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Convict Ship John Barry 1821


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Embarked: 180 men
Voyage: 144 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Grenada arrived 16 September 1821
Next vessel: Hindostan arrived 24 November 1821
Captain Roger Dobson
Surgeon Superintendent Daniel McNamara
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The John Barry was built at Whitby in 1814. This was the second of four voyages of the John Barry transporting convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1819, 1836 and 1839. The John Barry was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the Lord Sidmouth in November 1820.

On 16 May 1821, the John Barry sailed from Deptford for Cork to take on prisoners for Port Jackson. Mr Elyard, Surgeon and Superintendent of the John Bull, his wife and five children, were passengers for Cork, also, James Mitchell, Assistant Surgeon of the 48th Regiment, Robert Fopp, Henry Hughes and his wife, were passengers for N.S.W., by order of the government. The John Barry anchored in the Cove of Cork on 22 May.



The prisoners to be embarked on the John Barry were probably held in the Convict Depot at Cork to await transportation.

The Third Report of the Committee of the Society For the Improvement of Prison Discipline ... by T. Bensley was released in 1821 and included the following summary of the Cork Depot .....

   

Passengers travelling on the John Barry to New South Wales included Mr. Doyle and his niece.

Daniel McNamara kept a medical journal from 16 May to 10 November 1821.......

On 30 May 1821, the guard, consisting of Lieut. McConchy and 29 men of the 1st Regiment (Royal Scots), with four women and two children, embarked on the John Barry. Ninety male convicts were received and a bed, blanket and pillow were issued to each, however bad weather prevented more convicts embarking the following day. Another ninety men were embarked on 1st June.

The surgeon commented that the prisoners were well behaved and that he had found them at prayers in the prison. The prison was fitted up as a chapel for Sunday prayers and some of the sermons of the Rev. George Burder were delivered. When the surgeon delivered Rev. Burder's sermon on the Prodigal Son, some of the prisoners hung their heads and wept. Bibles, testaments and prayer books supplied by the Ladies Bible Society were distributed. Paper, quills, school books and slates were received for the use of the prisoners. Fires were kept going in stoves all day.

After being inspected by Dr. Trevor, Inspector of Prisons at Cork, they sailed at 5am on Saturday 16 June 1821. Most of the prisoners were soon suffering with sea sickness. There were reports of the prisoners seizing the ship, however Daniel McNamara dismissed it as just talk, 'to be expected among persons of idle and vicious habits'. However, precautions must have been taken, as several days later, the prisoners petitioned the doctor stating they had no thoughts of mutiny. McNamara re-assured the prisoners that though precautionary measures had been taken, he believed the reports false and unfounded.

This was to be an unusual voyage in that surgeon Daniel McNamara had great confidence that the prisoners were mostly of good character. Despite several reports of plots of mutiny and escape, the surgeon dismissed them all, fully confident that the prisoners, who regularly attended his sermons, would not entertain mutiny. Each time there was talk of a mutiny, the guard was found to be at fault. McNamara considered them to be the dregs of the military. Despite this confidence in the prisoners he nevertheless took precautions, and there were 64 cases of punishment, mostly by handcuffing but also by returning to double irons or stopping wine allowance. There were no floggings and the prisoners were given a good report by surgeon McNamara, however he regretted the behaviour of the guard, one of whom was flogged for disobeying orders; others became drunk and threatened to fire into the prisoners.

On board the prisoners were put into three divisions of 60 men each and allowed on deck. School books and paper were handed out and those unable to read placed in messes with convicts willing to teach them. The surgeon later remarked that the school was doing well. By the 30th June they were near Madeira. Prisoners were well behaved and paid great attention to the routines of cleaning the decks and prison. The Surgeon commented at this time that 'there were very few of what are esteemed bad characters in a convict ship amongst them'.

On the 18th July the surgeon heard of another plot to seize the ship involving some of the convicts and some of the guard. He did not believe the convicts would be involved but did believe that the guard would, and expressed a very low opinion of the guard, 'the very refuse of the first battalion of their regiment (1st or Royal Scots)'. He did not believe many of the convicts even knew of the plot. He felt confident that his measures of changing the divisions of convicts regularly and only allowing them on deck 60 at a time would lessen the chance of collusion. In addition most had leg irons on. One of the soldiers James Murphy was placed in the prison with the convicts after injudicious language by his wife and reports that he was connected with the planned mutiny.

The surgeon's journal contained the report of an incident that occurred on 18th August - at about half past seven in the evening a musket shot was heard on deck, quickly followed by two more and then more shots from the soldier's quarters into the prison. The Surgeon, the Master and the Officer of the Guard, finding no disturbance on deck called for firing to stop but by then about a dozen shots had been fired into the prison. On opening the door to the prison, the prisoners were found to be in their beds and three of them wounded. Patrick Duffy and Thomas Coyle were severely wounded. The surgeon determined that they were lying in their beds, which were opposite the main hatchway, when they received the wounds. The sentry who first fired his musket was Patrick Leary, claiming that noise was made in the prison and he ordered them to be quiet before shooting. It was suspected that Leary was drunk and he was later arrested at the surgeon's insistence.

On 20th August they arrived in Rio de Janeiro where they took on fresh provisions and water, departing from there on 29th August. They experienced bad weather on 9th September and sermons were postponed during a gale when water washed over the deck and entered the hatchways. On 1st November at daylight, they sighted land near the Derwent river in Van Diemen's Land and by Sunday 3rd November they were off the coast near Jervis Bay. After Sunday sermons had been delivered the surgeon advised the prisoners to future good behaviour and promised to pardon all of the offences committed on board.

They anchored at Port Jackson on 7 November 1821, the same day the Royal George commanded by Captain Powditch arrived in Sydney Cove with the new Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane.

Governor Macquarie had departed on 1st November for a tour of inspection to Newcastle and Port Macquarie and so was not on hand to address the prisoners as he often did. Lieut-Governor Erskine inspected the men instead.

There were no deaths on the voyage and one hundred and eighty prisoners and guard were landed on 10 November 1821, all in good health. Select here to find out more about the disembarkation of prisoners.

The Surgeon reported to the Lieutenant Governor the incident of 18 August, the guards' good behaviour since, his promise to the prisoners to not forward any complaints against them and the fortunate recovery of the wounded men. His intention of prosecuting Leary was put aside on the prospect of gaining some indulgence for the wounded men and other considerations.
 

Notes & Links:

1). One of the seamen Benjamin Adams was discharged from the vessel on arrival.

2). Daniel McNamara's Medical Journal - UK National Archives - This is a large PDF file of the original document.

3). Daniel McNamara was also surgeon on the convict ships
Lord Melville  in 1817 and Canada in 1819

4). The John Barry was advertising to depart for England in December 1821. Mr. John Slight First Officer; Mr. John Foster, Second Officer; and Mr. Vinnis, Third Officer to leave on her.

5). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the John Barry in 1821

6). Heroes - by John Pilger

7).  Return of Convicts of the John Barry assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832).....
William Crawford - Errand boy assigned to James Woodward at Brisbane Water

8). Ship Conditions

9). Commissioner's Enquiry



References:

1. Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.344-345, 383

2.  Ancestry.com. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

3. National Archives. Part transcription of the Surgeon's Journal.  ADM 101/38/2/2









 
 

 

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