|The Neptune, By Unknown - http://www.fromwhencewecame.net/WilliamLevistonJaneChampion.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14694073|
The Second Fleet
Surprise, Neptune, and Scarborough were contracted from the firm Camden, Calvert & King, which undertook to transport, clothe and feed the convicts for a flat fee of £17 7s. 6d per head, whether they landed alive or not. This firm had previously been involved in transporting slaves to North America. The only agents of the Crown in the crew were the naval agent, Lieutenant John Shapcote, and the Captain of the Guard; Camden and Calvert supplied all other crew.
The three vessels left England on 19 January 1790, with 1,006 convicts (928 male and 78 female) on board. They made only one stop on the way, at the Cape of Good Hope. Here 20 male convicts, survivors from HMS Guardian, were taken on board. The three vessels made a faster trip than the First Fleet, arriving at Port Jackson in the last week of June 1790.
The passage was relatively fast, but the mortality rate was the highest in the history of transportation to Australia. Of the 1,026 convicts embarked, 267 (256 men and 11 women) died during the voyage (26%).
On Neptune the convicts were deliberately starved, kept chained, and frequently refused access to the deck. Scurvy could not be checked. On Scarborough, rations were not deliberately withheld, but a reported mutiny attempt led to the convicts being closely confined below decks.
Captain William Hill, commander of the guard, afterwards wrote a strong criticism of the ships' masters stating that “the more they can withhold from the unhappy wretches the more provisions they have to dispose of at a foreign market, and the earlier in the voyage they die, the longer they can draw the deceased's allowance to themselves
On arrival at Port Jackson, half-naked convicts were lying without bedding, too ill to move. Those unable to walk were slung over the side. All were covered with lice. At least 486 sick were landed (47% of those embarked). Of these, 124 died shortly after they had landed. Of the rest the Rev. Johnson, who went among them as soon as the ships reached port, wrote:
The misery I saw amongst them is indescribable ... their heads, bodies, clothes, blankets, were all full of lice. They were wretched, naked, filthy, dirty, lousy, and many of them utterly unable to stand, to creep, or even to stir hand or foot.Governor Phillip noted
I will not, sir, dwell on the scene of misery which the hospitals and sick tents exhibited when these people were landed, but it would be want of duty not to say that it was occasioned by the contractors having crowded too many on board these ships, and from their being too much confined during the passage.
Well after their return to England, on 9 June 1792 Donald Traill and Chief Mate, William Ellerington were privately prosecuted for the murder of an unnamed convict, along with a seaman named Andrew Anderson and a cook named John Joseph. After a trial lasting three hours before Sir James Marriott in the Admiralty Court, the jury acquitted both men on all charges "without troubling the Judge to sum up the evidence". There were no public prosecutions, as public prosecutions in Britain did not exist until 1880. Later, the lawyer who brought the charge was struck from the Rolls
|2nd fleet convict list|
From the "SYDNEY COVE CHRONICLE", 30th June, 1790
At last the transports are here DIABOLICAL CONDITION OF THE CONVICTS THEREON 278 died on the fearsome journey to Sydney Cove.
The landing of those who remained alive despite theirmisuse upon the recent voyage, could not fail to horrify those who watched. As they came on shore, these wretched people were hardly able to move hand or foot. Such as could not carry themselves upon their legs, crawled upon all fours. Those, who, through their afflictions, were not able to move, were thrown over the side of the ships; as sacks of flour would be thrown, into the small boats. Some expired in the boats; others as they reached the shore. Some fainted and were carried by those who fared better. More had not the opportunity even to leave their ocean prisons for as they came upon the decks, the fresh air only hastened their demise. A sight most outrageous to our eyes were the marks of leg irons upon the convicts, some so deep that one could nigh on see the bones. ---- ----- We learn that several children have been borne to women upon the Lady Juliana, the cause for which were the crews aboard African slave ships which met up with the transport at Santa Cruz.--- " ------" So the Guardian is lost and with it our provisions. What, in the name of Heaven, is to become of us ? ----- "