Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Moffatt - 1836

Embarked: 399 men (one re-landed)
Voyage: 116 days
Deaths: 3
Crew: 57 men
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 800
Previous vessel: Strathfieldsaye arrived 15 June 1836
Next vessel: Waterloo arrived 6 September 1836
Captain Thomas Bolton
Surgeon  John Smith
Convicts and passengers of the Moffatt identified in the Hunter region

The Moffatt was built at Bengal in 1807.[1] She was made of teak and fastened with iron and although old, leaked little water except through the ports in bad weather.

The convicts of the Moffatt were tried in counties in England and Scotland. Many were tried at the Old Bailey and also at Norfolk, Suffolk, Somerset, Cambridge, Sussex, Norfolk, Lancaster, Cornwall, Oxford, Huntingdon, Surrey, Wiltshire, Southampton, Stafford, Westmoreland, Nottingham, Cumberland, Leicester, York, Gloucester, Essex, Portsmouth, Worcester, Durham, Devon, Derby, Glasgow, Stirling, Edinburgh, Inverness, Ayr and Jedburgh. There were also those who were convicted in Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Quebec and Halifax. [3]

Convict Hulks

On 23 April, one hundred convicts were received from the hulks at Woolwich and on the 29th and 30th, three hundred more from the hulks at Portsmouth. The men had been inspected while on the Hulks and found to be healthy, however became chilled when compelled to wash before leaving the hulks in inadequate clothing. They were probably conveyed to the Moffatt in open boats which later gave rise to catarrh, rheumatism and pneumonia.

One of the prisoners received from the hulk at Portsmouth was found to be insane and was returned to the hospital, leaving 399 to make the voyage. Amongst the prisoners were eighteen 'blacks from West India islands', two of whom died on the passage out.

Military Guard

Passengers included Captain Packer and Dr. Campbell of H.M. 28th regt., Ensign Harris 63rd regt., 29 rank and file of the 28th regiment, 6 women and 11 children (the surgeon's report states 12 women and children).


The Moffatt departed Plymouth on 7th May 1836.

Surgeon John Smith

This was John Smith's third voyage as surgeon-superintendent on a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 30 April 1836 to 5 September 1836. There were ten serious cases of scurvy amongst the prisoners and also milder cases not listed in his journal.

Three of the crew, Paterson, Lewis and Thott were the worst cases of scurvy the surgeon had ever seen. They suffered great debility, delirium and incontinence. Their gums were rotten and teeth loose and falling out. He thought they might have died if the ship had not arrived in harbour when it did. John Smith thought the crew was for the most part composed of riff-raff, and the scorbutics in particular were half starved naked creatures when they were shipped by a [Jew] 'crimp'. They had no allowance of tea, coffee or sugar or 'small stores' and the surgeon believed their salt provisions were of poor quality. He thought that Government hired ships should be provisioned in the same way as King's ships in all ways except the provision of spirits.

Surgeon's Sick List

There were many cases mentioned on the surgeon's sick list, however most were common and slight and there were no serious accidents. There were however, several cases of scalding, all from upsetting cocoa in the bad weather. The surgeon considered the cocoa a poor substitute for oats.

National Archives - Prisoners, 399, of which 161 were on the sick list and 3 died. Soldiers, 30, of which 4 were on the sick list. Crew, 57, 12 on the sick list. Women and Children, 12, of which 3 were on the sick list. Total on board 498, total on sick list 180........

1. Jonathan McGuire, Soldier; disease or hurt, wounded thumb, by an iron spike into the ball of the thumb. Put on sick list, 19 April 1836.

2. Jonathan Sally, Soldier

3. Jonathan Basketful, convict

4. Thomas Hicks, Convict;

5. William Rinch, Convict

6. Thomas Hughs, Convict

7. James Robinson Convict;

8. William Hodges, Convict;

9. R Gordon, Convict;

10. James North, Convict;

11. William Lardner, Convict;

12. George Williams, Convict;

13. Owen Sullivan, Convict;

14. Henry Page, Convict;

15: Zavier, 'a black', Convict;

16: William Morley, Convict;

17: William Todd, Convict;

18: Joseph Goodridge, Convict;

19: Jonathan Hollington, Convict;

20: Jonathan Matthews, Convict;

21: Timothy Taylor, Convict;

22: Robert Alexander, Convict;

23: William Reid, 'black', Convict. Died, 20 May 1836.

24: Henry Healy, Convict;

25: William Corby, Convict;

26: Richard Powell, 'black', Convict; Died 16 June 1836.

27: Francis Smyth, Convict;

28: James Morley, Convict;.

29: [Jonathan] Kew, Convict;

30: Henry Reid, Convict; di

31: George Bullpit, Convict;

32: Charles Mayo, Convict;

33: George West, Convict; disease or hurt, scald (foot), by cocoa.

34: T G Dickson, Convict;

35: James Kenny, Convict; disease or hurt, scald (on chest), 'severe, by cocoa'.

36: Henry Sherman, Convict;

37: Jonathan Griffin, Convict;

38: [Rod.] Makins, Convict;

39: Frank (black), Convict;

40: William Buchanan (black), Convict; [2]


Every possible means was used to prevent disease, the people were kept on deck and kept moving as much as possible, and prisoners were allowed to dance and play. Between decks was kept as clean and dry as possible. Several large ports were kept open, stoves were used in damp, cold weather.

Captain Bolton

The surgeon's final remarks suggest a disagreement between himself and Captain Bolton. The Moffatt sailed direct (did not put into the Cape for fresh provisions). With three crew so very ill with scurvy and other of the prisoners also suffering, John Smith would have preferred to procure fresh provisions to ease their suffering which request Captain Bolton refused, electing to reach his destination in the shortest time possible. John Smith recommended that surgeons should be able to compel the master of a vessel into port to secure fresh food if necessary.

Port Jackson

As the Moffatt approached the Sydney Heads at 2pm on 30th August, it was blowing a gale from the south. The vessel reefed the topsails and hauled up ready to receive a pilot on board at Middle Head. No pilot could be seen however and so they attempted to tack and in doing so split the main topsail to ribbons. They attempted to stand out to sea but could not clear the Heads. Now fearing for their lives, they cut the anchors and left the prisoners and such men as could be spared to take in the sail and veered away expecting at any moment that the ship would be on the rocks. After an hour they were approached by a vessel bringing Mr. Watson, the pilot and a number of able seamen to assist. Boats from H.M.S. Rattlesnake also came to assist and eventually the vessel and all on board were saved, although the anchors were lost and new sails would have to be procured.

The total number on board on arrival was an astonishing 498 people, almost 200 of whom had been ill at some time in the voyage.

Departure from Sydney

In October the Moffatt was commissioned by Government to convey the remainder of the 17th regiment to Bombay

Notes and Links

1). John Smith was surgeon-superintendent on the convict ships Marquis of Huntley in 1828,Surry in 1834, Moffatt in 1836 and the Clyde in 1838.

2). Bushrangers George Wilson and Samuel Ringwood arrived on the Moffatt

3). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 28th regiment included the Recovery, Lady McNaughten, Charles Kerr, Westmoreland, Marquis of Huntley, Norfolk, Backwell, England, John Barry, Susan Waterloo, Moffatt, Strathfieldsaye and Portsea.

Marquis of Huntley 1835 Recovery 1836 Charles Kerr 1837 Westmoreland Norfolk Backwell England John Barry Susan Waterloo Moffatt Strathfieldsaye Portsea Lady McNaughten Convict Ships 1835 - 28th regiment guard

4). More about the Moffatt entering Sydney Heads -
Sydney Gazette 1st September 1836
Sydney Gazette 3rd September 1836
Sydney Gazette 5th September 1836

5). Extract from a List of male convicts assigned from the ship Moffatt on 12th October 1836 (Government Gazette 26 October 1836):

Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens: 30 convicts
Australian Agricultural Company at Newcastle: 1 miner and well sinker
Henry Briggs at Patrick Plains : 1 basket maker
D.K. Ballow at Hunters River : 1 valet/footman
Alexander Busby at Cassilis: 1 gardener
J.B. Bettington at Piercefield: 1 tailor
John Brown at Patrick Plains: 1 plumber and glazer, 1 copper plate printer
James Caswell at Carrington: 1 farm servant, 1 farm labourer, 1 baker
Richard Clarke at Paterson: 1 groom and stock keeper
Charles Caswell at Carrington: 1 shoemaker
James Caswell at Thornton: 1 baker
E.J Clare at Invermein : 1 footman, 1 farm servant
George Hobler at Maitland: 2 farm servants, 1 ribbon weaver, 1 baker's boy, 1 carter, 1 shoemaker's boy
Peter Haydon at pages River - 2 farm servants, 1 gardener's labourer, 1 rope maker, 1 clerk, 1 shoemaker's boy
George Loder at Patrick Plains: 1 errand boy
John Larnach at Patrick Plains: 1 errand boy, 1 dealer in pottery, 1 hamerman
John Lewis at Maitland: 1 waterman, 1 stableman

