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Convict Ship
Speedy 1800

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Embarked: 53 women
Voyage: 143 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Friendship arrived 16 February 1800
Next vessel: Royal Admiral arrived 20 November 1800
Captain George Quested.
Surgeon onboard, name unknown
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

The Speedy was built in London in 1779. She was 313 tons with 10 guns and 22 crew and was owned by Messrs Enderby and Co., as was the Britannia.  She was the next vessel to leave England with convicts for New South Wales after the departure of the Hillsborough in December 1798.

Fifty three female convicts were embarked on the Speedy in England.  Cabin passengers included Lieutenant-Governor Philip Gidley King with his wife Anna Josepha and daughter Elizabeth and their servant *Jane Dundas.

Other passengers included George Caley who was a botanist and collector for Sir Joseph Banks and Francis Barrallier.  .

Joseph Barsden who later became a constable at Parramatta, Edward Wise a weaver and his family and John Burrell also came as passengers

Governor King had planned to embark on the Porpoise however that vessel being damaged in gales and deemed unseaworthy they were forced to return to port and were long delayed (1).

An account of the delays and King and Caley's frustrations can be found in Reflections on the Colony of New South Wales, George Caley, Explorer and Natural History Collector for Sir Joseph Banks. Finally it was decided that Governor King should not be delayed any longer and he was ordered instead to sail on the whaler Speedy which sailed a few weeks later on the 24 November 1799.  

Governor Philip Gidley King

Anna King, wife of Governor Philip Gidley King kept a journal during the voyage which can be found online at the State Library of New South Wales. She gives frequent accounts of the weather they experienced and of the violent storms endured; at times she was up to her ankles in water and feared for her life. Governor King suffered badly with gout and other illnesses and Mrs. King worried about her husband's health as well as the children Anna Maria and Philip who remained in England. There are accounts of her tribulations on the voyage, her excitement on reaching Cape Town and some of the tragedies that occurred during the 143 days of the voyage.

Captain Quested is mentioned in the journal however there is no mentioned of George Caley who King found difficult. The young Ensign Francis Barralier who would later produce the first survey of Newcastle Harbour, also remains silent under her pen. She writes of the surgeon but fails to mention his name. There are details of some of the prisoners on a personal level that is rarely found in the surgeon's journals later kept on convict ship voyages........

Her Journal begins on Wednesday 20th November 1799, the day they sailed from Spithead in company with one hundred and fifty sail of the ships under convoy with the Queen Charlotte and Sans Pareil. They reached Madeira on the 7th December and Tenerife on Wednesday 11th December where they became becalmed 'which makes our situation very unpleasant as we must be in sight of the enemy, however we was very lucky to pass unobserved' In mid December the weather was fine with the water as smooth as a mill pond with scarcely a breath of wind and they became becalmed. Around this time Mrs King remarked  I am sorry to conclude this day's observation by adding that the Scotch Fiddle has made an appearance amongst the ladies which has caused some new arrangements (*The Scotch Fiddle refers to the itch/scabies).   She also recorded that a poor woman named Elizabeth Heathan departed this life about four and was buried at eight.

The other women were also sickly at this time, however on Christmas Eve they made St. Jago and the following day there were a few festivities on board....... On Christmas Day all the Officers dined with the Kings; their dinner consisted of a boiled leg of mutton, three roast fowls and a very fine ham with as good a mince pie as could be made on board ship...... The Ladies seemed all very happy and by way of a treat they had a little dance for about two hours - it was much amusement to us to look at them, some attempted Irish others Scotch steps and in truth I could scarcely make out any sort of steps - but a country jump.

Anna King is tolerant at first of the female prisoners until one day in December just after Christmas when one of them threw herself overboard:

My former opinion with respect to the behaviour of our females is very much altered now as the following circumstance will convince every body what hardened depraved creatures the greater part of them are. The Captain had reason to punish one of the boys for a guilt occasioned by a woman of the name of (Elizabeth)Ward - for which she was about to be punished by being pumped on (the only punishment the Captain has ever inflicted on any of them) this woman has often been heard to say that if ever she was pumped on that she would Jump overboard the next moment and sure enough she did and was it not for the very great expeditious manner with which the captain lowered the boat down took in sail and at this time we was going seven knots, she must have been lost. Her clothes kept her up as long as she did and when the boat got to her she was sinking but the mate was very quick in his motions and got her up. It pleased God that she should not be drowned. She was fortunately placed into the boat with her head hanging downwards (and this was near chance) the water of course ran out of her mouth, nose and ears, when she was brought along side the ship she was hoisted up in the boat and when she was taken into the ship I really thought she was dead. The Doctor used every means for her recovery, one of which I shall observe - he gave her three teaspoonsful of of ground pepper in a glass of red wine - a most powerful medicine but wonderful quick in the effect for immediately as it was put down her throat the salt water came off her stomach, she is recovering. It has given one such a turn against them her conduct, as well as all the rest, that I shall be happy to get to the end of our voyage, as soon as possible.

Two days later Mrs. King was able to report - The woman is recovering fast. She appears to be very sorry for her past conduct, and she is determined to lead a better life for the time to come.

Another of the convicts passed away at this time (28th December)....

One of the poor women that was so ill has just drawn her last breath, after a long and lingering illness. She has left a very young child about seven months old, of course we shall not let it part whilst on board - Captain Questead has appointed a very good sort of an elderly woman to take the care of it and should it live to reach our destined port I shall feel happy to protect a poor little orphan.

Mrs. King reported on the health of the little orphan often in her journal afterwards. Perhaps their interest in this little baby brought their attention to the plight of the many orphans in the colony as one of the first tasks undertaken by Governor King was to establish an institution for orphan children. Anna King took a particular interest in this and was one of the six members of the Committee appointed to set up the building. It was opened in 1801 and although it was officially called The Female Orphan Institution, informally it was known as Mrs King's Orphanage. (3)

They had at this time very hot weather with lightning and very heavy rain and crossed the equator on 31st December. Seventeen men went through the usual ceremony of being shaved etc. The ladies were excused excepting one who chose to be very curious and hid herself in the sheep pen in order to see the ceremony passed on the men - to be sure she chose a nice warm situation and a very snug one as she thought but unfortunately one of Mr. Neptune's observing her peeping through the boards, he ran to catch her but before he got to her she jumped through and got away from him however it was judged right that she should be paid for peeping therefore she was under the necessity of going through the operation poor creature. She stamped and screamed tore her hair, but all to no purpose. She is an Irish woman and the only one of that country on board.

On the morning of the 5th January Mrs. King was awakened and much alarmed by the screaming of convict Mary Butler.... She appeared mad - She bit and drew her face in all manner of shapes, the doctor could not tell what to make of this sudden disorder and she continued in this state the whole night. - She says she shall not live, has every appearance of madness and seems to have a wish to divulge something....Mary Butler was treated kindly and seemed to recover briefly, however two days later she took a turn for the worse and at half past seven departed this life without a groan.  I cannot help lamenting this woman s death as she appeared a cleanly better sort of woman, notwithstanding she lived amongst the Officers in the steerage. Mary Butler was buried in sight of Trinidad on 9th January, and on 14th January there was a great out cry amongst the Ladies that they had seen Mrs. Butler's spirit amongst them in the night .

On the 19th January Mrs. King recorded that it was a fine day and being Sunday our Ladies all dressed out very neat and clean excepting one that calls herself Lady Underhill. (Mary Underhill) She complains very much that she cannot wear the things government has provided for her and unfortunately she has but very few others - I never saw such a proud creature in all my life and with all her rags and dirt would you believe that she mounts a muslin turban which is oftener as black as ink than it is white; then when her Ladyship employs a person to wash it, she wears a black ribbon.

They made Table Bay on 3rd February 1800 where they remained until 16th February 1800. George Caley spent the fortnight in his own quarters in Cape Town and made a great collection of specimens although was blamed by the Captain for delaying so long at the Cape.

The Doctor also disembarked for a time at the Cape. Mrs King remarked.... the Doctor was still an invalid, not capable to do his duty as a doctor, his disorder no person can tell, he has been out of his mind. Capt. Quested has had much to do on is account and a good deal of trouble with him. He went to the hospital at the Cape and the medical people pronounced him mad.

On the 15th March, Edward Wise the weaver fell overboard. He left a young wife who was later to enter into a relationship with George Caley. (1)

On 17th March Mrs. King's journal records that there were heavy seas. The women were obliged to be battened down in their berths and beds in very hot conditions however their health was good and they were merry and very happy and indeed cannot be otherwise when every indulgence is properly allowed to them. (Jane) Dundas has just fallen down the companion stairs and dreadfully bruised her back and a foot. A convict woman has fallen down the main hatchway and splintered her leg very bad, another has scalded her foot in fact the ship rocks and lumbers about so much that I wonder how the sailors keep on their legs. Two days later Jane Dundas was still suffering....Dundas scarcely can move - nor can she lay in bed - every time the ship gives a lurch, she is ready to scream out with pain.

To the relief of all the Speedy arrived in Port Jackson on 13 April 1800. The previous convict ship to arrive in New South Wales with with female prisoners was the Minerva from Ireland in August 1799. On arrival the female prisoners may have been sent to Parramatta Female Factory which had been established at Parramatta in 1796 and presumably where the weaver Edward Wise was to be employed had he survived the voyage. (This building was damaged by fire in 1804 and replaced)

The Speedy departed Port Jackson for the fisheries in July 1800.....
...A Voyage to Terra Australis, Matthew Flinders June 1802  

Notes and Links:

1). *Jane Dundas first arrived in New South Wales on the Prince of Wales with the first fleet in 1788. She became a servant to Anna King and remained in service for fifteen years. She died in 1805 and was buried in the Old Sydney Ground.

2). Female orphan School established in the former residence of Lieut. Kent, George St. Sydney. Formally opened in August 1801

3). Select here to read more about Caley and Barrallier's  Expedition to Hunter's River in 1801

4). Convict Ships to New South Wales in 1800 - Minerva, Friendship, Speedy, Royal Admiral and the Porpoise.

5). Governor Arthur Phillip

6). Notes about some of the prisoners on the Speedy....

Mary Atkins. Age 30. Tried in London 4 July 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for feloniously stealing, on the 1st of June , a cotton gown, value 10s. the property of Thomas Davis . Old Bailey Online

Sarah Baker. Age 28. Tried in London 12 September 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation br>
Sarah Basdon. Tried Sussex Q.S. 7 October 1796 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation

Margaret Battersby. Age 33. Tried in London 24 October 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for feloniously stealing, on the 22d of October, a base metal watch gilt with gold, value 2l. 5s. the property of Thomas Jones , in his dwelling-house. Prisoner's defence. I did not do it from any bad principle, but from distress.. - Old Bailey Online

Mary owmend. Age 42. Tried Middlesex 9 January 1799. At the Old Bailey on 9th January 1799, Mary BOWMANA was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 29th of December , a tin-saucepan, value 12d. and an iron frying-pan, value 12d. the property of Elizabeth Joshua . Her age was given as 52

Elizabeth, alias Sarah Brown. Age 27. Tried Middlesex 3rd April 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation for feloniously stealing, on the 22d of March , four guineas, the property of Edward Levi , privately from his person. Prisoner's defence. I met this man in Bow-street; he asked me if he could go home with me; I asked him what he would make me a present of; he said, four guineas; but whether he gave me the four guineas, or whether I took it, I cannot say, for I was very much intoxicated.. Old Bailey Online

Margaret Buckie. Age 42. Tried Middlesex 12 September 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation for feloniously stealing, on the 10th of July , a cotton shawl, value 3d. two muslin aprons, value 7s. a linen shirt, value 3d. a tippet, value 1d. a laced cap, value 5s. a table cloth, value 2s. 6d. a pair of cotton stockings, value 2s. and two silk sashes, value 2s. the property of John Williams. Prisoner's defence. I had some work to do for her, and she gave me the shawl with the things wrapped up in it. - Old Bailey Online

