Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Moffatt - 1838

Embarked: 400 men
Voyage: Deaths: 3
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 800
Master Thomas Bolton
Surgeon Gilbert King

Convicts Embarked

The Moffatt was fitted out at Deptford in October 1837. She could carry 400 prisoners. Three hundred men were embarked at Woolwich and another one hundred at Sheerness before the end of October.

Cabin Passengers

Cabin passengers included Mr. and Mrs. Kemp and children, Rev Messrs. Orton and Wilkinson, Major Smyth, 39th regiment and Mrs. Montgomery.


They set sail from Sheerness on 9 November 1837 bound for Van Diemen's Land, however were forced into Spithead to replace rigging, probably delaying their journey considerably.

Surgeon Gilbert King

Gilbert King kept a Medical Journal from 25 October 1837 to 1 April 1838

The Voyage

The voyage to the equator was tedious but the weather held fine. By the 12th week scurvy had begun to affect the prisoners. The surgeon thought this was not anything to do with the ship which was large and commodious or the diet, but rather to the delay in beginning the voyage and to the generally poor condition of the prisoners, who were unable to face the cold and were confined below decks in a polluted atmosphere.

The vessel was cleaned by scraping and dry holystoning the deck and with chloride of lime. Beds were taken on deck every day and the men had clean shirts every Sunday.

The prisoners on this ship were more fortunate than some as they were allowed to indulge in 'innocent recreation' and singing and dancing every evening. Gilbert King allowed this on each of his voyages to Australia.


Three hundred and ninety-seven male convicts arrived in Hobart on the 1st April.

Hobart to Sydney

The Moffatt departed Hobart and arrived in Sydney on the 26th April 1838, where she disembarked seventeen adults, twenty-one children, nine soldiers of the 50th regiment and thirty prisoners of the Crown some of whom were under sentence to Norfolk Island.

Notes and Links

1). Gilbert King was employed as surgeon on the convict ships Medway 1825 (VDL) Lord Lyndoch in 1831 (VDL) Eden in 1836 and Moffatt in 1838 (VDL)

2). Convicts and passengers of the Moffatt identified in the Hunter Valley region