Deaths: 1 Surgeon's Journal: no Previous vessel:
Fame arrived 8 March
1817 Next vessel:
Morley arrived 10 April 1817 Master Lewis E. Williams
The Sir William Bensley
was built at Ipswich in 1804.
The prisoners sent to
New South Wales on the Sir William Bensley came
from counties throughout England and Scotland. One man who
was Court-martialled in France was embarked at the Cape of
Some of the prisoners of the
Sir William Bensley had been tried at the Old Bailey
before being sent to Newgate prison. From Newgate they were
sent to one of the prison hulks.
Francis Bodenham was convicted of bigamy at the
Old Bailey on 11 January 1815 and sentenced to 7 years
transportation. Along with twenty six other prisoners he was
received on to the Perseus hulk at Portsmouth from Newgate on 22
April 1815 and therefore spent approximately 17 months on
the Hulk before transportation.
The Sir William Bensley was reported to be at Deal on 13th September 1816.(5) On Wednesday 25th
September 1816 one hundred and thirty five convicts were
embarked at Portsmouth on board the
ship Fame, and the next day 116 were sent to the
Sir William Bensley. (1)
Both ships were expected to sail immediately for New South
Wales and planned to
touch at the Cape of Good Hope on the way. Governor
Macquarie's journal confirms that the two ships departed
England on the same day, 9th October 1816. (6)
Select here to read Commissioner John Thomas Bigge's
thoughts on the various routes that convict ships should
The Sir William
Bensley arrived in Port Jackson on Monday 10 March 1817.
Lieutenant Governor Sorrell, recently appointed to
Van Diemen's Land arrived on the Sir William Bensley.
At Port Jackson on Saturday 15th March, he boarded the
Governor's barge at 11am to be conveyed to the Governor's
wharf. A Salute of 13 Guns was fired from Dawe's Battery.
Mr. Urban Fidkin arrived as a free settler (7)
The convicts were mustered on board by Captain
Gill of the 46th regiment on 15th March.......
Agreeable to the Government General Orders of the 15th
March, I proceeded this day on board the Sir William Bensley
convict ship and mustered two hundred male convicts that
number having embarked in England, but one jumped overboard
on the passage and was drowned and one was embarked at the
Cape of Good Hope. I am happy to inform your Excellency
there are a great many sawyers but few other useful
mechanics. Their general appearance is that of good health
and of having received good treatment. The usual questions
being put in regard to their treatment by the Captain and
Surgeon. They expressed themselves perfectly satisfied. The
Muster roll herewith will inform your Excellency of the
ordinary particulars...Captain Gill, 46th Regiment, Engineer.
Only one prisoner died on the passage out - William Young drowned after falling
overboard on 4th November 1816.
Governor Macquarie was pleased with the low death rate on
the recent convict ship voyages...... Governor Macquarie to Earl
Bathurst 4 April 1817 It
must be a Source of peculiar Satisfaction to Your Lord- ship
to reflect how Many Lives of Convicts have been saved within
the last four Years by the Introduction of the New System of
sending properly Qualified Naval Surgeons in Charge of the
Convicts coming hither; as the Contrast between the State of
Health they now Arrive in, and that they formerly Used to
Arrive in Eight or ten Years ago, must be very Striking
indeed on a Comparison ; and therefore I Consider the
Difference of Expence as Nothing in Comparison of the great
Advantages obtained by the Adoption of that System. (8)
Convict Indents include such information as name, when
and where convicted, sentence, native place, calling, age,
physical description and occasional ticket of leave notes.
The prisoners were disembarked on 21st March 1817. William
Hutchinson, Superintendent of Convicts, determined their
places of assignment.....Twenty-five men were assigned to
the Windsor district; sixteen to Bringelly; twenty-three to
Parramatta and twenty to Liverpool district. (4)
Sir William Bensley departed Port Jackson bound for
Calcutta in May 1817. Those intending to depart on her
included the surgeon William Evans, J.H. Bent, former Judge
of Supreme Court and Mrs. Bent, Frances White, John Mortimer
surgeon of the Fame, Thomas Humphrey, Thomas Glover
and Charles Walker.
3). In Sydney in July 1818
eleven desperate convicts made a bid for freedom by
attempting to steal two boats. They attempted this while
Governor Macquarie was on a
tour of Newcastle settlement and there was no mercy for
them when they were captured soon afterwards. William
Thompson who arrived on the Sir William Bensley was
among their number.
out more about their attempted escape here. The
Governor considered them all to be of the most depraved
characters in the colony and they were sentenced to work at
hard labour in double irons at the
Lime Kilns near Newcastle for
up to three years.
4) Return of Corporal
Punishment at Paterson 1833......
(5) Ship News . The Morning Post
(London, England), Monday, September 16, 1816; Issue 14244.
19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.
(6) Monday 10. March !!! This afternoon, between 3 and 4
O'clock, Anchored in Sydney Cove, the Ship Sir Wm. Bensley
Transport Commanded by Capt. Lewis E. Williams, with 200
Male Convicts from England (one only having died in the
Passage), guarded by a Detachmt. of the 46th. Regt.,
commanded by Ensign Ross; Mr. — Evans being Surgeon & Supdt.
of this Ship. — The Sir Wm. Bensley sailed from England on
the 9th. of Octr. last, and touched at the Cape of Good
Hope. — Lieut. Governor Sorell, lately appointed to
supersede Lt. Govr. Davey as Lt. Governor of Van Diemen's
Land, is arrived a Passenger in this Ship. —Lachlan
and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive