Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Prison-ship in Portsmouth Harbour, convicts going aboard, Edward William Cooke, 1828, hand-coloured etching. Rex Nan Kivell Collection, National Library of Australia: an9058453

TROVE is truly a treasure trove ... of facts and stories, of those you expect and certainly, many unexpected..

While looking for articles on convict ships, I was not disappointed.. there are numerous articles.. just try looking for just that 'convict ships' or for the names of particular ships if you wish, or dates.. the options are many. I have included just a couple of articles to as a sample of what is there. ..PART 1

 However, I came across Pensioners in Convict Ships.. something I had heard of, but had never followed through. Great thought was given as to whom was eligible.  see PART 2..

 Some of these items are too difficult to read from the original so you have the transcriptions only.

Thanks to David Black for kindly allowing me to share his photograph of this Memorial Plaque.

"We took this photo in Portsmouth as we stood on the spot where the first convicts left to go to Australia."

Thanks to David Black 


Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Saturday 19 March 1803, page 3 (3)

On Sunday last anchored in the Cove, His
Esq. Commander, with Prisoners from Eng-
land, from whence she sailed the 23d of Sep-
tember last. In her way she put into Rio
de Janeiro to refresh. She left England with
Majesty's ship Glatton, JAMES COLNETT,
270 Male, and 135 Female Prisoners---se-
ven of the former, and five of the latter died;
brought upwards of 30 Free Settlers, Eight
Pieces of Heavy Ordnance, and a quantity of
Ordnance Stores. The day before she got
into the Cove 100 weak people were taken
out, and put on board the Supply, 50 of the
most ailing were soon after sent on shore to
the General Hospital, where every attention
was paid them. Their complaints were
slightly scorbutic, of which they are reco-
vering very fast.
On Sunday morning arrived the Bridge-
water, Capt E. H. PALMER, with Flour
and Stores from England, and a great quan-
tity of Salt Meat from the Cape of Good
Hope, sent by Vice-Admiral Sir R. CURTIS.
The day before the Bridgewater left the Cape,
His Majesty's Sloop Imogen arrived from Eng-
land, with Orders to General DUNDAS and Sir
R. CURTIS, not to evacuate the Cape ; from
which it is to be apprehended a misunder-
standing had taken place between England
and Holland---perhaps with the French Re-
The Bridgewater has on board a Private
Investment, in which the following articles
are comprised, viz. 200 bhds of Ale and
Brown Stout, Soap, Cordage, Shoes, Men's
Cloathing, Tobacco, Irish Linen, Watches,
Leather, Harness and Sadlery, 20 bhds of
Crockery, Slops, 24 casks of Constantia, &c.
On Saturday the 12th instant arrived from
King's Island, with skins and oil, the sloop
Surprise (formerly the Diana), belonging to
Messrs. Kable and Underwood.

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Sunday 24 April 1803, page 4 


On Saturday the 16th Instant and two fol-
lowing days a number of prisoners convicted
of misdemeanors, were shipped on board the
Buffalo for Norfolk Island. Robert Jillet
was also put on board, with Hailey, im-
plicated in the same offence, and several
of the Store Attendants, whose conduct had
been such as to render them suspected. Se-
veral persons were permitted to go at their
own request, some to accompany their hus-
bands, and others from a desire of a change of
Last week John Orrall was taken before a
Magistrate on suspicion of stealing a Sail the
property of J. Harris, Esq. and the charge
being justified, was sentenced a corporal
punishment; in the course of which he pro-
fessed a knowledge where the property lay
concealed, and was permitted to go, in
charge of a constable, in quest of it. After
amusing the officer with a round-about pro-
menade he stopped at a house, and inform-
ed him the sail was in the loft, but declared
himself unable to mount, which he persuaded
his guide to do ; up the guardian scrambled
to hunt for the property, and after passing
some minutes in a vain pursuit, scrambled
PRISONER, who at the moment of his ascen-
sion had made off, and has not since been
heard of; but is supposed to have had re-
course to the dismal alternative of taking to
the woods, where he must inevitably perish, or
transiently subsist by plundering the settlers,
whose interest it is to secure and bring to jus-
tice every miscreant of this description.

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857), Friday 2 April 1852, page 2 




This article shows that the whole concept was very well detailed... Considering the circumstances many lived in, the promise of a new beginning with a paid position, must have seemed very tempting.

