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Convict Ship Asia (I) 1825


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Embarked 190 men
Voyage 116 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Grenada arrived 23 January 1825.
Next vessel: Henry arrived 27 February 1825
Captain Thomas F. Stead  
Surgeon Superintendent James Alexander Mercer
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The Asia was built at Aberdeen in 1819. (1) She made voyages to New South Wales with convicts in 1820, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1830, 1832 and 1833.  

The Asia was the next convict ship to leave Ireland after the departure of the Ann and Amelia in September 1824. The Asia departed Cove of Cork on 29th October 1824.  

The guard was the first detachment of the 57th regiment and consisted of Captain Richard Heaviside, Lieut. Le Merchant, 2 Serjeants, 1 Corporal and 30 privates. Select here to find convict ships bringing detachments of the 57th regiment.



James Alexander Mercer kept a Medical Journal from 28 August 1824 to 28 February 1825. He considered himself fortunate in that the first time he went to New South Wales in charge of prisoners (on the convict ship Asia in 1822) there was little sickness, and on this voyage there was again little sickness and no deaths. He had only two cases that he considered troublesome, one being John Gorman who was cured after Mercer operated to relieve a hydrocele.  

For the first few days of the voyage the winds were strong with a high sea running and most of the men were sea sick, however after a few days the ship came into fine weather and all recovered. After they were clear of the Bay of Biscay all the irons were struck off and when near Madeira all the woollen clothes, shoes and stockings were collected, labelled and stowed away in bread bags. This left the convicts with two shirts and two pairs of trousers each until the evening dews began to get heavy and the air cooled when the surgeon had the warmer clothing re-distributed. There was such fine weather for most of the voyage that the convicts and guard ate the majority of their meals on the deck.  

The men were regularly bathed early in the morning, fifty at a time passing through the bathing tub as mustered by the surgeon. Their beds were stowed at 7 bells and dinner was at midday. They were served their lemonade on the quarter deck immediately after dinner each day.  (2)

The youngest prisoners on board were Thomas Bowen (16), Charles Curneen (16), Thomas Lyndsay (15), James Murphy (16), Francis Ramsey (17), William Rogan (17) and Robert Rogers (17). The surgeon made them attend school every day for a certain number of hours. They were probably schooled by Denis Lynch a 40 year old schoolmaster from Queens County. Described in the indents as a quiet man with hazel eyes and grey balding hair, Denis Lynch was sent to the Carter's Barracks on arrival. After school was finished for the day when the ship's duty permitted the boys were encouraged in harmless amusements.  

The surgeon believed the men should be encouraged to be active. All the convicts on this voyage were allowed dancing as a form of amusement until 8 o'clock at night when they were mustered and secured in the prison for the night.   Carpenters, joiners, shoe makers and tailors were seldom unemployed on board. Other men picked oakum and assisted in sailing the ship. The surgeon recorded his thoughts on the employment of prisoners on the voyage out.......

I wish I could in conformity with the 22nd act of my instructions say I had discovered some method of employing prisoners on the passage, but I really have not, nor in a well regulated ship do I think constant employment by any means necessary particularly for the preservation of health for such as are willing to make themselves useful need seldom be entirely idle. At 5 bells am Sunday and Thursday I always have muster when every man must appear clean shaved and in clean shirt and trousers. This naturally leads to as many washing days they need not therefore be as inactive on the passage as at first view would be supposed. Tis true all this is their own and ships duty. Government reap no advantage from such labours, nor do I know any way in which they could be advantageously employed towards lessening the enormous expense of sending them out unless it were practicable to exact on board something after the plan of the tread mill which coupled to and working wheels similar to those of the steam vessels would by a few hours exercise occasionally in light winds, and calms greatly expedite the voyage and proportionally lessen the expense. And so far from being a punishment, by often times saving them many days exposure to a vertical sun it would tend to their comfort, for a very few leagues often carry a ship from the failure of N.E. Trade to the commencement of S.E. hence there would be no delay on the Line. (2)     
 
Convicts and soldiers mentioned in James Mercer's journal included:

John Brophy, Denis Lynch, Edward Coughlan, john or James Bowe, Thomas Bowe, William White, Robert Rodgers, John Slevin, John Devinish, Michael Cully, Martin Keegan, Thomas Brenan, James Lynch, Barny Maguire, Stephen Geraghty, Charles Rickards.

