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Convict Ship Indefatigable 1815

Embarked 200 men
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Marquis of Wellington arrived 27 January 1815
Next vessel: Northampton arrived 18 June 1815
Captain Matthew Bowles

The Indefatigable was built at Whitby in 1799.[3] This was the same vessel that transported convicts to Australia in 1812.


The prisoners of the Indefatigable were mostly convicted of crimes in England and Wales. There were also eight soldiers who were convicted of desertion....

Thomas Corbett convicted in France; John Berry convicted at Lisbon; Robert Bostock and John McQuin were tried in Sierra Leone; Samuel Clements and Charles Gosford in France and Jean Pierre Mounier convicted in Montreal in 1813. Edward Brown was also convicted of desertion at Chatham.

After being transferred from county and city prisons they were mostly held on hulks while awaiting transportation. Men who were held on the Retribution hulk moored at Woolwich were embarked on the Indefatigable between 25th July and 6th September 1814. Some had only been on the hulk for about a month, others for more than a year.


The Indefatigable departed England in convoy with the Sydney Packet. They were delayed at Rio de Janeiro for five weeks.


In correspondence dated 24th June 1815, Governor Macquarie reported the arrival of the Indefatigable to Earl Bathurst.....

I have the Honor to report to Your Lordship the Arrival here, on the 25th April last, of the Ship Indefatigable. Commanded by Captn. Matthew Bowles, with 198 Male Convicts, and a Guard consisting of Small Detachments of the 1st (or Royal Scots), 80th, 84th and 86th Regiments, under the Command of Lieutenant Hoskins of the former Regiment on board. Both the Troops and Convicts Arrived in Good Health, two only of the latter having died during the Voyage. Mr. J. Smith a Free Settler, with his Family, came passengers in the Indefatigable. [2]


Lieutenant Hoskins made a complaint to the authorities regarding the treatment the guard had received from Matthew Bowles on the voyage out. The matter was investigated and Captain Bowles was requested to supply his explanations. He was later informed that Governor Macquarie was satisfied with his explanations regarding victualling of the soldiers on board.

Some of the Guard of the Indefatigable departed for Madras soon after arrival...... {Extract}

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst 24th June 1815 Sydney....... It being Necessary to Send on, from hence to India, the Small Detachments of the 1st, 80th, 84th, and 86th Regiments, which Arrived here as a Guard over the Male Convicts on board the Indefatigable Transport on the 25th of April last, I availed Myself of an opportunity, which Occurred lately, to send them to join their respective Corps in India on board the private Merchant Ship, Frederick, of Calcutta, the Commander of which Ship engaged to Land them at Madras. The Number embarked Consisted of one Subaltern Officer, 38 Soldiers, 3 Women and one Child [4]


A muster of convicts was taken on board by Captain Gill, the chief engineer in the absence of Secretary J.T. Campbell. [1] The Date and Place of trial were recorded together with Sentence, Native Place, Occupation and Physical Description. The youngest prisoner on board was Thomas Jones who was only 10 years old. There were four who were 14 years of age - Hugh Bucknall, Henry Hart, James Hartley and James Smith.


On 29th April the prisoners were disembarked and distributed to various employments. They were reported to be of a healthy condition and clean appearance. Fifty-one men were forwarded to Windsor, twenty men to Liverpool and thirty were sent to Parramatta.


It was reported in the Sydney Gazette that Thomas Settle (passenger?) of the Indefatigable was robbed of a small case of jewellery while the vessel lay in the harbour. A seaman was apprehended for the robbery. 

John Coomb also arrived as a free passenger on the Indefatigable.


The Indefatigable departed Port Jackson with the Campbell Macquarie, Captain Siddons, bound for Java on 13th July 1815 and was later destroyed by fire. The Sydney Gazette reported the disaster.........

From a Government Java Gazette of October 28 we have the melancholy intelligence confirmed of the total destruction of that fine vessel, the Indefatigable, Captain Bowles, which sailed from hence 13th July last. The following are the particulars:

On Sunday night 27 October a fire broke out on board the ship Indefatigable laying in Batavia Roads; the attempts made to extinguish it entirely failed, and she was totally consumed by 12 o'clock the following day. Her valuable cargo has been entirely destroyed; but we are happy to state that no lives were lost. We have been informed that the fire was occasioned by the incaution of an apprentice boy who carried a lighted candle into the gun room when sent by the chief mate to draw off spirits. As soon as the alarm was given, the signal of distress was made; the boats of the different ships were immediately sent to their assistance, and every exertion made to put out the fire; this having been found impracticable, it was resolved to attempt to smother it by closing the hatchways fore and aft, which had n some degree the desired effect. The flames approaching the magazine door, in which were 8 1/2 barrels of powder, an explosion was apprehended, in consequence of which the ship was abandoned for the night, and guard boats left to watch. At twelve o'clock her decks became very hot, and the fire and smoke had increased so much below that it was impossible to go down; it was then resolved to scuttle the ship and sink her in shoal water, which was immediately effected, the cable cut, and the ship towed clear of the other vessels. Every exertion was made to save the property of the passengers, but their apartments being exactly where the fire lay it was found impracticable
.  [3]


1). Michael Ward arrived as a convict on the Indefatigable. He was tried at the Old Bailey on 20th April 1814.....THOMAS DODMAN and MICHAEL WARD were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 16th of February , one gallon and a half of rectified spirits, value 30 s. and one gallon and a pint of rum, value 22 s. the property of John Nicholson and William Nicholson, in their dwelling house. Their sentence of death was later reprieved and they were transported for life.  Michael Ward's wife Sophia arrived as a free passenger on the Northampton.  Michael and Sophia Ward resided in the in Elgin St. Maitland from 1840's. Their  descendant Frederick Ward became one of Australia's best known bushrangers, Captain Thunderbolt. (See Australian Dictionary of Biography)

2). Convict Edward Guppy died in April 1817 age 30. He was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Grounds.  

