Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Dorothy - 1820

Embarked 190 men
Voyage 137 days
Deaths - 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Earl St. Vincent arrived 16 August 1820
Next vessel: Agamemnon arrived 22 September 1820
Master John Hargraves
Surgeon Robert Espie
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Dorothy identified in the Hunter Valley district

The convicts on this ship were convicted in counties in Ireland - Cork, Dublin, Meath, Donegal, Louth, Roscommon, Monaghan, Antrim, Galway, Kerry, Queens and Down.

Surgeon Robert Espie

Robert Espie was an experienced surgeon superintendent having made two voyages previously on Morley in 1817 and Shipley in 1818.

He kept a Medical Journal from 1 March to 29 September 1820......

On 20th April at the Cove of Cork, the prisoners for transportation on the Dorothy began to arrive at the vessel. There were thirty men that first day and over the next five days another 160 men were received on board, the last being six men on the 25th April, five of whom according to the surgeon, were Ribbonmen.[4] These men were lucky to escape with their lives.

The trials and sentences of some of the ribbonmen are mentioned at Athenry History Archive (Online).......Ennis Chronicle 15 April 1820......... Michael Coughlan and Michael Finlay, for breaking into the dwelling house of William Walshe, and administering unlawful oaths, to be hanged at Gancreen - Finlay on the 12th, and Coughlan on the 17th of April. Charles Langley, for the same offence, to be executed on the hill of Seafin, on the 10th of April. Anthony Daly, for the same offence, to be executed on the hill of Seafin, on the 8th of April. Patrick Forde, for the same offence, to be executed at Briarsfield, on the 18th of April. Patrick Meahern, Peter Connolly, James Greylish, and Thomas Greylish, for the like offence, received sentence of death, but recommended to mercy. Peter Kelly, John Maddin, Thomas Coolahan, Thomas Preston, Patrick Goode, Michael Tully, and Malachy Egan, for administering unlawful oaths, to be transported for life. The men mentioned above who were transported on the Dorothy were Patrick Meaheran, Peter Connolly, James and Thomas Greylish, Peter Kelly, John Maddin and Malachy Egan.

Free Passengers

Passengers included Mr. and Mrs. (George) Espie and three children and Mrs. Holdsworth.

Military Guard

The Military guard consisted of a detachment of 48th regiment under command of Lieutenant Holdsworth of the 82nd regiment. Lieutenant Holdsworth and family were en route to Mauritius to join his regiment.

Other ships bringing soldiers of the 48th regt., included the Pilot, Caledonia, Larkins, Lady Castlereagh, Agamemnon, Guildford, Isabella, Prince Regent, Baring, Hebe, Neptune, Hadlow, Mangles and Earl St. Vincent.


In the beginning of May, the prisoners were issued with trousers and made smart for their inspection by Admiral Sir Josiah Rowley and the Flag Captain who boarded the vessel on 2nd May.

Dr. Trevor mustered the prisoners and dismissed the ship from demurrage at 9pm on the 4th May and they dropped down the harbour with a fair wind. The following day, 5th May 1820, at 11am they weighed anchor and made sail out of the harbour. Before long the weather became rough, the ship wet and the prisoners suffered sea sickness. A week later and they still could not bring their beds on deck nor clean the prisons as the ship was wet all over.

The Voyage

On the evening of the 29th May they made the Cape Verde islands and the following day the men both prisoners and guard were served with lime juice and sugar. A school had been established and the surgeon was extremely pleased with the progress of the scholars. The weather improved as the ship sailed south and the prisoners were all in good health by 12th June, however all was not well and two prisoners received flogging for outrageous conduct and by the 14th June a plan of mutiny was uncovered. The plan being to seize the ship on Sunday afternoon, when they were all on deck for divine worship, and sail to South America. At half past eight the floggings began with Cornelius Kenny who received 2 dozen and 2 lashes, before he related the whole plot and the other perpetrators. The rest of the conspirators being identified were punished as follows; John McCauliff, 36 lashes; James Duffy, 24 lashes; John Lynch, 50 lashes; Jonathan Crumin, 12 lashes; Robert O'Brien, 24 lashes; John Tully, 24 lashes; John Johnston, 30 lashes; and William Purcell, 6 lashes. [4]

Rio de Janeiro

The Dorothy came into sight of Rio de Janeiro on 25th June and anchored in the harbour on 29th June. The weather was fine and the prisoners were permitted on deck in divisions to wash their clothes. They remained at Rio until about 6th July.

