Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship James Pattison - 1837

Embarked: 270 men
Voyage: 101 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Previous vessel: Charles Kerr arrived 9 October 1837
Next vessel: Asia arrived 2 December 1837
Captain James Cromarty
Surgeon Superintendent Thomas Robertson
Prisoners and passengers of the James Pattison identified in the Hunter Valley

The James Pattison was built in London in 1828. Prisoners were transported to New South Wales on the James Pattison in 1830 and on this voyage in 1837.

Military Guard

The Guard included Lieut. Bridge of 3rd regt., Ensign Abel Dottin William Best, 80th regiment, and 28 rank and file of the 28th, 4th, 50th and 80th regiments, 4 women and 6 children.

Ensign Best's Journal

Ensign Best kept a journal during the voyage which in 1966 was edited and published with an introduction and notes by Nancy M. Taylor. The book is published online by the University of New Zealand.

Ensign Best's Journal began on 26 June 1837, when he embarked on the James Pattison for New South Wales. He describes ship-board routines and many of the occurrences during the voyage. Some convict activities and punishments are noted and the names of many of the soldiers of the Guard. No doubt at the start of the voyage in July when he suffered sea sickness for days, the convicts under his guard were suffering likewise. His journal is interesting for his vivid and often scathing words about some of the people he met on board, including the wife of the surgeon.

Following are excerpts from Ensign's Best's journal (spelling and punctuation preserved) relating some of the incidents on the voyage of the James Pattison.

On Monday the 26th of June the Detachments of the 4th 28th 50th and 80th Regiments drafted as Guard of the Convict ship 'James Pattison', mustered at the pump in Chatham Barracks at 1/2 past 12 oclock P.M. in heavy marching order. At that time I was in the Mess room of the Provisional Battalion (of which I had been an 'honorary member') settling my accounts and by the mess mans neglect was detained untill the Detacht had left the Parade ground, but overtook them before they had passed the 'Sally Port'. We marched to Gravesend where we embarked on board a lighter and reached the ship at Deptford at 1/2 past 8 the same evening. On coming along side we found that we were not expected untill the next morning and consequently no preparations had been made to recieve us. No alternative was left but to spend the night in the lighter or to make the best of it on board, which being proposed and explained to the men they chose the latter

Lieut Bridge commander of the Guard is a gentlemanly man but not very polished seems to know his own mind, is goodlooking and has the gift of the Gab, but he can't play chess is a good officer and behaves in a kind friendly manner towards me I like him at present. Finally comes Mrs Bridge a quiet ladylike investing little woman which means that she is very helpless. I understand that she draws well. Add to these your humble Servant, Crew 40, Guard 30, 4 women 5 Children and 270 convicts and you will be able (with the addition of 1 Dog, Goats, sheep, pigs, fowls, and provisions) to form some idea of the contents of the good ship James Pattison.[4]

Captain Cromarty

The Skipper seems an obliging man is reported a good sailor and is a Yorkshireman he is not a jack tar in appearance being too thin and foxy looking, his name is Crommarty. The first mate is first mate every bit of him. Tauttitt is his curious cognomen. His Wife who I believe leaves us shortly. [4]

The Convicts

The convicts came from counties throughout England, Scotland and Wales as well as several from Grenada and Barbados - London, Stafford, Nottingham, Norfolk, Chester, Bristol, Leicester, Surrey, Lancaster, Cambridge, Cumberland, Devon, Bedford, Hertford, Kent, Bristol, Huntingdon, Cornwall, Essex, Derby, Hertford, Salop, Suffolk, Gloucester, Lincoln, York, Warwick, Radnor, Isle of Man, Denbigh, Dumfries, Ayr, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Edinburgh, Montgomery, Carnarvon, Monmouth, St. Vincents, Grenada and Barbados. They had been convicted of crimes such as stealing, robbery, manslaughter, assault, highway robbery, cutting and maiming, machine breaking, setting fire to straw, kidnapping and forgery. [5]


The eventful day has at length arrived June 30th at about 11 oclock the Guard was mustered on the Poop and the buissiness of receiving convicts commenced. To get them stowed away occupied some hours. To my great surprize they only had irons on one leg and none on their hands and even these the Doctor declares his intention of knocking off when we are at sea, they are also all allowed on deck at once which the Surgeon does because it is good for them (I understand that a premium of 10s. 6d. is paid to him on each prisoner safely landed at his destination. The sentries and watches were duly posted and instructed. Bridge went ashore and I went once round the posts and made each man repeat his orders correcting his mistakes and supplying his omissions. [4]

July 2nd - When I awakened angry with myself for I had not visited my sentries during the night as I ought to have done, such proceedings will not do. The Guard mustered for Parade and at about 11 the Steam boat came to Tow us to Sheerness. I visited the barracks found them in tolerable order and then sat down and wrote in my journal the events of the two previous days. My abhorrence came in the steam boat again. We were tow'd down as far as Gravesend and then beat down with the wind right ahead untill we were within 6 miles of Sheerness when the tide beginning to flow we could get no further and we cast anchor at about 7 P.M. Went to bed at 1/2 past 10 but this time I directed the Sergeant of the watch to call me which he did at 1/2 past 1.

