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Convict transportation in the age of Abolition, 1787-1807

Darwin, Lauren Joanne


Lauren Joanne Darwin


Nicholas J. (Nicholas John) Evans

J. R. (John R.) Oldfield


This thesis examines convict transportation to the Australian colonies through the lens of the British Transatlantic slave trade during the age of Abolition. It challenges the paradigms of understanding the penal punishment through primarily the study of crime history and instead takes an Imperial, Global and Comparative approach to this topic. In doing so, this thesis uncovers previously unexplored elements of convict transportation. It demonstrates that the settlement at Botany Bay was pivotal in the redirection of Britain’s Imperial focus. It shows that the contractors, ship-owners and captains who were involved in the transportation of convicts across the seas were pioneers as they looked to exploit markets of intra and intercontinental trade in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Through an analysis of the 63 convict voyages that took place from Britain and Ireland between 1787 and 1807, this thesis also explores the previously silenced narratives of those who travelled to New South Wales on board convict transports. In doing so, it analyses the hardships endured not only by prisoners, but also the captain, officers, soldiers and crewmen during their passage across the seas. This thesis also compares convict transportation to the Transatlantic slave trade and shows that although contemporaries and historians have highlighted certain similarities between them, they were not alike. The slave trade was a barbarous form of coerced migration whereas convict transportation was in the main very well organised, efficient and executed in a relatively humane fashion. However, as this work shows convict transportation and the slave trade share an interconnected history through merchants, captains, captives, trade goods and the exchange of ideas, knowledge, practice and skill during a period when they coalesced in the British maritime world.


Darwin, L. J. (2017). Convict transportation in the age of Abolition, 1787-1807. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords History; Slavery
Public URL
Additional Information WISE, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2017


Thesis (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Darwin, Lauren Joanne. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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