Convict Ship England 1826
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information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land
between the years 1788 and 1850
Embarked: 148 men
Voyage: 135 days
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Marquis of Huntley arrived 13 September 1826
arrived 28 October 1826
Captain John Reay.
Phrenology was developed by German
physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796 and was very popular in the 19th
century, especially from about 1810 until 1840. The principal
British centre for phrenology was Edinburgh, where the Edinburgh
Phrenological Society was established in 1820.
Phrenology focused on
measurements of the human skull, based on the concept of the
brain being the organ of the mind, and that certain brain
areas have localized, specific functions or modules. The
distinguishing feature of phrenology was the idea that the
sizes of brain areas were meaningful and could be inferred
by examining the skull of an individual.
spring of 1826 the England was visited by phrenologist Mr.
Deville (de Ville) who examined each of the 148 convicts and
gave a memorandum of the inferred character of each
individual, and of the manner in which the propensities were
likely to manifest themselves. The most desperate convicts
were pointed out and in particular Robert Hughes was noted
to be dangerous.
The England was the next convict ship to leave
England after the departure of the
November 1825, departing the Downs on 6th May 1826. (2)
Thomson kept a Medical Journal from 18th March 1826 to 29th
September 1826. This was his first voyage as surgeon superintendent
of a convict ship and his attempt to gain order and authority by
issuing a very detailed list of the Regulations for the
Governance and Guidance of the Convicts during the Voyage and
affixing to the prison wall in the very first days did not have the
effect he desired. This voyage of the England
turned out to be one of the more troubled voyages in 1826.
George Thomson joined the England at Deptford on 18th March and on
arrival showed his appointment to Captain Young, Agent for
Transports and to Captain John Reay. On 22nd March medicine and
stores for the Guard and Convicts were received from the Agent and
the dispenser of Deptford Dockyard.
On 8th April a
detachment of 30 men of the 39th regiment commanded by
Major George Pitt D'Arcy embarked (including 2 sergeants and 3
corporals); six women and seven children also. Cabin passengers
included Mrs. D'arcy & family and Mrs. Reay.
Select here to find other ships
bringing detachments of the 39th regiment.
At 4am on 14th April the England weighed anchor and proceeded to
Woolwich. They moored nearby the Justitia hulk and the
following day fifty prisoners were embarked, berthed and issued with
a blanket and pillow. The surgeon received from Thomas Bayles the
hulk surgeon, a list of the convicts together with a Certificate of
health. The prisoners were all ironed however they were permitted to
pass to and from the deck at their pleasure during the day and also
to see their friends on the Quarter Deck.
On the 17th nine
more men were received from the Justitia and twelve from
the Ganymede hulk. On 20th April 73 more convicts were
received and on the 21st four more prisoners from the Justitia
bringing the total number to 148 prisoners.
On the 22nd
April the prisoners were all mustered and inspected. The Surgeon
appointed two Captains for the prison Decks and two for the Upper
Decks. Likewise a Captain for every Division of twenty five
convicts, Superintendent of the Hospital and Surgery man, Cook and
Mate; a Nightman for each water closet and to keep the air conductor
clear. A schoolmaster was appointed for the boys. Each mess of six
men was to appoint of their number as caterer and each sleeping
berth to appoint a man to keep the berths clean and orderly. The
convicts requested that some of their money be released to them so
that they could purchase small indulgences for the long voyage ahead
and the surgeon applied to the authorities on their behalf but to no
On the 30th April the surgeon received despatches to
be delivered to the Governor in New South Wales together with
instructions to depart for New South Wales. On 3rd May the Pilot
came on board and at 11 am they weighed anchor and made sail down
the river. At 5pm they anchored at Gravesend.
On 6th May the
pilot was discharged at midday in the Downs and at 4pm they were
abreast of Dungeness. The following day the ship was rolling heavily
and several of the convicts and guard suffered seasickness.
