Segments in this Video

English Criminal Population (03:44)


The First Fleet left Portsmouth for an Australian penal colony in 1787. Poverty laws and crime created a new underclass. Convicts inscribed words on pennies to give to their loved ones before departure. (Credits)

Australian Penal Colony (04:32)

The First Fleet founded Sydney, New South Wales. The convicts often did what they pleased. On Australia Day, those from European descent celebrated their forefathers while the Aborigines considered it a day of mourning.

Convicts' Histories (03:49)

Hugh Heresy was born in Glasgow and was sent to Australia for burglarizing homes. Hyde Park Barracks contained records of every convict who arrived.

Punishments (02:43)

Repeat offenders were shackled and left on islands in Sydney Harbor. Other methods of discipline included treadmills and public floggings.

Convict Descriptions (04:43)

Authorities wrote a physical description in case a convict escaped. Tattoos returned a person's identity. Governor Lachlan Macquarie insisted that prisoners wear uniforms to distinguish them from free colonists.

Life as a Convict (06:00)

Criminals bartered services and labor for alcohol at the Hero of Waterloo Hotel. Settlements around Sydney expanded; convict chain gangs built the North Road and lived in small houses on wheels. "The Ballad of Jack Donohoe" commemorated the criminal's life and death.

Settlers (01:58)

The Lanyon Homestead received free convict labor in exchange for providing food and clothing. Good behavior earned convicts a ticket of leave or probationary passport; they could not own a pub or move out of the district.

Norfolk Island (03:58)

Whipping was common and flaggelators wielded whips with lead to increase pain. Convicts used urine to treat their wounds. James Barry and Thomas Head participated in communal suicide.

Tasmanian Colonies (08:29)

Great Britain established the Macquarie Harbor and Port Arthur penal colonies; Pentonville Prison was their model. Criminals must remain silent unless at church. The Cascade's Mess Hall fed 200 men skilly, bread, and dried beef.

Sarah Island (04:22)

Many convicts had escaped from other penal colonies and some were skilled shipbuilders. During the "Cyprus" mutiny, prisoners seized control, sailed to Japan, and scuttled the ship.

Life After Prison (05:22)

Most convicts served their time and settled in Tasmania. People considered having a relative who was a prisoner a disgrace. The Anti-transportation League stopped forced transportation at the end of the 19th Century.

Credits: Short History of Convict Australia (00:41)

Credits: Short History of Convict Australia

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Short History of Convict Australia

Part of the Series : A Short History of the World
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Short History of Convict Australia is the first ever documentary about Australia’s convict past. It visits the locations where convicts lived and worked, talks to historians and descendants of convicts, and experiences the legacy of the dramatic, brutal birth of a nation.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL204682

ISBN: 978-1-64867-896-7

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.