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Convict Ship Buffalo 1840


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Embarked: 82 American Patriots and 58 French-Canadian
Departed Quebec 28 September 1839
Arrived Van Diemen's Land 11 February 1840
Arrived Port Jackson 25 February 1840
Deaths: 1
Commander: James Wood
Trials in Montreal




H.M.S. Buffalo c. 1836. State Library South Australia

HMS Buffalo was a store ship of the Royal Navy, originally built and launched at Calcutta in 1813 as the merchant vessel Hindostan. The Admiralty purchased the Hindostan that same year and after arrival in Britain and she was re-named the Buffalo.

The Buffalo transported female convicts to New South Wales in 1833 and immigrants to South Australia in 1836. In 1837 she transported a prisoner from South Australia to New South Wales.


In 1839 the Buffalo transported American and French Canadian patriots to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales. The Buffalo departed Plymouth bound for Quebec on 14th June 1839 with detachments of the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards. In Quebec American and Canadian Patriots, who had been convicted of treason were embarked for transportations.  The Buffalo departed Quebec on 28th September 1839 sailed via Rio de Janeiro, and arrived off Hobart, Tasmania, on 11th February 1840. The Americans were disembarked in Hobart, but the French convicts from Lower Canada were to be sent to Sydney. The Buffalo departed Hobart on 19th February and arrived in Sydney on 26th February 1840 with the 58 French-Canadians



Prisoner Francois Xavier Prieur kept a journal and later wrote an account of his days in Canada, the voyage on the Buffalo and his life as a convict. In his journal published as Notes d'un condamné Politique de 1838 (Montreal, 1869)he described his misfortune and misery on the voyage of the Buffalo between Quebec and Port Jackson. Following is an adaptation of  sections of the journal dealing with the voyage from Montreal to Port Jackson

After a fatiguing and freezing voyage on the steamer it was about 11 o’clock on September 27 when we came alongside the Buffalo in Quebec harbour. It was three stories high, armed with fifteen to twenty guns and with about a hundred and fifty crew. They put us in handcuffs and took us to our cabins which were on the third deck and well below the waterline. There were two corridors on each side of the ship with a width of eleven and a half feet which was divided into a space of three feet with a bench of about eighteen inches wide; so a double row of compartments six feet deep that were the beds. The descent was by a hatch about two feet square and two sentries took positions above.

I found my bed which was nearby Captain Hector Pierre Morin and Morin’s son Achille Morin; Hypolite Lanctot and Dr. Samuel Newcome and Leandre (Leon) Ducharme. Once our small suitcases were stowed in the dark narrow, fetid prison, dinner was served and consisted of cold corned beef and biscuit. And then we were left to our sad reflections and terrible foreboding. At night dinner was a thin gruel of oatmeal and there was a bucket for water which was rationed to a pint cup of water. Immediately after dinner the sound of a bell signified that it was time for bed. This bell sounded every night at eight hours. The sunrise time was fixed at six. Absolute silence was ordered during the night and it was forbidden to communicate at any time with each other. The first night, despite the uncomfortable hard disgusting bed, I slept well all night after the fatiguing and emotional day.

At six o’clock the next day I left my bed ‘ a little bruised, suffocated and greatly indignant at being inspected in the corridor by an officer doing his rounds. Hardly out of my bed, the sound of the chains as the anchors were raised signifying that the ship was soon to be in motion. And so we left our homeland. We kneeled together in prayer a practise faithfully observed morning and evening throughout the voyage. The first prayers that morning were interrupted by gun shots fired by the Buffalo which was answered by the guns of the citadel of Cap Diamant. At 7am we were divided into twelve sections to receive victuals. A bucket was used for all the food however there were no knives or spoons; all the table service consisted of was a small cup or measuring pint. The diet consisted of a pint of oatmeal sweetened; dinner 4 oz of beef salted; 4 ounces of suet pudding and some ounces of biscuit or alternatively every other day, a pint of soup with peas, 8 ounces and 11 ounces bacon biscuit; Supper was a pint of cocoa with a little biscuit. The dining group to which I belonged enjoyed the luxury of a small pocket knife that had belonged to Captain Morin which was used to cut meat.

In the mornings half the prisoners (72 men) were brought up on deck and stayed there until 11am weather permitting. In the afternoon the other half took the same on the forecastle and stayed until half past five. During the first days of the journey there was at least the pleasure of seeing the shores of the St. Lawrence. For five days the sea was beautiful but on the fifth day it became rough under the effects of strong winds and soon seasickness began to make it appearance.

Those who have tasted of seasickness or who were able to see the effects those alone could imagine what state we were in; deprived of light but mostly air, crammed into a narrow space and forbidden to occupy the beds, so poor they were, during the day. The poor patients were continually forced to cling to anything to get back on the narrow bench from where the ship jolts and weakness rushed them constantly on a deck made wet slippery and foul by vomit. Only thirteen (I was one) escaped the disease for eight days we had the pain of seeing our companions prey to these tortures. Rain wind and the roll prevented us all this time enjoy the ride, the first few days. The smell would become suffocating. For eight days our poor companions had to undergo these terrible tests of seasickness and for eight days those who did not suffer the malady cared for them, cleaning them, helping them to raise when they fell, introducing them to the beds in the evening and getting them up in the morning for inspection

Finally on the fourteenth day after departure, calm and sunshine reappeared and we could go on top deck to breathe the pure fresh air of the sea. Soon after this rumours of a mutiny caused belongings to be searched and conditions to deteriorate as well.

Once a week we washed in salted water with a brush and a white kind of earth that served as soap. On 15th October we were ordered to do spring cleaning using lime, an operation that was renewed once weekly for the remainder of the voyage because of the dangers of diseases as the warmer climates came on.

Twice a week shaving took place, each in turn subjected to frightful razors, half rusted and poorly maintained. Shaving was with cold water without mirror often at roll in the ship by a stormy sea. I suffered less than some as my young beard was easy to shave but others returned to their cabin after being shaved, in blood and with eyes drowned with tears. There was great suffering from the heat in the tropics and with having only a pint of water per day to quench insatiable thirsts.

One man from Haut Canada named Priest, succumbed to his sufferings and was buried in the waves. The American prisoners were refereed to as of Haut Canada.

Among my companions I will mention especially my friend the notary Hypolite Lanctot of Laprairie because of the friendship that has always bound us for our exile and he who has never wavered. I was able to witness his suffering during the whole trip; they were extreme.

It is good hearts everywhere we met in the Buffalo crew! Two soldiers touched by so much misery, had humanity to bring a little sick water in which they had mixed their ration rum; found out, they were both whipped.

On 30th November, after two months of sailing, we made Rio de Janeiro. This release was necessitated by the need to procure food and water. They enjoyed during the few days stay the view of the beautiful landscape there. In our walks on deck we watched the tranquil waters of the bay surrounded by picturesque mountains and elegant boats of all kinds that plied the waters. These delicious scenes reminded us of the happy shores of the St. Lawrence and reminded us of loved ones that we had left perhaps alas! To no longer see again in this world. Our call into the Port of Rio Janeiro was five days and during this time we were given a little more freedom.

Sailing again on December 5, the voyage began again the suffering. However the wind was favourable and it was not without a certain pleasure that we saw our ship cleave the waves; for though the fate that awaited us on the land of exile was a terrible fate, however, our great concern of the moment was to be able to leave this terrible ship in the flanks which all the tortures were inflicted upon us. If on one hand our fate was somewhat softened by additional gill of lemonade and increased supply of water, and reduction of heat; of another side, vermin, multiplying in our beds we also had to endure the pain indescribable of scurvy

On 28 December we crossed the ocean and we were at the height of the Cape of Good Hope. Two days later we had crossed into the Pacific Ocean. The year 1840 arrived – It was a sad day, what sighs we sent to the motherland. The memories of childhood, affections of the family, everything that passes through the memory and the human heart was arguing with sadness and our fate.

9th February 1840, we began to distinguish the horizon coasts of Van Diemen’s Land but then a contrary wind arose and it was four more days before the ship dropped anchor in Hobart on 13th February in the afternoon. At Hobart the prisoners were disembarked into boats….We could say goodbye to those unfortunate companions in misfortune. We were foreign to each other, foreign by beliefs, by blood, by language, by manners; we did not know, for the most their names, they knew ours, many of us could not understand English but we shook hands with them in farewell.

We had, during our stay in Hobart town a visit from a man who I cannot give the name but whose noble figure will never fade from my memory. He was an officer of the British troops stationed in the area. This worthy military, whose language denoted a perfect education, gave, on seeing us, the warmest sympathy. Browsing our ranks, saluting us with kindness, he told us to hope for better days: - "All are not criminals, 'he said, and your exile not last forever. He told us that he, too had been a prisoner of war, while serving in Spain: he had suffered boredom and miseries of captivity. Before leaving, he crowned his good offices with the words, that I quote from memory, but I'm sure not too far off from the literal: "Gentlemen, you do not need to be ashamed, I see nothing of branding for your honor in the cause your exile. "

At three o’clock in the afternoon on 19th February we left the port of Hobart driven by a favourable wind, bound for Port Jackson


Two of the prisoners of the Buffalo have been identified in the Hunter Valley - Francois Xavier Provost and Edward Pascal Rochon

TRIALS AND SENTENCES OF THE CANADIAN REBELS..... from Notes d'un condamné Politique de 1838

Abbreviations;

Burnt - properties that were burned to the ground leaving families homeless;

Deported - to those whose death sentence was changed to deportation to life in the penal colony of Australia;

Exile - to indicate those who received the intimation of away from the country.

