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Convict Ship Marquis Cornwallis 1796

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Select from the Links below to find information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850

A B C D E F G H I
                 
J -K L M N - O P - Q R S T - V W - Y


Embarked:  163 men; 70 women
Voyage: 186 days
Deaths 11
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Sovereign arrived 5 November 1795
Next vessel: Indispensable arrived 30 April 1796
Captain Michael Hogan
Surgeon Matthew Austin;  Surgeon John Hogan
First Officer Hugh Reid; Midshipman William Roberts
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Officer in charge of the detachment of the New South Wales Corps forming the Guard on the Marquis Cornwallis, was Ensign John Brabyn. He was about thirty six years old and had only been appointed to the position of Ensign on the 6th May. He was accompanied on the voyage by his wife, son and daughter and did not join the vessel until 6th July when he took charge of the guard at the Cove of Cork.

The detachment of the New South Wales Corps had embarked on the Marquis Cornwallis in June 1795 at Portsmouth. The officer who escorted them from Chatham Barracks informed First Officer Hugh Reid that the soldiers had been excessively mutinous and troublesome to him on the march; that the serjeant had been the most so, and set a very bad example to some of the young soldiers; one man he recommended to have confined in double irons.

There were 36 troops (incl. families) in total on the Marquis Cornwallis - two ensigns, 1 sergeant (Francis Abel), 1 corporal and 26 privates. Among the privates were William Kellow, Samuel Baxter, George Harley, Noah Trump, Charles Stutt and Brian O'Donnell, James Martin and Lawrence Gaffney.

The Marquis Cornwallis sailed from Portsmouth on 7 August 1795. One hundred and sixty three male and seventy female convicts were embarked at Cork.

Finns' Leinster Journal
reported in August 1795 of the arrival of the convicts at Cork.....Seventy were said to be defenders, six convicted the assizes in the county Leitrim and three in the county Roscommon. They arrived the previous week and were embarked after which they immediately put to sea.

The Marquis Cornwallis was the next convict ship to leave Ireland for New South Wales after the departure of the Sugar Cane in April 1793. With the departure of the Marquis Cornwallis the total number of female convicts embarked in Ireland and transported to New South Wales had reached 162 women.

The Marquis Cornwallis departed Cork on 9 August 1795. On 9th September around the vicinity of Cape de Verde, a plot was formed to seize the ship. For the next few days Captain Hogan gathered information using a trusted convict Patt Hines. Other prisoners William Mouton and Francis Royal also gave information, one of these informants was later strangled by the convicts.  Soldiers as well as convicts were involved in the plot and an eye witness later gave this account: -

*On the 11th September we discovered a most desperate plot formed by the men convicts, who, to the number of one hundred and sixty three, are the most horrid ruffians that ever left the kingdom of Ireland. They were on the point of putting the captain officers, and ship's company to death, when one of them, either through fear of punishment or from a hope of reward, discovered the whole affair. It was a common practice for Capt. Hogan and the officers of the deck to go down and see that their births were clean twice a week, at which time they were to watch an opportunity to seize the captain, surgeon, and such other officers as went down with them, whom they were to put to death with their own swords, and force their way upon deck, where they were to be assisted by the serjeant, corporal, and some of the private soldiers, who were to dispatch the officers upon deck, and also to supply the convicts with arms. We got upon deck the ringleaders, to the number of forty, who, after a severe punishment, confessed the whole. We thought this might put a stop to any further proceedings; but in this we were much mistaken. About two nights after they made an attempt to break out. They began by strangling the man who discovered the plot, whilst the rest were to force down the bulkhead, force their way upon deck, put those not in the plot to death, and take possession of the ship, or die in the attempt. The captain and officers did all in their power to appease them by fair words, and also by threats; but all would not do. They were desperate. Capt. Hogan rushed down the fore hatchway, followed by Mr. Richardson and three more of the officers and myself, armed with a pair of pistols and cutlass each, where began a scene which was not by any means pleasant. We stuck together in the hatchway and discharged our pistols amongst them that were most desperate, who, seeing their comrades drop in several places, soon felt a damp upon their spirits. Their courage failed them, and they called out for quarter. I broke my cutlass in the affray, but met with no accident myself. There were none killed upon the spot, but seven have since died of their wounds. The serjeant (Sergeant Ellis) was severely punished, and is since dead. *From the Historical Records of New South Wales - Extract of a letter from an Officer on board the Marquis Cornwallis, Indiaman, to his brother, in London. Letter dated 22 October 1795 and was written at St. Helena. It was reprinted in the Edinburgh Advertiser January 1796

Sergeant Ellis had been severely punished by flogging with cat o' nine tails, put in irons and sent below. Private Lawrence Gaffney was also accused of being involved and was put in irons and his head shaved, although he seems to have had no further punishment and protested his innocence. Sergeant Ellis under the duress of his punishment, also absolved Gaffney of the crime.

