Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Burrell - 1832

Embarked: 101 females
Voyage: 133 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Previous vessel: Captain Cook arrived 2 April 1832
Next vessel: John arrived 8 June 1832
Captain John Metcalf
Surgeon Superintendent George Williams
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Burrell identified in the Hunter Valley

Convicts were previously transported to New South Wales on the Burrell in 1830. The Burrell was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in the year 1832, the others being the Pyramus with prisoners from England and the Southworth bringing Irish prisoners. A total of 381 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1832. There were no female prisoners convicted in Scotland transported to New South Wales in 1832.

Some of the prisoners on this voyage were tried in Lancaster, Oxford, Sussex, Worcester and Radnor, however the majority were tried at the Old Bailey before being sent to Newgate.


The Times 4th January 1832 reported: -

On Saturday two vans and an omnibus conveyed 61 female convicts and 11 of their infant children from Newgate to the Burrell transport, lying off Woolwich, which vessel will shortly carry them to Australia, where they are doomed to reside for the following periods, viz: For life 8; 14 years, 12; 7 years, 41; total 61.

George Shillibeer's first London omnibus, 1829....George Shillibeer's first London omnibus, 1829

Free Passengers

......The Times - The cargo of the Burrell is nearly made up. Her complement being already upwards of 100 female convicts beyond which there are on board free women and children, some of whom have obtained leave to join those relatives who have, in consequence of their crimes, been banished from the land of their nativity. There are among them, however, several who, in consequence of a boon held out by Government to induce women of good character to emigrate, are going out as free settlers.

The nine free women on the Burrell included Mary Ann Holt age 29 and Mary Fowler age 50. There were 32 children. There were two births on the voyage - Prisoner Margaret Brandon gave birth to a daughter on 7th March 1832; Jane Williams gave birth on 8th April.

Surgeon George Williams

This was George Williams' only voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 13 December 1831 to 16th June 1832.........

One hundred and one female prisoners with thirteen children arrived on board the Burrell at Woolwich between the 21st and 25th of December 1831, eighty-five of whom were from London and the remainder from the country. The week following, nine free women, wives of convicts and 32 of their children were received on board. The whole of the prisoners were in a good state of health with the exception of one. [3]

Departure from England

The Burrell departed Woolwich with 101 female prisoners on 12 January 1832.

Illness during the Voyage

During the stay at Woolwich the weather was cold and damp with easterly winds and in consequence catarrhal complaints became very prevalent and the first three weeks at sea the women continued very ill and three cases of pneumonia occurred. After this time we fell in with fine clear weather and favourable winds and with the exception of a few cases of diarrhoea on entering the tropics, the women continued free from complaints until we were within a few hundred miles of New South Wales. We then encountered some heavy weather with frequent showers of rain and catarrh again began to prevail and the older women complained of rheumatism. Some of them became much debilitated and it was necessary to keep up their remaining strength by an allowance of preserved meat and an extra allowance of wine. There was one death, that of the infant daughter of Margaret Ryan who was already ill when she came on board. [3]

There was an outbreak of whooping cough amongst the children in February. Some of those affected included M.A. Newman aged 4; John Gordon aged 9; James Gordon aged 7;William Gordon aged 3 1/2; John Walur aged 14 months; Frances List aged 14 months; John Wiles aged 9; George Toiles? aged 7; William Holt aged 9; Louisa Ashton aged 7; George Hughes aged 11. The symptoms were severe with difficulty breaking, quick pulse, and febrile symptoms. Other children who were entered on the surgeon's sick list at various times included John Chissold aged 12 or 14; Charles Carroll aged 11; and Thomas Brandon aged 13.

In May there was an outbreak of impetigo. Mary Ann Harris and about twenty other women were afflicted with this malady which lasted about a fortnight. There was also an outbreak of tinea capitus (ringworm of the scalp). Part of the treatment for this affliction was shaving of the head. One prisoner, Adelaide Le Grange became despondent and suffered from amnesia on the voyage. She may have been sent to the hospital on arrival.

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Burrell arrived in Port Jackson on 20 May 1832. A muster was held on board on 25th May by the Colonial Secretary. The convict indents include the name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, trade, native place, offence, when and where tried, sentence, prior conviction, physical description and occasional information such as colonial sentences, death and pardons. There is no information in the indents as to whom the women were assigned on arrival.

