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Convict Ship
Fortune 1806

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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: 260 male convicts
Voyage: 165 days
Deaths: 3
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: William Pitt arrived 11 April 1806
Next vessel: Alexander arrived 20 August 1806
Captain Henry Moore

The Fortune was built in Spain.

The military guard on the Fortune consisted of 27 rank and file commanded by Ensign Mullin of the 8th Royal Veterans Battalion.

The Fortune convicts came from counties throughout England. Some of them were held on the Hulk Retribution before being embarked on the ship. One of the men, Joseph Bather was tried in Lancaster in March 1804. He was sent to the Retribution on 13th December 1804 and spent a year there before being transferred to the Fortune with other prisoners on 14th December 1805. Prisoners from other hulks were transferred to the ship in January 1806......

The Newcastle Courant reported a case concerning two young boys on 26th January 1805...

At the Admiralty sessions, held at the Old Bailey, Jan 16, Benjamin Waterhouse, and Thomas Canterbury, the former sixteen and the latter thirteen years of age, were found guilty of boring holes in the bottom of a sloop, the property of Benjamin Kerrage, then lying about half a mile from Weymouth harbour, in five and a half fathoms water, laden with stone. These boys had been left on board by the master and mate; and by their own confession it appeared that when they were alone in the vessel, one of them said, he wished there was a hole in her bottom; and that they both went down, and, having taken away the lining, they bored two holes in the outside plank, with a large gimlet, the handle of which coming off, it dropped through the hole into the water. They got on shore and ran away into the country. Sir W. Scott, after an appropriate admonition, sentenced them to fourteen years transportation.

The boys were tried on the 16th January 1805 and afterwards taken to Newgate prison. From there on 19th March 1805 they were admitted to the Captivity Hulk with several other prisoners who were also later transported on the Fortune. Thomas Canterbury drowned on 5th July 1805 while on the hulk. Benjamin Waterhouse was sent on board the Fortune on 9th January 1806. It would have been on the Captivity Hulk that he first met Bryan Overhand who later became Master of the famous Lady Nelson.

Other prisoners who had been tried in London admitted to the Captivity and subsequently transported on the Fortune at this time included James Martin, Thomas Jones, Charles Pollard and Thomas Simms. (2) Select Duke of Portland convict ship to find out more about life on the Captivity Hulk.

The Fortune departed 28th January 1806 in company with the Alexander and store ship Lady Madeline Sinclair. The three vessels were under convoy of the Porpoise under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Short. Captain William Bligh and Provost-Marshal William Gore were on board the Madeline Sinclair.

William Bligh's correspondence to Viscount Castlereagh on 15th March 1806 while at sea (lat.11 13 N; long. 24 00 W) gives an indication of the animosity that existed between Captain Short and himself: -

I have the honor to inform your Lordship I am thus far on my voyage to fulfil the mission His Majesty has entrusted to my care; but I regret to say that Captain Short, holding the command of the Porpoise while I am in this ship, has pursued such an irritating and vexatious conduct to me as governor and his superior officer in naval rank, that I shall, so soon as I can draw up the documents, send them to your Lordship, and beseech you to remove him from under my command. (1)

The Fortune parted company with the Porpoise and Sinclair when the Sinclair proceeded to the Cape.

The Fortune arrived at Rio on 11th April and departed there 30th April leaving the Alexander and Elizabeth whalers at that port.  The Fortune arrived in Port Jackson on 12th July 1806.

Three convicts and a soldier of the Fortune died on the passage out. The Alexander shipped 3,696 pounds of beef and 7,314 pounds of pork and the Fortune 14,448 pounds of beef and 28,768 pounds pork to be used for the subsistence of 260 the prisoners during the nine months after arrival. As well as the beef and pork, merchant Simeon Lord also imported many items on the Fortune including gentlemen's hats, boots and shoes, and ladies shoes and straw hats, woollen clothes and trimmings, cutlery, brass furniture for cabinet work, jewellery, tin in sheets with solder, tin ware, earthen and glass ware, window glass, plated tea pots, bridles, saddles and gig harness, Rio sugar, butter and cheese and various items of slop clothing.

The Fortune also brought with her the news of the death of the Right Honorable William Pitt.

The convicts were probably mustered on board although only brief information was recorded. The convict indents included only the prisoner's name, date and place of conviction and sentence. There is occasional information about tickets of leave or pardons.

On the 20th July the Sydney Gazette reported that twenty convicts who arrived on the Fortune were proceeding to Port Dalrymple on the store ship Venus. Perhaps some of the prisoners of the Fortune who remained in Sydney witnessed the pomp and ceremony surrounding Governor King when he departed on the Buffalo in August 1806. The Fortune was still in Sydney Harbour and joined in the salute to the departing Governor.

The Fortune departed for Bengal on 19th August. Those who were to take their passage to Bengal included George Garret, Edward Smith, Edward Dram, Edward Dry, Richard Clarke, Henry Moody, John Guernsey, Thomas Horrox, Timothy Merrick, Anthony Clarke, George Loder, William Smith, James Kirk, Thomas Daily and George Coulson.

The above mentioned convict Joseph Bather was sent to the penal settlement at Newcastle in 1812 after committing a colonial crime. Conditions were harsh at the settlement and he may have been sent to the coal mines or the limeburners gang. In a foolhardy bid to escape unending toil, deprivation and punishment he absconded from the settlement in February 1813. His name was posted in the Sydney Gazette with other absconders from Newcastle - some of the most desperate and hardened convicts in the colony. The Commandants at Newcastle encouraged natives to assist in tracking down absconding prisoners and Bather was captured at Broken Bay and returned to authorities in Sydney having been first stripped and beaten by the natives.

John Millward from Warwick had a very different experience as a convict. He was tried on 28th July 1804 and sent to the hulk Laurel. He was transferred to the Fortune with others from the Laurel on the 9th January 1806. He became a constable at Lower Portland Head and in 1819 accompanied John Howe's expedition to the north west.

The Fortune was one of four convict ships arriving in 1806. The others being the Tellicherry, William Pitt and the Alexander. Approximately 575 prisoners arrived in the colony in 1806.... 193 females and 382 males.

The Fortune returned to New South Wales with convicts in 1813

Notes & Links:

1). Henry Moore was also Captain of the Reliance in 1795 which brought Governor Hunter to the colony. Also on board the Reliance were surgeon George Bass and midshipman Matthew Flinders. Henry Moore was also captain of the Wanstead in 1814.

2). The death of the above-mentioned convict Benjamin Waterhouse was reported in the Sydney Gazette in September 1817....Mr. Wiseman lost his vessel, the Hope of 15 tons, about two months ago at Port Stephens; on which occasion two men were killed by the natives; one of whom was Benjamin Waterhouse, formerly mate of the Lady Nelson and the other James Cowen. These unhappy victims to native ferocity had, as appears from Mr. Wiseman's report, proceeded in a boat up a creek, with intent to look after cedar, but never more returned.

3). Cambridge - March 18 - At our Assizes which ended on Friday last, George Jubb, William Smith and Thomas Jubb for uttering forged Bank of England notes, were convicted, and sentenced to 14 years transportation - William Dockerell for stealing beans, and John Mashey for stealing stockings were each sentenced to 7 years transportation - The Bury and Norwich Post 20 March 1805.

4). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Fortune in 1806  

5). Convicts of the Fortune in the Hunter Valley region:

Name Convicted at Location NSW
Joshua Baither Lancaster 1804 Newcastle
Joseph Bridge Lancaster 1804  
John Brown Middlesex 1804 Newcastle
William Brown / Chalkley London 1804 Newcastle
John Bunn Worcester 1804 Newcastle
William Clarke Middlesex 1805 Patrick Plains
Henry Foss Middlesex 1804 Newcastle
James Francis Gloucester 1804 Newcastle
John Gains / Gaines Southampton 1805 Newcastle
James Hargraves Lancaster 1804  
Patrick Healy / Haley Huntingdon 1802 Newcastle
Maurice Healy Middlesex 1802 Newcastle
James Heath Middlesex 1804 Newcastle
Samuel Hogg Lancaster 1805 Newcastle
Henry Jackson Essex 1803 Appin / Newcastle
James Martin London 1804 Newcastle
James McGuire / McNally Lancaster 1804 Newcastle
John Millwood / Millward Warwick 1804 Lower Portland Head
Bryan Overhand Lancaster 1805 Sydney/ Newcastle
James Richardson Lancaster 1805 Wallis Plains
Henry Schooler Middlesex 1805 Parramatta/ Newcastle
Thomas Sims London 1805 Sydney/ Newcastle
Benjamin Waterhouse Admiralty CM 1805 Port Stephens


(1) HR NSW, Vol. VI, p.46

(2) Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books; Class: HO9; Piece: 8 (Ancestry)     


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