1790 – Elizabeth Pulley’s third year and on the move

Pulley image cropped 3 We left Elizabeth and Anthony at the end of 1789 when everyone in the new colony was feeling abandoned and desperately in need of supplies from Britain.

Growing despair.

The New Year did not fulfil their wishes.  It was now two years since the First Fleet entered Port Jackson and almost three years since it left the homeland.  In that time not a word had reached them directly from England.  The feeling of isolation experienced when the transports had returned to England the previous year deepened.

The supplies which had been brought out with the transports were coming to an end.  Everyone was feeling abandoned and dejected with a growing concern about the lack of food.  As Capt. Tench expressed it, ‘Famine besides was approaching with gigantic strides’.  Phillip did not expect the provisions to last beyond May.  Marines had no shoes, the convicts clothing was in tatters, and the settlement was beginning to look like a gypsy camp.

The only ships left which could be used to procure anything were the Sirius and the Supply.  The previous year the Sirius had travelled to the Cape of Good Hope to obtain provisions.  During the journey it suffered storm damage and had been out of commission for eight months.  Now repaired, plans were instigated to send it to China to obtain more.  It never made it.

Lightening the load.

To ease the stress on the settlement at Sydney Cove/Warrane, and as prospects seemed more promising at Norfolk, Phillip had gradually over the years sent more and more convicts and marines to the island.  In March Lt. Ross, some officers, a company of marines, and about two hundred convicts, including children and their belongings, were placed on board the Sirius and Supply to be relocated there.

All on shore watched anxiously as the ships sailed out of the harbour and disappeared from view.  The passengers on the Sirius were to be landed at Norfolk Island on the ship’s way to China, and the Supply was to return to the Cove/Warrane.  Landing at Norfolk had never been easy, and this time the Sirius was caught in the currents and hit a reef.  Although no lives were lost the ship was wrecked.  Phillip was devastated.

Last chance.

With a heavy heart Phillip ordered the last remaining vessel, the Supply, to be prepared to sail for Batavia the following month.  It was to procure flour and, while there, hire another vessel to bring back more supplies.  After the Supply’s departure the settlement was placed on its severest rationing yet and work was reduced so that time could be spent at home gardening;  not that many took advantage of it.

Tightening the belt

All private provisions and remaining animals were taken for public use and carefully guarded.  The killing of animals was forbidden, not that this prevented people, that is, convicts, marines, and seamen, stealing or killing them.  Punishment increased in severity.  Phillip turned over his private supply of flour for public use and placed himself on the same rations as everyone else.

Fishing was a priority and, as the seines now needed repair, Traditional Aboriginal-style techniques and equipment were employed instead.  Attempts were made to hunt the local kangaroos but their wariness made them a difficult target and the enterprise was soon abandoned.

Boilers were erected on the east side of the Cove/Warrane to extract salt from sea water.  Salt was essential for preserving meat.  A tallow-hut was built, probably for making candles and soap.  As original structures were now starting to decay, the building and repair, especially of secure storehouses, continued slowly.

The silence in the settlement weighed heavily as so many living quarters were now empty and little work was being undertaken by marines or convicts.  Rumours of England’s abandonment of the colony were rife.  People were seen crying.  Officers wrote of how Captain Cook had led them astray and that this country was an alien land which did not support life.[1]  Phillip had already had enough and sent a letter home requesting temporary leave.

Elizabeth and Anthony

So far I have found no mention of Elizabeth, Anthony and son Robert during this time.  Like everyone else they would have been affected by the lack of food, resulting in little energy. Anthony’s work at the brickworks would have been reduced.  It may be possible that Elizabeth’s sentence was now over, although Anthony probably still had some time to serve.[2]

So everyone struggled through. In May, although Phillip had tried to conceal how badly the settlement was doing, it must have been obvious and Bà-n-eelon made his escape.  Undeterred, Phillip ordered the ground to be prepared ready for planting of wheat and barley in both the Cove/Warrane and at Rose Hill.

