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Convict Ship
 Minstrel 1812

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Embarked:127 women
Voyage: 143 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous voyage: Guildford arrived 18 January 1812
Next voyage: Archduke Charles arrived 16 February 1813
Master John Reid.
Surgeon Alexander Noble
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

The Minstrel was built at Hull in 1810.

Passengers on the Minstrel in 1812 included Lieutenant-Colonel Davy of the Royal Marines, who was appointed His Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor of Hobart, and Lieutenant Oxley of the Royal Navy. Also Naval Officer John Beamont; VDL Settler Walter Lang, carpenter Edward Roach who was husband of Margaret Roach convict on board; Sophia Warner, widow of William Warner; and a young lad Benjamin Goddard son of one of the convict women Catherine Harvey.

The Leeds Mercury reported on 4th April 1812 that Frances Hardcastle and Amelia Barnes from the Castle; and Mary Dinsdale and Mary Bell from the City Gaol were to be delivered on board the Minstrel Transport ship; and on the 8th April 1812 the Bury and Norwich Post added Bridget Crack and Mary Bray who were to be removed from the gaol to be transported to New South Wales for seven years.

Many of the prisoners of the Minstrel were also probably incarcerated in Newgate prison prior to transportation.  Although the article below states that Elizabeth Fry commenced improving the conditions in Newgate in 1808, she may not have commenced her work there until after 1813 when missionary Stephen Grellett contacted her.

In all 127 female convicts were embarked on the Minstrel however one was re-landed. Thirty-six were under the age of 21 and most would never return to England.

The Minstrel sailed from England on 4th June 1812 in company with the Indefatigable   The Indefatigable and the Minstrel arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 29th July and found there the Archduke Charles from Ireland with 150 male and 40 female prisoners bound for Port Jackson. The three vessels sailed in company from Rio the 11th August 1811 but the Archduke Charles separated the day following. The Minstrel and the Indefatigable kept company until the 17 August and then separated in a gale of wind.  

The Minstrel arrived in Port Jackson on 25 October 1812. One woman had died on the passage out and 125 eventually arrived in Port Jackson. According to the Sydney Gazette the women were all in a fine healthy state. The convict indents give only basic information such as name, when and where convicted and sentence. No ages are recorded, nor the offence committed.

On the 28th October an order was given that the few women who were permitted to be assigned to people in Sydney were to be landed that afternoon with a complete set of slops and bedding. The remainder of the women were to be taken to Parramatta Female Factory by water at sunrise the following morning. Boats were to be ready alongside the Minstrel to receive them and convey them twenty miles up the river to Parramatta.

The women were probably fortunate to have made the journey when they did as the weather was probably fine and warm, however three weeks later they witnessed the first storm since their arrival in the colony. There was a torrential downpour. Crops were destroyed, pigeons killed by enormous hailstones and newly shorn sheep perished in the cold as the Parramatta River rose to an alarming height before subsiding once more.

Lieutenant Robert Durie of the 73rd Regiment was Commandant and Magistrate at Parramatta when the women arrived. He was appointed to the position in June 1810 and received an allowance of 5 shillings per day paid from the police fund for the extra duties he performed as Magistrate. In November 1812 it was announced that Captain Durie was proceeding to Europe on twelve months leave to attend to private affairs. He was directed to take charge of a detachment of Royal Marines who were proceeding to England on the Isabella.* Captain Haddon Smith of the 73rd regt., was appointed to the position of Commandant and took up his duties on 1st November 1812.

Elizabeth Hannell was one of the women who arrived as a prisoner on the Minstrel. After a colonial indiscretion for which she was transported to Newcastle, she went on to lead successful life in the colony. Her three sons Jesse, John and James played prominent parts in the early development of Newcastle. James Hannell became an Innkeeper and the first Mayor of Newcastle in 1859.

The Minstrel departed Port Jackson on 6th July 1813 bound for England.

The following prisoners of the Minstrel were sent to the Hunter Valley region:

Sarah Blandy Tried at the Old Bailey 30th October 1811. Sentenced to transportation for 7 years for pocket picking. Age 27. Sent to Newcastle penal settlement in June 1813.
Louisa Clay
Mary Clarke Tried at the Old Bailey 3 April 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for pocket picking. Age 24. Sent to Newcastle in March 1817.
Catherine Connor (Conner) alias Burke Tried at the Old Bailey 30th October 1811. Sentenced to transportation for 7 years for house breaking. Age 28. Sent to Newcastle in February 1813
Hannah Grave (?Greaves) Wife of William. Tried Cumberland Assizes 31 August 1811. Sentenced to 14 years transportation. Sent to Newcastle in October 1813.
Elizabeth Hannell Tried at the Old Bailey 29th May 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for grand larceny. Age 19
Mary Lucas Tried Surry Quarter Sessions 4th March 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. Sent to Newcastle in April 1814
Martha Mitchell (Reynolds) Tried at Surry assizes 27th March 1811. Sentenced to transportation for life. Martha married John Reynolds who arrived on the Coromandel in 1804. They were among the early settlers at Patterson's Plains.
Elizabeth Pearce Tried at Gloucester Assizes 9th March 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. Absconded from Newcastle settlement at the same time as John Cobb -  31st October 1814. Still at large in December 1814.
Theresa Elizabeth Pearce alias Mary Abrahams Tried Middlesex Gaol Delivery 30 March 1812. Sentenced to transportation for life. Later sent to Newcastle penal settlement for 3 years. Read her petition for mitigation of sentence here.
Catherine Roach alias Murphy Tried at the Old Bailey 3 April 1811. Sentenced to death for coining offences. Sentence mitigated to transportation for life. Age 48
Margaret Roach Tried at the Old Bailey on 15th January 1812. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for shoplifting. Age 29. Wife of Edward Roach. Employed by John Powell at Patterson's Plains in 1828

  Notes & Links:


*The Isabella was wrecked in the Falkland Islands in February 1813. Joseph Holt wrote of the wreck of Isabella in his memoirs. Captain Durie's wife was enciente when they were wrecked and was confined under a bank in a turf bog with only General Holt's wife to assist when her time came. Captain Durie was later compensated by 133 for the loss of his belongings.  

2). John Oxley at Moreton Bay.

 3). John Oxley's Funeral in 1828

4). The Petition of Mary Abrahams...

To His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, The Humble Petition of Mary Abrahams

That Petitions was sent to this settlement about 10 months ago by the Sentences of a Criminal Court for 3 years.

That Petitioner's Health has been in an exceedingly  ill state ever since her arrival on this settlement and is thereby rendered unable to do her Government duty which she would most readily do if not completely disabled from doing so.

She therefore humble hopes your Excellency will be pleased to allow her off the Stores as she could maintain herself by her own industry being a good Needlewoman

And she shall, as in duty bound, ever pray, Mary Abrahams

Colonial Secretary's Papers, Fiche 3163-3253 Source Information New South Wales, Australia.


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