Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship George Hibbert - 1834

Embarked: 144 women
Voyage: 127 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Previous vessel: Hooghley arrived 18 November 1834
Next vessel: Henry Porcher arrived 1 January 1835
Master - Captain George N. Livesay
Surgeon John Tarn
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the George Hibbert identified in the Hunter Valley

The barque George Hibbert was built in London in 1804. [9]

The convicts on this ship in 1834 came from cities and counties in England, Scotland and Wales - Gloucester, Norfolk, Surrey, Middlesex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Warwick, Essex, Kent, Chester, York, Suffolk, London, Leicester, Hereford, Wiltshire, Devon, York, Somerset, Carmarthen, Bristol, Glamorgan, Dumfries, Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling and Merioneth. [10]

The George Hibbert was the first convict ship with a Matron connected with government and the Ladies'; British Society......

Mrs. Fry's communications with Lord Melbourne were on the subjects connected with the Ladies'; British Society; chiefly that of transportation, female convicts on board ship and their treatment on arrival in the colony. They discussed the subject of matrons for convict ships.....

The first Matron who undertook the office, with the joint sanction of Government and Ladies' British Society, was Mrs. Saunders, the wife of a missionary, who went out in the George Hibbert. Her passage was paid by Government, but she suffered so much sickness, that her own exertions were continually impeded. Mr. Saunders supplied her place, as far as it was possible to do so and very satisfactory were the results. They cannot be better described than by extracts furnished by Miss Fraser, from the books of the Convict Ship Committee, held September 12th 1834.

On board were one hundred and fifty female convicts and forty one children; also, nine free women, and twenty three of their children. It was visited four times by members of the Convict Ship Committee, and the usual articles distributed. The ship was found to be much crowded, and serious inconveniences were felt, and were to be apprehended, during the voyage, from this circumstance. It is however to be noticed, with thankfulness, that both the captain and surgeon superintendent appeared to be peculiarly well qualified for the offices to which they were appointed. [2]

Free Passengers

Passengers included Rev. John Saunders, Mrs Saunders, Henry Didsbury, Mrs Didsbury, Miss Didsbury, Sarah Brown, Emma Brown, Maria Smallwood, Eliza Smallwood, Rebecca Parker, Charles, David and Hezekiah Parker, Mary Miller, James, John, Charles, Mary and Andrew Miller, Elizabeth Ely, Catherine James, William, Jane, David and Elspeth James, Hannah Smith, Mary Forster, George, Sarah, Mary and Emma Forster, Jane Ewing, Margaret and Emily Ewing, Sarah Shepherd, and Mary Ann Shepherd, Maria Harper and Richard Harper.[1]

Surgeon John Tarn

This was John Tarn's second voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal between 7 June and 18 December 1834..........

Between the 3rd and 17th of July 1834, 144 female convicts, 11 free women and 64 children were received on board at Woolwich, having been forwarded in parties from the different counties of Great Britain. Most of the women were below middle age and in sufficient good health to make the journey without much risk of disease. The vessel was very crowded but the usual precautions to reduce risk of disease made it a healthy voyage. The convicts and children were on deck whenever possible and stoves were used to reduce dampness. Most complaints were affections of the bowels, catarrhal and dyspeptic attacks and diseases of the uterine system and were generally not severe. Bowel complaints appeared during the close, sultry weather and were mostly connected with hepatic secretions. Calomel and purgatives removed the symptoms. The voyage was longer than usual, taking 130 days, and there were numerous slight symptoms of scurvy for some weeks before arriving in Sydney. Lemon juice had been regularly issued and when it ran out it was replaced with citric acid and a solution of nitre in vinegar. These remedies produced good effects particularly in the dysenteric cases. Among the children, only 11 were subjects for vaccination, 10 successfully and the other unsuccessful although the virus was taken from the arm of a healthy subject. - John Tarn ' [8]

Following is a list of women treated by the surgeon during the voyage
Margaret Curtis, aged 19,
Louisa Harding, aged 32,
Sarah James, aged 19,
Mary Ann Greenwood, aged 45,
Mary Blackburn, aged 25,
Judith Dooley, aged 35,
Sarah Northwood, aged 25,
Maria Davis, aged 28,
Emma Pullen, aged 22,
Catherine Eustace, aged 26,
Fanny Hamilton, aged 26,
Mary McCann, aged 18,
Esther Russell, aged 19,
Eliza Henning, aged 28,
Mary Ann Twaites, aged 26,
Mary Greenwood, aged 17,
Susanna Jesson, aged 24,
Sarah Hands, aged 45,
Elizabeth McBride, aged 20,
Robina Leckie, aged 15,
Alice Clifton, aged 27,
Harriet Woodham, aged 27,
Mary Geary, aged 20,
Ann Courtney, aged 22,
Mary Jones, aged 18,
Fanny Hamilton, aged 26,
Margery Fraser, aged 30,
Catherine Pugh, aged 29,
Margaret Henderson, aged 23,
Christiana Cook, aged 20,
Sarah Standage, aged 28,
Mary Greenwood, aged 17,
Mary Stewart, aged 45,
Mary White, aged 10,
Eliza Latham, aged 24,
Margaret Browley, aged 28,
Frances Harrie, aged 23,
Elizabeth Vales, aged 26,
Dorothy Lynch, aged 30,
Emma Pullen, aged 22,
Christiana Cook, aged 20,
Maria Cox, aged 38,
Mary Brown, aged 25,
Mary Ann Stiff, aged 23,
Esther Russell, aged 19,
Martha Pickard, aged 33,
Mary Lucas, aged 29,
Eliza Barlow, aged 17,
Jane Ashcroft, aged 20,
Rose Murray, aged 30,
Jemima Davis, aged 23,
Mary Ann Adams, aged 23,
Margaret Henderson, aged 23,
Mary Kemp, aged 27,
Ann Gale, aged 28,
Betsy Ackland, aged 24,
Ann Hamnett, aged 25,
Sarah Hards, aged 45,
Alice Potter, aged 46,
Martha Pickard, aged 33,
Sarah Thompson (2), aged 24,
Ann Gale, aged 28

Notes on the Labours of Rev. John Saunders on his Voyage to NSW Dec. 10, 1834

Divine Providence opened the way for service that evening; and I went down into the prisons, and had a pleasant season to my soul; and so of the succeeding days, till Sunday, when I envied the tranquillity of the Isle of Thanet: however, we had services between decks, and I trust they were not without their influence upon my own and the prisoners' souls.

On Sunday or Monday night we had a smart breeze, and I felt myself a coward. It was then I discovered how the busy time of the last few months had eaten away faith and fortitude; it led me to prayer - which I trust was progressively answered during the voyage.

We skirted the Bay of Biscay very pleasantly; and when we had got within the latitude of Africa, I felt myself away from Europe and my old world; - yet neither the expanse of ocean, nor the fact of absence, at all proved desolate. I was happy in my duties, and had a sufficiency of business in attending to a sick wife.

Disappointed in not being able to touch at Madeira, we made for the Canaries, a beautiful group of islands. They are of volcanic origin; and seemed to be so many sweet spots to remind man of the presence of God in the midst of the deep; and as if placed there to refresh his eye, wearied with the unvarying sight of the blue wave. Here we were favoured with a glimpse of the highest cone of Teneriffe: the next day we anchored off Palma, so named, I believe, from its palms; and it was, as I viewed this beautiful isle, that the thought struck me, 'The isles shall wait for His Law.' But when shall His coming be made known?

Soon after leaving Ferroe, we got into the N.E Trade, and nothing could be more beautiful than our sailing a good regular breeze, with clear weather. We maintained regular services both daily and weekly - the Sabbath services being conducted on the poop. Soon afterwards, we were on the verge of the Line : and here we lost a man named Davis, overboard: he had committed a flagrant breach of propriety, and seemed determined to drown his soul in perdition; accordingly, he got tipsy, vented most horrid blasphemies, and, unseen by others, fell overboard: when missed, most diligent search was made, but the boat returned without any trace of him. It led me to supplicate for greater diligence and faithfulness -

Our passage between the Trades was most merciful: instead of being scorched by the heat and lying rolling under calms, we had a pleasant wind, although contrary, which kept us cool, and was the messenger of health to our relaxed frames. After we entered the S. E. Trade, we ran on with great celerity; and sometimes, as I preached on the poop, I was obliged to hold on, while the water ever and anon rushed over the lee-gunwale, and the spray came splashing over the weather-bow. During this time, I trust, both body and soul were refreshed. -

When off Tristan d'Acunha we had a gale which much alarmed me. I was not well: we had again commenced services between decks, which amounted in the whole to six; after which, I and my wife celebrated the Eucharist together. It was the first Sunday in October, and I wished to commemorate the surpassing love of the Redeemer to my soul. I possessed faith for eternity, and could happily ' read my title clear,' but shuddered at the prospective calamities which might arise to the passengers and crew. The Lord heard and answered our prayers: before Monday night we had moderate weather; and Tuesday the 7th, my birth-day, was most splendid, the air serene, cool, and clear.

This was a happy commencement of my new year. I thought Heaven smiled upon me; and truly I have found God most gracious to me ever since, 'He strengthened me with strength in my soul:' and though I had my apprehensions at times, yet in the subsequent gales, of which we had two, I was mercifully preserved from fear. God can bring the stout man low, and raise up the faint and weak. We now ran pleasantly on, with very variable weather, until 24th November, when we had the happiness of seeing land, after having lost it for ninety-nine days. I felt it now my duty to redouble my exertions; and in addition to the services I have previously mentioned, I gave a lecture every evening, on some point of morality, such as Truth, Charity, etc. Our hearts were all exultation: we were, however, kept both humble and patient; so that when we had baffling or fight winds, we took it gratefully, as part of the all things. [3]

Port Jackson

Sunday 30th November, the last Sabbath at sea, God was with me; and I trust the service had a beneficial effect. Monday, we arrived, to deplore the sin and vileness everywhere manifest around. I preached on board, to the women who were not yet landed. [3]

They arrived in Port Jackson on 1 December 1834 with 144 female prisoners. The convicts were mustered on board on 5th December.

Arrival of the convict ship George Hibbert in 1834. Sydney Herald 4 December 1834.

Convict indents include the 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 such as admission to the female factory, family members on board and deaths. There is no information in the indents as to where the women were assigned on arrival. [10]


According to Rev. Saunders the women were disembarked on 15 th December 1834.

Those with children were probably taken by water directly to the Female Factory at Parramatta on arrival. Some may have been assigned to family members. Those with relatives already in the colony or about to arrive included:

Eliza Latham whose sister Martha arrived five years previously
Ann Heywood's brothers Denis and William Horns had arrived 11 years previously
Mary McCann's brother Francis McCann arrived 5 years previously
Sarah Fuller alias Mary Matthews alias Hunt had an uncle Thomas Fuller who arrived 18 years before her
Martha Pickard's son William Thomas Pickard arrived on the Hooghley
Hannah Willoughby's brother George Willoughby arrived 11 years previously
Maria Smith's daughter Ann Hutchinson arrived on the Numa in 1834
Esther Russell alias Ruick had a brother and sister by the names of Moses who were publican's in Sydney
Catherine Sullivan's aunt Mrs. Fenwick arrived four years previously
Catherine Bonham alias Emma Martin had a half brother James Gregory Hopkins who arrived 7 years previously
Jemima Davis' husband John Davis arrived on the Hooghley in 1834
Sarah Sharrod's brother Edward Sharwood (Sharrod) arrived 18 months previously
Mary Ann Stiff was a cousin of Betsy Fitch also on board
Letitia Foreman's husband arrived in VDL on the William Metcalf in 1824
Ellen Walsh's brother-in-law Daniel McCarthy was convicted at the same time
Mary Greenwood and Mary Ann Greenwood mother and daughter both on board as well as five sons and two daughters.
Caroline Richardson's half brother Henry Isaac arrived three years previously
Ann Richardson's brother William Richard six years previously
Maria Cox's husband arrived on the Hooghley
Margaret Doyle's half sister Sarah Milligan arrived 7 years previously
Charlotte Watson's brother William Reed arrived 10 years previously
Mary Blackburn's brother James Blackburn arrived 2 years previously
Mary Murphy's brother Denis Murphy arrived 8 years previously
Margaret Browley's husband Peter McColl arrived on the Henry Tanner and was assigned to Mr. Wallace in Sydney
Mary Lochrie's husband Terence Clancy was convicted at the same time as her
Catherine McCormick's brother John
McCormick was sent out 18 years previously
Mary Ann Hamilton's brother James Hamilton came four years previously
Margaret Hall's brother Peter Hall arrived 8 years previously
Frances Harrie's husband Charles Collins arrived 1 years before
Helen and Agnes Rankine were sisters.

