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Convict Ship
Porpoise 1800

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Select from the Links below to find information about Convict Ships arriving in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850

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8 male prisoners

Surgeon: J. Willson (3)

Other convict ships arriving in 1800:

Minerva   |
 Friendship  |   Speedy   |  Royal Admiral

A selection of useful European plants, arranged by Sir Joseph Banks, to replace those lost in HMS Guardian were sent on the Porpoise. (2)

The State Library of New South Wales in the Papers of Sir Joseph Banks has the following background note concerning the outfitting of the Porpoise for the voyage to New South Wales ......

"George Suttor, a free settler, was engaged as gardener on board HMS Porpoise in August 1798. In return for caring for the consignment of European plants to be transferred to the colony in New South Wales, Suttor received free passage to the colony for himself, his wife and their baby son, and the usual assistance given to free settlers. Sir Joseph Banks, under instructions from the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury on 22 June 1798, arranged a selection of culinary and medicinal plants, fruit trees and vines, plants for fodder, trees for timber, hops for brewing and other plants which he considered useful or necessary to the colony. These were planted and cared for by Suttor in the Gardens at Kew before being received on board the Porpoise in October 1798. The ship had earlier been fitted with a plant cabin on the quarterdeck according to Banks' specifications. The Porpoise set sail on 6 September 1799 amid considerable doubt about her seaworthiness. Lieutenant William Scott, commander of the Porpoise, had grave concerns about the ship because of the weight and placement of the plant cabin. After sustaining critical damage in the Bay of Biscay, the Porpoise was forced to return to Spithead. The following month she was replaced by a second refitted vessel, also known as the Porpoise, which set sail for New South Wales in May 1800 . "

The Porpoise arrived in Port Jackson on 9th November 1800 with 6 male and 6 female passengers, two children and eight prisoners from the Cape of Good Hope (1) Mr. Commissary John Palmer and family, Mr. E. Stamford and family, Mr. Suttor and family, Mr. Mungo Park, Edward Wise Weaver and family, and John Gearish, assistant to the gardener were mentioned in the Historical Records of Australia as passengers (5)

The Porpoise also brought four tons of 1797 cartwheel pennies. ........

The Duke of Portland to Governor Hunter,
Whitehall, 12 April 1799
Sir, You will receive by the Porpoise near four tons of a new copper coinage of a penny each. The total value of the above coinage is 550, which you will take care to carry to the credit of Government, and to account for it in making such payments therewith for the public service as you shall from time to time judge most advisable. The circulation of this coinage must very much add to the comfort and convenience of individuals, and greatly facilitate their dealings with each other. It does not occur to me that there can be any inducement or motives of interest for sending this money out of the settlement; but if the contrary should be the case, it will be your duty to frame a suitable ordinance for preventing such an offence, subjecting all defaulters, as well the parties receiving as those disposing of them for exportation, to severe penalties. II am &c., Portland.

After various Colonial duties the Porpoise set sail for India in 1803 under the command of Lieutenant Robert Fowler and in the company of the Cato, under Captain John Park, and the East Indiaman Bridgewater, under Captain Palmer. The Porpoise and Cato were both wrecked on a coral reef 729 miles north of Port Jackson on 17th August 1803.

Select here to read an account of the wreck in the Historical Records of Australia written by Lieutenant Fowler, Commander of the Porpoise and entrusted to Matthew Flinders when he set out in a small cutter bound for Sydney  

Notes & Links:

1) Wreck of the Porpoise (image)- William Westall - Nation Library of Australia  

2). The Naval Gazette....

3). Prisoners and passengers mentioned in Census - 1824 -25 as arriving on the Porpoise:

Mrs. Campbell (came free), wife of Robert Campbell
John Clan, labourer
Robert Cromby
John Loweth
John Kelshar
John Maho
Thomas Rice
Sarah Wilkes  

4). Prisoners and passengers mentioned in the 1828 Census as arriving on the Porpoise:

John Callaghan, Farmer at Portland Head (came free)
Matthew Conway, Farmer Lower Portland (came free)
William King, prisoner for life, employed as a shepherd at Bathurst
Sarah Schooler (wife of convict Henry Schooler), Parramatta
John Smith, (came free) residing with family at Windsor
John Smith, (came free) labourer employed by Owen Cavenagh at Portland Head in 1828
George Banks Suttor - (came free), Landholder at Baulkham Hills
George Suttor - (came free), Farmer at Bathurst
Mrs. S.M. Suttor (came free)
Francis Williams, ticket of leave holder, Agent at Newcastle        


(1) HRA., Series 1, vol. III, p 18

(2) Wikipedia

(3) HRA, Series 1, vol. IV., p. 218

HRA 1, Volume II,  p. 341  

HRA Series 1, Vol. II, p. 228 


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