State Library of NSW
Collection 18: Letters from the Rev. Richard Johnson to Henry Fricker, 30 May 1787-10 Aug. 1797, with associated items, ca. 18881787-1797
The Rev. Richard Johnson was appointed as the first chaplain to the colony of New South Wales in 1787, an appointment he held until 1800 when he returned with his family and Governor John Hunter on HMS Buffalo. Henry Fricker, Portsmouth, England, was one of a group of Portsmouth and Lymington friends of the Rev. Johnson, and acted as a channel for news once Johnson and his wife Mary had left on the First Fleet convict transport Golden Grove in 1787. Johnson owed his appontment to friends within the London Eclectic Society, notably the Rev. John Newton, the Rev. Henry Foster, William Wilberforce and John and Henry Thornton.
We have been anxiously looking out for a fleet for a long time, but hitherto none has appeared, & 'tis now generally conjectured that the fleet expected is either lost or taken by some Enemy. - Our hopes now are almost vanished, & every one begins to think our situation not a little alarming. - This is increased by the following Melancholy Providence - The Sirius was intended to be sent off about this time to Canton in China for the purpose of taking up some Vessels & bringing us a supply of Provisions - But previous to her doing this, she together with the Supply Tender, was sent to Norfolk were she was drove ashore upon the Rocks or Reef, & foundered. - Fortunately no lives were lost, & it is hoped the greatest part of the Provisions will be saved. - The Supply returned here on the 5th inst. with this News. - This cast a further Damp upon every Countenance. - A Publick Council was called by the Governor on the same eveng to see what measures had best to be adopted in consequence of the loss of the Sirius, & the present scarcity of Provisions 'till a supply arrived here either from Europe or elsewhere. - In Consequence of this Council the greatest part of publick work is to be dropped. - All Boats belonging to individuals are to made use of for the publick. Officers are to superintend this fishing Business in their turn, amongst whom I am to take an active part; sometimes to go down this Harbour, & sometimes to Botany Bay. - Others are to employed in raising Vegetables, Potatoes &c, &c - & some are to shoot for the publick, & whatever is caught, either Fish, fowles, or Kangaroo is to be served out in lieu of Salt provisions. - Several Hoggs have been already killed, & sold to Government at 1d. per lb , & this likewise served out in the room of salt provisions. - As an individual I am as well off as Most. Have plenty of Vegetables, Potatoes, &c., wch. I feel of essential service, & wch. are chiefly the fruits of my own hard labour. - Had not we something of this to help out , you may judge how we sd. now do upon the Pension of 2 lbs. of Pork - 2½ lbs. of flour - 1 lb. Rice - & a pints of pease per Week. - This is the utmost allowed us, & when served fish &c the Pork stopped, -
The Supply is going to Batavia in the course of a very few days, where she is to take up some Vessels & purchase pro[visions]