July 3rd - I turned out and visited the sentries demanding their instructions. Soon after I had turned in there arose a prodigious clatter, I was just turning out again when I discovered that a vessel had run against us as it could not get away until 7 oclock we could not drop down with that tide as we had intended I went to sleep again and did not wake untill my servant called me at 8 oclock I then breakfasted counted my caps and was agreably surprized to find that instead of 750 I had nearly 1400 I then sat down and wrote journal. This morning a prisoner was reported insolent to the sentry and was dismissed with a reprimand it appeared he was speaking without looking and thought that he was addressing one of the other convicts. We got under way again about 1 oclock and in the course of the afternoon arrived at Sheerness. There was a good deal of motion and Mrs Bridge opened the campaign by effecting a diversion in favour of the fishes, a few more followed her example but I was not among the number although very near it in fact I was obliged to leave the dinner table but the fresh air on deck soon revived me. We this day carried away our Mizen Topsail Yard that is to say finished it, it had been injured in the ships last voyage and not discovered

July 4th - visited the sentries and found all well turned out at 8 and after breakfast went ashore in the Bum boat was back again in about two hours wrote a letter to Hayes reporting a deficiency in the mens tobacco and then sat down to journal. Mem. - Mrs Robertson licked her child well in the morning and repeated the operation at intervals during the day. Received letters among which was one from my Father. We got up a new yard. In the afternoon the Doctor and Bridge went ashore and left me to box the prisoners for the night the Doctors lady went as well and when they all returned in the evening she was in a good temper having by her own account been to an Inn where she swallowed about (I cant say how much) brandy but I believe it was two shillings worth. I went to bed at 11 after visiting my sentries and snoozed untill 1/2 past 3 on the 5th When I again visited the Sentries.

July 5th - We took the rest of our prisoners on board about 7 oclock. We were amused some time with the antics of two of the negroes (we have seven on board, felons) one of them a stout hearty man was singing in a most singular language composed of English, French and something else, at the same time accompanying his song by tapping on the bottom of a tin pot while the other a little miserable fellow was dancing away with great vigor. There was 'lots of mopping' after they were both fairly exhausted they recieved the plaudits of the delighted 268 with great ease and self possession.

July 6th - I went to bed at my usual hour and was awakened at 1 on the 6th I lay awake untill a few minutes past two when the Sergeant of the watch came to beg me to get up as the Convicts were making a great noise and paid no attention to either the Sentries or him I was then getting up so I expedited clapped a pistol in my pocket and went to see what was the matter. The Sentry reported that he had spoken several times but that no attention had been paid him I took the number of the convict watchman who said he had spoken also but of course could not tell what birth the noise came from. I reported it to the Surgeon the next morning but he paid little attention to it and remained satisfied with the watchmans answer that he could not tell which birth andc. Had I been commanding Officer I would have kept him in the cage untill his intellect brightened. The next time I am turned out as the Surgeon takes things so easily in the morning, I will try how he likes the night air. I got up at 7 and after breakfast was edified by seeing Mrs Robertson teach her child to read at the same time administering a good piece of rope

The convicts this morning got a fiddle. I visited the Barracks which were regular and clean directly after breakfast. Bridge went ashore and also the Doctor so that I was left in sole command. Stopped the Grog of Private Wilson for one week for talking on his post. In the evening saw the prisoners down and arranged two quarrels. At about 10 Bridge and the Surgeon came on board before the surgeon arrived the men begged me to lend them the Fiddle and having procured it for them a glorious dance was the result sailors and soldiers all together when they tired they returned it with many thanks.

July 9th - We were disappointed in not getting our sailing orders even the Captain did not arrive. The Doctor and his wife went ashore and remained there the whole day. After breakfast we paraded and inspected the Troops. The Surgeon shortly after read prayers to the prisoners, the Guard remaining under arms on the Poop.

July 10th About 1/2 past 12 this morning I was aroused by a tremendous shindey got up rubbed my eyes and listened and heard Bridges voice ordering them to be quiet so I knew that all was right snoozed for an hour and then visited the sentries was told by the sergeant of the watch that the noise was raised in the following manner; some of the prisoners began fighting, the sentry sang out most lustily for the sergeant of the Guard while one of the sailors by way of assisting bawled out for the guard. This cry spread to the barracks and supposing that 'something had happened' muskets and amunition was siezed and they all commenced tumbling up, merely to be sent down again. I got up about 1/2 past 7 and through my blinds percieved the Doctors boy making preparations for a start. The Captain had come on board the previous night. After breakfast Irons were put on both legs of the man who caused the disturbance of the night.

After breakfast I sat down and wrote my journal and while I was doing this they heaved up the anchor. We came to again in about an hour or rather more in the Downs in a situation which would enable us to take advantage of the first fair wind. It continued blowing hard untill the evening when it moderated. I had not been able to eat my dinner and Mrs Bridge was as usual very sick after dinner I continued walking the deck had a game with Nettle* and having visited the sentries went to bed
. [4]

*his dog


The James Pattison departed on 16th July 1837.

Surgeon Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson kept a Medical Journal from 17 June to 2 November 1837........ the prisoners continued to be healthy during the passage, the total on the sick list was only 42. Catarrhs were the most numerous illness, occurring between the Cape of Good Hope and Bass's Straits where the weather was cold and wet.

Prisoners were kept on deck from 8am until sunset, weather permitting. They were mustered and examined daily and bathed every day in the tropics. Schools were formed and dancing held in the evening. Irons were removed at the start of the voyage with the dread of putting them on again ensuring good behaviour. Meals were served regularly at set times and the health of the prisoners can be attributed to the improved mode of victualling. Between decks was kept clean, dry and ventilated by windsails. [1]

Best's Journal Continues........

July 15th - 16th - I wrote my days log and while I was doing this up went the anchor and we made what we hoped would prove our final start. Dover and Rye were both past and in the evening we made Dungeness. At Dungeness which we made about 10 oclock I got sea sick so I made quick work visited the sentries and went to bed the wind had increased so that I was obliged to unsling my cot and lay it on the floor down I went upon it and was soon eagerly employed casting up my accounts.

July 17th busy all day at the same work very sick indeed.

July 18th Very bad in bed still.

July 19th Was a little better and having made a desperate effort got on deck sick unwashed and wretched could not eat and relished nothing but water which was no sooner down than up again. In this manner I moped on the poop the whole day.

