Extract of a letter from Portsmouth, Nov. 23.
“The convicts already arrived at this port from Newfoundland, are near fourscore in number; a few others are expected. These unhappy wretches are almost destitute of every sort of covering, and some of them are labouring under sickness and infirmity. Their story is accurateas follows: About the middle of last June, this miserable class of beings, to the amount of 102 men and boys, and twelve women, all of whom were convicts, were embarked at Dublin, on board the Duke of Leinster transport, the owners of which, who are Dublin merchants, contracted with the Government of Ireland for carrying the convicts to the North American States.
“After the ship had been at sea five weeks, part of which was foul weather, the provision is said to have fallen short ; the master of the transport, Capt. Harrison, accordingly stood in for Newfoundland and lay-to till night; when he disembarked at Bull’s Bay, and a little distance from it, with as much secrecy as possible, his desperate freight.
“To prevent this proceeding being too early early known, he landed with them provision for the immediate supply of their wants, and bore away with a press of sail. The hungry victims lived for three days in a state of warfare, quarrelling about their food ; the strongest beat the weak, and over a cask of rank butter or beef, there was for a time as severe fighting as if a kingdom had been at stake.
“They reached the town of St. John’s on the 20th of July ; and exhibited the most appaling procession ever seen in that country : the inhabitants had immediate councils; and the military and navy co-operating, a place of security was fixed upon at a distance from the town, and they were lodged ; here under a guard.
“Here the Irish howl was nightly sung in full chorus, and the centinels were frequently frighted with the noise while on their posts. A battle or two every half hour kept them festive all day; and when the provision supplied to them by the inhabitants was lessening, they broke away, and laid hold of every thing that was eatable, without enquiring whether it had an owner.
“Some of these poor wretches were anxious to be received into the service of the inhabitants and probably might have reformed, if so fostered. But all of them have a claim to the charity of this country for that supply of raiment which is necessary to guard them against the inclement weather.”
Citation: Glasgow Advertiser (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 04 December 1789, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/54.