Text Size


VDL STD Cases At the Twenty-Six Probation Stations, c. late 1845 

46 1 2 3


No. 9.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Lieutenant-Governor Sir E Eardley Wilmot, Bart., to Lord Stanley.

(No. 54.)

Van Diemen’s Land,
Government House, March 17, 1846. 

My Lord,
    IN reference to my despatch dated 6th February, accompanying the letter of Mr Pitcairn to your Lordship, on the subject of    *    *    *    committed in the convict gangs and stations of this colony, I now have the honour to transmit to your Lordship copies of the returns of the medical officers of all the convict gangs and stations in this territory, accompanied by a letter from the Comptroller-General, Mr Champ, dated 14th March in this year.

    That    *    *    *    does exist to a certain extent, there can be no doubt, and that disease in consequence results from such horrible practices is equally certain. I beg to refer your Lordship to my despatch of 2nd November, 1843, marked “private and confidential,” upon these points, wherein I stated to your Lordship the result of an inquiry instituted by Dr Clarke, the then principal medical officer.

    From that time to the present the greatest attention and care have been taken by way of prevention; but in all large assemblies of the male sex, whether in the army, navy, or among prisoners, I believe it is acknowledged that    *    *    *    does more or less prevail; and that though its recurrence may be lessened, yet it is impossible wholly to prevent it.

    From Mr Champ’s letter your Lordship will see what preventive means have been taken, and are being taken, on this subject; and from the medical returns, with an abstract of the number of cases, and of the stations where disease exists, sent herewith, your Lordship will perceive how much exaggerated has been the extent of the evil.

    It appears from the medical returns before mentioned, that there are at this time about seventy cases in the twenty-six probation gangs set forth in the accompanying schedule. The number of prisoners in probation gangs and stations is between 9000 and 10,000. Taking 10,000 as the average number of convicts in the gangs and stations, and 70 cases of disease as the average, your Lordship will see that the cases are 7 in 1000; – 7 in 1,000,000 are too many, but after the exaggerated accounts of the existence of the evil which have been, and will be, transmitted home, for the purpose of augmenting the opposition to the probation system, I think that the result of the inquiry, through the medical reports transmitted, will be, as far as on such a subject it can be, satisfactory. I am told by military and naval men, and by persons who have lived in India, that the perpetration of the crime here is not so great as in those professions generally, and in that country in particular. Of this your Lordship may be assured, that every precaution and prevention, by separation, single cells, and constant superintendence, will never be wanting to prevent an increase or continuance of these horrible practices.

I have, &c.
(Signed)        E Eardley Wilmot.



Inclosure 1 in No.9.

VDL Schedule of STD Cases At the Twenty-Six Probation Stations, c. late 1845

Schedule of Cases

   Probation Stations

Coal Mines.................

Salt Water River........

Port Arthur.................

Point Puer..................


Wedge Bay.................

Impression Bay..........

Maria Island...............





St Mary's Pass...........


    No. of STD cases

20 cases

2 or 4 cases in 13 months

5 cases in 1845


8 cases

3 cases

20 cases




does exist, but no cases of disease




   Probation Stations



Broad Marsh..............

Brown=s River...........

Oyster Cove...............



Rocky Hills...............

Port Cygnet...............



Dovor [sic]................

Nicholl's Rivulet.......


    No. of STD cases

1 case

3 cases


4 cases

one, doubtful

does exist, but no cases of disease





does exist, but no cases of disease



~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 2 in No.9.
Mr Champ to Lieutenant-Governor Sir B Eardley Wilmot, Bart

Comptroller-General’s Office, March 14, 1846.

    I HAVE the honour to forward to your Excellency the Reports which I have received from the medical officers of the several probation stations, as to the existence of    *    *    *    amongst the convicts. From these Reports, it will, I think, appear, that while there is reason to deplore the existence of crime of this description at some of the stations, yet that its extent is by no means such as to bear out the statements which have been circulated respecting it. The subject was—by the prevalence of these statements—brought under the notice of the late Comptroller-General very shortly before his death; and he already had given directions for the adoption of some remedial measures at the coal mines, where there was sufficient evidence of the crime prevailing to a greater extent than at any other station. The nature of the employment at the mines, it is obvious, affords facilities for the commission of this crime, which do not exist at any other station. The preventives which immediately suggest themselves are, separation and increased supervision.