July 20th Occupied an hour and a half alternately washing puking and lying down, then another scrub spew and sprawl at last I got up and out. My case improved considerably this day I ate a little soup and surveyed Alderney and the Caskets as we passed them. The day before I had a good view of the Isle of Wight.

July 23rd - Was roused at one oclock by the Corp of the guard but fell asleep again untill called by the steward. At 1/4 past 10 went to Parade and remained on the Poop untill Divine service was over which by the way is performed by the Doctor in a very so so manner. It was even a more agreable day than Saturday not being so hot, we saw several shoals of that kind of porpoise called by the sailors '(black fish)'; For the future I shall most certainly take the part of that most calumniated place the 'Bay of Biscay' we were in the centre of it (or to speak properly) of its outskirts with a fine smooth water breeze we had passed Ushant two days before. Benson of the 80th was this day punished by Bridge for throwing water on one of the watch, Lying, and insolence he was put in handcuffs and his grog stopped untill further orders. The sunset was one of the most beautiful I ever remember witnessing and gave every promise of a continuance of favorable wind and weather.

July 25th I was called as I desired at 1 oclock but was not roused sufficiently to get up. Could not eat much breakfast felt very queer. This was a very blank day all I did was to visit the barracks and read Lyell. Mrs Bridge was taken very ill in fact it appeared to me dangerously but got better. We passed a fine Spanish or Portuguese bark homeward bound but our friend astern had disappeared. One of the Doctors constables or watchmen was detected keeping his hand in and was put in double irons and solitary confinement. In the evening he was siezed with fits but not having the desired effect they went off.

August - There was a flare up among the convicts today, accusations of embezzlement made against the overseers and constables by one of them who was an inspector and who behaved in a most insolent manner to the Doctor for which he was put in double irons imprisoned and is to be flogged tomorrow along with another. P. Shearing was brought up on suspicion of talking to the convicts but the charge although no doubt correct was not proved. Wilson is more tractable his handcuffs have been taken off and he begged Bridge to remit further punishment but his appeal was not successful. I passed the evening in reading Lyell playing backgammon with the Capt walking the poop and jabbering. Some of those rascally convicts have stolen Nettles collar but fortunately I have another. Mem. Expect to find some of our men moon blind some of these fine mornings as they will sleep with it shining directly on their faces. It is now only half past nine but I am solitary in the cuddy they are all such a sleepy set. The wind is a little fairer and has blown rather fresh all day. I visited the sentries and the prisoner and took an airing and cooling on the Poop talked a little while to Nettle and then followed the example of my companions.

August At half past ten the Parade mustered for punishment we formed in four subdivisions, two on the quarterdeck under Lieut Bridge and the remainder I commanded on the Poop, the A. B.s were on the quarterdeck armed with cutlases and the ordinaries and boys in my rear. It was reported that the prisoners had said that they would not allow their comrades to be tied up tho' it appeared in the sequel that it was all talk. The first man punished was the man who was insolent and used mutinous language to the doctor he was an old hand at it and bore his four dozen well, the second began to cry out at the third lash but bore his second dozen which was all he got much better in fact after the seventh or eighth lash he was quite quiet only moving his leg when the cat fell; the other never flinched. I must say in justice to the Boatswain that he either was too humane to flog or else is but a very poor hand and his cat was without knots. My idea of flogging on board ship had been very exalted I was now convinced of my error but the punishment light as it was was more than some of our men could witness and two of them Shonk and Benson were obliged to fall out. The Doctor is not well tonight. Never was a man in a greater state of agitation than he has been since he resolved on flogging he cried out repeatedly during the night and has been in a nervous tremor all day he is a man of too mild and soft a disposition to deal with such fellows and is not fit for it although a better creature or more benevolent never lived. I do not think that he would have flogged had the mans insolence been in a tete a tete instead of in our presence

August - Part of my days work had been to visit the Barracks which were clean and in good order. It had been our custom to have music during dinner consisting of a flute and fiddle played by two of the Convicts for which they recieved a glass of grog between them but today the Fiddler was detected stealing tobacco and a knife for which he was put in irons this will stop his music for some time at any rate. Tried some corned beef for supper but it stunk, so I eat some ham.....

I found the Captain up, he told me that one of the convicts had informed him that the Inspectors robbed him when they went down into the hold to recieve the provisions. They were searched and on one of them were five stolen biscuits and a quantity of raisins the fellow was flogged after breakfast he got two dozen and roared like a bull.

September 5th At seven oclock the second mate came in to rouse up the Doctor when I asked the reason of this uncommon proceeding I was informed that one of the convicts a boy was to be flogged on a gun. I got up took command of the watch on the poop; the fellow was brought out tied on a gun and then the Boatswain applied his cat a la posteriori, much to my astonishment. One dozen was laid on as a punishment for stealing another prisoners tea. A second boy was also to have been flogged but the Doctor forgot him: his offence was so unique that I must register it. It appears that he bet four days allowance of pudding that he would eat the breakfast of eight men which would be no less than one gallon of oatmeal gruel or porridge; he eat it, but as it came up again he was under the painful necessity of taking it in a second edition in order to win his bet, which the beast actually did

September Returning to the Cabin or Cuddy I was asked by the Doctor to play a game of Backgammon while thus employed one of our men rushed into the cabin calling out Mr Best a man overboard I was on the Poop in a minute where I found some of the sailors and the watch getting out the boat. My Idea was that it must be one of our men and for many minutes I could not get any intelligence as to who it was then a man said that it was one of the sailors another one of the convicts and one or more that there were two of some sort overboard. No one who has not been at sea and witnessed such a catastrophe can imagine the sensation produced by that appalling cry 'A man overboard' especially where as in this instance it is heard by hundreds for the first time, while running seven or eight knots. I was only roused to a sense of what was my duty in such a case by the Surgeon calling out to the watch (I had been assisting to get the boat down). By the time this was effected all traces of the poor fellow had disappeared when I first came on deck all that marked the spot where he was probably making his last struggle was the sea birds who would not allow him to go down in peace, no doubt his last look of the sky was taken before he sank for good beneath the waves. After a useless search the boat was again hoisted in and the ship once more pursued her way through the billows which had closed for ever over a human being and yet rolled on as they ever have and always will roll.

