Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Blenheim - 1834

Embarked 200 men
Voyage 110 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Tons: 375
Previous vessel: Henry Tanner 26 October 1834
Next vessel: Hooghley arrived 18 November 1834
Captain James Temple Brown
Surgeon James Wilson
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Blenheim identified in the Hunter Valley

The Blenheim was built at Jarrow in 1834.

Surprize Hulk at Cork

In 1834 the prisoners to be transported on the Blenheim were incarcerated in the Surprize Hulk at Cork.

The prison had been established about ten years previously and the following report was written in 1824 -

This prison has been arranged in a very complete manner, in the Surprize frigate, and affords good accommodation for 350 convicts. The state of the hulk with respect to accommodation, dietary, cleanliness, and interior regulation, we found to be very satisfactory. The ship has been extremely healthy.

The officers all seem to perform their duty well; but we should recommend very strongly that a schoolmaster should be appointed, and a latitude given to Mr. Hollingsworth, the local inspector, to provide books. This officer would be much inclined to forward the instruction of the convicts, and under the superintendence of the chaplains, much good effect might be expected. One of the reasons which has been assigned for want of instruction on board the hulk, is the shortness of the stay of the convicts; but it is to be considered that almost all these prisoners have come from a county gaol in which a school was established, many of them from scenes of real improvement, and that they are therefore prepared at once to be placed in the class of readers, and that a temporary suspension of ail endeavours to instruct, might much counteract any improvement which may have been acquired. Some of the prisoners are employed in carpenter's work, making and repairing prison dresses, and occasionally picking oakum........Report of the Committee of the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline 1824

Convicts Embarked

The Freeman's Journal reported on Saturday 19th July 1834 -

Two hundred and fifty male convicts from Limerick, Galway, Cork, Waterford, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Castlebar were embarked in the Blenheim at Cove and proceeded for Botany Bay on Monday. A detachment of the 50th regiment is on board.

Surgeon James Wilson

James Wilson kept a Medical Journal from 30 May to 28 November 1834 ....

On 7th July, I went on board the Surprize convict hulk at the Cove of Cork, and was present at the inspection of the convicts by a Medical Officer sent from Dublin for that purpose. There was also present the Medical Officer belonging to the Hulk. I objected to receive some of the prisoners and offered to receive two others. One was said by the Surgeon to be blind and in fact he was led to the cabin door and then led away as a person unfit for embarkation on account of total loss of vision said to be of long standing. The Officer from Dublin seeing on the list that his crime was sheep stealing had him called back, and he and I took the man into open light to examine his eyes. This he resisted by keeping the palpebra so permanently closed that no efforts of our fingers could separate them; this power of the muscles no doubt acquired from long continued action, he having I was afterwards informed employed it for 13 months. Being defeated in ascertaining the state of the globe of the eye but quite certain the globe in both eyes were entire from the prominence of the palpebra, I got a spatula which I introduced with some force it being contrary to his will, between the eyelids and separated them with that, and I saw that vision was perfect in both eyes. I told him I would receive him on board and recommended his having his eyes open when he came or I would punish him at the gangway.

The other case was said to be chronic rheumatism of long standing. This man was stripped and examined by the Dublin Officer and myself when we found him to be a powerful muscular man at the advanced age he said of 76. The appearance of the prisoners as a body was that of being very cleanly in their persons and their strength equal to the seamen who offer themselves as volunteers for His Majesty's Navy.

On the 8th July we embarked 200 of the above convicts, one of them Daniel Sughrue, the blind man who was led yesterday he came out the boat and up the ships side without assistance, on his getting on board, I advised him to look in my face, he did so with the eyes half opened when I told him unless he opened both that instant and looked in my face, my promise of flogging him would be carried into execution on this he opened both his eyes and looked me full in the face showing two eyes perfectly natural.

About the same time ten free settlers sons of convicts were embarked. These boys were messed and slept in the small prison with the convicts, three of these lads were nearly destitute of clothing and the head of one swarming with vermin....... Timothy Mannix, Roger Sheedy, Thomas Sheedy, John Sheedy, Patrick Stenton, John Stenton, Patrick Neville, James Neville and Edward Neville.

Departure from Ireland

The Blenheim departed Cork on 27 July 1834. Two men died on the voyage out, both from diseases of long standing according to the surgeon. One from and abscess on the brain and the other from vertigo and palpitations of the heart.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 33 rank and rile of 50th regiment., 8 women and 9 children under orders of Capt. Fothergill and Lieut. O'Halloran. Some of the guard mentioned in the surgeon's Journal include:
Private Patrick White aged 21;
John Neely aged 23;
Sergeant John Harris;
Private Hugh McCormick;
Peter Connaghan, drummer;
Soldier's wife Mary Cregan.

Captain Fothergill later served at Norfolk Island. He returned to Sydney in September 1836.

Detachments of the 50th Regiment arrived on the Susan, Surry, Forth, Bengal Merchant Hooghley, Hive, Blenheim, Royal Admiral, Lady Nugent, Parmelia, James Laing, Captain Cook, Hero, Roslin Castle, Henry Porcher, Henry Tanner and Lady Kennaway.

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Blenheim arrived at Port Jackson on 14 November 1834.

Arrival of the convict ship Blenheim in 1834

Notes and Links

1). About sixty-five of the convicts of the Blenheim have been identified residing in the Hunter region following years. Select here to find out more about Hunter Valley convicts and passengers of the Blenheim.

2). James Wilson was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Lady Kennaway in 1836 and Minerva in 1838 (VDL)

3). In 1836 while on the voyage from London to Bombay in the Blenheim, James Temple Brown discovered a new reef in the Chagos Archipelago. - Nautical Magazine

4). Cork Assizes - On Wednesday a most respectable farmer, named John Hurley, was, with others indicted for an assault on a Magistrate in the discharge off his duty. Hurley's cattle had been seized for tithes, and, in the irritation of the moment, he, with several others, attacked the Magistrate and police; two of the latter were most severely wounded by him. Hurley was found guilty, and sentenced to transportation for seven years. On Thursday a man named William Driscoll was found guilty of a rape on a female child, between 13 and 14 years of age. Driscoll was ordered for execution (commuted to life, transported on the Blenheim) - Belfast Newsletter 23 August 1833.


[1] Medical Journal of James Wilson on the voyage of the Blenheim. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.