    At the mines 18 solitary cells have been erected, and 100 separate apartments are in progress, under the orders of my predecessor. I have already ordered an additional 100 separate apartments to be put up, and have caused the number of lights in the mines to be trebled. I propose, also, with your Excellency’s sanction, to reduce the number of men to the lowest point compatible with the efficient working of the mines, and, if it be found necessary, to add to the overseers, to whom an augmentation of two constables, expressly for the purpose of inspecting the working gangs, has recently been made.

    At all the other stations I propose, in order to prevent crime, even where remedy does not appear to be called for, to increase the separate apartments; and after I shall have had an opportunity of inspecting the whole of them, I shall be prepared to submit, for your Excellency’s approval, an increase of overseers, wherever such increase may appear to me to be indispensably necessary.

    With regard to Wedge Bay Invalid Station, I shall be prepared, so soon as I am in possession of a Report from the principal Medical Officer, which I am in the expectation of receiving within a few days, to submit to your Excellency, either such an alteration in the station as will admit of a much more effective separation than at present exists, or the removal of the invalids to some other station, where the requisite accommodation may be at once afforded.

    Experience has shewn that invalid depots are fruitful in crimes of the kind of that referred to, generated most probably by idleness—which the state of the men’s health renders it difficult to prevent—and by the want of sufficient supervision; the invalids having hitherto been (erroneously, I conceive) generally considered as a class calling for less efficient superintendence than other convicts.

In communicating with your Excellency upon this subject, I cannot but advert to the bad effects arising from the introduction of the convicts from Norfolk Island. Above six



hundred men were landed in the commencement of the year 1844; and I believe it would not be difficult to shew, that of the men addicted to this crime, by far the greater number are men from Norfolk Island, or those who have been brought into immediate contact with them.

   I may state, that the wards at all the stations are lighted during the night, that they are visited by the station officers at uncertain hours, and that a constant supervision by watchmen is kept up from the outside, by means of holes through the doors and windows.

    My earnest attention will be given to the adoption of every measure of a preventive kind; and of the good effect of such as I have already alluded to, I can speak with some confidence, from my own experience at Port Arthur, where it is my belief—grounded on the concurrent testimony of parties who have had opportunities of judging—that the crime has decreased to a very great extent, in consequence, it may fairly be presumed, of the exertions which have been made to check it.

    At Maria Island, and several other stations, separate sleeping apartments can be provided to almost any extent, and I trust within a very short period, to have very considerably augmented this most efficient means of preventing crime.

I have, &c
(Signed)      W Champ

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 3 in No. 9.
Mr Brownell to Captain King

Darlington, December 12, 1845

Dear Sir,
    IN reply to your request to be furnished with a medical report of the state of health of the convicts on this island, in reference to disease which may have been contracted    *    *    *    *    I beg to state, that I believe it to be good, no cases having come under my notice that could be fairly attributed to it.

I am, &c
(Signed)      FC Brownell CAS

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 4 in No. 9.
Dr Motherwell to Mr Comptroller-General Forster

Mines, December 13, 1845.

    I BEG leave to report for your information that at a late medical examination of all the prisoners at this station, I found that twenty men were then labouring under disease    *    *    and whose names were forwarded to you.

    There are other men at this station who I know have been diseased, but have since recovered. I detected some prisoners diseased    *    *    soon after I came to to [sic] this station, 3½ years’ since.

    The disease, and I presume the amount of crime, became much more prevalent until the present temporary separate cells were erected; since when I am of opinion that a considerable decrease in both disease and crime has taken place. Men have come to this station who have informed me that they have contracted the disease either in the Penitentiary in Hobart, or Maria Island, or Broadmarsh; so that it may be seen that wherever men are thus congregated together, there has been crime of this nature committed.

I have, &c
(Signed)        JB Motherwell, MD

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 5 in No. 9.
Dr Motherwell to Mr Forster

Salt Water River, December 13, 1845

    I BEG leave to report to you that I do not think that disease    *    *    prevails to any extent at this station. During the thirteen months that I have been medical officer here, I have only met with some three or four cases of it.

    I have not made any medical examination of all the prisoners for this purpose.

I have, &c
(Signed)     JB Motherwell, MD


Inclosure 6 in No. 9.
Dr Dermer to Mr Champ

Port Arthur, December 22, 1845.