The indents have details of those women who had relatives on board or already in the colony. Some may have been fortunate enough to be assigned to their relative or perhaps nearby:

Caroline Slack's brother William Stark was a soldier of the 17th regiment

Ann Drain's brother Richard Robinson was a prisoner on the Exmouth in 1831

Mary Meeking's uncle Samuel Gilbert arrived in the colony 20 years previously (possibly on the Mariner in 1816)

Margaret Reeves' sister Eleanor Moore arrived 9 years previously

Catherine Waller's brother in law John Dart was sent to VDL 14 years previously

Sarah Blakney's brother Hugh Gibney arrived 9 years previously

Caroline McKelvin's cousin Thomas Lane arrived some time previously

Elizabeth Terry's two daughters Sarah and Ann Terry were convicted at the same time and both on board

The Management committee of the Parramatta Female Factory brought in new regulations at the end of May which apparently caused a delay in the prisoners being disembarked.....

The Committee of Management of the Female Factory at Parramatta have observed, with great regret, how speedily a portion of the Female Convicts assigned from the ship, on their arrival from Europe, are returned to Government, and sent to the Factory at Parramatta. It has fallen within their observation, that, in many cases, those persons have been returned for awkwardness or misbehaviour which, in free servants, would be noticed by a gentle reproof. In future all persons receiving Female Servants on assignment shall enter into an engagement, under a penalty of forty shillings, to keep them for one month in their service, unless removed therefrom by due course of law. In assigning the females recently arrived in the Burrell, the Governor has been pleased to direct, that the distance of the applicants from Sydney shall be considered as giving a priority of claim, it being, in His Excellency's opinion, an object of great importance to remove and retain these criminal women, as far as possible, from Sydney. In the interests of improving the character and disposition of the women, the Female Factory Committee were at all times disposed to favour the marriage of them to persons in circumstances to maintain them honestly.

On 1st June the Burrell came very close to getting on to Bennelong Point during the gales on that day, only just being brought up in time.[1]

Convicts Disembarked

The Australian reported on 15th June 1832....On Wednesday last, the female prisoners by the ship Burrell were landed, as shipped, 'in tolerable condition and good order'. There were 101 altogether. Of those, 98 were assigned from the ship and transported forthwith to their several destinations. Among those who had made assignations were several stout strapping wenches, and many of them were not. The ladies were all in good demand. It is to be hoped they will know in good time, the value of good places. For an accomplished governess, there were no fewer than eleven applications! There was much and heavy lamentation at parting betwixt 'old shipmates, 'old sweethearts: etc; but the most piteously plunged, in grief at parting was 'the rough Boatswain'.........

For oftentimes he piped his Pipe!
But oftener piped his eye!


A list of female prisoners assigned to settlers in the month of October 1832 was published in the Sydney Gazette and the following women from the Burrell were included in the list:

Jane Boyd - Assigned to Lucretia Hely, Castlereagh St. Sydney
Mary Collins - Assigned to J. Eales Hunter River
Catherine Carroll - Assigned to F. Sutland, Kent St. Sydney
Ann Drain - Assigned to John J Peacock, Portland Head
Elizabeth Gurnett - Assigned to Thomas Cain, Clarence St. Sydney
Sarah Hosker - Assigned to Lieut. Gibson, Parramatta
Mary James - Assigned to Moses Solomon, Sydney
Hannah Jones - Assigned to F.E. Forbes, Liverpool
Caroline McKelvin - Assigned to Thomas Byrne, Sydney
Mary Meeking - Assigned to G.S.D. Evans, Bridge St. Sydney
Susan Somerville - Assigned to Rev. R. Forrest, Parramatta

Before long the ladies of the Burrell had made an unfavourable impression with the authorities...The Sydney Gazette commented.....'The hourii just imported by the Burrell, seem determined to rival if possible the delectable sisterhoods of female excellence with which we were favoured by the Lucy Davidson and Roslin Castle. About a fourth of them are already at Mrs. Gordon's seminary of Australian morale' [2]

Departure from Sydney

The Burrell departed for Madras with 8 officers, 146 non-commissioned officers and privates 14 women and 36 children of the 39th Regiment. The Southworth and the John departed with troops for Madras on the same day.

Notes and Links

1). Duncombe v. Metcalfe - Claim for wages by the ship's carpenter Robert Duncombe

2). Attempt at Suicide. - On the night of Sunday last, Captain Finnis's female servant went into the water closet in the yard, and hung herself up with her garters, the material of which they were made not being very strong, gave way, and down she came, determined not to be baulked, she knotted them together, and again suspended herself. A little boy who was playing in the yard, hearing a rattling made by the woman in the act of choking, looked in, and observing her situation, ran away frightened, but informed a man of the circumstance, who proceeded to the spot, and after some short time had expired, cut her down. Upwards of an hour elapsed before animation could be restored to the body of the woman. No cause can be assigned for the rash act, as she had only just arrived in the Colony by the Burrell. - Sydney Herald 21 June 1832

3). Later in June seven of the crew were brought on shore on a warrant for refusing to perform their duty as seamen. According to the Captain they had been mutinous during the voyage to Australia, they had threatened him with violence and broken into the spirit room which they had robbed. Their names were William Reeves, James Mitford, David Walker, George Thompson, Daniel Manning, Andrew Harper and Edward Boyce..

