Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Buffalo - 1837

Embarked: 1 prisoner
Commander: James Wood
Arrived NSW 27 June 1837

H.M.S. Buffalo c. 1836. State Library South Australia

HMS Buffalo was a store ship of the Royal Navy, originally built and launched at Calcutta in 1813 as the merchant vessel Hindostan. The Admiralty purchased the Hindostan that same year and after arrival in Britain and she was re-named the Buffalo.

On this voyage in 1837 one prisoner, James Gordon from South Australia was transported to New South Wales, departing Port Adelaide and arriving at Port Jackson on 27th June 1837.

Convict James Gordon

James Gordon had been apprehended for burglary a month earlier shortly after he had arrived in Adelaide from Van Diemen's Land.......

Session of Gaol Delivery May 13 1837 Before His Honor Sir John Jeffcott, Knight Chief Judge of the Province {Extract}

The next case to which I am desirous to call your attention is that of James Gordon, who, in the calendar before me, is charged with the crime of burglary. The individual who on the present occasion is charged with this crime is a man of colour, recently arrived here from Van Diemen's Land. He is alleged to have broken into the dwelling house of a person named Crisp and there to have stolen a silver watch and other property. In the case of this man there is involved a question of law, as to the meaning of the word dwelling house and it is one which in the present state of the Province I consider to be of considerable importance as regards life and property. It is whether the huts and tents in which the great body of our population now reside while more permanent residences are getting up are to be considered as dwelling house for the purpose of burglary?.......Gordon is charged with having in the night time broken into the tent of an individual at Adelaide, the prosecutor having retired to rest at the usual hour and the tent in question being fastened in the usual way by strings ties together on the inside. [3]

James Gordon was later found guilty of the crime of burglary and sentenced to 7 years transportation.

He was 19 years old and described in the indents as an Indoor servant and captain's steward age 19 from Barbados. 5ft 3 1/2in, black complexion, black and woolly hair, black eyes, lost a front upper tooth, four scars right side of forehead another immediately over right eyebrow, scar outer corner of same, scar right side of mouth, nose and lips thick, mark of a burn left side of lower lip. [1]

He was assigned to Dr. John Edward Stacy at Peel River and absconded from there on 18 October 1837.[2]

Notes and Links

Female convicts to New South Wales in 1833 and immigrants to South Australia in 1836 arrived on H. M. S. Buffalo. In 1839 American and French Canadian patriots from Quebec to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales also arrived on this ship.


[1] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X640]; Microfiche: 727

[2] Government Gazette 8 November 1837

[3] South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839) Sat 3 Jun 1837