Corporal punishment, 1833

If the Ticket of Leave system illustrates the incentive aspect of convict administration, this document reveals the ‘other side of the coin’, showing how severe corporal punishment was meted out to those unable to keep out of trouble.

After receiving complaints that punishment administered to convicts for minor offences was insufficient, Governor Bourke instituted formal inquiries in 1833 into the effectiveness of the cat-of-nine-tails. Records show that one in four convicts were flogged during 1833, with a total of 5,828 lashes administered at an average of 41 lashes per flogging. It is perhaps not surprising that the inquiry found that that the complaints were unfounded.
This document is a return of punishments from Stonequarry (Picton) for December 1833, including graphic descriptions of the effect on individual prisoners of receiving a specific number of lashes. It is interesting to note that under Antill’s supervision, a number of prisoners had a portion of their punishment remitted when their suffering appeared to become too great.

Source: NRS 906 Colonial Secretary: Special bundles, 1826-1982. Corporal punishments enquiry — replies from Magistrates 1833-34 Letter No 34/230 [4/2189.1], Reel 2801


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34/230 10 Jan 1834
January 9th 1834
Agreeably to His Excellency(s)
Instructions, I have personally
Superintended the Corporal
Punishment, during the last
Month, and the following
report is the result of my
A good deal bruised
but no skin broken
Thos Jones 50 Lashes or blood flowing did not express
any sign of suffering
Skin cut and
raw, but no blood flowing
Thos Lindley 50 Do* being the first time of punish-
ment appeared to suffer
much forgiven 10 Lashes
The Honble
The Colonial Secretary
* Do is the abbreviation of Ditto

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