Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Bengal Merchant (4) - 1838

Embarked 270 men
Voyage 115 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: William Jardine arrived 11 April 1838
Next vessel: Lord Lyndoch arrived 8 August 1838
Captain William Campbell
Surgeon Isaac Noott
Prisoners and passengers of the Bengal Merchant identified in the Hunter Valley

The ship Bengal Merchant was built in Calcutta in 1812 [1].

Military Guard

The guard consisted of 29 men of the 21st and 51st Regiments under orders of Lieutenant Gates of the 51st and Lieutenant Dear of the 21st regiment, with 6 women and 9 children. They embarked at Deptford on 15 March 1838 and sailed for Sheerness the following day.

Convicts Embarked

On 20th March 270 convicts from Chatham were embarked.

Convict John Franklyn was one of the men who had been on board the hulk at Chatham. Already suffering severely from rheumatism, he got very wet on the day of embarkation and despite the care of Isaac Noott, continued to suffer throughout the rest of the voyage. Select here to read a Prison Hulk Report describing a typical week in the life of convicts incarcerated in the Hulks in 1838.

Departure from England

Bengal Merchant weighed anchor on 28 March, passed the Downs on 1 April 1838.


They were at Tenerife on 11 April where they spent two days getting water and fresh provisions.

Surgeon Isaac Noott

Isaac Noott kept a Medical Journal from 5 March 1838 to 28 July 1838.

There was an outbreak of typhus on 20th May. Prisoners, crew and soldiers were affected. James Monk died on 9th June. Private William Denny of the Guard died on 25 June and convict Thomas Morgan died on 17 July. The first case of scurvy occurred on 8th July, that of August Piotrowski. Isaac Noott described him as 'a Pole of indolent habit'.

Only half or three quarters of the prisoners were allowed on deck at the same time, so that there was room for them to exercise. They were made to walk around the deck several times a day. The prison was kept clean and as dry as possible. Nitre and vinegar was given to convalescents and lemon juice from the commencement of salt meat but the wine not until after the tropics. Two children who died of atrophy were not included in the surgeon's report.

Arrival at Port Jackson

The ship arrived in Port Jackson on 21st July 1838, a voyage of 115 days. On arrival George Williams aged 22 was sent to the hospital suffering from rheumatism. He was still in hospital on 18 August.

Notes and Links

1). Isaac Noott was employed as surgeon on the Alfred in 1834 and the Layton in 1839 (VDL)

2). Select here to read correspondence re the arrival of Bengal Merchant regarding the distribution of convicts under Governor Gipp's system of assignment.

3). Convicts and passengers of the Bengal Merchant identified in the Hunter Valley

4). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 21st regiment (Royal Scotch Fusiliers) and Officer in command of the Guard....

Mary departed London 4 September 1832 - Captain Daniels 21st regt.,
Roslin Castle departed Cork 8 October 1832 - Lieuts. Bayley and Pieter L. Campbell. 21st
Andromeda departed Portsmouth 17 November 1832 - Lieuts. Lonsdale and Armstrong 21st regt.,
Mangles departed London 14 December 1832 London
Asia departed the Downs 21 February 1833 - Lieuts. Kelly and Wilson of 6th regt.,
Lord Lyndoch departed Sheerness June 1833 - Lieut-Col. Leahy. Headquarters of 21st
Royal Admiral departed Dublin 4 June 1833 - Lieut. Ainslie 21st regt.,
Aurora departed Portsmouth 4 July 1833 Major Delisle 4th regt.,
Java departed Cork 24 July 1833 - Lieut. Wrixon, 21st regt.,
Neva departed Plymouth 29 July 1833 - Lieut. McEdwin 1st or Queens Own regt.,
Lloyds departed the Downs 25 August 1833 - Lieut. McKnight 21st regt.,
Fairlie departed England 27 October 1833
Bengal Merchant departed 28 March 1838 - Lieut. Dear of 21st regt.,

5). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 51st regiment included

Neptune, Waterloo, William Jardine, Bengal Merchant, Lord Lyndoch, Westmoreland, Clyde, Earl Grey, Portsea, Elphinstone, John Barry, Blenheim, Waverley and Middlesex.


[1] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.354-355, 391