A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain's Convict Disaster in Africa
This is a story lost to history for over two hundred years; a dirty secret of failure, fatal misjudgement and desperate measures which the British Empire chose to forget almost as soon as it was over. In the wake of its most crushing defeat, the America War of Independence, the British Government began shipping its criminals to West Africa. Some were transported aboard ships going to pick up their other human cargo: African slaves. When they arrived at their destination, soldiers and even convicts were forced to work in the region's slave-trading forts guarding the human merchandise. In a few short years the scheme brought death, wholesale desertions, mutiny, piracy and even murder. Some of the most egregious crimes were not committed by the exported criminals but by those sent out to guard them. Acts of wanton desperation added to rash transgressions as those whom society had already thrown out realised that they had nothing left to lose. As jail and prison hulks overflowed, and as every other alternative settlement proved unsuitable, the British Government gambled and decided to send its criminals as far away as possible, to the great south land sighted years before by Captain James Cook. Out of the embers of the African debacle came the modern nation of Australia. The extraordinary tale is now being told for the first time - how a small band of good-for-nothing members of the British Empire spanned the world from America, to Africa, and on to Australia, profoundly if utterly unwittingly changing history.
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12 TRYING AMERICA AGAIN
13 THE ONCE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN
14 LEMANE ISLAND
15 THE END OF THE AFRICAN DISASTER
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aboard Advertiser American arrived ashore attack Botany Bay Boulden Thompson Britain Britain’s Convicts Cape Coast Castle Captain Mackenzie claimed Clarke colony Commenda Company of Merchants Company’s convict transportation convict-soldiers Cormantin court crime criminal death despite Dutch eighteenth century Elmina England escape Europeans felons forts garrison Gillen Gold Coast Gold Coast Settlements Gorée Governor hanged hulks independent companies island jail John Joseph Wall Kenneth Mackenzie Keyser King labour land later Lemane Limpus lived London Lord Mackenzie’s Majesty’s man’s Mori Morning Chronicle murder Murray’s Newgate O’Hara OBSP officers Old Bailey Ouidah Oxford Patrick Madan plantation prisoners punishment returned Richard Miles Robin Law sailed scheme Senegambia sent sentenced ship’s slave hole slave ships slave trade soldiers South Wales St Jago stolen Sydney Thomas Shirley transportation to Africa trial troops University Press Virginia voyage West Africa Weuves William Murray women wrote