departing England in 1838 included the
Theresa and the
Many of the
prisoners on these vessels had been held on the hulks under similar
conditions to those described below.
REPORTS OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE
CONVICT ESTABLISHMENTS (Hulks).
There are two
half-yearly reports, for the year ending 31st December, 1838, of Mr.
J. H. Capper, superintendent of ships and vessels employed for the
confinement of offenders under sentence of transportation, and the
establishments to which they relate are those at Portsmouth,
Chatham, Woolwich, and at Bermuda.
The behaviour of
the convicts is generally represented as extremely orderly, both as
to the observance of their employment and of their moral and
religious duties. Following is an extract showing the mode of
treating them, and the manner of life to which these unfortunates
are necessarily subjected.
Thus the following
is a return of the daily proceedings on board the Leviathan convict
hulk, at Portsmouth, August 16, 1838, being the example :
At three o'clock all the cooks are let up
to boil the prisoners’ breakfast ; at half past five all hands are
called up; at a quarter before six the prisoners are mustered, after
which breakfast is served down, then one of the three decks is
washed, which is done every morning alternately. At a quarter before
seven the prisoners (each one bringing his hammock and stowing it
away on deck) proceed to labour. On leaving the hulk their irons are
examined by the guards, who also search their persons, to prevent
any thing improper being concealed; and in order that they may be
more strict in the execution of this duty, in the event of anything
being afterwards found upon a prisoner, the guard that searched him
is made responsible.
The prisoners are
divided into ten divisions, each of which is subdivided and
delivered into the charge of dock-yard labourers. The prisoners are
overlooked by the first and second mate, who patrol the yard, not
only to prevent them from straying from their division or attempting
to escape, but to make all parties attend strictly to their duties.
At a quarter of an hour previous to the return of the prisoners on
shore from labour, those employed on board are mustered, to
ascertain whether the number is right. At twelve the prisoners
return from labour, are searched to prevent any part of the public
stores being brought out of the dock-yard, after which a general
muster takes place, the dinners are served down, and the prisoners
are locked up in their respective wards. A watch, consisting of an
officer and half of the ship's company, is set on between decks,
where they remain till forty minutes past twelve, when the other
half relieves them. At twenty minutes past one the prisoners resume
their labour, and at a quarter before six return on board; their
irons are examined and their persons searched as in the forenoon. At
half-past six o'clock school commences, and at half-past seven
prayers are read in the chapel; after which they are mustered and
locked up in their respective wards for the night.
The ship's company are divided into three
watches (one of which is absent every night, unless duty requires it
on board, and returns on board next morning half an hour before the
prisoners proceed to labour. New prisoners are made to pass along
the quarter deck every morning with their hats off, for a fortnight
after their arrival, in the presence of the officers and guards,
that their features, gait, &c. may be made familiar to them, in case
of any attempting disguise to effect an escape.
On Saturday evening every prisoner washes
his person thoroughly before he is allowed to go below. On Sunday
all hands are called and mustered at the same time as on the working
days, the hammocks are brought up and stowed, and the decks cleanly
swept, after which the prisoners return to their wards, and
breakfast is then served down. At nine all the prisoners are
mustered in divisions on the main deck, for the purpose of seeing
that their persons are clean and their clothing kept in proper
repair. The steward also, during the week, as opportunities offer,
sees that the repairing of the clothing is not neglected, and also
issues clothing to those who need it. Divine service is performed by
the chaplain once every Sunday. The surgeon or his assistant visits
the ship daily. A book is kept in the office, in which is entered a
full detail of every day's occurrences.........
Justice of the Peace and County, Borough, Poor Law Union and Parish