Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Barossa - 1839

Embarked 336 men
Voyage 127 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 729
Previous vessel: Mary Ann arrived 10 November 1839
Next vessel: Minerva arrived 26 December 1839
Captain John Austin
Surgeon Robert Wylie
Prisoners and passengers of the Barossa identified in the Hunter Valley

The Barossa was built in Bengal in 1811.[4]

The prisoners embarked on the Barossa were convicted in counties in England and Scotland - Warwick, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Gloucester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Wiltshire, Lancashire and Middlesex. Crimes ranged from picking pockets and insubordination to highway robbery and manslaughter. They were transferred from city and county gaols to various prison Hulks to await transportation

A number of prisoners who were tried at the Old Bailey on 17th September 1838 were received on to the Fortitude hulk at Chatham from Newgate prison on 2nd October 1838 and transferred to the Barossa on 26th July 1839. [5]

Jacob Campbell was convicted on 6th November at Edinburgh for an assault upon his wife and was received on to the Justitia hulk on 26th November where he remained until he was transferred to the Barossa on 22nd July 1839.

Sixteen year old James Cotterell had been convicted of stealing from the person on 16th October 1838 in Staffordshire. He was received on to the Ganymede hulk on 14th December where he was described as having bad habits and connexions, a sullen disposition and had been convicted four times before. He was transferred to the Barossa on 22 July 1839.

James Cotterell was one of five prisoners under the age of 16 the others being David Agg (15), William Bradshaw (16), John Keefe (15) and John Moore (15).

Military Guard

The Military Guard consisted of Lieutenant James Chambre 96th regiment, Ensign Hough, 50th regiment and 29 rank and file of the 28th, 50th and 96th regiments with their wives and children.

50th regiment - Ensign Hodge/Hough with 12 men, is ordered to be in readiness to embark on board the Barossa, convict ship at Deptford. The service companies at New South Wales will relieve the 16th at Bengal next year. - Military Intelligence of the Woolwich Advertiser 20 July 1839

Free Passengers

Passengers included Rev. M. Woodward, Mrs. Woodward, Miss Woodward, Miss Emily Woodward. The Australasian Chronicle later reported:

This Rev. gentleman arrived per Barossa from the traits of character he has already displayed, we feel no hesitation in congratulating the colony on such a valuable acquisition to the cause of liberality among us. On Sunday, the Rev. Gentleman performed divine service at the quarantine ground. He addressed in impressive language the unfortunate people, and called on them in the name of their Creator to join with him in returning thanks for their fortunate escape from typhus fever whilst so many of their fellow creatures had been laid low under similar circumstances. At the conclusion of his address, he advised them in strong language, no matter what their religion might be, to attend divine service on next Sunday, when a Catholic clergyman will officiate. It gives us great pleasure to record such an expression of liberality on the part of a Protestant clergyman, and we would fondly hope that the arrival of Mr. Woodward may form an era in our history in this respect. - [2]

Departure from Sheerness

The Barossa sailed from Sheerness on 3rd August 1839 having embarked a total of 336 male convicts there and at Woolwich.

Surgeon Robert Wylie

Robert Wylie was a well experienced surgeon-superintendent having previously been employed on the Henry Wellesley in 1836 and Emma Eugenia in 1838. He kept a Medical Journal from 7 July to 16 December 1839........

All the convicts were healthy on embarking, however before starting measles broke out affecting three children and three convicts. It had been brought on board by some of the children of the guard. As the cases began to appear, Robert Wylie was at first apprehensive of having to put back to port or stop over en route, and was relieved to find that there were in total six cases only. Later he reported that Herpes had also broken out having been brought on board by convicts from the Ganymede hulk. It spread to about 50 of the men as the ship passed through the tropics and despite treatment with stimulants and sedatives did not abate until the ship approached colder weather.

While sailing easterly they passed through very cold weather and icebergs were seen. Several people suffered illness, and two died at this time. The Surgeon's first patient was Lawrence Doyle on 29th July who was suffering from pneumonia and who wasn't discharged from the sick list until 19th November. On 29th July two year old Elizabeth Fitz, a child of one of the Guard was treated for rubeola (measles). The attack appeared mild to the surgeon, however the child developed bronchitis and died on 15th August.

James Holme age 53 became ill on 7th October with diarrhoea, his health declined until 24th October when he died. Robert Holdsworth, a slight lad of fair complexion and aged 19 began to suffer with diarrhoea on 5th November. Despite all the surgeon's attention he slowly declined until his death on 19th November. Puzzled by his death the surgeon performed a post mortem and found the lungs to have been considerably congested and colon swollen although the patient had never complained of any symptoms in those regions.

The Chief Mate on the Barossa was Mr. Alfred Newman who was 21 years of age. He was treated by the surgeon for rheumatism in his hips and back on 9th October, his condition made worse by the cold weather they were experiencing.

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Barossa spoke the Orient on 30 October in latitude 40S longitude 49E and arrived in Port Jackson on 8 December 1839.

Convicts Disembarked

Hyde Park Barracks...Hyde Park Barracks

The convicts were landed at the dockyard and marched to Hyde Park Barracks on Friday 13th December. Two or three who were sick were conveyed in hand barrows.

They were inspected by Governor Sir George Gipps at the Barracks where His Excellency delivered to them the usual address upon the occasion.


Two weeks later, the Australasian Chronicle reported that the convicts who arrived by the Barossa were removed on Monday 16th December to the Cook's River station, and Mr. Jones, late Assistant Chief constable of Sydney was appointed superintendent of the works which were in progress there. [1]

They may have been set to work on the Cook's River Dam.

Departure from Port Jackson

The Barossa departed for Bombay in January 1840.

Notes and Links

1). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 96th regiment to New South Wales included the Barossa, Nautilus, Augusta Jessie, Woodbridge, Maitland, Pekoe and Eden


[1] The Australian 21 December 1839

[2] Australasian Chronicle 31st December 1839

[3]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 738

[4] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney. pp354 - 355

[5] UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849 Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books; Class: HO9; Piece: 11