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Convict Ship Minorca 1801


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Convict Ship Minorca 1801

Last Updated 16 July 2020

Embarked: 104 men
Voyage: 176 days
Deaths: 5
Surgeon's Journal: no
Tons: 407
Previous vessel: Canada arrived 14 December 1801
Next vessel: Nile arrived 14 December 1801
Master John Leith
Surgeon George Longstaff

Minorca prisoners and passengers identified in the Hunter Valley

The Minorca arrived in Portsmouth on 27th May 1801 and departed from Spithead on 21st June in convoy with the Canada and the Nile.[1]

Free Passengers

Free settlers and others sailing on the Minorca included
Matthew Gibbons,
John Driver,
Michael Keney,
William Keney,
Thomas Bolton (Boulton) and son,
Thomas Harley,

Chevalier D'Clambe, vigneron
James Vincent
Richard Longford.

They were accompanied by 11 women and 26 children.

Military Guard

The Military Guard on the Minorca consisted of sixteen men, 1 women and 3 children of the NSW Corps.

James Hardy Vaux

One of Australia's most famous convicts James Hardy Vaux was first transported on the Minorca. He later wrote his Memoirs while serving a sentence at Newcastle Penal settlement:

Extract from the Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux: -

In May 1801, after an almost fatal attack of the gaol fever, his father, mother, and sisters took a final leave of him, and he was removed to Gravesend, and put on board the Minorca transport, which lay there with the Canada and Nile bound to Port Jackson. We dare say it will be new to the majority of our readers to learn how persons in this situation are treated ; and as the subject has just been raised in the House of Commons, it acquires greater importance...........

'Having entered the ship, we were all indiscriminately stripped (according to indispensable custom,) and were saluted with several buckets of salt-water, thrown over our heads by a boatswain's-mate. After undergoing this watery ordeal, we were compelled to put on a suit of slop-clothing. Our own apparel, though good in kind, being thrown overboard. We were then double-ironed, and put between -decks, where we selected such births, for sleeping, etc. as each thought most eligible.

The next day, we received on board forty-six more prisoners from the Hulks at Woolwich, and the Canada fifty. The Nile also took on board one hundred women, from the different gaols in Great Britain. The three ships then sailed for Spithead where, on our arrival, the Minorca and Canada had their numbers augmented, from the Hulks at Portsmouth, to one hundred men each. Every thing being now in readiness, we only waited for the convoy to assemble, with which we were to proceed to a certain latitude.

Port Jackson

The Minorca sailed via Rio de Janeiro and arrived at Port Jackson on 14 December 1801 with 99 male convicts, five having died on the voyage.

In correspondence back to England in February 1802, Governor King wrote of the arrival of the Minorca -

Sir I have the honor to acquaint you of the arrival of the Canada, Minorca and Nile, with the persons and provisions stated in the enclosed account. The passengers were all in good health, and the convicts the healthiest and best conditioned that ever arrived here, being all fit for immediate labour [2]

Departure from Port Jackson

The Minorca departed Port Jackson bound for China in February 1802.

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). George Lewis and Thomas McCann also arrived on the Minorca having been tried for mutiny in 1797. In 1818 Thomas McCann escaped from the colony however was captured and returned from India on the Greyhound in 1818 and was sent to Hobart.

3). Billy Blue - William Blue arrived on the Minorca. He became a boatman ferrying passengers across Sydney Harbour. Also known as the Commodore. Select here to read the extraordinary life of Billy Blue by Cassandra Pybus.

4). National Archives - Voyages: (1) 1800/1 New South Wales and China. Capt John Leith. Portsmouth 21 Jun 1801 - 29 Aug Rio de Janeiro - 15 Dec Sydney Cove - 28 Apr 1802 Whampoa - 26 May Macao - 5 Aug Amboina - 2 Nov Cape - 1 Dec St Helena - 10 Feb 1803 Downs.

5). Five convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1801 - Anne, Earl Cornwallis, Canada, Minorca and Nile.
6). More about the Minorca in the Historical Records of Australia, Series 1., Vol. 3

7). Hunter Valley convicts/ passengers arriving on the Minorca in 1801...

James Calvert
Owen Devine
George Paul
Joseph Salter

Joseph Samuel

James Hardy Vaux
Thomas Wootton


[1]. HR NSW, p.787

[2]. HRA., Series 1, Vol., 3, p. 379



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