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Convict Ship Grenada 1825

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Embarked: 82 women
Voyage: 113 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - no
Previous vessel: Ann & Amelia arrived 2 January 1825
Next vessel: Asia arrived 22 February 1825
Captain Alexander Anderson  
Surgeon Peter Cunningham
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The Grenada was built at Hull in 1810. (1)

This was the third of four voyages of the Grenada bringing convicts to New South Wales. The others being in 1819, 1821 and 1827.  

Surgeon Peter Cunningham made five voyages to New South Wales employed as Surgeon-Superintendent on convict ships however this was his only voyage with female prisoners and unfortunately no medical journal is available. Select here to read an extract from a list of his instructions for the voyage found in the Colonial Secretary's Papers.

The Grenada brought prisoners from England and was the next convict ship to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the Minerva in July 1824. The Grenada departed England on 4 October 1824 and touched at Teneriffe for water where she remained for three days.

On 14th December in Longitude 15E she spoke the Admiral Cockburn, Captain Coolun, bound for Hobart. The ships remained together during the night with the intention of communicating by boats in the morning; but the weather being too rough, sail was again made, and at dusk the Admiral Cockburn was nearly topsails down astern.

On the 23rd December 1824, the Grenada also spoke the American ship Levant, sailing from Boston to Batavia.  

Passengers on the Grenada included Rev. Frederick Wilkinson & Miss Wilkinson, Alexander Wilkinson.,  Deputy Assistant Commissary General Henry Boucher Bowerman & wife and two children, surveyor Heneage Finch and William Ogilvie wife and four children, Miss White, and Mrs. Wilson and two children.  

Part of the voyage of the Grenada is told from the perspective of the ten year old Edward Ogilvie in George Farwell's 'Squatter's Castle'......  

Soon Grenada was plunging in the grey Atlantic. The wind rose alarmingly. That night a full sou' westerly gale caught them, forcing them to lie to for three days and nights with tops'ls struck, lashed helm and a double watch on deck. It was the kind of weather the North Atlantic alone can generate at the onset of winter; mountainous, surf-topped breakers, wind blasts of Arctic virulence, a fury of scudding smoke grey cloud. This rage of ocean was enough to turn anyone's thoughts towards God, firm earth and strong stomachs, none of which were accessible to these passengers amid the crash of tablets and crockery in a lurching saloon. As for the ninety six women and children below decks, conditions were unendurable. In heavy seas hatches were always battened down, and every scuttle closed. No fresh air reached them at all. No ventilation of any kind. The stench was appalling. Nor was it possible for them to leave their close set tiers of bunks. Each time a big sea crashed on the deck above several tons of water flooded down, drenching bed sheets, mattresses, clothes, sometimes even washing sleepers from their bunks, if any were able to sleep. The elders among our passengers became grave and anxious, Edward recalled. But my brothers and myself, having got over our sea sickness thought it high fun to slide toboggan fashion upon a child's chair laid on its back across the deck from side to side as she rolled. By the time Tenerife was sighted, the ocean became quiet again. Land took shape in the form of a mountain soaring miraculously above horizontal dark cloud. The skies had never seemed so blue. The whole family went ashore in the jolly boat......

Some days later they passed close to Gough's Island, a mere cluster of rocks in mid ocean. It was the only land they would see for the next three months. Captain Anderson arranged for the men to have a day's fishing off the lee shore. The Reverend Frederick Wilkinson returned in triumph with the head of a huge sea lion, as if avenging those bygone Christian martyrs. He appears to have been a Dickensian character, the sporting parson. One images him as much at home with fowling piece or creel and rod as with the Book of common Prayer. Whether or not he rose to hounds he was to distinguish himself with some fast cantering when his material flock was in jeopardy some years later. On this particular fishing jaunt he also captured a live penguin which he gave to young Edward as a pet. the boy fed it with so much salt beef and enthusiasm that the bird died in a matter of days. Equally distressing was the conduct of those other birds of passage, 'The ladies, as they called each other,' he said. One handsome young lady of decidedly warm temper, having been detected in a very unauthorised flirtation with one of the ship's mates, was so violent towards the poor doctor in both language and actions, she was brought on deck and made a spread eagle, being lifted screaming and struggling on to the rail of the bulwark and main shrouds to which her extended arms and wrists were bound until she cooled down. But her tongue was still free. The lady passengers scuttled away  (2)

The Grenada arrived in Port Jackson on 23 January 1825 with 81 female prisoners with 15 of their children and 21 cabin passengers. No deaths occurred and all convicts arrived in good health.  

The Grenada was one of four convict ships transporting female prisoners to New South Wales in 1825, the others being the Mariner, the Henry and the Midas. A total of 255 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1825.    

