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Convict Ship Lady Juliana 1790


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J -K L M N - O P - Q R S T - V W - Y

Embarked 226 women
Voyage: 309 days
Deaths 5
Surgeon's Journal - no
Previous vessel: Scarborough arrived 21st January 1788
Next vessel: Surprize arrived 26 June 1790
Captain Aitkin
Naval Agent Thomas Edgar
Surgeon Richard Alley
Follow the Female Convict Trail
On 7 February 1789, The Times (London) reported that the ship Lady Juliana was ordered by Government to carry convicts to Botany Bay. She was considered a fine river built vessel, and in 1776 had been the first ship that was taken by the Americans on her passage from Jamaica to London; she was afterwards re-taken by a man of war, and conveyed to England. Further details of the capture of the Lady Juliana in 1776 can be found in A Documentary History of the North American Colonies (4)  ........ 1776 - Captain Stephenson, of the Lady Juliana, arrived in town this day, and gives the following account of the capture of his ship, the Lady Juliana, from Jamaica to London, in company with the Reynolds, Captain Rusden, from Jamaica for London, and the Juno, Captain Marsden, from Jamaica for Bristol:

On the 9th and 12th of May last, they were attacked by two American privateers off the Matanzas, bearing S.S.E., and that the Reynolds, Rusden, was taken by the American privateer , Captain Henry, mounting six three-pounders, and ten swivels, on the 9th of May; and Lady Juliana, Stephenson, and Juno, Marsden, were taken by the Chance, Captain Adams, who mounted four sixpounders and ten swivels, the 12th; that the Provincials put the Captains and passengers on board a Spanish vessel that was leaky, who carried them into Providence, where the Captains purchased a vessel, called the Baltimore, which is since arrived at Plymouth. The nine ships above mentioned were all taken with the greatest ease, after they had been convoyed one hundred and fifty leagues from the ports they respectively sailed from, and left by the men-of-war, under a supposition that they were totally out of danger. The privateers which took them were but thinly manned, and weakly armed. One carried ten, and the other twelve guns. Several of the ships carried a great number, but no powder on board, the Governors of the places they sailed from not allowing any to be shipped, for fear enough should not remain with them to defend their situations in case of an attack, which was something more than probable. The Lady Juliana, Captain Stephenson, had six hundred hogsheads of sugar and thirty thousand hard dollars on board, besides other negotiable and marketable articles. Her cargo, therefore, exclusive of the dollars, at a moderate computation, was worth twenty-6ve thousand pounds. She was boarded by Captain White, an old acquaintance of Captain Stephenson, who cordially shook hands with his captor when he set foot on deck, little thinking he was an enemy. White, out of civility and respect for old acquaintanceship, promised to send Stephenson safe to England, at the same time told him, that he was ordered by the Congress to carry every prize he took to Rhode-Island, and that the other privateer was to carry hers to Salem, in New-England. The ship Francis, on board which Stephenson came to England, was suffered to sail home, as the Captains of the Provincial privateers did not think her valuable enough to be seized. The amount of the cargoes of the above prizes, we are informed, upon the best authority, is upwards of £ 140,000 sterling

In 1789 the Lady Juliana was engaged to transport female prisoners. She was the next convict ship to leave England after the vessels of the First Fleet departed in 1787.

Two hundred and twenty-six women were embarked in the summer of 1789. This was more women than had arrived in all the vessels of the first fleet combined.

Many were sent direct to the ship from Newgate. Michael Flynn in The Second Fleet: Britainís Grim Convict Armada of 1790 writes that on 28 February 1789 the Lady Juliana was sent to Gallions Reach, where in March 1789 the first 108 women from Newgate were embarked. More from Newgate came later and on 7th May the Lady Juliana proceeded to Spithead, near Portsmouth, where about 90 women from county goals also joined the ship. (9)

Mary Talbot was one of the women who was embarked on the Lady Juliana. Mary, with other female prisoners, managed with assistance of their families, to escape from the Lady Juliana while still in port. Mary Talbot was re-captured and eventually transported on the Mary Ann. Another of the escapees Mary Burgess managed to remain at large for 3 years. She had been found guilty of stealing in a dwelling house in October 1787 and received a sentence of death which was afterwards through the Royal mercy pardoned on condition of being transported for 7 years. She was put on board the Lady Juliana and after escaping was spotted by a police runner and apprehended at Christ Church. In her defence she claimed to have been very ill, fell over board, and was taken up by a fisherman. She was recommended to mercy because of her good conduct since and because no wilful escape was proved. (1)

Lieutenant Thomas Edgar was appointed Naval Agent on 8th June 1789.......  

The Lady Juliana departed Portsmouth on 29th July 1789. The Times reported that she had safely arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the 9th December 1789.

