The Countess of Harcourt
was built in India in 1811. (1) Voyages to Australia
included transporting convicts to Van Diemen's Land in
1821 and to New South Wales in
She was the next convict ship leave England for New South
Wales after the departure of the
Brothers in December
A detachment of the
40th regiment received orders in
February to embark on the Countess of Harcourt which would be finished re-fitting by the end of March.
One serjeant, two corporals and 33 privates under the command of
Captain Robert Morrow came on the
Countess of Harcourt.
40th had been serving in Ireland.
Following is an excerpt from
Historical Records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire)
Regiment By Raymond Henry Raymond Smythies listing
the ships that brought detachments of the 40th regiment
to New South Wales in 1823 and 1824..........
Early in March 1823, the commanding officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton received an intimation that
it was intended to send the regiment to New South Wales.
In the meantime it was ordered to proceed to Dublin,
thence by sea to Liverpool, and after that by road to
Chatham, in order to form guards for convict ships when
The head quarters
reached Dublin on 15th March and occupied the Royal
Barracks. On the 30th the whole regiment embarked at
Pigeon House, in eight small vessels, and reached
Liverpool the following day.
A twenty eight days'
march, including three Sundays, brought the regiment to
Chatham. The Regiment marched in three divisions; the
first arrived at Chatham on 21st April; the second,
consisting of two companies, halted, and remained at
Deptford; and the 3rd reached Chatham on 23rd April.
During the next year the 40th was sent out, in small
detachments, as guards on board convict ships to
Australia. This was after several years' rough service
in Ireland, and but a short period of rest in
|25th April 1823||Lieutenant Lowe
|5th July 1823
|10th July 1823
|18th July 1823
||Sir Godfrey Wilestoe
|29 July 1823
|31st July 1823
|5 August 1823
||Lt.- Col. Balfour
|29 December 1823
|5th February 1824
|25 February 1824
Countess of Harcourt
|14 June 1824
||Lt.- Col Thornton
|14 June 1824
Other ships bringing detachments of the 40th regiment included
Ann & Amelia.
This was James Dickson's first voyage as surgeon
superintendent of a convict ship. He kept a detailed medical journal
of the daily occurrences together with his general observations. The
prisoners were embarked between the 3rd and 8th March.....
3rd March 1824 -Received this day at one, draught from the Justitia prison ship at Woolwich, sixty one male adult
convicts, victualled on board the Justitia day of
discharge. Supplied them with bedding and formed them into messes
and berthed them.
The next day another draught of
prisoners were embarked and on the 5th March sixteen boys were
received into the ship from the Bellepheron hulk. They were
immediately sent to the prison set up for them on board and placed
under the instructions of two trustworthy convicts. With exception
of two, all the boys were under sentence of transportation for
life.. The youngest were John Brickfield, William Donald and William
Hall who were all 14 years old. (2)
During this time the
Joseph Hunt, who was sensationally convicted of being an
accessory to murder in Hertfordshire in 1823, awaited his time on
the Justitia hulk moored at Woolwich. He was embarked alone
on the 8th March.
During the voyage the surgeon intended
to attempt to befriend the Joseph Hunt with a view to garnering
information regarding accomplices in his notorious crime.
There were strong gales of wind and very heavy rain in the days
of embarkation which prevented the prisoners from being on deck. The
surgeon insisted that they march around the prison, two abreast to
gain some exercise. This they were very reluctant to do preferring
to lounge in their berths. A few days after they were all
embarked it began to snow and there were falls of hail as well which
lay upon the deck. The surgeon deemed it necessary to issue a pair
of numbered drawers to each of the men. The men were also receiving
small indulgences from family and friends which the surgeon was
happy to allow.
All the adult men were ironed at this stage
although the irons had proved useless for the boys who could easily
slip out of them. A week later the weather moderated and they were
once more allowed on deck. Some prisoners were employed as cooks,
others as boatswain's mates. Generally all the prisoners were well
behaved and in good spirits.
Orders were received to weigh
anchor and proceed to Gravesend. By the 20th the surgeon mentions
trouble amongst the boy prisoners. He was forced to separate some of
the worst behaved, some of whom had been disrupting the prisons by
their disorderly conduct. They had been throwing swabs and dragged
out and ill used one of the prisoners, a Welsh man who could neither
speak nor understand the English language. William Summer a young
lad who was sentenced tor life for highway robbery and twice
capitally convicted was a bad character who broke prison and
assaulted his fellow prisoner by beating him about the face with a
tin pot without provocation. From the disposition among the boys the
surgeon was induced to order that William Sumner should received 12
lashes on the breach which was inflicted by the boatswain; and
Richard Clarke, an adult having been fully convicted of theft was
punished with 12 lashes on the back.
They anchored in
Margate roads on 21st March and the weather was squally with heavy
rain necessitating the men to be confined in their prisons again. On
the night of the 22nd they weighed anchor and proceeded to the
Downs. Here Captain Bunn procured fresh beef and vegetables for the
Guard and convicts many of whom were affected by the motion of the
ship, the weather still being boisterous. The surgeon noted that
some of the prisoners seemed depressed, owing he thought to the
state of the weather and the motion of the ship. The next day the
weather improved and the surgeon ordered all the dirty clothes to be
washed. This was done with difficulty because of the indolence and
slothfulness of the prisoners.
The men continued to receive
small parcels and money from friends and relatives still astonishing
the surgeon with their avidity with which they extorted the
least farthing by exciting sympathy and moving appeals to their
relatives' humanity by describing themselves as having a short
supply of rations and that they were crammed together in the most
uncomfortable manner. Such pitiable details have the desired affect
on their friends who use their utmost exertions to send a few
shillings and other comforts which were allowed to be brought
alongside the vessel.
