Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Bencoolen - 1819

Embarked 150 men
Voyage 123 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Baring arrived 26 June 1819
Next vessel: Mary arrived 26 August 1819
Captain Joseph Ball Antice
Surgeon William Evans
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail

The convict ship Bencoolen was built at Liverpool in 1818.

The Convicts

Prisoners came from counties and cities in Ireland - Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway Kildare, Kings, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Queens, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow. Two gave their native place as Glasgow and Manchester. [2]


In the Catalogue of Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives Ireland is a file of papers relating to the Bencoolen. Included is a letter from Robert White and William Wood, sheriffs of Dublin city, to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, enclosing list of male convicts placed on the brig 'Atlas'. Their efforts to avoid the frequent occurrence of the arrival of the convicts in an 'inebriated' state was emphasised - they spent all the previous day and night at Newgate prison (Dublin) to ensure that the convicts had no access to alcohol.

This was not the case with the Cork City Jail which Dr. Edward Trevor considered was being poorly managed. He made great effort to empty this jail of convicts because of the poor conditions inside.

On 22 April 1819 he wrote to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, concerning varied state of clothing and health of the 310 convicts recently embarked on convict ships Bencoolen and Mary. He commented on the condition of convicts sent from Newgate jail, Dublin; Kilmainham jail, Dublin; and Cork city jail and criticised in particular the 'filthy' state of prisoners from Cork city jail, and their drunken behaviour. [1]

Dr Edward Trevor, Cove [Cobh], County Cork, superintendent and medical inspector of convicts, to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, concerning arrangements for transportation of convicts. Reports the filling of the convict ship 'Bencoolan' [Bencoolen] destined for Botany Bay and the convict ship 'Mary'. Emphasises his efforts to empty Cork city jail of convicts, because of its poor management and conditions

Departure from Ireland

They sailed from the Cove of Cork on 24 April 1819 with 150 male prisoners.

Military Guard

The Military Guard consisted of Lieut. Prior and Ensign Hayes of the 46th regiment and a detachment of the 46th and 87th regiments.

Convict Ship Lord Eldon Convict Ship Fame Convict Ship Recovery Convict Ship Elizabeth Convict Ship Three Bees Convict Ship General Hewitt Convict Ship Guildford Convict Ship Shipley Convict Ship Ocean Convict Ship Sir William Bensley Convict Ship Morley Convict Ship Marquis of Wellington Convict Ship Canada Convict Ship Bencoolen Convict Ship Larkins Historical Records of the 46th Regiment Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 46th regtiment to Australia

Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle, arrived on the Windham. Other detachments arrived on the Marquis Wellington, Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Sir William Bensley, Morley, Bencoolen, Three Bees, Ocean, Canada, Elizabeth and Coromandel Other detachments of the 87th regiment arrived on the Grenada and Canada in 1819

Free Passengers

Theodore Bryant Bartley came as a free passenger on the Bencoolen. Soon after arrival he was engaged as tutor to Lachlan Macquarie, son of Governor Macquarie. [4]

Surgeon William Evans

This was William Evans' second voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship.

He kept a Medical Journal from 13 April to 4 September 1819. He recorded in the Journal a case of food poisoning that took place on 7 - 9 June. The crew had caught a Dolphin two days previously which was hung from the rigging for a day without being gutted. Two of the guard were taken ill and six of the crew. One of the prisoners was also taken ill. The worst cases were of the sail maker and Mrs. Clancey, the Sergeant's wife. They suffered with languor, heaviness and faintness, pain in the bowels and a copper colour to their faces with large wheals or lumps.

The surgeon remarked on the good behaviour of the prisoners. No corporal punishment had been necessary. Regulations were drawn up at the start of the voyage and a committee of 12 prisoners appointed to settle disputes. He knew that other convict voyages had been characterised as scenes of gambling and impropriety but not a single pack of cards had been found on the Bencoolen. Instead the prisoners paid great attention to their prayer books and religious and moral tracts. The surgeon believed their decency and propriety of behaviour and submissiveness to all those placed over them indicated they meant seriously to retrieve their injured characters.

Classification of the prisoners was by a separation of the young from the old. The better-behaved prisoners improved the manners of the others, rather than being corrupted by them. [3]

Arrival at Port Jackson

Bencoolen arrived in Port Jackson on 25 August 1819 with the convicts in excellent health, none having died on the passage out. The voyage took a total of 123 days and they sailed 15,762 miles.

Convict Muster

On the 30th August, five days after arriving in Port Jackson, John Thomas Campbell came on board and mustered the prisoners who said they were pleased with their treatment and made no complaints.


On the 4th September the convicts were disembarked at daybreak, and the guards at 9am.

The Sydney Gazette noted that the prisoners landed from the various vessels (the Canada, Mary and Bencoolen), during the previous week appeared to be in a healthy and comparatively happy condition. They spoke of the kindness and humanity they received from the Commanders and Officers in the most grateful terms of praise; who expressed universal satisfaction at their orderly conduct and exemplary good behaviour during the voyage.


In September 130 prisoners were trans shipped on the ship Admiral Cockburn to Hobart.


The Bencoolen was to depart for Calcutta in October 1819

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and passengers of the Bencoolen identified in the Hunter Valley.

2). William Evans was also surgeon on the convict ships Sir William Bensley in 1817, Hindostan in 1821, Asia 1824, Sir Godfrey Webster in 1826, Southworth in 1834 (VDL) and the Earl Grey in 1836

3). Of 150 convicts on the Bencoolen - 4 Protestants and 146 Catholics - Historical notices of the several rebellions, disturbances etc

4). Convict Henry Comerford later became overseer at the lime burner's camp and Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates at Patterson's Plains.

5). Convicts received on board the Bencoolen at Cove of Cork in Ireland - National Archives

6). National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/7/10 Description: Medical journal of the convict ship Bencoolen from 13 April to 4 September 1819 by William Evans, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed on a voyage from the Cove of Cork to New South Wales

7). Australian Dictionary of Biography Online - Theodore Bryant Bartley


[1] Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives NAI REFERENCE: CSO/RP/1819/878

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4006]; Microfiche: 641

[3] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817 - 1857. Medical Journal of William Evans on the voyage of the Bencoolen in 1819. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive