IrishI am so happy to bring you this story of John White and even happier to post some of the prints we have in our collection.   Both John and his works are an important part of our Australian history.

John White, having established himself as an English Naval Surgeon of some note was appointed Chief Surgeon of the expedition to establish a convict settlement at Botany Bay. This, in its day was not only a great achievement for him, but offered notoriety because of its importance to History

There were 11 ships in the First Fleet with 778 convicts, many of whom were in very poor health due to long imprisonment.  Can you imagine the feelings of these convicts, sick from imprisonment then having to undertake such a long journey into the unknown.   No doubt aware that they may never see their loved ones ever again?   Personally, I couldn’t imagine it.

John supported the journey very well and to his credit, on that 8 month journey, lost only 34 convict s. Within one year of living in the colony, he built a hospital and greatly reduced the incidence of sickness.

On joining the First Fleet, White began to keep a journal in which he made many notes and drawings of birds and animals that he observed in the Colony.   In 1788, he sent his drawings to his friend in London and the ensuing documents were published in 1790 as The Journal of the Voyage to New South Wales.

Accompanying the text were 65 engravings illustrating the natural history of the colony. The copper plate engravings that we have were from these observations.

Click here to read more about John White’s time in the Colony of NSW


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