Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

H.M.S. Hindostan - 1809

Captain John Pasco
Surgeon Joseph Arnold

The Hindostan was built by Hudson, Bacon and Co., at Calcutta in 1798 and launched as East Indiaman Admiral Rainier. She was purchased by the Royal Navy in 1804 and carried a crew of 294.


The Hindostan and the Dromedary with Governor Macquarie on board sailed on 3 May 1809. The 1st Battalion of Macquarie's own regiment, the 73rd Regiment of Foot came on both ships.

Detachments of the 73rd arrived on the Dromedary, Hindostan, Indefatigable, Guildford, Indian, Archduke Charles, Ann, Fortune 1813, Providence 1811 and Admiral Gambier 1811.

Port Jackson

The Hindostan arrived at Port Jackson on 28th December 1809.

Governor Macquarie described the day in correspondence to Viscount Castlereagh......

Governor Macquarie to Viscount Castlereagh {Extract}
Sydney, New South Wales, 8th March 1810,
My Lord,
I arrived at Port Jackson on the 28th December last, after a most tedious passage of seven months and six days from England; But I have the pleasure to inform your Lordship that, notwithstanding the great length of the Voyage, the 73rd Regiment, as well as the Crews of His Majesty's Ships Hindostan and Dromedary, arrived here in excellent health and good condition, touching on the passage at Madeira, Rio Janeiro, and the Cape of Good Hope for refreshments having proved of the most essential advantages to the health of the Troops and Seamen.

I found Lieut-Governor Paterson in the command of this Government, Governor Bligh being still at the Derwent. The situation of the Colony appeared to me to require that I should immediately take charge of it; and from the length of time which must intervene before I could apprize Governor Bligh of my arrival, and of his return to this settlement, I judged it most expedient not to wait, conceiving it to be the real Spirit of your Instructions that I should immediately take charge of the Government in the event of my not finding Governor Bligh at Port Jackson I accordingly landed here on the 31st of December, and disembarked the 73rd Regiment on the day following.

I had my Commission as Governor-in-Chief of this Territory read with all due Solemnity on the 1st of January in presence of all the Troops and Inhabitants of Sydney. Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol., VII., p. 218

Ensign Alexander Huey

Ensign Alexander Huey kept a journal during the voyage and after arrival. A copy of the journal can be found at The Garrison Gazette - (Extracts from the Journal of Ensign Alexander Huey on the Voyage of the 73rd Regiment of Foot to Sydney in 1809 (National Library Npf 910.4 HUE)

Newcastle Penal Settlement

No convicts arrived on the Hindostan in 1809 however three soldiers of the 73rd regiment who arrived free later received colonial sentences - Robert Young, Thomas Kelly and James Frazier were all sentenced to Newcastle penal settlement.

James Frazier was in Newcastle when Governor Macquarie visited the settlement in January 1812.

Robert Young became gaoler at Newcastle gaol.

The Hindostan Re-named

The Hindostan was re-named the Dolphin in 1819 and in 1824 converted to a convict hulk at Woolwich. The Sheffield Independent and Yorkshire and Derbyshire Advocate reported on 24th October 1829 that the Dolphin had been lying off the Chatham dockyard in the river for a number of years for the purpose of receiving every evening the convicts who were employed during the day about the naval works, which were carrying on in the Dockyard itself.

At about half an hour after midnight the convicts, who occupied the lower deck of the Dolphin, were awakened from their sleep by the tumult and noise which the rushing of a body of water through the port holes of that deck would naturally occasion. The alarm spread like wildfire in an instant through the ship and 'the vessel is sinking' was the one universal cry on all sides.

Demise of the Hulk

The Annual Register continued the story of the demise of the hulk......

The Dolphin, which was a very old store-ship, had been laid down as a convict hulk for above twelve years, and had become somewhat crazy and wall-sided. There had been erections made on the deck, and she was lop-heavy. At ebb tide, she was supported by piles, being moored within one hundred and fifty paces of the dock, which was left dry when the tide- was out. From the hulk to the shore was affixed a platform, on which two persons could walk abreast. The overseer of the Dolphin, Captain Lloyd, retired to bed with his wife in his cabin, on Thursday night before eleven o'clock, and left the quarter-master in care of the vessel.

In consequence of the high tides in the Medway within the last few weeks, a great quantity of mud had settled under the bottom of the ship; and the accident, which ensued, was owing to this circumstance - that the bottom of the vessel adhered to the mud by suction, till the water had risen six feet higher on the side of the vessel, than it would have done had the vessel risen with the tide; so that the hold became filled with water, which forced its way through the scuppers. Before any alarm was given, the lower deck was covered with two feet of water, and at that moment two hundred human beings, buried in profound sleep, were locked in, totally unconscious of their perilous situation. There were nearly two hundred more convicts on the second deck, and, in all, the vessel contained nearly five hundred persons.

It was precisely one o'clock on Friday morning, when the Dolphin fell upon her beam ends. The cries, groans, and yells of the convicts were terrific; and the inhabitants of the village of Upnor, which is about half-a-mile distant from the part of the river where the Dolphin was lying, were alarmed by the dreadful sounds which had broken their slumbers. In a few minutes the alarm was given that the vessel was sinking; a gun was fired as a signal of distress, the bells of the dock-yard and garrison were rung, and blue lights were hung out at the mast of every vessel on the river. The troops in the garrison, - in all about two hundred - were mustered in about twenty minutes on the beach in the dock-yard; and during that period captain Lloyd, the quarter-master, and the boatswain, were actively engaged in using all their efforts to save the lives of the convicts.

About one hundred and fifty of the convicts had by that time escaped from the lower deck; many having been pulled through the port-holes (the stanchions of which had been beaten in), and others having escaped up the gang-way. Holes were cut in the top of the decks, and also in the side of the vessel; and through one aperture thirty-five men were taken out, almost dead. They had kept their heads above water for nearly an hour by holding to the tops of their hammocks. Before two o'clock three hundred and eighty convicts, many of them perfectly naked, and none having more clothing than a shirt were taken from the vessel, and were marched along the beach by the military, to a place about a quarter of a mile distant from the ship, and contiguous to the hospital ship Canada.

A convict named Edwards, was seriously wounded by one of the carpenters, who was cutting open a part of the vessel with an axe. As soon as the aperture was sufficiently large for a man to get through it, Edwards was determined to have the first chance of escaping and struggled with some of his fellow convicts for precedency. He thrust his head through the aperture; at that instant the carpenter, not being aware of his intention, struck a blow with his axe, which cut open the man's skull. Three convicts were drowned.

Notes and Links

1). Joseph Arnold was Surgeon Superintendent on the female convict ship Northampton in 1815