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Convict Ship
 Indispensable 1809

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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: 62 women
Voyage: 169 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous voyage: Boyd arrived 14 August 1809
Next voyage: Anne arrived 27 February 1810
Captain Henry Best  
Surgeon William Evans

Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

The female convicts who were transported to New South Wales on the Indispensable came from districts throughout England - York, Cumberland, Gloucester, London, Lincoln, Norfolk etc.,

Many had been tried at the Old Bailey and held in Newgate prior to being transported. Some of these included Mary Miller age 28; Jane Day age 45; Sarah Edwards age 30; Mary Lewis age 27; Sarah Burgess age 20 and Hannah Gagan age 20 who were all tried at the Old Bailey on the 1st June 1808.  
Newgate was a formidable and notorious prison and in 1808 Elizabeth Fry had yet to begin her work to improve conditions within the walls.....

.   .....Extract from The Criminal Prisons of London - by Henry Mayhew  

The Indispensable departed England on 2nd March 1809, touched at Rio de Janeiro and arrived in Port Jackson on 18 August 1809.  

Sixty one female prisoners arrived on the Indispensable, all in a healthy state. One prisoner died on the passage out.

Passengers included Rev. Cowper, Mrs. Cowper and family; Mr. Heartley R.N., Mrs. Heartley and family.  (1)  (Mrs. J. Hartley and Mrs E.A. Hartley departed the colony in 1814.)

Some of the women may have been housed in the Female Factory at Parramatta. Others were assigned to private service - The fate of some of the women can be assumed from an extract from the correspondence of T. W. Plummer to Colonel Macquarie (who did not take over as Governor until January 1810). The correspondence was written in England on the 4th May 1809..........

I beg to submit to your consideration the following remarks:... There is another cause to which the laxity and depravity of public morals is peculiarly imputable.
It will perhaps scarcely be believed that, on the arrival of a female convict ship, the custom has been to suffer the inhabitants of the colony each to select one at his pleasure, not only as servants but as avowed objects of intercourse, which is without even the plea of the slightest previous attachment as an excuse, rendering the whole colony little better than an extensive brothel, and exposing the offspring of these disgraceful connexions to the risk of an example at once infamous and contagious. So prevalent has this practice been that it is estimated there are actually at this time about one thousand illegitimate children in the colony of this description.....HR NSW Volume 7., p.120.

The Indispensable sailed for the fisheries on 21st October 1809 and returned to Sydney in April 1810. She brought with her Captain Piper, late commandant at Norfolk Island and sixty barrels of sperm whale oil. The Indispensable sailed again for the fisheries at the end of April and it was later reported that they were sighted at Norfolk Island and that most of the crew were down with scurvy. Five sailors had deserted from the Indispensable before she sailed for the fisheries. They were later apprehended in Sydney and held until the return of the ship.  

In July 1811 the Indispensable returned to Sydney with 175 barrels of sperm oil and in September she was to sail to New Zealand to complete her cargo and then to proceed direct to London.

Notes and Links:  

1). Hunter Valley convicts/passengers arriving on the Indispensable in 1809  

2). Heirs are wanted in the latest English papers for the following person: The heir of Elizabeth Spencer, who went to Sydney in 1809 in the Indispensable, as Elizabeth, wife of James Thomson and had relatives at Hadley in Middlesex. - Sydney Herald 13 November 1834  

3). Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales in 1809 - Aeolus, Experiment, Boyd and Indispensable.  

4). Convicts of the Indispensable so far identified in the Hunter Valley......


Name Convicted at Location NSW
Mary Dale Middlesex 1808 Newcastle
Mary Gee London 1808 Newcastle
Mary Kelly   Newcastle
Hannah Robinson Warwick 1809 Newcastle
Elizabeth Thompson Middlesex 1808 Newcastle
Sarah Ward/ Ison Middlesex 1808 Newcastle



(1) Sydney Gazette 20 August 1809


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