Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Edward - 1829

Embarked: 177 women
Voyage: 115 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Previous vessel: Mellish arrived 18 April 1829
Next vessel: Lord Melville arrived 3 May 1829
Captain James Gilbert
Surgeon Superintendent William Conborough Watt
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
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Convicts and passengers of the Edward identified in the Hunter Valley

The Edward was built at Bristol in 1806.[5] Prisoners were transported to New South Wales on the Edward in 1829,1831 and to Van Diemen's Land in 1834.

The previous convict ship to depart Ireland was the Ferguson in November 1828. The previous convict ship from Ireland with female prisoners was the City of Edinburgh which departed in June 1828.


The Edward was re-fitted at Deptford in October 1828 before sailing to Cork to her prisoners. The women were gathered from different counties in Ireland including Wexford, Antrim, Dublin, Waterford, Cavan, Donegal, Wicklow, Tralee, Tipperary and Limerick. Most would have been held in county prisons before being transferred to Cork to await transportation. At Cork they were held in the Female Depot before being embarked on the ship.

Departure from Cork

When the Edward departed Cork on 1st January 1829. She had below her decks one hundred and seventy-seven female prisoners.

The ship took on water at the Isle of St. Jago and reached the Cape seventeen days after departing Cork.

Surgeon William C. Watt

This was William Conborough Watt's first voyage as Surgeon Superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 30 September 1828 to 14 May 1829. He was sympathetic to the plight of the women and often seems to have treated them kindly......

He remarked on the many cases of Chlorosis that had occurred - from causes unnecessary to enumerate considering the number of young persons that were amongst the convicts and the mental despondency under which they labour on reflecting that they were taking a final leave of their country and friends under such degrading circumstances. ( - Chlorosis - anaemia caused by iron deficiency, especially in adolescent girls, causing a pale, faintly greenish complexion.)

He described the circumstances surrounding the three women who died on the voyage -

The first death noted in his journal was that of Maria Johnson (Johnstone) aged 24. She died just one month into the voyage, having been ill since December when the Edward lay at the Cove of Cork. On 26th December 1828 William Watt consulted with the surgeon of the Surprise hulk on the state of this unfortunate woman and urged the necessity of her being returned to the Depot as she was daily sinking and could not properly be expected to survive many weeks; to this remonstrance it was replied that she could not be received without an order from Dublin Castle and indeed the poor creature strongly objected to being re-landed as she had a sister on board and did not consider herself in an alarming way. He further described her in his concluding notes:

She was labouring under the malady which ultimately terminated her existence at the period of her embarkation. Phthisis Pulmonalis. She was an exceedingly interesting young female whose agreeable manners, reformed conduct and assiduity in teaching a class of her fellow prisoners when confined in the Cork Depot had greatly recommended herself to the authorities of that establishment. She was embarked on the 29th November; her elder sister was also on board both having been convicted for the same crime. The poor girl's emaciated figure, blanched anxious and expressive countenance sunken and pearly eyes and stoop of her shoulders immediately attracted my notice.....She made appeal to my feelings re the importunities of her sister and the solicitation her friends in the Ladies Committee for visiting females in prison to permit her to proceed, and with the knowledge that if she were re-landed she must again be incarcerated within the dreary walls of Cork Depot, and the very remote chance of a change of climate benefiting her she was permitted to remain. Her symptoms however materially increased previous to the ship's departure from Ireland, having been detained by contrary winds and boisterous weather for several weeks and I accordingly requested that she might be relanded, this could not be complied with without an order from Dublin and ere such could be obtained the ship sailed; her decline was progressive and she died on 3rd February

The second fatal termination was a case of apoplexy. (This was thirty six year old Catherine Dillon who died on 18 January). The subject a poor unfortunate creature who at one period had moved in a rather superior circle, she from all I could learn from her fellow prisoners had been in a state bordering upon idiotism from the date of her sentence and she died, I have no doubt from effusion of having taken place into the ventricles or on the surface of the brain; this I should much liked to have ascertained by a post mortem examination but such a proceeding under the circumstances under which I was placed surrounded by so many weak superstitious beings, and at that particular period full of the prejudices of their country appeared to me to be an exceedingly imprudent measure.

The last case which terminated fatally was one of dyspepsia (Eleanor Patterson died on 29th March), the subject a woman who had attained the advanced age of 58 in the commission of crimes of every description, she having been what is termed in slang language a fence woman and whose constitution was completely destroyed by her mode of life the same reasons which I have stated in the former case prevented my instituting a post mortem examination.

Other cases mentioned in the surgeon's journal include:

Margaret Fay, aged 19, convict; chlorosis; put into list 22 December 1828, discharged 15 January 1829 cured.
Catherine Collins, aged 29, convict; pneumonia; put into list 26 December 1828, discharged 3 January 1829 cured.
Elizabeth Cox, aged 20, convict; venereal; put into list 4 January 1829, discharged 21 January 1829 cured.
Catherine Rickards, aged 40, convict; constipation of bowels; put into list 4 January 1829, discharged 14 January 1829 cured.
Judith Rellish, aged 26, convict; pneumonia; put into list 7 January 1829, discharged 18 January 1829 cured.
Frances Lowther, aged 30, convict; cholera; put into list 9 January 1829, discharged 28 January 1829 cured.
Catherine Duffy, aged 16, convict; chlorosis; put into list 27 January 1829, discharged 10 April 1829 cured.
Mary Sullivan, aged 27, convict; diarrhoea; put into list 4 February 1829, discharged 12 February 1829 cured.
Isabella Ferrier, aged 27, convict; jaundice; put into list 18 February 1829, discharged 11 April 1829 cured.
Elizabeth Murphy, aged 34, convict; pneumonia; put into list 6 March 1829, discharged 12 March 1829 cured.
Rachel Bole, aged 25, convict; dyspepsia; put into list 13 March 1829, discharged 20 March 1829
Mary Harroll, aged 35, convict;, diarrhoea; put into list 19 March 1829, discharged 31 March 1829.[3]

William Watt's General Remarks at the end of the voyage:

I now beg to submit a statement of the system adopted for the Government of the prisoners and preservation of their health.........

1st. On their embarkation, one of the convicts specially recommended was appointed Matron over each mess having seven women under her charge. The women were directed by my orders hung up in various parts of the prison, to pay her the most implicit obedience, she being held responsible for the correct demeanour and cleanliness of their persons and drawing all their rations; as also to give me information from time to time of irregularities which she might observe, or any circumstances which might in the most remote degree endanger the quiet of the prison.

2nd. The cooks were permitted to leave the prison at half past six am for the purpose of preparing breakfast, the convict coppers having been previously filled and the fire lighted by the ships company, preventing as far as possible intercourse between the prisoners and sailors. At seven the Matrons were admitted on deck to Superintend stowing the beds in fine weather and to receive their respective mess bread; two of their number in rotation receiving the sugar and tea from the ships steward and seeing the same put into the coppers - a precaution necessary from the Cooks having been twice detected pilfering the same. At 8 o'clock breakfast was served and at nine all the women with the exception of two from each mess in rotation to clean the berths were admitted on deck. One of those on deck from each mess, cleaned the mess utensils. The Matrons received the rations for the day - a serving of beef or pork taken from the steep tub (where it had been soaking from four o'clock the preceding evening) delivered it to the cooks with a tin tally attached having the number of each mess impressed thereon, the foregoing evolution generally required about an hour.

Afterwards I inspected the prisons (all the bottom boards of the lower tier of sleeping places being elevated to prevent the accumulation of filth and damp and promote ventilation). The prisoners were then employed until half past 12 at reading, writing, sewing, knitting or otherwise. At half past 12 dinner was served; each Matron assisted by one of her mess receiving the soup and pudding at the coppers and making an equal division of the same to her mess mates she being the only person supplied with a knife and fork. At half past one each woman was called according to her number and had her allowance of wine at the tub which she drank before me to prevent the chance of any improper use being made of the same after which the prison decks and berths were swept and sewing and reading resumed. At 3 o'clock lemonade was served by one of the Matrons; in rotation each woman drank half a pint at the tub, the other half pint being reserved for drink during the night. At 4 o'clock each Matron attended to received her beef or pork, have it properly tallied, well washed and put in the steep tub. From this until lock up I permitted the women to walk to and fro and cook their supper (Burgor) and at six every woman was mustered below and the gates secured by myself; each matron as an additional security against deception (such having been once attempted) reporting to me through the gratings that all was well in her mess.

At eight o'clock I visited the Hospital and nine each of the sleeping cabins noting particularly that each woman was in her bed, her cloths hung up, no cloths soaking in the slop lids (this ought never to be permitted) the mess utensils properly secured on hooks under the prison benches (which I had supplied at Cork) the hatchway curtain down in cold weather and making each Matron again report that all her messmates were present, after which the gates were secured each by a double padlock and business of the day ended.

In the course of which it will be perceived that each prisoner came immediately under my observation four times and that their minds and bodies were kept in a constant state of action in the observance of the foregoing rules, thereby preventing their indulging in sloth, melancholy, forebodings and idle conversation. Wednesdays and Saturdays were appropriated for washing clothes, a washerwoman being selected from each in rotation and great care being taken that each item was thoroughly dried before it was taken below. Such was the system which I adopted on board the Edward and I think I may venture to affirm that it's efficiency has been fully proven.

