Release from fetters

20 May 1787

On the morning of 20 May Governor Phillip gave the order to release the convicts from their ‘fetters’. Captain–Lieutenant Watkin Tench, whose journal was published in 1789, wrote of his happiness in releasing the convicts on board Charlotte:

‘In complying with these directions, I had great pleasure in being able to extend this humane order to the whole of those under my charge, without a single exception.’

That same evening HMS Hyaena left the fleet and returned to England, carrying Governor Phillip’s dispatches and numerous letters to friends and family.

The voyage