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Convict Ship Grenada 1827


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Convict Ship Grenada 1827

Embarked: 88 women
Voyage: 137 days
Deaths 5
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 408
Previous vessel: Phoenix arrived 25 December 1826
Next vessel: Brothers arrived 2 February 1827
Captain John Tracy
Surgeon Superintendent Alexander Nisbet
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Grenada identified in the Hunter Valley

The Grenada was built at Hull in 1810.[4]

This was the last of her four voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1819, 1821 and 1825. The Grenada was the next convict ship to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the Speke in August 1826.

The Grenada prisoners came from districts throughout England. There were no prisoners convicted in Scotland on the Grenada although Maria Allen and Catherine Shaw gave Edinburgh as their native place.

Newgate Prison

It had been fourteen years since Elizabeth Fry first set foot in Newgate prison. The intervening years had seen many improvements. By 1827 the women incarcerated there prior to transportation were under strict discipline:

1. The Matron, on behalf of The Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate had the general superintendence of them in respect of conduct and work procured.

2. The women were divided into classes and a monitor chosen from amongst the most orderly.

3. A suitable woman was appointed as keeper of the Women's Yard to prevent disorder there

4. No begging was allowed

5. No quarrelling. By a peaceable and orderly demeanour they were to endeavour to promote each other's comfort and improvement.

6. Swearing, immoral conversation and indecent behaviour to be avoided

7. Card playing and all other gaming; as also plays, novels and other pernicious books with all immoral songs were strictly prohibited.

8. The women were required to attend in the work room every forenoon to hear a portion of the Holy Scriptures; for which purpose on the first ringing of the bell 10 minutes before the reading commenced, the monitors collected them that all would be ready at the second ringing.

9. Cleanliness of their persons and apartments was required of all women. Pledging of any article of apparel strictly forbidden.

Female Prisoners Embarked

The Times reported on 26 August 1826 - two ships, the Grenada, bound for Sydney and the Sir Charles Forbes to Van Diemen's Land, are now lying off Woolwich, and are receiving on board female convicts sentenced to be transported. Within the last few days nearly 60 have been removed from Newgate, and many are daily arriving from the various country gaols. So dis-proportionate are the numbers of male and female convicts in the above mentioned colonies that government send very few women to the Penitentiary at Millbank. Those who go abroad are placed under the entire control and management of a naval surgeon who, in addition to his regular pay, receives a certain allowance for each woman who arrives at the place of the ship's destination.

From the Life of Elizabeth Fry - Every year, four, five, or six convict ships went out to the colonies of Australia with their burdens of sin, sorrow and guilt. Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales received annually fresh consignments of the outcast iniquity of the Old World. Mrs. Fry made a point of visiting each ship before it sailed as many times as her numerous duties permitted and bade the convicts most affectionate and anxious farewells. From the pen of a relative of Captain Young, Principal Resident Agent of Transports on the river Thames, we have a vivid picture of one of these leave takings. It occurred on board a vessel lying off Woolwich in 1826. William Wilberforce, of anti slavery fame, and several other friends accompanied the party.

This chronicler writes: On board one of them (there were two convict ships lying in the river) between two and three hundred women were assembled, in order to listen to the exhortations and prayers of perhaps the two brightest personifications of Christian philanthropy that the age could boast. Scarcely could two voices even so distinguished for beauty and power be imagined untied in a more touching engagement; as, indeed, was testified by the breathless attention, the tears and suppressed sobs of the gathered listeners. No lapse of time can ever efface the impression of the 107th Psalm, as read by Mrs. Fry with such extraordinary emphasis and intonation, that it seemed to make the simple reading a commentary

Eighty-eight female prisoners were embarked on the Grenada. Forty-six were unmarried without children although they were all of child bearing age. Eleanor Collins, Jane McEvoy, Mary Gannon each brought a child on board with them and Hannah Hodge brought two.

Some of the passengers were mentioned in the surgeon's journal - Six year old John Hollands, the son of a passenger was the first person treated by the surgeon. Twenty seven year old Jane Holland was cured of her illness. Thomas Hollands age was 16 cured. Eighteen year old Ann Page fell ill on 9th September while the ship was still anchored in the Downs and died on 14th September.

Departure of the Grenada

The Grenada departed the Downs on 8 September 1826.

Alexander Nisbet was employed as Surgeon Superintendent. He kept a Medical Journal from 4 August 1826 to 1 February 1827........

In writing his remarks at the end of the voyage he spoke first of the suitability of the Grenada for the convict service:

No ship could be better adapted for the convict service than the Grenada; she was of good height and very roomy between decks affording sufficient accommodation for the number of convicts and passengers about to be embarked. The prison was thoroughly ventilated and the Hospital was particularly spacious, however on both of her decks and top sides, during rain and in heavy weather the water came in all directions, but more particularly forward, on one occasion prior to embarkation, running almost in a stream on the deck.

At Sea

Although it was thought that the problem was dealt with before leaving, as soon as the vessel was at sea the water once more poured in until there was hardly a dry berth. The Master left no means untried to remedy the situation but without effect. Another problem was the bad state of the water which was put on board for the sea store and in part what was used by the prisoners while in the river. The former was in some instances so decidedly bad that it could not be issued and much more that necessity alone compelled its use. This was owing, as Surgeon Nisbett afterwards observed, to their having watered the ship while lying at Deptford at all times of tide, which took place prior to his joining the ship.*

The prisons were always opened in the morning immediately that the decks were dried and every person allowed free access until after breakfast when a general muster took place on deck until dinner time, leaving only a sufficient number below to clean the prison and put every thing to right. For two hours after dinner and for half an hour before being mustered below for night they were kept on deck to allow the prison to be ventilated. In the intermediate prison every one did as they pleased, remained on deck or went below while on deck all amusements were encouraged. [3]


The Grenada arrived in Hobart on 9th January 1827 with 83 prisoners, 10 free women and children, 28 in number, wives of convicts in Van Diemen's land and New South Wales. Five free women and 16 children were landed in Hobart.