Surgeon Richard Alley wrote to Under Secretary Nepean from the Cape. In correspondence dated 29th March, 1790 he told of the progress of the Lady Juliana....I hope you will excuse the liberty I take in writing you a few lines, the purpose of which is to acquaint Mr. Nepean that on the 1st inst. we anchor'd in Table bay from Rio de Janeiro. Our passage from England has been very tedious. On our route, so far, we have lost five women and we have had seven births. At present we are remarkably healthy. Tomorrow is fixed for our sailing from this place. I hope we shall meet with better luck than what the Guardian did.....(5)

The Guardian was wrecked in December 1789. Captain Riou of the Guardian later wrote to Secretary Stephens giving an account of what remained of the stores of the Guardian and in part what became of some of those on board....(Extract) Lieutenant Riou to Secretary Stephens, His Majesty's ship Guardian, Table Bay 20 May 1790......By the Lady Juliana transport which sailed from this bay on the 30th March, I sent seventy five barrels of flour and one pipe of Teneriffe wine consigned to Governor Philip. I had been so fortunate as to preserve the dispatches which I had received from the hands of Vice Admiral Roddam for Gov. Philip and I delivered them to the care of Lieut. Thomas Edgar, superintendent of the Lady Juliana. In that ship I also sent the five surviving superintendents of convicts which were on board the Guardian. (6)

Nicholas Divine who left England in September 1789 on the Guardian was one of those who joined the Lady Juliana at the Cape. On arrival in Port Jackson Divine took up the post as principal superintendent of convicts. Philip Schaeffer and his daughter Elizabeth also joined the Lady Juliana at the Cape. Read about their harrowing ordeal after the wreck of the Guardian.

Edward Powell first arrived on the Lady Juliana as a seaman. He later returned on the Bellona in 1793.

The Lady Juliana was received with great delight when she arrived in Port Jackson on 3 June 1790, ten months after departing England. Watkin Tench wrote of their joy at sighting the Lady Juliana......      

John Nicol was steward on the Lady Juliana. He kept a journal of the voyage an extract of which was printed in the Spirit of the English Magazines in 1823......

His account of the voyages would throw Mrs. Fry and all the Newgate Committee into fits, and make Mr. Grey Bennet rave, and fill every philanthropical heart with a horrible delight that such things were, and are not.

 "There were not a great many very bad characters; the greater number were for petty crimes, and a great proportion for only being disorderly, that is, street walkers; the colony at the time being in great want of women.

"One, a Scottish girl, broke her heart and died in the river; she was buried at Dartford. Four were pardoned on account of his Majesty's recovery. The poor young Scottish girl I have never yet got out of my mind; she was young and beautiful, even in the convict dress, but pale as death, and her eyes red with weeping. She never spoke to any of the other women or came on deck. She was constantly seen sitting in the same corner from morning to night; even the time of meals roused her not. My heart bled for her, - she was a countrywoman in misfortune. I offered her consolation, but her hopes and heart had sunk. When I spoke she heeded me not, or only answered with sighs and tears; if I spoke of Scotland she would ring her hands an sob, until I thought her heart would burst. I endeavoured to get her sad story from her lips, but she was silent as the grave to which she hastened. I lent her my bible to comfort her, but she read it not; she laid it on her lap after kissing it, and only bedewed it with her tears. At length she sunk into the grave, of no disease, but a broken heart. After her death we had only two Scottish women on board, one of them a Shetlander.  

"I went every day to the town to buy fresh provisions and other necessaries for them. As their friends were allowed to come on board to see them, they brought money, and numbers had it of their own, particularly a Mrs. Barnsley, a noted sharper and shoplifter. She herself told me her family for one hundred years back, had been swindlers and highwaymen. She had a brother a highwayman, who often came to see her, as well dressed and genteel in his appearance as any gentleman.

"Those from the country came all on board in irons; and I was paid half a crown a head by the country jailors, in many cases, for striking them off upon my anvil, as they were not locked but rivetted. There was a Mrs. Davis a noted swindler, who had obtained great quantities of goods under false names and other equally base means. We had one Mary Williams transported for receiving stolen goods. She and another eight had been a long time in Newgate where Lord George Gordon had supported them. I went once a week to him and got their allowance from his own hand all the time we lay in the river.

We had on board a girl pretty well behaved, who was called, by her acquaintances a daughter of Pitt. She herself never contradicted it. She bore a most striking likeness to him in every feature, and could scarce be known from him as to looks. We left her at Port Jackson. Some of our convicts I have heard even to boast of the crimes and murders committed by them and their accomplices; but the far greater number were harmless unfortunate creatures, the victims of the basest seduction.

When we were fairly out at sea, every man on board took a wife from among the convicts, they nothing loath. The girl with whom I lived, for I was as bad in this point as the others, was named Sarah Whitelam. She was a native of Lincoln, a girl of modest reserved turn, as kind and true a creature as ever lived. I courted her for a week and upwards, and would have married her upon the spot, had there been a clergy man on board. She had been banished for a mantle she had borrowed from an acquaintance. Her friend prosecuted her for stealing it, and she was transported for seven years. I had fixed my fancy upon her from the moment I knocked the rivet out of her irons upon my anvil, and as firmly resolved to bring her back to England, when her time was out, my lawful wife, as ever I did intend anything in my life. She bore me a son in our voyage out. What is become of her, whether she is dead or alive, I know not. That I do not, is no fault of mine, as my narrative will show.

