Embarking On The Forth
The Times reported in June - On Thursday morning at an early hour, 120 female convicts were removed from the Penitentiary to the 'Lee' steam boat, and proceeded in her to the 'Forth' convict ship at Cove, in which they take their passage to NSW. There are also the wives and children of 23 free settlers, who proceed in this vessel by the humane grant of Government, for whom every necessary has been provided. It was pleasing to observe the healthy appearance of the convicts, on their way to the steam boat, and also the demeanour which marked their sensibility at leaving their native land, under circumstances which attention to morality would have prevented
The Sydney Gazette
reported that eight free women and ten female children came on the Forth
. Among them were Johanna Casey, Sarah Gilroy, Ann Hughes, Nancy Magrath, Bridget Murphy, Eleanor Murray, Isabella McNally and Sarah Neill.
...Cove of Cork
Surgeon Joseph Cook
This was Joseph Cook's sixth voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a medical journal from 28th April 1830 to 4th November 1830. He recorded in his journal that 120 female convicts and 10 children belonging to them; 8 free women and 19 children belonging to them were embarked in the last week of May, and their general appearance indicated a healthy state.
The first case treated by the surgeon was Jane Taylor on 29th May, who accidentally fell down the hatchway, a distance of about 11 ft, injuring her leg and side. She was described as a heavy corpulent women of weak intellect.
From the Surgeon's Journal - On the 3rd June, the ship sailed from the Cove of Cork, on the 12th arrived in the N.E. trade and on the 3rd July crossed the Equator. On first sailing the passengers generally were much affected with the indisposition of sea sickness followed by constipation but in other respects the general state of health was good. On the passage within the Tropics, a considerable number were affected with bilious derangement of the stomach attended with constipation and in some cases colic pains, but unaccompanied with fever and relieved by one or two cathartics.
In August, September and the beginning of October, the ship proceeding to the Eastward the prevailing winds from NW to SW but occasionally NE or SE with the latter catarrh occurred and on instance terminated in pneumonic inflammation. In consequence of change of diet, constipation prevailed much during the whole of the passage.
On 12th October 1830 the Forth
arrived in Port Jackson, and the surgeon recorded that the general state of health of the women was good and none were required to be sent to the hospital.
A Muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 14th October 1830. Information recorded in the indents include Name, Age, Religion, Education, Marital Status, Family, Native Place, Trade, Offence, When and Where Tried, Sentence, Prior Convictions, Physical Description and where assigned on arrival. Also included is occasional information regarding relatives already in the colony, deaths and pardons.
Except for two cases the convicts were landed fit for service on 23rd October 1830.
Damsels Per Forth
Just three weeks later some had already been before the Bench for bad conduct....
The damsels per Forth appear to be nothing behind their predecessors, the Roslin Castlers in behaviour. Several of them have already been before the Bench, and, it would seem, are fully determined to assert the preeminence of the lasses from the Emerald Isle.
(Sydney Gazette 11 November 1830)
Bridget McCarty per Forth, for being several hours absent from her service without leave, and a useless character when at home, was ordered to be confined fourteen days in the second class of the Factory. (Sydney Gazette 27 November 1830)
In March 1831 Bridget Meany and Johanna Spillane took part in a riot at the Parramatta Female Factory
. They were charged with mutinous and riotous conduct and sent to Newcastle as punishment.
Notes and Links
1). The Forth was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1830, the others being the Asia
and the Roslin Castle
. A total of 444 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1830.
2). Joseph Cook was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Phoenix
in 1826, Southworth
in 1822, Sir Charles Forbes in 1825 (VDL), Louisa
in 1827, Mellish
in 1829, Forth (11)
in 1830 and the Portland
in 1832. In all those voyages only four prisoners died under his care.
3). County of Down Assizes. Downpatrick - Monday August 4.... Mary Dougherty - for stealing a piece of linen cloth, property of Peter Kenny, Newry, on 11h July - Guilty; sentenced to 7 years transportation - Belfast Newsletter 5 August 1828
4). Julia Birmingham, for stealing a piece of woollen cloth from the shop of Mr. Herron, Banbridge, on 28th April - Guilty; 7 years transportation. - Belfast Newsletter 5 August 1828
5). Bridget Hussey, receiving stolen goods, - to be transported for seven years - Freeman's Journal 13 January 1830
6). Four prisoners of the Forth had been tried in Limerick - Eliza Higgins, Alice Callaghan, Elizabeth Lahiff and Mary Barrett. They may have been incarcerated there when the following escape took place.......
Escape of Convicts from Limerick Jail - On Sunday last, at eleven o'clock, nine female convicts all under sentence of seven years' transportation escaped from the city jail. A rigid inquiry was instituted by the Sheriffs, when the following facts were elucidated: -
The nine convicts had been secretly provided with a file and aquafortis, also a short iron bar, in order to facilitate their liberation. Two men from the outside scaled the prion walls, on Sunday night and, by means of a ladder, gained access to the women's ward. Now came the trial of ingenuity, for the locks of a range of cells were to be forced, and the inmates enlarged, without disturbing the persons in charge of the prison. It is right to observe that the prisoners frequently indulged in singing and noisy vociferations after nightfall; this amusement they enjoyed with more than ordinary spirit on this occasion. Meantime the iron fastenings were assailed by the burglars. Thee locks gave way before repeated efforts, and nine females, with an infant, were extricated from durance vile. The ladder was again in request. One after the other mounted the wall which confines the ward, and sat perched in a row on the summit while the ladder was being drawn over and laid down against the other side, by which they descended. They traversed a short yard, where the same feat was accomplished at the second barrier, and with equal success. The third and outer wall was carried by a similar coup de main, and the eleven persons made their escape into the streets, unnoticed by any of the persons on watch - The consternation of the jailer and keepers next morning it is easier to imagine than describe
. - Belfast Newsletter 25 May 1830.
7).Convict women of the Forth identified in the Hunter Valley region
Ann Davis -
Nurse Girl age 19. Native of King's County. Tried in Co. Cavan 10th August 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Assigned to James Dodds
on arrival. Admitted to Newcastle Gaol
in January 1831. Granted permission marry John George Delbridge
in September 1831 (Rev. Wilton, Newcastle)
Bridget Featherstone -
Confectioner/ laundry work, age 35. Native place Dublin. Married with 1 child. Sentenced 21 August 1829 to 7 years transportation for robbing plate. Assigned to Major Sir Thomas L. Mitchell
on arrival. Husband arrived in the colony as Patrick Sheerin/Featherstone on the James Pattison
in 1830 and was assigned to William Henry Warland
at Pages River on arrival. In 1832 Bridget was also assigned to William Henry Warland. In 1847 a notice was placed in the Maitland Mercury
by Patrick Shearing trying to contact Catherine Shearing/Featherstone who came to the colony with her mother in 1830 and was placed in the Orphan School.
Mary Grenville -
Housemaid age 22 from Waterford. Convicted of stealing money on 12 June 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Assigned to H.C. Semphill
on arrival. On 13th August 1831 Mary was granted permission to marry Henry Reeves
, H.C. Semphill agreeing to engage Reeves until he obtained his ticket of leave. Mary was granted a Ticket of Leave for the Upper Hunter district in May 1833, Henry was granted a Ticket of Leave in October 1833. Henry Reeves became one of the best known identities in the Maitland district. He was proprietor of the Albion Inn
in 1842 and the Fitzroy Hotel
in 1847. Mary Greville/ Reeves died in January 1852 age 39 and Henry Reeves died in April 1852 age 47.
Elizabeth Lahiffe -
Country all work from County Clare. Age 40. Married with 2 children. Tried in Limerick in October 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing money. Her brother John Lahiff arrived in the colony on the Isabella
in 1823. Assigned to Mr. Allen at Lake George on arrival. Assigned to James Robertson at Merton in 1837.
Bridget Mahoney/Meany -
Single woman age 28, dairymaid, native of Co. Carlow. Convicted of vagrancy in July 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Assigned to William Hill on arrival. In March 1831 took part in a riot at the Parramatta Female Factory
and was sent to Newcastle
as punishment. Married William Browne (per Canada
) of Oswald
in October 1831.
Ann / Mary Ann McDonald -
Single woman age 22. Dairymaid. Native place Cavan. Tried 10 August 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Assigned to J. Bradley on arrival. Sent from the Parramatta Female Factory
in October 1832 and from there assigned to private service of George Wyndham
. Granted permission to marry Charles Buck
(per Minerva) at Newcastle in December 1832. In Muswellbrook as Mary Ann Buck she was sent to Sydney gaol for trial 2nd July 1840...Mary Ann Buck was indicted for having on 10th April forged an order for 5 pounds 10s purporting to be drawn by a person of the name of Charles Button
Superintendent of Mr. John Wiseman of the Upper Hunter, in favour of one Peter Healy, for wages. She was charged with having uttered the same with intent to defraud Richard Warne of Muswellbrook; and Patrick McGuiness was indicted for being present aiding and abetting in the forgery. Both found guilty.