3). The early career of George Hunn Nobbs chaplain at Pitcairn Island who was a seaman on the Indefatigable to NSW and VDL in 1815.

4).  Convict William Meggs/Maggs was a member of John Oxley's Lachlan River Expedition in 1817

5). Convicts and passengers of the Indefatigable identified in the Hunter Valley region:  


[1] House of Lords, Sessional Papers 1801 - 1833

[2] HRA Series 1, Vol. VIII, p. 553 (3) Sydney Gazette 29 June 1816

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.340-341, 382

[4]HRA Series 1 Vol. VIII p. 564


Abraham, James
Antonio, Michael
Arnold, Mark
Bainbridge, James
Baker, John
Bakes, Edward
Bannister, Joseph
Barwell, Charles
Bell, William
Bellamy, William
Berry, John
Bettsworth, Matthew
Blackmore, William
Blinman, Charles
Blomily, John
Bostock, Robert
Bradley, Joseph
Brady, Robert
Brazley, Edward
Brown, Edward
Brown, James
Bucknall, Hugh
Buffrey, Thomas
Burgess, George
Burns, William
Butler, Thomas

Carle, Thomas
Carter, George
Case, Thomas Barrow
Chapman, George
Chilvers, James
Chubb, Paul
Clements, John Becket
Clements, Samuel
Clements, William Rob
Cock, James
Collins, Michael
Cooke, Edward
Cooper, John
Cooper, John
Cooper, Thomas
Corbett, Thomas
Cox, Benjamin
Cox, Charles Edwd
Crafts, George
Croker, Robert
Crosby, William
Cuff, Joseph
Dewitt, John
Dickinson, David
Dodman, Thomas
Duff, John
Dutton, Thomas
Easterby, John
Ellis, William
Emm, Joseph
Featherstone, William
Ford, John
Gard, John
George, Andrew
Givens, Henry
Gleadhall, Gervas
Glover, Thomas
Goodhall, Henry
Goodhall, John
Gosford, Charles
Green, John
Green, Samuel
Guppy, Edward
Haigh, John
Hall, Ellis
Hall, John Nicholas
Harpur, William
Harris, Joseph
Hart, Henry
Hartley, John
Hassen, Thomas
Hastings, John
Hawkins, James
Hawkins, William
Haworth, James
Herring, Henry
Hewett, William
Hewitt, John
Hickey, John
Hill, Robert
Hine, John
Hog, William
Hornby, David
Houseley, Joseph
Howard, John
Howard, Robert
Huchinson, John
Huchinson, William
Huggins, William
Humphries, Thomas
Hunter, Joshua
Jackson, George
Jackson, James
Jackson, Samuel

Jeynes, William
Jones, Charles
Jones, Thomas
Jones, Thomas
Jones, Thomas
Kent, Charles
King, James
King, John
Kippas, John
Knight, George
Lawrence, James
Lentz, George
Lucas, William
Lynch, John
Madden, Edward
Maddock, Benj.
Maddock, Joseph
Maggs, William
Malpas, Thomas
Marchmont, Rob.
McKew, Andrew
McQuin, John
Manly, John
Mears, Richard
Masling, Thomas
Miller, John
Mirfield, Joseph
Monnier, Jean Pierre
Moor, James
Moore, William
Morley, James
Mulkey, George
Neal, Samuel
Nield, John
Noble, John
Noyse, John
O'Brien, Jeremiah
O'Neal, Daniel
Page, Richard
Peers, Samuel
Phillips, William
Pickles, Robert
Powell, William
Priestnall, William
Pullan, Henry
Rampling, James
Raven, Jasper
Rawston, Thomas
Renshaw, William
Richards, Simon
Roberts, James
Robinson, John
Rothwell, William
Ryan, John
Sanderson, Thomas
Satchell, Charles
Savage, William
Scott, John
Shavel, John
Shaw, Thomas
Sillett, John Jas
Smith, James
Smith, James
Smith, John
Smith, John Jas
Smith, William
Stanton, James
Stapleton, James
Stock, James
Swan, William
Tandy, Charles
Taverner,William Selwood
Taylor, Edward
Teale, John
Thompson, Thomas
Tindall, John
Todd, George
Tunstall, Charles
Vardon, Benjamin
Veay, Thomas
Walker, William
Ward, Michael
Warns, William
Waters, Elijah
Wattam, Edward
Watts, Samuel
West, William
Weston, William
White, Isaac
Whitfield, Thomas
Whittell, Thomas
Wigley, Robert
Williams, John
Williams, John
Witeman, James
Wood, Ezekial
Woodman, James
Wright, Thomas
Yarwood, Thomas
Yarwood, William