John Gorman, aged 37, convict;

Robert Eager, aged 37, soldier;

Domnick Doherty, aged 21, convict;

Patrick Brogan, aged 45, convict;

Michael Kearns, aged 19, convict;

John Matthews, aged 19, convict;

James Doyle, aged 18, convict;

William Collison, aged 24, private of the guard (3)


King Island was sighted on 9th February and arrived in Port Jackson on Tuesday 22nd February 1825. One man was sent to hospital on shore on arrival and a Muster was held on board on Friday 25th February by Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn. The indents reveal the name, when and where tried, sentence, native place, trade, age, physical description, remarks on their conduct during the voyage and where assigned on arrival. There are also occasional notes about relatives already in the colony, colonial sentences and deaths.

Although the surgeon gave most of the prisoners a good report for behavior there are also several mentioned in the indents who were punished - Hugh Vaughn 12 lashes for insubordination; Thomas McDonnell 24 lashes for quarrelling; Patrick Caffrey 18 lashes for quarrelling; Laurence Brennan 18 lashes for insubordination; Christopher Walsh 24 lashes for quarrelling.   The indents also reveal the names of several police constables found guilty of manslaughter at the Spring Assizes at Marysborough. John Kingsmill, George Walpole, Robert Harvey, John Owen and James Hincks were all assigned to government service on arrival. Select here to read the story of John Kingsmill.  

The Sydney Gazette reported on 3rd March 1825...On Monday morning last at six o'clock the prisoners of the ship Asia, were landed at the King's Wharf, 190 in number, all healthy looking men; they were conducted to the Jail Yard and re-mustered, A great many applicants for servants were made, and the greater part of the prisoners were assigned over to masters. Captain Stead and Doctor Mercer gave most of the prisoners a tolerable character for sobriety and good behaviour during the voyage and they were on the spot assigned to respectable settlers and merchants.

They were inspected by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane who was pleased with their clean and healthy appearance.   Except for John Glass who had lost part of his right hand and was sent to the Carter's Barracks on arrival, most of the prisoners who gave their employment as weaver, flax dresser or hackler were sent to the Factory to be employed there.  

The Asia was intending to sail for Calcutta on 25th March 1825.      



Notes & Links:  

1). Select HERE to find more about Hunter Valley convicts and passengers of the Asia  

2). The Asia was chartered by the East India Company in 1826.....

 


3).  Return of Convicts of the Asia assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832).....
Patrick Cronin - Ploughman assigned to J.B. Bettington at Sydney
Patrick Carroll - Ploughman and groom assigned to W.T. Jamieson at Cabramatta
James Corbett - Tailor assigned to Lawrence Myles at Williams River
John Feaghan - Ploughman assigned to James King in Sydney


4). Vessels bringing detachments of the 57th Regiment........

Date/Place of Departure Vessel Officer of the Guard
29 October 1824 Cork Asia 1825 Captain Richard Heaviside
5 January 1825 Portsmouth Asia 1825 (III) Lieutenant Thomas Bainbridge
5 January 1825 Portsmouth Royal Charlotte 1825 Major Edmund Lockyer
5 January 1825 Cork Hooghley 1825 Captain Patrick Logan
17 April 1825 Portsmouth Norfolk 1825 Captain James Brown
17 April 1825 Portsmouth Minstrel 1825 Lieutenant Henry John Tudor Shadforth
16 May 1825 Cork Lonach 1825 Lieutenant John William Donelan
11 July 1825 Cork Sir Godfrey Webster 1826 Lieutenant John Ovens
2 August 1825 Downs Medway 1825 (VDL) Lieutenant William Bates
5 August 1825 Dublin Henry Porcher 1825 Captain Vance Young Donaldson
22 August 1825 Portsmouth Marquis of Hastings 1826 Ensign Stewart
23 October 1825 Cork Mangles 1826 Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Shadforth
30 November 1825 Portsmouth Sesostris 1826 Major John Campbell
11 June 1827 London Prince Regent 1827 Lieutenant Campbell
3 November 1827 Dublin Morley 1828 Captain Robert Hunt
11 February 1828 Cork Borodino 1828 Captain Philip Aubyn
23 February 1828 Dublin Mangles 1828 Lieut. Hill & Adjutant Lieut. Kidd
27 March 1828 London Bussorah Merchant 1828 Captain Burton Daveney (+ 1 soldier)
30 June 1828 Portsmouth Marquis of Hastings 1828 Colonel Allen
23 November 1828 London Asia 1828 Lieutenant George Edwards


References:

1. Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347

2. Ancestry.com. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

3. National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/4/8 Description: Medical and surgical journal of the Asia convict ship for 28 August 1824 to 28 February 1825 by James Alexander Mercer, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in a voyage from the Cove of Cork to Sydney in New South Wales.
   





 
 

 

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