 

Order listed by proceeding before the court martial ..

FIRST TRIAL began November 28th, ended December 14, 1838.

Joseph Narcisse Cardinal, lawyer, member of parliament; Parish of Châteauguay, 30 years old, father five children, burnt, condemned to death, and executed December 21, 1838.

Joseph Duquette, a student of law,  Parish of Châteauguay, 22 years old, not married, burnt, condemned to death and executed: December 21.

Joseph L'Ecuyer, Châteauguay farmer, 30 years old, father of a child, burnt condemned to death, released on bail.

Jean Louis Thibert, farmer Châteauguay, 52 years old, father of three, condemned to death, transported.

Jean Marie Thibert, farmer Châteauguay, aged 37, father of four, condemned to death, transported

Leandre Ducharme,  dealer Montreal, unmarried, aged 22, condemned to death, transported.

 Joseph Guimond, cultivator of Châteauguay, 50 years old, father of three, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Guérin Dussault, a farmer of Châteauguay, aged 36, father of four, condemned to death, transported.

Édouard Therien, of Châteauguay, acquitted.

Antoine Côté, farmer Châteauguay  48, father of eight children, condemned to death, released under supervision.

François Maurice Lepailleur, usher Châteauguay, aged 32, father of two children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Lesiège, shoemaker of Châteauguay, acquitted.

 

SECOND TRIAL. Started December 17, ended December 22, 1838.

Charles Huot, notary Napierville, aged 52 years, unmarried, condemned to death, 

 

THIRD TRIAL began December 24, 1838, ended January 2, 1839,

Guillaume Lévesque, law student Montreal, 19 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, exiled.

Pierre Théophile Decoigne, notary Napierville, aged 27, father of two sets children, burnt, condemned to death, executed on January 18, 1839

Achille Morin, Napierville grower, 22 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, deported.

Joseph Jacques Hébert, a farmer of Napierville, 38 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, transported.

Hubert Drossin Leblanc, farmer Napierville, aged 31, father of four  children, burnt,  deported.

David Drossin Leblanc, farmer Napierville, aged 36, father of six children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

François Trépanier, son, Napierville, aged 16, sentenced to death, released on bail.

Pierre Hector Morin, ship boss (Captain), Napierville, aged 58, a father of five children, burnt condemned to death, transported.

Joseph Paré, a farmer of Napierville, aged 45, married, no children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Lemelin, Napierville grower, acquitted

Jean Batiste Dozois, farmer Napierville, acquitted

 

FOURTH TRIAL - started January 3 and ended January 10, 1839.

Robert Joseph, a farmer from Saint-Philippe, aged 59, a father of five,  condemned to death and executed January 18, 1839.

 Jacques Robert, a farmer of Saint-Edouard, acquitted. '

Ambroise Sanguinet head, farmer, of Saint-Constant, aged 38, a father of five en- children, condemned to death and executed on 18 January.

Charles Sanguinet  grower Saint-Philippe, 36, father of two sets children, condemned to death and executed on 18 January.

Paschal Pinsonnault,  grower Saint-Philippe, 28 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, transported.

Francois Xavier Hamelin, farmer Saint-Philippe, aged 23, unmarried, sentenced to death and executed on 18 January.

Robert Theophilus , grower, Saint-Edouard, aged 24, married, no children, condemned to death, transported.

Joseph Longtin, Saint-Constant, acquitted.

Jacques Longtin, farmer of Saint-Constant, 59 years old, father of eleven children, condemned to death, transported.

Robert Jacques, Saint-Edouard, acquitted. 

 

FIFTH TRIAL started on January 11, ended January 21, 1839.

Jean Baptiste Bousquet Henri Brien, doctor Sainte-Martine,  23, unmarried, sentenced to death commuted to exile.

Ignatius Gabriel Chevrefils farmer Sainte-Martine, aged 43, father of seven children, condemned to death, transported.

Joseph Dumouchelle, grower, Sainte-Martine aged 45 years, father of four children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Dumouchelle, hotel Sainte-Martine, aged 40, father of six children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Jacques Goyette, farmer, of Saint-Clément de Beauharnais, aged 48, father three children, burnt, condemned to death deported.

Toussaint Rochon, wheelwright of Saint-Clément, 28 years old, father of two, condemned to death, transported.

Francois Xavier Prieur,  aged 23, unmarried,  condemned to death, transported.

Joseph "Wattier  Lanoie, Of Cedar, 57, father of  children burned, condemned to death, released on C'vation.

François-Marie-Thomas Chevalier de Lorimier Montréal notary,  34, the father three children, condemned to death and executed February 15, 1839:

Jean Laberge, Sainte-Martine carpenter, aged 34, father of six, fire, condemned to death, transported.

François Xavier Touchette, blacksmith Sainte-Martine, aged 30, father four children, burnt, condemned to death, deported.

 

SIXTH TRIAL began January 22, finished January 24, 1839.

Charles Hindelang, military, Paris, France  29 years, unmarried,  condemned to death and executed February 15, 1839.

 

SEVENTH TRIAL began January 26, ended in February 1839.

Pierre Remi Narbonne, bailiff , aged 36, father of two, sentenced to death and executed on February 15 1839.

Amable Daunais, farmer, of Saint Cyprien, 21 years old, unmarried, condemned to death and executed on 15 February.

 Constant Bousquet, grower, St.  Cyprien, exonerated.

Pierre Lavoie, a farmer from Saint-Cyprien  aged 48, a father of nine,  condemned to death, transported.

Antoine Doré, merchant of Saint-Jacques on Minor acquitted.

Antoine Coupal dit Lareine , farmer, Sainte-Marguerite;  49 years old, father of twelve children, condemned to death, transported.

Theodore Bédard, grower, Sainte-Marguerite old 47 year old father of ten children, condemned to death, transported.

François Camyré, hotel Sainte-Constant, 53 years old, father of five,  condemned to death, released on bail.

François Beisson, cultivator of Saint-Cyprien, aged 47, father seven children, condemned to death, transported.

Joseph Marceau, farmer, of Saint Cyprien, 30 years old, father of two, condemned to death, transported.

Francois Nicolas, teacher, Saint Athanase, 44 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, and executed February 15, 1839.

 

EIGHTH TRIAL, began February 7, ended February 21, 1839.

James Perrigo, merchant of Sainte-Martine  acquitted.

Louis Turcot, Sainte-Martine grower, aged 33, father of six, condemned to death, transported.

Jean Marie Lefevre Sainte-Martine,  exonerated.

Godfrey Chaloux, Sainte-Martine,  exonerated.

Désiré Bourbonnais, blacksmith Saint Clement, 19 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, transported.

Michel Lonotin, farmer, of Saint Clement, 53 years old, father of five, condemned to death, transported.

Charles Roy dit Lapensée, farmer Saint Clement, 50, father of a children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

François Xavier Provost, innkeeper of St. Clement, aged 28 years, father of three children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Isidore Tremblay, farmer, of Saint Clement, acquitted.

André Papineau dit Montigny, blacksmith Saint Clement, aged 30 years, father of seven children, condemned to death, transported.

David Cagnon, carpenter of Saint-Timothée, 30 years old, father of two, con- condemned to death, transported.

Charles Rafin, bailiff and innkeeper of Saint-Timothée, aged 29, d3, father of three  children, burned, released bail.

 

NINTH TRIAL started on February 22, ended February 28, 1839.

Louis Bourdon, merchant of Saint-Césaire, 22 years old, father of two,  condemned to death, transported.

Jean Batiste Bousquet, miller of Saint-Césaire, 39 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, deported.

François Guertin, farmer, Saint-Césaire aged 43, sentenced to death, transported.

 

TENTH TRIAL - ended in March 1839.

Guillaume Charles Bouc, Clerk, Newgood, aged 46, father of seven children, condemned to death, transported.

Leo Leclerc, grower of Terrebonne 40, father of six children, condemned to death, released on bail.

Paul Gravel, farmer of Terrebonne, aged 23 years, unmarried, condemned to death, released on bail.

Antoine Roussin, a farmer of Terrebonne, aged 36, a father of five, condemned to death, released on bail.

François St. Louis, a farmer of Terrebonne, aged 36, father of four, condemned to death, released on bail.

Edouard Paschal Rochon, wheelwright NewGood, age 38, father of a child, condemned to death, transported.

 

ELEVENTH TRIAL

Louis Desfayettes, farmer of Saint Cyprien, aged 38, father of two, burned condemned to death, transported.

David Jacques Hébert, grower of Saint Cyprien, aged 47 year old father of eight children, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

David Demers, farmer, of Saint Cyprien, aged 26, father of four, condemned to death, released on bail.

Thomas Surprenant or Lafontaine, cultivated native of Saint-Philippe, aged 47, father of eleven children, condemned to death, released on bail.

Hypolite Lanctot, notary Saint-Rémi, 23, father of two children, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Pinsonnault, farmer, of Saint-Rémi, 40 years old, father of three children, burned  condemned to death, transported.

Kéné Pinsonnault, grower of Saint-Edouard, aged 49, father of six children, condemned to death, transported.

Etienne Languedoc, farmer, of Saint Constant, 21 years old, unmarried,  condemned to death, transported.

Bénoni Verdon, farmer of Saint-Edouard, 30 year old father of five children, condemned to death, released on bail.

Etienne Langlois, grower, St. Marguerite, aged 25, married, no children, condemned to death, transported

 

TRIAL, started on March 20, ended March 22, 1839.

Charles Mondat, farmer of Saint-Constant, 33 years old, father of three, condemned to death, released on bail.

Clovis Patenaude, farmer, 45 years old, father of three, condemned to death, released on bail.

Moyse Longtin, a farmer from Saint-Constant, 24 years old, unmarried, condemned to death

 

 TRIAL. March 25, ended April 8, 1839.

Michel Allery, Saint-Clement carpenter 34 years old, father of four, condemned to death, transported.

Joseph Goyette, carpenter of Saint-Clement  aged 28, father of two, condemned to death, transported.

Louis Henault, notary of Saint-Clement, aged 25 years, unmarried, condemned to death, released on bail.

Basile Roy, farmer, of Saint-Clement, aged 40 years, father of five, sentenced to death, transported.

Joseph Roy, farmer, of Saint-Clement, aged 55, father of eight children, condemned to death, released on bail.

 Joseph  Roy Lapensée, son of Louis, native of Saint-Clement, aged 24, father of one child, condemned to death, transported.

Edouard Tremblay, farmer, of Saint-Clement  33 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, released on bail.

Philippe Tremblay, farmer, of Saint-Clement, 26 years old, unmarried, condemned to death, released on bail.

François Vallée, grower, Sainte-Martine, 30 years old, father of three, burnt, condemned to death, released on Bail

Constant Buisson, Sainte-Martine 28, father of a child, condemned to death, transported.

Charles Bergevin or Langevin, farmer of Sainte-Martine, aged 60 years, father of seven children, burnt, condemned to death, deported.

Antoine Charbonneau, Saint  Timothée, aged 46, father of eight  children, condemned to death, released on bail.

Joseph Cousineau, farmer from Saint-Timothée, aged 40, a father of five, condemned to death, released on bail.

François Dion, cobbler Saint-Timothée aged 48, father of six, condemned to death, released on bail.

Louis Julien, farmer of Saint-Timothée, aged 37, father of four, condemned to death, released on bail.

Jean Baptiste. Trudelle, farmer Chateauguay, aged 32, father of three, condemned to death, transported.

Moses Dalton, farmer of Châteauguay, 25 years old, father of a child, condemned to death, released on bail.

Samuel Newcombe, doctor of Châteauguay, 65 years old, father of five, burnt, condemned to death, transported.

Jeremiah Rochon, wheelwright of St. Vincent de Paul, aged 36, a father of five, condemned to death, transported.

 

 FOURTEENTH TRIAL started on April 10, ended 1 in May 1839.

Benjamin Mott, grower in Alburgh the State of Vermont, 42 years old, father two children, condemned to death, transported.

 

Notes & Links:

1). Trials of the Canadian rebels held in Montreal in 1838

2). A Deep Sense of Wrong: The Treason, Trials and Transportation to New South Wales of Lower Canadian Rebels after the 1838 Rebellion

3). Convict ship bringing political prisoners and protesters

4). François Xavier Prieur at Australian Dictionary of Biography

5). Pierre Hector Morin later became harbour master of Montreal. Find out more at Hyde Park Barracks Museum

6). The Buffalo was wrecked in Mercury Bay off Whitianga in 1840. She was driven ashore on the beach at what is now Whitianga in a howling gale and mountainous seas. Although two sailors drowned getting ashore from the striken sail vessel, Captain James Wood's actions and help from local Maori are credited with preventing the deaths of more crew. Stranded only 100m off the low water mark, the Buffalo later gave its name to Buffalo Beach, even though the ship's hulk disappeared beneath the waves a century ago. Traces can still be seen from the air in clear conditions.  Find out more at Whitianga Times

7). Other Ships bringing American and French-Canadian Patriots included the Marquis of Hastings in 1839 and Canton in 1840

8). Wikipedia - Wreck of the Buffalo.......

The Wreck of the H.M.S. Buffalo 

 







 

 

 

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