Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Eleanor - 1831

Voyage 126 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 301 Crew 24 men
Previous vessel: Waterloo arrived 30 April 1831
Next vessel: Camden arrived 25 July 1831
Master Robert Cock
Surgeon Superintendent John Stephenson
Prisoners and passengers of the Eleanor identified in the Hunter Valley

Prisoners embarked on the Eleanor came from the counties of Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire, and Wiltshire. They took part in the agricultural protests that became known as the Captain Swing Riots in 1830 - 1831. The name 'Swing Riots' was derived from the name that was often appended to the threatening letters sent to farmers, magistrates, parsons, and others, by the fictitious Captain Swing, who was regarded as the mythical figurehead of the movement. [1]

Some men were executed for their part in the riots and hundreds were transported to Australia. Hundreds more were incarcerated in prisons in England.

After trial prisoners for transportation were transferred from various county prisons to the Hulks moored in the Thames. Some of those tried at Reading on 27th December were admitted to the Hardy hulk late in January and transferred to the Eleanor after only one day on the hulk. By the 10th February 140 prisoners had been embarked. This number was too great for the prisons and seven were returned to the York hulk.

All of the prisoners embarked on the Eleanor in England had been convicted of machine breaking. Most of them were in their 20s and 30s with a few who were older. Thomas Whattey was the youngest at seventeen years of age. Many were married. They left behind friends and families devastated by their absence and communities decimated after the swift turn of events.

This was John Stephenson's second voyage as surgeon-superintendent on a convict ship. He joined the ship at Deptford on the 8th January 1831.

Cabin Passengers

The Rev. John Christian Simon Handt embarked on the 10th of February 1831. His appointment as Missionary to the Aborigines was announced in the Missionary Register in that same month......Church Miss. Soc. The Committee having undertaken, at the instance of His Majesty's Government, a Mission to the Aborigines of New Holland, the Rev. John Christian Simon Handt, late of the German Mission at Liberia, embarked at Portsmouth for Port Jackson, on board the Eleanor, Convict Ship, Captain Cook, on the 10th of February. The Convicts on board the Eleanor were sentenced to transportation under the late Special Commissions; and a passage in that vessel was readily granted to Mr. Handt by Viscount Goderich, with a view of providing religious instruction for these unhappy exiles during the voyage.

Military Guard

On the 20th January the military guard Commanded by Lieutenant Stuart of the 46th regiment, four non-commissioned officers and 24 privates with four women and six children were embarked. Later the number of women was increased to six and the children to ten. Total number on the ship amounted to 205 people.

A description of a village as the military pass through was published in Eliza Cook's Journal in 1850. Although they had taken place twenty years previously the events of the Swing Riots and devastating aftermath were fresh in the villagers' memories - Our march from Brighton to Birmingham occupied eight, nine, or ten days. I had seen but little of rural England before that time; and though that was but a glimpse, compared with what I have since seen, it was fresh, vivid, and impressive. I retain it to this day distinctly; and can at will, sitting by the hearth, looking dreamily into the fire, or vacantly upon a book, draw out the whole line of country before me; the villages, road-side inns, half-way houses where we halted to rest, swinging sign-boards, village greens, broad commons, cross roads, finger-posts, travellers journeying with us and telling where a gibbet once was, where some highwayman - still a hero of tradition - once ruled the road, and robbed the high sheriff, or villagers shrinking out of sight with the recollection of the swing riots of 1830 and 1831 still fresh, - with the dread still upon them of the special commission, accompanied by soldiers, which had consigned a few to the gallows, many to the hulks, and at end had probably missed the chiefs who fired the rick-yards or led the multitudes to break the thrashing mills
- some of these chiefs now look upon us from a distance without any desire to come nearer


The Eleanor was the next vessel to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the female transport Earl of Liverpool in December 1830. The Eleanor departed England on 19th February 1831.

Cape of Good Hope

They called at the Cape of Good Hope; remained for six days and received three prisoners from that colony. -

1) Thomas Davis a soldier convicted of breaking into a warehouse.

2) George Smits (Smets) who was a merchant from Holland. He was convicted of receiving stolen iron. Smits was sent to Port Macquarie on arrival and died there on 7 July 1834.

3)Pierre (or Pierce) Tuite (Taite) born in Co. Kerry was a clerk and soldier convicted of embezzlement.

Surgeon John Stephenson

John Stephenson kept a Medical Journal from 8 January to 14 July 1831. He wrote in his General Remarks at the end of the journal - (Extract)

No set of men perhaps under similar circumstances ever suffered less from disease, the names of eleven convicts only appear in the general list of sick and of these several might with great propriety have been omitted. Among the Soldiers, women and children a great number of trifling complaints occurred such as catarrh, cynanche tonsillaris but only one case only of rheumatisms was worthy of notice. (The captain of the ship Robert Cock caused the surgeon some concern. He had suffered for many years with urethral stricture......the urethra was so contracted in two or three places that none but the very smallest bougies could be introduced. He was subject to frequent and alarming attacks of retention of urine and in one instance the surgeon almost despaired of relieving him without puncturing the bladder.) [2]

