Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Buffalo - 1833

Embarked: 180 women
Voyage: 146 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Tons 600 Crew: 107 including officers
Previous vessel: Heroine arrived 19 September 1833
Next vessel: Lord Lyndoch arrived 18 October 1833
Master: F.W.N. Sadler
Surgeon John Macauley Hamilton
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Buffalo identified in the Hunter Valley

H.M.S. Buffalo c. 1836. State Library South Australia
The ship Buffalo began life as a merchantman named the Hindostan, launched in Calcutta in 1813.

After the maiden voyage to England she was purchased by the Royal Navy and re-named HMS Buffalo. The Buffalo was used to carry timber and as a quarantine ship, and in 1833 was fitted as a convict ship to carry female convicts to New South Wales.

In 1840 this ship was used to transport prisoners from Lower Canada to Australia.

Surgeon John Macauley Hamilton

This voyage in 1833 was John Hamilton's only one as Surgeon Superintendent of a convict ship. A Medical Journal was kept from 17th May to 10th October 1833.

The prisoners were embarked between 17th April and 3rd May 1833 - John Hamilton kept a detailed record of the prisoners' arrival -

17 April 1833: Received two convicts from Hertford Goal and two children.

19 April 1833: Received two convicts from Horsham Goal and two from Shrewsbury.

21st April the Buffalo slipped from the buoy in Warren's bight and dropped up the harbour to repair the decks which had been found to be leaking over the prison. They then continued to board the rest of the women:

22 April 1833: Received two convicts from Nottingham and one from the penitentiary.

23 April 1833: Received two convicts from Portsmouth and one from Wales.

24 April 1833: Received four convicts from Chester and one from Derby.

25 April 1833: Received seven prisoners from Horsemonger Lane, three from Winchester and thirteen from Liverpool.

26 April 1833: Received seven convicts from Bristol, five from Dundee, three from Perth and one from Oxford and two children.

27 April 1833: Received one convict from Jedborough, four from Paisley, one from Stirling, 16 from Glasgow, 22 from Edinburgh, 1 from Morpeth, 7 from Nottingham, 2 from Cardiff, 2 from Norwich, 3 from Maidstone, and 11 children.

28 April 1833: Received 5 convicts from Stafford.

1 May 1833: Received 50 convicts from Newgate.

3 May 1833: Received 7 convicts from Newgate making in all 179 and 25 children.

Departure from Portsmouth

After embarking the last of the convict women on 3rd May, the ship departed from Portsmouth on 12 May 1833. All the women were confined below in consequence of them being in the way of the working of the ship out of the harbour.

Rio de Janeiro

They put into Rio de Janeiro on 28th July.

King George Sound

On 13th September H.M.S. Buffalo arrived at King George Sound in Western Australia.

Cabin Passengers

Sir Richard Spencer and family came passengers as far as King George Sound.

The Perth Gazette reported in February 1834: The Buffalo arrived at the Sound on the 13th September with Sir Richard Spencer the new Lieutenant Governor; Lady Spencer, and nine children, and eleven servants, chiefly agricultural labourers. Sir Richard brought out some live-stock from England with which to stock his own Estate, and other requisites for a settler who sits down on his farm, which is to be his future stay, and that of his family. On his arrival, he found 36 souls forming the Settlement at King George's Sound, composed of two or three settlers and their servants, and the officers and troops sent there for their protection. The Government at Swan River had neglected to send the usual supplies for the troops and when the Buffalo arrived, their rations had been reduced to four oz of peas and half a pound of flour a day, for each person; they had, however, abundance of vegetables, fowls, eggs, pigs etc., Previously to leaving England, Sir Richard had stipulated with the Government, that no prisoners should be sent to the Settlement. During his stay, Doctor Hamilton explored the country in the vicinity of the Sound; he described the soil as being of good quality and made a collection of plants which were later pronounced by Mr. (Richard) Cunningham to embrace a greater variety than can be found elsewhere in the colony.

Captain's Log

Extracts from Captain's Log. Journal of proceedings of H.M.S. Buffalo from August 13 1833 to March 31, 1840 kept by R.W.R. Sadler, master commanding, Captain Hindmarsh and others

18/8/1833 - Saint Paul's Isle 2037 miles

1/9/1833 - Cape Chatham, Australia distant 1,753 miles

10/9/1833 Put the ship's company on two thirds allowance of bread; only 33 days allowance on board, making up the deficiency by the issue of flour in lieu. Cape Chatham 265 miles distant ;

13/9/1833 - At single anchor in King George's Sound

14/9/1833 - Employed stowing boars with luggage, and disembarking Sir Richard Spencer's luggage. (Mr. Gill, the father of the late Mr. Thomas Gill I.S.O. arrived with Sir Richard Spencer in the Buffalo ;

16/9/1833 - and 17/9/1833 - Employed disembarking Sir Richard Spencer's luggage Convicts on Board:

19/9/ 1833 - At 8.15 pm found on the prison deck George Roberts cohabiting with Elizabeth Sedgwick, female convict.

21/9/1833 - 8.40 am made sail running out of King George's Sound

Arrival at Port Jackson

5/10/1833 - Running for and working up the harbour of Port Jackson. At 6am we bore up for the entrance of Port Jackson, fired a gun, and hoisted the signal for a pilot. At 7.30 am hove to, and pilot came on board. 8am strong breeze working up Port Jackson. 9.30am hove to awaiting permission from the pratique office to sail up the harbour; 11am made sail.11.50am in standing into Sydney Cove the ship missed stays to the baffling winds let go the small bower in four and a half fathoms, and found she hung by the keel. Ran out a hawser to windward, and hove in on the small bower, and hauled the ship into a mooring berth. In touching the ship did not receive the slightest injury.


The only punishment the surgeon noted on the voyage was that of Mary Murphy and Elizabeth Sedgley for disorderly conduct by putting them on bread and water for two days.

Deaths and Injuries

The only death was that of Susan Kent who died from inflammation of the lungs on 5th May.

Two women suffered broken arms after slipping on the deck and there were two births, Mary Stains gave birth to a son and there were no complications. Mary Murphy also gave birth to a son. She suffered three convulsive fits which were attributed to her imprudently being allowed by the nurse to eat salt pork. Her head was shaved and cold lotions were applied!


One hundred and seventy-eight women were landed (Helen McNab from Scotland had been re-landed before sailing and Susan Kent died on the passage). On the 7th October Louisa White, Ann Clark, Caroline Higgins, Mary Lee as well as prisoners washing their clothes were sent to the Hospital in Sydney. Mary Lee died in Parramatta Hospital 6th November 1833.

Convict Muster

The women were mustered on board by the Colonial Secretary on 9th October and on the 10th October three women were sent to Parramatta by order of the Governor - one who was very old, one who was pregnant and two with young children. The remainder of the women were landed at the Dock yard in good health.

Captain's Log

9/10/1833 - The Deputy-Assistant Colonial Secretary came on board, and mustered the convicts.

13/10/1833 - Prisoners on deck and performed divine service

16/10/1833 11.45pm sent four men, armed, on board the revenue cutter, per request of her commander, he understanding an attack was to be made on her by convicts

17/10/1833 - 4.30am the men returned from the cutter

21/10/1833 - Discharged the whole of the prisoners with the exception of 24 kept to go by the steamer (!!!) in the evening to Newcastle. At 6pm discharged the remainder of the prisoners.

Convict Indents

The convict indents include such information as name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, prior convictions and physical description. There is also occasional information about pardons, colonial sentences and deaths. The youngest prisoners were Mary Ann Robertson and Catherine Glen who was considered an idiot, both age 14. There is no information in the indents as to whom the women were assigned on arrival.

The indents have details of those women who had relatives already in the colony or about to arrive. Some may have been fortunate enough to be assigned to their relative or perhaps nearby..........

Martha Chubb's brother Thomas Chubb arrived on the Camden in 1833
Elizabeth Graham's sister Alice Hackett had arrived nine years previously
Mary Leonard's brother John Leonard had arrived five years previously
Margaret Thomas' husband Charles Thomas arrived on the Waterloo in 1833
Elizabeth Sedgwick's uncle Richard Allman arrived twenty years previously
Eleanor Goodrich's brother George Goodrich arrived nine years previously
Eliza Gilbert alias Smith - Robert Smith with whom she co-habited supposed to by in Sydney
Jane Mack's uncle James Mack arrived free 10 years previously
Ann Clarke's uncle Richard Adams arrived 3 years previously
Eleanor Power and Sarah Ann Murray were sisters in law.
Sarah Ann Murray's brother Charles Denham arrived one year previously
Hannah Shields' step brother Henry Dyer arrived six years previously
Jane Ridley and her husband Ralph Ridley were convicted at the same time. Ralph arrived on the Lloyds
Martha Rose's cousin Thomas Coates arrived two years previously
Ann Aldridge's son in law George Hartshorn arrived six years previously
Ellen Curtis or O'Donnell was mother to Bridget; and Catherine O'Donnell, all three being transported on the Buffalo
Hannah Baulch's brother James Baulch arrived one year previously
Sarah Ann Barnett's sister Maria Durant arrived eighteen months previously
Catherine Ross alias McGhie - mother to Helen McGhie also on board. Son Charles McGhie arrived nine years previously
Margaret McGilvray's sister Catherine McGilvray arrived four years previously
Ann McLaren's brother Charles McLaren arrived seven years previously
Nancy Moonie or Agnew's sons John and Henry Agnew arrived five years previously
Elizabeth Kelly's sister Presilla Kelly or Wemyss arrived six years previously
Margaret Munro's sister Susan Munro arrived three years previously
Ann Gall's daughters Jane and Christian arrived on the Numa in 1834

Scottish Prisoners

Fifty two of the prisoners had been convicted in Scotland........

Christian alias Christiana Ross alias Margaret Mackenzie tried in Edinburgh
Jean White alias Melrose tried in Edinburgh
Isabella Polson alias Ewen alias McEwen tried in Edinburgh
Mary Ingram alias Robson tried in Edinburgh
Catherine Macqueen tried in Edinburgh
Ann Melrose alias Ross tried in Edinburgh
Mary Ann Rose tried in Edinburgh
Catherine Ross alias McGree tried in Edinburgh
Euphemia McDonald alias Murray tried in Edinburgh
Helen Russell alias Gillespie tried in Edinburgh
Helen McGhie alias McGie tried in Edinburgh
Margaret McGilvray tried in Edinburgh
Ann Hay tried in Edinburgh
Jean Wise tried in Edinburgh
Barbara Lawrie or Campbell or Walker tried in Edinburgh
Margaret Gray or Markie tried in Edinburgh
Ann Lawson or Gale tried in Edinburgh
Ann McLaren tried in Edinburgh
Margaret Farquhar tried in Edinburgh
Margaret McLeod or Seoul tried in Edinburgh
Janet Munro tried in Edinburgh
Alison Walker or Henry tried in Edinburgh
Mary Marshall tried in Glasgow
Elizabeth Hastie tried in Glasgow
Nancy Moonie or Agnew tried in Glasgow
Agnes Lander tried in Glasgow
Jean Johnstone tried in Glasgow
Elizabeth Kelly tried in Glasgow
Mary Ann Kelso tried in Glasgow
Margaret Munro tried in Glasgow
Helen Gilies tried in Glasgow
Janet alias Aken Forsyth tried in Glasgow
Agnes alias Nancy McMenamy tried in Glasgow
Annabella alias Ann Smith alias Anderson alias McFarlane tried in Glasgow
Agnes Patterson tried in Glasgow
Margaret alias Mary McGregor alias Orr alias Smith tried in Glasgow
Jean Cherry alias Mair tried in Glasgow
Elizabeth Stewart tried in Glasgow
Grace Gallocher tried in Glasgow
Sarah Diamond tried in Glasgow
Elizabeth Kelly alias Armour tried in Glasgow
Elizabeth Dickson alias Rae tried in Glasgow
Margaret Ray alias McCormal tried in Jedborough
Mary McRory alias Fletcher tried in Perth
Christian Scott alias Gilchrist tried in Perth
Elizabeth Mill alias Wallace tried in Perth
Mary Falconer tried in Perth
Catherine Glen tried in Perth
Mary Ann Robertson tried in Perth
Janet Stewart tried in Perth
Mary Grey tried in Perth
Jean Thompson tried in Stirling

