Our speaker tonight is Diane Mannering and her subject is the story of the early days following the establishment of penal settlements in Australia. This is what she has to say about her talk; Send Us Some Women
There were very few women aboard the First Fleet which sailed to Australia in 1787. It had been decided that once settled in Botany Bay, Governor Phillip would send to the Friendly Islands (now Tonga) to collect a party of native women who would act as a stabilising influence for the garrison (comfort women) and a breeding bank for the male convicts who would be given land when their sentence was served and encouraged to settle, rear a family and help cement the foundations of this new continent. However, Governor Phillip soon realised that the harsh conditions of the Sydney Cove colony was no place for gentle, grass skirted females and instead, he wrote home to England asking the Home Secretary Lord Sydney to send out some women.
Not easy! There wouldn’t have been many women volunteering to sail out to a new country that nobody knew anything about – how was Lord Sydney going to fulfil Governor Phillip’s requirements? Well…… it so happened that Newgate Gaol was bursting at the seams with women – murderers, thieves, pick-pockets, drunks and prostitutes. The Lady Julian set sail in July 1789 with its reluctant cargo and this is the amazing story of the voyage and how these unprepossessing women reinvented themselves to become the grandmothers of Australia.
Unlike the characters in my other history talks, none of the women who sailed on the Lady Julian were important enough to have their portraits painted for posterity, nor were the sailors who crewed the Lady Julian – so when it came to creating my Powerpoint illustrations for the talk, I found that apart from King George III, Lord Sydney (after whom Sydney in Australia was named) and the first governor of Australia Sir Arthur Phillip, I was totally bereft of illustrations. There was no choice other than to create my own cartoon pictures, not something I’d ever done before! I selected about twenty of the women convicts and brought them to life. I’ve created two new cartoons this summer whilst I’ve been in Cornwall and you’ll be the first to see them
when I present the talk in November. I look forward to seeing you all then.
Diane is a successful business woman with a talent for presentations and public speaking, as well as being an artist, whose colourful cartoons will be projected onto our screen to illustrate her talk. This will be a good one.