Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Lady Juliana - 1790

Embarked 226 women
Voyage: 309 days
Deaths 5
Surgeon's Journal - no
Previous vessel: Lady Penrhyn arrived 20 January 1788
Next vessel: Surprize arrived 26 June 1790
Captain Aitkin
Naval Agent Thomas Edgar
Surgeon Richard Alley
Follow the Female Convict Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Lady Juliana identified in the Hunter Valley

The Lady Juliana was launched at Whitby in 1777 and was considered a fine river built vessel.

Plate II. The Lady Juliana in tow of the Pallas Frigate. The Sailors Fishing the main Mast which was shatter'd by Lightning Print Plate II. The Lady Juliana in tow of the Pallas Frigate. The Sailors Fishing the main Mast which was shatter'd by Lightning. John Harris; Robert Dodd (artist and engraver) The Lady Juliana in tow of the Pallas Frigate. The Sailors Fishing the main Mast which was shatter'd by Lightning. Royal Museums Greenwich

Lady Juliana Engaged to Transport Convicts

On 7 February 1789, The Times (London) reported that the Lady Juliana was ordered by Government to carry female convicts to Botany Bay. She was the next convict ship to leave England after the vessels of the First Fleet departed in 1787.

Convicts Embarked

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: Britains 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]

John Nicol

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


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.

Table Bay

Lieutenant Thomas Edgar was appointed Naval Agent to the Lady Juliana on 8th June 1789. David Collins wrote of Lieut. Edgar and the wreck of the Guardian near the Cape.........

Government had placed a naval officer in that transport, Lieutenant Thomas Edgar, for the purpose of seeing justice done to the convicts with regard to their provisions, cleanliness, etc. and to guard against any delays on the voyage. Being directed to follow the route of the Sirius and her convoy, he called at Teneriffe and St. Jago, stayed seven weeks at Rio de Janeiro, and one month at the Cape of Good Hope, completing his circuitous voyage of ten months by arriving-at Port Jackson on the third day of June 1790. On Lieutenant Edgar's arrival at the Cape, he had found the Guardian lying there, Lieutenant Riou having just safely regained that port, from which he had sailed but a short time before, with every fair prospect of speedily and happily executing the orders with which he was entrusted, and of conveying to the colony the assistance of which it stood so much in need. Unhappily for them, she was now lying a wreck, with difficulty, and at an immense expense, preserved from sinking at her anchors....
David Collins - An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales

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]

Port Jackson

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 her...

Finding that the governor intended to go immediately in his boat down the harbour I begged to be of his party. As we proceeded, the object of our hopes soon appeared: a large ship, with English colours flying, working in, between the heads which form the entrance of the harbour. The tumultuous state of our minds represented her in danger; and we were in agony. Soon after, the govern, having ascertained what she was, left us, and stept into a fishing boat to return to Sydney. The weather was wet and tempestuous; but the body is delicate only when the soul is at ease. We pushed through wind and rain, the anxiety of our sensations every moment redoubling. At last we read the word London on her stern. Pull away, my lads! she is from Old England ! a few strokes more and we shall be aboard ! hurrah for a belly full and news from our friends. Such were our exhortations to the boat's crew. A few minutes completed our wishes, and we found ourselves on board the Lady Juliana transport, with two hundred and twenty five of our countrywomen, whom crime or misfortune had condemned to exile. We learned that they had been almost eleven months on their passage, having left Plymouth, into which port they had put in July 1789. We continued to ask a thousand questions on a breath. Stimulated by curiosity they inquired in turn; but the right of being first answered, we thought lay on our side. Letters ! Letters! was the cry. They were produced, and torn open in trembling agitation. News burst upon us like meridian splendor on a blind man. [11]

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
. [8]

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]

Departure from Port Jackson

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)

5). Mary Wade to Us: A Family History 1788 - 1986

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

7). Convicts and passengers of the Lady Juliana identified in the Hunter Valley

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

9) 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 1783 when the Fleet was dispersed. By Robert Dodd. Dated 1783. AN1021055001 The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Prints and Drawings Registration number: 1870,0514.2146

10). Tales of the Poor by Samuel Roberts published 1829...

11). 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.

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


[1] The Times 14 September 1792

[2] The Times 6 October 1791

[3] HR NSW Vol. 1, p. 502

[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: Britains Grim Convict Armada of 1790 : Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1993, p. 17

[10] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.120-124

[11] Tench, Watkin, A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson: In New South Wales