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Convict Ship Midas 1825

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Embarked: 109 women
Voyage: 146 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 420
Previous vessel: Henry Porcher
Next vessel: Marquis of Hastings 
Master James Baigrie.
Surgeon Superintendent Charles Cameron

Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

The Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie site has an earlier history of this vessel:

The Midas was built in Hull in 1809. She first arrived in Sydney (from London via Cape of Good Hope) on 14 February 1820 under master and owner James Underwood. Capt. John Beveridge was appointed Master of the Midas for voyages to Van Diemen's Land in 1820, 1821 (with Governor Macquarie & his party as passengers) and Macquarie Island in 1822. There were various other voyages to Macquarie Island and Van Diemen's Land before the Midas was sold by Underwood to Icely and Hindson. She then sailed for London and returned again to Hobart on 23 November 1825 and Port Jackson on 17th December 1825 as a convict transport.

The Midas was the next convict ship bringing prisoners from England to New South Wales after the departure of the Minstrel in April 1825. (1)

Charles Cameron was employed as surgeon superintendent on this voyage to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales. It was his first appointment as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 3rd June 1825 to 23 December 1825. (2)

In June Sarah Barnes, who was tried and convicted of highway robbery at Hadleigh was removed from the gaol to the Midas lying at Woolwich. She was one of 109 females being transported on the Midas. The women were to spend the next 146 days at sea. Many of them suffered greatly with sea sickness. Charles Cameron reported in his journal that on 1st July several of the women were attacked with bowel complaints which he considered to have arisen principally from the change of diet, all of these complaints easily yielded to purgatives and indeed were so slight as not to require being put on the sick list. Almost all the females were very sick from the ship motion and Charles Cameron called as many of them together as he could and put them on their guard against constipation.

The Midas departed on 24 or 26 July 1825. On the 28 July while off the 'Lizard', two-thirds of the women were severely affected with sea sickness and the surgeon frequently moved among them to see what state they were in and gave laxatives to very many of them and ordered for them whatever they thought they could make use of. By the 29th July at the Bay of Biscay the women were much better but many were requiring purgatives after the seasickness. The worst of the cases were admitted to the hospital and remained under observation.

They arrived at Hobart on 23 November 1825 where 58 women were landed and the Midas then sailed on to  Port Jackson, arriving there on Saturday 17 December 1825 with 50 women and three children.  

Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn held a muster on board on Wednesday 21st December. He recorded the name of each prisoner, when and where they were tried, native place, trade, sentence, age, physical description and remarks as to their conduct on the voyage. 

Alexander McLeay who arrived on the Marquis of Hastings on 3 January 1826 was appointed Colonial Secretary in place of Frederick Goulburn and took over the duty of mustering the convicts on arrival. From that time on (January 1826) details such as education, religion, marital status, family, offence, sentence, prior convictions and to whom assigned on arrival were added to the usual information as well as occasional information regarding relatives already in the colony, deaths and colonial sentences.  

The following letter was published in the Morning Post in England on 26 October 1826:

"The following letter has been lately received by one of the members of the British Society of Ladies for the reformation of female prisoners, from the female convicts who sailed on board the ship Midas, under the care of Mr. Charles Cameron, Surgeon R.N., and in confirmation of the truth of their statements, it is accompanied by extracts from the letter in which it was enclosed from the Surgeon to Captain Y... R.N., also by another from the same Gentleman to one of his friends in London

"Sydney, on board the Ship Midas,
Dec 16, 1825
A Letter Of Sincere Thanks From The Unfortunate Female Convicts On Board The Midas, Captain James Baigrie, To The Ladies In London.
"Worthy Madam - Permit us to indulge a hope you will pardon the liberty we have taken by this. I most willingly set down to comply with the request of all my fellow sufferers to acknowledge our most grateful thanks to you, likewise to those Ladies who took any part in the kind and Christian charities we received at your hands, before we sailed from Woolwich. Madam, we have never lost sight of the most kind and friendly advice you were pleased to give us on your different visits, and particularly on the last that we had the happiness of seeing you. We therefore beg leave that you will accept of our sincere thanks. It shall be our constant endeavours that our future conduct and behaviour shall prove our respect and gratitude; we shall continually pray for you, and may the Almighty pour his blessing on you, and that is the earnest prayers of us unfortunate women, who feel a heartfelt sorrow for those past misdeeds.

We shall conclude, and with all due defence, shall beg leave to subscribe ourselves, Madam,

Your very much obliged, humble servants: Ann Unwin, Mary Jones, Sophia Davis, Mary Bullingham, Ann White, Mary Dale, Ann Cross, Mary Montague, Mary Snooks, Margaret Burt, Ann Colston, Mary Weaver. "Our duty to all the ladies; we hope they are all well. We are all well. We cannot, Madam, inform you in what manner we shall be disposed of. Our surgeon has been a great friend to us. May the Almighty bless him! We beg permission to give you a short account of our voyage - We arrived at Sydney this morning, after a troublesome voyage. It would be a gross mistake to omit mentioning the charitable gifts that you had the goodness to leave with Mr. Cameron, our Surgeon, who had the goodness to distribute to us in proper time. Our patchwork kept us employed some time.

