Convict Ship Sir Charles Forbes 1837
Voyage: 136 days
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Henry Wellesley arrived
22 December 1837
Neptune arrived 2 January 1838
Master James Leslie
Female Convict Ship Trail
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Sir Charles Forbes departed Liverpool on 27th July 1837 bound
for Dublin to embark prisoners.
William Clifford kept a Medical Journal from 10 August 1837 to 2
January 1838. He began treating women while the vessel
still lay in Kingston Harbour...
The first patient Eliza
Burke sought the surgeon's assistance on 8th August 1837 and was
found to be suffering from enteritis. On the same day there was a
violent quarrel amongst the women in the Mess and Bridget Ryan age
23 received a serious injury when she was hit over the eye with the
edge of a pot. Although the bone was exposed and there was a large haemorrhage, syncope and vomiting the surgeon
treated her successfully and she was discharged from the sick list
on 18th August.
Rachael Shannon and Bridget Sweeney were
embarked on the vessel and then re-landed prior to leaving Dublin.
Rachael Shannon was later embarked on the
was the next convict ship to leave Ireland after the Sir Charles
Sir Charles Forbes departed Dublin on 11th August 1837.
The previous convict ship bringing female convicts from Ireland was
the Margaret which
departed Cork in January 1837.
William Clifford was
previously surgeon on the convict ships Harmony
in 1829(VDL), Forth 1
in 1830 and the Norfolk
in 1832 ..........He had much to contend with during this voyage of
the Sir Charles Forbes because of the very crowded state of the ship which was
nearly constantly wet owing to being low in the water...... The
Irish convicts desponding, indolent and disposed to dirt, required
every exertion to keep their minds in a fit state..
There was an outbreak of scurvy which was treated with vinegar and
sugar and as the surgeon had found in previous voyages, early doses
of nitrous were effective. After the Cape the weather turned
cold and there were several cases of catarrh. An infant George
Kelly, age 17 months was treated for dysentery on 11th October 1837
and died on 29th October. One of the women who died was
of a broken constitution after a life of prostitution and
Margaret (Peggy) Fallon from Galway died at sea on 2nd December
Five free women and six children also came as steerage
passengers including Mary Lake or Lark. Sarah Kelly who the surgeon
described as the hospital nurse was treated by him for febrile
symptoms on 16th December.
The Sir Charles Forbes arrived in Port Jackson on 25 December 1837 and anchored in Neutral
Bay Christmas Day evening. The following day the women would have
awoken to a clear, pleasant day with winds from the north-west and
temperatures of around 26C. One hundred and forty seven prisoners
arrived in Port Jackson according to Passenger Lists (1).
the 27 December, notice was given that families who were in need of
Female Servants could be supplied from the prisoners who arrived on
the Sir Charles
provided they applied according to the established forms before the
30th December. The assignees were required to enter into the usual
engagements, under a penalty of forty shillings to keep their
servants for one month unless removed in due course of law.
The women were landed at the Dock yard on Thursday morning 4th
January 1838. Bishop Polding and a Committee of Ladies were in
attendance. After being exhorted to behave in their new places
in a becoming manner, the women were assigned to the various
The following fifteen women
were sent from Sydney to Newcastle for assignment on 5th January
1838, probably by steamer. On arrival they were admitted to
Newcastle gaol and most
were assigned to settlers and townsfolk at Newcastle, Maitland and
Patrick Plains within the next couple of weeks. (2) Find out
more about them here
Notes & Links:
1). The Sir
Charles Forbes was one of four convict ships bringing female
prisoners to New South Wales in 1837, the others being the
and Sarah & Elizabeth.
A total of 533 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1837.
2). William Clifford returned to England on the Portland
in March 1838.
Find more about prisoners and passengers of the Sir Charles Forbes
(1). Ancestry.com. New South Wales,
Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922
(2). State Archives NSW; Roll: 136 Source Information Ancestry.com.
New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books,