|Surgeon of the Augusta Jessie
Thomas Russell Dunn, joined the ship at Deptford on 9 October 1839.
He kept a Medical Journal from 1 October 1839 to 9 April 1840.
|On the 1st October 1839, I received my appointment to
the convict ship Augusta Jessie, fitting out at Deptford for
the purpose of conveying male convicts from Ireland to New
South Wales. On the 8th, I proceeded to Deptford and
reported myself to the Captain Superintendent and embarked
on the following day. The Guard under the command of Captain
Hill of the 96th regiment embarked on the 10th and we sailed
from Deptford on the 12th of the same month.
On the afternoon of the 18th we were
compelled from the state of the weather to bear up for
Spithead. On the night of the 23rd we anchored in Kingston
Harbour. Having reported the ships' arrival on the 24th to
the proper authorities in Dublin, I went to Kilmainham
jail on the 26th July by appointment and inspected all the
prisoners under sentence of transportation, one hundred of
whom were embarked on the 28th. On the 30th I again visited
Kilmainham and inspected about 60 prisoners, several of whom
I rejected as unfit for the voyage being affected with
purulent ophthalmia. I also rejected two ill conditioned
cases of ulcers and one advanced case of pulmonic disease.
On the 6th November 45 additional transports were sent on
board from Kilmainham and 3 sick returned to that
establishment on the same day. The ship was detained till
the 10th November for the arrival of some prisoners from the
distant counties and on that day the last detachment of
convicts, 16 in number were sent on board and 3 prisoners
previously embarked were landed having been remanded by
order of the government for further examination.
the 11th November the Augusta Jessie sailed from Kingstown
harbour with a crew of 29 men, Guard of 44 officers
and privates, 6 women and 13 children, 155 male convicts
with a government passengers and myself making a total of
209 souls on board.
The weather was cold and many prisoners suffered from sea
sickness. The prisoners were at first placed in messes, with
captains chosen by the surgeon, according to how they appeared on
the jail list, however after sailing they were allowed to form their
own messes and elect captains. A volunteer washer man was selected
from each mess to wash clothes and permanent volunteer parties
cleaned the decks.
There were several non-commissioned
officers and privates of the army among the prisoners and 8 were
selected as a constabulary force, enforcing cleanliness and good
This was Thomas Dunn's first voyage as surgeon but he
thought the Augusta Jessie to have been a remarkably healthy ship.
He attributed this to a number of factors, including, a good height
between decks, a good supply of water and rations, the good
behaviour of the guard, the crew and their officers, the prisoners
being well disposed and the good weather.
cleanliness prizes were offered to the captains of the cleanest
messes and for personal cleanliness. The prizes consisted of books
of amusement or instruction supplied by the Inspector General of
Prisons for Ireland, the merits of the winning individual were
recorded in the flyleaf of each. About 40 junior convicts attended a
school for an hour and a half each morning and afternoon. Bryan Coan
was listed as a schoolmaster on the convict indents and it may have
been he who conducted the school during the voyage. A list of some
of the junior convicts who would have attended the school is below.
On 2 January 1840 the island of Tristan Da Cunha was
sighted, there was some boisterous weather off the Cape of Good Hope
and some water was shipped, rendering the lower deck uncomfortable.
According to the surgeon the thermometer did not fall below 56 in
January. Flannel waistcoats were issued during the cold weather and
an extra blanket to the invalids. Old canvas was nailed around the
stanchions of the fore, main and after hatchways in an effort to
keep below decks dry, charcoal swinging stoves were also kept
burning. For the remaining part of the voyage the weather was
The Augusta Jessie arrived in Sydney on 25 February 1840. The only
death on the voyage out was that of one of the seamen.
The convict indents of the Augusta Jessie include information such as name, age, education,
religion, family, native place, occupation, offence, date and place
of trial, sentence, former convictions, physical description. There
are no details as to where or to whom the prisoners were assigned on
The exemplary conduct of the military prisoners
selected as police on the voyage was reported to the Governor, who
ordered them all to be landed at Sydney to join the mounted police
of the colony. Those who gave their occupation as soldier on arrival
James McDonald and
The four sick
convicts and twenty-three junior prisoners were also landed in Sydney.
The names of the twenty-three junior prisoners were Robert Agee
15, James Byrne 15, William Charles 15, James Carty 13, Edward
Cullen 15, William Cunningham 15, Owen Dowling 15, Michael Dyer 15,
Edward Garty 15, Hugh Gilmore 15, James Gurney 15, John Holan 16,
James Kane 13, John Kelly 15, Peter Kelly 14, Ardle McAleavy, John
Magenity 15, John Murphy 14, Maurice Regan 15, Edward Reid 13,
Patrick Syron 15, William Telford 15 and Thomas Tomkins 13.
A new contract was negotiated with the master of the Augusta
Jessie and 80 convicts were sent on board from the
Woodbridge to be
taken to Norfolk Island. With the remaining 120 originally embarked,
this 200 were landed at Norfolk Island on 27 March 1840. The
Augusta Jessie then returned to Sydney, on 9 April 1840, with a
detachment of the 50th Regiment.
Notes & Links:
Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Augusta Jessie
2). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 96th regiment
to New South Wales included the
3). Convict Ships to Norfolk Island......