Our black caps and aprons, we found them very convenient, and every other gift very useful, and shall for ever be most thankfully remembered by us. We put into a small isle three weeks after we left England, and there we had a fresh supply of water and fresh beef. Our Surgeon went on shore and bought fruit, such as the isles produced; oranges, lemons and plantains and had the goodness to give to each mess at different times, an equal complement, and to be distributed to each woman equally. It is not in our power to speak too highly for his praiseworthy kindness and fatherly goodness to us, and still, what makes it appear more pleasing, in extreme need, and at the time they were most wanting.

Madam, we hope that we do not too much trespass on your time. There has been a great deal of sickness in the ship; thank God we have lost but one woman and one child. We expected at one time to have lost a great number. We almost despaired our surgeon could ever have stood it, and had not the Almighty been on our side, he never could; there never could be a Gentleman so constantly attentive to unfortunate women; he was for ever below in the hospital with the poor sick - and never appeared satisfied but when discharging his duty. We can never be thankful enough. We have had two women delivered of two fine boys, Lydia Moffat and a Mary Snooks; the children were baptised by the surgeon and the women churched by him also. The woman that died was buried at sea; we were all present at the funeral, and the burial service was performed most solemnly by the Surgeon and the Captain took the part of chief mourner, and the whole ceremony was very solemn. We have had divine service regular; the Captain and Officers, us, and the free passengers, all attend. We have had great indulgence and good examples set forth by the above Gentlemen.

We arrived at Van Diemen's land three weeks ago and there we left fifty of our women and eleven that were from Newgate; and happy to say Madam, that by the good character our Surgeon was enabled to give of them, that the greater part of them was provided for when we left. We expect to land in a day or two, and we hope that the Almighty will be our guide, and keep us from every temptation. We are quite sure our Surgeon will do all that lays in his power for us. If there should be any of our fellow sufferers that should be about to leave England, we strongly recommend them to behave well while in prison, so that they may have a good character from the prison; but to be particularly careful after they come on board, for if their Surgeon cannot give them a good character, it will be greatly to be lamented. We all hope that they whom you may please, Madam, to read this letter to, will impress it on their minds, and it will be for their good; and I hope that they may meet with the same good treatment that we have. The Captain has been very kind, and the Officer likewise, also the seamen who sailed from Woolwich. On Saturday the 23rd July, Mr. Cane, the owner of this ship, honoured us with his company until Sunday, when he took his leave of us all at Margaret, and recommended us to the protection of the Almighty. The bearer of this letter will be, we expect Mr. Cameron, our worthy Surgeon, as we mean to ask him the favour, and God grant him a safe passage to England an a happy return to his family.

Madam, we are about to beg a great favour of you and the ladies, and that is if the expense should not be too great, and should meet with your approbation, to allow this letter to go to the press, as we have disconsolate friends living in different parts of England and as it would be likely this would meet the eye of some of them and give them great satisfaction. We beg pardon, Ladies, and hope we have not in any respect insulted your understanding. Could this request be complied with, your humble Petitioners would for ever be bound to pray. We all with one accord, Subscribe as on the other side, Your humble servants . The writer of this begs ten thousand pardons for every imperfection, as she is a bad writer and bad speller.

The kind-hearted surgeon Charles Cameron did return safely to his family in England although he was not there for long as he was appointed surgeon superintendent on the Princess Charlotte which departed England in March 1827 and the Ferguson from Dublin in November 1828 and the David Lyon (VDL) in 1830. Charles Cameron died in 1837.

The Midas departed for Calcutta and London on 29 January 1826 and returned to Sydney again as a convict transport, on 15 February 1827. The Midas was one of four convict ships transporting female prisoners to New South Wales in 1825, the others being the
Mariner, the Henry and the Grenada.  A total of 255 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1825.  

Notes & Links:

1). Ann Adams from Edinburgh arrived on the Midas as a convict. In January 1827 her husband John Rowe of Liverpool posted a notice cautioning the public against harbouring her as she had 'absconded from her home without any just provocation'. She was 5ft in height, of a dark complexion, hazel eyes, black hair and pitted with small pox. (Sydney Gazette)

2). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Midas in 1825

Following is a list of passengers who came free on the Midas (Colonial Secretary's Correspondence)....
Ann Connolly with two children
Hannah Foston with four children
Mr. Eagar
Mrs. Eagar
Mrs. Davis
Joseph Davis
Mrs. Joseph Davis
Mrs. Mary McDonald
Mrs. Elizabeth McDonald

4). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/53/6 Description: Medical journal of the Midas, convict ship from 3 June 1825 to 23 December 1825 by Charles Cameron, surgeon and superintendent, on her passage to Van Dieman's Land and New South Wales.

