Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship John - 1832

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 122 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 464 Crew: 36 men
Previous vessel: Burrell arrived 20 May 1832
Next vessel: Southworth arrived 14 June 1832
Captain Samuel Lowe.
Surgeon Superintendent James Lawrence
Prisoners and passengers of the John identified in the Hunter Valley

The John was built at Chester in 1810.[3] Convicts were transported to Australia on the John in 1827 (NSW), 1829 (NSW), 1831 (VDL), 1832 (NSW) and 1833 (VDL).

The Convicts

Prisoners to be embarked on the John in January 1832 came from counties throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Among them were ploughmen, bricklayers, labourers, painters, glaziers and grooms, but there were others too whose occupations have long become obsolete - chimney sweeps, ostlers, tinmen, brass founders, cutlers, stuff weavers, pot boys, tallow chandlers, watermen, stocking weavers, a blacking maker and a mathematical instrument maker. There were also twelve prisoners who were former soldiers convicted of desertion.

Another four were colliers from Wales who were convicted of rioting on 9th July 1831 - David Hughes, Lewis Lewis, Thomas David and Thomas Vaughan all received sentences of transportation for life.

Riots at Merthyr Tidvil, Glamorganshire Wales in 1831


Prisoners were sent from various county gaols and amassed on the hulks moored in the Thames to await transportation. The Welsh prisoners were all tried on 9th July 1831 and received onto the Justitia hulk in August 1831. They were transferred with many others to the John on 12th January 1832.

Henry Alphan age 15 was received onto the Euryalis hulk from Newgate prison on 5th November 1831. He was sent to the John on 20th January 1832.

Surgeon James Lawrence

James Lawrence kept a Medical Journal from 7 January to 30 June 1832.....

The John remained in England for over three weeks after embarking the convicts. According to James Lawrence, it was a miserable time. During the three weeks about thirty men were affected with diarrhoea. As well as that they were cold. Some of them had worn flannels while on board the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich. In all eighty men had been transferred to the John from the Justitia hulk on 12 January 1832 and they had been stripped of their flannels before being removed from the Justitia. The weather was then cold, and notwithstanding every exertion made to promote warmth and dryness by frequently using swing stoves in different parts of the prison, it was some time before the John could be brought to the same comfortable state as the hulks which had long been inhabited. [2]

Military Guard

The Military Guard consisted of 29 non-commissioned officers and privates of the 31st and 4th regiments, 3 women and 1 child, under the command of Lieutenant George Baldwin of 31st regiment. Passengers included Mrs. Baldwin, Master George Baldwin, Lieutenant Ronald Campbell of the 31st regiment and Mr. John Campbell. [1]


The John departed the Downs on 7 February 1832. They had only been a short time at sea when signs of illness disappeared and they continued in a very healthy state until they arrived in about 40 degrees of south latitude, only two or three requiring to be put on the sick list.

The Voyage

After this the weather became very boisterous and continued so the remainder of the passage.

The men suffered Catarrhs attended with considerable febrile action and in many instances with pain in some part of the thorax; difficulty breathing and cough became prevalent. The surgeon remarked that two hundred men sleeping alongside each other between decks would cause an overflow of perspiration and produce a relaxed state of the system, and thereby render it more susceptible of the pernicious effects of cold and moisture to which the convicts became exposed. (2)

According to the convict indents two prisoners died on the voyage out - John Clifton and John Holden. The surgeon's journal states one.

Port Jackson

After a voyage of 122 days, the John arrived in Port Jackson on Friday 8th June 1832. If the prisoners had been allowed on deck on the following day, they would have been greeted with a clear, cool winter's day with winds from the south-east.

Convicts Disembarked

They were landed on Tuesday 26th June and were considered an able bodied, healthy set of men who bid fare to make useful labourers and they were assigned throughout the colony. Some were sent to the Hunter River region where they were assigned to settlers such as James Glennie, William Ogilvie, Andrew Lang, Henry Dumaresq and John Eales. Others were assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company and probably worked as shepherds and hut keepers on the company's vast holding to the north.

Juvenile Convicts

The youngest prisoner on board was Daniel Croker aged 12 but the saddest case was that of a young delinquent by the name of Samuel Rowney who was just 13 years of age and had been convicted of robbing his father of a coat. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation and sent to Horsemonger Lane gaol from which on 10th November 1831 he was transferred to the Euralysis hulk where many young criminals were housed. Samuel Rowney was transferred to the John on 20th January with other juveniles. His colonial misdemeanours and punishments in the years to come, which also probably included flogging, are added to the indents:

3 August 1832 Campbelltown Sentenced to 12 months in the Iron gang for larceny

11 April 1835 Hyde Park Barracks Sentenced to 12 months in an Iron gang for absconding

5 April 1836 Campbelltown Sentenced to 12 months in an Iron gang for larceny

9 Sept 1837 Sydney Sentenced to 12 months in an Iron gang for absconding

1842 - Sentenced to two years in an iron gang
In 1844 he was sent to Cockatoo Island until he became free.

Convict Barracks at Cockatoo Island - 2017...Convict Barracks at Cockatoo Island

Notes and Links

1). Convict ships bringing political prisoners and protesters

2). Convict John (Edward) Gills a former soldier convicted of desertion was assigned to Donald McIntyre at Dartbrook on arrival. He was executed in 1834 for the attempted murder of McIntyre.

3). Find out about other Hunter Valley convicts arriving on the John in 1832

4). James Lawrence was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Ann and Amelia in 1825 and the Lord Lyndoch in 1836 (VDL)

5). Obituary of Major George Baldwin of the 31st regt. -
Major George Baldwin. This officer commenced his military career as ensign in the thirty-sixth regiment, on the 2nd of June 1808. He served in Holland during 1809 and 1810, and was present at the capture of Walcheren and siege of Flushing. Ensign Baldwin was removed from the thirty-sixth to the third Ceylon regiment on the 4th of April 1811, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in the fourteenth regiment of foot on the 9th of November 1814. Lieutenant Baldwin was present at the memorable battle of Waterloo, for which he received a medal, and served at the storming of Cambray on the 24th of June 1815. He exchanged from the half-pay of the seventyfifth regiment to the Thirty-first on the 14th of March 1822, and embarked for India on the 7thHof February 1825, with the right wing of the regiment on board the ship Kent, which was burnt at sea on the 1st of March following. Lieutenant Baldwin received a severe injury when the ship was in flames, by an iron spike running into his thigh. Lieutenant Baldwin was promoted to the rank of Captain in the Thirty-first regiment on the 14th of June 1833. He served in the campaign of AfFghanistan in 1842; was present in the action at Mazeena on the 26th of July 1842; at Tezeen on the 13th of September following; and at the occupation of Cabool by Major-General Pollock. For his services in AfFghanistan he was rewarded with a medal, and received the brevet rank of major on the 23rd of December 1842. On the 8th of October 1844 he was promoted to the rank of major in the ThirtyFirst regiment. Major Baldwin served with the army of the Sutlej in 1845, was present at the battles of Moodkee and Ferozeshah; in the latter he was mortally wounded. Major Baldwin died on the 30th of December 1845. - Historical record of the Thirty-first, or, the Huntingdonshire regiment of foot By Richard Cannon

6). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment.....

Jane departed Cork 29 April 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain George Mason

Surry departed Portsmouth 17 July 1831. Commander of the Captain Waldron 38th regt.

Asia departd Cork 6 August 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain Richard Chetwode

Norfolk departed 15 October 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. David William Lardy 4th regt.

Captain Cook departed Dublin 5 November 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Gibbons 49th regt.

Portland departed Portmsouth 27 November 1831.

Isabella departed Cork 27 November 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain William Clarke 4th regt.

Bussorah Merchant departed Dublin 14 December 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. William Lonsdale 4th regt.

John departed the Downs 7 February 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. George Baldwin 31st regt.,

Lady Harewood departed Portsmouth 15 March 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Lowth 38th regt.,

City of Edinburgh departed Cork 18 March 1832 . Commander of the Guard Lieut. Bayliss

Clyde departd Portsmouth 9 May 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut-Colonel Mackenzie

Eliza departed Cork 10 May 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Hewson

Planter departed Portsmouth 16 June 1832 under command of Lieuts. Bullin and Irvine of 38th regt.

Hercules departed the Downs 19 June 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Gibson 4th regt.

Dunvegan Castle departed Dublin 1 July 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Thomas Faunce 4th regt.

Parmelia departed Sheerness 28 July 1832 under Command of Captain Young 38th regt.

Waterloo departed Sheerness 12 March 1833 under Command of Captain Mondilhan 54th regt.

7). 4th (or The King's own) Regiment of Foot.

8). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/37/6B Description: Medical and surgical journal of Her Majesty's convict ship John for 7 January to 30 June 1832 by James Lawrence, Surgeon, during which time the said transport was employed in the River Thames and in a passage from thence to New South Wales and in Port Jackson, New South Wales.


[1] Sydney Herald 11 June 1832

[2] Journal of James Lawrence. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: 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.350-51.