Convict Ship Bengal Merchant 1836
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(Convicts and passengers from this
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Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land between the years 1788 and 1850.
|Embarked 270 men
Voyage 123 days
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Captain
Cook arrived 13 November 1836
Pyramus arrived 14 December1836
Captain William Campbell
Tarn kept a Medical Journal from 13 July 1836 to 17 December 1836
during the voyage of the Bengal Merchant from England to
New South Wales.
In the last week of July 1836,
270 male convicts were embarked at Woolwich and Sheerness after
inspection on the hulks. They were mainly middle aged with a large
proportion of lads, mostly in good health. Some of the older men
were emaciated and pallid in appearance.
The guard consisted
of 29 rank and file of the 80th regt., under command of
Samuel Tolfrey Christie (brother of William H. Christie who came on the
Captain Cook) and Ensign Horton with four women and four children as
The Bengal Merchant
departed the Downs on the 8th August 1836 and sailed via Tenerife.
including the guard were on
John Tarn's sick list at various times throughout the voyage. There was only one death, a man already ill and
who according to Tarn should never have been embarked. Most of the
cases were of slight catarrh, diarrhoea, dyspepsia.
early part of the voyage there were fevers, mostly from prisoners
who embarked on the Justitia hulk at Woolwich where the
disease was prevalent. On reaching hotter climates, cholera
Because some of the elderly men seemed less
healthy, they called at Tenerife to pick up refreshments, obviating
the need to call at the Cape. Fresh fruit and vegetables were taken
on board and the men had the benefit of 7 or 8 days fresh diet,
which much improved the general health. The surgeon suggested that
tea should be substituted for chocolate and an increase in the
allowance of bread and sugar. Many of the convicts refused to eat
the cocoa at all and the guard never took it.
The decks were dry holystoned daily (the
deck was scoured with small, smooth pieces of freestone after a
layer of dry sand had been sprinkled over it) and the convicts kept
on deck during the forenoon. The prisons were well ventilated and
kept dry by the airing stove.
Towards the end of the voyage scurvy was apparent in about a dozen
They arrived in Port Jackson on 9th December 1836 by
which time the convicts had been on board for a total of 140 days.
Notes & Links:
1). John Tarn
joined the surveying vessel Adventure under Captain Philip Parker
King in 1825. The Adventure accompanied the famous
expeditions of the Beagle. The Hylactes Tarnii was
named for Tarn by King....."The name being in compliment to Mr.
John Tarn, surgeon of the Adventure, to whose attention, in
procuring and preserving numerous specimens in ornithology, I am
John Tarn was later employed as surgeon on the convict ships
Georgiana in 1831
George Hibbert in 1834
Bengal Merchant 1836 and the Surry 1840 (VDL)
least seventeen of the convicts who arrived on the Bengal
Merchant in 1836 were assigned to the
Hunter Valley convicts / passengers who arrived on the Bengal
Merchant in 1836
4). Detachments of the 80th regiment arrived the Lady Kennaway,
Bengal Merchant, Asia,