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Convict Ship Salamander 1791

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Embarked: 160 men
Voyage: 147 days
Deaths: 5 - 6
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Atlantic arrived 20 August 1791
Next vessel: William and Ann arrived 28 August 1791
Master John Nichol

The British Royal Navy purchased HMS Shark on the stocks in 1775. She was launched in 1776, and converted to a fireship and renamed HMS Salamander in 1778. The Navy sold her in 1783. She then became the mercantile Salamander. In the 1780s she was in the Greenland whale fisheries.  (5)


The Salamander was one of eleven vessels of the Third Fleet transporting convicts to Australia. Following is a list of transport vessels provided by Messrs. Camden, Calvert and King contractors for the Commissioners of the Navy for the conveyance of convicts to New South Wales(6)

Admiral Barrington
William & Ann


The Mary Ann departed England in February 1791 and the rest of the fleet departed in March 1791 and later met with the Queen from Cork at Madeira.

ActiveAdmiral BarringtonAlbemarleBritannia
and Matilda departed from Portsmouth; their naval agent was Lieutenant Robert Parry Young.  HMS Gorgon  sailed from Portsmouth on 18th March 1791.

Atlantic, Salamander, and William & Ann departed from Plymouth; naval agent was Lieutenant Bowen.

Queen departed from Cork, Ireland;  naval agent, Lieutenant Samuel Blow.


The London Times reported.....

on the 24 March the Atlantic, Salamander and William and Ann transports with convicts for Botany Bay, put to sea (again) from Plymouth on the evening of the 23rd, and it was hoped would now get out of the Channel and make a safe passage (2)

The Salamander eventually sailed on 27th March 1791. The Albemarle, Active, Admiral Barrington, Britannia and Matilda departed Portsmouth on the same day. The Mary Ann had sailed more than a month earlier and the Gorgon had made her departure on 15 March 1791. The Fleet later met with the convict transport Queen from Cork at Madeira.


The Salamander arrived in Port Jackson on 21 August 1791 with 12 privates of the NSW Corps and 154 male convicts, stores and provisions.

David Collins  in an Account of the English Colony.... The convicts were landed on 23 August and the soldiers on 27th August 1791(3)

In John Hunter's version of the arrival of the Salamander, most of the convicts were in a weak emaciated state, and complained that proper attention had not been paid to them.(1)


The Salamander departed Port Jackson bound for Norfolk Island 4th September 1791 with 160 male convicts, stores, provisions, two non commissioned officers and eleven privates. On the voyage she entered Port Stephens, the first ship to have done so.

The Salamander became a whaling ship in the South Seas whale fisheries for a number of years, before becoming a general transport and then a slave ship. In 1804 the French captured her, but the Royal Navy recaptured her. She is last listed in 1811. (5)


1). In correspondence from the Victualling Board to Lieutenant Governor Grose, HRA Vol 1., p. 462, records William Irish as Master of the Salamander

2). Condition of the convicts received in the colony in the Third Fleet - Governor Phillip to Lord Grenville  

3). Convicts of the Third Fleet - Convict Records

4). British Southern Whale Fishery - Voyages

5). Soldiers on the Salamander


1.  Analytical Review: Or History of Literature, Domestic and Foreign - John Hunter's voyage

2.  London Times 28 March 1791

3.  Historical Records of Australia, Vol.1, p275

4.  Historical Records of Australia, Vol.1, p225

5. Wikipedia - HMS Shark