It may be surprising to present-day readers to think that it was once thought a “soft option” to transport a convicted criminal to a colony such as Australia’s Botany Bay. But as this letter shows, that is what some influential people thought at the time:
“the sentence of the Court is that you shall no longer be burdened with the support of your wife and family. You shall be immediately removed from a very bad climate and a country over burdened with people to one of the finest regions of the earth, where the demand for human labour is every hour increasing, and where it is highly probable you may ultimate regain your character and improve your future. The Court has been induced to pass the sentence upon you in consequence of the many aggravating circumstances of your case, and they hope your fate will be a warning to others.”
Sydney Smith, Whig clergyman and wit, as quoted in Robert Peel, by Douglas Hurd, page 78.
As an aside, Peel was involved in two issues – re-connecting bank notes to bullion, and the 1844 Bank Charter Act – that have enduring relevance to our own time. Hurd’s biography is very readable and has a nice tone to it; in my view, however, Norman Gash’s study remains the definitive one.