Mary Monks -
Married woman age 22. Occupation all work and needlewoman. Native place Dublin. Tried 9 March 1830 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shoes. Husband James Monks arrived about two years previously (on the Sophia in in 1829?). Assigned to M. Shaunnessey on arrival. In January 1833 she was sent to the 3rd Class Factory, Parramatta. She was assigned to government service at Patrick Plains in 1837 and granted a Certificate of Freedom in 1838.
Ann Mullen -
Dairymaid age 36, native of Wicklow. Four children in Ireland, one on board the Forth. Tried July 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a cloak. Assigned to G. Stroud on arrival. Sent to the Parramatta Female Factory
in 1840 for twelve months and in 1844 to Newcastle gaol for drunkenness.
Johanna Newman/Noonan -
Housemaid and dairy maid from Waterford. Tried 12 June 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing money. Assigned to Thomas Wood, lamp contractor on arrival. In May 1831 accused by Mr. Wood with absenteeism and sentenced 1 month in the Parramatta Female Factory
. In June 1831, admitted to Newcastle gaol en route to private service of John Hooke of Dungog. Granted permission to marry John Brown per Guildford in August 1831 at Newcastle. In September 1831 admitted to Newcastle gaol under sentence of 1mth solitary confinement. Afterwards assigned to John Hillier
by order of George Brooks. Granted permission to marry Frederick Lunney/Looney (per Lord Sidmouth) in 1834.
Margaret Purcell -
Maid of all work age 19 from Dublin. Tried 3rd March 1830 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a handkerchief. Assigned to George Sparke
on arrival. Married Thomas Coates
) who was also assigned to the Sparke family. Sent to the Parramatta Female Factory
in 1838 and 1839.
Catherine Savage -
Dairywoman age 30 from Waterford. Tried 15th July 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shoes. In December 1830 sent to the Parramatta Female Factory
for 1 month. In July 1831 admitted to Newcastle gaol for return to Parramatta Female Factory, for one month for neglect of duty. Granted a Certificate of Freedom in April 1839. Wife of William Hanley (per Providence
Johanna Spillane -
Single woman. Laundress and house maid from Co. Cork. Age 26. Tried 24th August 1829 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a cloak. Assigned to M. Hogan on arrival. In March 1831 Sentenced to 3 yrs in a penal settlement for mutinous conduct and riot in the Parramatta Female Factory
. Sent to private service of John Larnach
at Hunter River on 1st October 1831. Married Daniel McFarlane (per Boyne
) who was a Constable at Darlington in August 1832. She died at Johnston's Woolshed at the Namoi River in 1852 age 47.
Mary Anne Tackerberry -
Dairymaid age 35 from Wexford. Tried 24 August 1828 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for sheep stealing. Assigned to W. Wentworth on arrival. Admitted to Newcastle gaol under sentence of 21 days in the cells and then return to govt., service. Re-assigned to John Hunt at Cockfighter's Creek 5th March 1834. Admitted to Newcastle gaol because returned to government service. Re-assigned to Henry Pilcher
at Maitland 25 March 1835
Catherine Thompson -
Laundress age 26 from Belfast. Tried in Antrim in August 1829 and sentenced to 7 years for stealing a watch. Assigned to Joseph Walsford on arrival. Assigned to Jane Rae at Maitland 1832. Married Robert Cross (per Surry) in 1833
Matilda Wilby/ Willoughby/ Ann Turner -
Housemaid age 24 from Queens County. Stated Married with one child. Tried 13 August 1830 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a cloak. Assigned to James L. Jackson on arrival. Admitted to Newcastle gaol from Maitland under sentence of 21 days in the cells in February 1835. Re-assigned to William Sparke, Maitland Road 8th April 1835. Assigned to John Watson at Maitland in 1836. Applied to marry William Norman in October 1836. Permission denied as she stated on arrival she was married. Assigned to Phillip Thorley
at Patrick Plains in January 1837 and sentenced to two months in the third Class at Parramatta Female Factory for absconding. Her Certificate of Freedom was torn up in consequence of being sent to the Factory. Applied to marry John/Adam Hulme (per Dick) in February 1838. Permission denied. Ann and Adam Hulme married in 1845.
 Ancestry.com. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Joseph Cook on the voyage of the Forth in 1830. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.
 Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.348-349, 386