Martha Burrell + child 2 rs old.. Age 22. Tried Surry Quarter Sessions 12 January 1796 

Mary Butler. Age 30. Tried Lent Assizes. Kingston upon Thames 21 March 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation

Ann Chaddick. Age 23. Tried at Reading on 3rd March 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life. Anne Chaddick became the wife of Edward Lovedy, soldier of the 102nd reg.,. Petition of Lovedy for confirmation of his wife's pardon to enable them to return to England dated 30 January 1810. She received an absolute pardon in march 1810

Sarah Clark. Age 30. Tried Summer Assizes, Guildford 30 July 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life Ann Clarke. Age 28. Tried Middlesex 3 April 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation

Elizabeth Coleton. Age 14. Tried in London 9 January 1799 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Elizabeth Colton was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 10th of January , two candlesticks, value 1s. a woollen jacket, value 5s. a woollen cloth coat, value 10s. 6d. two linen handkerchiefs, value 2s. 6d. a linen shirt, value 1s. and a yard of flannel, value 6d. the property of John Bouccock . Old Bailey Online

Mary Evans Age 29. Tried 4th July 1798 at Middlesex and sentenced to 7 rs transportation for feloniously stealing, on the 4th of July , a watch, the inside case made of metal, and the outside of tortoiseshell, value 3l. a steel watch-chain, value 6d. a cornelian stone seal set in base metal, value 6d. a brass watch-key, value 1d. and five guineas in money, the property of William Bond , in the dwelling-house of Jeremiah Day. . Prisoner's defence. I was in Dyot-street between one and two o'clock, talking with two young woman, and he began to pull the girls about, and they ran away, and then he said I had robbed him of five guineas and a watch; the watchman told me if I would give him two guineas he would make it up. - Old Bailey Online

Elizabeth Faulkner. Age 20 Tried Q.S. Guildford 2 October 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation

Catherine Fitzjohn. Age 33. Tried Middlesex 26 October 1796 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. for feloniously stealing, on the 2d of July , a pair of women's stays, value 6d. a flannel petticoat, value 6d. a black silk cloak, value 6d. a linen gown, value 12d. a check linen apron value 6d. a white linen apron value 4d. a woman's linen shift, value 12d. a pair of worsted stockings, value 2d. three linen caps, value 3s. a pair of silk mitts, value 2s. two yards of silk ribbon, value 12d. and a cotton shawl, value 12d. the property of Mary Clander, widow. Prisoner's defence. My husband brought these things to me, and I have never seen him since; I have been here ever since the sessions before last, and had nothing but what the gentlemen of the jail pleased to give me and my babe, I have no friend in the world. - Old Bailey Online

Mary Garnham. Age 17. Tried London 9 January 1799 and sentenced to transportation for life for feloniously stealing, on the 22d of December , six yards of cotton, value 12s. the property of William Hopps , privately in his shop Old Bailey Online. She married John Brown a London shoemaker who arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1800. Mary Brown died by her own hand in 1819. An inquest found she was suffering from a deranged mind at the time. Witness at her inquest included her son John Brown and Mary Underhill.) see below)

Ann Goodwin. Age 29. Tried Maidstone 15 July 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation

Elizabeth Grant. Age 18. Tried Surry Q.S. 27 February 1798

Mary Guile. Age 22. Tried 20 September 1797 in London and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation. Received a Certificate of Freedom in January 1810

Hannah Hardcastle. Age 20. Tried in London 24 October 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Received a Certificate of Freedom in January 1810

Elizabeth Harenaugh. Age 18. Tried Middlesex 4 July 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life

Catherine Herbert Age 26. Tried at Reading 3 March 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life

Martha Hill. Age 27. Tried Guildford 30 July 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life

Susannah Harrison. Age 17. Tried Middlesex 8 May 1799 and sentenced to Transportation for life. On list of grants and leases of town allotments in July 1809. Received an absolute pardon in March 1810.