Moreton Bay Courier (Brisbane, Qld. : 1846 - 1861), Saturday 12 January 1850, page 3


In consequence of the wish expressed by many pensioners to settle in Australia, her Majesty's Government has authorised the following condi-tions under which some of them may be provided with free passages to that country :—
1st. The convict guards, hitherto furnished by regiments of the line, are in future to consist of pensioners who wish to settle in Australia. A company of from sixty to seventy men, with a due proportion of non-commissioned officers, will be formed at Tilbury Fort, and kept ready to furnish detachments for this duty ; and, as they are em-barked, fresh volunteers will be brought from the pension districts to supply their place.
2nd. The age of these pensioners is not to exceed forty-five, and the number of their children not to exceed two under seven, or three under ten years of age. No maximum is specified for the number of children above ten years of age, as that must in some measure depend on whether they are likely to be serviceable in the colony.
3rd. These pensioners shall, engage to serve for a period of six months, or until the termination of the voyage, at the rate of 1s. 3d a day for a private, 1s. 6d. for a corporal, and 1s. 10d. for a Serjeant ; such pay to commence from the date of leaving their respective districts, and to continue on shipboard, and after landing in the colony, till the period of their engagement has expired, subject to the usual deductions for rations during the voyage ; and they shall be conveyed from their homes to Tilbury Fort, or other place of embarkation, at the public expense.
4th. As the pensioners thus employed are to receive pay during the voyage, no enrolment money will be issued to them; and each will be
equipped for the voyage by an advance of four months' pay previous to sailing.
5th. As the wives and families of these pen-sioners cannot be allowed to accompany them in a vessel which is intended for the conveyance of convicts, they will be sent out free of all expense, within three months after the departure of the pensioners, and the cost of their conveyance to the
port of embarkation will be paid by the public.
6th. If the pensioners is married, his pension during the Six months that he is on pay will be
applied for the support of his w¡fe and family till
embarkation, and towards their outfit for the
7th. Each pensioner proceeding on this duty , will be equipped with one frock coat, one shell jacket, one pair of trousers, and a cap, to be worn on those occasions when he is on duty, and which equipments, in the event of his serving as an enrolled pensioner in the colony, will be renewed as often as the nature of the service is found to require. The usual arms and accoutrements of an enrolled pensioner will also be issued to him.
8th. These articles will be marked and numbered as belonging to the pensioner, and on the expira-tion of the period for which he is to receive pay, they are to be returned into the Government store of the colony, in good order, under the direction of the officer or non-commissioned officer in charge of the party. In the event of any damage be-yond what is likely to have resulted from wear and tear, the cost thereof is to be deducted from the pensioner.
9th. On the termination of six months, the pensioner's military engagement will be considered at an end, if by that time he has arrived at his destination, and he will thereafter only be liable
to attend exercise as an enrolled pensioner, for twelve days in each year, in any loyal company to be formed in the colony under the authority of the Act 10th and 11th Vict., cap. 54 ; and to serve in defence of the colony, or when called out for the preservation of the public peace, under the authority of the Governor.
10th. When employed on this duty he shall receive the pay authorised by the Royal Warrant of the 7th September, 1843, for enrolled pen-sioners, viz..
In aid of On days of
Civil Power. Exercise.
Sergeants .... 3s. 6d....3s. 0d. per diem. Corporals .... 3s. 0d....2s. 6d. " Privates .... 2s. 6d ... 2s. 0d. "
with an addition of 6d. per day beyond the highest rate to a sergeant- major, if any of that rank are
authorised to be employed.
11th. In consideration of the expense incurred by the Government in sending out the pensioner and his family to the colony, he shall not receive enrolment money annually, but shall be bound to keep up the usual stock of necessaries, consisting of one pair of boots, two shirts, two pairs of socks, and one stock, and if at any time deficent therein after his enrolment, his officer will advance him the amount necessary for purchasing the same, and deduct it from the first issue of his pay or pension.
12th. Every pensioner on the termination of the six months for which he is engaged, shall be bound to register his place of abode in the books of the person who pays his pension, and not to remove therefrom without intimating to him his intended change of residence, and obtaining per-mission. 
It being considered more advantageous for the pensioners and their families that they should supply the demand for labour, than attempt set-tling on land of their own, no grant of land has been promised them ; but if they acquire money to purchase it in the interior, there will be no ob-jection to their settling there, even though the distance should prevent them from serving as enrolled pensioners.
13th. In the event of the death or removal from the force of any pensioner thus enrolled before the expiration of the period for which his clothing
has been issued, it shall revert to the public, to be made available for the equipment of his suc-
14th. An allowance of one guinea will be made to cover the expense of the funeral of any pen-sioner who dies while thus enrolled or on pay.
15th. It must form a special condition of the original engagement and subsequent enrolment,
that the service is in neither case to reckon for
increase of pension ; but when employed in defence of the colony, these pensioners shall, in the event, of being wounded or disabled in the execution of their duty, be allowed the usual increase of pension as for wounds received in action.
16th. Every pensioner volunteering for this service will, during the continuance of the period for which he is engaged, or enrolled, be subject to the provisions of the Mutiny Act and Articles of War ; but all minor offences may be punished by such fines, or by expulsion from the force, as the Governor of the colony for the time being may direct.
17th. In the event of the pensioners being enrolled, the periods of exercise shall be fixed by the Governor of the colony for the time being, and none of them shall be called out, either for exercise or in defence of the colony except by him or persons holding his authority for that purpose ; but when so called out they shall be placed under the General or other superior officer in command of Her Majesty's forces in the colony, in the same man-ner, in all respects, as if they formed part of the regular forces of Her Majesty's army.

