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Tasmania's Heritage
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APPENDIX D

The Numbers of Convicts Transported to Tasmania

The problem of arriving at the total of men and women who came to Tasmania under sentence of transportation from 1803 to 1853 is complicated by several factors: that convicts came not only from Great Britain, on ships specially chartered for the purpose, but from all British colonies, including the Australian ones ( particularly New South Wales) in small numbers at a time; that sentence of transportation could be pronounced in the colony, on persons who had either arrived free or had become emancipated; that some men came via Norfolk Island, or had been sent there from Tasmania before returning; that systematic and contemporary posting of entries in the conduct registers (CON31) did not begin until 1827, that the numbers embarked do not correspond to the number arriving, because of death during the passage, relanding after embarkation, or escape; and that the numbering of convicts is done in different ways at different times ( see under CON31 and CON33).

In an attempt to reach a reasonable approximation, three separate calculations have been made; the third is entirely independent of the first two, which have in common only "C" and that part of "G" which is included in "F".
The Numbers of Convicts Transported to Tasmania

The problem of arriving at the total of men and women who came to Tasmania under sentence of transportation from 1803 to 1853 is complicated by several factors: that convicts came not only from Great Britain, on ships specially chartered for the purpose, but from all British colonies, including the Australian ones ( particularly New South Wales) in small numbers at a time; that sentence of transportation could be pronounced in the colony, on persons who had either arrived free or had become emancipated; that some men came via Norfolk Island, or had been sent there from Tasmania before returning; that systematic and contemporary posting of entries in the conduct registers (CON31) did not begin until 1827, that the numbers embarked do not correspond to the number arriving, because of death during the passage, relanding after embarkation, or escape; and that the numbering of convicts is done in different ways at different times ( see under CON31 and CON33).

In an attempt to reach a reasonable approximation, three separate calculations have been made; the third is entirely independent of the first two, which have in common only "C" and that part of "G" which is included in "F".

Table 1

A Men totalled from the arrival figure for each principal ship (including  Buffalo, 1840, Mount Stuart Elphinstone, May 1848, Bangalore, Jul 1848 and Neptune, 1850) 53153
B Women totalled from the arrival figure for each principal ship 12414
C Total to 1853, of convicts in "Miscellaneous" Registers (CON37) 2964
D Men from NSW on "minor" ships 1666
E Women from NSW on "minor" ships 519
F Men from Norfolk Island, 1844-50 (from CON33) 2607
Total 73323

Table 2

G Men totalled from their convict numbers 57909
H Women totalled from their convict numbers 13392
C "Miscellaneous" convicts (as above) 2964
Total 74265

Table 3

Total of individual entries in CON22/1-9 (i.e. all convicts embarked for Tasmania from all sources) 74377
Subtract total of convicts known not to have arrived 811
Total 73566

The discrepancies may be due to errors in departmental numeration, or it may be that there are deficiencies in any of the items of Table 1; it appears likely that Table 3 is the most reliable, though it is known that the second item is a minimum, and that the total includes an unknown small number of individuals who were sentenced to transportation in the colony, having either arrived free or become emancipated.  In any case it is clear that previous calculations (e.g.  C Bateson, The Convict Ships, Glasgow, 1959, p9; R M Hartwell, The Economic Development of Van Diemen's Land, Melbourne, 1945, p85) have been too conservative.

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