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Convict Ship
Atlantic 1791

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Select from the Links below to find information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850

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Embarked 220 men
Voyage 146 days
Deaths 18
Surgeon's Journal - No
Previous vessel: Matilda arrived 1st August 1791
Next vessel: Salamander arrived 21 August 1791
Captain Archibald Armstrong.
Naval Agent Lieutenant Bowen

The New South Wales Corps formed the Guard on the vessels of the Third Fleet.

In January 1791 the Belfast Newsletter reported on the progress of some of the convicts who were travelling overland to join the vessels of the Third Fleet at Plymouth:

Exeter - On Thursday evening last arrived here, under the care of the gaoler of Bristol, on their way to Plymouth to be shipped for Botany Bay, twenty two convicts in an open waggon, and two who are stiled Gentlemen Convicts, in a tilted cart.

They had each of them an iron collar, and an iron chain run through a ring in each collar, which fastened them all together - the next morning, at eight o'clock, they set off again in the same manner, and though there was a violent storm of hail, wind and rain, they were singing and hallowing as they passed through the street, with great glee and jollity. Whilst these convicts were passing the streets of Exeter in the manner above mentioned , a woman, struck at their hardened conduct, called out to them "Ah! you wretched creatures, how can you be so merry in your dreadful situation?" Merry, mistress" replied one of the, "why bless your funny heart, if you was in our situation you would not only be merry, but actually transported!?

On 17th March at twelve o'clock, two of the transport ships from Portsmouth appeared off the harbour at Plymouth and made a signal to the Atlantic, Salamander and William and Anne vessels lying in Cawsand Bay; on which they weighed anchor, and got under sail immediately.

The London Times reported on the 24 March that the Atlantic, Salamander and William and Ann transports with convicts for Botany Bay, put to sea (again) from Plymouth on the evening of the 23rd, and it was hoped would now get out of the Channel and make a safe passage (4)

The Atlantic was one of eleven vessels of the Third Fleet. The following list of transport vessels provided by Messrs. Camden, Calvert and king contractors for the Commissioners of the Navy for the conveyance of convicts to New South Wales.(1)

Vessel's Name No. of Convicts to each    
  Males Females Total
Queen 175 25 200
Atlantic 220 - 220
William and Ann 188 - 188
Britannia 152 - 152
Matilda 230 - 230
Salamander 160 - 160
Albermarle 275 - 275
Mary Anne - 150 150
Admiral Barrington 300 - 300
Active 175 - 175
Gorgon 31 - 31

The Atlantic anchored at Sydney Cove about midday on 20th August 1791, a voyage of 146 days. Also on board was a sergeant and seventeen privates and provisions. (Hunter's Voyages to New South Wales)

From An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales....On the 20th, the Atlantic transport anchored in the cove from Plymouth, whence she sailed with two other transports; from whom she had parted five weeks since in bad weather between Rio de Janeiro and Port Jackson, the passage from which had not been more than ten weeks. She had on board a serjeant's party of the new corps as a guard to two hundred and twenty male convicts, eighteen of whom had died on the passage: except nine who were sick, the remainder were very healthy. The evening before her arrival she stood into a capacious bay, situated between Long Nose and Cape St. George, where they found good anchorage and deep water. The naval agent on board, who landed, described the soil to be sandy, and the country thickly covered with timber. He did not see any natives, but found a canoe upon the beach, whose owners perhaps were not far off. (2)

The Atlantic left Port Jackson bound for Bengal on 26th October 1791.

Notes and Links:

1). Simeon Lord arrived on the Atlantic as a convict.

2). John Heard who also arrived as a convict died in March 1813 age 70 years. He was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground

3). Thomas Alford who had been tried in Somerset was transported in the Atlantic. He leased a farm at Farm Cove. In 1814 he applied to Governor Macquarie to have his wife Mary Alford join him in New South Wales, however Thomas returned to England on the Kangaroo in 1817........

Governor Macquarie to Under Secretary Goulburn. Sydney, N. S. Wales, 17th May, 1814. Sir, Thomas Alford, an Old and very faithful Servant to Government, who has been for upwards of Twenty five years in this Colony, the greater part of which time he had served as Head Government Gardener to the entire Satisfaction of every successive Governor, having determined to pass the remainder of his days in this country, is particularly desirous to have his wife (who is still alive in England) and any of his family who Request for free may be willing to accompany her, sent out to join him, provided it could be done without any expense, which he is unable to defray. I have therefore to request you will be so good as to move Lord Bathurst to have the Goodness to order a Passage to be found for Thomas Alford's Wife and such of her family, as may wish to accompany her, at the expense of the Government on board of one of the first Convict Ships from England to this Colony. The following is Mrs. Alford's Address, viz. Mary Alford, Curry Rivle, near Taunton, Somersetshire, England. I also enclose a letter from her Husband for her, which I take the liberty to request you will have the goodness to forward, and shall esteem it a favour if you will be so good as to give the necessary facility to the request contained in his Letter - HRA, Series 1, Vol. VIII, p. 252.

4). Some of the vessels of the Third Fleet were to proceed to the Southern Whale Fisheries after unloading the prisoners; the rest were bound for Bengal where they were to be freighted back to England with cotton. The sailors on board the Nootka ships were to have nine guineas for the run to Botany Bay after which they were to share as whale fishermen do. The other sailors were paid twenty five shillings per month. (The Times 15 March 1791)  

5). Hunter Valley convicts/ passengers arriving on the Atlantic in 1791    


1.  Historical Records of Australia, Vol.1, p225

2.  An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales: ... By David Collins, Philip Gidley King, George Bass

3.  The London Times 21st March 1791

4.  The London Times 28 March 1791


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