Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Friendship - 1800

Embarked: 133 male convicts
Voyage: 176 days
Deaths: 19
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Minerva arrived 11 January 1800
Next vessel: Speedy arrived 15 April 1800
Captain Hugh Reed
Surgeon: Mr. Bryce; Convict Daniel MacCallum acted as assistant-surgeon
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Friendship identified in the Hunter Valley

Departure from London

The Friendship sailed from London for Cork at the end of March 1799. In convoy with the Minerva the Friendship departed Cork on 24th August 1799, however the two ships parted company on 14th September.

The Voyage

Below is an extract from the Journal kept by Captain Hugh Reed's wife and published in the Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India. The journal begins in June while the Friendship was still lying at the passage of Waterford........

In this number we commence a series of extracts from an unpublished MS. with which we have been favoured, bearing the following title : Cursory Remarks, on board the ship Friendship, H. R. commander ; or, the Occurrences of a Voyage from Ireland to New South Wales, the South Sea, the Spice Islands, and Bengal, and thence back to Europe; performed in the years 1799, 1800, and 1801'.

An introductory note states, that H. R., the husband of the lady, being appointed to the command of a ship called the Friendship, was employed by his Majesty's government to convey to New South Wales some of the unfortunate individuals concerned in the rebellion in Ireland, then recently subdued. The Friendship sailed from London for Cork, near the end of March 1799; in June following, the author of the Journal, at the desire of her husband, whose ship had still to wait an uncertain time for sailing orders, proceeded to Ireland; and after spending a pleasant interval in the vicinity of Waterford, she was ultimately induced to share with Mr. R. the dangers of the voyage........


'END OF JUNE 1799 - Our mutual joy was great at meeting, my sickness and fatigues were all soon forgot, when I joined the Friendship, which was lying at the passage of Waterford.

While we remained at this port, alternately residing at Waterford, making excursions to the neighbouring country, or giving days to pleasure in the ship's boats; with a party of ladies and gentlemen, we visited New Ross, where Gen. Johnson had such a desperate encounter with those bands of deluded men, who had raised the standard of rebellion; seven or eight months after the battle, the large graves, where the men and horses had been buried promiscuously, were still fresh. We were informed by an eyewitness, that when the king's troops had given way, and were driven back over the bridge, the general's personal courage regained the day. He exhorted the soldiers at the bridge to rally and retrieve their honour, and revenge the death of Lord Mountjoy, who fell with many others at the Three-bullet Gate. Seeing them backward, he spurred his charger, saying, Friends follow me, and enemies return, he then galloped into the heart of the town, where his horse was shot and fell under him. Before he had disentangled his leg from the struggling animal, a rebel ran upon him with a pike to dispatch him ; when the general rising on his elbow, darted such a look at the fellow as made him hesitate. At that moment some of the king's cavalry came galloping up the street, on which the rebel fled into a house and escaped with many others by a back way.

*John Brennan/ Brannon - Settled at Cattai on the Hawkesbury River

Francis Lysaght -

Daniel Macallum - Pardoned on July 18, 1801, to enable him to practise his profession. He received a land grant on Georges River. On the instructions of Governor King, dated November 22, 1802, he accompanied Acting Lieut. Robbins to Bass Straits. He died at Sydney on 5 August 1818

Matthew Sutton -Barrister from prominent Wexford family. Select Remembering the Ords: the Story of the Ord family of Antrim to read a desperate letter dated May 1799 from Matthew Sutton to his father describing the conditions on board the Friendship.

There was another ship lying here, commanded by Capt. Dennett, called the Ann, whose destination was also for New South Wales, with people of the same description. The members of this sanguinary association were termed at this time Croppies, owing not only to their own hair being reduced to the fashion of the round-heads in Cromwell's day, but to their horses, dogs, and cattle having their ears and tails cropped, as a mark to indicate that their masters were friends to the faction.

Arrival at Cork

'JULY 15. Having got onboard the compliment of men ordered by government, the captain received orders from Gen. Johnson to proceed to Cork, under convoy of a cutter, and there receive instructions from Admiral Kingsmill, who commanded on that station : the Friendship with the convoy sailed next day, and arrived at Cork on the 18th. The ship anchored about ten in the forenoon, after which my husband waited upon the admiral, and finding there was no likelihood of being soon dispatched, I accompanied him to Cork in the ship's boat. The day being fine, had an interesting view of the country on the banks of this fine river, with many gentlemen's seats on each side, particularly on the right bank near Cork, called Glanmire.

While we remained at Cork we spent our time very agreeably, and had little excursions about the country, and received many hospitable attentions from the neighbouring gentry, particularly from the Jennings, Grahams, and Sainthills' families.'

'About ten days after our arrival a fever broke out amongst the prisoners on board, supposed to have been brought from Geneva Barracks, which appeared so alarming from the occurrence of several deaths, that government ordered the prisoners to be removed into another vessel ; also the ship to be whitewashed and fumigated, and new clothing furnished.

It was understood by my esteemed parents and friends that I should return to London after the sailing of the ship ; and as the time drew near, many a heartrending emotion struggled in my breast, as I was preparing to separate, perhaps for ever from my husband. Even now I cannot bear to think of the meditated parting.

However, for the mutual happiness of both, it was agreed between us that I should proceed, and share with him the dangers of the voyage, committing ourselves to that Providence whose eye is over all, and to be found of all those who seek him in sincerity, whether on the ocean or on the land, in a cottage or a palace.'

