The Wanstead was a two-decked vessel sheathed in copper and
of 253 tons. Built in America in 1811, the Wanstead was
just three years old when she set sail for Botany Bay. She was the
next convict ship to leave England after the departure of the
Earl Spencer in
One hundred and twenty women from districts
throughout England were embarked on the Wanstead in 1813.
Four had also been convicted in Scotland -
Mercury reported on 3 July 1813..... Yesterday,
Elizabeth Crosbie, Elizabeth Williams, Charlotte Patterson alias
Scott and Margaret Smith alias Miller, convicts under sentence of
transportation beyond the seas, were sent off from the tolbooth of
this city (Edinburgh) under a proper escort, for the hulks in the
river Thames. This is one of the few mentions of women being
incarcerated in the hulks.
Many women were also probably
incarcerated in Newgate prison prior to boarding the Wanstead.
Missionary Stephen Grellet visited Newgate in January 1813.....He
wrote of this first visit in
Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labours of Stephen Grellet........
The visit to that part of Newgate which is occupied by the
women prisoners, had very nearly been frustrated. The jailor
endeavoured to prevent my going there, representing them such an
unruly and desperate a set that they would surely do me some
mischief; he had endeavoured in vain to reduce them to order, and
said he could not be responsible for what they might do to me,
concluding that the very least I might expect was to have my clothes
torn off. But the love of Christ constrained me, and I felt
persuaded that He who called me to this service could again make way
for me, and preserve me. My request was granted, and the path of
duty being clear before me, I proceeded to the prison.
I came to the small yard, the only accommodation for about four or
five hundred women, I found there some who immediately recognized me
as having seen me in the Compters, and who appeared much pleased at
my now coming here. They told me that no preparation had
been made to receive me, but that they would immediately do
what they could towards it.
Owing to the darkness of the morning, the prisoners had been
unusually late in getting up, and many of them had not yet risen.
They occupied two long rooms, where they slept in three tiers, some
on the floor, and two tiers of hammocks over one another. They had the whole soon rolled-up and all the women came
together in one room. When I first entered, the foulness of the air
was almost insupportable; and everything that is base and depraved
was so strongly depicted on the faces of the women who stood crowded
before me, with looks of effrontery, boldness and wantonness of
expression, that, for a while, my soul was greatly dismayed; As I
began to speak, their countenances began to alter; soon they hung
down their heads; their haughtiness and proud looks were brought low
and tears in abundance were seen to flow; great was the brokenness
of heart manifested on this occasion.
I inquired of them if
there were any other female prisoners in the place, and was told
that several sick ones were upstairs. On going up, I was astonished
beyond description at the mass of woe and misery I beheld. I found
many very sick, lying on the bare floor or on some old straw, having
very scanty covering over them, though it was quite cold; and there
were several children born in the prison among them, almost naked.
On leaving that abode of wretchedness and misery, I went to
Mildred's Court, to my much valued friend Elizabeth Fry to whom I
described what I had just beheld stating also that something must be
done for those poor suffering children. She immediately sent for
several pieces of flannel, and had speedily collected a number of
our young women Friends, who went to work with such diligence, that
on the very next day, she repaired to the prison with a bundle of
made up garments for the naked children. What she then saw of the
wretchedness of that prison induced her to devise some plan towards
the ameliorating of the condition of those poor women and if
possible to reform their morals and instil in them the principles of
love and Christian religion.
Some of the women to be
embarked on the Wanstead such as
Mary Beck and
Mary Black who were tried at the Old Bailey in 1812 had been in
Newgate for many months. They were probably there when Stephen
Grellet and then Elizabeth Fry made these first visits to the prison
in January and February 1813.
Elizabeth Fry wrote in her
journal on 16th February 1813 - Yesterday we were some hours at
Newgate with the poor female felons, attending to their outward
necessities; we had been twice previously. Before we went away, dear
Anna Buxton uttered a few words in supplication, and very
unexpectedly to myself, I did also. I heard weeping, and I thought
they appeared much tendered; a very solemn quiet was observed; it
was a striking scene, the poor people on their knees around, in
their deplorable condition.
At the time, all the female
prisoners in Newgate, were confined in that part, now known as the
untried side. The larger portion of the Quadrangle was then used as
a state prison. The partition wall was not of a sufficient height to
prevent the state prisoners from overlooking the narrow yard, and
the windows of the two wards and two cells, of which the women's
division consisted. These four rooms comprised about one hundred and
ninety superficial yards, into which, at the time of these visits,
nearly three hundred women with their numerous children, were
crowded; tried and untried, misdemeanants and felons, without
classification, without employment, and with no other
superintendence than that given by a man and his son, who had charge
of them by night and by day. In the same rooms, in rags and dirt,
destitute of sufficient clothing sleeping without bedding on the
floor, the boards of which were in part raised to supply a sort of
pillow, they lived, cooked, and washed.
With the proceeds of
their clamorous begging, when any stranger appeared amongst them,
the prisoners purchased liquors from a regular tap in the prison.
Spirits were openly drunk and the ear was assailed by the most
terrible language. Although military sentinels were posted on the
leads of the prison, such was the lawlessness prevailing, that Mr.
Newman the governor, entered this portion of it with reluctance,
fearful that his watch would be snatched from his side. Into this
scene, Mrs. Fry entered, accompanied only by one lady, Anna Buxton.
