Convict Ship Henry Wellesley 1837
Voyage: 155 days
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Asia arrived 2
Sir Charles Forbes arrived 25 December 1837
Captain Edward Williams.
the Female Convict Ship Trail
|One hundred and forty women were received
onto the Henry Wellesley between 26th June and
12th July 1837.
They had been convicted from districts
throughout England and Wales including Cambridge, Lincolnshire,
Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Essex, Staffordshire, York,
Carmarthen and London.
Mary Ann Bignell who was tried at the
Old Bailey on 12th June was re-landed prior to sailing and Ann
Platten who was suffering from venereal disease was returned to the
keeper at Newgate for a time before being re-embarked.
was William Leyson's only appointment to a convict ship taking
prisoners to Australia. He kept a Medical Journal from 2nd June 1837
to 3 January 1838..........
the 26th June 1837 the first prisoners were received on board at
Woolwich to the number of thirty one with seven of their children
from Newgate and from that time to the 12th July we almost daily
continued to receive from the various prisons in England and Wales
to the amount in all, of one hundred and forty-three prisoners and
twenty nine children, the last eleven and one child arriving from
Newgate. The general health of the prisoners on their reception was
good when previous incarceration for six months in some instances is
taken into consideration, and at the time the vessel sailed from
Woolwich on the 20th July, a great improvement was visible in their
appearance and condition.
The Henry Wellesley departed London on 20 July 1837.
Marie Smith alias Caroline Bernard a widow in her 30's who was a
native of France and had been convicted at the
Old Bailey of stealing articles of jewelry, was employed as
Hospital Matron on the voyage out.
putting to sea the greater number of the prisoners were affected by
sea sickness, some of them very severely and many of them continued
to be so affected in heavy weather during the whole of the voyage;
they were all notwithstanding daily sent on deck when the weather
was dry, with the exception of those prevented by disease. We were
detained in the Channel until the 9th August by contrary winds and
occasional very heavy gales, in which the women suffered severely
from sea sickness. As I consider that tranquillity of mind is most essential to bodily
health, I set out in my superintendence of the convicts by having no
more restrictions on them than their unhappy situation necessarily
demanded, and I therefore caused them all to be let on deck from an
early time of the morning until the close of the day, whenever the
weather would permit and in showery days they were only sent below
during the occurrence of the rain. They were allowed to amuse
themselves by running about, dancing or in any innocent way whenever
the duty of the ship would admit of it. Many of them were attentive
to school and the attendance of the young ones there I insisted on.
The patchwork and knitting served out, employed their attention most
The prison deck was thoroughly cleaned
daily after breakfast by dry holystoning with sand, and afterwards
minutely inspected by myself and I found that the power afforded me
of rewarding them for cleanliness etc by the allowance of a little
tea and sugar very materially quickened their zeal. Hanging stoves
when necessary were used and chloride of lime was frequently used.
The beds were sent on deck daily, except when the weather was too
bad, when they were rolled up tidily and stowed in the bed places
and in fine weather the bedding was frequently aired. There was a
constant washing day once a week, and I remark except in very few
instances, that there was a general attention to personal
cleanliness and attire.
I was particular in
preventing fighting which was the most usual infringement of any
regulation; improper language towards each other or in my hearing I
always repressed and any attempt at theft or prostitution I punished
by more than the usual restraint. The ship arrived within the heads
of Port Jackson on the 22nd December 1837 in a gale of wind which
prevented us from proceeding up the harbour, and it was not until the 25th
that we anchored at Sydney Cove, being a period of one hundred and
fifty eight days since our departure from Woolwich.
There were no deaths of prisoners on the voyage however sixteen
month old James Hemsley, son of Maria Hemsley died of encephalitis.
He had been sickly prior to embarking according to the surgeon.
|On the 3rd January all the prisoners were
disembarked one only remaining on the sick list and she was well
enough to be assigned to a master the same day. The prisoners when
landed were said to make a very decent appearance and the
authorities at Sydney seemed to be well satisfied with the treatment
which the prisoners had received and with their healthy state and
condition on landing.
Four of the women were sent directly to Newcastle. They
were admitted to Newcastle
gaol on 2nd January 1838 to await assignment which took place
the following week:
Elizabeth Clarke was assigned to
Captain Richard Furlong at Newcastle
Ann Burns was assigned to
Otto Baldwin at Patrick Plains
Mary Boltwood was assigned to Rev.
Charles Pleydell Neale Wilton at Newcastle
Rachael Atkinson was assigned to
Philip Thorley at Patrick Plains
Notes & Links:
1). The Henry Wellesley
called at the Cape of Good Hope on the voyage out. There was
apparently also an extra passenger on the Henry Wellesley.
In 1838 the
Sydney Monitor and the
Sydney Gazette reported that a woman, named Eliza
Barnett or Shearer, was committed take her trial, for escaping from
the colony. She had been tried at the Surry Quarter Sessions, on the 9th April, 1832, she
was convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation. This
woman was Eliza Barrett, a needlewoman from London who was convicted
man robbery and transported on the
Fanny in 1833.
Shortly after arrival she married a man named Thomas Shearer and as
a matter of course was assigned to him. On 18th April, 1835, she
absconded from her husband and lived for some time ashore under the
protection of the Mate of a vessel about to sail to England. When
the ship sailed, she was taken on board and concealed by the mate.
After the vessel had been at sea she was discovered by the Captain
who on the arrival of the vessel at St. Helena delivered her to the
authorities there as a runaway convict. She remained at St. Helena
until a vessel for the Cape of Good Hope arrived by which she was
forwarded there and remained in custody for twenty months until the
Henry Wellesley arrived
when she was put on board and conveyed to Sydney. She had an infant
in her arms about six months old. On her return to the colony she
was sentenced to twelve months in the
Female Factory at Parramatta.
