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Convict Ship Neva 1835

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Embarked: 150 women
Voyage: 4 months (wrecked)
Surgeon's Journal: no
Crew 26 men
Previous Ship: Royal Sovereign 1835
Next Ships: Hive 1835 (wrecked); and John Barry 1836
Captain Benjamin Peck
Surgeon Superintendent John Stephenson
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
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The Neva was built at Hull in 1815. Convicts were previously transported to New South Wales on the Neva in 1833.

The Neva departed Gravesend on 8th or 9th December 1834 and sailed from Deal on 16th December bound for Cork.

The Belfast Newsletter reported that the Neva embarked 148 female convicts, 33 children and twenty free settlers at Cork on Monday 5th January 1835(1).

Later newspaper reports have the number embarked as 150 female prisoners, 9 free women and 55 children.

The Neva departed Cork on 8th January 1835. Three people died in the earlier part of the voyage and one child was born (2)

In a catastrophe following hard on the disaster of the Convict Ship George III which was wrecked on 12th April 1835, the Neva was wrecked north of King Island on 13th May 1835. All perished except six of the women and nine of the Crew.

The surviving crew were
Captain Benjamin Peck,
First Officer Joseph Bennett,
Thomas Sharp,
John Wilson,
Edward Calthorpe,
Thomas Hines,
Robert Ballard,
John Robinson and
William Kidney.

The six surviving women were
Ellen Galvin,
Mary Slattery,
Ann Cullen,
Rose Ann Hyland,
Rose Dunn and
Margaret Drury.

Captain Peck sailed from Launceston to Sydney on the Nimrod in August and probably returned to England on the Andromeda in September 1835. (3)

Notes & Links:

1). Wreck of the Neva - Sydney Monitor 18 July 1835

2). Convicts ships to New South Wales in 1835

3). Female Convicts

4). John Stephenson was surgeon superintendent on the convict ships Guildford in 1829, Eleanor in 1831, Katherine Stewart Forbes in 1832 (VDL), Waterloo in 1833 and the Neva in 1835.

5). Three vessels transporting convicts to Australia were wrecked in the year 1835. .......the Neva, the Hive which ran aground on a beach south of Jervis Bay and the George III which was wrecked near Hobart.

6). Extract From the Old Sea Captain.......

"Well, Captain, you will tell us how to build a better ship, will you?"

"Will I? Ay, that I will, my boys, from the keel to the mast head. Don't be out of heart; you may be shipwrights yet in her majesty's dockyard. When we think of the dangers of shipwreck, we ought to take care that every vessel is sea-worthy. The best ship that was ever built would soon go to pieces, if her stem was fast on a reef, and her stern battered by the breakers against the rocks.

Only think of the Neva, boys; she struck on a reef, and soon after broke into four parts."

 "Terrible! terrible! No wonder that you don't like to see a ship badly built, Captain. But please to tell us about the Neva. In what part of the world was she? and how came she to get upon the rocks?"

"It was a sad affair, boys! Sudden death is terrible; but when it comes upon those who have lived all their lives breaking the commandments of God, and the laws of mankind, it must be more terrible still. It ill becomes us to judge hardly of the guiltiest being that lives under the skies; for we are all sinners, and all stand in need of God's mercy. Every one of you, and the old sea Captain too, stands as much in need of a Saviour as the most cruel pirate that was ever hung; but when we think, that the Neva had on board so many who had been condemned to transportation, on account of their crimes, we cannot help fearing, that many of them were hardened and unrepentant offenders. Oh, boys! boys!  have a care that you do not run aground on the shoals of temptation; look to a heavenly Pilot; keep a sharp look out from the mast head; beware of pirates; do not carry too much sail, and too little ballast; never neglect to take soundings in unknown latitudes; and mind that your ship's compass always points where it ought to do.

 "Please now to tell us all about the Neva."

"It was on the 8th of January, 1835, that the Neva left Cork, bound for Sydney. The old sea Captain was there with a cargo fifty years ago; then it was only known as a place where convicts were sent. Every body has heard of Botany Bay. But now the whole country is looking up, and it is a thriving place. Well; the Neva had a hundred and fifty women on board, all convicts, beside fifty-five children, and nine free emigrants. Emigrants, you know, are those who leave their own country of their own accord for another."

"What a number of women to be transported! and all in one ship, too! Who was the captain?"

"The Neva was commanded by Captain Peck; and twenty-six men formed the crew. All went on well, and fair wind took them along without accident. On the 13th of May, they were within about thirty leagues of King's Island, at the entrance of Bass's Straits, and here they gave a sharp look out for land. It was, I think, early on the following morning that they made land."

 "What is making land, Captain?"

"When land, a long way off, is seen from a vessel sailing towards it, it is said that the ship has made land. Making land is a sea phrase for approaching land seen in the distance. You will remember new. All at once, breakers were discovered right a-head, the ship was put about; but for all that, she struck, unshipped her rudder, became unmanageable, and then struck again on the larboard-bow. Putting a ship about, is to set the sails, and move the rudder so as to bring the ship's head to the wind; and unshipping a rudder, is having the helm broken from the ship, or rendered unserviceable."

"Thank you, Captain."

"It was time for the hands to be stirring, for the ship swung broadside heavily on the reef, and bilged at once. To bilge, is to be broken in. In vain the captain tried to keep up the courage of those around him. A wild shriek of distress rose from the vessel; for the women were horror-struck so soon as they knew their situation, and cried out to be set at liberty. Think of a hundred and fifty poor guilty wretched beings, about to be launched into an eternal world, without warning or preparation."

 "Ay, they repented of their bad ways, then, no doubt; but it was too late."

"We never know when it is too late, boys. The thief on the cross was pardoned, when all would have thought it too late. The captain got into the pinnace, with the surgeon, the superintendent, and two sailors; but the striking of the ship on the reef had burst the prison-doors, and many of the shrieking women leaped from the side of the vessel, and got into the pinnace, or hung upon her in such numbers, that they swamped her. All in the boat were lost, but the captain and the two sailors: these, with hard struggling, got back to the ship."

"That captain had no business to run away from the poor convicts, and leave them to be drowned."

"The long-boat then put off, but with no better success than the pinnace, for the surf upset it. It was too rough for a boat to live in. Again the captain escaped, for he was a good swimmer; but hardly had he reached the ship before she went to pieces. Never was a more dreadful scene! The vessel had broken up into four parts, and every one of them was crowded with women, wringing their hands, screaming for help, and praying aloud."

"Poor creatures! what a dreadful situation to be placed in. A ship, broken in four parts, could not long swim in the water."

"True, boys: for a time, the wretched creatures kept shrieking for assistance, but the howling winds and roaring waves only seemed to mock them in their distress. At last, the different parts of the wreck went down, and almost all the women were whelmed in the -waters."

"They were not all drowned, then? How many escaped?"

"Twenty-two persons, by clinging to parts of the wreck, and struggling hard for eight hours, got to King's Island; but seven of them died soon after. Those who reached the land, happily picked up a slender stock of provisions that floated ashore. After this, they were joined by the crew of a small vessel, which happened to be wrecked on the same island; and the whole party continued to keep themselves alive by fishing and hunting, till a ship hove off the coast, and took them away."

 "Why, what a many must have been drowned!"

 "Before they quitted the island, they buried a hundred fellow beings, who had perished in the deep, and whose bodies had floated ashore."



 (1). Belfast Newsletter 13th January 1835

(2). The Launceston Advertiser 2 July 1835 

(3). The Colonist 17 September 1835


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