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Convict Ship Friendship 1818

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Embarked: 101 women
Voyage: 195 days
Deaths 4
Surgeon's Journal: no
Tons: 441
Previous vessel: Ocean arrived 10 January 1818
Next vessel: Guildford arrived 1 April 1818
Captain Andrew Armet.
Surgeon Superintendent Peter Cosgreave
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

The Friendship was the next convict ship to leave England bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Lord Eldon in April 1817. She was the next to bring female prisoners from England after the departure of the Lord Melville in September 1816.

The female prisoners came from different counties throughout England. - Devon, York, Sussex, Lancaster, Cumberland, Middlesex etc. Many were probably held in county prisons and then Newgate before being transferred to the Friendship for transportation to New South Wales.  

By the time the women were being embarked on the Friendship, Elizabeth Fry had been visiting prisons for over three years and during this time Newgate had been transformed. Her visits had become regular after Christmas 1816. In April 1817 Newgate prison was visited by Elizabeth Dudley and Martha Savoury in company with Elizabeth Fry.  

Elizabeth Fry arriving at Newgate prison to read to prisoners - BBC........

Elizabeth Dudley in her memoirs recorded the visit: ......Our visit to Newgate this morning was truly interesting. The alteration which has taken place there within a short time is wonderful. E. Fry and a few other friends have established a school for the children of the convicts, and, also for the women who are under sentence of transportation; and the good effects of order, discipline, and constant occupation are already apparent. Between fifty and sixty of these females, many of them like the offscouring of the earth, were collected in the matron's room, where they sat, not only with becoming quietness, but under feelings of seriousness, while Mary Sanderson read a chapter in the Testament, and William Forster preached the gospel. It was a memorable time to us all, and our hearts, were bowed in thankfulness for the manifestation of divine love and power thus vouchsafed within these prison walls, which M. Sanderson acknowledged on her knees, and the sense of solemnity was such as is not always known in the assemblies of more privileged and higher professors...The women all withdrew under the care of their monitors, and settled to their regular work, which is supplied by slop shops.  

The previous behaviour often exhibited by some prisoners sentenced transportation to Botany Bay on the night before their departure was described in Visits to Female Prisoners at Home and Abroad.....the women would pull down and break everything within their reach; even the forms were destroyed, and the fire places pulled out, after which they went off shouting with the most shameless effrontery. But to the surprise of the oldest turnkeys and other officers of the prison, after Elizabeth Fry's changes, no noise was heard, and not a window was intentionally broken after regulations had been established. The prisoners took an affectionate leave of their companions, and expressing the utmost gratitude to their benefactors, entered their conveyances without tumult; so orderly indeed, was their behaviour, that only half the usual escort was required, and Mrs. Fry herself was able to accompany them.  

Early in June 1817 a gentleman and his wife hired a hackney coach to convey them to Deptford. Eleven female prisoners bound for transportation to Australia were boarded on the same coach and his indignant letter was later published in the New Monthly Magazine:   Having business at Deptford a few days since, I took a coach in company with my wife from the stand in Gracechurch street; at which time we were assured that the coach would start in ten minutes. It was not, however, until fifty minutes had expired that it moved from the spot. Having at length proceeded a few yards, I perceived that instead of going down Fish Street Hill in a direct line for London Bridge, the coachman had turned up Lombard Street. I then called out the window to know what I was to understand by his taking that direction. The answer was: "Don't you know, Sir, the pavement is all taken up at London Bridge, and that we are obliged to go round Blackfriars ". This assertion, as I suspected, was a palpable falsehood ; but being at that time unacquainted with the state of the carriageway, I was unable to disprove it. We were accordingly conveyed through Cheapside, Paternoster Row, and Ludgate Hill; when, to my utter surprise, the man turned up the Old Bailey! I now concluded either that I had entered a wrong coach, or that the driver was non compos mentis; having, however, proceeded thus far, and as Deptford was written upon the panel of the coach door, I resolved to wait for the issue.

On arriving at Giltspur Street, I observed that our pace began to slacken, and in a few moments, had the honour to find myself and wife drawn to the door of the Compter! Here we were compelled to wait ten minutes or a quarter of an hour longer, amid the gaze of the gaping multitude, while a quantity of motley luggage was lashed to the roof of the coach. When this operation was compleat, the coach-door was opened, and to my unspeakable astonishment, a party of eleven female prisoners, chained together, were ushered to the steps by the officers as our travelling companions. We instantly alighted, and as the rain had ceased, we took a seat on that part of the coach usually called the dickey— but this could not be retained: we had scarcely sat down, before I found that we were to be driven from that by at least six of the prisoners, who ascended the ladder with as much expedition as their clanking incumbrances would allow.

Disgusted with my company, and with my wife nearly fainting at such an outrage on female delicacy, we once more alighted, but could obtain no explanation from the coachman, except that he was " sorry the lady was frightened." So that after being detained nearly two hours—driven from Gracechurch Street to Newgate instead of Deptford, and classed with the refuse of our prisons, we were obliged to seek refuse from the inclemency of the weather, by hiring a hackney-coach, to take us to the place from whence we at first set off

The Friendship departed England on 3 July 1817.   While off the coast of Madeira Captain Armet received on board six Spaniards and an American sailor who had almost perished being in just a small boat. They were pirates from South America and were later transhipped to an American vessel to be landed at Bonavista. (1)  

The Friendship anchored off the coast of Africa on the night of 22nd September. The next morning the cable parted from her anchor and the ship was in great danger of being driven onto the breakers. On the 15th October she arrived at St. Helena where she remained for a week before departing for New South Wales.

The Friendship arrived in Port Jackson on 14 January 1818. 

Passengers included William Cordeaux and Thomas Walker, two men of high rank in the Commissariat. Another passenger Mr. John Gyles, a Missionary who was intending to travel on to Otaheite, in correspondence to Rev. Marsden later censured Captain Armet for inhumanity in the infliction of punishment; the use of a wooden collar being employed on the voyage; and for lack of control of the women.

The case was later discussed in the House of Lords:    

'Mr. Gyles also asserted that no precautions were adopted by Captain Armet or surgeon Cosgreave to prevent an improper intercourse between the crew and the convicts ; and it certainly appears, by the evidence of Mr. Cordeaux, that the very simple and obvious one of depositing the keys of the prison in a place of security during the night, was not resorted to till after a complaint was made at St. Helena. In consequence of this neglect, a very general intercourse took place between the crew and the female convicts ; and after it had been once permitted, the captain and the surgeon, though not without a sense of the advantages that they expected to derive from a strict performance of their duty, had lost that authority over their subordinate officers, that might have enabled them to have enforced some restraint upon the crew; their attempts to restore it were ineffectual, and, in making them, they were opposed by the vicious inclinations of the women themselves.'

John Gyles wrote that the conduct of the surgeon and master during the whole passage was very bad......  

"they seldom spoke to any of the convicts without oaths; the treatment of the convicts and others was truly distressing; little or no attention was paid to cleanliness; no vice restrained, excepting in the latter part of the voyage. On arrival at St. Helena the names of the female convicts were then called, and from that time they were locked down at night between decks. The passengers and convicts suffered much for the want of water, though there was plenty on board; the quantity allowed to a grown person was about three pints for 24 hours, for all purposes of cooking etc and half that quantity for a child. This quantity was not more than half enough in the hot weather and the children suffered very much. The canisters of fresh meat, of veal, mutton and beef, were eaten principally at the captain's table and the offals sent to the sick prisoners in lieu. The convicts and passengers suffered greatly from the unfeeling conduct of the master and surgeon who are both very profane men possessed of little humanity."

However on arrival in Port Jackson, the women of the Friendship apparently indicated to Superintendent of Convicts William. Hutchinson, that they were perfectly satisfied with the conduct of the captain. Mr. Campbell's muster of them on board also declared that no complaints were made on the voyage. Nevertheless an inquiry was instigated after correspondence was forwarded to government including that of Amelia Wood on behalf of the other free female passengers; M.C. Kearns, Captain's steward, and 3rd Mate Robert Culverwell. Those to be questioned at the inquiry included: William Cordeaux, Thomas Walker, Mr. Giles, Mr. & Mrs. William and Mary Hayes (free settlers) and Mrs. Charlotte Wells and Mrs. Broadribb also free passengers.

According to the 1828 Census another free passenger on the Friendship was Ann Hickey. She came with her sons John and Allan and daughters Sophia (who later married Lieut. William Hicks) and Elizabeth (who later married John Cheers). In 1828 Ann resided at Abberly Lodge, Patterson's Plains with her husband John Hickey who arrived as a convict on the Indefatigable in 1815. Dulcibella Wood also arrived as a free passenger.  

Peter Cosgreave forwarded correspondence of his own stating that Amelia Wood, wife of a convict who arrived in 1809, came on board with her daughter by order of government. She attempted to bring another child by surreptitious means; and on the voyage gave birth to a son.

The surgeon compiled a list of the prisoners and gave his opinion of their character. Many were described as prostitutes void of all shame, others he thought indolent and filthy or mutinous and badly disposed. Some were described as quiet and inoffensive women and others were said to be industrious and conducted themselves with propriety. The list can be found in the Colonial Secretary's Papers (Main series of letters received, 1788-1825. Series 897, Reels 6041-6064, 6071-6072. 4/1740. p61)

Other observations included -  Mary Jones had acted as nurse and had behaved with the greatest propriety and humanity and he recommended her to the Governor. Another free passenger, Ann Adams he considered unworthy character and mentions her as living openly on board in a state of prostitution with one of the sailors. One hundred and ninety seven female prisoners arrived in Port Jackson; three women died on the passage - Ann Beal, Sarah Blower and Martha Thatcher. Jane Brown also died having thrown herself overboard.  

On Friday 30 January twenty eight of the women were landed; sixteen of them had husbands already in the colony and were allowed to join them and the remaining twelve went as servants into various families. Thirteen others, who were afflicted with scorbutic diseases, were sent to the General Hospital; and 56 were transhipped from the Friendship to the Duke of Wellington, to be conveyed to Hobart Town, together with 28 artificers and mechanics, sent from Sydney to be employed on the Government works there.

Three years later, Rev. Samuel Marsden testified as to the treatment some of the women of the Friendship had received:  

"I am happy that a committee of ladies is formed in will tend greatly to restrain the cruelties and wickedness of the masters of female convict ships....I shall confine my communication to one ship, which will be sufficient to convince the committee how the females may be insulted and ill treated by the masters. Two or three years ago, a ship arrived with female convicts; many of them, according to custom, were sent up to Parramatta, where I reside. In my first interview with them they informed me how they had been treated on board; I selected two of the women for domestic servants for my own family; both these women had received a superior education; the offence for which one of them had been transported was small in a moral, though great in a political sense; she assisted a prisoner of war, an officer of rank in the French navy, to make his escape, though he was apprehended afterwards. This woman lived in my family till she was married, and has now a good name of her own; she was strictly honest, and exceeding well behaved at all times, and might be considered as a treasure to a family. The other woman is married also. These women informed me, as well as others of their shipmates, that they were subject to every insult from the master of the ship and sailors; that the master stript several of them and publicly whipped them; that one young woman, from ill treatment, threw herself into the sea and perished; that the master beat one of the women that lived with me with a rope with his own hands till she was much bruised in her arms, breast, and other parts of her body. I am certain, from her general good conduct since she arrived, to the present day, she could not have merited any cruelty from him. They further stated, that they were almost famished for the want of water. In addition to the insults they were subject to on board, the youngest and handsomest of the women were selected from the other convicts and sent on board, by order of the master, the king's ships who were at that time in the fleet, for the vilest purposes; both of my servants were in the number. One of them when in bed told me she received an order sent by the captain, to come upon deck, which order she was obliged to obey, when she was put into a boat with others and sent off to the king's ships; this was not the only time they were sent during their passage. They further informed me, that they were promised the sum of 30 pounds but none of which they received ; and it was also said, that rope and canvas had been given as the wages of iniquity. I have no doubt but these are facts, so many bore testimony to them; near two hundred persons must know of these females being sent on board the king's ships.......  