Elizabeth Hasten. Age 19. Tried Maidstone 23 July 1798

Maria Jennings. Age 21. Tried 23 May 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation

Sarah King. Age 20. Tried Croydon Summer Assizes 27th July 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation. (The Summer Assizes are once in two years at Guildford, and the prisoners then kept at the Bridewell there. Every other summer they are held at Croydon, and during the time were confined, heretofore, in stables, which are now properly converted into a large room suitable for the purpose.)...Gentleman's Magazine

Catherine Lahey. Age 18. Tried Middlesex 12 September 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life. Catherine Lahey and Ann Warner were indicted for that they, on the 14th of August , a piece of base coin resembling a shilling, falsely, deceitfully and traitorously, did colour, with materials producing the colour of silver.  Lahey's defence. I was coming past the New Church in the Strand, and I found a paper parcel; when I came home I opened it, and saw it was money, and when these gentlemen came into the room I was wiping the dirt off; whether it was good or bad I know not. Old Bailey Online

Sarah Lawrence. Age 19. Tried in London 12 September 1798 and sentenced to 7 years transportation Sarah Lawrence and Mary Smith were indicted for feloniously stealing on the 2d of August , four pair of silk stockings, value 44s. the property of John Garton , in his dwelling-house . Old Bailey Online

Elizabeth Lilley. Age 25. Tried Q.S. Guildford Surry 15 January 1799. and sentenced to 7 s transportation.

Mary Miller. Age 16. Tried Middlesex 19 June 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation

Jane Patterson. Age 19. Tried Middlesex 19 April 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation. Had a child Elizabeth on board with her which became very ill and died on 25th January.

Mary Peake. Age 19. Tried Surry Q.S. 27 February 1798

Sarah Seaton Age 28. Tried Middlesex 18 April 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation.

Mary Shay. Age 21. Tried Surry Q.S. 27 February 1798

Ann Sidney. Age 27. Tried Middlesex 12 September 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life

Elizabeth Smith. Age 27. Tried Middlesex 4 July 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation Elizabeth Smith. Age 19. Tried Hertford Assizes 16 July 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation 

Ann South al. Archer. Age 20. Tried Middlesex 12 September 1798 and sentenced to 14 yrs transportation.

Elizabeth Statham. Age 25. Tried in Middlesex December 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation.

Mary Thomas. Age 43. Tried Middlesex 3 April 1799 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation  

Sarah Thomas. Age 15. Tried 19 June 1799 at Middlesex and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation 

Margaret Thompson Age. 22. Tried in London 18 April 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life 

Susan Tillett. Age 20. Tried in Essex 18 July 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life 

Mary Underhill. Age 24. Tried Middlesex 3 April 1799 and sentenced to 7 years transportation....Mary Underhill and Daniel Fear were indicted, the first, for feloniously stealing, on the 17th of February , a feather-bed, value 20s. a pair of sheets, value 2s. a blanket, value 1s. 6d. a set of fire-irons, value 1s. 6d. a copper tea-kettle, value 2s. an iron saucepan, value 12d. and a pair of bellows, value 12d. the property of Richard Angel , in a lodging-room. Daniel Fear found not guilty.

Elizabeth Ward. Age 19. Tried Q.S. Guildford 2 October 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation.

Sarah Whaley. Age 43. Tried Croydon summer assizes 27 July 1799 and sentenced to transportation for life

Sarah Willis. Age 40. Tried Middlesex 12 September 1798 and sentenced to transportation for life

Sarah Wood. Age 21. Tried 24 October 1798 and sentenced to 7 yrs transportation      


(1) Reflections on the Colony of New South Wales, George Caley, Explorer and Natural History Collector for Sir Joseph Banks.

(2) The Times 19 September 1799

(3) Bassett, M.,1940 The Governor's Lady: Mrs Philip Gidley King, Oxford University Press, London  p. 64



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