Ellis and Gaffney were ironed together and remained so until Ellis died nine days later. Gaffney in his later evidence gave the details of what it was like to be ironed. Altogether 42 men were flogged and 6 women were punished for the mutiny.

The Marquis Cornwallis called at Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope and remained there from 24th November until 20th December, during this time, the prisoners were victualled with one pound one quarter of mutton each day with soup and vegetables, 42 pounds of soft bread for every six persons per week and they had fresh provisions served on several days during the passage. The ship was kept clean by sprinkling the prison beams and carlines, the prisoners' berths with vinegar.

When they sailed into Port Jackson on 11th February 1796, the day was squally with rain, lightning and thunder all around. They brought with them the news that the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope had been occupied by British troops.......They also brought with them one years' supply of ready made clothing.

John Hunter assumed Governorship of the colony in September 1795 just five months before the arrival of the Marquis Cornwallis. In his correspondence to the Duke of Portland a year later it is revealed how some of the male convicts of the Marquis Cornwallis would have been employed......  "We are also erecting upon the high ground over Sydney a strong substantial and well built windmill with a stone tower, which will last for two hundred years and we are preparing materials for another such at Parramatta. The brick buildings barracks, storehouses, and officers' dwelling houses have been some time past in a state of rapid decay and crumbling to ruins; the decay has been occasion'd by the want of lime or proper cement in the beginning and to rebuild such another set would be attended with great expense and we have now a gang of people employed collecting sea shells which we find all round the harbour in considerable quantities; these we burn to lime and are repairing and completely covering all the brick buildings so as to ensure their lasting at least twenty years to come. This work I expect will be nearly finished by the end of this year To prevent as far as it is possible the repeated robberies which are so continually committing amongst us, I am now arranging the inhabitants of this town of Sydney which is a mere sink of every species of infamy, into divisions and shall have the different houses numbered and a register kept of the people inhabiting each. We shall have watchmen chosen from amongst the inhabitants to guard during the night their respective divisions and a constable will also be chosen who shall have proper instructions. This regulation I propose shall take place in every district of the colony. - Governor Hunter to The Duke of Portland 12 November 1796 HRA Vol 1.Series 1,p 675

In August 2004 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the log book of the Marquis Cornwallis was being sold by British auction house Christie's the following month and was expected to fetch up to $US150,000 ($210,334). The log had remained in the family of the ship's captain for almost 200 years before being bought by a private collector in the 1980s, but had never previously been up for public sale. "It is a very rare document, and very evocative. Very few logs of this type have ended up in private hands," a spokesperson said. The surviving pages cover events such as the landing of the convicts at Sydney Cove along with cargo such as dried fruit, two large cheeses and spare handcuffs, leg irons and thumb screws, as well as later voyages. Captain Hogan, after being cleared of wrongdoing by the enquiry, took his ship to India, taking more convicts en route to the even more remote Norfolk Island in the Pacific. He later made a fortune as a merchant and slave trader, settling in a mansion in the United States and serving as Washington's first consul to the newly independent Chile.




Notes and Links:

1). Log Book of the Marquis Cornwallis - Library of New South Wales

2). Image of the Marquis Cornwallis - State Library of NSW  

3). More about Captain Michael Hogan by Dan Byrnes  

4). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Marquis Cornwallis in 1796  

5). An account of the mutiny mentioned above.........


- An Account of the English Colony in NSW, David Collins          


6). Details of the Earl Cornwallis from the National Archives - . Extra ship, built by Perry, measured 1794, 3 decks, length 121ft, keel 95ft 8in, breadth 33f5 11¼in, hold 17ft, wing transom 20ft 6in, between decks 6ft 4½in, roundhouse 6ft 5in, ports 5 middle & 10 upper, 586 tons. Voyages: (1) From Bengal 1796. Capt John Roberts. Calcutta 9 Dec 1796 - 8 Jan 1797 Saugor - 27 Jan Madras - 12 Apr Cape - 17 May St Helena - 25 Jul Downs.    

7). Convict ship bringing political prisoners and protesters  

8). Susannah Danford and Mary Murphy, prisoners on the Marquis Cornwallis, were both tried in Dublin. They could never have imagined the dreadful ordeal they would endure in a few years time. An article in the Sydney Gazette on 3rd March 1805 reveals some of what happened to them....   The women who accompanied the rash adventure from Newcastle a few days since got into Parramatta; their names, Susannah Danford, Mary Murphy and Ann Gooder. Their travel through the woods was attended as might be expected with every vicissitude of famine and fatigue. The body of natives by whom they were stripped consisted of several hundreds; who departing from their accustomed hospitality to travellers within their power, were content with plundering them .This mark of extreme forbearance was owing to the friendly interference of one of the Newcastle natives among the number, who had received civility from one of the deplorable travellers and in return afforded his protection. This fellow distinguished by the name of Mellon was still further induced by a sense of gratitude to to past obligation, to assist them with part of a kangaroo, when sinking under extreme hunger.  

9). Convict Ships bringing prisoners to New South Wales in 1796 - Marquis Cornwallis and Indispensable.