Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Burrell (1) - 1830

Embarked 192 men
Voyage 145 days
Deaths 3
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 400
Previous vessel: Andromeda arrived 18 December 1830
Next vessel: York arrived 7 February 1831
Captain John Metcalf
Surgeon William West
Prisoners and passengers of the Burrell identified in the Hunter Valley

The ship Burrell transported convicts to New South Wales in 1830 and 1832. Prisoners embarked on this vessel in 1830 came from counties in England, Scotland and Wales.

Departure from England

They departed Plymouth on 27 July 1830 and anchored at Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope on the 1st November, departing there on the 3rd November 1830.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of a detachment of the 17th regiment under Captain John Alexander Edwards. Mrs. Edwards and child came as passengers. Select here to find other convict ships bringing detachments of the 17th regiment to Australia.

Surgeon William West

William West kept a Medical Journal from 26th June 1829 to 3 January 1830......

He remarked that there was scarcely one of the 192 prisoners that was not affected with symptoms of scurvy. The Guard of 30 soldiers were on board as long as the prisoners and were equally unaccustomed to sea life. They were provisioned with equal quantities and quality to the prisoners as well and yet there was no scurvy amongst them. The surgeon attributed this to their more active lifestyle. The convicts were confined 13 hours of 24 in the prison where it was impossible to keep them clean. [1]

The Voyage

There was a report of mutiny which resulted in the prisoners being kept in confinement for even longer. The surgeon thought the report false, however later the Cape Paper gave an account: -

The Burrell, was anchored in Table Bay, with 189 male convicts on board for NSW. It appears that these hardened offenders during the voyage had concocted a diabolical conspiracy to murder the captain and crew, seize the vessel, and run her ashore on the coast of Brazil. The plot was fortunately discovered by the confessions of one of the convicts and measures were immediately taken by the captain for securing the ringleaders and defeating their designs.[3]

This same newspaper reported that one of the convicts was formerly in command of the Burrell, however this was later refuted by an associate of Captain Metcalf who was a relation of the owner of the Burrell. The vessel had been built for Captain Metcalfe four years previously. Captain Metcalfe superintended construction and had commanded her ever since.

On 7th September when the ship was in lat 2℃ 56 north, Long. 13℃ 50 west, eight men complained to the surgeon of night blindness. They were all cured according to the surgeon by bleeding and blisters to the temples. The surgeon often recorded the weather conditions at various positions as below:

1st August - Lat 45℃. 5 North; Long 11℃.35 West. Temperature at noon 74℃

13th August - Thermometer in the shade on deck 76℃; in the prison 82℃

20th August - Lat. 11℃ 29 north; Long 25℃ 54 West - Temperature in the shade on deck 80℃; in the main prison when all below 90℃. Weather calm

7th September - Lat 2℃ 56 north; Long 13℃ 50 West. Temperature in the shade 76℃ to 80℃ at noon. In the main prison 90℃

17th September - Lat 13℃ 16 south; Long 29℃. 57 West. Temperature at noon in the shade 87℃

21st September - Thermometer in the shade on deck 76℃. Weather fine, light winds.

25th September - fine weather and light winds.

7th October - fine weather, strong breeze. 63℃

8th October - Lat 33℃ 24 south; Long 12℃ 00 west. 63℃ in the shade

9th October - Lat 31℃ 7 south; Long 20℃ 29 west. 60℃ in the shade

11th October - fair with strong breezes Temperature 63 - 66℃

14th October - weather squally and wet. Temperature 55℃ 16th October - Lat 32℃. 56 south; Long 4℃. 15 East - Fresh breezes 63 - 66℃. Temperature at noon 62℃

19th October - fresh breezes 63 - 66℃

15th November - Lat 39℃. 13 south; Long 52℃. 47 East. Temperature at noon 62℃

24th November - Lat 39℃ 49 south; Long 80℃ 6 East. Temperature at noon 64℃

3rd December - Temperature at noon 67℃

15th December - sailing along the land in Bass Strait. Temperature 65℃

Arrival at Port Jackson

Three prisoners died on the passage out. The first was William Davis aged 25. He was sent on board from the Justitia Hulk and was suffering from mental illness. The surgeon described him as taciturn Welshman who either did not understand English or refused to speak it. Another of his countrymen interpreted for him. (There were 16 men on the Burrell who had been tried in Wales). William Davis died on 1st August. The surgeon was prevented from performing an autopsy because of the warm state of the weather. He commented in his journal that it was 90℃ in the prison when all the prisoners were there.

