|In 1834 the
prisoners to be transported on the Blenheim were
incarcerated in the Surprize Hulk at Cork.
The prison had
been established about ten years previously and the following report
was written in 1824.........
This prison has been
arranged in a very complete manner, in the Surprize frigate, and
affords good accommodation for 350 convicts. The state of the hulk
with respect to accommodation, dietary, cleanliness, and interior
regulation, we found to be very satisfactory. The ship has been
extremely healthy. The officers all seem to perform their duty well;
but we should recommend very strongly that a schoolmaster should be
appointed, and a latitude given to Mr. Hollingsworth, the local
inspector, to provide books. This officer would be much inclined to
forward the instruction of the convicts, and under the
superintendence of the chaplains, much good effect might be
expected. One of the reasons which has been assigned for want of
instruction on board the hulk, is the shortness of the stay of the
convicts; but it is to be considered that almost all these prisoners
have come from a county gaol in which a school was established, many
of them from scenes of real improvement, and that they are therefore
prepared at once to be placed in the class of readers, and that a
temporary suspension of ail endeavours to instruct, might much
counteract any improvement which may have been acquired. Some of the
prisoners are employed in carpenter's work, making and repairing
prison dresses, and occasionally picking oakum........Report
of the Committee of the Society for the Improvement of Prison
The Freeman's Journal reported on
Saturday 19th July 1834.....
Two hundred and fifty male
convicts from Limerick, Galway, Cork, Waterford, Kerry, Clare,
Tipperary and Castlebar were embarked in the Blenheim at Cove and
proceeded for Botany Bay on Monday. A detachment of the 50th
regiment is on board.
James Wilson kept a Medical
Journal from 30 May to 28 November 1834 .... On 7th July, I went
on board the Surprize convict hulk at the Cove of Cork, and was
present at the inspection of the convicts by a Medical Officer sent
from Dublin for that purpose. There was also present the Medical
Officer belonging to the Hulk. I objected to receive some of the
prisoners and offered to receive two others. One was said by the
Surgeon to be blind and in fact he was led to the cabin door and
then led away as a person unfit for embarkation on account of total
loss of vision said to be of long standing . The Officer from Dublin
seeing on the list that his crime was sheep stealing had him called
back, and he and I took the man into open light to examine his eyes.
This he resisted by keeping the palpebra so permanently closed that
no efforts of our fingers could separate them; this power of the
muscles no doubt acquired from long continued action, he having I
was afterwards informed employed it for 13 months. Being defeated in
ascertaining the state of the globe of the eye but quite certain the
globe in both eyes were entire from the prominence of the palpebra,
I got a spatula which I introduced with some force it being contrary
to his will, between the eyelids and separated them with that, and I
saw that vision was perfect in both eyes. I told him I would receive
him on board and recommended his having his eyes open when he came
or I would punish him at the gangway.
The other case was
said to be chronic rheumatism of long standing. This man was
stripped and examined by the Dublin Officer and myself when we found
him to be a powerful muscular man at the advanced age he said of 76.
The appearance of the prisoners as a body was that of being very
cleanly in their persons and their strength equal to the seamen who
offer themselves as volunteers for His Majesty's Navy.
the 8th July we embarked 200 of the above convicts, one of them
Daniel Sughrue, the blind man who was led yesterday he came out the
boat and up the ships side without assistance, on his getting on
board, I advised him to look in my face, he did so with the eyes
half opened when I told him unless he opened both that instant and
looked in my face, my promise of flogging him would be carried into
execution on this he opened both his eyes and looked me full in the
face showing two eyes perfectly natural.
About the same time
ten free settlers sons of convicts were embarked. These boys were
messed and slept in the small prison with the convicts, three of
these lads were nearly destitute of clothing and the head of one
swarming with vermin........ Timothy Mannix, Roger Sheedy, Thomas
Sheedy, John Sheedy, Patrick Stenton, John Stenton, Patrick Neville,
James Neville and Edward Neville.
was the next convict ship to leave Ireland for New South Wales after
the departure of the female transport Andromeda in May 1834.
The Blenheim departed Cork on 27 July 1834. Two men
died on the voyage out, both from diseases of long standing
according to the surgeon. One from and abscess on the brain and the
other from vertigo and palpitations of the heart
Blenheim was one of fourteen convict ships arriving in New
South Wales in 1834. She arrived at Port Jackson on 14 November
1834. The Guard consisted of 33 rank and rile of 50th regiment., 8
women and 9 children under orders of Capt. Fothergill and Lieut.
O'Halloran. Some of the guard mentioned in the surgeon's Journal
Private Patrick White aged 21;
John Neely aged 23;
Sergeant John Harris;
Private Hugh McCormick;
Soldier's wife Mary Cregan.
Fothergill later served at Norfolk Island. He returned to Sydney in
Detachments of the 50th Regiment arrived on the Surry,
Henry Tanner and
Notes & Links:
1). About sixty-five of the
convicts of the Blenheim have been identified residing in the Hunter
region following years. Select
HERE to find out more about Hunter Valley convicts and
passengers of the Blenheim.
2). James Wilson was also
employed as surgeon on the convict ships
in 1836 and Minerva in 1838 (VDL)
3). In 1836 while
voyage from London to Bombay in the Blenheim, James Temple Brown
discovered a new reef in the Chagos Archipelago.
Assizes - On Wednesday a most respectable farmer, named John Hurley,
was, with others indicted for an assault on a Magistrate in the
discharge off his duty. Hurley's cattle had been seized for tithes,
and, in the irritation of the moment, he, with several others,
attacked the Magistrate and police; two of the latter were most
severely wounded by him. Hurley was found guilty, and sentenced to
transportation for seven years. On Thursday a man named William
Driscoll was found guilty of a rape on a female child, between 13
and 14 years of age. Driscoll was ordered for execution (commuted to
life, transported on the Blenheim) - Belfast Newsletter 23