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Penal transportation

From Academic Kids

In law and in history, particularly with reference to the histories of Australia and United Kingdom, the word transportation refers to the deporting of convicted criminals to a penal colony.

A sentence of transportation could apply for "life" or for a specific period of time. The penal system required the convicts to work, either on government projects (road construction, building works, mining, etc) or assigned to free individuals as a source of unpaid labour. Women were expected to work as domestic servants and farm labourers.

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Dorset_stur_br_notice.jpg
This notice on a bridge in Dorset warns that damage to the bridge can be punished by transportation.

A "convict" who had served part of his "time" might apply for a ticket of leave permitting some prescribed freedoms. This enabled some convicts to resume a more normal life, to marry and raise a family, and a few to contribute to the further development of the colonies. Some used the freedom to revert to their previous ways. But exile was an essential component of the punishment. At one time, returning from transportation was a hanging offence.

Transportation punished both major and petty crimes in Britain from the 17th century until well into the 19th century. At the time it was seen as a more humane alternative to execution, which would most likely have been the sentence handed down to many of those who were transported, if transportation hadn't been introduced. The British colonies in North America received transported British criminals in the 17th and 18th centuries, the biggest penal colony being Georgia which was opened in 1732. The War of Independence brought an end to that means of disposal, and the British Government was forced to look elsewhere.

The gaols became more over-crowded and dilapidated ships were brought into service, the 'hulks' moored in various ports as floating gaols.

In 1787 penal transportation from Britain commenced to New South Wales, now known as Australia.

Notable people who were transported

See also

no:Transportering (straff) Template:Law-stub

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