'This was indeed a trying voyage, as my husband was the first who engaged to take out prisoners without a guard of soldiers appointed by government; he chose as substitutes for the usual military escort, Indian seamen, called Lascars, who did not know the English language, and manned his ship with British seamen. His reason for manning and guarding the ship in this manner was ; in 1795 he had been chief officer of a ship called the Marquis Cornwallis, destined on a similar voyage ; the soldiers sent on board as a guard had been draughted from different regiments, for desertion and other delinquencies; thus a description of men, the most unfit to be trusted with arms, were to act as centinels over others scarcely so bad as themselves. These guards were implicated in a mutiny which happened on board that ship, in which some lives were lost before order was restored. Capt. R. thought that it would be possible to take the prisoners to the place of their destination without having an occasion intervene for inflicting on them punishment, or any severity beyond that of attending to their safe custody; which if accomplished, my narrative of the result will shew. Our mutual determination not to separate was communicated to my parents, and to my much esteemed brother-in-law, Mr. T. R., who took a father's interest in all that concerned us.'

Departure from Cork

'AUGUST 20th. The admiral gave notice to prepare for sea; in consequence all was bustle, especially with me, preparing to live on a new element. It may be supposed that I was ignorant of many articles of equipment necessary for the voyage, but the deficiency was kindly made up by one who had had experience.

AUGUST 24th. The signal for sailing was made from his Majesty's ship Dryad, and repeated by the Revolutionnaire frigate, who was to convoy us; and the ship Minerva, Capt. Salkeld, who also had prisoners on board for New South Wales.

*John Maundrell - Ensign NSW Corps. Died at Norfolk Island in 1803. (Sydney Gazette 2 October 1803)

'SEPTEMBER 5 and 6. We had calms; and as I understood, we could not have calms without sharks, so it happened; for during the night a small one, about 4 1/2 feet long, had been caught by a hook over the stern, intended for a dolphin. It was shewn in the morning, and as I had never seen one before, was curious in examining such a voracious animal; the stomach had been taken out before I saw it, and when opened it contained only some fish bones; my expectation had pictured at least to see some human bones: it had three rows of teeth. At dinner a part of the shark formed one of the dishes at table, of which all but myself partook ; they said it was very good, I did not appear to doubt it; it was cut into thin slices and fried, and appeared like slices of crimpt cod. During the calm two small green hawksbill turtles were caught asleep upon the surface, they weighed about five or six pounds each.'

Straits of Gibraltar

'We were now off the entrance of the straits of Gibraltar, but a considerable way to the westward. These calms were becoming very tedious ; but a breeze springing up, soon carried us to the island of Madeira, which place we made on the 11th of September, but were not allowed to have any communication with the shore, much to our mortification.'

'The ship's crew had hitherto been healthy, but some of the prisoners had been sickly. Every indulgence consistent with propriety had been shewn them, all of whom, by messes, were alternately admitted upon deck in the day-time. The captain, the only person on board who had made the voyage before, knew well how to prevent any abuses; he caused the rations allowed by government to be stowed up in different parts of the prison, and the provisions to be weighed by their own messes in turn. The surgeon was instructed to distribute tea, sugar, and other little comforts, sent for such as were sick. There had been a considerable quantity of wine sent on board at Cork for the private use of about 12 or 14 of the prisoners who had seen better days, and who indeed were enjoying the comforts of affluence when their untameable discontent plunged them into the vortex of rebellion. The wine was served as they required it, by returning the empty bottles, which was a proper caution, as a bad use might have been-made of them ; the wine was a great comfort, and no doubt saved some lives amongst them. We now entered what is called the Trade Winds; a wind which blows throughout the year, with little variation, from the N. E. quarter.'

Friendship and Minerva Separate

'The 14th SEPTEMBER - The commodore made the signal that he would part company that evening, but would lie to until four o'clock for our letters; in consequence of which all were busy preparing to write to their friends, and amongst the number I was not backward in writing to my much loved and venerable parents. Sent the letters on board and parted with the frigate. We kept company with the Minerva until next day, when as she sailed much faster than the Friendship, Captain Salkeld thought it eligible to make the best of his way, and left us to pursue the voyage alone'

Extract, No. II.

Cape de Verde Islands

'18 and 19 SEPTEMBER - Passed between the Cape De Verde Islands and the Guinea Coast ; two of which were seen from the ship on our right hand, one called Sal, and the other Bonavesta. These islands are often visited by ships of different nations on the outward voyage to India.'

Strange Sail

'20TH SEPTEMBER - On the 20th, in the morning, two strange sails were seen to windward ; and as they drew close together for communication, their appearance was not at all liked by our officers ; however it was judged advisable not to alter our progress or point of sailing, and all were ordered to their stations in case of being attacked; the part assigned to poor me was to accompany the surgeon below. I am afraid I should have been but a poor help indeed ; but our apprehensions soon subsided, as they both set their sails and stood from us. It was supposed they were Guinea ships, from the direction in which they came.'