Port Jackson

The Grenada proceeded to Port Jackson on 13th January arriving there on 23 January 1827.

The Grenada was the next female convict ship to arrive in Port Jackson after the Lady Rowena from Ireland in May 1826. A muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary on 30th January 1827. Five prisoners were noted in the indents although not in the surgeon's journal as having died on the voyage -
Harriett Collington died 17th October;
Hannah (Anne) Clarke on 11th October;
Olive Kirkham on 29th September;
Elizabeth Ogborn died 16th September;
Jane Cowen alias Williamson and Catherine Shaw died on 20 December.

Two children of convicts also died at sea.

Female Prisoners Disembarked

The women were landed at the dock-yard early on the morning of Friday 2nd February 1827. The Sydney Gazette reported that they were in very good health. Owing to new regulations, they were all assigned prior to disembarkation with the exception of seventeen who were so unfortunate as to be sent to the Factory at Parramatta for want of masters and mistresses.

Parramatta Female Factory

Cargo Brought on the Grenada

The Grenada brought a cargo of 12 puncheons of rum to VDL as well as a stomach pump. The Sydney Gazette reported.... One of these very valuable instruments of late invention, called, Milliken's Universal Syringe, has been brought out by Dr. Nisbet of the Grenada, and purchased by Government (in Hobart) for the use of the Medical establishment. Its uses are various; it removes and destroys poison taken into the stomach, it relieves apoplexy, occasioned by ardent spirits ( a power which renders it peculiarly desirable in this Colony), it conveys nourishment into the stomach, in cases of obstruction in the passages, it scarifies and cups, relieves the nipples of those who have lost their children, and it is also used for any other purposes.

Surgeon Alexander Nisbet

Three weeks earlier a Government Order had been issued regarding the return of Surgeons to England: The Commissioners of the Navy having expressed their desire that the Surgeons of His Majesty's Navy, who are employed on board Convict Ships, should return to England by the first Opportunity after their Arrival in this colony; It is hereby notified that any Surgeon, neglecting to return home as directed, will not be again employed in the Convict Service, and that the Pay of such Surgeon will cease on the Day the Ship, by which 'he might have returned, sails from the Colon'. The Surgeons will be required, in Order to their receiving their pay, to produce a Certificate to the Navy Board, from the Governor, that they have embraced the first Opportunity of returning Home. Alexander Nisbet returned to London on the Marquis of Huntley in February 1827 together with surgeons Dixon, Cook, Henderson and Turner.

Alexander Nisbet was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Minerva in 1824, Hooghley in 1828, Asia in 1830, Earl Grey in 1838 and Mangles in 1840.

Notes and Links

1). The Grenada was one of five convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1827, the others being the Princess Charlotte, Harmony, Louisa, and Brothers. Over five hundred female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1827.

2). * Methods of purifying water were stipulated as necessary in agreements with contractors in all convict ships as early as 1801. Several methods seem to have been used. Lieutenant (?Philip) Osbridge's machine is mentioned frequently......Brackish water, that is, such as has a certain admixture of sea-water, is peculiarly unwholesome, and ought to be avoided if possible. To mention the impropriety of using stagnant or putrid water is almost superfluous: but if this be indispensably necessary on any occasion, a small quantity of powdered charcoal, or of quick-lime, or some vitriolic acid, being added, will, in a great measure, correct its ill tendency. Where there is room to suspect the eggs of insects, or little animalcules, in. water, it should always be boiled before it be drunk -, although it is questioned by some, whether this be a good practice in common. But when water is offensive in consequence of being long kept, the most effectual and expeditious method of sweetening it is by making air pass through it, or by exposing it to the air in as divided a state as possible. Boiling will not expel the putrid effluvia contained in water ; but such is the attraction of air for this offensive matter, that the water need only be thoroughly brought in contact with it to be rendered quite sweet. This is best done either. by blowing through it, by inserting the nozzle of common bellows into a tube, or by the machine invented by Mr. Osbridge, a naval officer[1]

3). Margaret Jackson was the wife of Joseph Jackson who had been sentenced for life and escaped from the colony.

4). Mary Robinson's husband was sent to VDL on the Woodman

5). Prisoners and passengers of the Grenada identified in the Hunter Valley

6) . Seventeen convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1827 - Seventeen convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1827 - Grenada, Brothers, (F) Albion, Midas, Mariner, Countess of Harcourt, Guildford, Marquis of Hastings, Princess Charlotte, Manlius, Cambridge, Harmony, Prince Regent, Champion, Eliza, John and the Louisa

7). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/30/6 Description: Medical journal of the Grenada, female convict ship, for 4 August 1826 to 1 February 1827 by Alexander Nisbet, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in a voyage to New South Wales.


[1] The Soldier's Friend, Containing Familiar Instructions to The Military ... By William Blair

[2] Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry

[3] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Alexander Nisbet on the voyage of the Grenada in 1827. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347, 385

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