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Convict Ship
 Experiment 1809

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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: 60 women
Voyage: 155 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Aeolus arrived 26 January 1809
Next vessel: Boyd arrived 14 August 1809
Captain Joseph Dodds
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This was a different vessel to the Experiment 1804 and according to Charles Bateson was the smallest vessel ever employed in the convict service at only 146 tons. She carried a crew of only 12 men and mounted eight guns.

Charles Bateson noted that the Experiment belonged to Peter Evet Mestaers, a Dutchman and prominent London shipowner.
Beef and pork for the use of convicts in the colony were shipped on both the Experiment and the Boyd.(4) According to the Historical Records of Australia the Experiment also carried 1500 bags of wheat, 5 chests of tea, 2 tubs of sugar candy, 6 bales of piece goods and 4 casks of rum. (1)

The Experiment sailed from the Downs to embark convicts in Ireland on 29th October 1808. The Freeman's Journal reported on 10th November 1808 - "Two vessels laden with convicts under sentence of transportation, and destined for Botany Bay, now remain in the great dock of the Grand Canal Company near Ringsend; one is a sloop cutter-rigged in which the females are deposited, the other a brig-rigged vessel, in which the male convicts are to be embarked (the Boyd); several persons have been, and are further expected to be transmitted from different parts of the country to add to this precious exportation....On Tuesday between 40 and 50 male convicts, and upwards of 20 female convicts were conveyed from Newgate in a number of jingles, jaunting cars and carts which were prepared for the occasion, to the great dock of the Grand Canal, where they were embarked in the vessels now moored there, in which they are to be transportation to Botany Bay.

The Experiment was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Tellicherry in August 1805. The Experiment departed from Cork on the 21st January 1809 in convoy and arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 9th March 1809 remaining there nine days. The Experiment arrived in Sydney Cove on 25th June 1809 with 60 female prisoners. All the women were landed in good health.

The Experiment was the next female convict ship to arrive after the Aeolus in January 1809. After the turmoil of the previous few years, the colony was in transition when the Experiment arrived.

Colonel William Paterson was Administrator after the departure of William Bligh. Colonel Lachlan Macquarie was appointed Governor in April 1809 but had yet to arrive. By the time the Experiment arrived in Sydney the Factory at Parramatta had been re-established under Benjamin Barrow and some of the women may have been taken there, however it is possible that they were disposed of in the same manner as those of the Aeolus five months previously.

Governor Macquarie had received orders from Viscount Castlereagh to address the system of assignment of female convicts on 14th May 1809 before departure, however Macquarie didn't arrive in the colony until December 1809:

Viscount Castlereagh to Governor Macquarie
14th May 1809 -

It has been represented to me that upon the arrival of a ship with female convicts in NSW the unfortunate females have been given into the possession of such of the inhabitants, free settlers, and convicts, indiscriminately, as made a demand for them from the Governor. If a practice so extraordinary and disgraceful has not been abolished, you will be no means suffer it to continue, an I am to desire you will take the proper means for having the female convicts upon their arrival, kept separate till they can be properly distributed in such a manner as may best encourage attention to industry and character....The female convict, it is stated, is seldom apprenticed, and she lived indiscriminately, first in one family, then in another. (2)

The Experiment departed Sydney bound for Bengal on 11 July 1809 with between 70 and 80 tons of sandal wood. The return of the Experiment with a supply of necessary items for the Colony was expected in about seven months. Those intending to depart on her included Thomas Mills, James White, William Fielding and Charles Sutherland.

She arrived back in the colony to the great relief of Governor Macquarie who informed Viscount Castlereagh in correspondence dated 8th March 1810...There being no certain prospect of relief from any quarter, to supply the present wants of the colony, I immediately ordered 300 acres of the Government farm to be prepared for a crop of early potatoes and wheat, intending to put the troops and all other persons victualled by the Crown upon a reduced ration; but fortunately on the very day that I had fixed for resorting to this very unpleasant expedient, the ship Marian, and in a few days after her the brig Experiment, arrived to our relief with contract wheat from Bengal. (3)  

Notes and Links:

1). Julia Leahy was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing one bolster, two pillows and a pair of blankets from John Hughes in Dublin (Freeman's Journal 11 August 1808)

2). Early in 1809 artist John Eyre painted scenes of the west side and the east side of Sydney providing a glimpse of the harbour as it may have appeared to these women over two hundred years ago.

3). A description of Newgate prison, Dublin 1825.....

4). A description of a jingle in Ireland Sixty Years Ago written in 1851......

5). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Experiment in 1809

6). Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales in 1809 - Aeolus, Experiment, Boyd and Indispensable.

7). Some of the Prisoners of the Experiment:

NameConvicted at Location NSW
Ann Carr (Hinchley) Dublin 1807 Newcastle
Mary Clarke Dublin 1806 Newcastle
Elizabeth Findlay   Newcastle
Catherine Gibson   Newcastle
Rose Lamb Dublin 1805 Newcastle
Mary McLean Monaghan 1808 Newcastle
Mary Saunders Dublin 1808 Maitland.
Honoria Sparks Cork 1806 Newcastle



(1)  HRA., Series 1, Vol. VII, p.321

(2) HR NSW Volume 7., p.146

(3)  HR NSW vol. VII, p.300

(4) Colonial Secretary's correspondence, (NRS 898) Special bundles, 1794-1825 Item: 4/1795 Page: 54


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