Desperate for help from Britain

Since the arrival of the First Fleet a party of marines had been sent to Botany Bay/Kamay every week just in case an English vessel had arrived there by mistake, but none had.  In January of 1789 a party of seamen had been sent to the bluff on South Head/Barraory/Tarraibe and a flag-pole erected so that a flag could be raised as a signal at the first sighting of ships.  During the following months, as the waiting continued, the temporary shelters that had been erected there were replaced by permanent huts.[3]

Then the miracle everyone had been hoping for occurred.  On 3rd June, while the celebrations for the King’s birthday were being prepared, a flag was seen raised at South Head/Barraory/Tarraibe.  Excitement and confusion reigned.  People ran about aimlessly, some women with children in their arms.  Others hugged each other.  Everyone held their breath.  Phillip headed off down the harbour to check and returned with the news that a transport from England, the Lady Juliana, had finally arrived.

Disappointing news

However all was not as expected.  The transport carried over two hundred women convicts, some too old to work, and no supplies apart from two years provisions for the women on board.  It also carried news of other transport ships and their convict loads following closely behind.  The most devastating news was that the fleet’s supply ship, the Guardian, with its load of supervisors, skilled workers, and provisions, had been shipwrecked on an iceberg at the Cape of Good Hope.  Those items which had been salvaged were transferred to the other ships in the fleet.

The Lady Juliana also brought news from home of the King’s illness, the French Revolution, and letters from family and friends.  A few days later work was suspended and a public Thanksgiving Service held to celebrate the King’s recovery.  The whole settlement attended the service, with Rev. Johnson presiding.  Afterwards the Officers dined and were entertained at Government House.

…better news

Throughout the month four more transports sailed into the harbour discharging their cargoes of male and female convicts, the first detachments of the soldiers who were to replace the marines, and, on the Justinian, some extra provisions and stores.  As soon as the stores were landed the full allowance of rationing was restored, afternoon work reinstituted, and the daily routine once more signalled by the drum.  Bread was baked, liquor distributed, every convict received a pair of shoes, and women were employed sewing new slops (clothes) for the men.

…and disorder

Stealing had not eased with the arrival of the Second Fleet and the reinstatement of full rations.  As soon as the first ships were anchored, people were caught sneaking on board to take anything they could.  In the hospitals and sick tents the sick would steal from each other.

The hospital was full.  A large number of the Second Fleet’s convicts had not been well cared for on their journey, having been shackled like slaves.  Many convicts had died.  The bodies of those who died on arrival were thrown overboard into the harbour or buried on the north shore/Cammerra.  Even more died during the following months.  Burials were almost a daily occurrence, although weddings kept a similar pace.  According to one of the recently arrived female convicts, ‘The Governor was very angry, and scolded the captains a great deal’, saying ‘it was murdering’.

By the end of June three hundred and forty nine new arrivals had been admitted to the hospital.  By mid-July this increased to four hundred and eighty eight.  The hospital overflowed.  A portable hospital and extra ‘sick tents’ were erected.  The stores, also, had been damaged.  One thousand and twenty eight pounds of rice and one thousand five hundred pounds of flour had to be condemned.

The masters of the ships, hoping to take advantage of the great need in the settlement, immediately set up their own stores to sell clothing, accessories, and other goods at highly inflated prices.  Needless to say they did not sell much.  They had misjudged the amount of money available in the colony and soon admitted defeat, packing up their goods and returning to England with them.

The settlement was now bursting with activity and people.  It was a case of everyone for themselves.  As housing was limited, long-term residents were shuffled to make way for the new.  One newcomer, Capt. Hill, could not believe the state of the colony, the lack of buildings and resources, and the rationing with which he was made to comply.  His letter home laid the blame squarely on Phillip’s ignorance and lack of ability.  I guess he felt he could have made a better job of it.

Phillip at wit’s end

Phillip, on his part, was responding yet again to news of England’s plan to continue sending two fleets of convicts per year from its overcrowded English and Irish gaols.  All he could do was stress how difficult it was to motivate long-term convicts to do anything, and how little support the civil and military officers were willing to give.  He viewed them all as ‘dead weight’, and continued to beg England to send supervisors, artisans, agricultural experts and free settlers instead.  It was a long and frustrating battle.

