Transport to North America
From the early 18th century until the American Revolution, Britain transported convicts each year to Maryland and Virginia.
|The Discovery convict ship at Deptford, c. 1829. © NMM|
The North American colonies declared their independence in 1776 and closed their ports to British prison ships. A crisis in the British criminal justice system followed.
Britain started converting old merchant ships and naval vessels into floating prisons known as hulks. Many of these were on the River Thames.
|The hulk Warrior (1781) anchored off Woolwich. © NMM|
Convicts spent time on the hulks before being transported to Australia, the new destination for Britain's criminals.