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Convict Ship
Ganges 1797

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Embarked: 194 convicts
Deaths: 13
Surgeon's Journal: No
Tons: 700
Previous vessel: Britannia arrived 27 May 1797
Next vessel: Barwell arrived 18 May 1798
Captain Thomas Patrickson  
Surgeon James Mileham

The Ganges was built in India in 1794. She arrived at Portsmouth on 15 October 1796 to make ready for the voyage to Australia.

Prisoners to be transported on the Ganges came from counties throughout England - Sussex, Warwick, York, Worcester, Stafford, Surrey etc., and many were probably held on one of the hulks to await transportation.  

The Ganges was was one of the first convict ships inspected at Portsmouth by Sir James Fitzpatrick, the Home Department's surgeon-general. He later sent a report to Under Secretary King......    

Surgeon Fitzpatrick to Under Secretary King. Sir, Portsmouth, 23rd October, 1796., .........Your manner of receiving me when embarked on the part of a poor miserable convict emboldens me to state to you, for his Grace the Duke of Portland's information, the matters which have been done here, and those which I pray may be done at Cork, for Health of the accommodation and health of the convicts embarked on board the Ganges. My first object was, in as much as the mode of the original fitting of the ship would allow, to favour the perpetual admission of as much pure air as possible. Then it became my concern to pay that attention to the poor women, which their conduct deserved, by placing them under the protection of their husbands, their merit in a conjugal sense being nearly unparrelled, sacrificing their all, and subjecting themselves to an ignominious banishment, thereby fulfilling the great and essential obligation of the marriage vow. I railed off a part of the vessel where the convicts were confined and allotted it to the married men, their partners, and innocent orphans. By this alteration the poor women, in place of being subject (as they were before) to the insult of the ship's crew and the military guard, are now protected, and the space which they inhabited is now converted into an hospital apartment, well aired. I put on board ventilators and water-purifiers, also vitriol and nitre for fumigation, and such medicines as were required by Mr. Mileham(3)  

The Ganges departed England on 10th December 1796 and arrived in Port Jackson on 2 June 1797 (1).

There were only two convict ships arriving in New South Wales in 1797. The convicts of the Ganges arrived in better health than those of the Irish convicts of the Britannia, however some were suffering greatly with scurvy. There were several mechanics (skilled) men amongst them and it was hoped they would prove useful for the colony. John Stoneham age 14 tried in Middlesex; William Williams tried in London age 14; Richard Willis age 14 from Cambridge and Michael Parker tried in Middlesex age 15 were the youngest prisoners on board.  

The Guard consisted of soldiers of the New South Wales Corps. Governor Hunter was glad of their arrival....The two officers and sixty private soldiers coming out in the two convicts ships Ganges and Britannia will be a considerable relief to the duty of the troops. (2)  

The following correspondence from the Duke of Portland to Governor Hunter reveals the supplies sent to the colony on the Ganges - Whitehall August 1796.......

(Extract) The Ganges takes out 121,289 pounds of beef and 40,522 pounds of pork for the use of the settlement, exclusive of the necessary quantity for the consumption of the convicts during their voyage, and for nine months after their arrival. The above quantity of beef and pork added to the quantity sent by the Prince of Wales and Sylph, transports, is calculated as making together a twelve month's supply for the settlement. I enclose you a list of the convicts which go by this conveyance with the original contracts entered into by Thomas Patrickson the owner of the Ganges, for their safe delivery in New South Wales together with his Majesty's Order in Council for the transportation to New South Wales of such of the convicts whose sentences required such order. (4)  

The Ganges departed Port Jackson bound for China in December 1797.  

Notes and Links:
1). William Batman arrived on the Ganges as a convict. His wife Mary and their children Maria and Robert Batman came free on the Ganges. William and Mary were the parents of John Batman b. 1801, founder of Melbourne.  

2). The 1825 muster notes the following people arriving on the Ganges - Elizabeth Graham, wife of convict John Graham; George Cubbit with his wife Mary were reported to have come free on the Ganges; Sarah Eggleton; Jane Hooper; Ann Miller; Ann Milson; Sarah Pearson; Agnes Shields (died in 1823); Maria White and Elizabeth Wylde.  

3). Convict Evan Morgan is mentioned by Govern Hunter in correspondence to Under Secretary King in November 1798....The young man Evan Morgan whom you have mentioned upon his arrival here, and upon my understanding he had been bred in the medical line, was by my order placed in the hospital department, where he was far more comfortable than he could well have expected, and where he might have improved his information in the original profession for which he had been designed and where also he might have recommended himself by his diligence and proper conduct; but I am sorry to inform his friends after the fair prospect which he had of removing the impression which his unhappy transportation to this country might have made on the minds of his friends and connections, he had made some infamous acquaintances here, which could only serve to hasten his ruin. He had been persuaded by them to attempt an escape from the colony in an American ship bound for China, which had stopped here only a few days; in this attempt he succeeded, which was not discovered until the day after his departure, when his absence from his duty in the hospital made it known. (HRA, Series 1, vol., 2, p. 235)  

4). James Mileham was employed as surgeon on the Ganges. In March 1804 he accompanied the historic expedition to Newcastle where a penal settlement was to be re-established to hold insurgents of the Castle Hill rebellion. Find out more here.  

5). The Ganges sprang a leak and sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1807 (click on the text below to read an account of the wreck.)......


6). Hunter Valley convicts arriving on the Ganges in 1797...........

James Harrex aged 29, convicted at Suffook 25th March 1795. Resided at Newcastle

William Thompson age 18, convicted at Warwick 27 July 1793. Resided Maitland and Newcastle



(1) HR NSW, vol. IV, p. 787

(2) HR NSW Vol. 3, p. 234

(3) HR NSW Vol. 3, p. 162

(4) HR NSW. Vol. 3, p. 96


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