By the end of August all the transports were on their journey back to England, taking with them those marines and officers who wanted to return, as well as letters and other gifts to family members and the Home Office.  That was not all.  Some had an extra cargo of stowaways, often with full knowledge of the ships masters.  The absconders who were caught during the pre-sailing raids were returned to shore and punished.

The colony expands west, attended by the NSW corps

By the end of the year most of the new arrivals had been bundled off to Norfolk Island and Rose Hill where the focus of agricultural effort was now concentrated.  A few remained at the Cove/Warrane to assist with public building and maintenance, or to be maintained as servants.  Both groups were also joined by a detachment from the NSW corps, which was to work alongside the Marines.  Our story now moves with them.

Rose Hill/Parramatta

 After the arrival of the Second Fleet, the establishment of the satellite town at Rose Hill took on greater urgency.  The town was laid out, boundaries tagged, and the sites for an overnight house for the Governor, huts for the convicts, and barracks for the soldiers, marked.  As bricks and tiles were made in Sydney/Cadi, a road was built from the brick kilns to the Cove/Warrane for their transportation.  Bricks were then ferried to Rose Hill by boat.  Another road was laid out at Rose Hill from the landing place to allow their transport west to the hill.  Bricklayers and labourers were gradually relocated there to build the much-needed storehouses and huts and clear tracks of land for cultivation.

Dharug and Guringai unrest

Conflict between the new arrivals and local Indigenous Australians continued.  My reading of the journal records is that the settlers robbed the local Indigenous People frequently and that most of the Indigenous attacks were on straying cattle or for food.  A number of the Dharug people expressed their anger at the invasion at Rose Hill and that they were being forced further and further out as their land, food and water resources were increasingly being taken over.

However the problems were more widespread than that.  The Indigenous People had kept well away from both settlements during this time.  They were probably terrified of getting sick or being captured as well as aghast at seeing yet another load of intruders being deposited onto their land.  Also, during winter, the fish had disappeared and Aboriginal families and groups had moved to where food was more plentiful.  A few had been sighted in August by Officers on an excursion southwest of Rose Hill.

Early in September a party on the way to Broken Bay[4] had come across Baneelon and Colby in a group at Manly[5] who expressed their fear of the Governor’s game keeper, McEntire.  Later that day at Broken Bay a young aboriginal man speared Phillip in the shoulder, misinterpreting the Governor’s gesture of peace for one of aggression.  He was a local Guringai man, so probably unaware of the peaceful relations that Phillip and the Officers were used to having with those they knew.  The wound was not fatal and Phillip soon recovered.  However, the garrison at Rose Hill was strengthened.

Elizabeth, Anthony and Robert on the move

It was likely that at some stage during the second half of the year that Elizabeth, Anthony and Robert moved to Rose Hill, being transported there by boat along Parramatta River.  Whether they were part of the group of bricklayers and labourers who moved there in July, or whether they were sent there once clay had been discovered and brick-making commenced in September, is a matter of conjecture.  All I am aware of is that in March of the following year Anthony was charged at Rose Hill with being in possession of a pair of stolen shoes.  It was also during this period that Elizabeth became pregnant with their second child.

Although located at Rose Hill, Elizabeth and Anthony would have known of Phillip’s accident and of other events occurring in Sydney.  The movement of people and goods between Rose Hill and the Cove was a daily occurrence and news of the comings, goings, and shenanigans at both settlements would have been the topic of many conversations.

Runaways and executions

Runaways had been a constant feature of both settlements since arrival.  Some runaways returned starving, others were found dead in the bush, and still others were never heard of again.

Three events particularly would have been of great interest to Elizabeth and Anthony.  The first was the surrender early in the year of ‘Black Caesar’, a man of African heritage who had been working as a servant in England and had been charged with stealing.  He was transported to Australia on the Alexander, the same ship as Anthony and became a repeated absconder.[6]  On his surrender Caesar spoke of seeing cattle[7] in the care of an Aboriginal group.

The second was the abscondment of five male convicts in a stolen punt from Rose Hill to Sydney Cove/Warrane in September.  On reaching the Cove/Warrane the escapees stole another boat and headed out to sea, never to be seen again.  The escape had been carefully planned, with the men taking provisions, bedding, clothes and utensils with them.  They had collected their provisions over a number of weeks, so everyone in the settlement would have known about it.

Another major event was the execution of two men found guilty of armed robbery at Rose Hill in October.

Bà-n-eelon and Còl-bee re-appear

In October an interesting reversal took place at Sydney Cove/Warrane.  One day Bà-n-eelon and Còl-bee caused quite a stir by returning to the settlement with a few friends. They proceeded to show their friends around and introduce them to those they knew.  Gradually the visits of the local Aboriginal People increased in frequency until they occurred on a daily basis.  While in the settlement they would be fed and sometimes slept overnight.  As the frequency increased Aboriginal women began to leave their children in the settlement to be fed and cared for while they went on ‘walkabout’.  Food was scarce, but no longer scarce in town


Bà-n-eelon’s visits became so frequent that Phillip built a hut on the point on the East side of the Cove/Warrane for him and his family, which probably included his second wife Barangaroo[8].  Sometimes the sounds of Baneelon’s group singing and dancing around the fire at night could be heard in the town.  By December Bà-n-eelon, Còl-bee and a group of friends would remain in the settlement three or four days at a time.  During one of these visits Abaroo, who had been living with the clergyman’s family, went to join them.[9]  Nanbarree, who had been living with Surgeon White, also spent a night away but returned the next day.

In December some of the local Aboriginal people joined Phillip on one of his regular visits to Rose Hill.  Bà-n-eelon, Barangaroo and Còl-bee also visited at various times.  However none stayed long, indicating they wanted to return to Sydney/Cadi as soon as possible.  Barangaroo would not even stay overnight.  None seemed comfortable in the area[10].


In any case the visits at both settlements came to an abrupt end later in the month when McEntire, Phillip’s game-keeper, was fatally speared while in Botany Bay/Kamay.  In a way it was not unexpected.  The Aboriginal People did not like him and, in fact, feared him.  Even Còl-bee had expressed his fears to Phillip when they had met in September.

The story was that McEntire had been staying in an overnight hut on the north shore of Botany Bay/Kamay when some of the local Dharug or Gadigal approached him.  Thinking they were friends, he walked towards them unarmed.  One of the group speared him.  McEntire made it back to the settlement hospital where Còl-bee and others came in expressing their concern.  They gave the name of the perpetrator as Pemulwuy, from Bid-ee-gal group living in Botany Bay/Kamay, and promised to deal with him.[11]

Nevertheless Phillip was so outraged at what seemed an unprovoked attack that he reluctantly, and not without opposition from some Officers, sent out two successive parties to capture and bring back, or kill, as an example, six of the clan.  Both raids were unsuccessful.  The Dharug in the area had long gone and the parties ended up getting lost, probably due to misdirection by their Indigenous guides.  Còl-bee’s and Bà-n-eelon’s, promises of ‘taking care of Pemulwuy’ were also never carried out.  In fact, at one stage they were seen going in a totally different direction.

McEntire finally died in January 1991.  It was suspected that the attack on him had not been unprovoked:  if not this time, then on previous occasions.  The feeling in the settlement was that he did not treat the First Nations people kindly and they definitely did not trust him.  Judge-Advocate Collins wrote, ‘this man had been suspected of having wantonly killed or wounded several of the natives in the course of his excursions after game’.

Settling in

By the end of 1990 Rose Hill was becoming a thriving community.  Land had been cleared, crops planted and the brick kiln erected. Well over five hundred convicts had moved there.  Convict huts had been built along two cross streets, each with its own garden;  thirty two men only group houses along the main street, nine houses for single women along the cross street, and ‘several small huts where convict families of good character are allowed to reside’ – most likely where Elizabeth, Anthony and Robert lived.[12]

Rose Hill 2 cropped

The Governor’s hut was finished, and the barracks begun.  The new storehouse was nearly complete.  There was a church camp, a blacksmith’s, a hospital, a bakery, brick-kilns where Anthony probably worked, the superintendent’s house, and cattle-yards, and on the other side of the river, the Government farm, barn and granary.

Ending the year on a good note.

The end of 1990 also saw the arrival of the Dutch snow, Waaksamheyd, hired by the Supply in Batavia to bring out flour, rice and salt.  And, at Rose Hill, a Christmas divine service would have been conducted by Rev. Johnson, with all in attendance.[13]

[1] Initially British agricultural and husbandry practices did not naturally thrive in the Australian environment and the colonial leaders were constantly on the lookout for more appropriate sites.  It is interesting to be updating this in 2020 when Australia is in the middle of an horrendous drought and fire season, as well as diminishing water supplies.  The whole issue of appropriate land and water use practices is being seriously debated.

[2] There were a number of convicts who had now completed their sentences, were officially ‘free’, and under no obligation to work.  Some of them wanted to return to England.  Phillip did not know what to do with them and had written to Home Office requesting instructions.

[3] According to https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/south_head ‘Aboriginal names for the area were recorded as Woo-la-ra or Tarralbe for Outer South Head, Burra-wa-ra or Barraory for Inner South Head, and Mit-ta-la (or Metallar) for Green Point (Laings Point). According to the same source Nanbarry, made an unsubstantiated claim in 1790 that, ‘as it is recorded in the journals, this was one place the aborigines did not go near.  To them the area was considered to be a ‘place of death’’.  The journals record that the area was understood to be a burial or cremation ground, and a place of ‘engagements’ (i.e. a place where internal and intertribal conflicts were resolved through ‘payback’ combat).  Arabanoo was taken there in February for a visit where he demonstrated Indigenous burial practices and how to light a fire with two sticks.

[4] Probably the land of the Wannungine/Wannerawa band of the Guringai nation

[5] Land of Cannalgal or Kayimai people of the Guringai nation.  Some Indigenous Australian’s interpretation of this event is that the spearing of Phillip could have been intentional but was not aimed at killing him.  Rather, because the spear used was not a ‘killing spear’ with barbs, and the position of entry was not in an area of the body which would have been fatal, it could have been a warning that they were unhappy with the way that they had been treated and with the actions of McEntire, and a sign of acceptance/respect in accordance with their tradition of ‘payback’ .

[6] ‘Black Caesar’s’ story appears to be one of working hard and reliably for periods, followed by stealing, being charged and escaping into the bush.

[7] Cattle had disappeared from the Governor’s farm in 1788.

[8] The area’s Indigenous name was Tu-boe-gule, now named Bennelong Point where the Opera House is located.  B’à-n-eelon’s first wife had died.  Barangaroo was from the Cammeraygal band from the north side of the harbour and must have been imposing as this was remarked upon by the officers.  She was also a fishing woman and in control of the food supply, making and using lines and hooks to fish from a canoe, with a small fire inside for cooking the catch.  She did not like the new arrivals at all, refusing to mix with, or dress like, them.  Barangaroo Reserve is named after her and, in addition to everyday public access, serves as a focal site for Indigenous ceremonial events.  When she died in 1791 Barangaroo was buried in Phillip’s garden as were her daughter, Dilboong, who died in infancy and Arabanoo.

[9] Abaroo, also known as Boorong, became Baneelon’s third wife after the death of Barangaroo.

[10] My understanding is that band/clan/language differences needed to be respected and ‘just arriving’ without proper ceremony was unacceptable and could be dangerous.

[11] Pemulwuy was later to lead the guerrilla-style resistance against the outward thrust of English settlement in areas around the Georges River, the Nepean/Dyarubbin, and beyond.

[12] I thought I read, possibly in an Historical Journal, that the married quarters were near the brick kilns but as I am unable to find the reference this cannot be confirmed.

[13] Rev. Johnson had been complaining of the lack of attendance during the year until Phillip announced that those who did not attend in future would experience a reduction in rations.