C.H.N. Matcham at Brisbane Water: 1 farm labourer, 1 clerk and soldier, 1 hatmaker, 1 gilder's boy, 1 warehouseman, 1 gardener's labourer.

Duncan Forbes Mackay at Williams River: 1 stable boy

G.A. Oliver at Williams River: 1 gardener's labourer and groom

John Pike at Pickering: 1 baker

Richard Roebuck at Paterson's Plains: 1 farm servant, 1 stockman's boy

Alexander Warren at Williams River: 2 farm labourers, 1 brick maker's boy, 1 weaver, 1 farm by, 1 plaster's labourer

A.S. Wightman at Invermein: 1 servant boy
Gasper Waser at Invermein: 1 house servant.
Gasper Waser at Invermein: 1 house servant.

6). Petition - Prisoner name: Mordecai Moses. Prisoner age: 56 (or 64). Court and date of trial: Old Bailey Sessions December 1835. Crime: Forgery. Initial sentence: 14 years transportation. Gaoler's report: Character etc not known, married, four children. Annotated (Outcome): Nil. Petitioner(s): The convict and 27 people. Grounds for clemency (Petition Details): Previous good character; duped by artful men; dependent family; ill health (rupture). Additional Information: Ordered to Leviathan. In Newgate gaol. Convicted with others for forgeries on the Austrian and Polish banks criminal petition UK National Archives

7). Convicts and passengers of the Moffatt identified in the Hunter region :

John Ailing
Charles Aitkin
Adam Anderson
John Ray Bailey (Bayley)
William Ball
Robert Balls
John Basketful
Edward Beasley
Joseph Bland
Robert Bonner
William Bowyer
William Boyd
Richard Briadley
Thomas Brooker
Robert Browne
William Buchanan
Charles Buckwell
Charles Bull
George Bulpit
Henry Cheadle
Charles Clarke
John Collins
Daniel Connor
John Cooper
William Corby
Nicholas Coyne
Samuel Croome
Robert Dade
William Davis
William Day
Parish Deighton
James Dore
David Driver
Thomas East
James Elvin
William Facey
Stephen Farmer
Frederick Gannett
George Garlick
Frederick Garrard (Garrett)
James Gaynor
Daniel Gilchrist
Thomas Goddard
James Gordon
Alexander Graham
John Griffin
James Griffiths
Gustavus Hallenburgh
James Hanbury
William Harris
Joseph Hayward
George Harwood
George Hersfield
Joseph Higgins
Thomas Horton
William Ingram
James Jackson
Henry Jay
Alick Johnson
Timothy Johnson
William Jolly
John Jones
Richard Jones
Jonathan Jupp
David Keefe
Thomas Lahey
William Lasseter
John Lawless
George Lawrence
Thomas Layton
John Leabon
John Leary
Robert Marshall
Charles Mayhew
Alexander McCraig
James Miller
Abraham Mills
Frederick Mulley
James Newsom
George Parsons
Henry Patrick
Thomas Pearson
Thomas Perkins
William Pressick
Henry Priest
William Pummell
William Ramsey
Thomas Richards
William Rigby
Samuel Ringwood
George Ryan
John Savage
Thomas Simmonds
Henry Sims
John Spinks
John Sullivan
James Sully
Peter Todman
John Taylor
James Thompson
Matthew Turner
William Turner
John Wale
William Wallace
Thomas Warren
George Watkins
Thomas Weeks
Peter Welsh
William Werley
George Whittaker
Joseph Whittaker
Joseph Wildgust
William Wilsden
George Wilson
George Wing
Charles Winter


[1] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.354-355, 390

[2] UK National Archives. Sick book of the Convict Ship Moffatt 1836. John Smith Surgeon. Reference: ADM 101/55/2/1

[3] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X639]; Microfiche: 722