Old Catalogue
Manuscripts, oral history and pictures catalogue
Adlib Internet Server 5
Try the new catalogue. Start exploring now ›


  • Title
    Jonathan Wathen - Letter received from William Hill, Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, 26 July 1790 (copy made in 1791)
  • Creator
  • Call number
    SAFE/MLMSS 6821 (Safe 1/195)
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
    Microfilm : CY 4036, frames 27-35 (MLMSS 6821, filed at Safe 1/195)
  • Physical Description
    0.01 metres of textual material (1 folder) - manuscript

    William Hill was Second Captain of the New South Wales Corps and commander of the detachment on the transport Surprize which brought convicts to New South Wales with the Second Fleet. The Surprize left England on 17 January 1790 and arrived in Sydney on 26 June. During 1791 Hill served on Norfolk Island where he quarrelled with several officers. In April 1793 he left Sydney in a merchant ship bound for Norfolk Island, Bengal and England. Hill went ashore at Tate's Island, near Timor, where he was murdered by natives. Jonathan Wathen, to whom he addressed this letter, appears to have assisted him in his career. Wathen was the author of two books on cataracts and other eye conditions.
  • Scope and Content
    Copy of a letter addressed to Jonathan Wathen Esq., Bond Court, Walbrook, London. The copy was made by T Baker and is dated 24 Dec 1791. On this copy the recipient's name is spelt Watham; it is spelt Wathen on the original letter written by Hill which is held in the Public Record Office, London. Baker's copy shows minor differences in wording and punctuation from Hill's original and omits Hill's last paragraph which conveys greetings to Wathen's family and friends. This copy is annotated at the end 'N.B. This letter was never printed'.
    Hill informs Wathen that he has written to William Wilberforce about conditions on the transports and the situation in New South Wales, and most of the letter to Wathen repeats the text of that letter. Hill is severely critical of conditions for convicts and troops on the transport ships. He asserts that the convicts are treated worse than slaves in the slave trade and describes the voyage to New South Wales. He mentions 'the unfortunate Mr Riou, of the Guardian' whom he saw at the Cape of Good Hope. In his description of the colony he comments on Aboriginal people, emus, lack of food, poor soils, high prices and Governor Phillip's management of the colony. He reports that he is about to set out with Captain Tench and Lieutenant Dawes to explore to the west of Sydney.
  • Finding Aids
  • General note

    The original letter written by Hill is part of the Colonial Office records held in the Public Record Office, London, in the series Original Correspondence - Secretary of State, Port Jackson, CO 201/5 (available in the Mitchell Library on microfilm reel PRO 3). A typed transcript of Hill's original letter is reproduced in the book 'William Hill, Captain, New South Wales Corp, 1789-1795', edited by M Jones (Mitchell Library 994.02/44). Further information about William Hill can be found in the book 'The Second Fleet: Britain's Grim Convict Armada of 1790' by Michael Flynn, Sydney, 1993.
    Digital order no:Album ID : 823582
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Name
  • Subject
  • Open Rosetta viewer

View Media Files


Share this result by email