4). July 1832 - Susan Somerfield next made her conge to his Worship. It appeared that the prisoner had been arrested in a circumnavigatory voyage round Sydney, with a bundle of clothes which she still held in her arms. She was charged by the apprehending constable with being drunk and abusive when taken up. Captain Rossi -Prisoner, are you not ashamed to get drunk with that pretty young child in your arms ? (His Worship mistook the bundle of clothes for a child). Prisoner--La ! your Worship - this here is not a child ! You makes me blush ! I never has had a child your Worship. This here is a bundle of clothes. Captain Rossi- Well; well, it is all the same. Why did you get drunk? Mr. Dalton, to whom the prisoner was assigned, here stated, that she had gone away without leave from her service, but that was a small offence compared with another. When she went away she took a little curly French dog with her which was invaluable. Monsieur Fripenu (that is the dog's name your Worship) could creep into a pint pot, he was so beautifully small and delicate. Monsieur in fact could not be equalled in the Colony. Captain Rossi-- What have you done with Monsieur Fripeau, Madam ? Prisoner-Why your Worship, I was coming into Sydney to give myself up to the Police, and on my way to the Police Office, in passing Cumming's Hotel- Capt. R.- What, in coming from the poor-house to the Police Office, you got down to Cumming's Hotel Madam ! Prisoner-Why your Worship I did not know my way, for I only arrived the other day per Burrell. And so as I said before your Worship, I got to Cumming's, and then I met the Captain and some ten of the ship, and they says to me, 'Suke (says they) will you have a drop of brandy this morning ?' I will, says l, and God bless you for the same for I have lost my way ! 'Out of your course ? (says one of em) then may I sink but I'll pilot you my lass safe into port ? And so your Worship we had a glass together ; Mr. Dalton said, that she was generally a good servant, and that if she would only bring Monsieur Fripeau home; he begged she might be admonished and discharged. The Bench accordingly discharged the prisoner. - Sydney Monitor 11 July 1832

5). Sarah Davis was tried at the Old Bailey. The following Petition has been transcribed by researcher Keith Searson in UK in conjunction with Colette McAlpine of the Female Convict Research Centre in Tasmania.....

Sarah Davis Old Bailey 1831. Stealing Handkerchiefs 7 years. Transportation Source - Home Office Criminal Petitions - Series 1. Series HO 17 Piece Number - 59 Item Number - KQ 13. Sarah Davis Aged 43. Old Bailey December Sessions 1831. Gaolers Report -
The Humble Petition of SARAH DAVIS a prisoner in his Majesty's gaol Newgate To the Right Honourable Lord Melbourne My Lord Your Petitioner humble implores your Lordship to take into your immediate consideration her melancholy situation while she begs to state that she is now 47 years of age, and the mother of a large family and never had the misfortune of having any blemish in her character up to the time of her unfortunate acquaintance with MARY COLLINS which occurred by COLLINS having a room in her house, and she unfortunately went to purchase some trifling article which she paid for, and MARY COLLINS unknown to your Petitioner took the opportunity of stealing articles from each shop and as your Petitioner was in her company they were both taken to a Magistrate and sent to Newgate and are now lying under sentence of transportation for 7 years, your Petitioner therefore most humbly implores your Lordship that, on account of the good character she had on her trial and never guilty of any offence in her life, but always known as a honest and industrious woman that your Lordship will be pleased to grant her that indulgence to send her to the Penitentiary and not send her from this country, your Petitioner also begs to state she has a sister JANE WORTHINGTON who had the honour of being a servant in your Lordships family and likewise with Lord Carltons family, and there was never the least blemish in the character of any of her family your Petitioner once more humbly implores your Lordship that as to her bad health and now in the infirmary at Newgate that your Lordship will be pleased to order her to be kept in her own country and your Petitioner will be in duty bound to ever pray. Sarah Davis 21st December 1831 Newgate Frederick King - Prosecutor - 45 St John Street Clerkenwell Thomas Hassall - Swinton Street Greys Inn Road John price No 1 Elm Street S Silcock - Prince Regent Inn - Grays Inn Lane.


[1] Sydney Monitor 6th June 1832

[2] Sydney Gazette 17 July 1832.

[3] Journal of George Williams. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-51.