Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Java - 1833

Embarked: 206 men
Voyage: 117 days
Deaths: 5
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 411
Previous vessel: Aurora arrived 3 November 1833
Next vessel: Neva arrived 21 November 1833
Captain John Todd
Surgeon Superintendent Robert Dickson
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Java identified in the Hunter Valley

Cove of Cork

Robert Dickson kept a Medical Journal from 30 June to 3 December 1833. Several of the Guard and seamen had become ill with cholera while on the voyage from Deptford to the Cove of Cork and Robert Dickson delayed the embarkation of the convicts until the vessel was fumigated and clear of the disease.

Convicts and Passengers Embarked

On 22nd July at Cork two hundred convicts were hurriedly embarked on the Java.

At the same time four free settlers came on board - John McNamara, Michael McNamara, Patrick McNamara and John McNamara. There were also seven women and 10 children.

Six military convicts were also embarked on the Java. Five of them were Robert Deighton, Michael Fox, James Fraser, Hugh McQuiggan and Edward Standford.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 29 rank and file of the 4th, 17th and 21st regiment, 5 women and 4 children under orders of Lieut. Wrixon, 21st Regt. Passengers Mrs. Wrixon, Ensign Codd, John Wrixon. [1]


The Java departed Cork on 24th July only two days after embarkation of the prisoners, probably because of the fear of cholera being brought on board.

The crimes of the prisoners of the Java were mostly various forms of theft - stealing clothes, a heifer, a horse, money, mail, sheep, pigs, pick pocketing, house robbery, etc., however there were also several men convicted of the more violent crimes of rape, manslaughter, murder, malicious assault and attacking a house.

There were also Whiteboys who had been convicted of administering unlawful oaths. About twelve convicted of this crime had come from Kilkenny where there was much unrest.... - Thomas McDonnel, Edward Moylan, William Lalor, John Holohan, Michael Griffen, Patrick Fitzpatrick, William Fitzpatrick, Michael Comerford, John Cantwell, Martin Brennan, James Slattery Kilkenny and James Whelan were all tried on 15th March 1833 at the Kilkenny Assizes and sentenced to transportation for life.

The Whitefoot's Unlawful Oath - Kilkenny Assizes:

1. I hereby swear to keep counsel of all this united business or riband ism.

2. I hereby swear to suffer the right arm to be cut from the left, and the left from the right, and the right to be nailed to the metropolis of Armagh gaol door, before ever I'll waylay or betray a brother, or go on a green cloth to swear against him.

3. I hereby swear never to have carnal pleasure with a brother's wife, sister, aunt, or first cousin, only by lawful permission,

4. I hereby swear never to rob a man or keep company with robbers, unless in gaol or work, where it cannot be helped.

5. I hereby swear to give money to the repair of arms and of ammunition, when called upon by a brother, if I have it.

6. I hereby swear never to have a shilling, and a brother to want sixpence, without giving it to him.

7. I hereby swear never to pity the moans or groans of dying children, hut always wade knee-deep in Orange blood, sail to keep down land-jobbers and tithe-jobbers.

8. I hereby swear never to see a brother in danger of transportation or the gallows, if I am able to make up money for him

9. I hereby swear never to have two coats, two shirt, two pair of stockings, or anything belonging to the body, but will give a brother one if he requires it.

10. I hereby swear never to sit in company and hear a brother spoken ill of. If I am notable to fight or resist, I will walkout and tell the next brother I meet what was said, who said it, and in what company.

11. I hereby swear to go 15 miles on foot, and 21 on horseback, when called upon by a brother upon a lawful occasion, or unlawful, for leant might be unlawful before we could come back.

12. I hereby swear to never give the secret to bishop, priest, or minister, or to any other body, only to a friar, and to never tell the man that made me a Whitefoot, and to keep up to the knight of St. Patrick. - Nile's Register

Surgeon Robert Dickson

Three of the convicts were already ill when the Java set sail. John Sullivan a boy of thirteen was also unhealthy but rallied and was eventually landed in a healthy state although still delicate.

Robert Dickson attributed the cause of so many bowel complaints during the voyage to the sudden change from dry heat to cold moisture and choking perspiration. He thought them ill fed compared to English prisoners and therefore unable to withstand the long passage and changes of climate. He also noted in his journal the inadequacy of the clothing supplied to the convicts....There were not enough corduroy jackets and the trousers were unlined.

There were several deaths -
Thomas Adams age 15 died on 17 October;
Patrick Burke on 8th October;
Robert Polly age 19 on 11 October;
James Crawley age 19 on 30th October;
Michael Bercury on 15th October.

In his Medical Journal Robert Dickson refers to the system of payment of surgeons -

Several Naval Surgeons have boasted of their great success in taking out convicts without losing a man; nay they have printed it - I shall not shrink from comparing Professional testimonials (now in my possession) with the vainest of these Gentlemen, yet, I lost four men, on the passage, and one the Day after the ship arrived at Sydney. (*this was John Connolly) Had this fifth man been sent to Hospital and died in the dockyard, or died in a cart, going up to the hospital - as too many have done; I should have gained the sum of 10s 6d, further I was advised to send this man to Hospital instantly but I am not yet so poor as to sell my humanity for 10s 6d. To prevent a recurrence of this indecent, unprofessional, inhumane, unchristian like practice, would it not be well to pay surgeons for all those whom they brought into Sydney, or Hobart Town? [2]

Port Jackson

In the latter half of the voyage they experienced much wet, foggy weather which saturated the decks, clothes and everything that moisture could reach. The Java arrived in Port Jackson on 18 November 1833 after a voyage of 117 days.

Convict Muster

The prisoners were mustered on board on 22nd November 1833. - The indents reveal that five had died at sea and four had been sent on shore sick at Sydney.


There is no indication in the indents as to where the convicts were assigned on arrival.

Some were assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company.

About sixty five men from the Java have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in following years. Select here to find out more

Departure From The Colony

The Java was planning to sail for Madras and Calcutta in December 1833

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). Convict Michael Lawless a one-armed cooper from Kilkenny was not long in the colony. He was hung as a bushranger in June 1834 after absconding from the Phoenix Hulk with several others and robbing various properties in the Botany Rd area.

3). Assize Intelligence - Kerry Assizes - The following are the convictions which have taken place at the Kerry assizes: Michael Meenehan, manslaughter, to be transported for life - Garret Lynch, pig stealing, seven years transportation - Michael Berkely, larceny, seven years transportation - Patt and Darby Foley, sheep and goat stealing seven years transportation; John Foreham sheep stealing, seven years transportation....The prisoners Meenehan was a schoolmaster; a child of nine years old, a son of the deceased, was one of his scholars - The first day the child went to school the prisoner beat him most unmercifully, so that the child on his return home was found beaten black and blue and shockingly welted. Cornelius Neill, the deceased, called the next morning on the prisoner and told him he would carry him before the parish priest for his cruelty to his son, and while laying his hand on the prisoners' shoulder for that purpose, the prisoner stabbed him in the side with a penknife, of which wound Neill died in a few days after.

4). Queens County Assizes - Maryborough, Wednesday, March 15 - .....Patrick Ryan and John McManus, for serving a threatening notice on Thomas Copeland at Deerpark, for the purpose of inducing him to give up his land - Guilty. Seven years transportation - Freeman's Journal 19 March 1833

5). National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/36/5B Description: Journal of the Java Convict Ship by Robert Dickson, Surgeon Superintendent, for 24 June to 3 December 1833. (Note on cover, This is a very ill written journal and by no means creditable in any respect to Mr Dickson. WB).

6). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 21st regiment (Royal Scotch Fusiliers).......

Mary departed London 4 September 1832 - Captain Daniels 21st regt.,

Roslin Castle departed Cork 8 October 1832 - Lieuts. Bayley and Pieter L. Campbell. 21st

Andromeda departed Portsmouth 17 November 1832 - Lieuts. Lonsdale and Armstrong 21st regt.,

Mangles departed London 14 December 1832 London

Asia departed the Downs 21 February 1833 - Lieuts. Kelly and Wilson of 6th regt.,

Lord Lyndoch departed Sheerness June 1833 - Lieut-Col. Leahy. Headquarters of 21st

Royal Admiral departed Dublin 4 June 1833 - Lieut. Ainslie 21st regt.,

Aurora departed Portsmouth 4 July 1833 Major Delisle 4th regt.,

Java departed Cork 24 July 1833 - Lieut. Wrixon, 21st regt.,

Neva departed Plymouth 29 July 1833 - Lieut. McEdwin 1st or Queens Own regt.,

Lloyds departed the Downs 25 August 1833 - Lieut. McKnight 21st regt.,

Fairlie departed England 27 October 1833

Bengal Merchant dep departed 28 March 1838 - Lieut. Dear of 21st regt.,


[1] Sydney Gazette 19 November 1833

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Medical Journal of Robert Dickson on the voyage of the Java in 1833. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.