The Countess of Harcourt
proceeded down the Channel on the 24th March. Punishments ordered by
the surgeon included withholding wine for a few days when prisoners
hung their wet clothes in the prison instead of on deck, however
generally the men were orderly. The surgeon found that the prisoners
who had been sentenced for desertion from the army were inclined to
be respectful and helpful and much disposed to make themselves
useful as boatswains mates. These included Thomas Jackson, George
Morrow, Francis Needham, John Sanderson, Henry Tennant, Charles
Tothill and James Turner
The Countess of Harcourt
anchored at 6pm on
12 July 1824 at Port Jackson and the following
morning four men were sent to hospital in Sydney. On the 14th
Governor Brisbane came on board to inspect the convicts. He made the
usual inquiries relative to their treatment during the voyage after
which Colonial Secretary Major Goulburn mustered the men. On the
16th the surgeon received official confirmation from shore to have
the men ready early the next day for disembarkation. They were to
take their rations with them. Each man was issued with a woollen
cap, 1 jacket, 1 waistcoat, 1 pair of trousers, 1 pair of stockings
and 1 pair of shoes. They were disembarked at 6am and the surgeon
left the ship at 10am having previously procured lodgings.
History of the British Colonies...Robert Montgomery Martin
There is no indication in the convict indents as to where the
convicts were assigned after arrival. In the Colonial Secretary's
correspondence there is a list of 86 men who were forwarded to
Parramatta by water on 17th July for distribution amongst settlers.
Some were then sent overland to Liverpool, Airds, Appin, Minto,
Windsor, Evan and Bathurst. Francis Nuttall (cotton and silk
weaver); Thomas Barlow (cotton weaver); John Holden (linen weaver);
John Jones (weaver); Edward Barry (cloth dresser); and Michael
Harney (cotton weaver) were all assigned to the
Parramatta. The boys were probably sent to the
Later some of the men were assigned to the
Agricultural Company and to settlers
John Bingle and
The Countess of Harcourt departed Sydney on 24th
August, with Stores and provisions and in company with the Tamar
taking provisions and personnel to form a new settlement at
Series 1, Vol. XI, p. 338)
Notes & Links:
1). Descendant Contribution: Robert James
arrived on the Countess of Harcourt under sentence of 14 years
transportation. His wife Catherine James and four children William,
David, Jane and Elspet came on the
George Hibbert in 1834 as free passengers. .
An elder daughter Isabella arrived in 1839 with her two children.
2). Convict Alexander Green was employed as
scourger and public
executioner at Hyde Park Barracks (See
Australian Dictionary of
3). James Dickson was also surgeon on the
convict ships Woodford in 1826 (VDL),
Florentia in 1828,
4). Select here
HERE to find out more about
Hunter Valley convicts
and passengers arriving on the Countess of Harcourt in 1824
5). In the year 1824, the British Government
determined to form a settlement on the north coast of Australia in
the vicinity of Melville Island, with the object of opening up
intercourse between that district and the Malay coast. On account of
the nearness of the place to Timor, it was believed that some of the
trade of the East Indies would be attracted to its shores. For some
time previously small vessels from New South Wales had traded
regularly with certain islands of the Indian Archipelago chiefly in
pearls, tortoise-shell and beche-de-mer. In order to carry out the
intentions of the Government, Captain James Gordon Bremer left
England in H.M.S. Tamar on February 27th, 1824, for Sydney, where
the establishment was to be raised. The Tamar brought a number of
marines who were to form part of the garrison for the proposed
settlement. Meanwhile, the authorities at Sydney had chartered the
ship Countess of Harcourt, Captain Bunn, in which to convey the
settlers as well as a detachment of officers and men, then quartered
in the colony, with their wives to Melville Island. After taking
supplies on board, the following were embarked in the Countess of
Harcourt, Captain Barlow, Lieutenant Everard, and twenty-four
non-commissioned officers and men, all of the Buffs. Dr. Turner,
Royal Artillery; Mr. George Miller, Commissariat Department; Mr.
Wilson and Mr. George Tollemache, Storekeepers. In all the Countess
of Harcourt carried 110 men, 40 women, and 25 children. The colonial
brig Lady Nelson, in command of Captain Johns, also received orders
to accompany the expedition. She had returned from a voyage to
Moreton Bay on August 12th, and, heavily laden with passengers,
soldiers, and stores, sailed with the Tamar and the Countess of
Harcourt on August 24th, 1824.
The Log Books of the Lady Nelson by Ida Lee- Project Gutenberg
22nd September 1825, the Countess of
Harcourt was in company with the Lady Nelson at Port
Essington when one of the boats belonging to the vessel was upset on
returning to the ship. Twelve people were thrown into the water and
by the great exertions of Lieutenant Golding of the Tamar,
eight of them were saved. Two soldiers of the 3rd regiment, the
Captain's steward of the Harcourt and a fine lad, the son
of a clergyman, an apprentice, were drowned.
7). Captain George Bunn was a master mariner, merchant and
magistrate. He was principal of the merchant firm Buckle, Buckle, Bagster and Buchanan, and Director of the Bank of Australia.
He married Anna Maria Murray later author of The Guardian: An
Anonymous tale 1838. George Bunn died
8). Return of Convicts of the
Countess of Harcourt assigned
between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 28 June
1832; 5 July 1832)....
John Mahoney Tailor assigned to Alexander Busby
at Hunters River
William Phillips Tailor assigned to Robert Jones in
9). 40th (or
Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot 1821.......
1. Bateson, Charles & Library of Australian History (1983). The
convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian
History, Sydney : pp.344-345, 384
2. Ancestry.com. UK,
Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the
Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and
predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and
volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War
Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal
Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National
Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.