Wednesday, October 23, 2013
History Corner: Transportation from Deptford to Australia
The Deptford riverside has been the starting point for many journeys across the oceans, some of them freely chosen adventures, many of them not. One destination was Australia, where convicted prisoners were shipped off to penal colonies from the 1780s (the practice formally ended in 1868, though it had become rare by that point).
Reg Rigden's The Floating Prisons of Woolwich and Deptford (a pamphlet published by Greenwich Council in 1976), mentions one such voyage. On the 11 December 1814, Mary Langridge, Sarah Morris, Maria McIntyre and Ann Roberts were 'put on board the Northampton at Deptford'.
According to the Australian site Convict Records, 110 prisoners - all of them women - were taken on that voyage arriving in New South Wales in June1815. The ship went from Deptford to Portsmouth, from where it set sail on New Year's Day 1815. It was an eventful voyage, with the ship being temporarily captured by an American ship off Madeira. It made its way via Rio de Janeiro to Port Jackson, with four women dying during the voyage. On the way home, the Northampton went to China, returning to Hastings with a cargo of sandalwood.
Just one voyage amongst so many, but showing clearly how Deptford in that period was a key point in the international circulation of labour, commodities, ideas and much more. Globalisation is nothing new in South East London on Thames.