The sorrowful and neglected condition of these depraved women and
their miserable children, dwelling in such a vortex of corruption,
deeply sank into her heart, although at this time, nothing more was
done than to supply the most destitute with clothes. (Memoir
of the life of Elizabeth Fry)
Two free passengers came
by the Wanstead - Mary Ann Lycett the nine year old
daughter of Joseph Lycett who was
transported on the
General Hewitt, and Ann Hubbard, wife of George Hubbard who
was also on the General Hewitt. Twelve months after the
female convict ship
Minstrel left England, the Wanstead was ready to
depart. One of the women was re-landed before the ship weighed
anchor and the Wanstead departed Spithead on 24 August 1813
in company with the Windham and the General Hewitt.
The Wanstead was the next convict ship to arrive in New
South Wales with female prisoners after the
Charles from Ireland in February 1813. The Wanstead
arrived on 9 January 1814 with one hundred and seventeen female
prisoners, two women having died on the voyage out - Elizabeth
Davies and Ann Simkins, (who drowned).
The convict indent
includes name, when & where convicted, term of sentence, calling and
age. Twenty four of the women were under the age of 21. On 13th
January sixty-eight of the women were conveyed by water to
Parramatta where they would have been employed at the
spinning and weaving. A new superintendent William Henry Alcock had
been appointed there in this same month after the old superintendent
Benjamin Barrow was dismissed. If any of the women neglected their
work or behaved badly the superintendent was to apply to the
Magistrate Rev. Marsden who would order them to jail or for
The Wanstead was one of three convict
ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1814, the
others being the
Catherine and the
A total of 322 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1814; the
total (white) population was approximately 13 - 14,000.
Lachlan Macquarie had been appointed Governor in 1810 and by 1814
his building program was well underway in
Sydney. The penal settlement at Norfolk Island had just been
closed and the outpost at Newcastle became a major depot for second
Four of the women of the Wanstead
Sarah Coates and
Eleanor Tomlinson found themselves at Newcastle in the next
couple of years having committed colonial offences. Newcastle was
under the command of
Thompson at this time and a detachment of the 46th regiment
formed the guard. The three women made the sixty mile voyage up the
coast from Sydney on the
Lady Nelson. There were probably other small vessels moored
in Newcastle harbour loading coal and cedar when the women arrived.
When they stepped out onto the
wharf, the women may have
gazed up the hillside to see various huts and cottages dotting
the hillside. There was no resident chaplain at Newcastle and
Christchurch was yet to be built. Prayers were probably read by the
Commandant, perhaps in a slab building.
William Evans was employed as
colonial assistant surgeon. He ran a small hospital but supplies
were woefully inadequate. The women were probably assigned to
government officials or military and employed as servants and
The Wanstead departed for Batavia on
10 February 1814. Charles Holding and James Pratt gave notice of
their intention to depart on her. Captain Moore was intending to
send back a freight of wheat and rice which were in short supply in
the colony. Henry Moore (Moor) was also Captain of the
Fortune in 1806
Notes & Links:
Select here to find the names of the women of the Wanstead identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the
2). A list of the sixty eight women who
were conveyed to Parramatta on 13th January follows ........
Mary Banks Elizabeth McLauglin -
Born in Dublin c. 1767. Trade Mantua maker. Tried Surrey Assizes
29th March 1813 and sentenced to transportation for life. 5ft tall,
fair ruddy complexion, black hair, hazel eyes. Granted a ticket of
leave in September 1824 and again in August 1830.
Elizabeth Anne Potter. Sent to VDL in August
Elizabeth le Surf
Anne Elizabeth Jones
Sarah Coates - On a list of
escapees from the female factory dated 29th January 1814.
Mary Elizabeth Wright
Mary Green E
3). Number of prisoners, date and
place of Conviction and sentences - Parliamentary Papers, House of
Commons and Command, Volume 16 By Great Britain. Parliament. House
of Commons - Wanstead 1814....
Bridget Bays (neé London) arrived as a convict
on the Wanstead. She was the youngest daughter of Timothy
and Elizabeth London. Bridget was born in Potter Heigham, Norfolk
about 1783. She married Robert Bayes, shoemaker, born 1775 in
Bloefield, Norfolk, in the Church of St. Mary Le Bone, London on 24.
July 1802. Bridget and Robert were married for 10 years and had two
children who survived:
Robert, born about 1804 in St. Pancras
who was baptised as an adult, 1829 in Upton, Norfolk. Robert Jr. was
like his father, also a shoemaker.
William, born 7.6.1805 in St.
Pancras was baptised in the Church of St. Mary Le Bone on 30.6.1805.
Robert Bayes senior died in July 1812 at the age of 36. He was
buried in the Church of St. Mary Le Bone on 25.7.1812. After the
death of her husband, Bridget a widow with two small children, was
undoubtedly left in dire financial straits. On 2nd October 1812,
less than three months after Robert’s death, Bridget, together with
her friend Martha Bailey, was arrested in Dyott Street and charged
with highway robbery. She was
Tried at The Old Bailey on 28. October 1812, found guilty and
sentenced to DEATH, together with her accomplice Martha Bailey. This
sentence was later commuted to transportation for life. Martha
Bailey was not so lucky. Bridget was held at Newgate Prison from
October 1812 until August 1813 before being embarked on the
Wanstead. Bridget Bays is recorded in the 1814 muster in Sydney
with fifteen other women, all employed as nurses. They were among
the nurses at the first Sydney hospital (Rum Hospital). In the 1825
muster Bridget is recorded as the wife of S. Harris of Bringelly.
She died in June 1826 and was buried in the parish of St. Philips,
Sydney in the County of Cumberland on 28th June 1826.