The first convicts who arrived in the 1780s and 1790s suffered greatly from malnutrition, exposure and disease. The First Fleet website ( firstfleet.uow.edu.au) uses original documents to explore their lives and includes a database of their names. By the early 19th century, convicts arriving in the established colonies entered a strictly regimented system.
British transportation records described at nationalarchives.gov.uk/ help-with-your-research/ research- guides/criminaltransportees should reveal the colony to which your ancestor was initially sent. Anne Reid’s ancestor John Reid was found in the Tasmanian Archives’ Index to Tasmanian Convicts ( linctas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_ AU/names) showing when he arrived in Van Diemen’s Land.
Research the history of the colony to which your ancestor was transported to understand the unique way it operated at various points in time.
John Reid arrived a few years after the Probation System was implemented in Van Diemen’s Land. Convicts were segregated into labour gangs and forced to work at one of over 80 proobation stations, or at a penal setttlement if they had a life sentence. After several years’ hard labour they could earn a probation pass and be hired by free settlers
Information about life asa a convict can be found on Tasmania’s Heritage page (linc.tas.gov.au/familyhistory/Pages/default. aspx), and useful background information for the whole e of Australia is online at australia.gov.au/about--australia/australian-sto ory/ convicts-and-the-british-colonies.
Convicts are inspected at Sydney Cove on their arrival in 1788