By 11th May the surgeon had established schools for the fifty-four
men on board who could neither read nor write. They were supplied
with pens, ink, paper and school books. Around this time the surgeon
discovered that 18 of the boys and 27 of the men could take their
irons off and replace them at pleasure being originally too large!
On 17th May the irons were removed from several prisoners on account
of the duties they performed:
David Kennaway (labourer and
soldier transported for homicide) and
Thomas Jones, Captains of
John Hunter and Henry Wood (ornament painter),
Captains of the Upper Decks;
Walter Ewing Taylor, Superintendent
of the hospital and Captain of the first Division (wine merchant age
Peter McMahon Captain of 2nd division (roadmaker and
quarryman convicted of passing bad notes);
Thomas Dobbin Captain
of 3rd division;
David Campbell, Captain of 4th division;
Robert Hughes Captain of 5th division.
William Norman, Master of
Boys (warehouse clerk transported for embezzlement);
Clothier, Superintendent of schools (law clerk)
Ship's Cook and Mate.
On 18th May several prisoners were
punished for theft and giving false evidence - John Wells was to
receive 48 stokes over his bare breech with a leathern thong ;
William Kerry Thirty strokes; Henry Stone 18 and John Quin 6
strokes. Theft was so common that the number of prisoners allowed on
deck at one time was reduced. Two boys John Buckley and William
Lillewall were punished in the same way for assaulting another
On 23rd May it was found the the water closets
were inadequate. They had been badly fitted in the first place. The
seats were too small, the cisterns leaked and the pipes could not be
kept clear and they became very offensive. None but the sick were
permitted to use them during the day. The weather was oppressively
hot and uncomfortable at this time and occasionally convicts were
permitted to remain on deck assisting the crew in sailing the ship.
By 30th May the surgeon mentioned that the convicts had
become very disorderly and disposed to be mutinous. They became very
clamorous to have their irons taken off. The following day the
surgeon received a letter from Walter E. Taylor requesting to be
sent for as soon as possible. He informed the surgeon that John
George Munns had that morning come to him at the hospital very early
before the other convicts were out of bed and informed him that
there was a conspiracy formed to murder Taylor to prevent his giving
any alarm and then to murder the surgeon and all who would not
assist to seize the ship and run her into South America. Robert
Hughes and Thomas Jones were at the head of it and it was their
intention to carry it into effect, the first time the ship was in a
squall. The surgeon issued a memorandum for Taylor to give to those
convicts he could trust, ensuring the surgeon's protection and best
services with the Governor in New South Wales, asking them to be on
their guard and to get information to act against the malcontents.
Major D'arcy although indisposed at this most crucial time
with gout also promised his protection. Major D'arcy gave the
necessary orders to the guard as to how to act in case of an alarm
and Captain Raey to the crew also who he armed with cutlasses. Munns
informed the surgeon of the men who conspired to take the ship -
Robert Hughes, Thomas Jones, William Brown, James Hawkes and James
Norman were all later kept in double irons and handcuffed. Later
associates of the mutineers were discovered - Thomas Phillips the
younger, Edward Hayes, John Wells, James Perris, William Brain,
William Briggs, Patrick Connor, James Davis and John Turner. They
were all to be kept apart from the other convicts.
June they crossed the line but the merriment that occurred on other
voyages was denied on the England. The surgeon prohibited
the prisoners from the usual customs of shaving or ducking one
another on pain of a flogging. The surgeon noted that there were
nine prisoners in double irons and handcuffs; 51 in double irons; 18
in single irons and seventy men without irons. By the 27th June the
coast of Brazil was in view and by 14th July the Island of Tristam
de Cunha was distant about 24 miles.
On 9th September they
made Cape Ottway, and they anchored in Port Jackson at 11.30 on
Monday 18th September 1826. (3)
The prisoners were inspected by
the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 22nd September.
to the surgeon, Captain Reay was severely reprimanded for not
supporting the surgeon's authority by flogging the convicts when
they were in a
state of open mutiny against him.
