Australian Colonial History

20th April 1770, Captain James Cook on board the Endeavour makes the first European sighting of the eastern coast of Australia.

On the 29th of April the Endeavour enters Botany Bay now Sydney New South Wales and encounters the local Aboriginals.  He charts the eastern coast and on 20th August 1770 Captain James Cook and botanist Joseph Banks reach Possession Island at the top of Cape York now the State of Queensland, and claims it for Britain. ‘I now once more hoisted English colours and in the name of His Majesty King George III took possession of the whole Eastern Coast by the name of ‘New South Wales.’

In 1775 the American War of Independence commenced with the 13 American colonies declaring their independence from the British Throne on 4 July 1776.  A revolutionary war commenced through to 1783.

In 1779 Joseph Banks with the British having burgoning prison population and growing need for expansion of naval and trading ports, recommends Botany Bay to an English Parliamentary committee as a suitable penal colony.

21st January 1788 arrival of 543 convict men and 189 convict women aboard 11 ships in the First Fleet, under the Command of Governor Arthur Phillip.  The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy escort ships HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, Convict ships, Alexander, Charlotte, Friendship, Lady Penrhyn, Prince of Wales and Scarborough with three food and supply ships, Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale.  The Fleet landed first at Botany Bay then Sydney Cove.  A total of 1,420 people embarked from Portsmouth with 1,373 arriving at Sydney Cove, 11 convict children and 9 Marines children born on the journey.  In addition to the convict totals there were 14 Officials and passengers, 269 Ship’s crew, 245 Marines, Marine’s wives and 54 children.

The First Fleet was followed by the Second Fleet 1790, aboard the Surprise, Neptune, Scarborough, Mary Ann and Gorgon landed from the 26th June 1790 with 930. It is unknown if any Grant’s were part of the Officials, passengers of Marines arrival on the first fleet or following fleets.  Given there is a rich history of Grant’s in the Navy it is highly probable.  However the first Grant’s that arrived in Australia as resident’s were Convicts John Grant from Monmouth and William Grant from Middlesex sentenced to the standard 7 years penal servitude.

The Third Fleet followed landing from the 1st August 1791 comprising a fleet named the Matilda, Atlantic, Salamander, William and Ann, Active, Queen, Albermarle, Britannia and Admiral Barrington, landing with 1,666. Amongst them were three William Grant’s of Northumberland, Middlesex and Norfolk, George Grant of Bristol and Gilbert Grant of Surrey all sentenced to 7 years.

A further 20 convict ships followed to Port Jackson in 1792 to 1800 and a total of 7 Grant’s were transported to the penal Colony of New South Wales.  A procession of ships followed to NSW 1801 to 1849, and to the expanded colonies in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) 1812 to 1853 & Norfolk Island between 1839 to 1849.  Moreton Bay (Queensland) between 1849 to 1850 received 517 convicts, Port Phillip Bay (Victoria) between 1803 to 1849 and Swan River Colony (Western Australia) were the other Colony locations established. A total of 123 Grants were transported to Australia as Convicts.

1805 the explorer Matthew Flinders was the first to circumvaigate the entire continent and puts the argument that the continent should be called Australaia and Anglicisation of the original Latin term and is popularly endorsed.

1810 Scottish Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrives in New South Wales to reimpose British Government control over the dysfunctional colony.  Macquarie over a decade  reconstructs the New South Wales Colony socially, economically and oversights the expansion of the Colony over the Blue Mountains and introduction of Colonial Government.  He formally recommends the adoption of Australia as the continents name rather then New Holland and becomes known as the ‘Father of  Australia’.

Colonisation, Exploration and the development of communities continues throughout the 1800’s across the six very diverse colonies and across the breadth of the Continent until the Federation of the Australian Colonies is achieved without war or conflict unlike the American Colonies, in 1901.

The six Colonies became the Federated States of the Commonwealth of Australia being, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia, the latter being the only State formed not as a penal colony.  The six States and later two Territories adjusted their boundaries in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Each State has their own Government with a Premier as head of the majority elected party of each State Parliament and a Chief Minister of each Territory.

The Commonwealth Government operates as a Constitutional Monarchy and a Westmister system of Parliament.  The Commonwealth governs with the legislative co-operation of each State while the Commonwealth governs certain legislative control over each Territory of the Commwealth with an Administrator and Chief Minister. Each State has a Governor appointed by the Queen of England as the Constituional head of the Executive Government in that State with a Governor General appointed by the Queen for the Commonwealth.