Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Richard Kent R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 9 July 1780

Richard Kent was born c. 1760. He was appointed Surgeon - Naval Agent on the convict ship Boddingtons in 1792-93.

Correspondence written at the Cove of Cork by Richard Kent on 6th February 1793 reveal some of his preparations for the voyage....

The Boddingtons arrived here on 23rd of last month, where I found the convicts had been for a considerable time waiting our arrival, and many of them on board the Hibernia, where they had been for seven weeks, very ill in fevers and dysenteries. We received from three sloops eighty nine male convicts, all healthy, and the remainder to make 125 from the Hibernia, which, at coming on board appeared in health. They had not been long on board before several of them complained, and symptoms of fever very apparent amongst them, tho' they were properly wash'd and cleans'd. They are now getting better, and I hope to put a stop to its progress before we get into warm weather. I took the five over the stipulated number contracted for from a letter I received from the sheriff, in consequence of a request of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant that we might take as many more as the ship could conveniently carry. In consequence of taking these we have been obliged to stow twelve casks of water on the main deck. There is a great many more females here than were contracted for. The Boddingtons cannot carry one more of them than her number. The Sugar Cane, I believe, may, as she has better accommodation than the Bod'n. She has not arrived here yet. [2]

The Voyage

Richard Kent later reported that they were in constant alarm with mutinies and conspiracies both among the soldiers as well as convicts and were obliged to be on their guard night and day; but by the officers keeping a strict watch had the luck of bringing them all safe to the colony.

Port Jackson

The Boddingtons arrived in Port Jackson after a passage of thirteen weeks from Rio de Janeiro. Only one convict died; there were four children born.

Major Grose declared there had never been convicts who arrived in such good order, for their were no sick amongst them, nor had scurvy made its appearance. The provisions by the contractor were of the best kind and supplied in a very liberal manner.

Richard Kent thought it would be right to bind down the captains of ships carrying convicts under the direction of an agent that he might comply with the orders given him for the preservation of the lives and health of the convicts for if he had not persevered and got everything done himself on the Boddingtons for the cleanliness and comfort of the convicts there may have been great mortality.

'Upon my arrival in England (which I hope may be soon), I shall lay before you a narrative of the voyage and trust my conduct will meet your approbation; tho' it is a line I should have no ambition to embark in again, as I now feel my situtation, in being left on shore here and the great uncertainty with respect to my return, very disagreeable, for there is no mode of subsisting comfortably here but by raising stock, which cannot be done by one whose time is so precarious.'[3]

Return to England

The Britannia store ship having been dismissed from government employment was immediately engaged by the civil and military officers for the purpose of purchasing a variety of stores they stood in need of, with the particular view of fetching cattle from the Cape of Good Hope. Messrs, Richard Kent and David Wake Bell, the naval Agents who came out in the Sugar Cane and Boddingtons transports were instructed to take their passage by the Britannia it being the first opportunity that had offered of their returning to England unless a considerable expense had been incurred by their taking the route of India. [4]

Newfoundland Station

The Naval Chronicle recorded in 1808 -09 that Richard Kent was appointed to be assistant surgeon of the Isis, the flag ship of Admiral Holloway, commander-in-chief on the Newfoundland station.


He was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814 (retired)


The death of Richard Kent M.D. Surgeon R.N. of Ramsgate was reported in the Hampshire Advertiser 4th February 1837 as having taken place on 29th January 1837. He was 79 years old.

Family records reveal that he was buried on 4th February 1837 at St. George's Church, Ramsgate, Kent. He died without issue.

He bequeathed money to his nephews - Richard Kent, purser in Royal Navy; Thomas Kent, cutler; Charles Kent, surgeon the Royal Navy; niece Ann, widow of a Lieutenant of the Veterans; and grand-niece Martha.[1]


[1] Piece Description: Piece 1872: Norwich, Quire Numbers 51-100 (1837) England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 1. The National Archives, Kew.

[2] Historical Records of NSW Vol. 2, p. 6.

[3] ibid, p. 62

[4] Grose to Henry Dundas 31st August 1794, HRA, Series 1, Vol 1., p 482