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Convict Ship York 1831

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 156 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Burrell arrived 19 December 1830
Next vessel: Edward arrived 22 February 1831
Captain Daniel Leary.
Surgeon Superintendent Campbell France

The York was fitted out at Deptford in the summer of 1830 to receive on board 200 male convicts for transportation to New South Wales. The convicts were tried in counties in England, Wales and Scotland - Montgomery, Glamorgan, Carnarvon, Monmouth, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Inverness, Anglesey Bristol, Norfolk, Middlsex, Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Warwick, Derby,  Durham, Kent, Nottingham,  London,  Bedford, Surrey, Cumberland, Suffolk, Huntingdon, Stafford, Chester, Lincoln, Worcester and a court-martial at Knightsbridge Barracks

Campbell France kept a Medical Journal from 11 August 1830 to 19 February 1831


On the 17 August the soldiers of the Guard were embarked consisting of 40 non-commissioned soldiers of the 17th regiment under the command of Lieut-Col Despard, accompanied by seven women and five children. Lieut-Colonel Despard's wife and family arrived as passengers, as well as Ensign Owen, Anne Forster and C. Donohue, servant to Mrs. Despard.

The detachment generally appeared in good health, being mostly young men with the exception of those men of the Band of the Regiment.


On the 24th August the ship having previously dropped down the river to Woolwich, thirty convicts from the Dolphin and fifty from the Ganymede hulks were received on board. On 27th August thirty convicts were received at Sheerness from the Retribution hulk and thirty boys from the Euryalus at Chatham. On 28th August sixty men were embarked from the Cumberland hulk at Chatham completing the number to 200 convicts.

According to the surgeon, all were in apparent good health, but many looked ill and debilitated from confinement and previous dissipation. Before the ship left Sheerness a young man Henry Hoes, a private soldier aged 28 was attacked with convulsions which continued in successive fits with great severity. He was sent to the military hospital Chatham.


The sailing order was received on the 4th September. In going down the Channel they encountered strong westerly winds with heavy seas causing much sea sickness. As the winds continued the ship put into Spithead where they were detained until 29th September. On this day the winds were once more favourable and they departed Spithead although in the channel they experienced contrary winds until the 6th October.


In his General Remarks Campbell France reported that the voyage was generally favourable and there were few cases of a serious nature. A total of 118 were admitted to the sick list throughout the voyage but most were of a slight nature. The ship remained at Teneriffe for two days where  both meat and vegetables were received on board and the water supply was completed.

On the 3rd November convict William Garett aged 30 died suddenly. As there was no convenient place to examine the body cause of death was not ascertained. On the 16th October John Hayes age 17 also died. These were the only fatal cases that occurred.

The Surgeon reported: As is usual in these ships the convicts were kept as much on deck as possible in the day time, and in warm weather a certain number bathed every morning. The between decks and and the men's berths were kept clean and dry in fine weather constantly ventilated with the windsail and in moist damp weather the stoves were in constant use for the same purpose. The weather during the voyage was in general moderate and favourable. In August it was fine and dry in September strong westerly winds and much wet cloudy weather, thermometer ranging from 60 to 70 - in October weather also cloudy and wet - November was generally fine and moderate excepting in the middle of the month there were several days of wet weather, with strong winds. Thermometer from 70 to 84. The beginning of the month of December was fine and dry towards the end strong gales and wet cloudy weather, thermometer from 70 to 62 degrees. In January 1831 and the beginning of February strong winds with hazy weather and occasional wet days. Thermometer from 57 to 62 . [1]


The York arrived in Port Jackson on 7 February 1831 with 198 male prisoners. According to the Surgeon, the convicts and soldiers were all landed at Sydney in better general appearance and health than when they embarked on board the York in England.


A muster was held on board on 10th February by the Colonial Secretary. 196 men were mustered, two having died on the voyage and two had been sent to the hospital at Sydney on arrival. The indents reveal details such as name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, trade, offence, when and where tried, previous convictions, sentence, physical description and where and to whom the prisoners were assigned on arrival. There are also occasional notes regarding colonial crimes, deaths and pardons.


The Band of the 17th Regiment was landed on Wednesday 9th February 1831, and the prisoners were landed Friday 18th February. It was reported that among them were a considerable number of strong healthy labourers accustomed to agriculture as well as several good mechanics and tradesmen. The burthen of the York was 478 tons. The Sydney Gazette remarked that this was not the old York but was built in the year 1819 at Southwick in Durham. Captain Leary, the commander, was considered an old and respected visitor to the colony.


The younger convicts were sent to the Carter's Barracks. The men were assigned privately or sent to work on Roads and Bridges, the Dockyard, or to Hyde Park Barracks on arrival.

Those sent to the Hunter Valley were assigned to the following settlers - John Kelly, William Sparke, William Dumaresq, Hugh Cameron, John Thomson, Robert and Helenus Scott, Archibald, Little, George Townshend. W.H. arland, John Laurio Platt, Charles Boydell, William Dun, Robert Coram Dillon, John Black, John Hillier, Richard Stubbs, John Earl, James Phillips, Alexander Warren and James McDougall


William Archer was punished several times over for colonial crimes. He was sent to Norfolk Island.
William Barnadier died at Bathurst 18 November 1831
Charles Bigg was assigned to John Kelly at Newcastle on arrival. He died at Newcastle 26 September 1832
Samuel Batley from Leeds was killed by a strike of lightening at Bathurst 23 December ?1839
William Braidwood age 23 and John Braidwood age 24 from Edinbrough were brothers
Matthew Baillie from Glasgow died at Goulburn 7 June 1855
John Crawley - Sister Julia Crawley came on the Louisa 4 years previously
John Doyle from Middlesex - Hanged in Sydney on 18 September 1834 for highway robbery
Joseph Evans drowned in attempting to cross the Namoi River 1838
George Foggatt - Died in Newcastle Gaol Hospital
James Goodman age 61 and Thomas Goodman age 16 were father and son.
Alexander Gunn age 16 - Brother John Gunn came to colony 18 month previously
Thomas Hunt age 43 and Thomas Hunt jun., father and son
James Heywood from Manchester transported as James Eaton to VDL on the Globe in 1819. Went home by the Wanstead in 1828
James Horges age 57 from Isle of Wight. Died in Windsor Hospital 14 December 1836
John Johnson alias Scott drom Durham. Attorney 's Clerk. No place of assignment given. Later Sent to Norfolk Island
Edward Luckhurst - Father in law William Morgan sailed in June 1830
James Leary - Died in Cox's River Hospital 1 December 1837
William Lovell - Remains found in the bush September 1831
Thomas Mowbury - Died at Sydney 1st March 1831
Donald Macdonald died at Liverpool Hospital March 10th 1833
John Roberts - Assigned to Richard Clarke at Hunter River on arrival. Hanged at Sydney for a crime at Paterson Plains September 1831
Thomas Rook - Brother Edward Rook came 9 years previously
Thomas Henry Sley. Assignedto Alexander McLeod at Ratagan on arrival. Died in Maitland district 13 September 1845
Thomas Saunders died in Newcastle Hospital 1 July 1835
Henry Wright Smith died in Newcastle Hospital 21 March 1838
James Shaw - Sister in law Ellen Hunt came free
George Waller from Gloucester. Father in law James Cole came 16 years previously


The York departed Sydney in April 1831 in company with the Edward under Captain Gilbert. The following passengers; viz. Major Hunt, Captain Brown and Lady, Lieutenants George Edwards, Alexander, and Edmund Lockyer, Paymaster G. H. Green and family, 9 serjeants, 12 drummers, 7 corporals, 132 privates, 15 women, and 39 children, of His Majesty's 57th regiment, and Lieutenant Malin of the 13th regiment, and family, bound for Madras.

Grave fears were held for the York after it was later reported by Captain Gilbert that there must have been a mutiny on board, however the reports were unfounded and the York soon returned safely to Sydney having encountered violent storms.

The York departed again in July. Lieutenant George Edwards kept a journal of the voyage from Botany Bay to Madras beginning on 19th July when the York departed in company with the North Briton..............

George Edward's Journal  

George Edwards [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (Click to enlarge)


1). Isaac Ray arrived as a convict on the York. The State Library of Victoria hold correspondence written by him from Appin in 1831.......Contents/Summary: Letter of Isaac Ray, written from Appin, N.S.W., to his parents in Britain, 23 November, 1831. Includes description of economic conditions. He mentions a petition for his release, which his parents were going to organise. Isaac Ray obtained his freedom in July, 1838, after having been in the service of Hamilton Hume. He was then a Commission Agent in Sydney and also spent three years on the California goldfields. He returned to Sydney, made some money on the Victorian goldfields, and built a hotel in Dunolly, Victoria, which was later destroyed by fire. He also had associations with Maryborough and Ararat.

2). Convict John Roberts was executed for murder in 1831.

3). Convict Alexander Munro later settled in Singleton

4). Select here to find other Hunter Valley convicts

5). Campbell France was also surgeon on the convict ships Asia in 1828 (VDL) Mary Ann in 1835, John Barry in 1839 and the King William in 1840.

6). Return of Convicts of the York assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832; 28 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....

James Cropper - Stone cutter and setter assigned to Captain Rossi in Sydney
George Foggert - Sawyer assigned to William Dumaresq at St. Hillier's
James Goodman - Carter and soldier assigned to Henry Hart at Liverpool Road
Alexander Gunn - Baker assigned to Maurice Townshend at Wollombi
John Holyburton - Ploughs. Assigned to Rev. T. Reddall at Campbelltown
John Johnston - Knife boy assigned to J.H. Hart in Sydney
George Lewis - Methodist preacher and sawyer. Assigned to Lieut. Colonel Dumaresq at Hunter's River
William Marshall - Iron founder. Assigned to J. Prescott at Sydney
William O'Neill - Shoemaker assigned to Dr. Wardell at Petersham

7). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 17th regiment........

Date/Place of Departure Vessel Officer of the Guard
30 September 1829 Sheerness Dunvegan Castle Lieut. John Grey
14 October 1829 Spithead Katherine Stewart Forbes Major Fairtclough 63rd regt.,
5 December 1829 Sheerness Mermaid Lieutenant Isaac Blackburn
1 January 1830 Cork Forth 1 Captain James Oliphant Clunie
1 January 1830 Sheerness Nithsdale Captain Robert G. Moffatt
8 April 1830 Portsmouth Lady Feversham Lieutenant  Harvey 29th regt.,
9 April 1830 Sheerness Marquis of Huntley Lieutenant Watson 20th regt.,
27 April 1830 Portsmouth Adrian Ensign Reynolds
6 June 1830 Downs Lord Melville Lieutenant Robert Graham
3 July 1830 Dublin Hercules Major J.W. Bouverie
5 July 1830 Portsmouth Royal Admiral Captain John Church
27 July 1830 Plymouth Burrell Captain John Alexander Edwards
28 August 1830 Cork Andromeda Captain Charles Forbes
4 September 1830 Sheerness York Lieut-Col. Henry Despard
17 October 1830 Cork Edward Captain Deeds
10 May 1832 Cork Eliza II Lieutenant Hewson 4th regiment



[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Campbell France on the voyage of the York in 1831 The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-351, 387

[3] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842. Original data: Bound manuscript indents, 17881842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614619,626657, 660695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.