Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Earl St. Vincent (1) - 1818

Embarked 160 men
Voyage 131 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Elizabeth arrived 19 November 1818
Next vessel: Hadlow arrived 24 December 1818
Master Samuel Simpson
Surgeon John Johnston
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Earl St. Vincent identified in the Hunter Valley

The Earl St. Vincent was built at Topsham in 1800 and carried a crew of approximately 32 men. This was the first of four voyages bringing convicts to Australia, the others being in 1820 (NSW) and 1823 (NSW) and 1826 (VDL).

Surgeon John Johnston

John Johnston kept a Medical Journal from 22 July 1818 to 15 January 1819 -

On 22nd July 1818, 160 convicts were embarked on the ship at Cork. Their clothing was stripped from them and they were all given new items. There were many cases of ulcerated legs and other diseases and the surgeon made an application to Dr. Trevor for lint and calico and itch ointment. The prisoners were allowed to stay on deck until the setting of the watch.

On 6th August, the day before they set sail, one of the convicts, William Keating made a desperate bid for freedom when he jumped overboard. The alarm was given and exertions made to recover him but there seemed to be no trace of him.[2]

Military Guard

The Military guard consisted of 31 soldiers of the 84th regiment commanded by Ensign Ingilby of the same Corps.[3]


They made an attempt to make it out of the Cork harbour early on the morning of the 7th August when they stood to sea, however returned to port because of unfavourable conditions. On the evening of the 9th August they got underway.

The prisoners soon became sea sick and the surgeon continued to attend to their many ailments.


They passed by Madeira on 24th August and there was fine weather and a fresh breeze when they passed by the Isle of St. Paul on 12 November.

Sydney Cove

On the 12th December the surgeon ordered the removal of irons from the prisoners as they were nearing Sydney. They had fresh breezes and fine weather up the east coast and anchored in Sydney Cove on Wednesday 16 December 1818. All the convicts were below deck except for the useful hands on this day. In the evening Captain Piper came on board. Fresh provisions were issued and the convicts washed themselves and their clothes ready for the inspection and muster by Colonial Secretary John Thomas Campbell on the 18th December.[2]

Convict Indents

The youngest convicts on board were Thomas Lennon, James Minchan and James McManus all sixteen years of age. The indents give the name of the convict, date and place of trial, sentence, native place, calling, age and physical description. There is no information in the indents as to where the men were assigned on arrival.


They were allowed on deck every day until sunset while anchored in the harbour. They were issued with new clothing on the 20th December and were disembarked on the 21st December. Three convicts had died on the passage out. The remaining 157 were landed in good health.

The Convicts

The Colonial Secretary's Correspondence reveals that after the landing the prisoners were forwarded to Parramatta by water and then by road to Windsor and Liverpool where they were distributed amongst various settlers. On 21st December orders were issued for twenty-nine men to be sent to the Parramatta area, twenty-seven men to Liverpool, and sixty-one to Windsor. A few were assigned to specific applicants - six of the men sent to Liverpool were put in the service of surveyor John Oxley - Thomas Maher, Patrick Shanahan, Michael Gilfoyle, John Moroney, Edward Kelly, and John Callaghan. John Oxley had just returned from his expedition to Bathurst, Liverpool Plains and Port Macquarie the month before.

Departure from the Colony

Earl St. Vincent departed Port Jackson on 2 February 1819, bound for Calcutta.

Notes and Links

1). Prisoners and passengers of the Earl St. Vincent identified in the Hunter Valley

2). Daniel Delahunty who arrived on the Earl St. Vincent was sent to Newcastle penal settlement for a colonial crime. He was one of eleven pirates who seized the cutter Eclipse from the harbour in 1825. Find out more about their daring escape here.


[1] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Sat 23 Sep 1820 Page 4

[2] Journal of John Johnstone on the voyage of the Earl St. Vincent in 1818. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] HRA, Series 1, Vol. X, p.86