The question of punishment for prisoners who were returned to the
colony after escaping was raised when it was found that consequences
for male convicts was much harsher than for females.
2). The Henry Wellesley was
one of four convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South
Wales in 1837, the others being the
Sir Charles Forbes
and Sarah &
Elizabeth. A total of 533 female convicts arrived in the
colony in 1837.
Hunter Valley convicts arriving on the Henry Wellesley in 1837
4). One of
the women disembarking on 3rd January was Hannah Courtman from
Essex. In England Hannah had been interviewed by John Ward while she was
incarcerated in Chelmsford gaol under sentence of seven years
transportation for theft.. John Ward later gave evidence before the
Molesworth Select Committee on Transportation. In reply to his queries as to her
attitude to being transported she replied that having lost her
character she would be very glad to go. (Hannah later married
John Anderson and raised a large family in New South Wales)
Catherine Johnson arrived as a prisoner on the Henry
Wellesley. She married John Harrison (per Burrell 1830)
at Newcastle in 1838. Catherine and John Harrison were murdered by
Michael Bradley at Maitland in 1841.
6). The following
Petitions have been transcribed by researcher Keith Searson in UK in
conjunction with Colette McAlpine of the
Convict Research Centre in Tasmania.....
PARKER - AGED 29 YORK LENT ASSEZES MARCH 1837 SENTENCE
COMMUTED TO TRANSPORTATION FOR LIFE GAOL REPORT - THIEF FOR SEVERAL
YEARS - CONVICTED BEFORE WHEATLY near DONCASTER MARCH 29th 1837
SOURCE - HOME OFFICE CRIMINAL PETITIONS - SERIES 1 SERIES - HO 17
PIECE NUMBER - 80 ITEM NUMBER - OX 4
My Lord, Having
served on the Grand Jury at York these spring assizes we beg to
recommend to your Lordship the case of CAROLINE PARKER implicated in
a highway robbery. Her superior education, her youth and unfortunate
circumstances seem to us to render her a fit object for the
commutation of punishment which has been so restored to substituting
confinement in the Penitentiary for transportation. We believe Mr
Justice Patteson will support or recommendation. We remain your
Lordships obedient servants William B Cooke Richard M Milne -
To the Right Honourable Lord Russell.
NORWICH 1836 STEALING A DUCK 7 YEARS TRANSPORTATION SOURCE - HOME
OFFICE CRIMINAL PETITIONS - SERIES 1 SERIES - HO 17 PIECE NUMBER -
29 ITEM NUMBER - CX 1 --------------- ANN DIXON AGED 38 NORWICH CITY
SESSIONS OCTOBER 1836 STEALING A DUCK 7 YEARS TRANSPORTATION GAOL
REPORT - CHARACTER - VERY BAD - THRICE BEFORE CONVICTED.
To the Right Honourable Lord John Russell Secretary of State for
the Home Department The Petition of FULLER DIXON of the City of
Norwich - Coach Maker. Humble Sheweth That ANN DIXON (the Sister in
Law of your Petitioner) who is of the aged of forty six years and
convicted at the October Sessions 1836 held in and for the City of
Norwich and county of the same city of a felony and sentence to be
transported for the term of seven years and that she now remains in
the gaol of the said city pursuant of such sentence. That since the
conviction of the said ANN DIXON her husband suddenly expired of an
apoplectic fit leaving three small children totally unprovided for.
That from the contrition and penitence expressed by the unfortunate
object of this Petition as also her conduct in gaol since her
conviction and from the state in which her helpless family are left,
YOUR PETITIONER MOST HUMBLY PRAYS that your Lordship will be pleased
to take unto your merciful consideration and interest in her behalf
for a mitigation of her sentence with the sincere hopes of your
Petitioners that she may return to the path of honesty, industry and
by her future good conduct make an atonement for having offended the
Laws of her Country. And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever
pray. Fuller Dixon
We the undersigned inhabitants of the
City of Norwich well knowingly your Petitioner and the circumstances
mentioned in this Petition beg to recommend the prayers therein
contained: John Angell - Magistrate of the City of Norwich James
Reynolds - Town Councillor Charles Turner - Major of Norwich at the
time of the conviction Robert Worthly - Town Councillor John Cully -
Wine Merchant --------------------To the King Most Excellent Majesty
The humble Petition of ANN DIXON the wife of JAMES DIXON Sheweth
That your Petitioner was tried at the General Quarter Sessions of
the Peace held at the Guildhall in and for the City of Norwich on
Tuesday the 18th day of October 1836 on an indictment of stealing a
duck the property of THOMAS SPINKS and convicted and sentenced to be
transported for seven years. That your Petitioner is forty six years
old and had a husband and three children. That your petitioner in
consequence of her age and other causes, is fully convinced that if
transported beyond the seas, her health would be much affected and
her life probably endangered. Your Petitioner confidently relying on
the Royal clemency anxiously prays that it may be extended to her on
the present occasion and humbly trusts that His Most Excellent
Majesty will cause the sentence to be commuted to that of
imprisonment for such a term as he in his mercy may think proper to
direct. And your petitioner will ever pray Ann Dixon We the
undersigned having known the above named prisoner ANN DIXON many
years, beg leave to recommend her to the merciful and gracious
consideration of His Majesty as a fit object for the Royal clemency.
John Sparrow - Master Baker Dawson Kent - Carter in General Robert
Skeet - Master Bricklayer Henry Parfitt - Master Painter Henry
Danials - Dealer George Hudon - Master Carpenter Peter Thompson -
Dealer James Smith - Gent. I THOMAS SPINKS Prosecutor does hereby
recommend ANN DIXON to your mercy James Moore - Churchwarden and
Overseer for Norwich.
from the Select Committee on Transportation..........