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Chronology of the First Fleet
reference: from Mollie Gillen, p. 536

1776   The American War of Independence begins. The former American colonies refuse to accept British convicts.
1781-2   Two attemps to establish a convict colony in west Africa end in disaster with most of the convicts dying from disease and privation or escaping.
1783 August Peace with America prompts the despatch of the Swift transport. The convicts mutiny in the Channel and many escape at Rye, Sussex. The remainder are sent on to Maryland.
1784 March The Mercury sails for America with 179 convicts. A mutiny again takes place and many escape at Torbay, Devon. Those remaining on board are sent on to America and eventually landed on the Mosquito Coast in Central America after being rejected by the newly independent United States.
1786 August 18 Lord Sydney writes to the Treasury requesting the provision of ships to carry convicts to New South Wales.
1787 January 6 The first group of convicts are embarked on Alexander at Woolwich, London.
  May 13 First Fleet sails from Portsmouth, Hampshire.
  June 3 Arrival at Madeira. Water and fresh supplies taken on board.
  July 14 Fleet crosses equator.
  August 6 Arrival at Rio de Janiero. Fleet undergoes repairs, takes on fresh water and supplies.
  September 4 Fleet departs Rio.
  October 14 Arrival at Cape of Good Hope. Fresh supplies and livestock taken on board.
  November 12 Departure from the Cape. (Table Bay)
  November 25 Captain Phillip divides the Fleet and sails ahead with the four fastest ships.
1788 January 3 Coast of Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) sighted.
  Jan 18/19 The first division of the Fleet anchors at Botany Bay.
  January 20 The remainder of the Fleet arrives.
  January 26 All Fleet ships anchor in Sydney Cove, Port Jackson. Captain Phillip and officers go ashore, raise the flag and toast the new colony. Two French ships commanded by La Perouse enter Botany Bay.
  February 15 The Supply sails for Norfolk Island carrying a small party to establish a settlement.
  March 10 The La Perouse expedition leaves Botany Bay.
  May 5/6 Charlotte, Lady Penrhyn and Scarborough sail for China.
  July 14 Borrowdale, Alexander, Friendship and Prince of Wales sail for England.
  October 2 Golden Grove sails for Norfolk Island with a party of convicts, returning to Port Jackson 10 November. Sirius sails for Cape of Good Hope for supplies.
  November 19 Fishburn and Golden Grove sail for England. Only Supply now remains.
1789 December 23 HMS Guardian carrying stores for the colony strikes an iceberg and is forced back to the Cape. It never reaches New South Wales.
1790 March 19 Sirus wrecked off Norfolk Island.
  April 17 Supply sent to Batavia, Java, for emergency food supplies.
  June 3 Lady Juliana, which left England in July 1789, arrives only three weeks before the first of the Second Fleet ships, saving the colony from starvation and bringing orders for the recall of the marines to be replaced by soldiers of the NSW Corps.
1791 March 28 Waaksamheid sails for England carrying the crew of the Siruis.
  August-Oct The Third Fleet arrives.
  December 18 HMS Gorgon sails for England carrying many First Fleet marines home to England.
1792 December 11 The Atlantic sails for England carrying Governor Phillip and the remaining marines who had chosen not to stay in the colony.

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