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The Floating Brothel

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The Floating Brothel

From Wikipedia

Lady Juliana (also known as the Lady Julian) was a convict ship dispatched in 1789 from Britain to Australia. She was the first convict ship to arrive at Port Jackson in New South Wales after the First Fleet. She is therefore sometimes considered as part of the Second Fleet and sometimes not. A transportation register can be seen at The UK National Archives.

A ship of 401 tons, she was chartered to transport female convicts. Her master was Thomas Edgar who had sailed with James Cook on his last voyage. The surgeon was Richard Alley who was apparently competent by the standards of the day, but made little attempt to maintain discipline. After a delay of six months the Lady Juliana left Plymouth on 29 July 1789 with 226 female convicts, and took 309 days to reach Port Jackson, one of the slowest journeys made by a convict ship. She called at Tenerife and St Jago, and spent forty five days at Rio de Janeiro, and nineteen days at the Cape of Good Hope.

An account of the voyage was written by her steward John Nicol. He gives a fascinating account of the voyage and the convicts. Most of these were London prostitutes, but there were some hardened criminals - thieves, receivers of stolen goods, shoplifters - among them.

The vessel gained the reputation for being a floating brothel. Nicol recalled that "when we were fairly out to sea, every man on board took a wife from among the convicts, they nothing loath." At the ports of call seamen from other ships were freely entertained, and the officers made no attempt to suppress this licentious activity. The convicts were reported to be noisy and unruly, with a fondness for liquor, and they frequently fought amongst themselves.

During the voyage only five convicts died. Rations were properly issued, the vessel kept clean and fumigated, the women were given free access to the deck, and supplies of fresh food were obtained at the ports of call. This treatment was in sharp contrast to that meted out on the infamous Second Fleet.

Lady Juliana arrived at Port Jackson on 6 June 1790, the first vessel to be seen by the members of the first settlement since their own arrival almost two and a half years before. In the grip of starvation, with HMS Sirius wrecked at Norfolk Island Judge Advocate David Collins was mortified at the arrival of "a cargo so unnecessary and so unprofitable as 222 females, instead of a cargo of provisions". Lieutenant Ralph Clark was more blunt, lamenting the arrival of still more "damned whores". The ship carried letters bringing the first news of events in Europe to the settlement since the First Fleet had sailed in May 1787. Two weeks later the storeship Justinian arrived, followed a week later by the three ships of the Second Fleet with their shameful cargo of starved and maltreated convicts.

After repairs to her strained timbers, the Lady Juliana sailed for China on 25 July 1790 to take on a cargo of tea for the East India Company.

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