    THE health of the men at this station, with respect to disease, brought on by    *    *    *    is good; there is only one case under medical treatment in hospital, that of a boy, who is nearly well.

I have, &c
(Signed)      W Dermer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 7 in No. 9.
RETURN of PRISONERS treated in Hospital with disease arising from    *    *    *    from 1st January to 31st December, 1846.

HM Colonial Hospital, Port Arthur, December 31, 1845.




From whence received.


Coal Mines








Hobart Town

(Signed) W Dermer. Col Assist Surgeon in Charge

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 8 in No. 9.
Dr Dermer to Mr Champ

Point Puer, December 22, 1845

    THE health of the boys at this station, as regards disease    *    *    *    *    *    is good. There are no cases under medical treatment, and I have every reason to think that the commission of    *    *    does not exist among them, at any rate, not to any extent.

I have, &c
(Signed)      W Dermer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 9 in No. 9.
Mr Bailey to Dr Robertson, Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals

Cascades, December 22, 1845

    IN compliance with your instructions to furnish a report requested by the Comptroller General, as to the prevalence of disease brought on by    *    *    I beg leave to state that I made a most minute inspection of the entire gang at this station this day, and, in the course of my examination, discovered four cases of this disease, three of whom had not presented themselves for treatment up to the period of their being inspected.

I have, &c
(Signed)      WH Baylie, Assistant Surgeon



Inclosure 10 in No. 9.
Mr Black to Mr Stuart.

Wedge Bay, December 43, [sic] 1845.


    IN compliance with your request, that I should report to you upon the prevalence of disease arising from    *     *    *    on this station, I beg to state that, during the eight months I have been here, but one case of    *    *    has come under my notice.

    I have just finished a private examination of the whole of the prisoners, and have discovered three marked cases of this disease, which I have placed under medical treatment.

    From suspicious appearances, observable on an examination of    *    *    of several of the prisoners, I am afraid that the commission of    *    *     is of no rare occurrence on this station.

    I have no doubt that this crime may be committed, to a certain extent, without any disease resulting therefrom.

    I am unable to ascertain whether    *    *    is caused primarily   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    or is the result    *    *

I have, &c
(Signed)      Patrick Black, Colonial Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 11 in No. 9.
Mr Macdowell to the Principal Medical Officer.

Broadmarsh Probation Station, Ferbruary [sic] 23, 1846.


    I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the 18th instant, requesting me to report whether, as far as I can ascertain,    *    *    *    exists at the station under my charge, and if so, to what extent.

    In accordance with your instructions, I beg to state that I have made a medical inspection on this station, on the 21st instant, conducted with as much delicacy as circumstances would allow, and I must confess that I could not discover, from appearances, a case of    *    *    *    having been committed.

    There are lights burning in the huts during the night, and boards of separation between each man in the sleeping-places.

I have, &c
(Signed)       J Macdowell, Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 12 in No. 9.
Mr Hall to Dr Robertson.

HM Colonial Hospital, Westbury, February 23, 1846.


    IN compliance with the Circular of the 18th instant, I have this day made a rigid examination of every man on the Hiring Depot, and three cases appear to be suspicious,    *    *    *    *    *    *    I must confess I am not acquainted with any appearances which are infallible signs    *    *    *    I never yet had reason to think that the crime existed to any extent on this station, and my attention has always been directed to any circumstances of a suspicious nature. I think, during the two years and a half that I have had charge of this hospital, &c., I have not suspected the crime in more than six individuals. Two of the individuals were, to a certain extent, imbecile. I drew the attention of the superintendents and visiting magistrate to the parties, and they were placed to sleep alone. Lamps are placed in all the sleeping wards at night, but from all that I can learn, they are very seldom alight in the morning, which they ought to be if no tricks were played with them. I have now one of their commonest open lamps, with two wicks, still burning without any trimming during the time since it was lighted, at half-past seven last evening, and though that is now upwards of twelve hours since, the allowance of oil (one gill) is not yet consumed. I visited all the sleeping huts on the station on Saturday night about 10 o’clock, and the lamps were giving



a very feeble light, and did not appear as if they would burn until day-light. On this subject, I think there is great room for improvement; the lamps are hung from the roof without any protection, so that the oil may be stolen, or the flame extinguished, with very little chance of detection. I should suggest their being locked within fine wire cages (such as the Davy’s safety lamp is) or else that some one man in the ward should every night be made responsible for the lamp remaining alight, and that the watchman should be required to visit each ward frequently during the night, and to call the responsible man’s attention to the trimming of the lamp when required.