September A quarrel between Mrs Briscoe and a man of the name of Benson was referred to Bridge today for his arbitration it appeared in evidence that a certain cloth used by babies and which had just been removed from Mrs Briscoes child had been placed in the mans dinner bowl this of course produced a disturbance the man said he would report it she thought she would have the first word and therefore came complaining that the man had abused her there was great cry and little wool but the culprit could not be discovered although this beastly trick was supposed to have been done by one of her elder children. To save further quarrelling Benson was removed from his birth which was next to hers to another.

September 16th Could scarely sleep for the motion of the ship tried to secure my cot with a dog chain in doing which I awakened the Captain who thought that one of the prisoners had got out, soon after one went my rounds found the lamp in the fore hatch out from circumstances suspected that the Sentry (Hill) was again asleep but as it was too dark to see him of course could not be certain. We shall complete our second month from the Downs today expecting to pass the Cape before morning

Our days run was only one hundred and forty six miles the barometer at 29℃50' rising a little themometer 52℃. I was playing a game of backgammon with the Captain in the evening about eight oclock when a Squall came down the Captain went on deck where I soon followed him (the wind increasing) to see sport. While dancing on the poop to keep my feet warm I heard the Captain singing out 'heave', 'heave' and looking round saw him with the two men at the wheel endeavouring to turn it I ran to help, it moved a little and then stuck fast the ship was taken aback fortunately the wind just then lulled and there was very little sea otherwise the decks would have been swept fore and aft and per[haps] we might have gone down stern first. Finding the wheel was fast the next thing was to discover the cause it was evident the ropes were jammed but it was too dark to see where; at length the Captain found that the rope had slipped off the spindle and got jammed close down upon the pivot on which the wheel turns. Lanterns and Marlin spikes was the cry, the former was soon procured but blew out I got another Marlin spikes came in on all sides, (the sails had all been let go) the wheel ropes were cleared and again secured and by nine all was once more right, the sails again set and the vessel under way. The women and prisoners were dreadfully alarmed Mrs Bridge behaved very well she did not faint and I am told did not scream although Robertson who is a very timid man cried out in the cuddy that the tiller ropes were gone. I enjoyed the scene amazingly there was something to excite one in it the only thought which came into my head was to look which way the masts would go so that when I heard them crack I might step out of the way.

October - Every one is busy making preparations for our arrival in Sydney. The soldiers cleaning their accoutrements the sailors taring painting and cleaning the rigging great guns, decks and boats. After dinner I heard Young (one of the prisoners the man who shot the mate of a vessel in the river he being captain of a collier) tell his story this much I will say in his favour that he is certainly the best man among our whole cargo his story does not differ from the newspaper accounts except that he says he did not know the gun was loaded and never intended to shoot the man only to frighten him.
(This was George Young of Northumberland who was tried at Kent 13 March 1837 and sentenced to transportation for life for manslaughter)

October 25th I was out at one to see all was right. At four the Captain came and called me to see the coast and remark the singular way the wind was behaving. I was soon dressed and up on deck it was a grey morning the wind fair and coming down in cats paws all sail was set and singular to say with such good effect that we continued for some hours actually to keep pace with the breeze which had headed us about fifty yards as we could see by the ripple on the water all beyond being dead calm this continued untill the breakfast hour. During this time we had past a variety of headlands most of which presented a front to the sea as perpendicular as the angle of a wall and equally free from all roughness or breaks. I spent a few hours putting my things away in my drawers. At three we made the South head and by four were snugly anchored off the Sydney batteries at a place called the rock fort. I do not feel equal to describe the scenery on entering Port Jackson or Sydney Cove which ever may be the proper name. A singular series of inlets and islands are the principal features bounded by Bluff rocks covered with trees of a species quite new to me, all stem and no leaves. I cannot say that Sydney looked very prepossessing from this point of view, but my meditations were soon disturbed by the numerous boats crowding alongside and which I had received directions to warn off. Two of the men Hill and Ferguson having considered it necessary to show their skill in pugilism were stowed away down the after hatch so that they could not see all that went on, this was under existing circumstances a severe and I thought an unkind if not cruel punishment. At lenght after various tackings the cable rumbled through the hawse pole splash went the anchor in the water and my first voyage, from London to Sydney was finished.

Port Jackson

The James Pattison arrived in Port Jackson on 25 October 1837 after a voyage of 101 days. It was reported that she had made the extraordinary run of ninety-seven degrees in twenty one days, the quickest sailing ever heard of. The convicts were reported to have all arrived in a healthy state, not one having died on the voyage out, however two died in Sydney Hospital soon afterwards.

