Sailing of the ‘First Fleet’ is commemorated today

By IW May 13, 2022

From 2pm today (Friday), Friends of Monkton Arts will host several free re-enactment performances at the Appley Tower, on Appley beach in Ryde.

They will be commemorating the lives of people convicted of various crimes, who were transported in the hold of ships as cargo, on the First Fleet to Australia on May 13, 1787.

The fleet consisted of 11 ships which sailed from the ‘Motherbank’ moorings near Ryde to Botany Bay, New South Wales, led by HMS Sirius, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. The cargo consisted of at least 582 men, 193 women and 14 children who had all been found guilty of various criminal acts, most of which these days would be considered as minor. However at the time the crimes dictated either the death penalty or transportation to the colonies. The offences included such acts as stealing fish from a pond or river and impersonating an Egyptian.

The voyage took more than 250 days and a total of 48 deaths and 28 births were recorded while they were at sea.
A free performance of ‘One Day they’ll say’, written by playwright Annemarie Bowler, will be showcased alongside sea shanties and songs from ‘She Shells’ and ‘The Watch’.

Audience members will then be invited to sample and raise a glass of ‘Nineteen Crimes’ wine, courtesy of friends of Monkton Arts, to commemorate the 235th anniversary of the ship’s departure.