“..While conditions in 18th-century British prisons could be horrific (more convicts died in prisons than at the gallows), the most feared punishment didn’t take place in prison at all. Between 1718 and 1776, British authorities exiled approximately 50,000 convicts to American colonies in a policy euphemistically known as “transportation.” Once in America, the convicts fell under a life of servitude or outright slavery, underfed and overworked. They had to obey their masters or risk being imprisoned, with punishment including whippings. In the early period of transportation, half of these prisoners died while in bondage.”
“Unsurprisingly, the policy of transportation wasn’t so popular among British convicts. Some prisoners even begged to be executed rather than shipped abroad. Thus, plenty of prisoners sentenced to transportation attempted to escape partway through the journey. Multiple convict-carrying ships bound for America suffered prisoner rebellions. Rather than heading to remote parts of the colonies upon arrival, most escaped convicts preferred to sneak back to Britain, despite being subject to execution for the meta-crime of returning from transportation.
James Dalton was one such convict…”