    Nevertheless, I do not think there is any certain means of preventing the crime altogether, when men are thus congregated, except by separate sleeping berths. Boards of separation exist at present between each berth, but I have frequently noticed the late visiting magistrate drawing the attention of the superintendent to their having been removed. The naked monthly inspection, properly conducted, I think, has a very powerful effect in restraining this crime, as well as in preserving the men’s persons cleanly, and detecting cutaneous or other diseases.

I have, &c
(Signed)      ES Hall, Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 13 in No. 9.
Mr Hall to Dr Robertson.

Hospital Probation Station, Deloraine,
February 25, 1846.


    I HAVE the honour to report that I have this morning made a careful examination of all the men at this station. Last night, between 10 and 11 pm, I accompanied Mr Courtenay, the Superintendent, in a visit to all the sleeping-wards. In three out of the five wards the lamps were not alight; in two of these three the boards of separation were removed between two persons in each; and in another of the wards, where the lamp was barely alight, another two were similarly    *    *    *    . All six were immediately placed in the cells. These men I very particularly inspected this morning, and only on the person of one could I detect any appearance of a suspicious nature,    *    *    *    *    *    this, however, might be caused by    *    *    of which I have always suspected him. I have never had reason to think, from what I have seen, that    *    *    was very prevalent at this station.

    I have always been of opinion, and the late Visiting-Magistrate and most of the Superintendents have generally agreed with me, that the mode in which I have carried the monthly inspection into effect, has had a great tendency to restrain this crime. At every monthly inspection which I hold in conjunction with the Visiting Magistrate, after the bedding, berths, &c., &c., are examined by us together, I inspect    *    *    *    *    *    *    * . I have been informed, by well-conducted men, in whose report I placed credit, that this is a great check upon the men.

    If the reports of the men from other stations are correct, naked inspections are not generally practised by the medical officers, and the consequence has been, that in some few instances men have refused to submit to this examination, or have endeavoured to evade it, and have been punished for so doing, on my charge before the Visiting-Magistrate. The efficiency of such an inspection for the preservation of cleanliness and health, I need not comment upon. The remarks I have made in the Report from Westbury [see Inclosure 12 in No. 9 above] on the night-lamps, are even more applicable here.

I have, &c
(Signed)       BS Hall, Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 14 in No. 9.
Mr Macnamara to Dr Robertson.

Cleveland, February 24, 1846.

    I HAVE the honour to inform you that I made a medical inspection at this station, agreeable to the orders contained in the circular of the 18th instant, and am happy to state that    *    *    *    as far as appearances enable me to judge, must be of rare occurrence here. I beg leave also to inform you, that there is a lamp every night in each of the wards, which continues burning about three or four hours.



There are no boards of separation between the men, who sleep on benches after the manner of soldiers in a guard-room. As a means of prevention I beg to suggest boards of separation between every two men, lights burning all night, and a watchman pacing back and forward in each ward during the night.

I have, &c
Signed)       James Macnamara, CAS

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 15 in No. 9.
Mr Macnamara to Dr Robertson.

Ross, February 23, 1846.

    I BEG to report for your information, that two or three of the cases examined, with a view of ascertaining if    *    *    *    exist, presented such appearances as warrant me in affirming that such crime does exist at this station; but the appearances presented by several other cases, although very suspicious, were not of so unequivocal a nature as to enable me to determine to what extent it exists.

    I beg also to report that a light is kept burning in each of the wards during the night, and that a board, of not more than eight inches high, separates each man.

Boards of separation from two to three feet high, and a watchman walking up and down each ward during the night, appear to me to be the best means of prevention.

I have, &c
(Signed)      James Macnamara, CAS

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 16 in No. 9.
Mr Benson to Dr Robertson.

Her Majesty’s General Hospital, Launceston,
February 24, 1846.