Notes & Links:  

1). Peter Cunningham was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Recovery in 1819,  Grenada in 1821,  Recovery in 1823 and the  Morley in 1828  

2). Ellen Bundock's Memoirs - Newcastle - Merton

3). Twelve women have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. Find out more about them here  

4). Following is an extract from the London Magazine - Recollections of a Convict, published in 1825......


5). A female escape artist from State Records NSW - Susan Courtney, alias Elizabeth Jones escaped from the colony in the Emerald and after an absence of 2 years was re-transported on the Grenada.


6).  The Fourth Annual Report of the Committee of the British Society of the reform of female prisoners.
Surgeon Superintendent of the Brothers in 1824 was James Hall.....

...........Collectitia: Or, Pieces, Religious, Moral, & Miscellaneous

Instructions to Surgeon Peter Cunningham:


1. You are not to consider yourself as Naval Agent for the Transports, nor authorized in any way to interfere with the management or navigation of the ship, your duty as Surgeon and Superintendent extending only to the care and management of the convicts and to see that the Master fully complies with the terms of his charter party, a copy of which is enclosed for your information. If he should deviate from it you are to be particular in noting the subject in your Journal, communicating such deviation to this Board, to the Government of New South Wales and to any of His Majesty's Commanders in Chief or Commanding Naval Officers, you may meet with during the voyage.

2. You are to take particular care that neither the Master nor any other person be suffered under any pretense whatever to put on board any private goods or articles of any kind without the special permission of the Board and as the whole of the tonnage of the stores which may be permitted to be shipped will be reported to the Governor of New South Wales, the ship will be liable to seizure if any greater quantity should be found on board. All packets belonging to the convicts that are not indispensably required by them during the voyage are to be delivered to the Master to be stowed away in a place of safety (he giving receipts for them to the convicts) and are to be delivered to the proprietors on their disembarkation.

3. You are to be careful that the convict and passengers have their due rations of provisions without any deduction whatever and to see that the victuals are properly cooked and regularly issued at the usual meal times as also that they have a sufficient proportion of water. You are also to attend the opening of every cask of provisions supplied to the vessel by Government and to notice in your journal it's mark number and contents.

4. In case the Master should purchase fresh beef for the convicts and passengers at any port you may put into on the passage you are to see that the meat is good and wholesome and to supply the same to the Board and that it was purchased at the Market Price.

5. A supply of lemon juice and sugar for six months being put on board for the use of the convicts you are to cause the articles to be issued to them in proportion of an ounce of lemon juice and an ounce of sugar a woman per day and to be mixed occasionally with the wine allowed to the convicts or to be used as sherbet unless at any time it be improper and prejudicial for them to be supplied therewith, but it is recommended that they should not be issued before the ship shall have been three weeks or a month from port.

6. You are to visit the sick each day or attend if necessary and not only to administer such medical treatment as you may judge advisable but to enquire minutely into their management with respect to their diet , nursing and general comfort.

7. You are also to go daily among the people not under medical care and make a general inspection of them with a view to discover whether any of them are afflicted with fever, flux, scurvy or any other complaints in order that effectual  means may be taken to stop their progress and while in port send weekly report of the sick. The crew is also to have the benefit of your medical assistance if required.

8. As few persons as possible labouring under complaints  besides those that are infectious are to be conveyed to the hospital which is chiefly intended for those labouring under fevers and fluxes and such diseases as render confinement to  bed necessary. Persons afflicted with scurvy and other slight and chronic complaints need not be treated in the hospital but supplied with such medicines and diet in their own berths as their cases may require.

9. When persons with infectious complaints enter the hospital, you will take care to have their clothes stripped off, their hair cut off and cause them to be washed if possible in a bathing tub or if this cannot be done to have their faces, hands and feet well washed with warm water and soap. The linen or bottom clothing which they throw off is to be steeped for some time in cold water before it is handled and washed and the woollen clothing is to be exposed to the fumes of sulphur if it can be done but if not it is to be exposed to the open air for two or three days before it is stowed away. The patients should be bathed at least once a week while on their passage.

10. In regulating the diet of the sick you are not only to employ the articles specially provided them but such articles of their provisions while in health as may in your judgment be applicable to their cases; and whenever you shall deem it proper in consequence of ill health to diminish any one article of a person's regular allowance that person is from that day to be considered  on the sick list and to be checked of his or her ships rations and therefore such articles of their usual victualling allowance as you shall judge expedient for their subsistence during the time they shall be upon the sick list, you are to demand from the Master granting him a receipt for the actual quantities received.

11. As cleanliness is essentially conducive to health you are to take care that the cabins are kept clean and that the  utmost cleanliness be observed with regard to the hospital and peoples' persons and that as much purity of air and free ventilation be adjusted as may be consistent with due warmth. Dryness should also be particularly attended to for which purpose as well as for warmth and promoting a renewal of air an airing stove should frequently be carried to different parts of the hospital.


1. Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347

2. Squatters' Castle: The Saga of a Pastoral Dynasty Author George Farwell Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Australia, 1983



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