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Convict Ship David Malcolm 1845

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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: 90 days
Deaths: 0
Tons: 538
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Master: James Cable
Surgeon Superintendent Harvey Morris

The David Malcolm, surgeon Harvey Morris and the Ratcliffe, surgeon Robert Dobie were engaged at the Downs to take convicts to Australia in April 1845(2).

Soon afterwards orders were received from the Commandant of the Chatham Garrison Colonel Sir T. Willshire, Bart, K.C.B. that officers and men of that garrison were also to hold themselves in readiness to embark at Deptford on the 8th May on board the convict ship David Malcolm for Norfolk Island.

The officers selected for the Guard were Captain Conron, 11th regiment and Paymaster Timbrell of the 58th regiment. The 11th regiment furnished 3 serjeants, 3 corporals and 43 privates; and the 58th regiment one private.(3)

Harvey Morris was officially appointed to the David Malcolm on 14th April 1845.(1) He kept a medical journal from 9th May 1845 to 21st September 1845.

It was reported in the Morning Post on 9th May that the Naiad and Nymph steam packets of the Woolwich Company brought down the river upwards of two hundred convicts the previous morning from Millbank Penitentiary. They were to be embarked on the David Malcolm, which was lying off the Royal Arsenal.

William Burgess, who was sentenced to transportation for his connection with the bank robbery of about 8000l., the greater part of which was recovered when taken in America; Augustus Dalmas, for the murder of a female on Battersea Bridge and Tolzer, for a murder in Ratcliffe highway, were amongst the more notable convicts of the day. They were sentenced to pass the remainder of their lives on Norfolk Island, one of the most severe penal settlements in New South Wales. (4)

The David Malcolm departed the Downs 14th May 1845. They were in the Bay of Biscay on 20th May and on the 20th August during a violent storm were struck by lightning when several men were hit. The surgeon was advised by the Director-General to conduct experiments during the voyage to ascertain treatment for scurvy. Harvey Morris transcribed the directive and included it in his journal........

It being desirable that the effects of Citric Acid in the cure of scurvy should have a fair trial I have directed 15lbs to be placed at your disposal for that purpose and therefore should scurvy appear amongst the convicts in the David Malcolm during the voyages you are to select such a number of patients  as circumstances may permit having symptoms similar to each other and divide them in to three classes taking care that their diet and exercise are the same. To one class let the citric acid be administered and it will be found that half a dram dissolved in one ounce of water will be about the strength of lemon juice - To the second class let the common lemon juice be given in the usual way and to the third class the nitrate of Potassum dissolved in water. You will carefully observe and note the progress of the cases and the result and make a full report on your return to England -
W. Burnett, Director General.

Harvey Morris made a detailed and, as he thought unbiased report to present when he returned to England. He noted that the convicts had been two months and seventeen days on salt provisions when the first complaint was made and the greater part of that time they had nearly an ounce of lemon juice each daily. One of the first men brought to his attention in the case of scurvy was Joseph Hamer*, 29, head schoolmaster of the convicts, who presented himself to the surgeon on the 1st August complaining of pains in the larger joints particularly of the knee and ankle which the surgeon at first thought was arthritis but on examination found symptoms of scurvy (This man although a privileged person was kept more between decks than others in consequence of his occupation). After discovering symptoms of scurvy in the headmaster the surgeon then examined everyone else on board and found that 29 convicts and several soldiers and sailors were affected with similar symptoms.

Other prisoners and passengers mentioned in the surgeon's journal include:
9th May 1845 - Thomas Wainwright, 34, Opthalmia - while still at the Downs, convict
16th May 1845 - Samuel Pope, 40, rheumatism - while still at the Downs, convict.
18th May 1845 - Richard Dawkins, 30, sea sick, convict
20th May 1845 - James Smith, 22, paralysis - Bay of Biscay, convict
20th May 1845 - Abraham Myers, 30, gout - at sea, convict
25th May 1845 - Richard Tompset, 40, debility, convict
29th May 1845 - Richard Hill, 23, debility, convict.
1st June 1845 - George Jackson, 26, scrofula, convict
5th June 1845 - Mary Adams, 2yrs 5 months, soldiers child, hernia
11 June 1845 - Henry Howard - vaccinated, convict
11 June 1845 - John Hargreaves - vaccination, convict
23 June 1845 - John Ogilvie - vaccination, convict
23 June 1845 - William Watson - vaccination, convict
30th June 1845 - Richard Gillett - vaccination, convict
30th June 1845 - Samuel Sudrass - vaccination, convict
30th June 1845 - Samuel Carroll - vaccination, convict
5th July 1845 - Simon Cox, vaccination, convict
5th July 1845 - John Humpries, vaccination, convict
5th July 1845 - William Perkins, vaccination, convict
25th July 1845 - Alexander Low, 15, boy, wound - accidentally stabbed himself with a knife,
5th August 1845 - James Aylward, 21, ulcer following injury, convict

They arrived at Norfolk Island on 25th August 1845. Major Joseph Childs was Commandant at this time. Select here to read Child's report of the conditions awaiting the newly arrived prisoners of the David Malcolm.

The David Malcolm departed Norfolk Island on 10th September,  the same day as the Franklin, both bound for Hobart Town and after departing Hobart arrived in Sydney 20th September 1845.

Notes & Links:

1). Convict Records

2) *Joseph Hamer was tried in Chester and sentenced to transportation for life

3). Read the amazing story of William Burgess and his accomplice Joseph Elder, and their fraudulent transfer of 8000 pounds worth of stock of the Bank of England, and the international pursuit by two officers John and Daniel Forrester - South Australian Register 29 March 1845. A little of William Burgess' circumstances on Norfolk Island can be found in an account later written by William Henry Barber who had arrived on the Agincourt....William Burgess, the Bank of England clerk, robbed the Bank of several thousand pounds and absconded to America was convicted here of conspiring with some of the military for effecting the escape of himself and others from the island; for this he was sentenced to work in chains for eighteen months. Whilst under this sentence he was regularly employed as clerk in the office at Longridge station, whilst, I who have never been accused even of a single infraction of the regulations and who had been ten months longer on the island was up to my knees in mud in the field, exposed to the severities of a most changeable climate - one hour exhausted by heat almost tropical and the next deluges with torrents of rain - and associated with the veriest ruffians that ever disgraced humanity!(5)

4). Augustus Dalmas was transported on the David Malcolm.....April 29: Mrs. Macfarlane, of Bridge road, Battersea, a widow subsisting by keeping a day and Sunday school, was murdered on Battersea Bridge, between 10 and 11 o'clock at night by Augustus Dalmas, who had lived in Battersea 20 years, and had been connected with some chemical works and a floor cloth manufactory at Knightsbidge.

The Annual Register....In our Vol. for 18-14, p. 52, we notice the respite of the above convict, who was found guilty of the dreadful murder of a woman on Battersea Bridge. While under sentence of death at Horsemonger Lane Gaol, Dalmas exhibited either such real or pretended symptoms of insanity, that the Government at the eleventh hour was induced to grant a reprieve for one week, in order that Drs. Monro and Sutherland should have an opportunity of visiting him, and reporting on his state of mind. These gentlemen had two or three lengthened interviews with the prisoner, they entered into the most familiar conversation with him, and noted down very carefully his answers, behaviour, conduct, &c., and in the result came to the conclusion that the prisoner was insane. Dalmas consequently was reprieved during Her Majesty’s pleasure; but was afterwards removed to the Millbank prison, previous to his transportation for life. Orders were given to scrutinize the prisoner's conduct, and he was to remain for a month in the prison, under medical surveillance. The result of this investigation was, that Dalmas remained for about six weeks in the Millbank prison, as a convict for one of the penal settlements, when the medical officers confirming his insanity, he was removed from Millbank prison, to Bethlehem Hospital. Since his admission, however, the medical gentlemen of that institution have doubted his insanity; in fact, they have stated, that since his residence in that establishment, now about eight or nine months, he has exhibited no symptoms of insanity. This circumstance being duly reported to the Secretary of State, the consequence is, that Sir James Graham has issued an order for his removal from Bethlehem to his old quarters at Millbank prison, previous to his commuted sentence being carried into execution. The prisoner will now, consequently, be transported for life to one of the penal settlements.
- The Annual Register Vol. 87 (see also Convict Records)

5). Major Joseph Childs was Commandant at Norfolk Island in 1846 when the David Malcolm arrived. He wrote a Report dated 28 April 1846 which was sent to Lieutenant Governor Latrobe in Van Diemen's Land and which had observations of the Comptroller-General to the side. The much maligned Major Childs recommended separating the newly arrived English prisoners from the hardened colonial convicts who had been double convicted and had lengthy sentences yet to serve. Latrobe thought this impracticable and 'adopted the only measure in his power for checking and preventing existing evils by prohibiting the disembarkation at Norfolk Island of prisoners arriving direct from England'.  Click on the text below to read his correspondence.......

6). Convict Ships to Norfolk Island......
Augusta Jessie 
David Malcolm 
John Calvin 


(1) The Standard (London, England), Monday, April 14, 1845; Issue 6462.

(2) Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian (Southampton, England), Saturday, April 19, 1845; pg. 5; Issue 1132. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

(3) The Standard (London, England), Friday, May 02, 1845; Issue 6478

(4) The Morning Post (London, England), Saturday, May 10, 1845; pg. 7; Issue 23189. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

(5) Colonial Times 24 September 1847  



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