Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Waverley - 1839

Embarked: 176 men
Voyage: 115 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: John Barry arrived 22 March 1839
Next vessel: Whitby arrived 23 June 1839
Master James Morgan.
Surgeon James Barr
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Waverley identified in the Hunter Valley

Many of the prisoners of the Waverley were probably held in Kilmainham gaol to await transportation. They would have been escorted from the gaol to the ship by a detachment of soldiers from the garrison at Dublin.

Military Guard

Passengers included Lieutenant Stirling 2nd regiment, Lieutenant Jones 16th regiment and 29 rank and file of H.M. 51st regiment, 6 women and 10 children.


The Waverly departed Kingstown, Dublin on 22 February 1839 with 176 male convicts. [3] On the 3rd May she spoke the Lady Bute bound for South Australia, in lat 38° 45' S., long, 25° 50' E.

Surgeon James Barr

James Barr was employed as Surgeon Superintendent. He kept a Medical Journal from 14 January to 23 June 1839.

There were three cases of scurvy among the guard of the 51st regiment, two were raw recruits and the third a child. The guard were examined every other day and those with purple spots were given double allowance of lemon juice, their salt rations were stopped and preserved soup and wine substituted and they were given anti scorbutic medicine. [4]

Cleanliness and Routine

James Barr insisted that the prisoners keep themselves clean and they were mustered and inspected on Thursdays and Sundays. He ensured the prisons were kept clean and dry by swinging stoves. If the weather was fine, the men were obliged to be on deck unless they were in school or were unwell. He thought a great improvement could be made in the construction of prison ships by replacing the upright elm stanchions in the three hatchways, with iron bars which would provide better ventilation. [4]

Port Jackson

The Waverley arrived in Port Jackson on 17 June 1839.

There were no deaths on this voyage and the prisoners generally enjoyed good health, although there were three prisoners who the surgeon considered should not have been embarked because they were already ill. Nevertheless, they were treated kindly and indulged by the surgeon when he could.

Deaths after Arrival

The first case, Cornelius Fitzgerald had suffered pneumonia when in Kilmainham jail and was sent directly to the hospital on board. In an effort to improve his health he was given food from the Captain's table and was carefully nursed the entire voyage. He had a great desire for potatoes and was given 3 or 4 daily by the doctor. He was discharged to the hospital in Sydney on arrival and died there in 1839.

The second case was Pat Crosbie who was suffering phthisis. He died in Sydney hospital in 1839. The third case, Martin Kelly, had also been unwell in gaol but speaking no English his complaints had been overlooked and he was also suffering phthisis when sent on board. According to James Barr, he had appeared broken-hearted and became gradually weaker but he had not complained and would not have done so but for one of his messmates bringing him to the hospital. He was 'a native of Tipperary, a Whiteboy, and had been engaged in several murders'. He died in Sydney hospital in 1840. [4]

Hyde Park Barracks

On Saturday 22nd June, His Excellency the Governor (Sir George Gipps) visited the Prisoners' Barracks at Hyde Park for the purpose of inspecting the convicts. The names of the men were called over, and they were ranged round His Excellency in a circle, when he explained to them the situation in which they were placed in regard to the term of probation they were required to serve before being assigned to private service, and the rewards held out to them, by indulgences for good behaviour.
Hyde Park Barracks

Notes and Links

1). One of the prisoners who arrived on the Waverley was John Joseph Carrick, supposedly a Roman Catholic Monk who was transported for life for torturing a child to death in Ireland.

2). Convicts / passengers arriving on the Waverley in 1839

3).Convict ships bringing detachments of the 51st regiment included the Neptune, Waterloo, William Jardine, Bengal Merchant, Lord Lyndoch, Westmoreland, Clyde, Earl Grey, Portsea, Elphinstone, John Barry, Blenheim, Waverley and the Middlesex

4). On the night 6th January 1839 when the Waverley was probably moored in Kingstown harbour there occurred a powerful windstorm that swept across Ireland and became known as The Night of the Big Wind (Irish: Oiche na Gaoithe Moire) . There was severe damage to property; including many ships in the harbour and 350 - 400 deaths occurred. (1)

The following description was included in Thoms Directory of Ireland - Dublin was visited by an awful storm on the night of the sixth January, which extended throughout the country, causing great destruction of life and property; the river Liffey rose many feet, overflowing the quay walls in several places.


[1]. Irish Culture and Customs

[2]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 737

[3]. Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney. pp354 - 355

[4]. Journal of James Barr on the voyage of the Waverley. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey