Englands Decision to Set Up a Convict Settlement in Australia

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Why did England decided to set up a convict settlement in Australia? In England there was a serious convict problem because of the increase in population in the eighteenth century and changes in agriculture and industry that caused unemployment, so many people had no jobs and chose the option to steal and risk getting caught to feed themselves and their families. The improved methods of crime detection, led to the capture of more criminals. The jails became over crowded with convicts and were absolutely filthy. Since the jails were expensive the government decided not to build any more, but to use old war ships, called hulks, to house prisoners. It cost 50 pounds for a convict to be housed in a jail per year, and 40 pounds in a hulk. Hulks were floating on water so it was cold, dark, filthy, damp, had a bad smell and overall had terrible conditions for the prisoners. Hulks were used between the years of 1776-1788. Unfortunately the hulks spread disease quickly and that made the government fear it spreading to the general population. A plan was suggested that the English should send their convicts to the island of Laman about 400 miles up the river Gambia but the American War of Independence meant that the British could no longer send convicts there. They thought of sending convicts to Canada but were afraid that the Canadians would also revolt against the English because of the unfriendly natives. Mr. Henry Smeathan resided for four years on the coast of Africa and said that 200 convicts were left on an island in the river Gambia with no first aid and it was predicted not one in a hundred would survive the first six months. The climate in Africa was too hot and indigenous population were not welcoming of the British, so the English decided against Africa. American revolution meant they could no longer send convicts to America, so between the years

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