Title: Convicts of the Port Phillip District
Author: Keith M. Clarke
Media: paperback, 370 pages
Year: 1999
ISBN: 0958753334
Item Code: CLA003
Price: AUD$33.00
Link to website

Port Phillip District was the original name for what became the present state of Victoria in Australia, and was known as this from 1802 to 1851.

The first Europeans to enter the bay were the crews of HMS Lady Nelson in 1802, commanded by John Murray followed by Matthew Flinders on the HMS Investigator a few weeks later. Expeditions into the bay took place in 1803 to establish the first settlement in Victoria, near Sorrento, but this was abandoned within a year. However 30 years later, settlers from Tasmania returned to establish Melbourne, now the state’s capital city.

Although there was no direct transportation of convicts to Port Phillip, convicts were brought into the colony by various means at various times. Migrants from Tasmania were many of Melbourne’s earliest settlers and they brought their assigned convicts with them. And much of Melbourne’s early beginnings – buildings, roads, water cartage and general municipal work – was a direct result of the efforts of convict labour imported from Sydney.

Keith Clarke’s “Convicts of the Port Phillip District” has become THE go to book on the topic of convicts in Victoria. Apart from giving a history of the convict system, the book is a compilation of 3700 convicts who were in the Port Phillip settlement before 1850. Set out in table format, there are long lists which include the following information: name the convict, ship of transportation, trial and conviction, sentence, release, occupation and crime and more.

He covers the various convict settlements in Victoria including Sullivan’s Bay (Sorrento), Western Port, and the Port Phillip Settlement.

A must-have book for anyone with convicts in Victoria, or anyone who is interested in Australian convicts and their history in general.