5). Below is a list together with notes of women who were disembarked from the Midas at Sydney

Allanson, Maria Sempstress from Cheshire. Assigned to Mrs. Underwood on arrival. 7 years
Adams, Ann Housemaid. Born at sea in 1810. Tried Edinburgh. No assignment noted. Life
Angus, Janet Housemaid from Perth. Assigned to J Blaxland on arrival.
Burk, Mary Housemaid from London. 7 years
Barnes, Sarah Sempstress from Suffolk. Life
Baker, Jane Housemaid from London. 14 years
Bettingham, Elizabeth Mother of four tried in Worcester. Milks and makes cheese. Widow
Curran, Mary Housemaid from Athlone.
Cross, Ann Housemaid from Northampton
Colson, Ann Cook. Tried at Horsemonger Lane.
Dale, Mary Nurse and needlewoman born in Harding. Wife of John Dale, a tailor in England. 7 years
Davies, Mary Housemaid from Cheshire. Mother of one child age 5 living in Liverpool with its grandfather. 7 years
Davis, Sophia Housemaid from London. 7 years
Dwyne, Margaret Sempstress from Cork tried at Horsemonger Lane. Husband a labourer at Deptford
Dorley, Margaret Sempstress from Redriffe. Much freckled
Florence, Ann Bar maid from Isle of White. Tried in Manchester. Husband a jeweller in Dublin
Greenlees alias Wilson, Janet Housemaid from Paisley. Tried Glasgow. Husband Matthew Wilson
Hill, Louisa Housemaid from Stepney
Harnett, Mary  
Hay, Hannah Housemaid born at sea. Tried in London and sentenced to transportation for life. Much freckled
Huley or Haley, Margaret Housemaid from Cork. Tried Kingston and sentenced to transportation for life
Jefferies, Hannah Chambermaid from Wexford. Tried in Dorchester. Comments on board - passionate. Husband coming out as a convict.
Jefferies, Ann Sempstress from Winchester. Tried in London
Jones, Mary Sempstress from Worcestershire. Has children with her. Husband a tailor in Worcestershire
Kerslake, Ann Nurse and laundry maid from Clayton. Husband a painter? One son John age 5
Montague, Mary House and laundry maid and cook from Liverpool. Husband a coachmaker in London. 1 child Catherine in York with her sister
Macpherson, Mary Milks and makes butter. Native place Edinburgh. Tried in Liverpool. One child John a tailor aged 24.
Munro, Ruth Dressmaker from London
Messor, Elizabeth Milks & a butter maker from Londonderry. Tried in London. Husband Anthony Messor Died at Parramatta Hospital 1833
Milne, Jane Nurse from Aberdeenshire. One child George left in England
Morgan, Mary Milks and makes butter. Native place Newcastle Glamorganshire. Tried in Monmouth.
Neal, Mary Died on the passage out.
O'Donnell, Mary Milks and makes butter. Native place Co. Mayo. Tried in Chester. Husband died in Ireland. Has 2 children Mary and John.
Phillips, Elizabeth Milks and makes butter. Native place Devonshire.
Pickers, Leititia Sempstress from Yarmouth. Husband employed in Manufactory in London. 1 child. Died in Parramatta Female Factory November 1838
Potts, Martha Milks and makes butter. Tried in Stafford. Husband a potter in Staffordshire. Has two children William 20 and Richard 15.
Proven, Lionel Milks and makes butter and cheese. Tried in Glasgow. One child age 5 with its grandmother at Glasgow.
Robinson, alias Swinburn, Catherine Housemaid from Liverpool. Has 2 children in Liverpool Edward and Sarah
Rycroft, Mary Ann Dressmaker from London. Sentenced to transportation for life
Robertson, Mary Silver Plate ? from Birmingham.
Russell, Margaret Housemaid from Glasgow
Smith, Lucy Sempstress from Nottingshire (?). Tried in Cambridge. Husband a Factor in Scotland
Siddall, Ellen Laundry maid from Manchester. Husband a calico weaver. 4 children.
Smith, Mary Nurse from London. Indifferent conduct on board ship
Smith, Mary Ann Sempstress tried in London. Disorderly conduct at first
Smith, Maria Laundry maid tried in London. Has one child with her.
Sansom, Elizabeth Sempstress from Buttwell. Tried Nottingham.
Snook, Mary Weaver from Frome. Has one child with her
Smith, Elizabeth Laundrymaid tried in Kerby. Has one child with her and another in Scotland.
Unwin, Ann Native place Givensey. Tried in Portsmouth
Varlow, Margaret, Milks, Makes butter and cheese. Native of Co. Antrim. Tried in London. Two children at Maidstone.
Williams, Eleanor Milks and makes butter and cheese. Native of Anglesea.
Walker, HannahHousemaid from Manchester. Husband convicted in the name of John Croucher.
Whittington, Elizabeth Housemaid, cook and laundrymaid from Sutton, Surry. Tried in London. Three children left in England Elizabeth, Mary and Eliza.


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

(2). UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.



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