"At length almost to our sorrow, we made the land upon the 3rd June 1790 just one year all but one day from our leaving the river. We landed all our convicts safe"..
...Excerpt from The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner printed in the Spirit of the English Magazines

When the Lady Juliana arrived at Port Jackson the colony was in a state of starvation. Many of the convicts who arrived in the first fleet were unable to work because of infirmity or old age. Governor Philip's correspondence to Lord Grenville on 17th July 1790 reveals some of the difficulties and touches on how some of the women were employed....

My letters will, sir, inform you of the stores and provisions we have received by the different ships and of the miserable state in which the convicts were landed. To mark the time it may be supposed the colony will be able to support itself it will be necessary to point out those circumstances which may advance or retard that period. It will depend on the numbers employed in agriculture, who by this labour are to provide for those who make no provision for themselves; those are the civil and military, those who are employed in buildings and other necessary works, the aged, and others who have been sent out incapable or providing for themselves, and the women and children. These people form....of the whole number in the settlement, and are the many who are to be provided for by the few. I do not reckon on the little labour which may be got from the women, tho' some are employed in the fields, and their numbers will be increased, as the greatest part will always find employment in making their own and the men's cloathing, and in the necessary attention to their children.......

Amongst the convicts we have few who are inclined to be industrious or who feel themselves anyways interested in the advantages which are to accrue from their labours, and we have many who are helpless and a deadweight on the settlement. Many of those helpless wretches who were sent out in the first ships are dead, and the numbers of those who remained are now considerably increased. After a careful examination of the convicts, I find upwards of one hundred who must ever be a burden to the settlement, not being able to do any kind of labour from old age and diseases of long standing. Amongst the females there is one who has lost the use of her limbs upwards of three years and amongst the males two who are perfect idiots.

On 29 August 1797 a Government Order was issued regarding female expirees.......Many of the women whose term of servitude in this colony is expired having applied to be allowed to withdraw themselves from a dependence on the public store, in order that they might be a liberty to employ their time to their own advantage, this public notice is given to inform all those women whose full time is expired that it is intended they shall in future receive certificates from the Commissary similar to those given to the men, and that the first will be issued on 4th September where those entitled to them may apply (7)

The Lady Juliana sailed for China after departing New South Wales. She was noted at the Cape of Good Hope early in July by Lieut. Menzies (3). From there she sailed for St. Helena arriving there 4th August 1791 (2)  

Notes and Links:

1). Elizabeth Drury who arrived as a convict on the Lady Juliana died in May 1793. She was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground as was Matilda Johnston who died in September 1792

2). Richard Alley was also employed as surgeon on the Royal Admiral in 1792

3). Obituary of John Nicol - Gentleman's Magazine

4). Mary Wade and Jane Whiting were transported on the Lady Juliana......This day the sessions at the Old Bailey, which began on Wednesday last, ended, when 18 convicts received sentence of death......... Of all the criminals who received lenience, those most to be regretted were two young girls, the eldest only fourteen, the youngest eleven, in whom the seeds of wickedness had taken such deep root, as to have rendered them callous to all sense of shame or feeling. These two artful hussies, Jane Whiting, and Mary Wade, seeing a child between six and seven years old in the street alone, easily decoyed it into a privy, under the Treasury wall, where they stripped and then left it to perish, with cold. Fortunately its cries attracted the notice of people nearby by, who humanely conducted the child to its friends. (Gentleman's Magazine/a>))

5). Find out more about Mary Wade

6). An Account of the Expenses of sending convicts to Botany Bay printed in the Scots Magazine......  

7). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Lady Juliana in 1790

8). Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales in 1790 - Lady Juliana, Guardian, Surprize, Neptune, Scarborough.


10) British Museum and entitled Views of various situations of the Jamaica Fleet / The Lady Juliana with other ships in distress on the night of the 16th of Sept. when the Fleet was dispersed. By Robert Dodd. Dated 1783. AN1021055001 The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Prints & Drawings Registration number: 1870,0514.2146

111). Tales of the Poor by Samuel Roberts published 1829....     (Click on text to read rest of poem)  


(1) The Times 14 September 1792

(2) The Times 6 October 1791

(3(3) HR NSW Vol. 1, p. 502

(4) The American archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates and Letter and Other Notices of Publick Affairs - A Documentary History of the north American Colonies

(5) Historical Records of NSW, Vol. 1, part 2., p.322.

(6) Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. 1, part 2., p338.

(7) Historical Records of NSW Vol. III. p291

(8) Historical Records NSW Vol. I pt 2,p.361

(9) Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet: Britainís Grim Convict Armada of 1790 : Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1993, p. 17 Top

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