Convict Indents

The printed convict indents include the convict's Name, Age, Education, Relition, Marital Status, Family, Native place, Occupation, Offence, Date and Place of Trial, Sentence, Previous offences and Physical Description. Many of the prisoners on this voyage are adorned with tattooes which are described in great detail in the indents. The youngest prisoners were Daniel Cameron and John Campbell alias Pollock who were both aged 15. There were another ten who were aged 16 years. The oldest convict on board was James White aged 71. There is no indication where the men may have been assigned. There are occasional remarks regarding relatives already in the colony, previous crimes and death:

John Brown's brother Edward McGee came a prisoner six years previously
William Dunsmore - Wife Phoebe Dunsmore (maiden name Head) sailed in January before, a prisoner for 7 years.
David Edwards - Died in the General Hospital Sydney 22 November 1837
Richard Jones, aged 32, Native place Nottinghamshire, cook and indoor servant. Tried at Lincoln 7 April 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Was in the colony before as Richard Simpson per Royal Admiral 1830. He served his 7 year sentence and went to England in the Brothers at the beginning of 1833.
James Larndon - Father Benjamin Larndon a prisoner at Hobart under sentence for life.
James Leman aged 42 - brother in law Peter Coombes, a prisoner for life, father of No. 2428
Samuel Leman age 20, son of James Leman
Archibald McNee - Deaf
Phillip Mains or Main - Peter Main transported for seven years about five years previously.
John Richmond age 17 and Robert Richmond age 22 from Lincolnshire were brothers.
Robert Swan age 19 from Northumberland - First cousin William Fairburn, came free, residing in Elizabeth street Sydney
William Taylorson - First cousin William Taylorson arrived free 18 years previously.

Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks

Prisoners were usually housed in Hyde Park Barracks until they were assigned as servants. In 1837 Governor Sir Richard Bourke gave evidence before the Select Committee on transportation and was questioned on the conditions at the Barracks.....

Copy of a Despatch from Governor Sir R. Bourke, K.C.B., to Lord Glenelg, dated Government House, Sydney, 4th December, 1837.
My Lord,
In reply to your Lordship's despatch of the 30th April, 1837, I have the honour to transmit answers to the queries touching the treatment of convicts in New South Wales, presented by the Prison Discipline Society. In these answers I have confined myself almost entirely to statements of facts, referring occasionally to published regulations, and to those despatches addressed by this government to the Colonial Office, which have been laid before the House of Commons, and printed by its order.I have, etc. Richard Bourke.

Q1. On landing in the colony, under whose care and superintendence are the convicts placed?
A. Under that of the principal superintendent of convicts.

Q2. In what description of building are they lodged on their arrival?
A. In Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney. The construction and arrangements of this building do not materally differ from those of a military barrack.

Q3. Do they associate by day?
A. There is no other restriction in this respect than what arises from their several occupations. They arc mostly kept to work in gangs in the streets of Sydney, from their landing until assigned. Some hours of the day during this period are, when required, allotted to their receiving religious instructions from the clergy of their several communions, who attend at Hyde Park to impart it. To give longer time for this course of instruction, Dr. Polding, the Roman-catholic bishop, shortly after his arrival in New South Wales, requested that the period between the arrival and assignment of the convict should be lengthened, which was done accordingly. He has, as regards those of his communion, attended to it with great earnestness and regularity; and there is reason to believe that the result has been beneficial to those who receive his admonitions, and to the public in general.

Q. 4 Are they separate at night? If not, in what numbers are they confined?
A. They sleep in hammocks in large rooms, the numbers in each varying with the size of the room.

Q.5. What distinction is made in the treatment, discipline, or assignment of convicts sentenced to 7, 14, 21 years, or for life.
A. None in their assignment. There is a distinction between convicts sentenced to different terms of transportation, in the length of probationary servitude required, before they can obtain tickets of leave. The statute enacts, that no convict shall obtain any remission of servitude from the governor of the colony until he shall first have completed, of a sentence of life, eight years; of a sentence for 14 years, six years; of a sentence for seven years, four years. The nature of the servitude, while it lasts, is not in any way affected by the length of time for which it is imposed. In all cases the remission is delayed by misconduct; and if this be gross, or repeated, it will preclude the convict from receiving any indulgence whilst the term of his sentence endures.

Q. 6. Is regard paid in those respects to their former station in society, or good conduct on their voyage, or previous guilty habits in England? A. With regard to former station in society, those convicts who are well educated, or have been engaged in mercantile pursuits, or in the profession of the law, are separated from the rest, by removal from Sydney immediately on arrival, to the distant settlement of Port Macquarie, to which place they are restricted until the expiration of their sentence, or until they receive a pardon. A few convicts have likewise been for some years past sent out, with express directions from the secretary of state for the Colonies, founded upon recommendations of the judges before whom they were severally tried, either for their removal to Norfolk Island, or their employment in hard labour on the roads or public works within the colony, instead of assignment to private service. Except in the cases above enumerated, no distinction in treatment, discipline, or assignment is made on account of either station, good conduct on the voyage, or previous guilty habits; of which last, indeed, little or nothing is known here by any communication through an official channel. With respect to assignment to private service, it may be proper to observe, that it is now governed by a code of regulations calculated to ensure a due distribution of convict labour, according to the power of the colonists to employ it, and the means of supply possessed by government, with the strictest impartiality in the assignment. The exercise of a discretionary power in distributing convicts by a board, as formerly practised, was found to be extremely invidious, from its very extensive influence over private interests. The whole mechanism of assignment is now in the hands of a single ministerial officer sworn to administer the regulations without favour.

Q. 7. What means are taken, and how soon after the arrival of convicts, to procure situations for those who are allowed to work as mechanics, etc, or to enter domestic service?
A. They are assigned without delay, mechanics as well as domestic servants and labourers, pursuant to the regulation above referred to.

Q. 8. On what terms arc mechanics or domestic servants usually employed; and are they allowed any proportion of their earnings.
A. The government does not recognise the practice of paying any wages whatever to convicts, although there is little doubt that many, and especially mechanics and domestic servants, do receive wages from their masters, whose interest it is to encourage and conciliate them. Distinctions are also made by masters, from similar motives, in the articles of food and clothing. The treatment whirh is prescribed to the master in these respects, by the order of government, may be considered as a minimun which the servant is entitled to demand as a right. Most masters supply tea, sugar, or milk, and sometimes tobacco, in small quantities, in addition to the ration required by regulation.

