When Did British Transportation Overseas Begin And End?


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The process of transporting criminals overseas began as far back as 1597 when an Act allowed these criminals to be used as a labour force for the growing number of colonies. These were mainly sent to the West Indies and America to work on the numerous plantations set up by the colonists.

The government of the day handed over the responsibility to contractors who were paid for each convict sent. However from around 1670 these criminals were replaced with slave labour with people taken from Africa. These were favoured as better workers than the criminals from Britain.

Also from 1775 because of the War of Independence America was no longer a possible destination and in 1782 the government sought alternatives. In 1787 the first criminals were transported to Australia which became the main destination for the next 100 years. Transportation ended in 1868 when all criminals were put into prisons here.

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