|Embarked: 173 men
Voyage: 125 days
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Henry arrived
26 August 1823
Earl St. Vincent
arrived 9 September 1823
Captain William Harrison
Ocean was built at Whitby in 1808. This was her second voyage
bringing convicts to New South Wales, the previous voyage being in
Some of the prisoners of the
Ocean were held in the
Leviathan hulk at Portsmouth prior to embarkation. These men were
sent to the Ocean on 12 April 1823. Officer of the Guard
Lieutenant Robert Woodgate of the 54th regiment brought with him his
wife and nine children and servant Elizabeth Prendergast.
departed Portsmouth on 24th April 1823 just four days before the
Henry sailed. The
prisoners on the Ocean had a very different experience on the voyage
to those of the Henry.
The men on the Henry experienced very
little illness and all survived the passage out whereas on the Ocean
there was a serious outbreak of scurvy causing the death of several
Upton aged 22, died 25 May 1823
William Alcock aged 46 died 6th
James Malone aged 20 died 4 August 1823
Simpson aged 29 died 15 August 1823
William Exeter aged 26 died
4 August 1823
William Thompson aged 39 died on 22 August 1823
Two children also died on the voyage. Altogether twenty-one
prisoners were treated for scurvy during the voyage.
was James McTernan's first voyage as Surgeon Superintendent on a
convict ship. He joined the vessel on 23rd April, just one day
before departure. He kept a Medical Journal from 23 April 1823 to 2
September 1823 and included some of his thoughts on the cause of
scorbutus (scurvy) in the
general remarks at the conclusion of the Journal:
the exception of the general appearance of scurvy, it will be seen
that the Ocean enjoyed tolerable immunity from disease. In the
treatment of the case of venereal which is given, I experimentalized
a little on the combination of the quiescent and mercurial plans and
am more confirmed in an opinion which I have held of their combined
utility. Among men who shared so liberally in medical comforts and
to whose cleanliness exercise and ventilation the most strict
attention was paid, I should feel at a loss to account from the
appearance and prevalence of scurvy, if I were not aware of a strong
predisposing cause. They consisted for the most part of men who by
repeated acts of misconduct in their hulks had forfeited every claim
to indulgence, had formed a resolution to take whatever ship they
should be put out in had actually attempted to possess themselves of
the Ocean and concerted measures to repeat their attempt. It will be
admitted that the desponding naturally arising from disappointments
in those repeated mutinies added to a quick transition from a
tropical to a high Southern latitude, is calculated to produce the
effects so generally prevailing. But not quite satisfied with (my)
own opinion on the subject, I suggested to His Excellency Governor
Brisbane, the propriety of a search into the circumstances of their
condition on board, my attention to and care of their comforts
during their passage as well as the development of a cause that
might to me be unknown. Such enquiry having future good and
satisfaction to me for its objects with regard to the latter. I
have no hesitation in attributing much benefit to my being
constantly among them, cheering them and administering their
nourishment with my own hand.
The Ocean arrived in
Sydney on Wednesday 27 August 1823. She was one of twelve vessels
bringing convicts to New South Wales in 1823, the others being -
Earl St. Vincent,
and Medina. Approximately
1550 prisoners arrived in New South Wales in this year.
1823 the penal settlement at Newcastle had been closed and most of
the convicts had transferred to Port Macquarie penal outpost. The
Hunter Valley had been opened for settlement and colonists such as
James Mudie at Patrick Plains,
Edward Cory at Paterson and
James Reid at Rosebrook were all establishing their
estates by this time. Several of the Ocean convicts were assigned to
settlers such as these.
The year 1823 was also a year of
exploration and discoveries - John Oxley sailed north to examine
Archibald Bell discovered a new route across the Blue
Mountains from Richmond that became known as Bell's line of road and
Allan Cunningham discovered Pandora's Pass through the Liverpool
The prisoners of the Ocean were landed on Tuesday
2nd September 1823. They were inspected by Governor Sir Thomas
Brisbane in the forenoon and then distributed throughout the colony.
At James McTernan's request Governor Brisbane instituted an
enquiry into the high death rate on the Ocean........
Sir Thomas Brisbane to Earl Bathurst.
House, Sydney, New South Wales,
My Lord, 17th November, 1823.
The Report, which I have the honor of enclosing, has been
received from the Principal Surgeon of the Territory in consequence
of the Ship Ocean having arrived in this harbour with her Convicts
afflicted so considerably with the Scurvy that Forty were obliged to
be disembarked and taken into the Hospital immediately, when I
deemed it to be my duty to cause an enquiry to be made, whether
Sickness so unusual was attributable to deficiency of attention or
professional skill on the part of Doctor McTiernan, her Surgeon
Superintendent. I have, &c, Thos. Brisbane. 17 Nov.
Principal Surgeon Bowman to Secretary Goulburn.
Hospital, Sydney, 29th Sept., 1823.
Sir, I have the honor to
acknowledge the receipt of your letter Report by of the 18th Inst,
communicating the Governor's instructions to undertake a minute
examination of the Medical Journal of of journal of the Surgeon
Superintendent of the Ocean Convict Ship, report for His
Excellency's information whether sickness so unusual is to be
attributed to deficiency of attention or professional skill on the
part of Doctor McTiernan. In reply I have to acquaint you for the
information of The Governor, that having perused the Medical Journal
of that officer, I do not find any statement of the cause of the
disease, which prevailed among the Convicts during their voyage to
this Colony, is attributable. Dr. McTernan has given with
considerable care a lengthened detail of the treatment of various
patients under his charge, and the daily occurrences which took
place, without reference to the manner the diseases originated; he
has stated the facts as they came before him and not attempted any
theoretical hypothesis. This you will perceive completely prevents
me carrying His Excellency's wishes into effect, as no cause of
disease is assigned in the Journal. Referring to the latter part of
your letter respecting the professional skill of Doctor McTernan, I
beg to be excused giving any opinion, that gentleman having by a
public examination proved himself qualified for the situation he
holds in His Majesty's service; as he is now serving under the
immediate control of the Medical Board of the Navy, and is obliged
to produce his Journal to that Board on his return to England, he is
held responsible by them for the treatment of the sick under his
care, consequently any opinion I could offer is rendered
I have, &c, J. Bowman, Principal Surgeon. (1)
This was the last voyage the Ocean made bringing to convicts to
New South Wales. She departed Port Jackson in September 1823. Those
advertising to depart on her included 1st Officer J. Lobban; 2nd
Officer J Morrison; 3rd Officer T. Warran and 4th Officer J.
Notes & Links:
1). James McTernan
was later employed as surgeon on the convict ships Sir Charles
Forbes in 1827 (VDL) Asia in 1828,
Eliza in 1829,
Lady Harewood in
1831, John Barry in 1836 and the
Sara in 1837 (VDL).
Ralph Wittle came free as a seaman on the Ocean.
Convict artist Theodore Constantini arrived on the Ocean.
William Price Wall who resided in Maitland for many years
arrived as a convict on the Ocean, having been tried at the Old
Bailey in 1822. He was a tailor by trade and although his first few
years as a prisoner were difficult he eventually married and set up
business in Maitland. He was recommended for Conditional Pardon by
some of the most influential settlers in the district in 1842. He
left Australia with his family for the Gold Fields in California in
1850 however later returned and eventually settled in Victoria.
5). Henry Drummond was also one of the men transported on
the Ocean. He was also convicted at the Old Bailey, however his
experience as a prisoner was very different to William Price Wall.
Henry Drummond was only 15 years old on 24 October 1821 when he was
convicted of pick pocketing and sentenced to 14 years
transportation. He never reconciled to his new life and in his time
became a pirate, mutineer and not least in the eyes of other
convicts, a snitch. He was sent to some of the worst penal
settlements in the colony, the first being the
Moreton Bay penal
settlement where at the time Captain Bishop was Commandant.
At Moreton Bay he was employed as a stockman and together with another
prisoner John Boyd, was found guilty of stealing sheep and
absconding from the settlement. They were both forwarded to Sydney
for trial. At their trial they pleaded not guilty stating that their
prior confession was made with the view of escaping corporal
punishment at the settlement and of being forwarded to Sydney where
they could have a fair trial. They were both sentenced to death but
later the sentence was commuted to transportation to Norfolk Island.
It was to be many years before
Alexander Maconochie brought penal
reforms to Norfolk Island and in 1827 the settlement was a hell-hole
for the convicts.
Bound for Norfolk Island in the brig Wellington in
February 1827, Henry Drummond joined with other desperadoes to
Capture the Wellington and take captain, crew and troops prisoner.
They made for New Zealand where they were
captured by Captain Duke
in the Sisters and conveyed back to Sydney. Five of the pirates were later executed, however Henry
Drummond was not amongst them. He was returned to Norfolk Island.
1834 he once again became part of an infamous colonial chapter when
he took part in an uprising of 150 convicts. He was injured in the
battle but later recovered. (2). He was put on trial with many
others, one of whom gave a testimony which brought tears to Judge
Burton's eyes - 'Let a man be what he will when he comes here, he is
soon as bad as the rest; a man's heart is taken from him, and there
is given to him the heart of a beast'. Henry Drummond was found
guilty and executed for his crimes with twelve other cohorts a month
Select here to find
Hunter Valley convicts / passengers who
arrived on the Ocean in 1823
Register of British and Foreign Shipping 1823......
8). Lieutenant Woodgate with his wife and 9 children embarked on the
John Shore to join his corps in Hindostan in September
54th Regiment, West Norfolk Regt......
(1) HRA, Series 1, Vol. p. 155
Sydney Gazette 8