Q. 9. Do employers enter into any security to the government for the proper maintenance and treatment of the convicts?
A. The power of the government to remove, not only the servant improperly dealt with, but all the other convict servants of the offending master, is the only security; but this is as ample as any other supposed security could be.

Q. 10. Has the government any continued surveillance over convicts who are assigned to settlers, either as field-labourers or as domestic servants?
A. The surveillance over convicts, exercised as through the summary jurisdiction of magistrates, may be understood by perusal of the Act of Council, 3 Will. 4, No. 3. Any complaint of the convict himself may be heard before the same tribunal; and if the magistrates represent misconduct on the part of the master, the governor exercises the power of removal referred to in the answer to query 9.

Q. 11. Is a settler required to make a report to the Governor from time to time relative to the conduct and treatment of a convict in his service? if so, what is the nature of such report ?
A. When the time required by law to render the convict eligible for indulgence has expired, the form of his application for a ticket of leave contains a certificate to be signed by his master. If the master decline signing it, the regulations acquaint him that the servant will be considered blameless. The master may also be called on by the magistrates to give his reasons for omitting to insert the servant's character. This is the only report required from the master of the nature alluded to. If the servant behave ill, and the master desires to punish him, he applies to the magistrates. Reports of the hearing of such complaints are transmitted monthly to the Government by the magistrates.

Q. 12. Are any and what precautions taken to prevent convicts from absconding from their employers ?
A. No coercion is used for this purpose by the government, the servant being placed in the custody of the master, who is at liberty to watch him as he thinks fit, or lock him up at night in his room, hut or barrack. The means adopted for the apprehension of runaways, and the punishment which on conviction they incur, as stated in the next reply, may however be considered as the precautions referred to in the query.

Q. 13. In the case of absconding, what measures are adopted for the recapture of prisoners? If taken, what punishments are usually inflicted; and what is the greatest punishment to which they are liable.
A. A corps of mounted police and a numerous constabulary are kept up, whose attention is directed to the apprehension of runaway convicts, and their exertions stimulated by rewards for all such captures to a greater or less amount, according to circumstances. 2. The apprehension of these delinquents is much facilitated by an Act of Council, which gives a power of apprehension on bare suspicion. Nothing but the peculiar case of the colony could render such a law tolerable to Englishmen. 3. The punishment for absconding is 50 lashes, or 14 days' solitary confinement with bread and water, or one month's treadmill for the first offence. If the convict is found illegally at large with fire-arms, he is liable on this alone, without any proof of having actually committed an outrage, to be convicted of felony ; and a second absconding is of itself punishable with a year's labour in irons, 4. A penalty of not less than 5/., or more than 10f., is imposed on any free person harbouring a runaway convict, recoverable in a summary way before any two justices. This is in a case where the runaway has committed no other offence. If he be a robber or housebreaker, the harbourer, knowing him to be such, is liable to capital punishment as an accessory. If the harbourer be a convict, he is liable, in the first case, to whipping or one year to an ironed gang and in the latter to the same punishment as a free person.

Q. 14. Are any particular description of convicts distinguished by a dress, mark, or badge ?
A. The convicts in ironed gangs, and those employed on public works, by order of the Secretary of State, as before referred to, are distinguished by particoloured winter and branded summer clothing.

Notes and Links

1). Thomas Robertson was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the following convict ships to Australia:
William Bryan to VDL in 1833

Forth to NSW in 1835

Surry to NSW in 1836

James Pattison to NSW in 1837

Planter to NSW in 1839
Equestrian to VDL in 1845

2). The James Pattison was engaged to bring immigrants to Australia in 1839. After she departed Sydney she was used to carry a cargo of cotton from Bombay and was lost to fire in September 1840....... The James Pattison had sailed from Bombay on 27th June 1840 and on the 29th September at 1pm off the Western Island, smoke was seen issuing up the fore hatchway, and it was found that the cargo was on fire. Every exertion and every well devised means were in immediate operation, when by the mercy of Providence, and just at that critical moment when her worthy commander and his crew were about to commit themselves to further peril in leaky boats, a sail was discovered, and at that very time the flames had reached her rigging and masts. In that awful condition the James Pattison in a blaze, bore up towards the welcome stranger, and about 24 hours after the fire was discovered all her crew were taken on board the Norval from St. John and safely landed at Lisbon.[3]

3). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/37/3 Description: Journal of His Majesty's convict ship, James Pattison, for 17 June to 1837 and 2 November 1837 by Thomas Robertson, Surgeon

4). Abel Dottin William Best was born in London on 16 July 1816, son of Catherine Harriett and John Rycroft Best.

5). Prisoners and passengers of the James Pattison identified in the Hunter Valley.......

George Allen - Labourer aged 27 from Surry. Convicted of housebreaking. Assigned to James Dalgliesh at Paterson in 1837. Granted at Ticket of Leave for Paterson in 1846.

John Allsop - Blacking manufacturer age 21 from Nottingham. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a watch. Assigned to Thomas Wright at Paterson in 1837. Absconded from Robert Murray at Paterson in 1840. Sent to Newcastle gaol from Paterson on a charge of pilfering. Sentenced to 2 months on the treadmill at Sydney in 1842.

Henry John Appleford - Gold and silver wire drawer age 21 from London. Tried at Stafford 4 Jan;uary 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for receiving stolen money. Assigned to Thomas Wright at Paterson in 1837.

Samuel Asher - Lacemaker age 20 from Nottinghamshire. Tried 3 April 1837 and sentenced to 14 yeras transportation for stealing clothes. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Brisbane Water in January 1844. Application to marry Ann Benden at Gosford in December 1844.

George Barrett - Errand boy age 19 from Surry. Tried 223 March 1837. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing towels. Assigned to James Dowling at Williams River in 1837. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Port Stephens in 1842.

