Free Settler or Felon

Convict and Colonial History

Daniel Ritchie R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 9 November 1846

Daniel Ritchie was born in Scotland in 1816. He graduated in medicine in 1836 (Edinburgh). [1]

Naval History

Daniel Ritchie was appointed Assistant Surgeon to H.M.S. Weazle (Mediterranean) on 2 September 1839. H.M.S. Weazle, brig, was built in 1832. 237 tons. 37 officers and men, 10 boys and 8 marines serviced on board. [9]

Daniel Ritchie served as Assistant Surgeon on H.M.S. Cockatrice in South America in 1843.[2] He was promoted to Surgeon in the Royal Navy in 1846. [3]

He was appointed surgeon to H.M.S. Hecate in the Mediterranean in 1847 [4], and surgeon on H.M.S. Arrogant in the West Indies and North America 4 July 1855 [5]

Surgeon Superintendent

He was appointed Surgeon Superintendent on two convict ship voyages to Australia:

1). Pestonjee Bomanjee to Van Diemen's Land in 1852

2). Ramillies to Fremantle in 1854. [6]

Pestonjee Bomanjee

In 1852, The Maitland Mercury of 28 July 1852 included a report from The Times dated April 1852

The Pestonjee Bomanjee, Surgeon Superintendent Daniel Ritchie (1846) late of her majesty's ship Rattler, left her moorings opposite the Royal Arsenal, with 100 convicts on board, and will take on board 150 additional at Portsmouth, and 100 youths all males, from Parkhust Prison, Isle of Wight, and then proceed with them to Van Diemen's Land where they will obtain tickets of leave on their arrival. [7]

While on the voyage he kept a journal 'The Pestonjee Bomanjee Journal' which was later published as 'The Voice of Our Exiles or Stray Leaves from a Convict Ship.

Select here to read The Voice of Our Exiles or Stray Leaves from a Convict Ship

Review of The Voice of our Exiles; or, Stray leaves from a convict ship by Daniel Ritchie in Macphail's Edinburgh ecclesiastical journal and literary review.......

In the year 1852, Mr Daniel Ritchie, Surgeon in the Royal Navy - a gentleman of talent, of kindly disposition, of energy, and of great practical skill, was appointed by the Admiralty, Surgeon Superintendent of the ' Pestonjee Bomanjee, a hired transport, destined to convey convicts from this country to Van Diemen's Land.'

A pensioner guard, as usual, was selected for the military wants and discipline of the ship; a religious instructor, also was appointed, whose duty it was to act at once as schoolmaster and as chaplain to the passengers ; and thus fitted out, the vessel sailed for her destination on the 18th April, with the complement of convicts, amounting to 291.

With the view of at once amusing and improving the crew, Mr Ritchie conceived the plan of publishing a weekly journal, during the voyage in which he might insert from his own pen, or from that of the religious instructor, such papers of a moral or religious kind, as were likely to form the minds of the convicts to a becoming sense of their situation and duties ; in which also he might record any incidents occurring during the progress of the vessel, that might seem most worthy of being noticed or preserved and for the filling up of which, he solicited contributions, in prose or verse, from such of the convicts as were willing to aid in such exercises - and on such subjects as their past history, their present feelings, or their future prospects in life might supply.

The Journal, so constructed, was continued during the voyage by the issue of weekly numbers - the materials of which were selected by the Superintendent, were transcribed, for the use of the company, by one of the convicts, who was peculiarly fitted for such an employment, and we believe were perused and listened to with great pleasure, and not without considerable moral improvement, by the whole body of convicts.

Such is the nature of the volume now offered to the attention of the reader: we believe no similar publication has ever been attempted or thought of—and we venture to assure our friends that they will find the work not only executed with wonderful ability in all its departments,— but fitted to suggest many thoughts which even the most moral and fortunate among us, may do well, 'to mark, learn, and inwardly digest
.' - continue review


In October 1857 Daniel Ritchie sailed with his family from Liverpool to Melbourne on the Donald McKay. Passengers included Simon Ritchie, Jane Ritchie, Janet Ritchie and Daniel Ritchie R.N.[8]

Daniel Ritchie returned to Scotland with his family for a visit. He died in Edinburgh in December 1865 and his wife did not return to Australia.

Notes and Links

1) National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/59/4 Description: Medical journal of the Pestonjee Bomanjee, HM convict ship, for 1 April to 6 August 1852 by Daniel Ritchie, Surgeon, during which time the ship was employed in conveying convicts to Van Diemen's Land.

2). Convict List from Founders and Survivors

3). Ritchie Collection Online - Including Daniel Ritchie's papers about his Commissions 1838-1855; correspondence 1841- 1866; diaries and journals of naval tours of duty, including tours with ships suppressing the slave trade, convict ships and voyages in the Mediterranean, notably H.M.S.S. Rodney and H.M.B. Weazle 1839-1842, H.M.S.S. Rattler 1849-1850 (including correspondence), Pestonjee Bomanjee Convict Transport Shipboard Newspaper 1852, H.M.S. Arrogant 1855-1856; medical notes 1841-1857; - University of Melbourne


[1] The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal

[2] The New Navy List

[3] The Navy List

[4] The Navy List

[5] The Navy List

[6] United Service Magazine

[7] Maitland Mercury 28 July 1852

[8] Hobart Town Mercury 14 October 1857

[9] Haultain, C. (compiled), The New Navy List, 1840, p. 226