Ships used to transport convicts
Transportation was an alternative punishment to hanging. Convicted criminals were transported to the colonies to serve their prison sentences. It had the advantages of removing the criminal from society and being quite cheap - the state only had to pay the cost of the journey.
During the 18th century, the government started to send prisoners to penal colonies in America, usually for seven years or sometimes for life. This stopped when the American War of Independence broke out in 1775.
In 1787, transportation started to the first penal colonies in Australia. Over the years, about 160,000 people were sent there: men, women and children, sometimes as young as nine years old.