Sea Creatures

'One morning we were agreeably surprised with a voluntary sacrifice to our table, mainly, number of flying fish who had lighted on board during the night. Fear, no doubt, was the cause of these volatile amphibia leaving their fitter element, the deep ; the ship penetrating a shoal of them in the dark, caused them to separate in different directions, darting into the atmosphere to escape a supposed danger, by which means some of them dropped on board us. When fried, they proved a delicious morsel: they resemble the mullet ; their fins, or wings as they are called, extend from behind the gills as far as the tail; those that I saw measured from eight to ten inches. They cannot leave the element in a calm ; at such times I have often observed them struggling to fly from the dolphin and other fish, without avail, and were devoured; on the contrary, in a breeze, I have seen thousands dart from the water in company, and fly a great distance. There was another specimen of marine life, found on board in the night, which our officers called squid. These likewise are a prey to the dolphin, bonneto, and albicore. The squid is of a glutinous substance, like a jelly, about four inches long ; and when put into a tumbler of water, emitted a dark fluid like ink, which tinged the water so much that the animal was hid from sight. I am told that this property, given by nature, is the only defence it can make against its enemy; that is, by darkening the water around itself in a limited space, then trying to escape in an opposite direction.'

Prison Conditions

'We were favoured with the finest weather for seven or eight days after we parted with the frigate, sailing at the rate of from eighty to a hundred and fifty miles in the twenty-four hours. When in latitude about three or four north, the winds became variable and light, with frequent calms; the heat also became oppressive. Great care was observed in ventilating and fumigating the prison; the windsails, with the scuttles, were open night and day. Notwithstanding this attention, three of the prisoners died of fever, and several of the ship's crew were also attacked. The progress of sickness became very alarming; for, as soon as the first subjects of it became convalescent, Others were seized with it. This alternate affliction ran through the major part of the ship's company; however there had been a plentiful supply of all things needful sent on board by government, and the same was administered most seasonably to the sick, which kept the fever under. The prisoners were also permitted to bathe in the morning-watches, which had a salutary effect after a sultry night.'


'28 SEPTEMBER - On the 28th of September, after the officers had retired from breakfast, a sudden noise and bustle upon deck surprised me; when the steward coming down, I inquired of him what was the matter? He told me that a tornado was coming on, and that he was sent down by the captain to shut the ports and scuttles in the cabins. I proceeded to the quarter gallery to see what he meant by a tornado, but had no sooner cast a look towards the east, than I became much alarmed; an immense black cloud was rapidly overcasting the heavens, darting out vivid lightening, while the thunder, at first distant, seemed by its louder detonations fast approaching. The noise with the people securing the sails, and otherwise preparing to meet the storm, was awful in the extreme. The ship lay quite becalmed, yet at a short distance the tempest made the water fly before it in a white foam. I shall never forget my feelings and apprehensions at this moment; but fortunately my husband came down and told me not to be alarmed, for the squall had given timely warning, and enabled them to get all snug aloft, and that it would be over in half an hour. He had scarcely done speaking when it burst upon us, laying the ship nearly upon its broadside with its force; the mingled tempest of lightning, thunder, Wind, and rain made the scene altogether dreadful. I thought it the longest half hour I had ever remembered; but it was upwards of an hour before they again set their sails, and all on board most happy that the lightning had not been attracted to the ship's masts.'

Character of the Surgeon

'As we drew near the equator, the conversation at table turned upon the ceremony which marks the transition to the southern hemisphere.

The chief mate asking the doctor if he had crossed the line, the answer was, that he had. It was then inquired, on what voyage, and to what country the ship sailed ? He replied, to the Coast of Guinea. However, equivocation on the part of the doctor caused a doubt in the minds of the mates. He was asked, if he had seen the line when he crossed it? he said, he just got a glimpse of it, but as it was near dark at the time, he did not see it distinctly. This was enough to determine them that he should be both ducked and shaved, when Neptune paid the ship a visit. I should be sorry to traduce the character of any person in these few simple remarks ; but for the sake of truth, cannot help giving an outline of this person's qualifications. In the first place, he was most ignorant in his profession as a surgeon, and otherwise illiterate, yet specious and crafty. He had imposed upon the captain by a fair face and false pretensions. The captain, pitying the awkward situation into which he had got, took his part at all times when the officers of the ship were against him ; but having discovered his want of skill, was under the necessity of employing one of the prisoners, named MacCullam, who was a professional man, and had seen better days: the ship surgeon, knowing his own deficiency, gave way to him in everything. Many jokes now passed about the expected initiation; nothing was said to the doctor, only that Neptune had a very ready method of surely finding out who had passed this part of his dominions, and could not be deceived.

8 OCTOBER - On the 8th October, at noon, we were only twenty-eight miles north of the equator, approaching it with a fine breeze. A sharp look-out was kept to see the line before dark ; the chief mate fastened a day-glass to the side rails on the deck. All the gentlemen in turn came to take a peep ; and amongst the rest, the doctor, who declared that he saw the line, and that it appeared no larger than a silken thread: all looked and saw the same. Mr. Muirhead, the chief mate, put this trick upon the doctor's ignorance and credulity, by placing a small thread across one of the inside glasses of the telescope to create a distinct prospect of the line. Nothing farther passed until about eight in the evening, when we heard the ship hailed in a most strange manner by a hoarse thundering voice, saying, Ho-o - the ship a Ho-oye, which was answered by the Halloo. What ship ?' was demanded by the same tremendous voice. The Friendship, was answered. Very well; tell the captain that after twelve o'clock tomorrow he must prepare all on board who have not crossed into the southern regions before, to prepare to take the oath of allegiance, and go through the usual ceremonies. An interchange of Good night, closed the conference. The boatswain, with a speaking-trumpet concealed at the end of the flying jib-boom, had managed, in delivering Neptune's message, to make the sound appear as if emitted from the profound below.'

Crossing the Equator

'The ship crossed the equator about ten o'clock that night. Next morning some of the sails were taken in, and the ship, as they termed it, made snug. I was cautioned, if I wished to be a spectator of the ceremony, to wear a dress that would not spoil by salt-water, as no respect would be shewn to any one while Neptune was on board: this hint I followed, being anxious to observe what passed. About one o'clock the ship was again hailed by the same hoarse voice, desiring them to lie to, as Neptune was coming on board. This order was complied with. Presently the screen, formed by a sail on the forecastle, was opened, and presented such a sight as I never shall forget. Had I not been prepared for the pageantry, and told that some of the seamen were to be the actors, I should not have supposed them to have been earthly beings. A car was drawn towards the quarter-deck, in which were seated two figures representing Neptune and Amphitrite, with their marine attendants. The captain welcomed the sea-deity and his retinue on board, and asked him what refreshment he would take ? He answered, a glass of gin would be very acceptable. After which, he inquired how many mortals were on the list to take the oath of allegiance, and to undergo the ceremony. He expressed a hope that all the prisoners should be shaved and ducked. This the captain compromised, by saying that Neptune's health should be drank every Saturday night, until we were past the Cape of Good Hope. The persons who were to be initiated were brought up from below blindfolded, one at a time, and placed over a large tub of water on the main deck; tar was applied to the chin with a blacking brush, which was shaved off by an iron hoop, one side of it was notched, the other not ; those who were refractory were shaved with the rough side; they were then plunged backwards in the tub of war, while several buckets full were thrown over them. Some unmeaning jargon, addressed to them by Neptune, finished this great business. The only persons at our table shaved were a Mr. Maundrel, passenger, and the doctor: the former submitted to it, and escaped pretty well; the latter, who was very refractory, was roughly handled, and had not the captain interfered, would have suffered much more. When the shaving was over, they began to souse each other with water, and I came in for a small share, which made me retreat as soon as possible.

We had experienced for several days much thunder and lightning, with heavy rains and calms; but the variable light breezes about the line we now exchanged for the periodical south-east trade winds, and contrary to the usual practice, we stood to the east towards the Guinea Coast, instead of the Brazil side. The captain gave the mates his reasons for so doing, well knowing from former practice that it would shorten the passage; at the same time, as the track was unfrequented, we should be more likely to avoid the enemy's cruizers.

For several nights past the sea had a very luminous appearance. I sat for hours together in the quarter-gallery, to observe with wonder the strange sight; at times it was like a liquid fire, and cast such a light into the ship passing through it, that we could see to help ourselves to any thing wanted in the cabin without a candle.

I have often seen sudden darts as it were of a luminous stream, passing obliquely under the bottom of the ship, leaving a train behind like the shoot of a meteor in the air. This I understood was fish in chase of the smaller species, and had at one time an opportunity of knowing that it was so. A great number of bonnito and albicore had been caught by the hook in the course of the day, and towards night the fish still accompanied the ship; they could be traced in all directions by the luminous appearance they made in the water. One night, when my husband and myself were looking from the gallery, he said if he had the fish-gig he was certain he could strike some of them, at the same time calling upon deck for one to be handed to him over the quarter, when to my great surprise, in the space of half an hour, he speared five bonnetta, each weighing about ten or twelve pounds. These sights were nothing to old sailors, but they excited my surprise. Several buckets of water were drawn up, in which were seen specimens of this luminous substance: it appeared of a soft glutinous form without motion, and when put into a tumbler with water, retained the same appearance in the dark ; it had the power to hide the light for the space of a minute or two, and again let it be shewn. These vicissitudes might be caused by its giving up life on being taken from its element. However, one of these specimens which had been taken out of the glass and put upon paper, had been forgotten in the day, but at night it shone the same as haddocks are seen sometimes to do when hung up after salting.'

St. Helena

'At the end of October we made St. Helena, having been little more than eight weeks from Cork. A boat was dispatched from the ship to report our arrival and business to the governor. In the afternoon our boat returned with permission for the ship to anchor. Our salute of nine guns was returned by the batteries on Ladder-hill. We found lying here, five sail of Indiamen waiting for convoy, some of which had been detained upwards of six weeks. As they were all full of passengers, their stores were almost all expended; in consequence of which , the private adventures, consisting of eatables and drinkables, such as hams, cheese, butter, porter, wine etc came to a good market.

The island at our coming into the road, and also from the anchoring place, appeared a barren rock; as only a few trees were seen in front of the governor's house facing the sea. Pursuing the prospect up St. James valley, where the town stands between two hills, if the island were subject to earthquakes it might be feared that it would sometime or other be buried, by the high perpendicular rocks which overhang on each side. The only conspicuous buildings from this point of view besides the government house are the church and hospital.

In the evening the captain waited upon Governor Brooke, to whom he was known and was received in the most friendly manner. Notwithstanding the island was rather short of provisions, three bullocks were supplied for the prisoners; and plenty of vegetables, which arrested the progress of the scurvy, which had began to appear on board.

On the same day the Captain had the pleasure to see his old friend and shipmate, Mr. H. Porteous, the Company's botanist, who had accompanied him to the Coast of Guinea, when sent thither by the present governor in 1792. This gentleman insisted that I should proceed to his country residence, called Orange Grove, nearly at the extremity of the island.

At Orange Grove I spent nine days very happily in the society of Mrs. P., whom I left with regret. She wished me much to stay with them until the return of the ship in the voyage home; but this could not be as my mind was made up to follow the destiny of my husband.'

Hon. Mr. Wellesley

'While we remained here a ship arrived from Madras with dispatches, announcing the capture of Seringapatam, in charge of the Hon. Mr. Wellesley, brother to Lord Mornington*, then Governor general of India.

