Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Mayda - 1846

Embarked: 199 men
Voyage: 132 days
Deaths: 4
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Master: Captain C. May.
Surgeon : Alexander Kilroy


The Morning Post reported on the 19th August that the Mayda was lying at Woolwich ready to transport almost two hundred male convicts from the Millbank Penitentiary to Norfolk Island. They were said to have mostly been convicted within the previous 12 months and were under sentence for long terms of years and several for life [2].

Norfolk Island was said to be the most severe penal settlement belonging to Great Britain and the greatest offenders were generally selected and sent to undergo their punishment at that place. [3] One of the convicts brought down that day was John Kenyon Winterbottom a one time attorney and former Mayor at Stockport who was under sentence of transportation for forgery.

Convicts Embarked

The Woolwich Steam Packet Company's vessels Nymph and Fairy brought down 195 convicts on the 19th August 1845 to be embarked on the Mayda which was moored off the Royal Arsenal.

Passengers and Guard

Passengers included Lieutenant Wilton and wife and Ensign Roe and 50 rank and file of the 11th regiment with 6 women and 1 child. [5]

Surgeon Superintendent Alexander Kilroy

The surgeon kept a medical journal from 19th August 1845 to 30 January 1846. Whilst the ship remained at Woolwich, some cases of sickness occurred generally slight one of diarrhoea, obstpatio and one of fever.


The Mayda sailed for Norfolk Island on the 29th August. The convicts and guard remained healthy until 7th September, only four or five cases of fever occurring. Early in the month of October soon after they got into the South East Trade Winds the convicts began to be very sick and a great number of fever cases occurred. Four cases terminated fatally. Several of the crew were also very ill and a cabin passenger Miss Bellairs also. They all recovered although Miss Bellairs remained in a nervous state until they reached Norfolk Island.

Cape of Good Hope

They arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on 9th November where they procured meat, vegetables and soft bread as well as water and their health soon improved. There was another fatality after leaving the Cape, that of a Sergeant's wife who became ill with fever and diarrhoea and delivered her child dead. She died three days after her child. The Surgeon was mystified at the great numbers on the sick list during the voyage.

The Voyage

The ship was roomy and the prison lofty and well ventilated. The convicts were mustered on deck to wash at half past five in the morning when they brought up their beds and were obliged to strip and wash themselves well and after breakfast they were all sent on deck again except two who each mess remained below to clean the prison. They all remained on deck until a quarter to twelve when they went below to prepare for dinner. About a quarter past one they were again sent on deck to get either wine or lime juice and sugar which they got on alternate days except whilst we were in the Tropics when they were given lime juice and sugar every day and twice every second day. They came on deck at half past three until they went below to prepare supper They remained on deck at five o'clock and took their beds down at six. The boards were dried and scraped, the bottom bed boards were also taken up every morning and kept on the tables until dinner time.

The surgeon attributed the cause of the sickness to the water which had a very nauseous and astringent taste acquired from the new oak casks in which it was stored. It was water from the Thames which had been filtered. He noted again that illness disappeared amongst the convicts after they had procured supplies including water at the Cape..

Norfolk Island

The Mayda lost her top masts and foremast head on the 4th January 1846[4]. By the time they arrived at Norfolk Island on the 8th January 1846 the convicts were mostly all well although six were sent to the hospital at Norfolk Island as they were unfit for immediate work.

Departure from Norfolk Island

After disembarking the prisoners the Mayda departed Norfolk Island 11th January bound for Hobart arriving there 29th January 1846.

Departure from Hobart

The Mayda sailed for London under Captain C. May on 23rd April 1846. Passengers included Mr and Mrs Holcombe and four children; Mr. Bicknell and W. Burns. There were 24 thousand bushels of wheat on board[7].

The Mayda was never heard of again and given up as lost by Lloyds in May 1847.

Notes and Links

1). A correspondence of a London Paper reported the following: 19th August - I this morning witnessed the convicts leaving Milbank prison at about from five to six o'clock in two steamers numbering about 250; the luggage addressed to the ship Maida, at, I believe Woolwich. Amongst the convicts was John Kenyon Winterbottom, late of Stockport, of which place I knew him when he twice filled the office of Mayor and chief magistrate. He is sentenced to transportation for life for forging a life policy in the Phoenix Assurance office for 5000 pounds effected by the later John Isherwood Esq., of Marple Hall near Stockport to whom he was law agent. His appearance was better than might have been expected under the circumstances, and he seemed pleased when he was recognised by some who did not forget his kindness when he was placed in a different situation. He was law agent and steward, receiving the rents etc of Lord Vernon Hall, Thomas Leigh Esq., of Lynn Hall, Peter Leigh, Esq., of Booth Hall, Admiral Tollemache, and most of the other surrounding gentry of Cheshire and Derbyshire, besides being clerk to the commissioners of nearly all the turnpike trusts in that neighbourhood; also a very eminent solicitor and banker and a kind and charitable man. There was a deputation from Stockport, who waited upon Sir James Graham, a short time ago, with a petition sixty two yards long, signed by the principal respectable inhabitants of Stockport and the neighbourhood for a mitigation of his sentence but to no avail. [6] - John Kenyon Winterbottom never returned to his homeland. He died on 17 May 1872 aged 83 years and was buried at St. Davis Anglican Burial Ground, Hobart three days later.

2). Major Joseph Childs was Commandant at Norfolk Island when the Mayda arrived although he was soon to be replaced by John Price.

3). Colonial Appointments

4). Descendant Contribution:
Private Robert Crawford was one of the soldiers of the 11th regiment on the ship. He is mentioned in the surgeons log as he was in need of medical attention on two occasions (contact descendant)


(1) UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. National Archives, Kew

(2) The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, August 19, 1845; Issue 22374. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

(3) The Morning Post (London, England), Wednesday, August 20, 1845; Issue 22375. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II

(4) The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860) Saturday 31 January 1846

(5) Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857)Tuesday 3 February 1846

(6) South Australian 6 March 1846

[7] Colonial Times 28 April 1846