William Barrington - Labourer aged 35 from Flintshire. Tried at Denbigh 22 March 1837. Sentenced to transportation for life for housebreaking. Held a Ticket of Leave for Maitland district in 1837.

Robert Beale - Bricklayer's labourer age 45 from Surry. Married. Tried C.C.C. 30 January 1837. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing lead. Assigned to James Dalgleish at Paterson in 1837

Robert Bigg - Flour miller age 27 from Hertfordshire. Tried 20 October 1836 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing from a mill. Assigned to Henry Hooke at Williams River in 1837

William Bilby - Comb maker from Gloucestershire. Tried at Lancaster 9 January 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for house breaking. Absconded from Custody of Police at Patrick Plains on 12 September 1841. Apprehended and sent to Newcastle gaol in November 1841. Sent ot the Bench at Muswellbrook to be dealt with.

Samuel Blackley - Shoemaker age 23 from Southworth. Tried C.C.C. and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shoes. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Wollombi in 1842

John Brittain - Brickmaker's boy age 19 from Lancashire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing clothes. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Paterson in 1842

Thomas Brooks - Wool carder age 47 from Yorkshire. Married with 2 children. Tried C.C.C. and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing wool. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Cassilis in 1841

John Brown - more than one convict by this name on this ship

Thomas Buckingham - Shoemaker from Cornwall aged 19. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a watch. Assigned to Henry I. Pilcher at Maitland.

Charles Butcher - Labourer age 23 from Essex. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing sheep skins. Assigned to B. Baxter at Muswellbrook.

Peter Cubbon - Seaman age 18 from Douglas. Tried Island of Man 9 March 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for ship robbery. Assigned to Lieut. Lugard at Newcastle.

Daniel Cameron - Errand boy age 15 from Ayrshire. Tried at Aberdeen 17 April 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for housebreaking. Assigned to A.E. CAmpbell at Maitland.

Richard Carpenter - Errand boy age 17 from London. Tried at Derby 10 January 1837 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shirts. Assigned to Parry Long in Sydney. Married Jean Sewell at Newcastle in 1845.

John Chapman - Groom age 19 from Middlesex. Tried Hertford 30 June 1836. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing lead. Assignd to Miss Kelly at the Manning River. Thought to have burdered aborigine Mickey Ugly and burnt his body.

Charles Clements - Brickmaker age 18 from Gloucestershire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for receiving stolen goods. Granted Ticket of Leave for Scone in 1844.

William Clitherow - Pattenmaker and painter's apprentice age 26 from Lincolnshire. Sentenced to transportation for life for housebreaking. Granted Ticket of Leave for Muswellbrook in 1845.

David Cutts - Indoor servant age 19 from Hertfordshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing fowls. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1842.

Henry Deards - Labourer, ploughs and reaps age 30 from Hertford. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for poaching. Assigned to James Dowling. Granted Ticket of Leave in 1842.

William Dunsmore - Cook and baker age 27 from Perthshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing wine. Granted Ticket of Leave for Cassilis in 1842.

Francis Fitzwater - Brickmaker age 27 from Co. Galloway. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing fowls. Assigned to William Spears at Brisbane Water. Granted Ticket of Leave for Windsor in 1842.

Samuel Girling - Labourer age 33 from Suffolk. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for having stolen sacks in his possession. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1843. Committed suicide at Maitland in 1847.

Thomas / William Goodbury. Cabin boy age 17 from Norfolk. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing meat. Assigned to Thomas Wright at Paterson in 1837.

William Griffiths - Labourer age 21 from Shropshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for receiving stolen goods. Assigned to James Dalgleish at Paterson in 1837.

John Grimes - Labourer age 19 from Gloucestershire sentenced to 7 years transportation for machine breaking. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Scone in 1841.

James Gurney - Labourer age 24 from Hertfordshire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for highway robbery. Assigned to B. Baxter at Muswellbrook in 1837.

George Hardwick - Coach painter's labourer age 55 from Somersetshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing pails. Assigned to Thomas Bartie in 1837. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1841.

Joseph Higgs - Labourer age 22 from Montgomeryshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing fowls. Granted Ticket of Leave for Merton in 1841. Ticket cancelled for drunk and disorderly conduct in 1843. Tried for stealing from a dwelling house in 1846.

Iram Holmes - Labourer age 26 from Nottinghamshire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing drapery goods from a gig. - Sent to Norfolk Island for 15 years for bushranging in 1839

James Hopkins - Shoemaker age 22 from Warwick. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for housebreaking. At Maitland Stockade in 1844.

William Jackson - Collier age 23 from Derbyshire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing clothes. Died while working in an ironed gang aged 25. Buried at Newcastle.

Edward Jennison - Seaman age 19 from Yorkshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for robbing a ship. Assigned to William Stephens at Invermein in 1837. Granted Ticket of Leave for Scone in 1842.

Charles Johnson - Labourer aged 42 from Lincolnshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing wool. Granted Ticket of Leave for Muswellbrook in 1843.

John Knott - Labourer and soldier age 30 from Kent. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for pawning shoes, not his property.Granted Ticket of Leave for Merton in 1842.

Peter Lamb - Labourer age 19 from Co. Monaghan. Sentenced to 7 years transportation at York Quarter Sessions for shop lifting. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1842.

James Larnden - Labourer aged 22 from Hertfordshire. Sentenced to transportation for life for sheep stealing. Assigned to James Dowling. Granted Ticket of Leave for Dungog in 1845. Granted Conditional Pardon in 1850

William Lawrence - Errand boy age 16 from London. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing money. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1841.

Daniel Leach - Blacksmith's apprentice age 20 from Lancashire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing goods from a cart. Assigned to B. Baxter at Muswellbrook in 1837.