Mr. W. on seeing Capt. R expressed a great desire to go on board the Friendship and see some of the unfortunate men who had been in the rebellion; he of course was invited on board, and went over the ship, vising the prison, etc., In walking round the deck where some of the prisoners were sitting, he stopt suddenly before one of them and called out, 'that cannot be S.....', who directly looked up and replied 'yes, it is S....., 'Good God,' said Mr. W, did I ever expect to see you in this situation? pray now how was it?' S....still kept his sitting posture, desiring that no question might be put to him, as he should not answer any. Mr. W. turned from him, and taking the captain aside, said that this unfortunate young man had at one time a prospect of being eminent in the law, and had been a school fellow of his; and if any pecuniary aid was wanting for his comfort on the voyage he should be happy to furnish it. The captain informed him, that there were eleven of the prisoners, including S...., who had a little stock of wine, and other comforts remaining, which had been laid in for them by their friends previous to leaving Ireland; also, that he had some money of theirs in his hands, which would be advanced as it was required on coming into port. Shortly after this Mr. W., and several gentlemen who had accompanied him, left the ship; next day there was a quantity of vegetables, potatoes etc sent on board for the use of these poor men. The supply came by the government boat but it was not known who was the donor; at all events it was most acceptable to the prisoners.'

S....mentioned above may have been lawyer Matthew Sutton

*Lord Mornington had four brothers - one of which was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who became famous after the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was commissioned as an ensign in the British Army in 1787, serving in Ireland as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland. He was also elected as a Member of Parliament in the Irish House of Commons. He was a colonel by 1796, and saw action in the Netherlands and in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam. He was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799He went to the diocesan school in Trim when at Dangan, Mr Whyte's Academy when in Dublin, and Brown's School in Chelsea when in London. He then enrolled at Eton College, where he studied from 1781 to 1784 - Wikipedia

Departure from St. Helena

'It had been reported to the governor that some French ships were cruizing off the Cape; in consequence of which he advised our putting in there for intelligence. Capt. N of the 33rd regt and Lieut. C who were at St. Helena availed themselves of the opportunity to proceed with us. On the evening of the 13 November we sailed from St. Helena.'


'Had any south sea whalers been where we were, they most certainly would have had plenty of employment, as daily a number of whales were seen, many of which came very close to our ship and spouted the water very high.

The addition to our society of Capt N and Lieut. C made the time pass pleasantly; they both had gone from India to St. Helena for the re-establishment of their health, and were now on their return, going with us to the Cape. The former was a well informed man; had seen much of the world, and some service in the cause of his country. The latter of a mild unassuming character, was at the same time a perfect gentleman. Capt. N was sometimes hard upon the Doctor; who, if he had possessed fine feelings, would often have been put to the blush; but that was impossible. One day the captain asked the surgeon, if he had served in any other ship? He said, Yes, he had served in the West Indies in a man of war. The name of the ship was demanded; he replied, it was the....naming a sloop of war. 'It was my old friend (pronouncing his name) who commanded her, said Captain N. Pray how did you like him?. This quite took the doctor aback, he was not prepared for a charge in quick time. The fact afterwards turned out to be, that he was only the surgeon's servant in the sloop; and all the medical education he had received, consisted in attending his master for about 18 months. The truth, however, was not then known on board, and he evaded the dilemma by saying that he had been a supernumerary on board the ship in which he went home to England on account of bad health.'

Cape of Good Hope


We were now fast approaching the southern extremity of Africa; and had the satisfaction on the morning of the 7th December to see the Table Mountain, the Sugar loaf, and the lion's Rump. The ship anchored in Table Bay about noon.

On shore my husband saw his old commander *Capt. H. who among many other enquiries asked, 'How many of those Irish rebels he had with him, and how they had behaved on the voyage? Capt. R. replied, 'that they had behaved so well, they had put it out of his power or that of his officers to lay a finger upon one of them; and that he was in hopes of landing them at their place of destination, without introducing the machinery of punishment. This answer appeared to surprise him not a little, and no doubt brought reflections to his mind respecting incidents during a former voyage when they sailed together.
*This was Captain Hogan of the Marquis Cornwallis. See Michael Hogan at Australian Dictionary of Biography for more information.'

Departure from the Cape of Good Hope

'24 DECEMBER - On the 24th December we embarked in the afternoon. Our ship appeared like a Noah's ark, as my husband had sent on board eight horses, ten cows, three score sheep with pigs and poultry in abundance; and as there was plenty of room on board, no inconvenience was felt. Next morning being Christmas day, 1799, we left Table Bay, committing ourselves to the protecting care of that Providence who had hitherto preserved us.

On the second day, we spoke the Sir Edward Hughes, from Madras, having three other Indiamen in company; they had no news, but said they had met with very bad weather, off Lagullas Bank, for fourteen days past, and only made progress as the current impelled them against the wind. For five or six days after this, we experienced very bad weather ourselves, notwithstanding the wind was fair, and the ship running at the rate of from 140 to 160 miles in the 24 hours, with only the foresail set. Still we suffered; for during that time nothing could be cooked, as the high sea came rolling in at both sides of the ship, constantly filling the decks with water; as for myself, if the best dressed victuals had been placed before me, I could not have looked at it, being sadly sea-sick the whole time. During the gale, the captain lost three fine horses, and a great quantity of other live stock; the only apprehensions they had, were of the helm-ropes breaking, but a kind Providence took care of us.'

