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Convict Ship
 Mount Stewart Elphinstone 1849

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Embarked: 230 men

Voyage: 154 days

Deaths: 2

Surgeon's Journal: yes

Captain Henry C. Loney

Surgeon Superintendent
George Todd Moxey

The Mount Stuart Elphinstone left Deptford for Woolwich on 21 May 1849.

The Guard under the command of Lieutenant Reney of the 96th regiment embarked on 22nd. May. They were accompanied by 5 women and 8 children. According to the surgeon, they all seemed to be in a healthy condition.

George Moxey kept a medical journal from 16th May 1849 to 21 November 1849. On the 25-26 May, 163 Exile prisoners were received on board; 69 from Pentonville prison; 39 from Milbank; 24 from Wakefield and 21 from the hulks off Woolwich. The men from the hulks appeared healthier than those from the different prisons. Thirty two convicts embarked from the hulks at Portsmouth on 30 May. Two or three of these convicts were rejected on the ground of being unfit for the voyage, but two of the thirty two who embarked were in the bad state of health, and they died of phthisis during the passage.

The ship sailed from Spithead on 31st May and on the evening of the 2nd June came to Portland Roads and on the 3rd to Portland Prison where 35 prisoners were embarked. They arrived at Cove of Cork on the 7th June. John Martin and Kevin O'Doherty, two state prisoners were embarked from HM Steamer Trident on the 17th June. They had been in the Richmond Penitentiary. The details of their journey from the prison was reported in Bell's Life.......

A body of mounted police arrived, accompanied by the black cart, or prison van, which, with its escort, entered the prison gates and drew up in the inner yard. The query was then put if the prisoners were ready. The reply was, that they were asleep, and that they would then be roused. So secret were all the arrangements kept, that none of the public had the least intelligence of the intended removal of the two prisoners. At about half-past six o'clock Mr. Martin issued from his cell, and stood in the prison-hall prepared for departure. He bade a kindly farewell to the Governor and officials, and warmly shook hands with one or two gentlemen who were present. Mr. O'Doherty then came out dressed as if for travelling. Mr. Martin expressed himself as in good health, but there appeared a painful shortness in his breathing, and his cheeks seemed flushed. Mr. O'Doherty looked in rather delicate health ; but both maintained a sad but firm bearing. As they stood in the hall a side-door opened, and Mr. Smith O'Brien stood in the door-way, having come from his cell to bid farewell to his fellow-prisoners, perhaps for ever. This scene was soon over, and turning away from the door, which closed again on their friend, the two prisoners announced themselves ready. Mr. McManus came down also, and wished to remain and see them take their departure; but this privilege was not allowed him. He took his brief and painful adieu, and returned to the solitude of his prison. After some delay in getting fixed the few articles of baggage belonging to the prisoners, the van, with its escort, issued from the prison-gates, where it was met by nearly a regiment of dragoons-the advanced guard with loaded carbines, and the rest with swords drawn. Mr. O'Farrall, Inspector of Police, was present. The cortege set off at a gallop along the Circular-road, skirting the city, and struck in on the Kingstown highway at Haggot-street Bridge, and thus at a rapid pace proceeded to Kingstown, where the Trident war-steamer was awaiting the arrival of the prisoners, with orders to proceed, after having received them on board, to Cork Harbour, where she will land the prisoners at Spike Island."

There were fears of an outbreak of cholera after a young soldier of the Guard became ill and another soldier and two prisoners afterwards were also affected and they were ordered to be landed as soon as possible. One was sent to the Depot at Spike Island and two were sent to the Naval Hospital in Dublin.

The Mount Stuart Elphinstone sailed from Ireland for Sydney and Moreton Bay on 28th June and there were no further cases of anything resembling cholera. Our passage was only 97 days to Sydney but in consequence of blowing weather at starting and strong Trade Winds several of the Guard and Convicts suffered a great deal from sea sickness and many on board fell into a low state of health within the Tropics when almost all the cases of Dyspepsia and Scorbutus were added to the sick list.(1)

Schools were set up on board and those who did not attend were employed as tailors, 400 suits of clothing having been sent from Milbank Prison for making up during the voyage.

The Mount Stuart Elphinstone anchored in Port Jackson on the 3rd and remained there until the 20th October when after we had landed our two State Prisoners Messrs Martin and O'Doherty on the brig Emma for a passage to Hobart Town and, who I may say maintained an excellent state of health during the voyage notwithstanding the direful forebodings as to the fate of the former gentleman by his friends in Ireland - the Mount Stuart Elphinstone proceeded on to Moreton Bay with 225 convicts on the evening of 1st November.(1)

Moreton Bay was first explored by John Oxley in 1823 and in the 1820's had the reputation as a dreaded penal settlement ruled by Captain Patrick Logan of the 57th regiment, however it had been thrown open for free settlement a decade before the Mount Stuart Elphinstone arrived and many changes had taken place. Although there were thousands of convicts who were sent to Moreton Bay for colonial crimes, the Mount Stewart Elphinstone in 1849 and the Bangalore in 1850 were the only two ships bringing convict 'Exiles' direct to Moreton Bay, then part of New South Wales. Transportation to New South Wales had ceased in 1840 and the arrival of Exile ships was controversial, however squatters and pastoralists particularly on the Darling Downs were in need of labour and welcomed the addition to their dwindling work force.  The surgeon regretted not being able to land at Moreton Bay, being busy on board, however he included a description in his journal of the voyage up the river to the settlement and included information as to how many of the convicts were to be employed....The Town contains 1200 inhabitants and the Port being open for immigration is daily increasing. The surrounding country is particularly well adopted for grazing and an extensive tract of land at the Darling Downs about 70 miles from Brisbane is considered to be one of the best adopted for sheep. The squatters are a superior stamp most being young men highly connected. Most of the convicts were hired by these gentlemen Squatters as shepherds and bullock drivers receiving from 14 to 20 per annum with rations.(1)

The prisoners all being indulged with tickets of leave were hired on board or landed for that purpose between 3rd and 9th November. The ship sailed soon afterwards and came to Sydney on 20th November. The Guard were disembarked on the following day.

Notes & Links:

1). George Moxey was also surgeon on the convict ships Margaret in 1839  Woodbridge in 1840  and the Susan in 1842 (VDL)

2). Other vessels bringing Exiles included the Havering, Eden, Adelaide, Hashemy  Maitland and Randolph

3). A description of the old Mount Stewart Elphinstone written in 1873

4). Prisoners and passengers arriving on the Mount Stewart Elphinstone in 1849



(1) UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. National Archives, Kew




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