    IN reply to your communication of the 18th instant, I have the honour to report that neither from personal inspection, nor private inquiry, can any grounds be discovered for suspecting that    *    *     *    exists among the male prisoners at this station, but it must be admitted that when any disposition for such a depraved propensity prevails, great facilities are afforded for its indulgence, and with but little danger of detection. No lights are kept burning in the sleeping-wards during the night, nor is any overseer or other person placed in the wards to prevent improper conduct on the part of the men; each of the two sleeping-rooms at the prisoners’ barracks contain 105 beds, formed by three rows of berths, the upper one of which is at such a height that it would be impossible for a person upon the floor to perceive any irregularity on the part of those sleeping in it. Between each sleeping-berth there is a moveable board of separation of about nineteen inches in height. The mess-rooms are, at night, converted into sleeping-wards, when (as at present,) there are more [than] 200 prisoners in barrack, and, in such a case, the men are made to sleep upon the floor without lights, and without any separation. Under the arrangements detailed above, there is no check to the conduct of the prisoners during the night, and therefore the most improper practices may be carried on without even suspicion of their existence; I would beg to suggest as a means of preventing the probability of such occurring, that lights be invariably burned during the night; that the wards be less crowded than they at present are, and that an overseer be placed in each sleeping-room, whose duty it would be to report any prisoner whom he found attempting to leave the sleeping-place allotted to him, or remove the board separating his own berth from its neighbour.

I have, &c
(Signed)       W Benson CAS

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Inclosure 17 in No. 9.
Mr Smart to Dr Robertson.

Fingal Probation Station, February 24, 1846.

    IN answer to your circular of the 18th instant, I beg leave to inform you, that according to your directions, I made a careful inspection of the men belonging to the party, with the view of detecting the evidences of    *    *     *    and I am happy to state, that I did not discover anything which would lead me to suppose that such crimes are in practice. Hitherto I have made it a rule frequently to inspect all suspicious characters, but have rarely met with disease tending to prove that    *    *    *    have been committed.

    On this station lights are kept up in the sleeping-huts throughout the night and the separation boards are complete.

    I shall have an opportunity of inspecting the men belonging to the station, St Mary’s Pass, on Friday next, at monthly muster, when I shall report to you the result of my investigation.

    Should I feel it in my power to offer any suggestions in my next report, I shall have much pleasure in doing so.

I have, &c
(Signed)      Thomas Smart

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 18 in No. 9.
Mr Huston to Dr Robertson.

Brown’s River, February 26, 1846.


    WITH reference to your circular, dated 18th instant touching the existence of     *    *    crime at the stations under my charge, I have the honour to submit the following.

    On the 6th ultimo, two men at this station were detected in the commission of the crime alluded to, and as this fact created some discussion and suspicion, I felt it my duty to make a minute inspection of the men at this station, which I did on the 27th ultimo, and out of upwards of 600 men then inspected, three cases only were detected, which created suspicion of the crime having been committed; of these, two were suffering under     *     *    *    *    *    *    and the third of    *    *    I have this day inspected 140 men who arrived at this station subsequent to the former inspection, and have detected but one case (which I regret to say is a very bad one)     *     *    *    *    *    *

    I also on the 24th instant inspected the Oyster Cove party, and (except in one instance) found nothing to excite the slightest suspicion of the existence of the crime at that station.     *     *    *    *    *    *

    Under these circumstances, I cannot help arriving at the conclusion of the crime being uncommon (although existing in a very few instances) at these stations. Lights are constantly burnt in the huts at night, and there are separation-boards between every man’s berth.

    I am of opinion that a watchman, placed in each sleeping hut at night would tend greatly to prevent this crime at those stations where it is supposed to exist. The three men at this station have been since kept by night in separate apartments.

I have, &c
(Signed)      GF Huston, Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Inclosure 19 in No. 9.
Mr Smart to Dr Robertson.

Fingal Probation Station, March 2, 1846.

   I BEG leave to inform you that I made a careful inspection of the men belonging to the station, St Mary’s Pass, yesterday, and that I found no disease in the party, nor any appearance which would lead me to suspect that    *    *    *    are at all committed.

    Lamps are kept burning all night in the sleeping wards, and the separation-boards are carefully attended to.

    From all I have been able to learn relative to the habits of prisoners during several years’ experience, I am of opinion that    *    *    *    are of very rare occurrence.

    I do not feel that it is in my power to offer any useful suggestion further than to state, that I think the complete separation of the boys from the men, both on the works and in the sleeping huts, would prove beneficial to the morals of the party, and tend to prevent crime.

I have, &c
(Signed)      Thomas Smart, Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 20 in No. 9.
Mr Story, to Dr Robertson.