There were some very young prisoners on the George Hibbert: Rachael Stewart was only 12 years old. Her mother was also a prisoner on the George Hibbert and her father was transported on the Henry Tanner. Mary Ann White was also only 12 years old and her sister Jane White was 16; Catherine Sullivan was 14 years of age.

Scottish Prisoners

Thirty of the prisoners had been convicted in Scotland.....
Helen Bowman (Aberdeen)
Mary McNamara (Dumfries)
Elizabeth Vales (Edinburgh)
Janet Crabbe (Edinburgh)
Margaret alias Ann Henderson (Edinburgh)
Mary Blackburn alias Black (Edinburgh)
Catherine McDade (Glasgow)
Mary Murphy (Glasgow)
Mary Ann Nelson (Glasgow)
Janet Morrison (Glasgow)
Fanny Hamilton (Glasgow)
Jean Miller (Glasgow)
Margaret Browley alias McColl (Glasgow)
Janet Thompson alias Duff (Glasgow)
Mary Lochrie alias Clancy (Glasgow)
Catherine McCormick (Glasgow)
Mary Ann Hamilton (Glasgow)
Margaret Frazer (Inverness)
Margaret Hall (Perth)
Elizabeth McBridge (Perth)
Ann McKenzie alias Wilson (Perth)
Jean Taylor (Perth)
Jane Duncan alias Ingles (Perth)
Isabella Brown (Stirling)
Christian Cock alias Cook (Stirling)
Robina Lochie (Stirling)
Catherine Mitchell (Stirling)
Frances Harris alias Brown alias Collins (Stirling)
Agnes Rankine (Stirling)
Helen Rankine (Stirling)

Life in the Colony

A Batch of George Hibberts !

...By January 1835 some of the prisoners of the George Hibbert were already in trouble. The Sydney Herald reported.......

The female prisoners who lately arrived per George Hibbert, seem fully equal to the task of rivalling in bad conduct those renowned damsels who arrived in the Colony a few years ago by the Roslin Castle and Lucy Davidson, and who were so noted at the time for their bad behaviour. Scarce a day passes without a batch of George Hibberts being placed at the bar of the Sydney Police. [5]

The following women have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. Select here to find out more......... Mary Ann Adams, Eliza Barlow, Mary Blackford, Mary Brown, Maria Davies, Jemma Davis, Emma Foster, Ann Gale, Fanny Hamilton, Margaret Henderson, Eliza Herring, Ann Heywood, Maria Jervis, Mary Jones, Susan Jordan, Margaret Maddox, Margaret McColl, Mary McTeer, Mary Milson, Charlotte Mitchell, Elizabeth Morris, Martha Pickard, Anne Potter, Ann Pugh, Helen Rankin, Ann Richards, Sarah Sharrod, Maria Smith, Mary Stewart, Rachael Stewart, Catherine Sullivan, Mary Ann Thwaites, Mary Tottenham, Jane Trewick, Mary Ann White and Harriet Woodham.

Departure from the Colony

The George Hibbert departed Sydney bound for Madras via Swan River on 13th February 1835. Passengers Mr. Shirwin, Mr. Bond and Mrs. Mars.

In March 1835 the Perth Gazette reported news of the George Hibbert - Two seamen (Choan and Williams) belonging to the George Hibbert, were charged by the Captain, G.N. Livesay, with creating a riot on board, and threatening his life. After a patient investigation, the prisoners were fined 5 pounds and in default of payment, to be imprisoned for two months in the Jail of Fremantle. The George Hibbert having sailed, the Captain has thus succeeded in getting rid of two of his most troublesome characters, who, at the expiration of two months, will be let loose upon our little community. [6]

