Chapter 12th Anniversary Christmas Luncheon

The 2016 Christmas Luncheon was attended by 33 members and guests with the Chapter Secretary Wendy Selman officiating as Master of Ceremony, Vice-president Rodney Davis offering the toast and President Pamela Cormick saying grace. The audience was entertained by Lynda Emery’s presentation History and Letter Writing – in the Context of the First Fleet.

Letters were the only means people on the First Fleet and in the New South Wales British Colony could use to communicate with family, friends or colleagues at home. Letters travelling in both directions, carried by ship, took months to reach their destinations. Private letters going from New South Wales to Britain may be carried by ship’s captains for a fee and would be dropped off at the ship’s first port of call in England, from there to be handled by the local postal system. Paper in the colony was in short supply so letters were frequently “cross written” making them difficult to read. Letters were also written so that the paper could be folded and become its own envelope, sealed closed using wax.

One of the most fascinating letters discussed by Linda was reported as being written by a female convict and was dated 14th November 1788. The letter is unusual because if it was written by a female (or male) convict she (or he) must have been very well educated, while this is not impossible it does seem unlikely. The letter is anonymous, so it is impossible to say who wrote it.

Fellowship of First Fleeters Southern Highlands Chapter celebrating the 12th Anniversary of the establishment of the Chapter.

The luncheon Venue was the new Alexandra Room at the Mittagong RSL.

Committee members left to right: Rodney Davis, Helen Anderson, Pamela Cormick (President), Wendy Selman (Secretary), John Kirkby (Treasurer), Gwen Herbert, Rob Herbert.

Tables were identified by the name of Colonial Governors. Members at the Governor William Bligh table, back row: Randolph Barnes, Paul Miskelly and Robert Hawes. Seated: Glenda Miskelly, Damien Healy and Pat Hawes.

Members and guests at the Governor Arthur Phillip table, left to right: Guest Speaker Linda Emery, John Kirkby, Rosemary Kirkby, Pamela Cormick, Colin Selman, Wendy Selman, Meg Davis and Rodney Davis.

Members at the Governor Captain John Hunter table, left to right: Rob Herbert, Helen Anderson, Gwen Herbert, Graham Anderson, Gaye White, Derek White, Betty Ruthven and Kathy Manning.

Members at the Governor Colonel Lachlan Macquarie table, left to right: Ken Smith, Margaret Smith, Catherine Kerr, Richard Leech, Helen Leech and Bob Leech.

Members at the Governor Captain Phillip Gidley King table, left to right: Ted Westwood,
Trish Scott-Wandmaker, Neville Usher, Patricia Robinson and Howard Lewis.

Wendy and Colin Selman at the Governor Arthur Phillip table. Wendy has been the secretary since the chapter began operations in November 2004.

Rodney and Meg Davis at the Governor Arthur Phillip table. Rodney is the current chapter Vice-President and on occasions a speaker at meetings, he also reviews books which may be of interest to members.

Rosemary and John Kirkby at the Governor Arthur Phillip Table. John has been Treasurer since the Chapter began in November 2004.

Chapter President Pamela Cormick with Guest Speaker Historian Linda Emery. Linda's topic at this years luncheon was History and Letter Writing - in the Context of the First Fleet.

Chapter Secretary and luncheon Master of Ceremony Wendy Selman in action.

Chapter Secretary and Luncheon MC Wendy Selman welcoming and introducing
Guest Speaker, Historian Linda Emery, to the function.

Guest Speaker, Historian Linda Emery, delivering a facinating presentation on the History of Letter Writing in the Context of the First Fleet. See the 1788 Chronicle January-February Vol 13 No1 for more detail.

Historian Linda Emery.

Discussion and question time at the end of Linda's presentation.

Discussion and question time at the end of Linda's presentation.

Discussion and question time at the end of Linda's presentation.

Chapter President Pamela Cormick presenting Guest Speaker Historian Linda Emery
with a gift of appreciation.

Paul Miskelly receiving a thankyou gift for many years service on the committee. Paul retired from the committee at the end of the 2015-2016 year.

New member Gaye White receiving her Fellowship of First Fleeter Certificate of Membership from
Chapter President Pamela Cormick.

The Christmas hampers, made up from donations by Chapter members, were won by
Trish Scott-Wandmaker and Rodney Davis.

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“LETTER FROM A FEMALE CONVICT. Port Jackson, 14th November, 1788.

I TAKE the first opportunity that has been given us to acquaint you with our disconsolate situation in this solitary waste of the creation. Our passage, you may have heard by the first ships, was tolerably favourable; but the inconveniences since suffered for want of shelter, bedding, &c., are not to be imagined by any stranger. However, we have now two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive of deserve that name. Windows they have none, as from the Governor’s house, &c., now nearly finished, no glass could be spared; so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. At the extremity of the lines, where since our arrival the dead are buried, there is a place called the church-yard; but we hear, as soon as a sufficient quantity of bricks can be made, a church is to be built, and named St. Philip, after the Governor.

Notwithstanding all our presents, the savages still continue to do us all the injury they can, which makes the soldiers’ duty very hard, and much dissatisfaction among the officers. I know not how many of our people have been killed. As for the distresses of the women, they are past description, as they are deprived of tea and other things they were indulged in in the voyage by the seamen, and as they are all totally unprovided with clothes, those who have young children are quite wretched.

Besides this, though a number of marriages have taken place, several women, who became pregnant on the voyage, and are since left by their partners, who have returned to England, are not likely even here to form any fresh connections. We are comforted with the hopes of a supply of tea from China, and flattered with getting riches when the settlement is complete, and the hemp which the place produces is brought to perfection.

Our kingaroo rats are like mutton, but much leaner; and there is a kind of chickweed so much in taste like our spinach that no difference can be discerned. Something like ground ivy is used for tea; but a scarcity of salt and sugar makes our best meals insipid. The separation of several of us to an uninhabited island was like a second transportation. In short, every one is so taken up with their own misfortunes that they have no pity to bestow upon others.

All our letters are examined by an officer, but a friend takes this for me privately. The ships sail tomorrow.*

[* The Fishburn and Golden Grove, transports.]”

Title: Early News from a New Colony: British Museum Papers Author: Anonymous, Unknown * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook. Downloaded 2 March, 2016