Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Whitby - 1839

Embarked: 133 women
Voyage: 125 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Waverley arrived 17 June 1839
Next vessel: Parkfield arrived 1 September 1839
Captain Thomas Wellbank
Surgeon  John Kidd
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Whitby identified in the Hunter Valley

Female prisoners tranpsorted on the Whitby were convicted in counties in Ireland - Mayo, Limerick, Wexford, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Antrim, Carlow, Sligo, Drogheda, Meath, Down, Westmeath, Tyrone, Armagh, Tipperary, Limerick, King's, Leitrim, Londonderry, Kerry, Wicklow, Monaghan, Kilkenny, Fermanagh, Queen's and Clare. Their crimes were mostly vagrancy and various forms of stealing and robbery. Exceptions were
Bridget Bourke who was sent for manslaughter
Anne Bryan for perjury
Bridget Donnelly passing base coin
Sarah Fleming for perjury
Honor McCarthy, aged 70, for offering her child for sale to a surgeon. [1]

Twenty-five children belonging to the women were received on board the Whitby on 16th February 1839.....

John Hennessy aged 6 months, son of Mary Hennessey
John Doyle aged 7, son of Mary Doyle
Mary Smith aged 18 months, daughter of Mary Smith
James Gallon aged 8, son of Mary Gallon
Phillip Reilly aged 7, son of Eliza White
John Carroll aged 2 son of Mary Carroll
Bridget McCarrick aged 2 months
Mary Harkin age 3, daughter of Sally Naughton; and another aged 3 months
Ann McDonnell aged 7 and John McDonnel aged 2yrs daughter and son of Elizabeth Redmond
Michael Flynn aged 3, son of Mary Shields
Joseph Green aged 2, son of Mary A. Morrow
Mary Aylmer aged 4, daughter of Eliza Elkin
Edard Cosgrave aged 6 son of Rose Anne Collins
Margaret Looby aged 4 daughter of Bridget Hynes alias Looby
Honora Carthy aged 8 and Daniel Carthy aged 5, children of Judith Carthy
James Keogh aged 5, son of Anne Keogh
Mary A. Hare, aged 4 daughter of Ellen Hare
John Power, aged 4, son of Mary Cummins
Catherine Fitzsimons age 10 and Mary Fitzsimons age 7 daughters of Catherine Fizsimons
George Pender, age 19 months, son of Madge Pender
John Pendleton age 4, son of Eleana Magowen. [3]


The ship departed Dublin on 18 February 1839 with 133 female prisoners and twenty five children.

Surgeon John Kidd

John Kidd kept a Medical Journal from 5 February to 2 July 1839.
The first case he dealt with was of eighteen year old Eliza McKey who was treated for hysteria on 9th February, before the ship even set sail. Judith Tracey, a thin delicate woman aged 24 was also treated while the ship still lay in Kingstown Harbour. [4]

Over the next few months many of the women were treated for either bowel complaints or catarrh. The surgeon in his summary reported that the general state of health of the convicts during the voyage was good. Several of the women were old and infirm and many of the children young and delicate. Two died, a woman Mary Hennessey on 5th June and a child.

The prisoners when disembarked had a much more robust and healthy appearance than when they came on board at Dublin which may be ascribed to the way in which they were provisioned and the general system of cleanliness, ventilation and measures adopted. [2]

Port Jackson

The Whitby anchored in Watson's Bay on the night of Saturday 22nd June 1839 after a voyage of 125 days.

A Muster would have been held on board and details of each woman recorded. The printed convict indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, occupation, offence, when and where tried, sentence, former convictions and physical description. There are occasional details about family members already in the colony; there is no information as to where or to whom the women were assigned on arrival however out of 132 women landed in Sydney only 25 were married. There were ninety women who gave their status as single and another 17 who were widows. Some of the single women were married within a year or two of arrival. Most of them were married by the mid 1840's.

The oldest prisoners were Catherine Donohue aged 76; Catherine Goodfellow age 61 Honora McCarthy age 70 and Anne Murray aged 60.


The Sydney Monitor reported - the female convicts per the ship Whitby, were landed yesterday (2nd July) at H.M. Dockyard. Bishop Broughton and Bishop Poulding were present, and addressed an admonitory exhortation to the women of their respective persuasions. There were several ladies of rank in the colony present, besides others who were waiting to take delivery of the women assigned to them. The Colonel was there, of course. After the assigned were delivered over to their respective assignees, agreeably to the Government regulations, the remainder amounting in number to forty, were ordered to be forwarded that evening to Parramatta Female Factory.[5]

Notes and Links

1). Reports and Evidence taken on the Inquiry before the Chief Remembrancer relative to the Mode of conducting the Convict Service in Ireland.

2). About thirteen of the women have been identified residing in the Hunter region. Several became familiar with the interior of the Newcastle Gaol. Select here to find more about prisoners and passengers of the Whitby.

3). John Kidd was also surgeon on the convict ship Egyptian in 1840 (VDL), Emma Eugenia in 1841 (VDL) and the Nile in 1850.

4). Five ships transported female convicts to New South Wales in 1839 the Margaret, Planter, Whitby, Mary Ann and Minerva. A total of 727 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1839.

5). The Great Shame: A Story of the Irish in the Old World and the New By Thomas Keneally


[1]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 739

[2]. Journal of John Kidd. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. The National Archives, Kew, Surry

[3]. New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849 Original data: New South Wales Government. Musters and other papers relating to convict ships. Series CGS 1155, Reels 2417-2428. State Records NSW.

[4]. National Archives. ADM 101/74/5 1839 Medical journal of the Whitby, convict ship from 5 February to 2 July 1839 by John Kidd, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed on a passage to Sydney, New South Wales

[5]. Sydney Monitor 3 July 1839