On Thursday 28th September the men
were issued with fresh rations and a new set of clothes consisting
of 1 cap, 1 neck handkerchief, 1 jacket 1 waistcoat 1 shirt 1 pair
trousers and 1 pair shoes. The following day at daylight they were
disembarked and lodged in the prisoners barracks and at mid day His
Excellency the Governor and the Colonial Secretary inspected them.
The Governor directed a Court of enquiry to be held on the
24 men accused of mutinous and insubordinate conduct.
month the prisoners of the England were in the colony was
one of exceptionally bad weather.... The month of October has
been marked by the extraordinary prevalence of high wind. The Town
of Sydney has been subjected for days together to gales from the
Southward almost approaching to hurricanes. About the middle of the
month a sultry humid atmosphere strongly impregnated as it were with
a destructive blight, prevailed, and was immediately succeeded by
chilling gusts from the Southward. The evenings have indeed during
the latter part of the month approximated to a frosty temperature.
The glass is said to have been lower for the time of year than for
some years past. (1)
Extract from the journal of Surgeon Superintendent Thomson -
......... The Phrenological Journal
Notes & Links:
George Thompson was later employed as surgeon superintendent on the
2). John Hunter age 26 was transported
for stealing money. He ran from the Colony on the brig Cornwallis in
1836 and was returned to the colony in the
Maitland in 1840 under
sentence of transportation for life for another crime.
National Archives UK - Chartered ship, 420 tons. Principal Managing
Owner: Thomas Ward. Voyages: (1) 1825/6 New South Wales and China. Capt John Reay. Downs 6 May 1826 - Sydney Cove 21 Oct - 31 Dec
Whampoa 8 Feb 1827 - voyage ended 25 Jun.
convicts / passengers arriving on the England in 1826
5). Eleven convict ships brought prisoners to New South Wales in
Marquis of Hastings,
Sir Godfrey Webster,
Marquis of Huntley, England,
Return of Convicts of the England assigned between 1st
January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21
June 1832; 28 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....
|William Brown -
Baker assigned to James Cox at
|William Brain or Lawton -
Stableman assigned to Joseph Bigge
|John Hunter -
Weaver assigned to James Walker at
|William Holseworth -
Plasterer's boy assigned to J.P.
Webber at Paterson's Plains
|Robert Jeffrey -
Tailor's boy assigned to William
Bradley at Argyle
|John Maunns -
Waterman assigned to John Howell at
|Peter McMahon -
Road maker and quarryman. Assigned
to James Raymond at Sydney
|George Shepherd -
Cabinet maker assigned to John
Buckland at Illawarra
7). Assignment to far distant farms and lonely sheep
stations was a terrifying ordeal for many convicts in the 1830's.
Convict James Allen would rather have died than return to the
Williams River district. James Allen was eighteen years old when he
was sentenced to transportation for Life for picking the pocket of
William Good in Bridge Street, London. Click on the
to find out what happened when he refused to return to the Williams
River in 1832.
James Allen's trial at Old Bailey Online
Sydney Gazette 25 September 1832
George Pitt D'arcy died at Parramatta in 1849
National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/26/1 Description:
Medical journal of the England, convict ship, for 18 March to 29
September 1826 by George Thomson, Surgeon and Superintendent, during
which time the said ship was employed on a voyage to New South
Wales. Includes list of convicts, with a phrenological report
on the formation of their skulls and their mental capacities.
Convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th regiment included the
William Sacheverell Coke
|Downs 6 May
|Cork 29 June
Thomas Edward Wright
Henry Clarence Scarman
George Meares Bowen
Countess of Harcourt
Quarter-master Benjamin Lloyd
|Dublin 2 June
|London 3 June
1. The Monitor 10 November 1826
Bateson, Charles &
Library of Australian History (1983). The
convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian
History, Sydney : pp.346-347
3. Ancestry.com. UK,
Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857
[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Admiralty and predecessors:
Office of the Director General of the
Medical Department of the Navy and
predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804
bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and
Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the
Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines,
Coastguard, and related bodies. The National
Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.