Against the 'thief colony' | State Library of New South Wales

Against the thief colony at Botany Bay

In 1786, Alexander Dalrymple published an anonymous pamphlet warning the public of the folly of using Botany Bay as a penal settlement. His primary concern was that the colony would be located in a prime trading area, which would soon encourage the new settlement to strive for independence against Britain and illegally undermine the exclusive trading rights then owned by the British East India Company. He argued strenuously for the proposed penal colony to be located on Tristan da Cunha, a remote island outpost in the South Atlantic, halfway between South America and the southern tip of Africa. Here, he argued, the hardened felons could be dumped and left to fend for themselves by living off seals and seabirds, with no hope of escape and very little cost to the British government.
Dalrymple’s arguments were ignored, however, and the British government went ahead with the plan to establish a colony in Botany Bay, as suggested by Sir Joseph Banks.

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Selections from A serious admonition to the publick, on the intended thief-colony at Botany Bay, by Alexander Dalrymple, London : Printed by George Bigg for John Sewell, 1786, Printed book, 78/49