The Active was an old ship having been built at Shoreham in 1764. She departed Portsmouth on 27 March 1791 with 175 male prisoners and arrived at Port Jackson on 26 September 1791. Twenty-one prisoners died on the voyage out.
The Active was one of eleven vessels of the Third Fleet. The Third Fleet comprised the following vessels :
The Mary Ann departed England in February 1791 and the rest of the fleet departed in March 1791 and later met with the Queen from Cork at Madeira.
Active, Admiral Barrington, Albemarle, Britannia and Matilda departed from Portsmouth; their naval agent was Lieutenant Robert Parry Young.
Salamander, Atlantic and William and Ann departed from Plymouth; naval agent was Lieutenant William Bowen.
Queen departed from Cork, Ireland; naval agent, Lieutenant Samuel Blow.
Exeter 25 December 1790 - On Thursday evening last arrived here, under the care of the gaoler of Bristol, on their way to Plymouth, to be shipped for Botany Bay, 22 convicts in an open waggon, and two (who are styled gentlemen convicts) in a tilted cart. They had each of them an iron collar, and an iron chain run through a ring in each collar, which fastened them all together; the next morning, at eight o'clock they set off again in the same manner, and though there was a violent storm of wind, hail, and rain, they were singing and hallooing as they passed through the streets, with great glee and jollity.
Celebrated pick pocket George Barrington was one of the convicts embarked on the Active from Newgate. The Times reported......
Yesterday Barrington, we hope, bid a final adieu to his lodgings in Newgate, and was accompanied by the gaoler, in procession with about 100 other transports, on board a lighter at Blackfriars - as no coach was to be had to give him any other mark of distinction, than indulging him with the liberty of not being linked with the other felons. In his way to the lighter, he amused himself in tearing letters to pieces he had in his pockets. It is said, that the night before the transports were shipped off, they tore up some boards, and attempted to set fire to the prison - Certain it is, they were very riotous.
George Barrington later recorded some of the details of that last day and the voyage that followed in 'A Voyage to Botany Bay' published in 1796..... About a quarter before five a general muster took place ; and, having bid farewell to my fellow prisoners, we were escorted from the prison to Blackfriars-bridge by the city guard, where two lighters were waiting to receive us. This procession, though early, and but few spectators, made a deep impression on my mind ; and the ignominy of being thus mingled with felons of all descriptions, many scarce a degree above the brute creation, intoxicated with liquor, and shocking the ears of those they passed with blasphemy, oaths and songs, the most offensive to modesty, inflicted a punishment more severe than the sentence of my country, and fully avenged that society had so much wronged........
My fellow prisoners, to the amount of upwards of two hundred, were all ordered into the hold, which was rendered as convenient as circumstances would admit, battens being fixed fore and aft for hammocks, which were hung seventeen inches apart from each other; but being incumbered with irons, together with the want of fresh air, soon rendered their situation truly deplorable. To alleviate their condition as much as was consistent with the safety of the ship, they were permitted to walk the deck in turn, ten at a time: the women of whom we had six, had a snug birth made for them, and were kept by themselves......
We lay about a week at Long Reach, when we dropt down to Gravesend ; here the captain came on board, and some soldiers of the New South Wales corps ; we got under weigh the next morning, and proceeded to the Downs; it blowing strong to the westward, we came to an anchor. The wind veering about, at daybreak we were again under sail, and arrived at the Mother-Bank, where lay several other transports for the same destination.
Portsmouth, the second marine arsenal of England, is entered through the road named Spithead, between the Isle of Wight and the main, which is perfectly secure in all winds ; and here is the grand rendezvous of the fleet as well as of the trade, from all the ports to the east waiting for convoy down channel, so that it was not unfrequent in the late war, for 1,500 vessels to sail at one moment. The Mother Bank is a part of the road near the Isle of Wight, where East-Indiamen anchor as well as ships of war under quarantine.
Anna Maria Falconbridge was on a vessel bound for Africa awaiting a fair wind when the third fleet vessels were readying to depart. She wrote several letters that were later published. In one of the letters written at Spithead and dated 12 January 1791 she describes seeing the convicts.....
I have not been on shore at Portsmouth, indeed it is not a desirable place to visit; I was once there, and few people have a wish to see it a second time. The only thing that has attracted my notice in the harbour, is the fleet with the convicts for Botany Bay, which are wind bound, as well as ourselves. The density of such numbers of my fellow creatures has made what I expect to encounter, set lighter upon my mind than it ever did before; nay, nothing could have operated a reconciliation so effectually; for as the human heart is more susceptible of distress conveyed by the eye, than when represented by language however ingenuously pictured with misery, so the sight of those unfortunate beings, and the thoughts of what they are to endure, have worked more forcibly on my feelings than all the accounts I ever read or heard of wretchedness before. 
It was about ten days before we were ready to sail from hence, the interval being employed in getting fresh stock and replenishing our water; On the report of our being ready for sea being made to the admiral, a lieutenant of the navy came on boards as agent for transports, and immediately made the signal for the masters of the other ships to come on board, to whom he delivered their sailing instructions; and on the following morning made the signal to weigh: by a quarter past nine we were under an easy sail; and it blowin' a stiff easterly breeze, we ran through the Needles; it was delightful weather, and the prospect on each hand must have afforded the most agreeable sensations to every beholder, and is, perhaps, as rich and luxuriant as is any where to be met with ; but, alas! it only brought a fresh pang to the bosom of one, who in all probability was bidding it adieu for ever. The weather continuing moderate, and the wind fair, we imperceptibly glided down the channel, and had lost sight of Old England before we turned out the next morning -
My frequent trips from Ireland to England had in some measure, inured me to salt water, nor did I want my sea-legs-in-a most violent gale, which took place the third day after we lost sight of the land, and which for near ten hours baffled the skill of all hands; two men were blown from the main-topsail yard, and the sail split to ribbons ; all our endeavours to save the men proved ineffectual. Soon after our four top mast went over the side, and carried four men and two boys with it; but they were providentially taken up, having kept fast to the wreck.. By the indefatigable exertions of the seamen, the remainder of the sails were handed, and the ship greatly eased, carrying only a storm stay-sail; the sea running very high and irregular, rendered it very uncomfortable; and not being capable of any service upon deck, I retired to my hammock, where I buried all thoughts of the contentious ocean in a found sleep, from which I was awaked by the shrill whistle of my messmate, piping all hands to breakfast; the cheering sound of steady from the helmsman saluting my ears, and the quietness' of the ship assured me the gale was past. Having huddled on my cloaths, I found, on my ascending; the deck, the storm had subsided, the wind perfectly fair, and the ship jogging on under an easy sail at the rate of about seven miles an hour -
The ships having completed their watering, the signal was made for every person belonging to the fleet to repair on board their respective vessels, and the next morning the signal to get under weigh: with a pleasant breeze, we soon lost sight of the land. We steered to the south-west till we were in the meridian of St. Jago, when we shaped our course with an intention of coming to an anchor in Port-au-Praya Bay; but when we opened the bay were taken aback, and a stiff breeze blowing direct in our teeth, it was thought that an attempt to gain the bay would be attended with some risk and much loss of time ; it was therefore determined to give up the idea, and a signal was made for that purpose, We then shaped our course to the southward, and as we crossed the Equinoctial Line, the ceremony of shaving and ducking was punctually observed -
Here George Barrington was permitted to go on shore and procure whatever he needed. He took the opportunity to leave the ship each day to procure articles needed in New South Wales with money provided by the Captain.
The Times reported that he was seen walking on the deck of the vessel at the Cape and that he had become very pious, and read prayers etc to his brother and sister convicts.
The Active departed Port Jackson on 23 December 1791 bound for Bombay.
2). Convict John Tucker arrived on the Active. He accompanied the 1804 expedition to Newcastle as storekeeper in 1804. Find out more about this expedition here. 'Select here to find the location of John Tucker's land in 1837.'
3). George Barrington's name was actually George Waldron. More about George Barrington at London Lives'/
4). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907) Sat 3 Jan 1891 Page 16. Arrival of Vessels at Port Jackson, and their Departure
5). Memoirs of George Barrington.
6). The British Critic.... We shall introduce no other extract, but one which relates to a man who has excited universal curiosity - the celebrated Barrington. But before I bade adieu to Rose Hill, in all probability for the last time of my life, it struck me, that there yet remained one object of consideration not to be slighted: Barrington had been in the settlement between two and three months, and I had not seen him. I saw him with curiosity. He is tall, approaching to fix feet, slender, and his gait and manner bespeak liveliness and activity. Of that elegance and fashion, with which my imagination had decked him (I know not why), I could distinguish no trace. Great allowance should, however, be made for depression, and unavoidable * deficiency of dress. His face is thoughtful and intelligent; to a strong cast of countenance, he adds a penetrating eye, and a prominent forehead: his whole demeanor is humble, not servile. Both on his passage from England, and since his arrival here, his conduct has been irreproachable. He is appointed high-constable of the settlement of Rose Hill, a post of some respectability, and certainly one of importance to those who live here. His knowledge of men, particularly of that part of them into whose morals, manners, and behaviour, he is ordered especially to inspect, eminently fit him for the office. I cannot quit him without bearing my testimony, that his talents promise to be directed in future, to make reparation to society, for the offences he has heretofore committed against it, he is ordered especially to inspect, eminently fit him for the office. I cannot quit him without bearing my testimony, that his talents promise to be directed in future, to make reparation to society, for the offences he has heretofore committed against it.' - The British Critic., Volume 2, p. 66
8). Convict Ship Active - Convicts and passengers mentioned in the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence...
Paul Bailey - Blind man of Windsor. To receive ration 14 October 1816
William Britain. Came free. Soldier of 102nd regiment
James Leekin. Memorial for grant of in Old Poinds district, Field of Mars 7 April 1824
Edward McDonald - Constable at Parramatta 1823 - 1825
Joseph Newton - Affidavit re loss of certificate of freedom 15 September 1823
Richard Perrier - On list of persons who came as convicts and who claimed they were free without supporting documentation 16 November 1816
James Phelan - Appointed constable in Sydney 29 December 1810
James Prosser - Plasterer. re payment to male orphan institution
James Sherrard - of Hawkesbury
George Woodhead - formerly of Norfolk Island. Blacksmith of The Rocks January 1810.
 News in Brief.' Times [London, England] 26 Feb. 1791: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Mar. 2013
 The Times 11 October 1791
 The Times 15 March 1791
 Two voyages to Sierra Leone - Anna Maria Falconbridge
 Historical Records of Australia, Vol.1, p225
 Barrington, George, A Voyage to Botany Bay A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0607421h.html
 Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships, p. 132