Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Harman Cochrane R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

*Date of Seniority Royal Navy 17 August 1815

Harman Cochrane was employed as Surgeon-Superintendent on four convicts ships bringing prisoners to Australia. - The Mary in 1823, Mariner in 1825, Boyne in 1826 and the Mangles in 1828.

Mary 1823

Harman Cochrane's first appointment to a convict ship was to the Mary bringing female prisoners from England to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.

He kept a Medical Journal from 12 April 1823 to 3 November 1823 which began while the ship was still in England and continued during the voyage to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales - Harman Cochrane summarized the voyage in his journal {extract} - 'It will be seen by the abstract that scurvy never showed itself in any form, and we had but one case of fever. This may be attributed to the lower deck or prison having been kept perfectly clean and dry, although we had much rough weather, particularly from the Cape of Good Hope to Van Diemen's Land. The convicts being allowed free access to the upper deck and indeed often compelled when they would not come up voluntarily, from day light in the morning to sunset, when the weather would permit, together with the cleanliness order and regularity which they were at all times obliged to observe, contributed in no small degree towards it'. [1]

The Mary arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 5 October 1823 and Port Jackson on Saturday 18 October 1823.

The Van Diemen's Land Advertiser reported that there were 126 female convicts, five or six of whose children died on the passage out.

Harman Cochrane departed Sydney on the Mary in November 1823 bound for Penang and Calcutta.[12]

Mariner 1825

Harman Cochrane was then appointed to the Mariner which departed Cork 12th March 1825 with female prisoners and arrived on 10th July 1825.

He kept a Medical journal from 30 December 1824 to 15 August 1825 - One woman died on the voyage out. She had suffered with asthma for some time and died suddenly before the surgeon could even attend her.

Harman Cochrane reported that about half the women suffered with epilepsy which became more apparent as the ship entered the tropics. He contemplated whether they might be real or feigned episodes. Some had suffered with fits before but many had never experienced them before. There was scarcely an hour either day or night when he was not called to attend one of them suffering this condition. He puzzled as to whether they may have been propagated by contagion or perhaps by imitation or, he thought more likely, the inordinate heat of the climate affected the irritable, sensitive and acute constitutions of the Irish prisoners. When five or six at a time were found to be affected and were writhing, struggling and tearing themselves to pieces at the same time, it became no easy matter to hold them and it required five or six strong women to do so. He mis-trusted the women however and thought they may have had ulterior motives. Although he was vigilant in observing their manoeuvres, he could not detect any surreptitious designs. The fits abated when the ship entered the colder climate.

The Surgeon maintained cleanliness, order and regularity among the women. The prison was kept clean and dry and the women were allowed on the upper deck as they pleased. [2]

Boyne 1826

His next appointment was to the convict ship Boyne in 1826. The Boyne departed Cork 29th June 1826 with male prisoners and arrived in Australia 26 October 1826. On this voyage he kept a Medical Journal from 13 May 1826 to 28 November - He attributed the low death rate and exemption from serious disease to the strictest order of regularity, cleanliness and dryness and good ventilation. He noted that their conduct was good and he seldom found it necessary to confine any of them below deck. They mostly had free access to the upper deck from morning to night and he thought this contributed to the preservation of their health and spirits. [3]

Mangles 1828

He was next employed as surgeon on convict ship Mangles which departed Dublin on 23 February 1828 and arrived in Australia on 2nd June 1828. On this voyage he kept a Medical Journal from 24 December 1827 to 13 June 1828. Three prisoners died on the passage out and soldier Henry Holgate was treated for a gun shot wound to the left wrist on 28th March 1828.

The voyage of the Mangles was Harman Cochrane's last appointment to a convict ship. Over six hundred and thirty convicts arrived in Australia under his care He had been allowed £50 return passage money for each of the above voyages, as was the custom of the time.

Appointment to the Sybille

Harman Cochrane's next appointment was to H.M. Sybille. From 4 December 1826 until 1830, the Sybille was part of the West Africa Squadron, which sought to suppress the slave trade. She was under the command of Commodore Francis Augustus Collier. [4]

In September 1828 it was reported in the Morning Chronicle that the Sybille was cruising in the Bight of Benin, in vigilant search of a slave vessel. Within twelve months, the squadron under the active and zealous Commodore Collier had captured (and liberated) the extraordinary number of 1739 slaves. On the 3rd October 1828 the Sybille was reported to have arrived at St. Helena from Sierra Leone with forty pirates taken out of a vessel under the Brazilian flag eighteen days previously [5]

On the Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (21st October), the Commodore gave a splendid ball and supper at the hotel at St. Helena to the ladies and gentlemen of the island. The officers and crew were in excellent health. [6]


Harman Cochrane died on 24th October 1828. He was deeply lamented by his family and friends and his remains were attended to the grave by Commodore Collier, C.B., and all the Officers of his Majesty's ship Sybille, and by most of those of the Garrison of the Island. [7].

Commodore Collier wrote on 29th November that there had been three deaths on the Sybille in the previous two years - two from accidents and one from fever contracted on one of the prize vessels [8]

The Sybille frigate sailed from Saint Helena on 21st November having been amply supplied with beef, beer and vegetables by the contractor Mr. Saul Solomon.

Harman Cochrane left a Will dated 15 October 1828. It was witnessed at sea by Robert Donal, Master of the ship America; William Forsyth, Chief Mate and Joseph Scott, 3rd Mate of the America. His wife Mary Cochrane and sisters Margaret and Isabella Cochrane and brother John Cochrane were all beneficiaries of his estate.[11]


Harman Cochrane had married Mary Gore at St. Clement Danes, Westminster, Middlesex, England on 18 May1826. Mary was the daughter of Richard Gore Esq., of Lumville, King's co., Ireland. Mary Cochrane nee Gore re-married in 1831 to Monsieur Jules Forneir of the 11th Regiment of Foot in the service of His Majesty the King of France [9]

In 1892 Harman Cochrane's niece Isabella Clinton of Gavagh, Londonderry, Ireland, applied to obtain payment of £188 17s 7d due to her as the heiress of Harman Cochrane R.N. The estate had been collected by the Curator of Intestate estates in 1830 and the money had remained to the credit of the estate in the New South Wales Treasury ever since. The application was granted. The entries relating to the matter were made in the first pages of the first book issued in the office of the curator in the colony. [10]


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Harman Cochrane on the voyage of the Mary to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land in 1823. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Harman Cochrane on the voyage of the Mariner to New South Wales in 1825. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Harman Cochrane on the voyage of the Boyne to New South Wales in 1826. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] French frigate Sibylle (1792) Wikipedia

[5] The Standard 29th November 1828

[6] Morning Chronicle 5 January 1829

[7] Morning Post 31st December 1828

[8] The Standard 26 January 1829

[9] The Standard 12 January 1831

[10] Sydney Morning Herald 16 and 24 December 1892

[11] The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1768

[12] New South Wales, Australia, Departing Crew and Passenger Lists, 1816-1825