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Convict Ship Perseus 1802


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Convict Ship Perseus 1802

Last Updated 16 July 2020

Embarked: 114 men
Voyage: 173 days
Deaths: ?1
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Atlas arrived 7 July 1802
Next vessel: Atlas (II) arrived 30 October 1802
Captain John Davison.
Surgeon W.S. Fielding

Perseus prisoners and passengers identified in the Hunter Valley

The Perseus arrived at Portsmouth from Deptford on 1st January 1802.

Health of the Convicts

Free passengers as well as convicts were required to be in good health to embark on the voyage. When the Perseus arrived in Portsmouth it was found that two of the female passengers were heavily pregnant prompting the following correspondence from Sir John Fitzpatrick dated 26th January 1802:

I have the pleasure of informing you that at present there is a favourable appearance in respect to the probable healthiness of the convicts on the voyage to New South Wales. But I cannot say the same for the Passengers, several of whom are uncleanly and will not subject themselves to regulation. There are two women passengers on board the Perseus, from whom, in consequence of their advanced state of pregnancy, there is much to be apprehended ; for there is no one matter which so soon contaminates the air in a crowded place, and a hot climate as the unavoidable consequences of women's lying in; where they cannot have the necessary means of cleanliness or fresh air and where they must be subject to every inconvenience arising from the crowd and clatter of all about them.
Thus do they themselves risk the fatal consequences, whilst those around them and afterwards the ship at large, must experience the effects of foul, contaminated, putrid air, and the unoffending babes equally suffer. Hence it is, that in the transporting of Troops, we must never permit any woman, be who she may to proceed if likely to be brought to bed on the passage. There I pray you to transmit this my opinion that Elizabeth Loyde, on the Perseus the wife of John Loyde, a carpenter, now pregnant near eight months and Margaret Jones wife of a stonemason pregnant seven months should not at present proceed. The former has her husband on board and four children ; the latter her husband only. [1]


The men forming the Guard on the Perseus and also the Coromandel were provided by the contractor for the voyage. They were civilians and considered to be part of the crew. The contractor provided 20 men for Coromandel and 16 for Perseus. He was was paid by the Transportation Board a rate of £75 for each guard.

Free Passengers

Free passengers on the Perseus included Charles and Mary Ann Palmer and their children Clara aged 3 and Sabina age 10 months; Edward and Ann Pugh; Mary Pitches; Mary Beaumont; Catherine Roby Stanley and William Hiscock.

The Morning Post and Gazetteer dated 9th February 1802 reported that the Buffalo, Coromandel and Perseus with convicts on board for New South Wales, departed Portsmouth harbour with a fleet under command of Rear Admiral Collingay, however due to appalling weather conditions the Perseus and Coromandel did not weigh anchor until the 12th February when winds had abated and fog had cleared.


The Perseus departed Spithead in company with the Coromandel and sailed via Rio de Janeiro and the Cape.

Port Jackson

They arrived in Port Jackson on 4 August 1802

According to Governor King, the prisoners of the Perseus arrived in good health -

Governor King to the Transport Commissioners,

9th August 1802.

(HRA, Vol. IV)
The healthy state in which the Coromandel and Perseus arrived requires my particularly pointing out the masters of those ships to your notice. It appears by the log books, surgeon's diaries and the unanimous voice of every person on board those ships of the utmost kindness to the convicts. This, with the proper application of the comforts Government had so liberally provided for them and the good state of health all the people were in, induced the master of the Coromandel to proceed without stopping at any port. He arrived here in four months and one day, bringing every person in a state of high health, and fit for immediate labour; and although it appears that the Perseus necessarily stopped at Rio and the Cape, yet the convicts were in as good condition as those on board the Coromandel; nor can I omit the great pleasure felt by myself and the other visiting officers at the grateful thanks expressed by the prisoners and passengers for the kind attention and care they had received from the masters and surgeons, who returned, an unusual quantity of the articles laid in by Government for the convicts during the voyage.


A large quantity of clothing arrived on the Perseus including 2250 red jackets; 2250 duck waistcoats; 2250 trousers; 750 blue jackets; 750 blue pantaloons; 2500 hats, Cockades and Feathers; 2500 pair shoes; 500 pair boots; 10 gr. yellow buttons; 10gr. Horn Moulds; 11 lbs thread; 1000 tailors needles and 20 thimbles.

In Harbour

While moored in Port Jackson in October 1802, the Perseus was struck by lightning and narrowly escaped being wrecked in consequence. [3]

Departure from Port Jackson

The Perseus departed Port Jackson bound for China in October 1802.

Notes and Links

1) Five convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1802 - Coromandel, Hercules, Atlas, Perseus and Atlas II

2) Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Perseus in 1802

3). Cambridge 9 March, At Ely Assizes, five prisoners were tried, one of whom was capitally convicted and received sentence of death, viz, Richard Osborn, for sheep stealing. William Garner and William Walker, convicted of fowl stealing were sentenced to transportation for seven years. Before the Judge left the town, Osborn was reprieved. - The Bury and Norwich Post: Or, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and Cambridge Advertiser (Bury Saint Edmunds, England), Wednesday, March 11, 1801; Issue 976. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

4). Historical Records of NSW

5). Below is a list of convicts of the Perseus who have been identified in the Hunter Valley, Maitland, Newcastle or Lake Macquarie districts

William Denton Tried in Suffolk 1797
Thomas Hughes tried inWarwick 1801
Richard Osborne tried at Isle of Ely 1801
William Refrain tried at Hereford 1800
Christian Sternbeck tried at Middlesex 1800
James Turner tried at Sussex 1801


[1] HRA, Series 1, Vol., III p. 372

[2] HR NSW p. 787

[3] Meteorological Essays By Francois Arago, Sir Edward Sabine



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