Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Augusta Jessie - 1840

Embarked 155 men
Deaths 0
Surgeons Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Woodbridge arrived 26 February 1840
Next vessel: Mangles arrived 27 April 1840
Master J. Sparke
Surgeon Thomas Russell Dunn
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Augusta Jessie identified in the Hunter Valley

Surgeon of the Augusta Jessie Thomas Russell Dunn, joined the ship at Deptford on 9 October 1839. He kept a Medical Journal from 1 October 1839 to 9 April 1840..........

On the 1st October 1839, I received my appointment to the convict ship Augusta Jessie, fitting out at Deptford for the purpose of conveying male convicts from Ireland to New South Wales. On the 8th, I proceeded to Deptford and reported myself to the Captain Superintendent and embarked on the following day. The Guard under the command of Captain Hill of the 96th regiment embarked on the 10th and we sailed from Deptford on the 12th of the same month.

On the afternoon of the 18th we were compelled from the state of the weather to bear up for Spithead.


On the night of the 23rd we anchored in Kingston Harbour. Having reported the ships' arrival on the 24th to the proper authorities in Dublin, I went to Kilmainham jail on the 26th July by appointment and inspected all the prisoners under sentence of transportation, one hundred of whom were embarked on the 28th. On the 30th I again visited Kilmainham and inspected about 60 prisoners, several of whom I rejected as unfit for the voyage being affected with purulent ophthalmia. I also rejected two ill conditioned cases of ulcers and one advanced case of pulmonic disease. On the 6th November 45 additional transports were sent on board from Kilmainham and 3 sick returned to that establishment on the same day. The ship was detained till the 10th November for the arrival of some prisoners from the distant counties and on that day the last detachment of convicts, 16 in number were sent on board and 3 prisoners previously embarked were landed having been remanded by order of the government for further examination. [1]

Departure from Ireland

On the 11th November the Augusta Jessie sailed from Kingstown harbour with a crew of 29 men, Guard of 44 officers and privates, 6 women and 13 children, 155 male convicts with a government passengers and myself making a total of 209 souls on board.

The Voyage

The weather was cold and many prisoners suffered from sea sickness. The prisoners were at first placed in messes, with captains chosen by the surgeon, according to how they appeared on the jail list, however after sailing they were allowed to form their own messes and elect captains. A volunteer washer man was selected from each mess to wash clothes and permanent volunteer parties cleaned the decks.

Duties of the Convicts

There were several non-commissioned officers and privates of the army among the prisoners and 8 were selected as a constabulary force, enforcing cleanliness and good order.

This was Thomas Dunn's first voyage as surgeon but he thought the Augusta Jessie to have been a remarkably healthy ship. He attributed this to a number of factors, including, a good height between decks, a good supply of water and rations, the good behaviour of the guard, the crew and their officers, the prisoners being well disposed and the good weather.


To enforce cleanliness prizes were offered to the captains of the cleanest messes and for personal cleanliness. The prizes consisted of books of amusement or instruction supplied by the Inspector General of Prisons for Ireland, the merits of the winning individual were recorded in the flyleaf of each. About 40 junior convicts attended a school for an hour and a half each morning and afternoon. Bryan Coan was listed as a schoolmaster on the convict indents and it may have been he who conducted the school during the voyage. A list of some of the junior convicts who would have attended the school is below.

Tristan Da Cuhna

On 2 January 1840 the island of Tristan Da Cunha was sighted, there was some boisterous weather off the Cape of Good Hope and some water was shipped, rendering the lower deck uncomfortable. According to the surgeon the thermometer did not fall below 56 in January. Flannel waistcoats were issued during the cold weather and an extra blanket to the invalids. Old canvas was nailed around the stanchions of the fore, main and after hatchways in an effort to keep below decks dry, charcoal swinging stoves were also kept burning. For the remaining part of the voyage the weather was similar. [1]

Arrival in Port Jackson

The Augusta Jessie arrived in Sydney on 25 February 1840. The only death on the voyage out was that of one of the seamen.

The convict indents of the Augusta Jessie include information such as name, age, education, religion, family, native place, occupation, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, former convictions, physical description. There are no details as to where or to whom the prisoners were assigned on arrival.

The exemplary conduct of the military prisoners selected as police on the voyage was reported to the Governor, who ordered them all to be landed at Sydney to join the mounted police of the colony. Those who gave their occupation as soldier on arrival included:

Aaron Arrowsmith,
Daniel Cainey,
Robert Donnelly,
Edward Fenerty,
Richard James,
Dugald McDonald,
James McDonald and
Joseph Webb.

The four sick convicts and twenty-three junior prisoners were also landed in Sydney.

The names of the twenty-three junior prisoners were Robert Agee 15, James Byrne 15, William Charles 15, James Carty 13, Edward Cullen 15, William Cunningham 15, Owen Dowling 15, Michael Dyer 15, Edward Garty 15, Hugh Gilmore 15, James Gurney 15, John Holan 16, James Kane 13, John Kelly 15, Peter Kelly 14, Ardle McAleavy, John Magenity 15, John Murphy 14, Maurice Regan 15, Edward Reid 13, Patrick Syron 15, William Telford 15 and Thomas Tomkins 13.

Norfolk Island

A new contract was negotiated with the master of the Augusta Jessie and 80 convicts were sent on board from the Woodbridge to be taken to Norfolk Island. With the remaining 120 originally embarked, this 200 were landed at Norfolk Island on 27 March 1840. The Augusta Jessie then returned to Sydney, on 9 April 1840, with a detachment of the 50th Regiment.

Notes and Links

1). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Augusta Jessie in 1840.

2). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 96th regiment to New South Wales included the Barossa, Nautilus, Augusta Jessie, Woodbridge, Maitland, Pekoe and Eden.


[1]. Medical Journal of Thomas Russell Dunn. 1 October 1839 - 9 April 1840 UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.