Free Settler or Felon

Convict and Colonial History

Thomas Gibson R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 12 April 1833

Thomas Gibson was born c. 1796 in Doune, Perth, Scotland. John Gibson, R.N., Surgeon was also born in Doune.

Thomas Gibson was appointed Surgeon in the Royal Navy 12 April 1833. He was appointed to H.M.S. Satellite 1833. He was appointed to H.M.S. Satellite 24 October 1839 for employment in North America and West Indies. H.M.S. Satellite as a sloop, built at Pembroke in 1826 and of 456 tons. 84 officers and men, 24 boys and 20 marines were employed on board. Charles T.S. Kevern was employed as Assistant Surgeon. [1]

Surgeon Superintendent

He was employed as surgeon superintendent on two convict ship voyages to Australia :

Somersetshire to Van Diemen's Land in 1842 and Neptune to Van Diemen's Land in 1850.

Somersetshire 1842

Thomas Gibson kept a Medical Journal dated 1 November 1841 to 6th June 1842.

There was a mutiny on board the Somersetshire -

Head-Quarters, Cape Town, April 9, 1842.—

At a Court-Martial held on board the convict ship Somersetshire, in Table Bay, on the 25th, and continued by adjournments until the 29th day of the same month, pursuant to an order and by virtue of a warrant of his Excellency Major General Sir George Napier, K.C.B., whereof Major D'Urban, of the 25th regiment was president, and Town Brigade Major Carruthers acting deputy judge advocate, - was arraigned Private John Agnew, No. 765, of the 99th regiment, on the following charge, viz

'For mutiny on board the convict ship Somersetshire, on the high seas, on or between the 14th January and the 13th February, 1842, he being at the time one of the guard for the protection of the said ship; in having begun, excited, caused, or joined in a seditious conspiracy for the purpose of taking forcible possession of the said ship, with the aid of certain convicts, and of doing violence to the officers in command.'

To which charge the prisoner pleaded Not Guilty.

Finding. - Guilty.

Sentence. - The Court having found the prisoner, Private John Agnew, No. 765, 99th regt., guilty of the crime laid to his charge, which being a breach of the Articles of War, and taking into consideration his former convictions and general bad character, do now sentence him to be shot to death, at such time and place as his Exc. the Governor and Commander-in-Chief at the Cape of Good Hope may be pleased to appoint. Which sentence has been approved and confirmed by his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief. The two other prisoners, Private Walter Chisholm, No.812, of the 99th regt., and Private John Kelly, No. 1,109, 99th regt., having been similarly arraigned and tried, were also severally found Guilty, and sentenced to be transported for life
. - The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 38

Neptune 1850

Thomas Gibson was Surgeon Superintendent on the Neptune to Van Diemen's Land in 1850....

Convicts were transported from Bermuda on the Neptune to the Cape - but because of anti-convict sentiments they were not allowed ashore. They were then sent to VDL instead. They arrived in Hobart April, 5, 1850.

Read John Mitchell's account of the voyage in Jail Journal ; Or, Five Years in British Prisons: Commenced on Board the Neptune ... By John Mitchel


Thomas Gibson M.D., R.N., died in Hobart shortly after arrival -

Died - on Monday, 15th April, at No. 1, Melville- street, Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, Thomas Gibson, Esq. R.N. Surgeon-Superintendent of the convict ship 'Neptune,' native of Doune, Perthshire, Scotland. [Dr. Gibson is the second Surgeon-Superintendent of this ship who has died since she commenced her ill omened voyage; Dr. Deas, R.N. the original Surgeon-Superintendent of the ship, died shortly after her arrival at the Cape, and Dr. Gibson shortly after her arrival at Hobart Town -  The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Sat 11 May 1850 Page 2

It is our painful duty to record the death of the above named gentleman, he came out in charge of the men on board the Neptune, recently from the Cape of Good Hope. We understand the deceased laboured under a depression of spirits from the time he took charge of the men on board the Neptune. On Saturday last Dr. Gibson took lodgings at Mrs. Stewarts, Melville street, and was attended by one of the men who came out in the ship with him (John Mason).

On Sunday last, Drs. Officer, Agnew, and the Dr. of the St. Vincent, visited the deceased and ordered strong stimulants to be given, hoping that he would rally, but about 12 o'clock on Sunday night Dr. Gibson found that he could not recover and sent for the Rev. Mr. Campbell with whom he left instructions as to the arrangement of his funeral, which he requested should be private, as well as other matters, and about half-past eleven on Monday night the deceased expired. The deceased we hear was about 54 years of age and was born in the neighbourhood of Ayr, Scotland
. - Hobarton Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania (Hobart, Tas. 1847 - 1854) Sat 20 Apr 1850 Page 2


[1] Haultain, C. (compiled), The New Navy List, 1840, p. 221