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Convict Ship
 Catherine 1814

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Embarked: 98 women
Voyage: 147 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - No
Previous vessel: Britannia arrived 14 February 1814
 Next vessel: Three Bees arrived 6 May 1814
Master William Simmonds
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The Catherine was the next convict ship leaving Ireland for New South Wales with female prisoners after the departure of the Archduke Charles in May 1812.

The women were gathered from counties throughout Ireland - Antrim, Kilkenny, Galway, Tyrone, Mayo, Longford and Cork.

Over fifty women had been tried in Dublin city. Before the convict depot was opened in Cork in 1817, there were several scandals relating to those brought from Dublin in sloops or brigs to await embarkation. Because of delays, transportees sometimes had to wait on board these vessels for extended periods in appalling conditions.

In 1815, Governor Macquarie of New South Wales complained of the high mortality rate on the Three Bees and the Catherine. The Inspector General of Prisons, Foster Archer, attributed the high mortality to the fact that the convicts had to remain in dock at Dublin for six weeks awaiting suitable winds. They received neither clothing nor bedding, which were considered an unnecessary expense due to the shortness of the journey to Cork. (1)

The Three Bees and the Catherine were to sail from Cork for Falmouth on the first fair wind, there to join the convoy for South America, however the voyage was delayed somewhat when a tremendous gale from the south-east accompanied with heavy rain blew up on the night of the 19th October 1813. The Morning Post reported that the rain and wind continued the entire night and into the following day. The Cornwall Gazette reported that they had finally anchored at Falmouth by 30th October, however they did not sail from Falmouth until 8th December 1813.

It was the height of the Napoleonic wars when the Three Bees and Catherine departed Falmouth and they were to sail in convoy and under the protection of the armed frigates Niger and Tagus.  They parted company from the Niger and the Tagus about a month later when those vessel entered into a battle with the French frigate Ceres. Captain Rainier of the Niger later wrote of the encounter -

The Niger, in company with the Tagus frigate, Captain Pipon, on 6th January near Cape de Verde, had fallen in with the Ceres French frigate, of 44 guns and 324 men, commanded by Baron de Bougainville. The Ceres was one month from Brest on her first cruise. She was manoeuvred in a masterly style during a chase of 238 miles, when the Tagus, being to windward, opened fire, which was briskly returned; but the Enemy's main top-mast being shot away, rendered her escape impossible.

The Tagus, Niger, and their prize the Ceres, sailed on to Rio Janeiro arriving there on the 2nd February.   The Three Bees and the Catherine, both also armed, continued on their journey to New South Wales.

Ninety-seven women arrived in Port Jackson on the 4th May 1814. Praise was given to Capt. Simmonds for his indulgent treatment of the prisoners of the Catherine throughout the voyage. The women were said to be grateful of the kindness they experienced.

Arrival of the convict ship Catherine in 1814 - Sydney Gazette 14 May 1814

Sixty of the women were sent to Van Diemen's Land in May/ June......

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst,
24 May 1814.... {Extract}

The Settlement in Van Diemen's Land being much in want of women, I have embarked sixty of those arrived by the Catherine for thence on board His Majesty's Colonial Brig Kangaroo with the intention of dispatching her in a few days for the Derwent. (2)  Find the names of these sixty women from the Catherine who were transported to VDL on the Kangaroo in the List of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land at the Female Convicts Research Centre.

The Catherine was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1814, the others being the Wanstead and the Broxbourneberry. A total of 322 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1814.

John Palmer returned once more to the colony in the Catherine. He had first arrived in the colony as purser on the Sirius in 1788 and was later employed as Commissary. He was father of John Palmer of Richmond Vale.

The Catherine departed for the whale fisheries on 12th July 1814. Captain Simmons died at sea three days later.

Notes and Links:

1). A topographical dictionary of the United Kingdom By Benjamin Pitts Capper 1813

2). Convicts/ passengers arriving on the Catherine in 1814

3). Female prisoners of the Catherine identified in the Hunter Valley...   

Name Convicted
Mary Carney  
Hannah / Honora Cole Limerick 1812
Margaret Cuddy / Codehy / Dwyer Kilkenny 1813
Elizabeth Hart  
Ann Hayes / Magrath Limerick 1813
Catherine Hearne  
Eleanor Murphy  
Catherine Nixon Monaghan 1812
Catherine Quin Dublin 1813


(1) National Archives Ireland.

(2) HRA, Series 1, Vol. VIII, p. 253  



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