The Rolla was the
next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South
Wales after the departure of the
Atlas in May 1802.
The London Times
reported that the Rolla sailed from Portsmouth,
however after receiving some damage in a gale of wind
was blown into the Downs. She was at Deal on 15th
February 1802 preparing to put into the river to make
The Rolla departed Cork on
4 November 1802. She arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 12th
January after a passage of 72 days. The convicts were
very quiet and there was no loss of life until after
arrival at Rio when a male convict died suddenly(3).
They sailed from Rio on 6 February and in 95 days
came to anchor at Port Jackson on 12 May 1803. A few of
the convicts were suffering from slight scurvy however
the rest were of general good health. (4)
the passage there had been much bad weather in the
course of which the Rolla sprung the main mast
and carried away her main yard. (2)
female convicts arrived on the Rolla - 119 men
and 37 women. Seven or eight of the male convicts died
on the passage out.
The Rolla brought
Government supplies - 234 tierces of pork, 686 casks of
flour and 11 tons of sugar.
Around 1803 convict
artist John William Lancashire produced the watercolor
of Sydney taken from The Rocks'. The stone bridge of
the Tank Stream is on the extreme right while Government
House is centrally located. This is the layout of Sydney
Town as the convicts of the Rolla would have known it.
The Rolla left Port Jackson on 20 September 1803
in company with the Cumberland with Matthew
Flinders on board and the
on their way to the shipwrecked vessel Porpoise,
They called at
Port Stephens on the way sheltering from bad weather
The Rolla's top gallant sail
was the first seen by the survivors of the Porpoise
who were overjoyed at Flinders' return.......
On the 7th of October, a little before noon, a sail
was descried in the eastern quarter; in a little time
another, and soon after a third was discovered. Their
emotions at the sight of these can better be conceived
than described. Indeed the astonishment on board these
vessels was equal to their own; for, on that very day
the Resource (their own production) had gone to Turtle
Island, by way of trying her, and they little expected
to be met by a schooner of 20 tons, erected in this
island, considering the short space of time, and the
implements they had to work with. As these vessels
approached they perceived the largest to be the Rolla,
convict ship, which they had left in Sydney Cove, the
others were the Frances and Cumberland, colonial
schooners, which were familiar to them. In the afternoon
all three vessels anchored to leeward of the reef, and a
boat put off soon after from the Cumberland, in which,
as she neared them, they saw Captain. Flinders who
received a hearty cheer on landing. For the last ten
days preceding the arrival of these vessels they had
every night at eight o'clock, fired a great gun by way
of apprising them of their situation, if chance should
have brought them at dusk near to the reef.
Notwithstanding six weeks had expired from the time
Captain Flinders had left them, they did not think it
proper to adhere to the agreement that was made between
them, and therefore had no intention of quitting the
island yet. They naturally concluded that lie might have
had a tardy passage to Port Jackson, and even when he
got there, that vessels might not have been in readiness
in Sydney Cove to send to their assistance. He might
also, from the fatigue of going there, have been
incapacitated from returning immediately, and thus the
sailing of a vessel might have been procrastinated.
These and other considerations made them change their
former resolutions; and it was agreed never to separate,
but wait patiently till another boat should be built,
and go in a body together. Had they parted, as it had
been previously planned, at the end of six weeks, it
would in all probability have been productive of much
uneasiness and dissatisfaction, as well to those who
went from, as to those who remained on the reef...
mariner's chronicle; or Interesting narratives of
The Francis returned to
Sydney and Matthew Flinders continued on his ill-fated
voyage on the
Cumberland. Lieutenants Fowler, Flinders
(Matthew Flinders' brother), and John Franklin sailed
with the Rolla to China.
The Times reported on
12th October 1804....
His Majesty's ship
Courageux came from St. Helena with
the following East Indiamen under convoy - City of
London, Ceylon, Calcutta and Wyndham, the Rolla, Cumming
from Botany Bay and the Lively and Vulture from the
South Seas. It appears that the fleet has experienced
the most tempestuous weather during their passage. In
the latitude of the Cape a most tremendous gale came on;
the Prince of Wales was seen in the utmost distress, and
from the floating pieces of wreck that the fleet fell in
with two days after, it is feared that she went down,
and every soul on board perished.
Notes and Links:
1). National Archives -
Voyages: (1) 1802/3 New South Wales and China. Capt
Robert Cumming. Cork 4 Nov 1802 - 22 Sep 1803 Port
Jackson - 14 Dec Whampoa - 31 Jan 1804 Second Bar - 14
Mar Malacca - 13 Jul St Helena - 9 Oct Downs.
Doyle was one of the convicts of the Rolla. His wife
Sophie and their three children including son
Matthew Doyle arrived as a free passengers on the Rolla.
3). Edward Hyland was indicted for having stolen two
silver cups, the property of Henry Westray Esq., - The
first witness was Ann Doyle, examined by Mr. Bethel; she
deposed that she was in the service of Mr. Westray, and
that on the 19th of September last, she perceived the
prisoner at the bar running out of the hall door; that
she followed, had him apprehended, and the cups, which
were her master's property, taken from him. The recorder
asked the prisoner if he had any thing to say in his
defence, and he answering in the negative, was found
guilty ,and received sentence to be transported for
seven years. - Freeman's Journal 16 October 1800
Convicts of the Rolla later located in the Hunter Valley
Mary Higgins/ Tyrrell
Margaret Doyle/ Lawrence
(1) "Ship News." Times
[London, England] 17 Feb. 1802: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web.
10 Mar. 2013.
(2) Sydney Gazette 15 May 1803
Finn's Leinster Journal 22 June 1803
(4) HRA, Series 1, Vol.
IV, p. 301