Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Henry Wellesley - 1836

Embarked: 118 women
Voyage: 123 days
Deaths: 5 -6
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Previous vessel: Susan arrived 7 February 1836
Next vessel: Roslin Castle arrived 25 February 1836
Captain Benjamin Freeman
Surgeon Robert Wylie
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Henry Wellesley identified in the Hunter Valley

The Barque Henry Wellesley was built in India in 1804. [1]

The Bristol Mercury on 26th September 1835 reported that six female convicts had been removed from the Bristol prison and put on board the ship Henry Wellesley then lying at Woolwich and bound for New South Wales.

The women - Ellen Doyle, Caroline Dart, Harriet Bidgood, Sarah Price, Martha King and Mary Ann Smith were just six of the 118 prisoners who were embarked on the Henry Wellesley that September. The prisoners came from districts throughout England - Devon, Norfolk, Stafford, London, Surrey, Bristol, Suffolk, Surrey, Lancaster, Nottingham, Gloucester, Warwick, York, Kent, Cumberland, Hereford, Norfolk, Cornwall, Southampton, Dorset, Essex, Monmouth and Glamorgan; and there were also three dark skinned women from Barbados, Bermuda and Dominica.

Twenty-seven women were married and seventeen were widowed. Although eleven were over the age of 40 most were young, single women who married soon after arrival in the colony. [2]

Thirteen children were noted by the surgeon. Some of them belonged to Mary Ann Swash, Ann Robinson, Matilda Wittle, Mary Carrigan, Ann Stewart, Ann Coleman, Alice Richardson, Sarah Davis (2 children), Ann Leech and Mary Ann Cook. [3]

Free Passengers

Mrs. Elizabeth Skinner and her child came as free passengers


The Henry Wellesley was off Margate on 1st October 1835 and departed Portsmouth on 7th or 9th October 1835.

Surgeon Robert Wylie

Robert Wylie kept a Medical Journal from 27th August 1835 to 20 February 1836......

The prisoners in the Henry Wellesley were generally healthy and the passage of four months an average one. The weather was favourable with two exceptions - an adverse gale in the channel and when in the limits of the north east trade, we had variable light winds, calms and heavy rain; at this juncture a great many of the prisoner's complained of severe head aches which were relieved by bleeding and purgatives. Two of the cases of fever which died, I think may be attributed to mental despondency and the seeds were probably latent in the system before they came on board, the third was a woman whose constitution was broken down by drinking ardent spirits. The two cases of cholera had nothing of the asphyxia, collapse or blue cholera in them, but the spasms were severe. I think there were some symptoms of scurvy in a few instances but they disappeared again and with the exception of the case of diarrhoea that was sent to the hospital, they were all landed in good health.

Illness and Accidents

Some of the patients treated by the surgeon included:

Thomasina Chandler age 26 who had been unwell for 3 or 4 days and attributed her illness to getting wet on the coach on the night of the 4th September.

Eliza Plant on 17th September. She was badly scalded on the back and right side of her neck with soup. The skin came off with a handkerchief, rags wet in cold water were applied and she was blown on with the bellows before ointment was applied.

Mary Keeling age 42. Described as a miserable old woman who had worked most of her life in a cotton factory and had scrofula since her youth. Died 27 December.
Mary Baker age 15. Described as a delicate little girl put on the sick list with buboes in the groin and head swarming with lice.
Mary Ann Cook age 18. Suckling a five months old child but milk nearly dried up. Had sea sickness for two weeks and fever. Put on the sick list 14th October at sea, died 22nd October.
Elizabeth Strange, age 20. Hepatitis.
Harriet Fox age 26. Paralysis, enuresis.
Eliza Cook 6 months, Infant child of Mary Ann Cook. Died at sea 21st November
Susan Lathan aged 19. Headache and vomiting
Mary Cole age 24. Cholera
Hannah Swayne age 47. Fever. From appearance accustomed to drinking spirits. Died 2nd December.
Ann Gordon age 24. Fever. Tall thin woman not quite sane. Had been pining for a fortnight although did not complain. Died on 20th December
Ann Miller age 24. Fever
Elizabeth Lane age 30. Diarrhoea. Of a quiet taciturn disposition and had with her a seven month old child. Died on 14th January.
Martha King age 28. Rather silly. Was cheerful enough for the first two months but during the last month has taken to her bed and would not be persuaded to get up. Put in hospital against her will. Treated for pediculi by cutting off her hair. Washed all over with chloride of lime. Sent to the hospital at Sydney on 9th February.
Elizabeth Skinner. Free woman aged 35, tonsillitis

Port Jackson

The Henry Wellesley arrived in Port Jackson on 7 February 1836 the same day as the arrival of the Susan. The voyage had taken 123 days. According to the surgeon's summary six people died on the voyage out.

The indents include information such as name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, former convictions, physical description and remarks. There is also occasional information about colonial sentenced, tickets of leave, pardons and certificates of freedom as well as relatives already in the colony or about to arrive.....

Eliza Doyle's brother Daniel Doyle arrived on the Susan;
Mary Dundas' husband David Dundas was at Port Macquarie;
Mary Mills' brother James Mills or Riley arrived in the colony 9 year previously;
Sarah Martin's brother Edward Martin had arrived in the colony seven years previously;
Mary Carrigan alias Wilson's husband William Carrigan arrived on the Susan;
Mary Ann Perkins' mother Elizabeth Perkins had arrived 16months previously.

On 10 February a notice in the Government Gazette informed that families who were in want of female servants could be supplied from the prisoners who arrived on the Henry Wellesley. The assignees would be required to enter into the usual engagement under a penalty of forty shillings to keep their servants for one month unless removed by due course of law.

Notes and Links

1). Robert Wylie was also surgeon on the convict ships Emma Eugenia in 1838 and Barossa in 1839.

2). The Henry Wellesley was one of five convict ships transporting female prisoners to New South Wales in the year 1836, the others being the Roslin Castle, Thomas Harrison, Elizabeth and Pyramus. A total of 668 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1836. Two ships brought female prisoners from England - the Elizabeth and the Henry Wellesley. None of the prisoners on the Henry Wellesley had been tried in Scotland.


[1] Report of the Survey for Repairs in 1837 - Lloyds Register Foundation

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X638]; Microfiche: 719

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