The Voyage

The weather from England to the Cape of Good Hope was in general very favourable, the heat at no time excessive, the thermometer never rising above 84. After leaving the Cape we were not quite so fortunate, as we got to the Southward the weather varied greatly, gales of wind, succeeded by light airs with dense fogs and rain frequently took place, but in general we had strong breezes with clear cold weather; this last was a fortunate circumstance as the vessel was very laboursome and shipped such quantities of water that it was frequently necessary even in a fresh breeze to have the hatches battened down for two or three days together, leaving only sufficient space for one person to pass up or down. The means adopted for the preservation of health were the strictest attention to cleanliness, dryness and ventilation and as far as could be done the constant occupation of the prisoners, but what appears to me to have been more efficacious than all this was the delay of a week at the Cape during which the people had a liberal allowance of fresh beef and vegetables, and every mess was enabled to take to it a small stock of soft bread, potatoes, onions etc., to this together with a greater proportion of fine weather, I think we are mainly indebted for the excellent condition in which the prisoners were disembarked.[2]

Arrival in New South Wales

They arrived in Sydney Cove on 26th June 1831 and a muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary on 1st July 1831. The convict indents include the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentenced, prior convictions, physical description, and where and to whom assigned as well as a few additional notes:

John Bulpitt age 23 and Charles Bulpitt age 25, brothers were both granted Royal Conditional Pardons dated 13 October 1837

Levi Brown granted a Royal Conditional Pardon dated 13 October 1837

Abraham Childs age 50. Died at No. 2 Stockade 30 January 1833

Isaac Cole was granted a Royal Absolute Pardon dated 1 October 1836 for his part in capturing a bushranger (Australasian Chronicle 5 May 1840

James Down was granted an Absolute Pardon

Charles Davis died in Liverpool Hospital 30 August 1831

William Francis pardoned and departed for England on the Duchess of Northumberland in 1837

Thomas Hanson Granted Royal Conditional Pardon. Brother William Hanson came 8 years previously

John Jennings. Brother Charles Jennings in the colony per Norfolk 2 years previously

Thomas Mackrell Granted Absolute Pardon 1840

James Manns age 24 and Isaac Manns age 20 were brothers

Robert Mason 25 and Joseph Masons 32, brothers.

John Pounds granted Royal Conditional Pardon dated 13 October 1837

Samuel Quinton granted Royal Cond. Pardon 1836

Charles Read granted an Absolute Pardon 10 October 1836

George Shergold age 25 and Henry Shergold 31, cousins

George Shergold age 28 and John Shergold age 22 brothers.

Adam Thorne age 21. Died in Bathurst Hospital 24 October 1834. Brother of James Thorne age 30

Thomas Whatley 17, granted Absolute Pardon dated 1 October 1836


The Sydney Gazette reported in July that - The male prisoners by the Eleanor who form part of those convicted for the late riots in England, were landed on Monday morning. 'As fine a body of men as ever set foot on Australian shores from a convict ship and were nearly all assigned to individuals up the country'.

The Eleanor at Port Jackson

In August convicts to be transported to the penal settlement at Moreton Bay were embarked on the Eleanor. There was a disturbance on board as the ship lay in harbour and two prisoners were shot and killed in the resulting chaos. Read more in the Sydney Gazette.

Bound for Moreton Bay

The Eleanor departed Sydney bound for Moreton Bay and Batavia later that month. She conveyed 165 prisoners to Moreton Bay.

Notes and Links

1). Convict ship bringing political prisoners and protesters

2). John Stephenson was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Guildford in 1829, Waterloo in 1833. He lost his life in the disaster of the Neva in 1835

3). Salisbury Swing Riots - BBC

4). Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Eleanor in 1831...........

Adams, William - Hants Married, 5 children
Baker, Robert - Wiltshire Married, 4 children
Bennett, Cornelius - Berkshire Married, 3 children
Bulpitt, Charles - Hants Married
Burton, Isaac - Hamstead Single
Carter, George - Hants Married, 10 children
Cheater, William - Wiltshire Single
Coombs, Charles - Dorset Married, 3 children
Down, James - Wiltshire Married
Durman, George - Wiltshire Single
Edney, Joseph - Berkshire Married, 3 children
Eldridge, Henry - Hants Single
Goodall, Thomas - Andover - Single
Goodfellow, Thomas - Hants Married, 1 child
Green, Charles - Hants Married, 1 child
Harding, Aaron - Hants Widower, 9 children
Heath, John - Hants Single
Horton, Charles - Berkshire Single
Lawrence, Lazarus - Hants Single
Legg, John - Dorset - Married, 1 child
Mason, Robert - Hants Single
Milsom, Charles - Berkshire Married, 2 children
Nash, John - Berkshire Single
Newman, William - Hants Single
Nicholas, Joseph - Berkshire Married, 1 child
Orchard, John - Wiltshire Single
Pain, Charles - Berkshire Married
Pope, Joseph - Dorset Married, 12 children
Pope, Maurice - Wiltshire Single
Pumphrey, James - Hants Single
Primer, William - Hants Married, 2 children
Shepherd, Joseph - Fulham Married, 4 children
Shergold, George - Wiltshire Single
Sims, William - Berkshire Single
Symes, Charles - Dorset - Married
Toomer, James - Wiltshire Married, 8 children
Trigg, Matthew - Hants Married, 5 children
Waving, William - Berkshire Married, 2 children
Warwick, Thomas - Hants Married, 5 children
West, James - Oxfordshire Married, 3 children
Westall, William - Berkshire Single
Wheeler, John - Berkshire-

7). Return of Convicts of the Eleanor assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832)-
Henry Elkins - Groom assigned to the Attorney-General Kinchela in Sydney


[1] Wikipedia

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-351, 387

[4] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842. Original data: Bound manuscript indents, 1788 - 1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614 - 619,626 - 657, 660 - 695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.