Two hundred and fourteen female convicts and infants were conveyed to NSW in that vessel a number far exceeding that of my former importation by one ship and I have much pleasure in stating that no body of prisoners were ever landed in better condition at the Colony, nor if I may judge from my very limited experience of such characters none more disposed to redeem their reputation. In closing these remarks I cannot in Justice to the poor creatures entrusted to my care deny myself the satisfaction of observing that with very few exceptions the conduct was highly creditable to themselves and I must attribute to their cleanly disposition and ready and strict observance of my orders in a great degree that immunity from disease which happily resulted.

Among the other means which I used to preserve health I had nearly omitted to state that on arriving in the warm latitudes I had all the woollen clothing and six blankets from each mess struck into the hold and that the women were bathed under the inspection of their respective Matrons - I also experienced the most marked benefit from the frequent use of the solution of the Chloride of Lime in instantly dispelling offensive effluvia. Its effects were tried on board the Surprise Hulk in the water closets at my request by Mr. Taylor and he informed me with the same result. I consider it an article of great value and beg to recommend that a quantity of it should be supplied to ships proceeding with convicts again. [4]

William Conborough Watt was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Roslin Castle in 1830, Exmouth in 1831and the Mary in 1833.

Port Jackson

The Edward arrived in Port Jackson on 26th April 1829, a passage of 115 days. One hundred and seventy-four female prisoners arrived on the Edward and also twenty-three male and female settlers from Ireland. Fourteen children who accompanied their mothers also arrived on the Edward.[1]

Those listed in the Assisted Immigrant passenger lists who travelled in the steerage included
Alley Bluett (wife of Thomas Bluett who arrived on the Governor Ready),
Judith Bowe,
Mary Fitzgerald,
Edward Fitzpatrick,
Bridget Kennelly,
Catherine Magrath,
Mary Murphy and
Margaret Galvin.

Margaret Galvin was accompanied by two of her children - Anne aged 11 and Martin aged 6. Margaret was the wife of William Joseph Galvin who arrived on the Sir Godfrey Webster in 1826. William Galvin was later employed as Custodian of the Australian Museum. A daughter Margaret was born to William and Margaret Galvin in Australia. She married John Howson in 1849. Margaret Galvin died in 1853 and William Galvin died twenty years later in 1873 aged 89.[2]

Convict Muster

The female prisoners were mustered on board by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 28th April 1829 and were landed on Friday 8th May 1829. They were reported to be of clean and healthy appearance.

The convict indents reveal their name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, offence, date and place of trial, offence, sentence, physical description and to whom assigned on arrival. There is also occasional information regarding pardons, relatives already in the colony and deaths.

Notes and the Indents

The oldest prisoners were:
Mary Atcheson from Co. Down age 61; Margaret Ascerey from Waterford age 60; Catherine Dixon age 57.

Mary Brennan age 30. Sent to the Female Factory Parramatta for assault in 1840

Anne Burke had a sister already in the colony, Teresa Hanley who arrived on the Elizabeth in 1828.

Mary Brady (or Browne). Husband in the colony, Edward Brady per Ferguson.

Ellen Broderick age 24 from Limerick. Husband convicted as Charles McCarthy expected to arr. on the Eliza.

Mary Bolds age 27 from Cork. Husband in colony as Hugh Wade per Boyne. (Wade stated single on arrival)

Ann Carthy age 23 from Fermanagh. Husband in colony as Thomas Malone per Ferguson

Mary Connolly from Roscommon, died in consequence of a fall from a dray whilst intoxicated at Patrick Plains. 1838

Dorothea Carty age 16 from Fermanagh. Sister to No. 16

Mary Carroll age 34 from Athlone. Died in the Female Factory at Parramatta 3 February 1835.

Mary Dooley or Malone age 36 from Wicklow. Husband in colony as John Malone

Ellen Driscoll age 23 from Cork. Husband convicted as Barry and expected per ship Eliza

Johanna Firm age 20 from City of Cork. Husband convicted as David Ryan and expected

Margaret Fay age 19 from Antrim. Husband in colony as William Burgan per Mangles

Elizabeth Fennel or Hogan age 32 from Tipperary. Husband in colony as Michael Hogan

Mary Ann Gallagher age 17 from Dublin. Mother in colony as Judith Gallagher about 15 or 16 years ago.

Ellen Johnstone or Benson age 30 from Monaghan. Wears earrings. Husband in colony as George Benson per Sophia

Rose Kearns aged 32 from Belfast. Died at Liverpool in 1831

Margaret Kinsella's cousin John Leary arrived on the Sophia in 1829

Catherine Kavanagh age 24 from Wicklow. Brother in colony as Lawrence Cavanagh per Ferguson (this was the notorious bushranger who was eventually executed at Norfolk Island; another brother Martin Cavenagh arrived in 1823

Catherine Makesay age 20 from Carlow. Died in Parramatta Hospital 5 December 1838

Jane Moore age 29 from Londonderry. Husband in colony as Henry Doran per Mangles.