New Year

'The late gales appeared to be the last blast of the old year; for the first day of 1800 was ushered in by fine settled weather; that the new year might be propitious to the poor prisoners, the captain ordered the fetters to be taken off an additional number of the best behaved amongst them, promising the rest, that if their conduct merited well, as soon as land was seen on the coast of New Holland, every prisoner should then be released from his irons, but that all depended upon a proper subordinate behaviour. Several of them had been relieved from the weight of fetters shortly after we left Ireland, and continued so all the voyage, having conducted themselves with every propriety. It was fortunate both for themselves and us, that there were amongst them men of education and sense ; who doubtless contributed to restrain the others from evil and violence; one was said to be a Roman-Catholic clergyman, and we trusted that his influence was beneficial.

After setting things a little to rights, from the derangement caused by the late gales; being at sea, one evening the captain said, he should next day have some of his stores up which the shipped waves had reached to dry. I seldom interfered or spoke on such a subject; but, in this instance, could not help observing, that if they intended drying any thing tomorrow, they would most likely be disappointed, for it would be wet, telling them I judged from my barometer, which was the little turtle, which had kept at the bottom of the tumbler all the evening. They laughed at my remarks; but so it turned out; as, for several days after, we had many squalls of wind and much rain. I was hence frequently asked about the weather, Whether it would be rain, or sunshine? This living barometer of mine did not always foretell the changes in the atmosphere exactly ; but three times out of five it did so, when enquiry was made, by observing it: sometimes it happened never to be thought of, for days together; but it always had a few flies thrown in daily by one of the servants, for that was a kind of stock we had a most abundant supply of.'

St. Paul

'We were now in the neighbourhood of We were now in the neighbourhood of the islands called Amsterdam, and St. Paul ; but as the weather was unsettled, with squalls and rain, it was judged proper to pass to the south of them. The gunner of our ship had been formerly in an Indiaman which called at these islands, where they found some men that had been left there by an American, to precure seal-skins. These men had been upon the islands five months, and had procured many skins; they had no desire to leave the place, saying they knew their own ship would call for them. In narrating their local adventures, they informed the Indiaman alluded to, that at first they had been much alarmed, supposing the place was haunted, hearing strange rumbling noises, but afterwards discovered it was occasioned by earthquakes, to which, from their frequency, they had become accustomed. There are upon Amsterdam hot springs, running into a pond, in which these men cooked the eggs of the wild sea birds which they caught. The Indiaman gave them two bags of biscuits, a little spirits, some shoes, and other little necessaries; these recluses appeared reconciled to their situation, and were left as they wished.'

Van Diemen's Land

'Still strong winds from the western quarter, the ship went on at a great rate each day, until we drew near Van Diemen's Land; but it so happened that the ship had gone upwards of 300 miles farther than the log measured, since leaving the Cape, which was found out by the moon's distance from the sun and stars. This frequently caused altercations between the chief and second mates; the latter, who had been always employed in the West India trade, knew nothing of finding the ship's place by observation, and always treated such science as erroneous. It happened one night, that the captain and chief mate got what they called good sights of the moon and some stars; and their first calculation was confirmed next day by observing the sun and moon's distance, which enabled them to know the exact position of the ship: in consequence of which the chief mate, after dinner, asked the captain if they should prepare the anchors and cables, as it was expected the land would be seen next day. The captain answered yes; but the second mate was so positive that his own reckoning was right, that he offered to lay any wager that the ship was 400 miles farther from the land than they supposed. The captain had often, on the voyage, tried to persuade him to have confidence in the lunar observations, but to no purpose. The anchors were, however, got ready, and people looking out from the masts' heads, before night, for the land ; at the same time the ship was put under a reduced sail during the night. After dark, we were surprised to see many luminous blazes or flashes in the water, a little under the surface, near the ship ; it was not fish, for when the flash was emitted, it appeared stationary for a few seconds, and then disappeared. This was not confined to a single object, as at times eight or ten coruscations were seen in different directions at the same instant. As the substance causing these appearances was not seen, it cannot be farther described ; they were termed in the logbook, Van Diemen's Water Lanthorus, from our vicinity to the land of that name; for next morning, 23d February, at daylight, it was descried, very much to the disappointment of Mr. Macdonald, who said, it must be some new discovery, and not New Holland.

As all sails were set, we soon approached the land, and passed a small island which they called Swilly.

As we drew near, each one on board was straining his eyes to behold new wonders on this strange land; some of the prisoners thought they were to be sent on shore, until convinced, that the ship was near 1000 miles from Port Jackson. Agreeably to promise, every man was now let out of irons, but carefully shut up at night, as usual, and only a certain number permitted upon deck, in their turn, in the course of the day. Notwithstanding our ship was reckoned a dull sailer, we had come upwards of three degrees per day, upon an average, since leaving the Cape, being 128 degrees of longitude in thirty-nine days.

In consequence of the wind, we could not come very near the shore the first day; but by the telescope we could see very tall trees rising upon the basis of the hills, and extending to their summits; some smoke was also observed in a small bay, which left no doubt of human beings inhabiting that neighbourhood. Many whales, seals, and porpoises shewed themselves in the course of the day; but the majority on board were too much occupied with the shore to notice them; only as I had stationed myself at the gallery window, I could not help looking at these marine inhabitants sporting in their own element.