John Gyles' Observations of female convicts sent from Newgate who arrived on the Friendship (for the information of the Committee of Ladies):-  

Mary Smith - behaved orderly and well on board; sent to VDL without landing at Port Jackson
Mary Williams ditto ditto
Grace Blaker - Retained, with her husband at Port Jackson. Behaved quiet and orderly on board, but much insulted by the captain and surgeon; and there is no doubt but herself and husband will do well here. She appears to be a decent woman; lives at Parramatta

Jane Brown -
This unfortunate woman met an untimely death by the ill timed severity of the captain; she had a quarrel with anther convict woman, and was selected by the captain for punishment; the other was not punished. She told the captain and surgeon that if she was punished above, that she would throw herself into the sea. A wooden collar was put about her neck, which she wore the whole of that day; in the night, she got her collar off; the captain observed it the next day; after tearing her bonnet and shawl off, with many oaths said he would put another collar on; she repeated, that she would throw herself overboard if he did. He ordered the collar, and advanced towards her, when she threw herself overboard, and was drowned; this happened off the Cape of Good Hope. She was a decent well behaved young woman.

Elizabeth McGinnis (disorderly);
Mary Gilbert (behaved well)
Frances Nowland (behaved well)
Janes Barnes (behaved well);
Mary Ann Caffray (disorderly)
Mary Sheen (behaved well);
Mary Fineham (behaved well) ;
Ann Tilling (disorderly)
Frances Tibley (disorderly);
Emma Groom,
Susan Courtney and
Ann Jackson (all well behaved) all sent to Van Diemen's Land.
Harriet Garvey (behaved well) remained at Sydney
Martha Thetcher - died on the 7th December 1817 of dysentery; she appeared to be a pious woman.  

In February 1st Officer of the Friendship William Hicks made an application to remain in the colony after the departure of the Friendship. He was informed by the Colonial Secretary that:  

"from certain considerations respecting the conduct pursued towards the women convicts during the voyage hither, His Excellency will not on any account sanction or permit your remaining here after that vessel's departure". However later in the month Captain Armet also applied to have William Hicks discharged from the ship citing the safety of the vessel as a reason and at this time Hicks' request was granted......Captain Armet stated that "a most dangerous conspiracy and combination was regularly organized by the crew and (as your Memorialist has reason to believe) at the instigation of the Chief Officer who employed an Attorney to assist the crew in their malicious attempts against your Memorialist in order the more to harass and oppress your Memorialist by Litigation".

Lieutenant William Hicks, R.N., later signified his intention to leave the colony on the Laurel in April 1818.  

Eighteen convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1818. Three of these transported female prisoners to the colony - the Friendship, the Maria and the Elizabeth. A total of 292 women were transported on these three vessels.  

Notes & Links:

1). Lucinda and Todd Watson and six children including John Watson arrived free on the Friendship  

2). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Friendship in 1818

3). In February 1820 missionary John Gyles returned to Sydney from Otahheite. He had once been a sugar planter in the West Indies and  joined an expedition to Port Macquarie with Commissioner John Thomas Bigge, Thomas Hobbes Scott and John Oxley in which he assessed the land around Port Macquarie for suitability of growing sugar cane. He later returned to England on the Admiral Cockburn.



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