On May 13, 1787, Richard Johnson and his wife Mary, boarded the supply ship Golden Grove bound for Australia. The Golden Grove was one of the Eleven ships that made up the First Fleet, a penal transportation fleet sent to establish a colony in Australia, and make a bit of space in British Gaols.
On that spring day, the Johnsons set sail in a giant wooden prison, for a place that only one English man had ever been, with a bunch of people being exiled to the ends of the earth by their society. Along with 1400 (rough as guts) people they travelled for 252 days, more than 24, 000 kms. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be one of history’s great sea voyages.
And although they had no way of knowing this, when the Johnsons said goodbye to their friends and family in England and set foot on the Golden Grove their decision would have profound consequences for me and my family.
During the voyage there were 22 births (13 boys, 9 girls), while 69 people either died, were discharged, or deserted (61 males and 8 females).
AN ADDRESS TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONIES, ESTABLISHED IN NEW SOUTH WALES AND NORFOLK ISLAND.
BY THE REV. RICHARD JOHNSON, A.B.
CHAPLAIN TO THE COLONIES
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1792
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR
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TO ALL INHABITANTS, AND ESPECIALLY TO THE UNHAPPY PRISONERS AND CONVICTS ESTABLISHED AT PORT JACKSON AND NORFOLK ISLAND, THIS AFFECTIONATE ADDRESS IS DEDICATED AND PRESENTED, BY THEIR VERY SINCERE AND SYMPATHIZING FRIEND, AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, RICHARD JOHNSON.
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TO THE BRITISH AND OTHER EUROPEAN INHABITANTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES AND NORFOLK ISLAND.
One reason may suffice. I find I cannot express my regard for you, so often, or so fully, as I wish, in any other way.
On our first arrival in this distant part of the world, and for some time afterwards, our numbers were comparatively small; and while they resided nearly upon one spot, I could not only preach to them on the Lord’s day, but also converse with them, and admonish them, more privately.
But since that period, we have gradually increased in number every year (notwithstanding the great mortality we have sometimes known) by the multitudes that have been sent hither after us. The colony already begins to spread, and will probably spread more and more every year, both by new settlements formed in different places under the crown, and by a number of individuals continually becoming settlers. Thus the extent of what I call my parish, and consequently of my parochial duty, is enlarging daily. On the other hand, my health is not so good, nor my constitution so strong, as formerly. And therefore I feel it impracticable, and impossible for me, either to preach, or to converse with you so freely, as my inclination and affection would prompt me to do.
I have therefore thought it might be proper for me, and I hope it may prove useful to you, to write such an Address as I now present you with. I transmitted a copy of it to my friends in England with a request, that if they approved of it, a sufficient number might be printed, and sent to me. Thus I am now able to leave with you a testimony of my affection for you, and of my sincere and heart-felt concern, for your BEST, because your ETERNAL, welfare. My times are in the hand of God. He, and He only, knows how long I may live, or how long my present connection with you, may continue. I trust, however, that so long as the all-wise Disposer of all events shall be pleased to spare my life, and strength; and government shall deem my services in this remote land, necessary, it will still be, as it has hitherto been, my most ardet desire, my uniform endeavour, and my greatest pleasure, to promote your happiness. And when recalled to my native country, or removed by my God to my eternal home, to receive that crown of righteousness, which I humbly trust is laid upon me, by reading and carefully perusing the following pages, I hope you will be convinced, and reminded how sincerely you were pitied, and how dearly beloved by
Port Jackson, Oct. 30. 1792.
At this date, exclusive of those who died or were born on the voyage from England: