Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Royal Sovereign - 1834

Embarked: 170 men
Voyage: 135 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Lloyds arrived 18 December 1833
Next vessel: Fairlie arrived 15 February 1834
Master John Henderson
Surgeon Peter Leonard
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Royal Sovereign identified in the Hunter Valley

The Royal Sovereign was built at Whitby in 1829.[1] Convicts were transported to Australia on the Royal Sovereign in 1834 (NSW), 1835 (NSW) and in 1838 (VDL).

Surgeon Peter Leonard

On 29th July 1832 surgeon Peter Leonard R.N., arrived back in England after a voyage of twenty months along the west coast Africa on the Dryad. On this voyage there were 300 men under his care and he kept a Journal which was published in 1833 and entitled Records of a Voyage to the Western Coast of Africa, in his Majesty's ship Dryad; and of the Service on that Station for the Suppression of the Slave trade, in the Years 1830, 1831, and 1832.

Peter Leonard was vehemently opposed to the slave trade and altogether spent seven years sailing along the coast of Africa. Fourteen months after his return to England he was appointed Surgeon-Superintendent to the convict ship Royal Sovereign.


The Royal Sovereign departed Dublin on 6th September 1833.

Illness On The Voyage

Peter Leonard kept a Medical Journal from 16 June 1833 to 4 February 1834 - The convicts were all in good health when sent on board the ship with the exception of a few of those received from the hulk at Kingstown who had concealed their complaints that these might be an obstacle to their departure for the 'New Country', from which they seemed to anticipate great things. The cases of cholera made their appearance before leaving the coast of England and among the Guard only. As in almost all cases of cholera the means used seemed to be of very little service.

.....Case No. 6 was one of low fever arising from mental distress. The patient on first coming on board gave himself up to despondency and sank from the effects which his hopeless situation seemed to produce upon his mind. No treatment could have been of any service. The other cases although demanding considerable care were of common occurrence and scarcely require any observation.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 26 rank and file of the 2nd, 4th, 17th, 49th and 63rd regiments accompanied by a woman and child. The guard was under the command of Lieutenant Campbell and Ensign Stowell of the 38th regiment.

Port Jackson

The Royal Sovereign arrived in Port Jackson on 19 January 1834 with 168 male prisoners of the Crown, two having died on the passage out. One hundred and sixty-three convicts were mustered on board, five men having been sent on shore sick

One hundred and forty-four prisoners were sent into private service; eleven were assigned to public service (8 to the commissariat, 3 to the mounted police) and the thirteen remaining were un-assigned (2 were too old for assignment; 2 were sent to Port Macquarie as Specials (probably Samuel McGouran and John Duggan); 5 were sent to the hospital; 3 to the invalid department; and 1 to Carter's barracks

The convict indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, former convictions and physical description. There is no indication of where the convicts were assigned. There is occasional information about colonial convictions, conditional pardons, tickets of leave and other notes. The following details are from the indents :
Patrick Carrigan drowned crossing the Camden River, Port Macquarie. Idiot.
James Delap was sent to Norfolk Island for a colonial crime
John Duggan, convicted of manslaughter, was a dentist and artificial teeth manufacturer
Patrick Delaney died at sea
Thomas McCormack died at sea
Patrick Higgins. Sent to Norfolk Island, died at Geelong in 1846
Peter or Patrick Kenny was sent to Norfolk Island for a colonial crime
Miles Reilly was sent to Norfolk Island. Granted a Royal Conditional Pardon
Maurice Travers died in Sydney Hospital in 1837.

Occupations included rope makers, farm servants, carpenters, cabinet makers, shoemakers, porters, carters, stockmen, coopers, harness and collar maker, tide waiter and boatman; comb maker, knife boy, sawyers, grooms, soldiers, tailors, weavers, sweeps, indoor servants, millwright; cow boys, cabin boys, factory boy, dentist, shopkeeper, dock labourers, gardener, horse breaker, tobacco spinner, butcher, baker, errand boys, horsehair curler, seamen, blacksmith's boy, stone mason, Customs House Officer, top sawyer, pit sawyer, pawnbroker's clerk, ostler, sieve maker, tanner, bricklayer, damask weaver, ribbon weaver and coach painter

At least 41 men were married and there were several widowers on board. The youngest prisoner was John Buckley, a knife boy from Dublin aged 13. There were several others aged 14 or 15. Among the oldest were Thomas Benson aged 63 and Robert Turner who was 60
There were a number of former soldiers sent as convicts for desertion, false pretences or insubordination. Although all had been convicted in Ireland, most were from England, Scotland or Wales:

Edward Bradford from Cheshire
William Bullers from Worcester
William Burke from Antrim
Phillip Carolan from Meath
Patrick Fallar from Galway
Richard Finber from Shropshire
John Hill from Edinburgh
John Jones from Anglesea
Peter McQuillon from Egypt
John McCaffrey alias Brennan from Fermanagh
David Oliver from Montgomery, Wales
John Payne from Leicestershire
John Rourke from Sligo (fire arm offences)

Those men convicted of fire arms offences and similar were probably white boys and included:
William Barden
Thomas Delaney
John Guinan
Thomas Greenan
Thomas or Patrick Healy
James Kenny
John Kerr
James Kernahan
William Kenellis
John Killion
John Lee
John McBennett
Edward McCrystal
Andrew Ormand
Charles O'Neill
James Prunty
Bernard Tierney

Other than military and white boy offences, crimes committed by prisoners of the Royal Sovereign included various forms of stealing and robbery; receiving; stabbing; malicious assault; embezzlement; vagrancy; assault on an excise officer; passing base coin; false pretences; manslaughter and perjury [2].

Departure From Port Jackson

The Royal Sovereign departed Port Jackson in March 1834 in company with the Lady Hayes and the Brothers all bound for India.

Notes and Links

1). Robert Little who arrived on the Royal Sovereign was convicted of bushranging at Invermein in 1835.

2). County of Antrim Assizes - Crown Court - Friday March 15 - Edward Egleston, Dixon Egleston, and Hugh McKee, indicted for stealing at Belfast, a roll of tobacco, the property of Edward Haggarty - Guilty; 7 years transportation - Belfast Newsletter 19 March 1833

3). Commission - Dublin - Miles Reilly, stealing two bullocks, transportation for life. - Freeman's Journal 11 January 1833

4). Convicts and passengers of the Royal Sovereign identified in the Hunter Valley


[1] Medical Journal of Peter Leonard on the voyage of the Royal Sovereign. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4018]; Microfiche: 689