Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Almorah (2) - 1820

Embarked 160 men
Voyage 122 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 416
Previous vessel: Morley arrived 30 September 1820
Next vessel: Asia arrived 28 December 1820
Captain Thomas Winter
Surgeon Superintendent Samuel Alexander, R.N.
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and Prisoners of the Almorah identified in the Hunter Valley

Almorah was built at Selby by J. Foster in 1817. This was the second of three voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1817 and 1824.

The convicts of the Almorah came from counties throughout Ireland including Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow. They were held in prison in Dublin before being transferred to the Almorah at Cork.

During the voyage from Dublin to Cork many convicts became ill. Samuel Alexander later attributed the causes of their illness to the following circumstances: The prisoners who came out by the Almorah were embarked on board of two vessels of about 130 tons each at Dublin on the 20th July for conveyance to Cork where this ship waited their arrival, and as the passage from Dublin to Cork is generally made in from 36 to 40 hours the only fitting that was thought necessary for their accommodation was levelling the ballast and spreading straw mats on it which served them as a platform by day and beds by night. After putting to sea the wind became foul and they were obliged to go into Waterford when they remained windbound until the 12th August. The straw mats had got damp and rotten in consequence of the unexpected detention and the state of the people on being transferred to this ship was truly miserable; in addition to the above predisposing causes, we experienced very tempestuous weather after putting to sea, and the prison as well as upper decks were almost constantly wet during the first week after sailing.[2]

Surgeon Samuel Alexander

Samuel Alexander kept a Medical Journal from 24th June 1820 to 5th January 1821. He joined the Almorah at Deptford where she was being fitted for the reception of convicts and on the 11 July, they sailed down the river bound for Cork where the men were to be embarked.

Cove of Cork

On 23 July they arrived at Cove and lay there until 10th August when they received orders to proceed to Waterford and report to Dr. Trevor, the Inspector of convicts.

Free Passengers

On 24 July 1820 they received on board free passengers James Fitzpatrick, wife and two children and on 25 July broke a hogshead of rum for the passengers. James Fitzpatrick, a former member of the 102nd regiment and constable, was apparently a difficult passenger and on arrival in the colony the surgeon considered taking action against him.

Military Guard

The surgeon reported that on 12 August at 8am they anchored above Duneana fort. He and Captain Winter reported their arrival to Dr. Trevor who directed the ship to proceed up the passage and anchor close to the brigs Watson and Atlas. They anchored above the passage at 5pm where they received during the evening from the Watson and Atlas, the Guard consisting of Ensign Bruce, one sergeant and 30 privates belonging to the 1st Regiment of Foot (Royals); with five women and 3 children.

Convicts Embarked

One hundred and sixty convicts were embarked on the same day as the guard.

The prisoners were examined and berthed as they came on board. They washed and received articles of clothing allotted to them. In correspondence dated 13th August 1820, Dr. Trevor, Superintendent and Medical Inspector indicated that he had been engaged in the transfer of convicts to the ship Almorah, however on discovering that one Prisoner was missing, and having received private information that the man was concealed under the Ballast of one of the Dublin ships, he went immediately to the place and discovered the fellow.... Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives

Provisions and Arrangements on Board

On 13th August, Dr. Draper, agent for convicts sent on board oatmeal bread, beef and vegetables for the use of the prisoners and guard. At 10.30 divine service was performed which half the prisoners attended. On the 14th August the day was rainy. Thomas Lawless who had come on board highly recommended was appointed captain of the decks and Henry Smith, also recommended, was appointed surgery man and to be in charge of the hospital. Each mess had a captain appointed. Two cooks were appointed, a swab wringer and two men to attend the water closet cisterns and two scavengers. The prisoners were divided into three and a Petty Officer was appointed to each. Samuel Alexander arranged the boy convicts in the place appointed for them and placed a man over them as schoolmaster.

Departure from Cork

Dr. Trevor came on board on the 17 August and mustered the men. At 3pm they unmoored and at 4pm weighed anchor and stood to sea. They were required to put into Cove again for more water and ammunition. Three of the Guard were sent on shore as they were too ill to make the journey and two men came from the Lord Sidmouth convict ship. Passenger Jane Burn came on board and they weighed anchor at 5pm.

