South Wales and Botany Bay 1802

The History of New South Wales including Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Pamaratta, Sydney and all its dependancies from the Original Discovery of the Island with the Customs and Manners of the Natives and an Account of the English Colony from its Foundation to the Present Time, London, 1802. This book is believed to be the first written history of the settlement of NSW arguably written by one of the transported convicts, George Barrington who arrived with the Third Fleet in 1791.

Barrington History 4

 It contains the earliest engravings and the first coloured images of European settlement in NSW as well as an interesting cultural report of local Aboriginal communities. The author describes traditional Aboriginal rites, rituals, family structures, food security and medical treatment and compares them unfavourably to European lifestyle. The book notes the precarious existence of the settlement and exposes the colony's dependency on the arrival of supply ships from many countries. It outlines the hardships and cruelty of convict life, the ever present hunger and how it impacted behaviour and the brutality shown towards Aboriginal people. More positively it outlines the forward thinking of settlers in animal breeding techniques and agricultural practices both around Sydney and on Norfolk Island.

Barrington, a criminal pick-pocket, had appeared on numerous occasions before magistrates in London resulting in years of incarceration in England. Due largely perhaps to his articulate manner, good education and exemplary dress presentation, Barrington, gained "folk hero" status in England as much was published about him to an extremely intrigued and readily awaiting public. Eventually his luck deserted him and Barrington was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing. Publishers in England exploited Barrington's public notoriety to produce books around the popular themes of transportation and the new penal settlement to an eager English audience, long after he arrived in Sydney and after his death in 1804.

RGSSA catalogue rgsp 994.402 B276

There is some doubt surrounding the authorship of this publication. For example, refer to pages 110/111 when the author describes the warrant of emancipation awarded to George Barrington when surely he would write personally about his warrant if indeed he was the author. George Barrington's publications continued until at least 1810 (6 years after Barrington’s death) which suggests that these were released simply to sell books for financial gain to an already established audience.