During the night we had squally and unsettled weather, which continued for some time, and deprived us for six days of again seeing the land. When in the latitude of 40 degrees south, on account of the great and rough sea which came from the west, minutes were entered in the log-book, recording that it was thought some strait opened in that direction.' On the 10th land was seen to the west, but at too great a distance to make any observations; but during the night several fires were observed, apparently very near the beach, and next day we were gratified by sailing very near the shore, between Wilson's Promontory and Cape Howe, where every part, as well hill as valley, appeared in verdure, with lofty trees interspersed, and as regular did these appear in some places, as if they had been planted by the hand of man. All the telescopes were in requisition, and a good look-out kept, to discover if any natives were visible, but none could be seen; neither any smoke this day. From the favourable state of the wind, it was expected we should reach our port of destination in a few days.

That everything might be settled with the prisoners, prior to their disembarking, on the 11th they were called, one by one, to know how much money they had given to the chief mate, when their clothing was changed, in Ireland. Some little advances had been made to them while at the Cape, for fruit, etc. All was right in their money account, and each man furnished with the amount he should receive when he quitted the ship. There were about thirty of these poor men who could not speak English.'

Cape Dromedary

'14th FEBRUARY - On the 14th, we passed a high promontory, which is called Cape Dromedary, from its resemblance to that animal when viewed in a particular direction. All the hills, as far as the eye could reach, were covered with trees; some parts of the shore, next the sea, were bold and rocky, but no apparent danger for a ship, unless very near the land. At night fires were frequently seen near the sea, and smoke in the day, but no natives could be distinguished.'

Botany Bay

'15th FEBRUARY - On the 15th, in the evening, we saw Cape Banks and Point Solander, which is very near the entrance of Botany Bay, which place Captain Cook first visited, and spoke so favourably of for a settlement; but it was found not to answer, for when Governor Phillip first came to form a colony (which is just twelve years ago), he found Port Jackson a much better seat for one in all respects. Some of the men were much surprised that we did not put into Botany Bay, as they had understood they were to be landed there, until convinced to the contrary.'

Port Jackson

'16TH FEBRUARY 1800 - All was anxiety in the evening of the 16th, and every thing prepared to enter the harbour. About twelve at night the ship was off the north and south heads, which form the entrance of the port, where we lay-to until morning. At length daylight appeared, and the wind being fair, we boldly entered the harbour; the captain being a good pilot, needed no other guide; in less than a quarter of an hour after, the ship (to use the sea phrase) was completely land-locked. We passed a dangerous rock (mid channel) called the Sow and Pigs; and saw a fine looking house, on our left, belonging to a Mr. Palmer, with several detached buildings, which gave it the appearance of an English farm. We also passed Garden Island, on the left, which had a fertile, luxuriant appearance, with a respectable looking house upon it. As we approached, we passed a barren rock, on the right, which is named Pinch-Gut island. This is small, and the most barren spot we had seen; it had a gibbet upon it, where a culprit had been executed for murder.

The surrounding country afforded a pleasant range of scenery, being diversified with hill and dale, with many inlets, forming little coves or bays. As we passed up towards Bennilong Point, the town of Sidney burst upon our sight. The ship anchored in the cove, about seven in the morning, and saluted the Governor with nine guns, which was the first intimation the settlement had of our arrival. Where we anchored, the distance of the shore on either side did not exceed fifty yards, which made it appear as if we were in a dock.

The Governor's house, on the left, towards the head of the cove, and the Lieutenant-governor's house on the right, with the barracks, and many other detached buildings, made the town altogether surpass our expectations. We found lying at this place the ship Albion, Captain Bunker; the ship Walker, Captain Nicholl; the Betsey, Captain Clark, all South seamen. The latter ship had come in with a Spanish prize, which she had captured near Lima, in South America. The Minerva, who sailed with us from Cork, had left this place for India three days prior to our arrival.

As soon as our ship was moored, the captain went on shore, to wait upon Governor Hunter, to whom he was known, from having been at this port as chief mate of the Marquis Cornwallis, in 1795. He also waited upon the Lieutenant-governor, Colonel Patterson. The men could not be disembarked for three days, which time it would take to prepare accommodations for them : this was of little consequence, as they were healthy, and had plenty of water and provisions on board.

The next day we had an invitation to dine at the Government house, where we met an agreeable family party, comprising Mrs. K. niece to the Governor, whom I found friendly and well informed; also the Rev. Mr. J. and lady ; Captain and Mrs A. and Major J. After spending a pleasant day, we returned on board in the evening ; and I must confess, that I thought our own apartments on board more comfortable and much safer than theirs on shore. Next day we were invited to meet a large party at Colonel P.'s, and were treated in a friendly and polite manner by himself and lady, from whom I received much information respecting this infant Colony; but was sorry to learn there was much party-spirit, with bickerings among the free members of this small community, which was a bar to friendly intercourse between the adherents of the rival parties.'

Convicts Disembarked


On the 21st, the prisoners were disembarked. Many of them left the ship with tears, and each boat-load cheered as they put off, which was rather a novel sight to many on shore, who had received harsh treatment on their passage out. The captain received a letter from the Governor, expressing his thanks and approbation for the kind treatment and good management during the passage, saying, that such conduct should not be forgot in the dispatches to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. The captain spoke particularly to the Governor in respect of those prisoners who had seen better days, and who had conducted themselves so well on the voyage; he also made known the conduct of Mr. Mac Cullam (Daniel MacCallum), who had assisted the surgeon; from which favourable report he was immediately appointed to officiate as an assistant in a medical department, at an out-settlement called Town Gabby (Toongabbie), with a salary of fifty pounds per annum, and a free house'. -
.....Cursory Remarks, on board the ship Friendship, H.R.----, commander; or, the Occurrences of a Voyage from Ireland to New South Wales, the South Sea, the Spice Islands, and Bengal, and thence back to Europe; performed in the years 1799, 1800 and 1801.

Description of the Convicts

David Collins' description of the convicts of the Friendship.......

'Early in the morning of the 16th the Friendship transport arrived from Ireland with convicts. She had been fifty days in her passage from the Cape of Good Hope where she left his Majesty's ship Buffalo taking on board cattle for the settlement. The convicts arrived in very good health though the ship had been Sickly previous to her reaching the Cape Many of the prisoners received by this ship and the Minerva were not calculated to be of much advantage to the settlement and but little addition was made by their arrival to the public strength.

Several of them had been bred up in the habits of genteel life or to professions in which they were unaccustomed to hard labour. Such must become a dead weight upon the provision store for notwithstanding the abhorrence which must have been felt for the crimes for which many of them were transported yet it was impossible to divest the mind of the common feelings of humanity so far as to send a physician, the once respectable sheriff of a county, a Roman Catholic priest or a Protestant clergyman and family to the grubbing hoe or the timber carriage. Among the lower classes were many old men unfit for anything but to be hut keepers who were to remain at home to prevent robbery while the other inhabitants of the hut were at labour'

Irish Conspiracy

In September 1800 in New South Wales, an Irish Conspiracy was uncovered. The plan was to overturn the government by putting Governor King to Death and confining Governor Hunter.

The rebels were to meet at and take Parramatta and then before day light take the Barracks at Sydney. Afterwards they planned to live on the Farms of the Settlers until they heard from France where they had intended to dispatch a ship. The rebels were well armed with pikes and were to be joined by soldiers who it was planned would take the guns to South Head and other places of security. When the plan was revealed Governor Hunter ordered an enquiry.

Prisoners of the Friendship identified in the Hunter region:

Bell, David (Daniel)
Native place Carrickfergas. Occupation Linen weaver. Tried March 1790 and sentenced to transportation for life. Conditional Pardon granted 31 January 1813. Absconded from Newcastle in March 1814. The Sydney Gazette reported in August 1820 - David Bell, Ennesley McGrath and Thomas McGowran were executed for cattle stealing. 'The wretched men were taken from the county gaol soon after 8 o'clock and conveyed in a cart, with their coffins prepared, to that place of condign punishment. All three were persons in good circumstances. Bell was concerned in farming with a person named Develyn.

Briggs, William
Resided at the Hunter River in October 1824 when he reported the loss of his Ticket of Leave

Curran, Anthony
Stonemason. Tried at Castlebar April 1798. Granted Conditional Pardon 20 October 1808. On list of persons to receive a conditional pardon from Lieutenant Governor Foveaux during Jul 1808 to Jan 1809. Received an Absolute Pardon in 1812. Married Isabella Vickers (ship Canada 1810) in January 1813 at St. Phillips Church Sydney. Employed as a flogger at Port Stephens in 1823. Murdered in 1823. One hundred dollar reward was offered for information leading to conviction of the offender who caused his death.

Develyn, Hugh
Labourer from Londonderry. Tried at Belfast July 1799. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. In September 1811 he was found guilty of killing a bullock belonging to Samuel Marsden. He was condemned to death with recommendation for clemency because of his good character. He was sent to Newcastle penal settlement on the Estramina in October 1812. In 1813 he was employed at Newcastle as servant to Lieut. Skottowe. He returned to Sydney, his sentence at Newcastle having been remitted in August 1814. Resided at Richmond Hill in 1822.

Foley, John
Ticket of Leave holder in 1824 employed by John Powell in the Newcastle district

Hector, Timothy
Labourer from Co. Limerick. Born in 1776. In March 1813 Timothy Hector, Hugh Byrne and Patrick Maloney were sentenced at the Criminal Court to transportation to Newcastle for life. In 1819 Timothy Hector was paid from the police fund as remuneration for a house at Newcastle that was then required for use of government. In 1820 he petitioned to be given his freedom.....Petition of Timothy Hector - That your humble petitioner came to this colony in the year 1800 in the ship Friendship, Reid Commander, from that period on has been employed most part for Government and the remainder of the time for his own support and that of a wife and three children. That a period of twenty years is completed and has served Government by his labours to this time. He was employed as a messenger at the Commissariat in Sydney in 1822 and the 1825 muster reveals that he was still employed at the Commissariat in Sydney in 1825. His children were Catherine age 14, Henry age 11 and Timothy age 7. Granted a Conditional Pardon in October 1825

Logan, Thomas
Cotton weaver from Co. Cavan. Sentenced to transportation for life. Employed as a labourer by William Brooks in 1828. Died age 70 at Lake Macquarie in 1834.

Osborne, Thomas
Blacksmith. Tried at Louth in June 1798. Sentenced to transportation for life. Blacksmith employed by Robert Coram Dillon at Hinton in 1828. Husband of Catherine age 60. Thomas Osborne was on a list of convicts who had received an Absolute Pardon (nd).

Notes and Links

1). Five Convict Ships arrived in New South Wales in 1800 - Porpoise, Minerva, Friendship, Speedy and Royal Admiral.

2). Political Prisoners

3). National Archives - Voyages: (1) From Bengal 1800. Capt Hugh Reid. Port Jackson 11 May 1800 - 9 Aug Malacca - 20 Aug Penang - 16 Sep Diamond Harbour - 29 Nov Culpee - 1 Mar 1801 St Helena - 30 May Long Reach.