  Hobarton Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania (Hobart, Tas. : 1847 - 1854), Saturday 5 July 1851, page 4 


The following circular has just been
issued from the War Office to the Staff
Officers of Pensioners:—
I am directed to transmit the conditions
of service for convict Guards proceeding
to Australia and Van Diemen's and in the
ensuing year, and to request that you will,
immediately after your next payments,
recommend for this Service any number,
not exceeding six, of the most eligible of
the pensioners in your district who may
wish to become candidates for that duty
attending carefully to the instructions previously
given you as to the qualifcations
required for this duty, and the mode of
recommending them, which you will do
on the enclosed blank form.
Much inconvenience having been experienced
by private applicants and enquiries
from pensioners to whom the
nature of the conditions do not appear to
have been sufficiently explained, I am
directed to request that you will be particularly
careful to read and explain
these conditions to them at your payments,
and also to hang up a copy in your office
that they may be perused
by them at that time.
Should no candidates offer on this occasion,
you can recommend the required
number at any other period in the course
of the year; but you must, in the meantime,
report the circumstance of no candidate
being at present available.
The candidates must distinctly understand
that it is quite uncertain when they
will be wanted, as opportunities for forwarding
them depend entirely on the number
of convicts sent cut in the course of
the year,but none are likely to be required
earlier than March next, and the year will
probably have passed before the whole are
called for.
As the men appointed to this service
will not receive enrolment money, they
will not be required to refund any portion
of the bounty money which may have been
paid to them*; but it is expedient to avoid
enrolling them when you are in expectation
of their services being wanted for this
purpose, unless you cannot make up the
required number for your district other
Should any of these Candidates die, or
remove to another district or alter their
intention of going out, it is requested that
you will immediately communicate the
circumstance to this office, in order that
the necessary alteration may be made in
I have, &c. 
United Service Gazette.

 Just one more that I couldn't resist...

Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), Saturday 5 May 1888, page 702 


A Romantic Convict Story.
At the present time (says the Sydney Evening
News) the Government have under consideration
the case of Jeremiah Shea, an old man of 88
years of age, who was sent out to Botany Bay
in 1818, and who has applied for a pension.
His story, as told by himself, is a most re-
markable one. He claims to be the natural
son of the late Lord George Beresford and
brother to the late fire-eating Marquis of
Waterford, who broke his neck in the hunting
field. The name of his mother, who died in a
convent, he knows, but states that he is sworn
not to divulge it. He was adopted into the
family of Mr. Shea, one of the curators of the
British Museum, London. By that gentleman
he was apprenticed to Mr. Lock, shoemaker,
King-street, Covent Garden. One day, while
carrying a bag of shoes home for his master, he
loitered to play marbles, and the bag was
stolen. Fearful of returning home without
them he ran away from his situation and got
into bad company. Shortly afterwards, while
standing out├čide the shop of Alderman Wait-
man (then Lord Mayor of London), in Bridge
street, Blackfriars, two men accosted him and
promised him a shilling if he would lift a
bundle of cloth standing outside Alderman
Waitman's door into a hackney coach. He
was in the act of doing so when he was seized
and given into custody on the charge of steal-
ing, and on being tried at the Old Bailey
before the Recorder of London, Judge Silvester,
was sentenced to seven years' transportation.
In the same year he came out in the ship
Morley the Second, and speaks well of his
treatment while on the voyage. His history
since his arrival in Australia is best told in his
own words, which have been embodied in the
form of a memorial to the Government, as
follows: "To the Native-born Australians, —
I, Jeremiah Shea, arrived here in October,
1818, in the ship Morley the Second, under
sentence of seven years, and when I landed was
Assigned to Captain William Cox, of Claren
don, in whose service I remained until I became
free at his station, Manah, near Mudgee. I
became free on 26th February, and then went
to the Hunter and engaged with Mr. John
Wiseman of that place, and his father, Mr.
Solomon Wiseman, of Wiseman's Ferry,
Hawkesbury River. After leaving their
service I engaged with Mr. Thomas Heydon,
of Murrurundi, and Peter Brodie, Esq., of the
same place. I also worked for Mr. John
Kennedy Howe, and for Mr, James McDougall,
both of Singleton ; also for Mr. Hobbler and
Mr. Turner, both of Maitland. I was entitled
after my term of service to a grant of land of
thirty acres for good conduct (never having
been brought before a police court while in the
colony). I did not apply for it till 183O. My
application was drawn out in the usual form
and signed by Mr. Solomon Wiseman, J.P.,
and sent in, at the time of General Darling,
was attested by W. C. Wentwovtb, and went
home. To that application I never received an
answer. Lately, I petitioned the present Go-
vernment, and can get no redress, as the old
records of thconvict period have been
destroyed. In no office in the colony can my
name, or that of the ship I arrived in, be found.
I have saved many from being shot in New
South Wales, and many from being killed by
the blacks. I have done much work for Mr.
D. Milson, of the Wollombi, son of the late
Mr. Milson, of St. Leonards. In 1852 I went
to the diggings, northern side, and found the
first ounce of gold there, which I sold to Dr.
Jenkins for £2 10s. At that time flour was £7
per bag, and beef 2d. Dr. Jenkins and Mr.
Brodie kept stores, also Mr. Frisk, who was
very kind to the miners; the diggings would
have been broken up but for his timely aid.
There were three public-houses on the dig-
gings—Gibbon's, Gold Nugget, and Scho-
field's Nundle. Mr. Jones, J.P., Warden and
first Gold Commissioner, followed by Mr.
Durhen, C.L. Commissioner and P.M., Tam-
worth; Major Innes, Mr. Charles King,
Captain Brown, Captain Douglas, and Mr.
Dalton. They are all gone, and I am left to
write this, and trust that those who read it will
assist me in as much as lays in their power, as
l am now old and infirm. I must not forget
to mention Sergeant Langworthy; he was the
best officer on the diggings. By his influence
many young men were kept from going astray,
and made good members of society. I was
born and reared at the British Museum,
Russell-street, Bloomsbury." There is con
siderable consistency between the different
parts of the old man's story which im-
parts to it a strong appearance of proba
bility. Of course, in view of his great age,
and the fact that he has led a wild life for
the greater part of seventy-one years on the
diggings or in the bush, it is not to be mar-
velled at that slight discrepancies should have
crept in. If his story be correot, it is really
wonderful how an octogenarian like this could
retain so clear a recollection of events so long
past. It is felt to be a hardship that this old
and wherewithal worthy settler should have no
part or lot in the land he has done so much to
open up and render habitable. Since the year
1852 he has been engaged on the diggings
with more or less success; but what he won
by hard labour he lost in speculation. He is
now living at Hanging Rock, near the Peel
River, where, as he states, he was the first to
discover gold. But owing to the advance of
years and increasing decrepitude he is unable
to work any more, and is, therefore, in very
straightened circumstances. He has been in
Sydney during the last five weeks trying to get
some assistance from the Government. Thanks
to the interest taken in his case by several
gentlemen, including Mr. James Fletcher,
M.P., and Dr. James Cox, there is a proba-
bility of some relief being afforded him in the
shape of a weekly pension. The old man's
recollections of persons and things during what
may be euphoniously termed the prehistoric
days of New South Wales are most vivid and
interesting. His adventures include conflicts
with blacks, encounters with bushrangers,
which, added to his personal reminiscences of
the penal system of the early days, make his
story read like a romance. His history is only
one of many, but it is rendered remarkable by
the fact that he survives to tell his own story.

THE hell-ship Neptune on which Molly Morgan arrived in Port Jackson in 1790 – nearly half the 502 convicts crammed aboard, died on the journey. (WikiMedia) - See more at: http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/travel-article/molly-morgan-convict-to-queen/#sthash.7mEf3J1J.dpuf


  1. You have given me a few more ideas to follow up on for some of my ancestors, very interesting reading.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Sandra...I'm so glad you have gleaned some ideas from this. That's why I write these blogs, with the aim of helping others with their research.


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