The Voyage

They departed the Cove on 24th August 1820. Dr. Alexander reported that the prisons were wet from leaks in the boat and that the men suffered much with sea sickness. On the 25 August the starboard water closet was found to be leaking. It was fixed by the carpenter but the stench in both prisons was offensive. During the early part of the passage the prisoners were very sickly, dysentery having made its appearance among them particularly in the young men. The five youngest prisoners were James Brien, Patrick Byrne, Thomas Clarke, John Magennis and Peter Stewart.

This voyage was difficult not only because of the deficiencies of the vessel but the crew caused a great deal of trouble as well. Later, on arrival in the colony, the surgeon informed the Governor of the circumstances and provided a list of convicts who assisted in navigating the ship during the passage when the sailors refused to work......On 5th October the master found it necessary to confine one of his men on which the rest rushed on the quarter deck for the purpose of rescuing him, but were prevented by the interposition of the guard. They then refused to do any duty using many mutinous threats so that it was necessary to put fourteen of them in irons. The greater part of the crew I believe to have been led away by the two men named in the margin - (George King and Jonathan Bell.)

Port Jackson

The Almorah arrived in Port Jackson on 22 December 1820.

Governor Macquarie recorded the arrival in his journal: Friday 22. Decr. 1820. - This afternoon anchored in Sydney Cove the Ship Almorah, with 160 Male Convicts from Ireland, having sailed from Cork on the 22d. of August last (exactly 4 months) Surgeon Suptd. Doctr. Alexander R. Navy, and the Guard consisting of 31 Soldiers of the 1st. (Royal Scots) Regt. Foot under the command of Ensn. Bruce of the same Corps. - N.B. The name of the Comr. of the Almorah is Capt. Thomas Hunter. [4]

Convicts Disembarked

The prisoners were landed with those from the Asia on 5th January 1821. The Sydney Gazette reported: They were inspected in the forenoon by His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief; who was pleased to express to the Commanders and Surgeons of each vessel the highest satisfaction at the appearance of the men, who, one and all, testified to His Excellency their gratitude to the Gentlemen who whose care and tenderness they had been confided by a benign and merciful Government, in the most lively terms of heartfelt praise, acknowledging they had experienced universal kindness and general attention; indeed, their particularly healthy appearance fully confirmed the expressions of their grateful feelings, which spoke more than language was capable of giving utterance to. When the contemplative mind is insensibly and necessarily led, on such gratifying occasions as these, to take a retrospect of a few years, how manifestly striking is the contrast that now so frequently exhibits itself.


They were forwarded by water to Parramatta for service with private settlers or to labour on Public Works there.

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and Prisoners of the Almorah identified in the Hunter Valley

2). National Archives - Almorah Chartered ship, 416 tons. Principal Managing Owner: Matthew Boyd. Voyages: (1) 1818/9 Madras and Bengal. Capt Thomas Winter. Downs 27 May 1819 - 17 Sep Madras - 29 Sep Fulta - 21 Dec Diamond Harbour - 3 Jan 1820 Madras - 12 Mar Cape - 20 May Blackwall.

3). Meath Assizes 6th March 1820 - James Gannon was indicted for having a forged Bank of Ireland Note for twenty five shillings without lawful excuse in his possession, he well knowing the same to be a forgery. The prisoner having called to visit three of his brothers who were then in gaol ( and who have at these Assizes been capitally convicted) being suspected by the turnkey to have bad Notes upon him, he searched his person and in his cravat got two forged Notes. He was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years transportation - Finns Leinster Journal 18 March 1820

4).Wicklow Assizes 6 March - Thomas Lawless and Thomas Lynch were found guilty of stealing a mare from...Lightholder, of the county Meath. The prisoners were apprehended at Donard, through the alacrity of William Heighignton Esq., and his constables, who, suspecting that the mare was stolen ,stopped her and they not giving a satisfactory account of themselves were apprehended on suspicion and advertised in the Hue and Cry, by which means the owner came by his mare, and was enabled to prosecute to conviction.- Finns Leinster Journal 18 March 1820

5). Return of Convicts of the Almorah assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 28 June 1832)..... John McElvie - Tailor assigned to Peter McIntyre at Bulwarra

6). Transcription of the first part of Samuel Alexander's medical journal at A2A National Archives


[1] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/2/1 Description: Diary and medical journal of the Almorah convict ship from 24 June 1820 to 5 January 1821 by S Alexander, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the ship was employed in conveying convicts from Ireland to Port Jackson.

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.342-343, 383

[4] Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive