Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Daphne - 1819

Embarked 180 men
Voyage 116 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 553
Previous vessel: Canada arrived 1 September 1819
Next vessel: John Barry arrived 26 September 1819
Master Hugh Mattison
Surgeon: Lancelot Armstrong
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Daphne identified in the Hunter Valley region

The convicts embarked on the ship Daphne came from counties throughout Ireland. They were held in County and City gaols until they were transferred to the Daphne for transportation to New South Wales.

Convicts Embarked

Prisoners in Kilmainham jail were embarked on the Atlas brig and taken to Cork in May 1819.

On the 20th May 1819, 155 men were received from the Atlas onto the Daphne. They were issued with bedding and two pairs of shoes each. The following day 25 more prisoners were received from Cork, taking the total to 180 men embarked on the Daphne where they would spend the next four months of their lives. Select here to read a description of prison rooms on board ships.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 30 men from the 46th and 67th regiments under command of Captain Brooks of the 48th. Two children, a boy and a girl, were born to wives of soldiers of the military detachment on the voyage out.


The Daphne was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Mary just three days previously. She departed Cork on 28 May 1819, touched at Teneriffe and arrived in Port Jackson on 21st September 1819.

Surgeon Lancelot Armstrong

Lancelot Armstrong kept a Medical Journal from 20 May 1819 to 28 September 1819. He recorded in great detail, the various illnesses each man suffered. He was kept busy the entire voyage with prisoners suffering catarrh, chest pains, diarrhoea, and general debility, however for all the illness on board, at the end of the voyage he had lost only two convicts; both had been ill on embarkation.

The Voyage

At the start of the voyage orders were drawn up and read to the prisoners from time to time relating to good order and cleanliness. Also remarks on the importance of strict observance of religious duties in the 'reformation of depraved minds'. Lemon juice and sugar was issued to the men on 24 June and surgeon Armstrong recorded that the temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit between decks.

On the 30th June 1819 at 10 pm, the ship crossed the equator and soon afterwards they were experiencing heavy seas. The decks and hospital became wet from the strong breezes and the frequent squalls. They attempted to keep the hospital dry by swabbing and keeping a stove with clear burning coals going all day long. The bad weather continued for several days. They also had to contend with badly constructed water closets which were constantly blocking because of the small diameter of the lead pipes which were only about 3/4 inch. Already the piping had been taken apart three times to unblock it.

During July there had been reports of a conspiracy to take the ship, however precautions were taken and nothing came of it; there was no need for corporal punishment.

Convict John Burns had been unwell for many days. He was carefully cared for by surgeon Armstrong, however died on the 2nd August. The surgeon recorded that Burns had been in low spirits and despondent since leaving his family and wife and three small children.

Port Jackson

On the 14 September 1819 they passed King Island at the entrance of Bass Strait and by the 19 September 1819, were running along the coast with Cape Dromedary in sight. Two days later they had arrived at Port Jackson. The pilot came on board on the night of the 21st September 1819 and because of contrary winds the ship was anchored inside the entrance to the harbour. The following day they came into Sydney Cove.

Convict Muster

The harbour allowance of rations were issued out to the prisoners on 23 September and prisoners began to improve a little. The decks were cleaned once more and on the 24th September at 10am Colonial Secretary Mr. Campbell came on board to muster the prisoners. He expressed his approval of their treatment based on their answers to his questions. Their occupations were recorded in the indents on arrival although not their crimes - there were labourers, soldiers, coachmen, carters, merchants, tailors, servants, shepherds, shop boys, linen weavers, horse dealers, butchers and bleachers. Christopher Gallagher was a turnpike man; William Keane had been 'bred for the law'; John Mulligan was said to be 'good for nothing'.

Convicts Disembarked

No more fresh meat and vegetables were sent on board until the day before the prisoners were due to disembark, so the sea allowance of salt beef, flour etc was issued as usual. The day before they disembarked, fresh beef arrived and the surgeon had it boiled up to give to the men the following morning on disembarkation. They were issued with new clothes by the Commissary and at daylight on 28 September were landed. One prisoner John Sweeny was sent straight to the hospital.

The House of Lords Sessional Papers of 1822 dealt with the procedure after convicts were landed:

The prisoners are marched into the yard of the gaol at Sydney, where they are arranged in two lines for the inspection of the governor; they are permitted to bring with them the bedding that they have used on board the transport ship, and such articles of clothing and effects as they may have brought with them. The captain of the transport, the surgeon superintendent, the chief engineer, and the superintendent of convicts, accompany the governor in his inspection; and the superintendent, as he proceeds, repeats aloud from a distribution list, previously prepared, the destination that has been given to the several convicts, either by the chief engineer for the use of government, or by the applications of individuals signified to the magistrates of the different districts, or to the superintendent himself. In this part of the inspection, the governor receives the report of the captain and superintendent respecting the good or bad conduct of any individuals during the passage, and promises to attend to their recommendations; he rarely alters the destination of the convicts, made by the superintendent, but he sometimes desires that particular descriptions of men may be assigned to individuals, whose applications more immediately occur to him. These orders are signified to the superintendent and chief engineer; and when the governor has finished the inspection, he addresses the convicts in an audible tone, commencing his address with an inquiry, whether they have any Address of the complaints to make, whether their treatment during the passage has been humane, and whether they have had their proper allowance of provisions. If any complaint is signified, the name of the individual is taken down, and the inquiry is referred to the police magistrates; but, if the convicts are silent, or if they declare generally that they are satisfied, the governor proceeds in his address. He expresses his hope that the change which has been effected in their situation, will lead to a change in their conduct; that they will become new men ; and he explicitly informs them that as no reference will be had to the past, their future conduct in their respective situations will alone entitle them to reward or indulgence.

The Sydney Gazette recorded that they were as fine and healthy set of men as ever entered the Port. They gave a never failing testimony of their kind and humane treatment during a tedious voyage, rendered the more dangerous by a perpetual change of climate.'

Enquiry re Rations

The convicts complained regarding short rations on the voyage and Governor Macquarie instigated an enquiry. Captain Mattison and Surgeon Armstrong admitted that there had been short issue of provisions but that it had been merely a mistake and that there was no sinister or fraudulent intent. Governor Macquarie accepted their explanation and no further action was taken. [1]

Departure from Port Jackson

The Daphne sailed for Calcutta late in November.

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and passengers of the Daphne identified in the Hunter Valley region

2). Troops to be embarked on the Daphne bound for Madras.

3). Transcript of cases from the Medical Journal of Lancelot Armstrong on the Daphne - National Archives

4). Return of Convicts of the Daphne assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832)..... Redmond Condor Quarryman assigned to T. Walker at Concord
John Gorman Labourer assigned to Moses Bulger in Sydney

5). Dr. Trevor and the Convict Department in Ireland.

6). House of Lords. The Sessional Papers 1801 - 1833


1. Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Reel 6007; 4/3501 p.10