The other two men who died, Frederick Holbrook and Robert Cooper, the surgeon was at a loss to account for the reason of their death. They had few symptoms and appeared well enough just a couple of days before death. His post mortem revealed little and he diagnosed cachexia for want of a better term. Another man James Barnett died in Sydney Hospital on 23rd December 1830 having been ill since they were at Table Bay on 1st November.

The indents reveal the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, former convictions, physical description and how disposed of on arrival. There are also occasional details of pardons, relatives already in the colony, colonial sentences and deaths.

The youngest prisoner was Francis Dennis who was 13 years of age. William Jones and Joseph Phillips were 14; and John Mackie and Isacharr Binney were 15 years of age. They were all sent to the Carters Barracks except John Mackie who was assigned to the A.A. Company.

The prisoners of the Burrell, spent their first Christmas in New South Wales on Sydney Harbour. Although they had arrived at Port Jackson on 18 December 1830and a muster was taken on the 23rd December, they were not landed until Friday 31st December 1830.

Departure from Port Jackson

Burrell departed for Launceston in February 1831 with passengers Mr. Bayley, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Brennan Mr. Scott, Mr. Schelly, Mr. Curry, Miss Kirkham, Mrs. Allen and fifty horses on board

Notes and Links

1). Crew members included ship's steward James Antell; 3rd Mate Mr. Davison and John McDonald, who suffered a fractured clavicle. Drummer of the 17th regt., John Donahoo aged 16 was also treated for a fractured clavicle after falling down the hatchway in September

2). The following prisoners were tried in Scotland:
Alexander Alison - Inverness;
Robert Blair - Perthshire;
George Brown - Aberdeen;
William Cummings - Aberdeen;
James Clarke - Aberdeen
William Darling - Fife
William Graham - Edinburgh
James Gardner - Glasgow
James Henderson - Edinburgh
John Hepburne - Aberdeen
Alexander Lobban - Aberdeen
William Lennox - Glasgow
John Mackie - Aberdeen
George Milne - Aberdeen
Archibald McKain - Edinburgh
Ewen McDonald - Edinburgh
Gilbert Muir - Glasgow
Daniel McDonald - Glasgow
Archibald McGilervay - Glasgow
James Malcolm - Perth
Peter Pirie - Aberdeen
Thomas Pirie - Aberdeen
James Reed - Carlisle
Alexander Rae - Aberdeen
William Sinclair - Glasgow
Robert Stewart - Glasgow
Joseph Walker - Aberdeen
David Watson - Edinburgh
William Wellwood - Perth

3). Richard Beacher who arrived as a convict on the Burrell later became a well known and courageous Newcastle harbour pilot.

4). Joseph Walker who had been a flax dresser in Aberdeen became a bushranger. He lived for many months with a native tribe before being captured.

5). Return of Convicts of the Burrell assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 28 June 1832).....
William Miller - House painter assigned to William Cox junior at Hobart Ville.

6). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 17th regiment

Date and Place of Departure; Vessel; Officer of the Guard

Departed 30 September 1829 from Sheerness; Dunvegan Castle ; Lieut. John Grey

Departed 14 October 1829 from Spithead; Katherine Stewart Forbes ; Major Fairtclough 63rd regt.,

Departed 5 December 1829 from Sheerness; MermaidLieutenant Isaac Blackburn

Departed 1 January 1830 from Cork; Forth 1 ; Captain James Oliphant Clunie

Departed 1 January 1830 from Sheerness; Nithsdale ;Captain Robert G. Moffatt

Departed 8 April 1830 from Portsmouth; Lady Feversham ; Lieutenant Harvey 29th regt.,

Departed 9 April 1830 from Sheerness; Marquis of Huntley ; Lieutenant Watson 20th regt.,

Departed 27 April 1830 from Portsmouth; Adrian ; Ensign Reynolds

Departed 6 June 1830 from the Downs; Lord Melville ; Lieutenant Robert Graham

Departed 3 July 1830 from Dublin; Hercules ; Major J.W. Bouverie

Departed 5 July 1830 from Portsmouth; Royal Admiral ; Captain John Church

Departed 27 July 1830 from Plymouth; Burrell ; Captain John Alexander Edwards

Departed 28 August 1830 from Cork; Andromeda ; Captain Charles Forbes

Departed 4 September 1830 from Sheerness; York ; Lieut-Col. Henry Despard

Departed 17 October 1830 from Cork; Edward ; Captain Deeds

Departed 10 May 1832 from Cork; Eliza II ; Lieutenant Hewson 4th regiment


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . Medical Journal of William West on the voyage of the Burrell in 1830. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350 - 351

[3] Sydney Gazette 26 February 1831