Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Atlas III - 1816

Embarked 194 men
Voyage 181 days
Deaths 7
Surgeon's Journal - No
Previous vessel: Guildford arrived 8 April 1816
Next vessel: Elizabeth arrived 5 October 1816
Master Walter Meriton.
Surgeon Patrick Hill
Prisoners and passengers of the Atlas identified in the Hunter Valley

The Atlas was built in Whitby in 1812. She was a single decked vessel with beams and was sheathed in copper.

The prisoners of the Atlas were tried in counties of England and Scotland - Lincoln, Buckingham, Lancaster, Cambridge Derby, Sussex, Middlesex, Hereford, Surrey Worcester, Essex, Hertford, Kent, York, Salop, Stafford, Gloucester, Devon, Portsmouth, Nottingham, Chester, Wiltshire, Southampton, Durham, Somerset, Pembroke, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, as well as Cape of Good Hope, Bermuda and Canada. Most were held in the hulks before being embarked on the Atlas. Read the Report on the State of Morals and Religion among the Convicts confined on board the hulks Captivity and Laurel, December 31st 1815.

Surgeon Patrick Hill

Patrick Hill was appointed surgeon on the Atlas. He was also surgeon on the Earl St. Vincent in 1820. In 1821 he was appointed to the post of Assistant Surgeon on the Colonial Medical Establishment, with responsibility for the Medical Department at Liverpool, NSW. He married Mary Throsby, niece of Charles Throsby of Glenfield on 12th July 1827. In 1840 they resided in a commodious family house consisting of a dining room, drawing room, four bedrooms, kitchen, laundry, store room and servants' offices, with stables, coach house and an excellent garden, situated on George's River. Patrick Hill remained at Liverpool for twenty years and when he left in January 1841, he was presented with a handsome service of Plate and an Address by grateful residents. He took up an appointment as Superintendent of the Hospital and the Parramatta Asylum (formerly the Female Factory). In 1848 he was appointed Superintendent of the Parramatta Gaol. He died in March 1852 at his farm near Camden aged 58.

Departure from England

The Atlas was delayed at Portsmouth at first by contrary winds and then by dysentery. They departed Portsmouth 23 January 1816.

Map showing Portsmouth and the Motherbank

Military Guard

of the 89th regiment under command of Lieutenant Kenny formed the Guard on the Atlas.

Select here to read about the Trial of Lieutenant Edward Kenny of the 89th regiment for the manslaughter of the surgeon Robert Charlton in 1826. Other convict ships bringing soldiers of the 89th regiment included the Speke, John, Baring and Minerva.

Cabin Passengers

The passengers were embarked on 19th December 1815. They included free settler William Howe Esq. with wife and family of six children. -

William Howe of Glenlee. State Library of NSW :187127William Howe - State Library of NSW :187127

and Missionaries Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld and Mr. William Ellis and their wives.

The Voyage

William Ellis and Rev. Threlkeld preached to the convicts when the weather permitted. The first child of Rev. Threlkeld, William, was born at sea on Sunday, 17 March, 1816.

When the Atlas called at Rio de Janeiro on 21st March, Martha, the wife of Rev. Threlkeld and their new born baby William were ill and Rev. Threlkeld refused to leave. William died at Rio de Janeiro and was interred in the English burial ground. The Atlas sailed from Rio on 29th April 1816. [1]

The Sydney Gazette reported that one prisoner, Simon Mallard had been consigned to a watery grave on the passage out. One of the crew Lionel Bunderlin also died on the passage; and Peter Ramsdail, a youth fell overboard and was drowned.

Arrival in Port Jackson

The Atlas arrived in Port Jackson on Monday 22 July 1816 with 187 prisoners.

On 26th July Colonial Surgeon D'arcy Wentworth was advised to arrange for the removal of five sick people from the ship who were to be forwarded to the General Hospital on shore as the surgeon superintendent thought their present weakly state would be much benefited by good air and wholesome food. They were taken to the new General Hospital (rum hospital) which had been opened in April 1816. Select here to find out more about the early history of Sydney Hospital

The convict indents reveal the prisoner's name, time and place of conviction, sentence, native place, trade, physical description and occasional information such as tickets of leave or conditional pardons. There is no information in the indents as to where and to whom the men were assigned. Sixty of the prisoners were under the age of 21.

Rev. Lancelot Edward Threlkeld - State Library NSW....Rev. Threlkeld - State Library of NSW

Departure of the Atlas

The Atlas departed Port Jackson bound for Batavia on 12 September 1816. On the 28th September 1816 the Sydney Gazette gave details of three young women Sarah Corbett and Elizabeth Wright both arrived on the Northampton and Mary Price a Welsh woman, - all three were reported to have absconded on the Atlas when she departed on the 12th September.

Notes and Links

1). In Sydney in July 1818 eleven desperate convicts made a bid for freedom by attempting to steal two boats. They attempted this while Governor Macquarie was on a Tour of Newcastle settlement and there was no mercy for them when they were captured soon afterwards. Robert Hanna, Alexander Sutherland and James Tullock who all arrived on the Atlas were among the eleven pirates. Find out more about their attempted escape here. The Governor considered them all to be of the most depraved characters in the colony and they were sentenced to work at hard labour in double irons at the Lime Kilns near Newcastle for up to three years.

2). Robert Hall first arrived as a convict on the Atlas. He was re-transported on the Albion in 1827.

3). George Fenwick Jackson was born c. 1788 and employed as a merchant and supercargo in England. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation for larceny in Durham in 1815. He was sent to the Justitia hulk and from there to the Atlas. After arrival in Australia he was sent to VDL and in 1818 he was sentenced to 5 years at Newcastle penal station. In 1819 he was sentenced to death for the brutal murder of John Williams at Newcastle and after spending 3 years in Sydney gaol his sentence was commuted to transportation for life. He appealed to have his sentence quashed in 1820, claiming at the time that he was the son and heir of a Baronet. He was sent to Port Macquarie where he was eventually employed as Chief Constable. By the time he received a conditional pardon in 1833 he was 45 years of age and it was noted that he had a speech impediment from a facial paralysis.

4). More about Rev. Threlkeld

5). James Brandon 17 years of age when he was tried in Buckinghamshire on 10th July 1815 and sentenced to transportation for life for sheep stealing. He was admitted to the Justitia Hulk on 8th September 1815 and sent to the Atlas on 30th November. On arrive in the colony he was sent to Parramatta district. In 1824 he was employed by Mr. Blaxland in the district of Evan. He received a ticket of leave in 1870 and died at Parramatta Hospital in 1873. ..Parliamentary Papers, Great Britain.

6). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the Atlas in 1816

7). The Atlas was one of nine convicts ships arriving in New South Wales in 1816 the others being the Fanny, Mary Anne, Ocean, Alexander, Guildford, Elizabeth, Mariner and Surry.. Approximately 1,415 prisoners arrived in NSW in 1816.


[1] Raven, Majorie, Rev. Lancelot Edward Threlkeld, 1992