Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Diamond - 1838

Embarked 162 women
Voyage 114 days
Deaths - 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 574
Previous vessel: Emma Eugenia arrived 9 February 1838
Next vessel: Gaillardon arrived 30 March 1838
Captain James Bissett
Surgeon William McDowell
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Diamond identified in the Hunter Valley

The Diamond was the next convict ship to leave Ireland after the Sir Charles Forbes departed Dublin in August 1837.


One hundred and sixty-two female prisoners and 25 - 30 of their children were received onto the ship from the Penitentiary at Dublin, probably in October or early November 1837.

An Historical Guide to Ancient and Modern Dublin: Illustrated by Engravings ... By George Newenham Wright included a description of the Dublin Female Penitentiary as it was in 1821(1) ......

Dublin Peniteniary - An Historical Guide to Ancient and Modern Dublin: Illustrated by Engravings By George Newenham

Free Passengers

Free passengers included 18 free women, wives of convicts already in the colony and 36 of their children. One cabin passenger Mr. Goodwin also came on the ship Diamond.

The names of the free women and children can be found in Musters and other papers relating to convict ships. [1]...................

Patrick Quigley's wife Mary and four children Marianne, Bridget, Catherine and Patrick;
Eleanor and James, the two children of Charles Delaney
Johanna Walsh with son Timothy and daughter Catherine
Mary Dunn with Bridget, Michael, Judith, John and Mary
Elizabeth McClean or Waloon with daughters Ann and Catherine
Catherine Barry with daughter Margaret
Mary Sullivan; Catherine Galvin with daughters Margaret and Bridget
Honora Casey with daughters Margaret, Mary and Catherine
Mary Carver and daughter Catherine
Mary Brady with daughter Mary;
Ann Smith wife of Patrick Smith with children John, Fanny, Daniel and Patrick
Mary Ann Cullen with son Thomas
Mary Hallenan with Thadeus and Johanna
Margaret Lawson with son William and daughter Eliza
Honoria Carey with son John Ann Gibney and son John
Eliza Trevers and son Matthias

Departure from Ireland

The Morning Post reported on 15 November that they were to depart on the first fair wind, however they didn't depart from Kingston harbour until 29 November 1837 just a day after the William Jardine.

Surgeon William McDowell

This was William McDowell's third voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 20 October 1837 to 20 April 1838........

I beg leave to acquaint you agreeable to my instructions that the number of female convicts embarked on board the ship Diamond for a passage to New South Wales were in all 162 received from the Penitentiary in Dublin all in tolerable good health with twenty-seven of their children of different ages. [3]

The following women and children were treated by the surgeon:

Catherine Raygan, aged 30, convict;

Mary Brown, aged 21, convict; Died 23 January 1838.

Catherine Kelly, aged 17, convict

Catherine Rooney, aged 7, child Died 22 January 1838.

Mary Daley, aged 37, convict

Mary Berry, aged 21, convict

Honora Carey, aged 30, passenger

Judith McConnell, aged 7, child

Mary Halfpenny, aged 31, convict

Sophia Leeson, aged 30, convict

Mary McManus, aged 22, convict

Anne Moon, aged 29, convict

Sarah Peacock, aged 18, convict

Mary Daley, aged 37, convict

Anne Laverty, aged 20, convict

Ann Connolly, aged 23, convict

Rose Gordon, aged 50, convict

Mary McMahon, aged 26, convict

Ellen Daley, aged 18, convict

Anne Butler, aged 18, convict [4]

The Voyage

The women suffered severely from seasickness and constipation during the voyage made worse he thought by the great change they experienced in their rations and lack of exercise. He remarked that there were seven confinements which expended most of the medical comforts and hospital clothing. According to the surgeon's sick book there were three deaths altogether (only one was a prisoner) however he considered that illnesses were mostly trifling.


There was a violent gale on 14th December during which prisoner Catherine Raygan (Regan) was injured by a cask rolling about. She was treated by the surgeon for almost six weeks for the injury.

The Diamond spoke the Hyacinth, bound for the Cape of Good Hope in lat. 4 6' north and longitude 18 15' west; also on the 1st February the Duchess of Northumberland from London to Sydney in latitude 32 5', and longitude 21 30' west (near the Cape of Good Hope); and on 3rd January exchanged numbers with the Alacrity, 30 days from London in latitude 5 north, and longitude 18 40' west, bound to Port Jackson.

Arrival at Port Jackson

They arrived at Port Jackson on 28 March 1838 after a voyage of 114 days. The women were landed on Thursday 12th April at the Macquarie Fort instead of the Dockyard. Macquarie Fort was designed by Francis Greenway, and built in 1817. It was demolished in 1901. The site became a tram shed until the 1950s then in 1957 Jorn Utzon won a competition to design the world famous Sydney Opera House that occupies this site today........

Fort Macquarie', unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & SciencesFort Macquarie, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923 2017, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

On 12th April 1838 a committee of ladies was in attendance at the fort, for the purpose of pointing out to the newly arrived prisoners the necessity of their behaving themselves in the different situations they may be placed in, so as to merit any future indulgence. Governor Sir George Gipps was in attendance, and exhorted them to behave themselves in their new capacities. They were also addressed by the Bishop before being distributed to various people who had applied for them.

The Sydney Monitor carried the following news on the 16 April 1838.....

NEWS OF THE DAY. At the time of landing the women by the Diamond, at Fort Macquarie on Wednesday last, a circumstance occurred which is likely to give employment to some of our gentleman learned in the law. The matter of dispute was between two gentlemen well known in the town, and both holding Government appointments. As the facts will most probably come to light in the Supreme Court, we abstain from at present mentioning names or particulars.......

The dispute was between Colonel Wilson and Clerk to the Superintendent of Convicts Mr. Thomas Ryan and involved the distribution of two of the women who came by the Diamond....Read more in the Sydney Gazette.

Departure from Port Jackson

The Diamond was advertising to depart the colony in April 1838 and was described as having extraordinary room between decks and admirably suited for live stock. She left port bound for Java in ballast in May 1838.

Notes and Links

1). Dublin Female Penitentiary... An Historical Guide to Ancient and Modern Dublin: Illustrated by Engravings ... By George Newenham Wright 1821

2). Kingston Harbour Dublin (Dun Laoghaire Harbour ) Engraved by T A Prior after a picture by Edward Duncan - Prints of Ireland

3). Fort Macquarie, Bennelong Point from the North Shore by Conrad Martens c. 1836 - Art Gallery NSW

4). Convicts and passengers of the Diamond identified in the Hunter Valley

5). William McDowell was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Harmony in 1827 and the Blenheim in 1839

6). The Diamond was one of two convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1838, the other one being the John Renwick. A total of 333 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1838.


[1]. Original data: New South Wales Government. Musters and other papers relating to convict ships. Series CGS 1155, Reels 2417-2428. State Records Authority of New South Wales (Ancestry)

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

[3]. Journal of William McDowell. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives, Kew, Surry

[4] National Archives. Medical and surgical journal of HM convict ship Diamond from 20 October 1837 to 20 April. Reference: ADM 101/19/5