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Convict Ship
 America 1829

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Select from the Links below to find information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850

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Embarked 176 men
Voyage 132 days
Deaths 8-9
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Sovereign arrived 3 August 1829
Next vessel: Norfolk arrived 27 August 1829
Master Robert S. Donal/Dowell
Surgeon Superintendent
Alexander Stewart

Prisoners transported on the America came from counties throughout England, Scotland and Wales. - Gloucestershire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Bristol, Liverpool, Suffolk, Edinburgh and Glasgow etc., Their crimes were mostly various forms of stealing and robbery. Others were convicted of forgery, bigamy, desertion, cutting and maiming and passing bad notes.

The men were transferred from prison hulks to the America late in March 1829. Thomas Dauncey from Gloucester was transferred from the Justitia Hulk on 27th March along with Joseph Saunders, James Millar, John Murphy, William Stone, John Taylor and James Roberts and others.

The last of the 176 prisoners were received on board the America on 30 March 1829, and the voyage began from Woolwich on 8 April 1829.

The guard consisted of a detachment of 63rd Regiment under the command of Adjutant Montgomery. Passengers included Mrs. Montgomery and 2 children.  Select here to find convict ships bringing detachments of the 63rd regiment.  

Alexander Stewart kept a Medical Journal from 4 March to 31 August 1829.   His Journal reveals that he was kept busy from the very beginning of the voyage. The Guard which had been stationed at Chatham brought on board with them measles which had been prevalent there. The prisoners had been transferred from the hulk Justitia where dysentery was prevalent and Dr. Stewart thought a predisposition existed among the prisoners on their embarking which was brought into action by the change of diet and exacerbated by the bad weather in June and July.

On several occasions he was too busy to perform an autopsy on deceased persons. The abstract reveals some of his cases - Hepatitis, 1;
Rheumatismus, 1;
Rubeola 2; of which one was sent to the hospital;
Phthisis 1, who died on board;
Dysenteria 15, of which 8 died on board;
Syphilis 2.
The eight men who died were George Arneil, John Brown, William Bamford, William Cherry, John Humphries, Thomas Moss, Thomas Scott and Thomas Wright.  

The America arrived in Port Jackson on 18 August 1829 with 168 male prisoners. The vessel was at first kept under rigid quarantine. The Monitor reported: Mr. Watson the pilot was detained on board. One of the guard died on 23rd August and his body was towed outside of the Heads by the Customs boat and there left to the mercy of the finny tribe.

Consternation regarding outbreak of diseases was understandable. Fifteen months previously the convict ship Morley brought whooping cough to the colony causing many deaths.    A Medical Board of Inspection boarded her to determine the exact extent of disease on 19th August 1829 and a Muster of the convicts was held on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 24th August 1829.  

The convict indents include the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, prior convictions, physical description and where and to whom each prisoner was assigned on arrival. There is also occasional information regarding pardons, tickets of leave, deaths and relatives in the colony.

The youngest prisoners were John Angew (16), William Bell (14), William Casey (15), William Fletcher (16), John Fisher 1(16), William McLauchlan (16) and John Rae (16). They were probably sent to the Carter's Barracks on landing. An average of 80 boys were kept in the Carter's Barracks in the year 1829 (1)  

The prisoners were landed on 31st August and were reported to be a fine healthy set of young men.  

In the years to come many of the men of the America were subject to punishment such as Calvin Sampson endured in 1833.........        

Notes & Links:  

1). Medical and surgical journal of His Majesty's convict ship America for 4 March to 31 August 1829 by Alexander Stewart, Surgeon, during which time the said ship was employed in a passage to New South Wales. - UK National Archives  

2). Alexander Stewart was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Southworth 1830 (to VDL) and Aurora in 1833

3). Select here to find out more about bushranger Henry Beard who arrived on the America

4). George Smith a baker from London arrived on the America. He escaped from the colony in the whaler Venus in March 1832 and was later re-transported on the Marquis of Huntley in 1835 under the name Thomas Sheffield. He died in Sydney Hospital in 1838.

5). Thirty-five men who arrived on the America in 1829 have so far been identified residing in the Hunter region in the following years. Find out more about them here

6).  Adjutant Montgomery was mentioned in the Last of the Tasmanians: or the Black war of Van Diemen's Land published by James Bonwick. In 1834 the Hobart Town Courier reported that among the officers of the 63d who remain as settlers in Van Diemen's Land, we may enumerate the following, viz. Capt. Vicary, Capt. Nielly, Lieutenant Grove, Lieutenant Aubin, Lieutenant Barrow, Adjutant Montgomery and Ensign Darling.

7). Return of Convicts of the America assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....
William Anderson Under butler assigned to Mr. Nicholson, Assistant Surveyor at Parramatta
John Barrett Blacksmith assigned to George Barber at Argyle
William Brough Silk Weaver assigned to John Betts at Parramatta
James Browning Brick maker assigned to Samuel North at Windsor
Robert Jones Bricklayer assigned to Henry Marr at Sydney
Thomas Jones Painter's boy assigned to William Hall at Maitland
Thomas Linacre Plumber and glazier assigned to J.H Edwards at Brisbane Water
William Mackenzie Nailor assigned to the A.A. Company at Port Stephens
James McGarvey Ploughman assigned to William Caswell at Port Stephens
William Pythian Cabinet maker assigned to Robert Cox at Brisbane Water

8). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 63rd regiment -

Date/ Place of Departure Vessel Officer of the Guard
3 May 1828 London Countess of Harcourt Lieutenant Christopher Dexter
1 June 1828 Sheerness Albion Lieutenant M. Vickery
29 June 1828 London Eliza Major Sholto Douglas
30 June 1828 London Marquis of Hastings Ensign Stulbmer
26 August 1828 Spithead Royal George Captain J. Briggs
1 September 1828 Devonport Vittoria Lieutenant Aubyn
21 September 1828 Cork Governor Ready Lieutenant J. Gibbons Lane
16 November 1828 Dublin Ferguson Captain D'Arcy Wentworth
2 January 1829 Falmouth Mellish Captain Baylee
5 January 1829 London Lord Melville Lieut-Col. Burke
14 March 1829 London Waterloo Lieutenant T. Grove
8 April 1829 Woolwich America Adjutant T. Montgomery
22 May 1829 Spithead Norfolk Ensign W.J. Darling
12 July 1829 Dublin Guildford Lieut McLean 89th
16 August 1829 Cork Larkins Captain Mahon
24 August 1829 London Claudine Captain Paterson
29 August 1829 London Sarah Lieutenant Croly
30 September 1829 Dunvegan Castle Lieutenant John Gray
14 October 1829 Spithead Katherine Stewart Forbes Major Fairtclough


(1) Historical Records of Australia Vol. XV, p. 386


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