|The Alexander departed England for New South Wales in convoy with the Fortune, Elizabeth, Justina, Lady Madeline Sinclair and H.M. Porpoise on 28 January 1806
The women embarked on the Alexander came from counties throughout England - York, Somerset, Lancaster, Devon and Middlesex. Many would have been held in Newgate prison which still awaited the reforms of Elizabeth Fry and was a place of filth and disease.
Those from outside London would have been held in county gaols prior to being transferred in chains to Newgate prison to await transportation. Two of the women, Elizabeth Rich and Mary Hammett who were charged at the Devon Assizes in August 1805 with robbery at Somerset were ordered to be removed by Habeas Corpus to Somerset, where they may have been held for some time before being transferred to London. (1)
Forty two female and fifteen male prisoners were embarked on the Alexander. Baker and malster Thomas Clarkson and his wife Catherine Clarkson came as free passengers.
Governor William Bligh was on board the Lady Madeline Sinclair......
Captain Bligh to Secretary Marsden
Lady Sinclair at Sea
15th March 1806
I have the honor to write to you, for the information of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that, in conformity to their Lordships directions of the 11th December last, I am with this ship and the Porpoise, together with the Fortune, Alexander, Elizabeth and Justina, who joined us before we sailed, thus far on our intended voyage; but I regret to say that, owing to Captain Short, Commander of the Porpoise, having pursued an irritating and vexatious conduct since the time I first joined her at Spithead to this day, I shall be obliged to represent the same to their Lordships as soon as I can complete the documents necessary to that effect. I shall then beg leave to beseech their Lordships for as an immediate relief to the case as can be given to the remote but highly ostensible situation to which His Majesty has graciously placed me, as likewise to support my rank by the commission I hold from their Lordships' hands
The Justina suddenly determining to leave the colony for St. Helena on account of their sailing so ill and myself feeling the bad effects of the hot weather, I hope will excuse me to their Lordships for not enlarging at this moment. I have etc. William Bligh (2)
The Alexander and other vessels parted company with the Fortune because of sickness on that vessel. The Alexander in turn parted from the Porpoise and Lady Madeline Sinclair about the 10th April when the Lady Madeline Sinclair proceeded to the Cape of Good Hope.
Captain Bunker of the whaler Elizabeth, en route for Australia, reported that he had met with the Alexander at Rio. When the Elizabeth left Rio the Alexander was undergoing repairs, having run on a sand bank previous to making the port.
The Alexander was the next vessel to arrive in New South Wales with female prisoners after the William Pitt in April 1806. The Alexander arrived in Port Jackson on Wednesday 20th August 1806.
The Sydney Gazette reported 14 male convicts, (one of whom was Solomon Wiseman) and over forty female prisoners who were all healthy were landed from the vessel. One male prisoner and one child died on the passage out.
On 25th October a Bench of Magistrates convened to hear the case of seamen William Clarkson and Thomas Newsham who were charged by Captain Richard Brooks with the embezzlement of a roll of tobacco which had been purchased at Rio, from on board the Alexander. Although they petitioned the Governor for another investigation the original findings were upheld and the men were sentenced to hard labour at Castle Hill for two years.
A few weeks after arrival the Alexander was being fumigated to rid it of vermin prior to leaving for England when an incautious sailor by the name of John Luker fell asleep below and was killed by the fumes. When she finally departed the Alexander took with her 300 tons of oil 20 tons of fine salted skins and 1500 fur skins. She departed Port Jackson on 10th November 1806 and had a slight mishap in going on to Bennelong Point but with assistance was rescued and resumed her voyage; Captain Brooks intended to make the passage round Cape Horn.
George Miller and Henry Burton were two of the passengers intending to leave on the Alexander having received permission from His Excellency to depart the colony.
According to Charles Bateson in The Convict Ships, this was the same Richard Brooks who delivered convicts in the Atlas in 1802 in a 'thoroughly filthy and objectionable condition, having neglected every precaution'. Brooks later became a merchant trader and then a settler in the colony, residing in Denham Court near Liverpool.
When the women of the Alexander arrived in New South Wales William Bligh was the newly appointed Governor. The colony was still recovering from catastrophic floods and there was a shortage of convict labour as only about 380 male convicts and 193 female convicts arrived in 1806. The women may have been sent to work in the Factory above the gaol, also sometimes referred to as the Cloth Factory, at Parramatta where they would have been employed on weaving looms.
Notes & Links:
1).William Watson, hairdresser to Bligh, Foveaux and Paterson arrived as a convict on the Alexander. He petitioned for mitigation of sentence in 1810
2). Lancaster Assizes - Elizabeth Peterson, for privately stealing handkerchiefs and muslin in shops at Liverpool. - Lancaster Gazette 6 April 1805
3). Three women from the Alexander have been identified in the Hunter Valley......
Elizabeth Carter - Tried in Somerset in 1805. Wife of William Ogle.
Elizabeth Ward - Employed by James Chilcott at Falbrook in 1828
Ann Lewis - Free by servitude and living at Newcastle in 1825
4). Convict Ships to New South Wales in 1806 - Tellicherry, William Pitt, Fortune and Alexander.
5). Richard Brooks - Australian Dictionary of Biography
6). Came the Captain - Biography of Richard Brooks by Christine Maher
(1) Truman's Exeter Flying Post 15 August 1805
(2) HR NSW Vol., p. 46-47