Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Bardaster - 1836

Embarked 240 men
Voyage 119 days
Deaths 5 convicts; 1 seaman
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Captain Alexander McDonald
Surgeon Joseph Steret

The ship Bardaster was built at New Brunsick in 1833. This was the only voyage of Bardaster transporting convicts to Van Diemen's Land.

Surgeon Joseph Steret

Joseph Steret kept a Medical Journal from 12 August 1835 to 18 January 1836.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of thirty non-commissioned Officers and privates of the 28th regiment and two commissioned officers. They embarked on the vessel on 22nd August 1835. According to the surgeon they were accompanied by an unusually large proportion of women and children. There being nine of the former, and the same number of the latter, mostly infants under sixteen months. On the evening of their embarkation one of the soldiers of the Guard was taken ill with cholera and for the greater part of the night his life was despaired of.[1]

Prisoners Embarked

We moved from Deptford to Portsmouth where we were ordered to embark our prisoners; on the 25th August we anchored at Gravesend. On the 29th we weighed anchor and proceeded down the river. On 1st September, I examined at the hulks Leviathan and York, two hundred and forty male convicts who were embarked the same day. They were in general healthy but four or five were found to have disease of the lungs. [1]

They departed Portsmouth bound for Van Diemen's Land on 16 September 1835.

Our sailing orders did not arrive till Wednesday the 10th when the wind had lifted to the SW where it continued blowing a gale till the 16th. On that day it moderated and we weighed anchor. At night it again blew hard and continued to do so till the 21st September.

We cleared the Channel on the 23rd notwithstanding the unfavourable weather, but variola (smallpox) had by this time established itself on board. [1]

The surgeon isolated those affected in the forecastle and took such precautions as the overcrowded ship would allow. The weather continued very boisterous and almost all the prisoners were sea-sick.

On 21st a prisoner boy was carried into the hospital. He had been constantly sea sick since sailing from Portsmouth and had not been vaccinated from small-pox. The surgeon now had three cases of small-pox to deal with. He made the hospital a 'pest ward' and the sick were visited in the prison.

In the severe and confluent disease it is impossible to convey by writing any notion of the loathsome mass of suppuration and putrescence which the patients became. The treatment consisted in moderating the fever by bloodletting, purgatives and by keeping their body naked and by applying clothes dipped in water. But I do not think I succeeded in preventing the formation of a single pimple in all, the face and extremities were literally covered and the body nearly so. The secondary fever very severe. There was not room enough in the hospital to accommodate all who became ill and so those who had been inoculated and had only a modified form of the disease were isolated on one side of the deck during the day. [1]

As well as small pox there were also consumptive cases and a case of apoplexy which proved fatal. There were six deaths altogether on the voyage, one of them being a seaman who was affected with small pox.

Arrival at Hobart

The Bardaster arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 13 January 1836, after a voyage of 119 days.

Arrival of the convict ship Bardaster in VDL in 1836

Notes and Links

1). Joseph Steret was also surgeon on the convict ships Camden in 1833 and the Neptune in 1838 (VDL).

2). James Creasley arrived on the Bardaster, later resided at Maitland NSW

3). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 28th regiment included the Recovery, Charles Kerr, Westmoreland, Marquis of Huntley, Norfolk, Backwell, England, John Barry, Susan, Waterloo, Moffatt, Strathfieldsaye, Portsea. William Jardine, Lady McNaughten and the Bardaster (VDL).

Convict Ships 1835 - 28th regiment guard

4). List of Convict Ships that have arrived in Van Diemen's Land from England and other places, from the earliest date that the same can be ascertained, together with the number of convicts by each, and distinguishing the old class from the probation and ticket of leave classes - Wood's Royal Southern Calendar, Tasmanian Register and Almanac, By James Wood.


[1] Journal of Joseph Steret on the voyage of Bardaster in 1836.. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.