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Convict Ship
William Pitt 1806

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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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Embarked:  120 women; 1 male
Voyage: 223 days
Deaths 4
Surgeon's Journal: no
Tons: 604 Guns: 20 Crew: 49
Previous vessel: Tellicherry arrived 15 February 1806
Next vessel: Fortune arrived 12 July 1806
Captain John Boyce.
John Boyce was employed as 3rd Mate on the William Pitt under Captain Charles Mitchell in 1786.
Surgeon Joseph Blyer

Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

One male and one hundred and twenty female prisoners collected from all parts of the Kingdom, some of them considered to be of the most nefarious characters the country ever produced, were embarked on the William Pitt in July 1805.

On Monday 8th July 1805, Ann Thompson, Lucy Gardner, Rachael Robinson, Jane Butterworth, Alice Scholfield, Catherine Frazier, Ann Hughes, Mary Lees, Ellen Mackintosh and Even Hodgson were removed from the Lancaster Castle prison in order to be embarked on the William Pitt lying at Portsmouth. On the same day, at Norwich, Barbara Surman (Suringham), from the County Gaol and Priscilla Medcalf from the City Gaol were conveyed to Portsmouth for the same purpose.

On Saturday afternoon 13th July, twenty five female convicts were removed in two wagons from Newgate prison also to be embarked on the William Pitt. Their behaviour was highly indecorous, and they tore the tilt off the wagon, kindly intended to conceal their shame, and rent the air with the most horrid expressions. The following women were probably those women from Newgate - Elizabeth Board, Mary Burnett, Mary Davis, Sarah Hall, Catherine Hamilton, Ann Harris, Ann Haynes, Mary Howster, Mary Jenkinston, Ann Johnson, Ann Kelly, Mary Lowrie, Ann McCarty, Sarah McLaughlin, Mary Mercer, Elizabeth Paget, Hannah Palmer, Ann Percy, Mary Raycraft, Sarah Rumbold, Alice Sherrard, Mary Smith, Mary Stedling, Jane Tues, Sarah Whiley and Mary Wood.

Also among the prisoners was a woman from York and her daughter from Newcastle, convicted of theft. They had not met for some time till they embarked on board the ship.

Mary Wade was tried in Somerset - At the late Bath sessions Mary Wade was convicted of robbing her master John Fowell Esq., of that city, of a silver spoon. Mr. Ackland, the chairman, expatiated on the aggravation of the offence, where ingratitude and breach of faith were added to the crime of theft; and said that every instance of the kind should be punished with the utmost rigour of the law - he therefore sentenced her to 7 years transportation.  (1)

One female prisoners was discharged from the ship prior to sailing

Henry Perfect, who was convicted of obtaining money from the Earl of Clarendon, under pretence of its being for the relief of a distressed female, was the only male prisoner sent by the William Pitt. (2)

The William Pitt departed Falmouth bound for Cork on 10th August 1805 in convoy of 13 of his Majesty's ships, with the East India fleet. The fleet included many transports and English East India ships going on to India. The Royal Navy's ships, Diadem (Flagship of R/Adm Popham)(64 guns) Raisonable (64), Belliqueur (64), Diomede (50), Leda (38), Narcissus (32), Espoir (18), Encounter (14) and Protector Troop-carrying East India Company ships: Duchess of Gordon, Sir William Pulteney, Europe, Streatham, Union, Comet, Northampton, Glory..... and the William Pitt..... South African Military History Association.

It was reported that The East India fleet, under convoy of 13 of his Majesty's ships departed from Cork on 31st August 1805. Also departing Cork on this day was the Tellicherry with Irish prisoners for New South Wales.

The William Pitt called at Madeira on 1st October and stopped at San Salvadore for three weeks before reaching the Cape of Good Hope on January 4th 1806, four days before the Battle of Blaauwberg. The Battle of Blaauwberg, also known as the Battle of Cape Town, fought near Cape Town on 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. It established British rule in South Africa, which was to have many ramifications during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.....Read about the Battle of Blaauwberg.

The ships log for the 8th January records that constant firing of cannon and musketry of the English and Dutch armies could be heard. The William Pitt remained at the Cape five weeks during which time the prisoners may have been disembarked and held on shore. (Bateson, Charles, Log of the William Pitt (Log 184G, Commonwealth Relations Office, London).

The William Pitt was the next convict ship to arrive in New South Wales with female convicts after the arrival of the Tellicherry in February 1806. Although both ships departed Cork at the same time the William Pitt was nearly two months longer on her voyage. The William Pitt reached Port Jackson on 11 April 1806 with one hundred and seventeen female prisoners who all arrived in a state of good health.

Two women had died on the passage out.  Three children also died, one of small pox. The Sydney Gazette recorded the arrival of the William Pitt on 11 April 1806: The William Pitt brought 117 female prisoners, three having died on the passage; as did also three children, one of whom died of the small pox; that infection having prevailed with much malignity for the considerable space of two months.

Gregory and Elizabeth  Blaxland with their three children embarked as free passengers on the convict ship William Pitt in 1805

Passengers embarking on the William Pitt in England included Charles Grimes, Surveyor-General; Mr. Neate Chapman, Deputy Commissary; Mr. Robert Fitz, Deputy Commissary, his wife and two children; Mr. John Townson, formerly a captain in the New South Wales corps; James Thompson, his wife and four children; Mrs. R...and her four children, to join her husband, a convict; Mr. Bates with the appointment of Deputy Judge Advocate for the settlement at Hobart; and Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Blaxland, three children, two female servants and one overseer.(3)

Gregory Blaxland later complained to the Transport Board of the 'exceedingly bad treatment' he had received at the hand of Captain Boyce whom he also accused of bribery.

A quantity of tea and also seeds arrived on the William Pitt. None of the seeds received on the William Pitt germinated due to the heat of the ship's hold in which they were stowed. Governor King with barely concealed annoyance, later recommended that seeds be sent in packets rather than casks and be regularly aired. Some of the items that were supposed to have been sent were taken out of the vessel in Portsmouth by orders of the Transport Board. They included 10 casks of hats; 15 casks of shoes; 6 bales of shirts; 30 bales of clothing; 3 puncheons of barley; 8 puncheons of wheat and 6 bales of stockings. In addition many of the bales of slop clothing were much damaged on the voyage.

John Boyce was intending to leave the colony in the William Pitt by May 1806, however the vessel was still under repair on 25th May and did not quit the Cove until 1st June 1806.(SG)

Notes and Links:

1). Online records of the Old Sydney Burial Ground  - John Muirhead who had been Mate on the William Pitt died on 9th June 1806.

2). Charles York, son of Mary Crooks arrived free on the William Pitt (CSI)

3). Convict Lucy Vaughan arrived on the William Pitt. She later entered into a relationship with James Squires.

4). The William Pitt ran aground and was wrecked in December 1814. Find out more about the William Pitt on the Wreck Site

5). From the National Archives UK the following information about the William Pitt is available - Extra ship, repaired by Mestaer 1805, 3 decks, 4in bottom, length 124ft 2in, keel 99ft, breadth 32ft 11½in, hold 13ft 3in, wing transom 23ft 7in, port cell 27ft 5in, waist 1ft 2in, between decks 5ft 4in & 5ft 10in, roundhouse 6ft 6¼in, ports 10 middle & 9 upper, 572 tons. Principal Managing Owner: James Loughnan. Voyages: (1) 1804/5 New South Wales and China. Capt John Boyce. Falmouth 10 Aug 1805 - 14 Aug Cork - 29 Sep Madeira - 11 Nov San Salvador - 6 Jan 1806 Cape - 11 Apr Port Jackson - Sydney Cove 22 Jun - 21 Sep Whampoa - Second Bar 5 Jan 1807 - 23 Jan Penang - 10 Apr Cape - 28 Apr St Helena - 2 Jul Downs. (2) 1808/9 Bengal and Madras. Capt William Crowder. Portsmouth 7 Jul 1809 - 17 Dec Calcutta 22 Feb 1810 - Saugor 11 Mar - 28 Mar Madras - 2 Aug St Helena - 1 Oct Downs. (3) 1810/1 Bengal. Capt Charles William Butler. Portsmouth 21 Jun 1811 - 2 Jul Madeira - 6 Nov Calcutta 18 Feb 1812 - Saugor 17 Mar - 15 Jun St Helena - 14 Sep Downs. (4) 1812/3 Batavia. Capt Charles William Butler. Torbay 25 Mar 1813 - lost to the east of Algoa Bay in Dec 1814, no survivors.

6). Convicts and passengers arriving on the William Pitt in 1806

7). Convict Ships to New South Wales in 1806 - Tellicherry, William Pitt, Fortune and Alexander.

8). Hunter Valley Convicts arriving on the William Pitt:

Name Convicted at Location NSW
Mary Adams/ Kinsella/ Tristram Portsmouth 1803 Newcastle
Hannah Clothier / Scott Gloucester 1804 Warkworth
Ann Epton / Ham/ Edwards Lincoln 1804 Patrick Plains
Mary Lowrie Northumberland 1803 Newcastle
Celia McLaughlin   Newcastle
Martha Wise Dorset 1804  


(1) Bury and Norwich Post 13 February 1805.

(2) Lancaster Gazette 12 January 1805

(3) HR NSW Vol. 5, p. 643




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