The Sydney Herald reported in February 1836 - We regret to hear of a series of disasters to the ship George Hibbert, which left this port for India during last year. It appears that the vessel proceeded prosperously until she reached Madras, where the second officer died. The Captain was fortunate in meeting with a ready cargo and a number of respectable passengers for London; for which port they sailed on 25th June, having three of the sailors on the sick list; the Surgeon stating that they would recover after the vessel had put to sea. Three days after leaving the port a tremendous gale came on and the ship became leaky, and continued in that state for several days, during which time, from the shortness of hands, many others were obliged to desert their duty from complete exhaustion. During the storm the unfortunate sailors who had been sick died and the Captain left with only four men and two boys to work the ship and man the pumps; he therefore determined to put into the nearest port, when after enduring the most agonizing miseries he reached Coringa on the coast of Coromandel. The Captain's misfortunes were not to end here; for as soon as the ship arrived, the passengers rose a report that the ship was not sea worthy, and after going through a variety of expensive repairs and surveys Captain Livesay was under the necessity of abandoning the vessel and transhipping her cargo into the Duchess of Northumberland, in which ship he also took his passage for London. [7]

Notes and Links

1). Descendant Contribution:

Catherine James, a free/ government passenger was the wife of Robert James, a convict who was sent to Australia for 14 years on the Countess of Harcourt in 1824. Catherine brought four of their children - William, David, Jane and Elspet on the George Hibbert. An elder sister Isabella arrived in 1839 with her two children. Contact Descendant.

2). The George Hibbert was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1834, the others being the Andromeda from Cork and the Numa from Portsmouth. A total of 453 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1834.

3). John Tarn was also employed on the convict ships Georgiana in 1831, Bengal Merchant in 1836 and the Surry in 1840 (VDL)

4). Fourteenth Annual Report of the Committee of the Ladies British Society for promoting reformation of female convicts - Reports in the House of Commons........

Selection of Reports and Papers of the House of Commons: Prisons. - George Hibbert

5). Captain G.N. Livesay of the George Hibbert - Extract of a Letter from Captain G.N. Livesay of the George Hibbert to the Owners of the ship in London. Dated Sydney 16th December 1834.

I have been very highly favoured in having an excellent Surgeon, and likewise a most excellent and worthy Man who has come over as a Baptist Missionary, Mr. John Saunders; he has proved a very great Acquisition; his kind attentions to the unfortunate Criminals ha been unceasing, and many of them I hope will retain the grateful Remembrance of his Kindness to them; some of them who when they came into the ship could neither read nor write have left her well capable of doing both. His wife, a most amiable young woman was also very attentive and kind to them. The whole of them will have to acknowledge to the End of their Days that the George Hibbert has been a comfortable home to them; there were some few very bad spirits among them, but I am happy to say they made a small part of the whole...Mrs Fry - This is the only one we have sent out as a Matron. The British Society aided in the Expense and so did the Government; they allowed them the food of the ship. -
Selection of Reports and Papers of the House of Commons - Prisons

6). John Saunders wrote to the Colonist in January 1835 - His Majesty's Government was pleased to grant myself and wife a free passage in order that I might exercise the ministration of the gospel on board: but such free passage consisted in an allowance to enter on the vessel - the necessary pecuniary arrangements having to be made with the captain. In common with yourself, I deplore the unfortunate circumstances attendant upon the female emigration vessels, and perceived the salutary influence which the regular performance of Divine worship had upon the prisoners on board the George Hibbert. I cannot but hope that government in future will grant free passages (in the full sense of the phrase) to sincere men of every denomination. It is a wise economy in any nation to expend her wealth on the religious advancement of her children. And here, I desire to acknowledge the zealous and efficient co-operation of the surgeon, superintendent and commander, gentlemen to whom not only I , but the members of the Ladies Prison Association in Britain and all friends to the diminution of crime, the reformation of the profane and the amelioration of human misery stand deeply indebted. [4]


[1] Sydney Herald 4 December 1834

[2] Memoirs of Mrs. Elizabeth Fry: By Thomas Timpson.

[3] The Pilot, or Sailors' magazine - Notes of the Labours of Rev. John Saunders on his Voyage to New South Wales

[4] The Colonist 15 January 1835

[5] Sydney Gazette 15 January 1835

[6] Perth Gazette 21 March 1835

[7] Sydney Herald 29 February 1836

[8] Journal of John Tarn. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[9] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.352-53.

[10] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4019]; Microfiche: 693