Rocky Hills, 2mo. 28, 1846.

    I RESPECTFULLY acknowledge the receipt of the circular of 18th instant, which having only come to hand on the 26th, I deferred the inspection of the men until to-day, the last Saturday of the month, when a general and close inspection takes place, and therefore the examination could be conducted without its particular object being known. Each man was examined separately, but no appearances discovered that would lead to the supposition of the crime prevailing amongst the men at this station.

The station contains about 190 men, all newly arrived in the colony, and chiefly from Ireland. A short time since the old hands were removed to Maria Island, and replaced by the present men, care being taken to prevent any communication betwixt the two parties whilst the alteration was affected.

The men of the 3rd Class are lodged in separate rooms, and thus every possibility of the crime occurring amongst them is effectually prevented.

In the 1st and 2nd Classes the men sleep in huts, each hut containing from 10 to 20 men; the bed places are in two tiers; each man’s berth is separated from the one on either side by a board about 18 inches deep, and a lamp is burnt during the night in each hut; after the men are in bed the huts are locked up.

 I am of opinion that the crime does not prevail at this station, both from the inspection made, as well as from the manner in which the men are lodged; it may be, however, desirable to form a more complete separation of the berths than is made by the boards; but a difficulty occurs in making it so as not to interrupt the free circulation of air, and at the same time allow of its being removed for the purpose of cleaning the berths; such an one might he constructed of battens.

I remain, &c
(Signed)        George F Story, Colonial Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 21 in No. 9.
Mr Park to Dr Robertson.

Oatlands, March 4, 1846.

    I Have the honour to inform you, in reply to your instructions of the 18th ultimo, that having made the necessary inspection of men at the different stations under my charge, no trace of disease was discovered. I examined 265 men belonging to this station, 48 at Antill Ponds, and 36 at Jericho.

Lamps are burned in the sleeping-wards of the men during the night, and the wards are visited at uncertain hours by the Superintendent as late as 12 o’clock. The lights are occasionally found extinguished, by accident or otherwise, and are always again lighted when so found.

There are boards of separation between the sleeping-places of the men at this station; but when I last inspected the wards some of them were deficient, which was accounted for



by their being removed and destroyed by men in whom a general spirit of destructiveness exists, and which it would be impossible to prevent.

    At Antill Ponds there are no boards of separation in the sleeping-berths, and the room serves the double purpose of mess-room and sleeping-ward. The whole establishment at this station, (Antill Ponds,) is temporarily rented, which may, perhaps, account for the deficiencies that exist. There were three men labouring under    *    *, and these had arrived from the large towns in an infected state, and were under treatment at the station previous to the examination.

    From the late inspection I should not, perhaps, be justified in asserting that    *    *    *    exists at these stations, but in venturing an opinion from what I can learn, and have seen, I should say that it does exist.

    The depth of the boards usually placed as separations, is such that not the slightest impediment is offered by them to the perpetration of the crime; and were they eighteen inches or more, instead of seven or eight, I think they would be no greater obstacle. Iron bars perpendicularly placed at intervals between each berth, and of strength to resist destruction, would completely prevent any intercourse, or a watchman perambulating the wards during the whole night, would deter the most abandoned.

    The separate system offers a certain remedy, than which nothing could he so effectual.

I have, &c
(Signed)        FJ Park, Colonial Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 22 in No. 9.
Mr Thomas to Dr Robertson.

Jerusalem Hiring Depot, March 5, l846.

    SO soon as the Superintendent’s arrangements would permit I made a medical inspection of all the pass-holders of this station, and am happy in being able to report that I have not, nor have had, the least reason to suppose that    *    *    *    exists at this station.

    The sleeping-huts are situated in the first and second yards, and in them the separation boards are always between each man’s berth, and a lamp is burned in every dormitory where more than one man is.

    As prevention is a paramount object in these cases, and separation the chief source of prevention at such stations, I would respectfully suggest:–

    1st.  That at this station the separate apartments, or cells situated in the third yard, be never used for more than one person each, excepting when, from the strength of the party, such a course is unavoidable, and that in this case not less than three sleep in the cell, and that the separation boards, and boards for the heads to rest on, be fixed therein before the cell is so used.