Captain's Log

23/10/1833 - Returned convict stores to the department of the commissariat. While employed on this duty Charles Legitt left the boat, threatened to strike Mr. Boys (mate) when ordered down to the boat, calling him out to fight, during which time he called the said officer a very opprobrious epithet in the streets of Sydney

24/10/1833 - Employed taking down prison fittings, smoked and fumigated the main deck. William Howett, Bosun's mate, was brought on board by two constables, he having been kept in gaol and taken before the Magistrates for the riots when he had committed with his officers on shore

28/10/1833 - Punished Charles Leggett, seaman with 48 lashes for repeated drunkenness, mutiny, desertion, insolence and threatening to strike his officer

30/10/1833 - Heavy squall, accompanied by a thick mist of dust from the shore

5/11/1833 - Employed preparing for sea

7/11/1833 9am - Unmoored ship at 11, weighed anchor and warped out of Sidney Cove; 130am came to

10/11/1833 4am - Weighed and made sail

Departure from Port Jackson

After departure from Port Jackson, the Buffalo sailed to New Zealand to procure a cargo of Kauri topmasts for Government for the return voyage to England.

They then proceeded via Cape Horn, Staten Island, Falkland Islands, Cape Frio, Rio Janeiro, Trinidad, Flores Island and so on to the Lizard, England, where she arrived 18 November 1834. The Buffalo remained at Portsmouth from 19 November 1834 to 7 January 1835. The ships log up to that date were signed F.W.R. Sadler, master commanding. The next section of the log runs from 23 April 1836 to 26 July 1836 and is signed J. Hindmarsh, captain. [1]

Buffalo, Store Ship - Master Com. F. W. R. Sadler, 17th Nov 1834 arrived at Plymouth from New Zealand. - The Buffalo has made a most interesting voyage. It will be recollected that she embarked female convicts, at Portsmouth, in May, 1831, and, taking on board Sir Richard and Lady Spencer, with a family of nine children and twelve servants, she sailed on the 12th of that month,* with the party, and complete stock, for a new colony in Western Australia. On the 18th September the party was landed all safe in King George's Sound, which affords good and safe anchorage, especially Princess Royal Harbour, which is situated at the head of the Sound. The Buffalo proceeded from hence to Sydney, where she landed her convicts, all in perfect health; and, on the 10th Nov. 1833, sailed to her destination, New Zealand, to procure a cargo of Kowri topmasts, in which she has completely succeeded, having brought to England the finest cargo ever imported, loaded partly at Keahou, entrance to the river Thames, and part at Wanaroa - notorious for the horrid murder of Capt. Thompson, and the crew of the Boyd merchant ship, in 1809. Mr. Sadler, who appears to have made himself thoroughly acquainted with that part of the country, describes the natives as lively and good natured, though beyond all doubt, cannibals. They are a fine, stout, athletic race of men....Nautical Magazine

In 1836-1837 this ship was employed to taking the new settlers to South Australia. (United Services Magazine)

The Buffalo was wrecked on 28th July 1840. The Sydney Gazette reported that she was wrecked at Mercury Bay while loading with spars for England during one of the heaviest gales ever experienced on that coast, she having driven ashore with six anchors ahead. The only lives lost, were those of a man and a boy.

Notes and Links

1). Image of Commander F.W.N. Sadler - State Library of South Australia

2). Image of H.M.S. Buffalo.. [On back of photograph] 'H. M. S. Buffalo / Copied from a pen and ink drawing by Lieutenant Y.B. Hutchinson, R.N. (One of the passengers, 1836)' - State Library of South Australia

3). Forty seven convicts of the Buffalo have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. Select HERE to find out more about these women.

4). The Buffalo was one was one of five convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1833, the others being the Surry, Fanny, Caroline and Diana. A total of 639 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1833.

5). Female Convicts


[1] The Register 28 December 1925