As with his father there is a certain cloud of mystery concerning this Shapcote.
We know almost nothing of his origins, but he appears to have been a person of some
education, indicated by the way in which he handled his father's estate.
He is recorded on a naval document dated 15 Jan 1778 as a Servant to his father on
HMS Squirrel, Falmouth, Cornwall.
On 9 Jan 1779 - he was an Able Seaman on HMS Squirrel, Plymouth, Devon, England.
He was a crew member onboard the Justinian which was to accompany theSecond Convict
Fleet to Australia. This vessel set sail from Falmouth on wasa store ship carrying
much needed supplies to the new Colony of New South Wales. No supply ships had managed
to reached the penal colony of Port Jackson for two years, and food harvests there
had failed and rations were in very short supply
The store ship The Guardian had floundered at the Cape of Good Hope
Article from“The Sydney Cove Chronicle” dated 30th June, 1790
HIS MAJESTY’S SHIP GUARDIAN IS LOST
His Majesty’s Ship Guardian is lost. We received this unhappy and tragic news with
the arrival of the Lady Juliana and the ships that accompanied her from England to
The Guardian was carrying a goodly supply of provisions to our Settlement, sufficient
to last the colony two years.
On board when she struck an island of ice on Christmas Eve last, ten days out from
the Cape of Good Hope, were her Commander, Lieutenant Edward Riou, her crew, and
twenty-five specially selected convict artificers.
The Guardian was saved from foundering by the strenuous and heroic exertions of Lieutenant
Riou, who put off some of the crew into five small boats, and off loaded many provisions
into the sea.
For the ensuing eight weeks the Guardian, waterlogged in great propensity and with
a damaged rudder, struggled to Table Bay in a truly remarkable fashion, but repairs
to her construction were considered of exhorbitant cost, that her Commander was forced
to run her aground to spare the expence.
Our distress at the loss of our provisions nevertheless does not prevent us from
commiserating with the valiant Lieutenant Riou.
WOE TO OUR YOUNG SETTLEMENT
Deplorable paucity of provisions stores and cloathing:
So the Guardian is lost and with it our provisions. What, in the name of Heaven,
is to become of us?
Our people are feeble, we have many hundreds more mouths to feed, and our larder
is far from adequate.
The atmosphere that prevails in our small Settlement differs exceedingly from that
joyous day near one month since, when the cry of “The flag’s up” rang forth and a
ship carrying the British colours was espied for the first time in two and one half
The did we present a scene of happiness, of kissing those nearest us, of being so
overcome in our emotions as to make us insensible even of speech.
Today, we are a veritable picture of misery, and the distressing and deplorable condition
in which our newcomers find themselves – more of that in other columns of this Journal
– does nothing to alleviate our pitiable state.
Her Majesty’s Government must know what is going on. We cannot be left to starve.
It has been made known to the Authorities that our paucity of provisions, stores,
cloathing and tools places us in a diabolical position.
It is known to them that we are dismally lacking in carpenters, brickmakers, farmers,
and men capable of superintending the convicts in their labours.
It is known to them, for Governor Phillip has made them thus aware, that to trust
all our provisions to one ship would be fatal were that ship to be lost.
Yet, ignoring our plight, and His Excellency’s exceeding good advice, the Ministry
would seem to have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye towards the people marooned
in this desolate and distant place.
We have eaten not one ounce of fresh meat these three years since – save the flesh
of the kangaroo, fish, and birds, which are variable both in quantity and quality.
Much of the livestock we brought with us has wandered off, died or been killed.
And the food, such as we have, is, apart from that carried by the storeship, Justinian,
and the transports themselves, three years old. Vast quantities of flour has been
spoiled, and condemned as unfit for use, and were it not for the recent arrivals,
it would have been finished in November. Likewise, our pork would have lasted only
two weeks more, and our rice until September.
We have, indeed, been granted a merciful stay of time. But it must be remembered
that the provisions brought by the Justinian and the transports are sufficient only
to supply the newcomers for a period of several months. The provisions intended for
us are most cruelly at the bottom of the sea.
No soul upon this Earth could accuse us of improvidence. Since our arrival in New
Holland we have been rationed with our supplies, in the first instance to seven pounds
of bread or flour weekly; seven pounds of beef or four pounds of pork; three pints
of pease; six ounces of butter; and one half pound of rice.
Since that time our rations have been reduced on two occasions, until at the time
when the Lady Juliana was sighted, we were receiving the miserable amount of two
and one half pounds of flour, two pounds of pork and two pounds of rice, weekly.
We have become feeble, unable to work more than three hours in one day without severe
discomfort. Scurvy has become rift. Our sufferings both of body and spirit have indeed