    2nd.  To prevent as far as possible the necessity of so using those cells, more men may be accommodated in each of the huts in the first and second yards; thus, the first hut in the first yard has two rows of double berths on each side of the door, each berth about twenty-five inches wide. These I consider may, by taking a very small portion of the passage now between the berths, be converted into three berths on a floor, increasing the accommodation of that hut by eight berths, and three instead of two (an objectionable number) would be on a floor. In each of the other huts several berths may in like manner be placed; and if it were done, I should suggest also that either one or three be on a floor. The large dormitory lately built over the first class mess-rooms may be fitted up with separation and head-boards, and be used if required, and indeed the other contemplated dormitory proposed to be formed next to this, and over the second class mess-room, may be easily made and fitted up.

    3rd.  That the unfinished house in the third yard, on the floor of which many of the men sleep, have separation and head-boards fixed, if not desirable to fit it up with berths. In this way more men could be accommodated.

I have, &c
(Signed)          Henry Thomas, Colonial Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 23 in No. 9.
Mr Teush to Dr Robertson.

Port Cygnet March 3, 1846.

    The instructions conveyed in a circular, dated Feb. 18, 1846, of which I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt, and to which I beg, in reply, to state, that I have no physical reason to judge that    *    *    *    does exist at the stations  under my charge,



from the inspections I have made; that lamps are burned in the streets throughout the night, as well as boards of separation being placed between each man not under separate treatment. The latter can be the only effective mode of preventing such crime, during the season of night being perpetrated.

I have, &c
(Signed)         FE Teush, Assistant Surgeon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Inclosure 24 in No. 9.
Mr Baylie to Dr Robertson.

Impression Bay, March 9, 1846.


    In order to obtain satisfactory information on the subject of your letter of the 6th of March, I have the honour to inform you, that I made a minute inspection of the stations under my charge.

    Few decided cases present themselves; still, it is to he remembered that there is no means for the detection of this crime, except in those who submit to the act, those acting never showing any mark by which they can be detected, and yet the propensity may exist to a very great extent amongst those very parties.

    Lights are permitted to be burned in the huts after the men are mustered in, and they are visited at uncertain hours by the station-officer of the week.

    The berths are separated to their entire extent by moveable boards of twelve inches high.

    I can propose no plan for the suppression of this horrid crime beyond a rigid adherence to the separate treatment system, and on this point I feel I am not out-stepping my duty, in suggesting the propriety of laying aside all other work to the advancement of the apartments for this class of unfortunate wretches, as I firmly believe no other means can be contemplated so effective as that now proposed.

    And again, I would suggest that no two persons be employed together on any duty, without the superintendence of a third party who can be depended on.

I have, &c
(Signed)       WH Baylie, Assistant Surgeon


1  BPP, Transportation, vol. 7, 1834-1847, pp. 502-12. Emphasis added.

2  The original despatch No. 54 above (found as part of the ‘Australian Joint Copying Project’, microfilm reel, PRO 542, ‘1846 Mar.-Apr. Despatches’) has two right hand marginal handwritten notes where “... private and confidential ...” 2nd November 1843 Wilmot to Stanley despatch is mentioned. They state, firstly, “This Despatch was never (sent ?) into the Public Dept but was placed by Lord Stanley in the custody of Mr Smith.” And secondly, “It relates – I think – (extensively ? or exclusively ?) to the state of the female penitentiary.”

3  The author contacted, via email, on 17 Sep 2004, Alistair Hanson, UK National Archives, regarding this matter as follows. The last Wilmot despatch on CO 280/160 – “Colonial Office, Tasmania, Original Correspondence” – folio 358 (PRO, microfilm, 521) is No. 22, 7 Nov 1843. Previous to that (folio 330) is despatch No. 21, 6 Nov 1853. Previous one is folio 300, dated 4 Nov 1843 marked ‘Private and Confidential’. Previous to that, despatch No. 20, folio 294, dated 3 Nov 1843. Previous to that, despatch No. 19, folio 274, dated 3 Nov 1843. Previous to that, despatch (Duplicate) No. 18, folio 272, dated 1 Nov 1843. Previous to that, despatch No. 17, folio 265, dated 31 Oct 1843. Previous to that, despatch (Printed) No. 16, folio 253, dated 31 Oct 1843. Unfortunately, Mr Hanson was not able to assist with any further details.

  Mn: Port Cygnet, Lymington, Nichol’s Rivulet.