George Hughes

George Hughes is known to history only in 1796-1800 when he operated the printing press brought to New South Wales in 1788. He printed government orders, broadsides and playbills. David Collins described him as a decent young man. It is uncertain whether he was a convict but he is recorded as having acted in plays with convict casts. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography


26 January 1788

First printing press

A printing press arrives with the First Fleet. It is another eight years before a convict with skills to work the press can be found, but it plays a important role in disseminating ideas, waging political campaigns, and promoting public debate and awareness of issues; crucial issues in the history of Australian democracy. George Hughes, Australia’s first government printer, produces over 200 individual government orders and regulations between 1796 and 1800. He also prints playbills for the first two plays staged in the colony: Farquhar. The Recruiting Officer and Shakespeare. Henry the Fourth. Hughes is replaced by another convict, George Howe, and in 1802 he publishes the colony’s first book, “New South Wales Standing Orders”. In 1803, he publishes the first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser and, 16 years later, the first literary work, “First Fruits of Australian Poetry” by Judge Barron Field.


First Fruits of Australian Poetry.