Port Jackson

On the 18th September, the surgeon reported that they were abreast of Jervis Bay and the following day the 19th September 1820, they were off Port Jackson in boisterous weather with the ship wet all over again. They arrived in Port Jackson at 5pm, received the pilot on board and anchored in Sydney Cove.

Farm Cove

By the 20th September they were lying off Farm Cove. It was a mild fine day and the prisoners were generally in good health when the vessel came to anchor at Farm Cove at 3pm. Governor Macquarie recorded the arrival in his Journal:

Wedy. 20. Septr. ! The Ship Dorothy - Capt. Hargreaves, with 190 Male Convicts, arrived this day at Port Jackson from Ireland, whence She sailed the 5th. of May last - touching at Rio de Janeiro; Doctr. Espie R. Navy being the Surgeon Supdt., and the Guard consisting of 30 Soldiers of the 48th. Regt. being Commanded by Lieut. Hildsworth of the 82d. Regiment, who has his Wife on board. - Mr. George Espie Free Settler, his Wife and 3 Children have come out Passengers in the Dorothy. - The Convicts have arrived all in good Health.

Convict Muster

On 25th September the prisoners were instructed to clean the prisons and themselves before breakfast and at 9am the Governor's Secretary came on board to inspect them. The indents include information such as name, when and where convicted, sentence, native place, calling and physical description. There is no indication in the indents as to crimes committed or where the prisoners were assigned on arrival. The youngest two prisoners were Peter Reilly age 14 and John Gaynor age 15.

Convicts Disembarked

The prisoners were disembarked together with those of the Agamemnon on Friday morning 29th September, and inspected by his Excellency Governor Macquarie prior to being distributed to government service or various settlers in the districts of Evan, Airds, Liverpool and Emu Plains.

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and passengers of the Dorothy identified in the Hunter Valley district

2). June 1820 - Seizure of Forged Plates and Notes - On the evening of the 17th instant, the high constable of Cork apprehended Cornelius Kenny and Catherine Neal, the latter of whom had a basket, containing a number of engraved plates of Cork, Waterford, and Limerick bank notes, also a great quantity of forged notes, bank paper, and a box with the implement of engraving etc., Kenny, also, had a number of forged notes in his possession. (Belfast Newsletter 25 June 1819) Convict Cornelius Kenney's petition re the particulars of his sentence. (Historical Records of Australia September 1826)

3). Political Prisoners

4).Convict stonemason Peter Brady was sent to Newcastle penal settlement in 1821. He was assigned to Benjamin Davis at Patterson's Plains 1824 however later that year he was apprehended under strong suspicion of him robbing Dr. Francis Moran's farm. He was punished with 100 lashes. William Dunn, Nerean Allen and Charles Day were punished similarly for the same reason.

5). Convict John Murtagh was employed as an overseer at Dalwood the estate of George Wyndham in 1828

6). William Purcell was assigned to Dr. Francis Moran

7). Convict Peter Riley, Labourer aged 20 from Dublin. 4ft 8 in, hazel eyes, sandy hair, fair ruddy complexion, absconded from Government service at Newcastle in December 1826. With William Bowen a convict by the Prince of Orange, Riley became a bushranger. They were indicted for stealing in the dwelling house of Ellis Hall at Wallis Plains and putting a person there in bodily fear on 19th November 1828. They were both executed in Sydney in 1829.

8). Valentine Fay, once described as a 'queer little man, hard of hearing' was sent to the Maitland district. He was in and out of Newcastle gaol for various misdemeanours for the next thirty years.

9) Thomas Gordon (alias Leach), age 44, seaman from Dumfries was first transported on the Fortune in 1813 as Thomas Leach. He absconded from Sydney in an open boat in December 1820 with the following prisoners. Their descriptions were posted in the Sydney Gazette for the next few months......

Names and Descriptions of Prisoners of the Crown, supposed to have made their Escape from the Colony in an open Boat, on the Night of the 25th or early on the morning of the 26th Instant : -

John Briggs, aged 45, seaman, native of Bermuda, 5 ft. 9 in. high, light complexion, brown hair, grey eyes; came per ship Baring, 1st ; his right hand is much disabled by a wound ; he lately ran from Newcastle with a boat, and was chased into Rush-cutting Bay by the boats from that settlement.

James Kelly, aged 30, seaman, native of Galway, 5 ft, 9 1/2 in. high, dark ruddy complexion, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Isabella ; lately returned from Newcastle,

John Smith, aged 25, seaman, native of Portsmouth, 5 ft. 7 1/2 in. high, sallow complexion, black hair and eyes, came per ship Sir William Bensley ; lately returned from Newcastle.

