Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Martha - 1818

Embarked: 170 men
Voyage: 128 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Hadlow arrived 24 December 1818
Next vessel: General Stewart arrived 31 December 1818
Captain John Apsey
Surgeon Morgan Price
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Martha identified in the Hunter Valley region

The Martha was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Earl St. Vincent which had got under weigh nine days earlier.

Surgeon Morgan Price

This was Morgan Price's first appointment as Surgeon Superintendent of a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 18 August 1818 to 4 January 1819 -

Early in August, one hundred and twenty convicts were received on the Martha from two small brigs, where they had been held for some time. Many of the men imagined they had fever, and they were washed and cleaned before being admitted to the prison. Many also had signs of scurvy and debility. All were convalescent by time of sailing according to Morgan Price.


The Martha departed Cork on 18 August 1818

The Voyage

Plans to commence a school were immediately put in place. Several prisoners made good progress in reading and reciting from the testament within a few days.

Early in September conditions became unpleasant because of water coming into the hospital and prison. Stoves were used to try to keep things dry and the vessel was regularly cleaned, however water continued to come in through the ship's bows. Very bad weather and heavy seas made the prison wet again in October and late November. The weather was too bad to even muster the prisoners at this time.

On 2nd December three of the prisoners were punished for fighting.

Sydney Cove

The Martha came to anchor in Sydney Cove the same day as the Hadlow, 24th December 1818.

Convicts Mustered

On the 30th December 1818 the prisoners were mustered on board by Colonial Secretary Mr. Campbell and the Superintendent of Convicts. The indents include the name, date and place of trial, sentence, age, native place and physical description. There is no information in the convict indents as to where the men were assigned on arrival.


On the 4th January they were landed and inspected by Governor Macquarie. The Sydney Gazette reported:

On Monday morning last His Excellency the Governor was pleased to inspect the prisoners arrived per the ship Martha, Captain Apsey and the Hadlow, Captain Craige; the whole of whom were cleanly dressed in new clothing, and appeared to be all perfectly healthy. The Surgeons Superintendents of the two vessels, together with the respective Commanders, attended on His Excellency at the Muster and gave the character which was the due of each upon the voyage; and we are happy in stating, that the number of the well behaved so predominated as to convey the hope that the prisoners arrived by both these ships will build their future prospects on a life of integrity, which can alone promise their restoration to that condition in society, from which, however unhappily they may have departed, is not very long withheld from those who endeavour truly to deserve. We cannot sufficiently express our grateful feelings on the subject of the few casualties which have occurred on the voyages of the ships lately arrived, and mostly remaining in the port. In praise of the Gentlemen who whose care they were confided by His Majesty's Government and to the Commanders of the ships respectively it speaks volumes; and how gratifying the sensation when we perceive in the marked approbation of our Governor on their muster, that conscious satisfaction which has been here before contrasted with an opposite feeling.


The prisoners were sent by water to Parramatta. Thirty five prisoners were distributed to various settlers at Parramatta; sixteen to Liverpool; sixty two to Windsor and sixteen men to Bringelly.

Notes and Links

1). George Lynch, from the United States of America arrived free on the Martha. He was later granted an allotment of land at Wallis Plains ( Maitland).

2). Captain John Apsey had been in the colony as early as 1807. He was required in that year to vacate land he had settled on near Government House (Sydney Gazette). He was Captain of the Estramina on voyages between Sydney and Van Diemen's Land. After the Martha unloaded her prisoners in 1818 she was employed in the whaling industry however was condemned in Sydney in July 1820 and the hull, masts, anchors etc were auctioned off in August. (Sydney Gazette 19 August 1820) . John Apsey was employed as Captain on the colonial vessel Fame in the mid 1820's.

3). Morgan Price was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the following convict ships:
Martha to NSW in 1818

Countess of Harcourt to VDL in 1821

Brampton to NSW in 1823

Almorah to NSW in 1824

Clyde to VDL in 1830

Neva to NSW in 1833

Hector to VDL in 1835

4). Prisoners and passengers of the Martha identified in the Hunter Valley region


[1] Journal of Morgan Price on the voyage of Martha in 1818. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives, Kew, Surry