Mary McGuinnes age 30 from Londonderry. Died at Parramatta 13 September 1831

Catherine McGlinchy age 40 from Donegal. Son in colony as Daniel McGlinchy per Sophia

Eleanor Millar age 31 from Tyrone. Husband came as Arthur McCann about 8 years previously

Margaret Murphy age 50 from Carlow. Husband in colony as Isaac Fitzgerald per Borodino

Mary Riley age 30 from Down. Sister in colony as Biddy Riley or Rice, her husband Robert Rice

Mary Ryan age 24 from Limerick. Husband in colony as James Johnstone 2 years previously

Mary Smith age 50 from Dublin. Son John in colony per Mangles

Eliza Stenson age 44 from Dublin. Died in the Benevolent Asylum April 1851

Rose Sweeney or Terence age 26 from Kildare. Husband in colony as James Terence per Mangles

Convicts of the Edward identified in the Hunter Valley :

Ahern, Margaret

Brady, Mary

Brian, Margaret

Buttler, Maria

Byrne, Catherine

Carrigan (Fury), Bridget

Carty, Dorothea

Comerford, Bridget

Connolly, Mary

Duffy, Catherine

Farrier, Isabella

Fogarty, Anne

Gaffey, Mary

Hanratty, Ellen

Henderson, Mary

Hunt, Mary

Hunt, Eleanor

Johnstone, Ellen

Keathing, Judith

Kelly, Bridget

King, Anne

Kinsella, Margaret

Lowe, Mary

Lowther, Frances

Magarry, Rose

McCann, Mary Ann

McKnight, Mary Anne

McMullin, Eliza

Miller, Margaret

Montgomery, Mary

Murphy, Nancy

Navin, Margaret

Ryan, Bridget or Mary

Smyth, Mary Anne

Sullivan, Eliza

Sweeney, Bridget

Sweeney, Rose

Timmins, Mary

Walker, Ann

Walsh, Ellen

Walsh, Mary

Wright, Ann

Descendant Contribution

Anne Walker a country servant age 26 and her husband Thomas Daley a farm servant age 24 were convicted at Monaghan on 30 July 1827 of stealing hats. Thomas Daley arrived on the Mangles in 1828 and was assigned to Joseph Brooks Weller. Ann Walker arrived on the Edward in 1829. Anne's Ticket of Leave 31/757 issued 29 September 1831 states permission for her to remain in the district of Paterson's Plains.

Their daughter Sarah Daley was born in Maitland in 1831. (Descendant Contact Email)

Notes and Links

1). County Down Assizes - Tuesday 1st April - Margaret McGlown for stealing a piece of woollen cloth, the property of Andrew Graham, Newry, on 24th November last - Guilty - 7 years transportation.

2). County of Antrim Assizes - Carrickfergus - Thursday March 27 - Margaret Miller (a prostitute) for having stolen in October last, a watch, the property of Daniel O'Neill - Guilty, transportation seven years. - Belfast Newsletter - 28 March 1828

3). Dublin - Catherine Dillon and Mary Brennan - forgery - Sentenced to fourteen years transportation - Freemans Journal 8 January 1828.

4). The Edward was one of twenty-one convict ships arriving in New South Wales in 1829. Four of these carried female prisoners the Edward, Princess Royal, Lucy Davidson and the Sovereign. A total of 492 women arrived as convicts in 1829.

5). A Return of the Expense of the Convict Department at the Port of Cork in each of the three last years; distinguishing the disbursements for the hulk at Cove, from those at the Depot at Cork; the names of the several officers and the dates of their appointment, and if not resident therein the distance at which they respectively reside from each establishment (1835)

6). At least four women who arrived on the Edward were involved in the riot that took place at the Female Factory at Parramatta in 1831 and were subsequently sent to Newcastle as punishment - Bridget Sweeney, Bridget Ryan, Isabella Farrier and Catherine Duffy


[1] New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 Record for William C. Watt)

[2] Johnston Colin, Exhibition Production Coordinator, Australian Museum 6 College Street Sydney NSW 2010 Australia. Personal communication 11 August 2014.

[3] National Archives - Description: Medical journal of the Edward, convict ship from 30 September 1828 to 14 May 1829 by William C Watt, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed at Deptford, Cove of Cork and on a passage to New South Wales.

[4] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of William C. Watt on the voyage of the Edward in 1829. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[5] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.348-349, 386