Dancing on convict ships
Captain Thomas Raine had a liberal and humanitarian approach to convicts in his care and encouraged dancing on his ships, recognising its physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
As the Surry neared her destination, the prisoners were not locked up for the night until 9.30 or 10.00pm, being allowed on deck to that hour “to recreate with music for their general good conduct” with “dancing and music for their general good conduct and as an anti-scorbutic”.1
Governor Macquarie promoted Raine to the rank of captain in appreciation for his efforts in caring for the crew and convicts on the Surry. In 1814, when the convict ship had arrived at Port Jackson, Thomas Raine as second mate was the only officer left alive after a disastrous outbreak of typhus. Having done his best to look after the men during the voyage, Raine’s efforts continued in the colony where he was active in attending to the needs of the quarantined survivors, erecting tents and making the convicts and crew “as comfortable as conditions would allow”2.
… a man of liberal and humanitarian principles is evinced by his behaviour towards his convict passengers, who on being disembarked after his first voyage as captain ‘cheered repeatedly and expressed the liveliest gratitude for their good treatment’.4
The chief mate on the Surry’s 1816 voyage, William S. Edwardson, noted Raine’s “extreme care in the management of her prisoners” and recorded that when being disembarked, the convicts “cheered repeatedly and expressed the liveliest gratitude for their good treatment”3.
Raine transported a further three ‘cargoes’ of convicts to the colony onboard the Surry in 1816, 1819 and 1823. Captain Raine’s “humane treatment”4 of the convict passengers included dancing.
1 Bateson, C. (1969). The convict ships: 1787-1868 (Vol. 2nd). Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson. p. 197
2 Goddard, R. H (1940). Captain Thomas Raine of the Surry, 1795-1860. In Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. Vol. 26 (pt.4), p. 279.
3 Bateson, p. 197
4 Maude, H. E. (1967) Raine, Thomas (1793–1860), Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/raine-thomas-2570/text3511, published first in hardcopy , accessed online 28 March 2019.
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