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Convict Ship Moffatt 1836 

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Embarked: 399 men (one re-landed)  
Voyage: 116 days
Deaths: 3
Crew: 57 men
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 800
Previous vessel: Strathfieldsaye arrived 15 June 1836
Next vessel: Waterloo arrived 6 September 1836
Captain Thomas Bolton
Surgeon Superintendent John Smith





The Moffatt was made of teak and fastened with iron and although old, leaked little water except through the ports in bad weather.

On 23 April, one hundred convicts were received from the hulks at Woolwich and on the 29th and 30th, 300 more from the hulks at Portsmouth. The men had been inspected while on the Hulks and found to be healthy, however became chilled when compelled to wash before leaving the hulks in inadequate clothing. They were probably conveyed to the Moffatt in open boats which later gave rise to catarrh, rheumatism and pneumonia.

Amongst the prisoners were eighteen 'blacks from West India islands', two of whom died on the passage out. One of the prisoners received from the hulk at Portsmouth was found to be insane and was returned to the hospital, leaving 399 to make the voyage.

Passengers included Captain Packer and Dr. Campbell of H.M. 28th regt., Ensign Harris 63rd regt., 29 rank and file of the 28th regiment, 6 women and 11 children (the surgeon's report states 12 women and children).

The Moffatt departed Plymouth on 7th May 1836.  

This was John Smith's third voyage as surgeon-superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 30 April 1836 to 5 September 1836. There were ten serious cases of scurvy amongst the prisoners and also milder cases not listed in his journal. Three of the crew, Paterson, Lewis and Thott were the worst cases of scurvy the surgeon had ever seen. They suffered great debility, delirium and incontinence. Their gums were rotten and teeth loose and falling out. He thought they might have died if the ship had not arrived in harbour when it did. John Smith thought the crew was for the most part composed of riff-raff, and the scorbutics in particular were half starved naked creatures when they were shipped by a [Jew] 'crimp'. They had no allowance of tea, coffee or sugar or ‘small stores’ and the surgeon believed their salt provisions were of poor quality. He thought that Government hired ships should be provisioned in the same way as King’s ships in all ways except the provision of spirits.

There were many cases mentioned on the surgeon's sick list, however most were common and slight and there were no serious accidents. There were however, several cases of scalding, all from upsetting cocoa in the bad weather. The surgeon considered the cocoa a poor substitute for oats.

Every possible means was used to prevent disease, the people were kept on deck and kept moving as much as possible, and prisoners were allowed to dance and play. Between decks was kept as clean and dry as possible. Several large ports were kept open, stoves were used in damp, cold weather.

The surgeon's final remarks suggest a disagreement between himself and Captain Bolton. The Moffatt had sailed direct (did not put into the Cape for fresh provisions). With three crew so very ill with scurvy and other of the prisoners also suffering,  John Smith would have preferred to procure fresh provisions to ease their suffering which request Captain Bolton refused, electing to reach his destination in the shortest time possible. John Smith recommended that surgeons should be able to compel the master of a vessel into port to secure fresh food if necessary.

As the Moffatt approached the Sydney Heads at 2pm on 30th August, it was blowing a gale from the south. The vessel reefed the topsails and hauled up ready to receive a pilot on board at Middle Head. No pilot could be seen however and so they attempted to tack and in doing so split the main topsail to ribbons. They attempted to stand out to sea but could not clear the Heads. Now fearing for their lives, they cut the anchors and left the prisoners and such men as could be spared to take in the sail and veered away expecting at any moment that the ship would be on the rocks. After an hour they were approached by a vessel bringing Mr. Watson, the pilot and a number of able seamen to assist. Boats from H.M.S. Rattlesnake also came to assist and eventually the vessel and all on board were saved, although the anchors were lost and new sails would have to be procured.

The Moffatt arrived in Port Jackson on 30th August 1836.  The total number on board on arrival was an astonishing 498 people, almost 200 of whom had been ill at some time in the voyage.

In October the Moffatt was commissioned by Government to convey the remainder of the 17th regiment to Bombay  


Notes & Links:

1). John Smith was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Marquis of Huntley in 1828, Surry in 1834 and the Clyde in 1838.

2). Hunter Valley convicts arriving on the Moffatt in 1836

3). Bushranger George Wilson arrived on the Moffatt

4). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 28th regiment included the Recovery, Lady McNaughten, Charles Kerr, Westmoreland, Marquis of Huntley, Norfolk, Backwell, England, John Barry, Susan Waterloo, Moffatt, Strathfieldsaye and Portsea

5). More about the Moffatt entering Sydney Heads - 
Sydney Gazette 1st September 1836;
Sydney Gazette 3rd September 1836;
Sydney Gazette 5th September 1836

6). Extract from a List of male convicts assigned from the ship Moffatt on 12th October 1836
(Government Gazette 26 October 1836):
Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens:  30 convicts
Australian Agricultural Company at Newcastle: 1 miner and well sinker
Henry Briggs at Patrick Plains : 1 basket maker
D.K. Ballow at Hunters River : 1 valet/footman
Alexander Busby at Cassilis: 1 gardenter
J.B. Bettington at Piercefield: 1 tailor
John Brown at Patrick Plains: 1 plumber and glazer, 1 copper plate printer
James Caswell at Carrington: 1 farm servant, 1 farm labourer, 1 baker
Richard Clarke at Paterson: 1 groom and stock keeper
Charles Caswell at Carrington: 1 shoemaker
James Caswell at Thornton: 1 baker
E.J Clare at Invermein : 1 footman, 1 farm servant
George Hobler at Maitland: 2 farm servants, 1 ribbon weaver, 1 baker's boy, 1 carter, 1 shoemaker's boy
Peter Haydon at pages River - 2 farm servants, 1 gardener's labourer, 1 rope maker, 1 clerk, 1 shoemaker's boy
George Loder at Patrick Plains: 1 errand boy
John Larnach at Patrick Plains: 1 errand boy, 1 dealer in pottery, 1 hamerman
John Lewis at Maitland: 1 waterman, 1 stableman
C.H.N. Matcham at Brisbane Water: 1 farm labourer, 1 clerk and soldier, 1 hatmaker, 1 gilder's boy, 1 warehouseman, 1 gardener's labourer.
Duncan Forbes Mackay at Williams River: 1 stable boy
G.A. Oliver at Williams River: 1 gardener's labourer and groom
John Pike at Pickering: 1 baker
Richard Roebuck at Paterson's Plains: 1 farm servant, 1 stockman's boy
Alexander Warren at Williams River: 2 farm labourers, 1 brick maker's boy, 1 weaver, 1 farm by, 1 plaster's labourer
A.S. Wightman at Invermein: 1 servant boy
Gasper Waser at Invermein: 1 house servant




 

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