John Lloyd - Labourer age 18 from London. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Assigned to James Dalgleish at Paterson.

George Marlow - Pit sawyer age 45 from Staffordshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for receiving stolen goods. Granted Ticket of Leave for Wollombi in 1841.

Henry Marson - Boatman age 21 from Nottingham. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for housebreaking. Sent to Newcastle gaol for absenting and insolence in 1843.

Duncan McCallam - Shepherd age 33 from Argyleshire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for sheep stealing. Assigned to B. Baxter at Muswellbrook in 1837.

James McCullock - Tailor age 24 from Edinburgh. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Assigned to Newcastle Gaol in 1837.

William McFarlane - Groom age 18 from Co. Galloway in Scotland. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for housebreaking. Granted Ticket of Leave for Wollombi in 1842.

Campbell McKinley - Labourer age 18 from Renfrewshire. Tried ag Glasgow and sentenced to 14 years transportation for housebreaking. Ticket of Leave for Armidale cancelled for being absent from district in 1851.

Archibald McNee - Boat carpenter age 56 from Stirlinghsire. Tried Glasgow and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing from dwelling. Assigned to Donald McLeod at Invermein in 1837.

William Moore - Cast iron moulder age 22 from Derbyshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing bellows. Punished for absconding at Maitland in 1842.

Hugh Mucklowe - Labourer age 40 from Co. Donegal. Tried Northumberland Quarter Sessions. Sentenced to transportation for life for sheep stealing. Assigned to William Stephens at Invermein in 1837. Ticket of Leave holder at Clarence River. Deceased in 1848.

George Nicholson - Labourer age 22 from Grenada. Sentenced to transportation for life for housebreaking. Absconded from Ward Stephens at Invermein in 1840

Pamphile - Labourer aged 32 from Grenada. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for housebreaking. Absconded from John S. Parker at Paterson in 1842.

William Pearson - Steam engine fitter age 21 from Manchester. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Absconded from the estate of Sir Francis Forbes in 1839. Ticket of Leave cancelled for misdemeanour in 1843.

James Phillips - Indoor servant and groom age 30 from Monmouthshire. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing fowls. Assigned to John Crowder. Granted Ticket of Leave for Paterson in 1843.

James Pritchett - Brass caster age 19 from Birmingham. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing fowls. Assigned to Francis Dickson at Merton in 1837. Granted Ticket of Leave for Muswellbrook in 1843.

Quashey alias Billy - House servant age 31 from Barbadoes. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing linen. Granted Ticket of Leave for Cassillis in 1843.

John Rawson - Stocking weaver age 23 from Derbyshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for breaking into a dwlling house and stealing clothes therefrom. Assigned to William Kerr at Maitland in 1837. Granted Ticket of Leave in 1842.

Joseph Redman - Labourer age 40 from Bedfordshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing eggs. Granted Ticket of Leave for Merton in 1842.

William Rennie - Blacksmith ag 19 from Edinburgh. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a cloak. Assigned to E.G. Clark at Invermein in 1837

Robert Richmond - Labourer age 22 from Lincolnshire. Sentenced to transportation for life for sheep stealing. Assigned to Ward Stephens at Invermein in 1837.

Edward Saville - Watch gilder age 18 from Liverpool. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Granted Ticket of Leave for Scone in 1842.

John Scott - Ropemaker and twine spinner age 35 from Yorkshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing a horse and cart. Granted Ticket of Leave for Wollombi in 1842.

Thomas Sheen. Weaver age 20 from Leicestershire. Sentenced to transportation for life for setting fire to a stack of straw in a yard. Granted Ticket of Leave for Wollombi in 1846.

James Smith - Labourer age 22 from Lancashire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for shop breaking. Granted Ticket of Leave for Patrick Plains in 1845.

William Smith - 2 convicts by this name

William Styles - Labourer age 28 from Wiltshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing wearing apparel. Assigned to James Dowling at Williams River. Granted Ticket of Leave for Port Stephens in 1843.

Robert Swan - Tanner age 19 from Northumberland. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for picking pockets. Granted Ticket of Leave for Merton in 1841.

David Thomas - Labourer age 22 from Glamorgan. Tried at Carmarthen and sentenced to 7 years transportation for for stealing clothes. Assigned to F. Dickson at Merton in 1837.

Martin Thomson - Chairmaker age 22 from Edinburgh. Sentenced to 14 years transportation for picking pockets. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1847.

John Tiffen - Labouer age 21 from Suffolk. Sentenced to transportation for life for housebreaking. Granted Ticket of Leave for Paterson in 1845.

George Tweddle - Labourer age 23 from Cumberland. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shirts. Granted Ticket of Leave for Singleton in 1841.

Edward Webster - Iron moulder age 20 from Liverpool. Sentenced to 14 yeras transportation for housebreaking. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1845.

James Welch - Fire grate fitter age 19 from Warwickshire. Sentenced to 7 years transportation house breaking. Absconded from James Bowman in 1838.

Charles Windmill - Coach painter age 20 from Bristol. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing iron. Assigned to Cox and Co at Maitland in 1837. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in February 1842. Ticket cancelled for disorderly conduct in April 1842.

Henry Worley - Sweep age 18 from London. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing plates. Assigned to Francis Dickson at Merton in 1837. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Scone in 1842. Died at Newcastle in 1843.


[1] Medical Journal of Thomas Robertson on the voyage of the James Pattison in 1837. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Statistics of the Colonies of the British Empire,... By Robert Montgomery Martin

[3] Nautical Magazine.

[4] 1966 - Best, A. D. W. The Journal of Ensign Best, 1837-1843 (Ed. N. M. Taylor) - University of New Zealand

[5] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X640]; Microfiche: 729