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Convict Ship Bencoolen 1819

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Embarked 150 men
Voyage 123 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Baring arrived 26 June 1819
Next vessel: Mary arrived 26 August 1819
Captain Joseph Ball Antice
Surgeon Superintendent William Evans  
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The Bencoolen was built at Liverpool in 1818.

On 22 April 1819 Dr Edward Trevor, superintendent and medical inspector of convicts, wrote to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, concerning varied state of clothing and health of the 310 convicts recently embarked on convict ships Bencoolen and Mary. He commented on the condition of convicts sent from Newgate jail, Dublin; Kilmainham jail, Dublin; and Cork city jail and criticised in particular the 'filthy' state of prisoners from Cork city jail, and their drunken behaviour. (1)

The Bencoolen was the next convict ship to leave Ireland for New South Wales after the departure of the Tyne in 1818. The Bencoolen sailed from the Cove of Cork on 24 April 1819 with 150 male prisoners.

The Military Guard consisted of Lieut. Prior and Ensign Hayes of the 46th regiment and a detachment of the 46th and 87th regiments.

Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Lord Eldon, Fame, RecoveryLarkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Ocean, Sir William Bensley, Morley, Marquis of Wellington, Canada, Elizabeth and Coromandel

Other detachments of the 87th regiment arrived on the Grenada and Canada in 1819

This was William Evans' second voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 13 April to 4 September 1819. He recorded in the Journal a case of food poisoning that took place on 7 - 9 June. The crew had caught a Dolphin two days previously which was hung from the rigging for a day without being gutted. Two of the guard were taken ill and six of the crew. One of the prisoners was also taken ill. The worst cases were of the sail maker and Mrs. Clancey, the Sergeant's wife. They suffered with languor, heaviness and faintness, pain in the bowels and a copper colour to their faces with large wheals or lumps.

The Bencoolen arrived in Port Jackson on 25 August 1819 with the convicts in excellent health, none having died on the passage out. The voyage took a total of 123 days and they sailed 15,762 miles. The surgeon remarked on the good behaviour of the prisoners. No corporal punishment had been necessary. Regulations were drawn up at the start of the voyage and a committee of 12 prisoners appointed to settle disputes. He knew that other convict voyages had been characterised as scenes of gambling and impropriety but not a single pack of cards had been found on the Bencoolen. Instead the prisoners paid great attention to their prayer books and religious and moral tracts. The surgeon believed their decency and propriety of behaviour and submissiveness to all those placed over them indicated they meant seriously to retrieve their injured characters.

Classification of the prisoners was by a separation of the young from the old. The better behaved prisoners improved the manners of the others, rather than being corrupted by them.

On the 30th August, five days after arriving in Port Jackson, Mr. Campbell came on board and mustered the prisoners who said they were pleased with their treatment and made no complaints. On the 4th September the convicts were disembarked at daybreak, and the guards at 9am.

The Sydney Gazette noted that the prisoners landed from the various vessels (the Canada, Mary and Bencoolen), during the previous week appeared to be in a healthy and comparatively happy condition. They spoke of the kindness and humanity they received from the Commanders and Officers in the most grateful terms of praise; who expressed universal satisfaction at their orderly conduct and exemplary good behaviour during the voyage.

In September 130 prisoners were trans shipped on the 'Admiral Cockburn' to Hobart.

The Bencoolen was to depart for Calcutta in October 1819  

Notes & Links:

1). Eighteen of the Bencoolen convicts have been identified in the Hunter Valley. Select HERE to find out more about these men.

2). William Evans was also surgeon on the convict ships Sir William Bensley in 1817,  Hindostan in 1821, Asia 1824,  Sir Godfrey Webster in 1826, Southworth in 1834 (VDL) and the Earl Grey in 1836

3). 150 convicts - 4 Protestants and 146 Catholics

4). Convict Henry Comerford later became overseer at the limburner's camp and Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates at Patterson's Plains.

5). Convicts received on board the Bencoolen at Cove of Cork in Ireland - National Archives


(1)  Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives



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