Patrick Hernon, aged 22, clerk, native of King's County, 5 ft. 5 in. high, fair freckled complexion, sandy hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Surry.2d; has been twice sent to Newcastle, and but lately returned.

Thomas Wade, aged 40, clerk, native of Dublin, 5 ft. 8 in. high, pale complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Dorothy ; assigned servant to Mr. Quarter-master Stubbs.

John Ossinbrook, aged 32, seaman, and sail-maker, native of Sweden, 5 ft. 7 1/2 in. high, yellow complexion, dark flaxen hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Batavia ; lately discharged from Gaol Gang, and attached to Wilson's Gang.

William Russell, aged 24, carpenter and joiner, native of Cheltenham, 5 ft. 8 in. high, fair ruddy complexion, dark flaxen hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Tottenham ;

William Atkins, aged 27, carpenter, native of Bury St. Edmonds, 5 ft. 9 in. dark ruddy complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Grenada; both attached to Prisoners' Barracks, Hyde Park.

William Bradbury, aged 46, labourer, native of Derbyshire, 5 ft. 10 in. high, dark sallow complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, came per ship Baring, 2d ; ran from Government Works, at Pennant Hills.

John Bishop, aged 39, cabinet-maker and joiner, native of Windsor, 5 ft. 11 in. high, dark pale complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Atlas, in 1816; Government servant to Mr. William Noah.

James Stacey, aged 32, waterman, native of Surry, 5 ft. 1 1/2 in. high, dark ruddy complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Atlas, in 1816; lately ran from Newcastle with a boat, and was chased into Rush-cutting Bay by the boats of that settlement.

William Arrow alias Stacey, aged 21, labourer, native of Surry, 5 ft 3 1/2 in. high, pale complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, came per ship Fanny, also ran from Newcastle. The two last persons were servants to Dr. Harris, whom they have robbed of a considerable quantity of property. Any, Persons harbouring, concealing, or maintaining any of the said Absentees, will be prosecuted for the Offence. W.M. Hutchinson, Principal Superintendent of Convicts - Sydney Gazette 30 December 1820

10). Lieutenant Samuel Holdsworth of the 82nd Regiment was a Peninsula War veteran.

11). Convict Thomas McGuire was punished for perjury in 1832.......On Thursday week Thomas McGuire, convicted of perjury underwent a portion of his sentence. The pillory was erected on the centre stocks at the South end of the Market place and at eleven o'clock the prisoners, escorted by the hangman, ascended to endure his penance. A placard was suspended from his breast whereon was written in legible characters - for perjury - . The constables were stationed around to prevent the mob which assembled in great numbers ) offering any violence to the culprit. After remaining for two hours in this state , he was taken to the jail to be forwarded to Newcastle, where he is to undergo a second exposure in the pillory, and then to be confined in Newcastle gaol for one year. (NB. This man was tried and convicted before the Supreme Court, for having falsely sworn in a case Fagan v. Dencen, tried in the Court of Requests, before Commissioner Therry. that he had not witnessed the signature of the defendant in that case, to a note of hand payable to the plaintiff. It was proved on the clearest testimony, that he had witnessed the note. The learned Judge Stephens in passing sentence expatiated largely on the infamy of his offence, too frequent in the Colony and hoped that his punishment and disgrace would be a warning to others -Sydney Monitor 10 March 1832.

12. West side of Farm Cove with distant view of the Military Hospital, the smock-mill and Fort Phillip, Sydney, ca. 1818 [picture] / Edward Close Call Number PIC Drawer 8631 #R7252 Created/Published ca. 1818

13. Robert Espie was employed as Surgeon-Superintendent on the convict ships Morley in 1817, Shipley in 1818, Dorothy in 1820, Lord Sidmouth in 1823, Lady Rowena in 1826, Mary in 1830(VDL) Roslin Castle in 1834 and the Elizabeth in 1836.


[1] THE ARMY. The Morning Post (London, England), Saturday, February 15, 1817; Issue 14374. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

[2] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.342-343, 383

[3] National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/19/8 Description: Journal of the convict ship Dorothy, for 1 March to 29 September 1820 by Robert Espie, Surgeon. This journal is in the form of a diary recording the ship's position, weather observations and the daily routine of cleaning the prison and allowing divisions of convicts on deck, but very little information about the prisoners or their illnesses except for disciplinary measures.

[4] Medical Journal of Robert Espie. UK, Royal Navy 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.