Interesting Question

Jamie Odom

I know this was posted a little while ago but it is a very interesting topic. When I was researching my family history several years ago I finally ran across my ancestor that had “emigrated” to the new world. I was very excited. Me and my family had originally thought that the first of our ancestors came over after the Civil War. I ended up finding out that our first ancestor came over on a ship called the ” Ye Merchants Hope” to Virginia in 1632. When I first ran across my ancestor’s name I was a little perplexed. It said that a John Dennis had “transported” my ancestor and 7 others for 300 acres of land to the new world in 1632. It sounded like my ancestor was a possible “convict” which really perplexed me because I was under the impression from our school system that only religious people immigrated to America during that time period. This led me on this crazy search regarding convicts transported from England to the American colonies. My research revealed that the British were sending about 1,000 convicts each year to America. Virginia would end up with about half of them working in the tabacco fields. They say that out of the 585, 800 immigrants to the 13 colonies during the years from 1700-1775 about 52, 200 were convicts. I also discovered that it was not until 1896 that American historical institutions actually admitted or recognized that convicts had been transported to the American colonies.

So while I was doing the research on my ancestor Robert Swanson, I noticed that the Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent book identifies that John Dennis was given this 350 acres of land. I also noticed that Robert was working on that land as a “Tabacco planter.” Later on after Robert passes away, Robert’s wife marries John Dennis ! In John Dennis’s will several years later, John leaves John Swanson, who was Robert’s son a portion of the land. So I have never really been able to figure out if Robert was some kind of indentured servant to John Dennis, a friend perhaps or maybe a petty convict that got off light. The records do not come out and say that he was a convict so it is a gray area.

Anyway in answer to your question I agree with the previous posters. The British would have definitely colonized Australia regardless of weather the American colonies split. In my opinion the British were the first “Capitalists” so to speak. They would have saw Australia as a new investment. There are sources that say the Brits were making money off of things that we may not think about today. For instance I read somewhere that British war vessels required two thousand trees for construction. Well we definitely had and have a lot of trees. I am not sure how true that is but I am sure there would have been resources that Australia could have contributed to the empire without being the primary convict destination.