Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Eliza II (4) - 1832

Embarked 199 men (1 re-landed)
Voyage 119 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 538
Previous vessel: Clyde arrived 27 August 1832
Next vessel: Planter arrived 15 October 1832
Captain John S. Groves
Surgeon Thomas Bell
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Eliza identified in the Hunter Valley

The Eliza was built in India in 1806. This was the fourth voyage of the Eliza bringing convicts to Australia the others being in 1827 (NSW), 1829 (NSW) and 1831 (VDL). [2]


Many of the prisoners of the Eliza were petty criminals convicted of pick pocketing and other forms of stealing, however there were also twenty-six men from Galway who had been convicted of White Boy crimes as well as two Terry Alts; there were five men who had committed murder and sixteen who had committed manslaughter.

They were transferred to Cork from counties throughout Ireland. In Cork they were held in the Hulk moored at Cove. The Freemans Journal reported of the escape of one of the men.....

One of the great cavalcade of transport convicts that left this on Tuesday morning for Cork, escaped the same evening from the Bridewell of Broft and has not since been heard of. His name is Michael Quin, a Galway convict under sentence of transportation for life. The Ennis convicts sent to Cork were - John Reidy, Richard Kennedy, James and Michael McMahon for the police murder; George Mead for the murder of Serjeant Robinson; Timothy Killeen, Thomas Crawford and Denis Foran for Whiteboyism, to be all transported for life. Limerick Chronicle(printed in the Freemans Journal 24 April 1832).

Military Guard

The guard consisted of 29 rank and file of the 4th 17th and 63rd regiments under command of Lieut. Hewson and Ensign Nicholson of the 4th regiment. Lieutenant Ball of the 17th regiment and family came as passengers.


One prisoner, Lawrence Burns was re-landed in Cork.

Thomas Bell kept a Medical Journal from 19th March to 18th September 1832....

We sailed from Cork on the 10th May 1832 with a light and favourable breeze. The weather continuing fine for ten days, all hands soon became accustomed to their new residence without suffering much from sea sickness which might have been expected as most of the party had never seen the sea before.[1]

The Voyage

The surgeon took every possible care to keep the prisoners on deck as much as the weather would permit. The prisons and hospital were kept clean and well ventilated and the bedding was frequently aired and shaken before being returned to the berths. The prisoners were shaved three times a week and their hair kept close cut.

The bathing tub was made use of every morning; one half the prisoners bathed every other morning, two men were appointed to wash with pipe clay and a brush, the person in the bath, which they stood much in need of and which I invariably superintended, and by which means I detected eleven cases of psora and cases of pediculus pubis, more than sufficient to stock all new holland!

Meals were properly cooked and served at regular hours and Thomas Bell kept a check that each man received his allotted portion.......When wine and limejuice were served each man in numerical order, one at a time passed through the barricade on one side of the deck and passed out of the other by which means I had an opportunity of observing every man distinctly. Examining his clothes, shoes etc and which put a total stop to anything like traffic for lime juice or wine which is often the case in convict ships. [1]

Illness on the Voyage

There were two deaths on the voyage (Anthony Barry and Malachy Foley); one died from consumption and the other ascites, both were probably ill when they embarked. There were a few outbreaks of scurvy which were cured before landing and the cases of constipation and leg ulcers were treated successfully by the surgeon. Illness amongst the guard and prisoners towards the end of the voyage was attributed by the surgeon to the bad weather at that time..... for three weeks before making Kings Island we had a continuation of boisterous weather when coughs colds and rheumatism were the prevailing complaints. Five cases of dysentery occurred among the Guard, no doubt caused by exposure to wet and heavy dews during their sentry all of which recovered before landing [1]

Port Jackson

One hundred and ninety six male prisoners arrived in Port Jackson on Thursday evening 6th September 1832. Overall the surgeon was pleased with the voyage......In conclusion I am happy to remark that the greatest unanimity prevailed amongst all the officers throughout the voyage, most of the prisoners behaved remarkably well, and I have much pleasure in stating that the Secretary, The Honourable Mr. McLeay complimented me on the good order in which all the prisoners appeared before him. [1]

They were mustered on board on 10th September 1832. The Sydney Gazette reported that they were expected ashore on Saturday 15th September 'All Patlanders to a man; if they could handle the flail as well as the shillelagh*, would prove an acquisition to farmers'

The convict indents reveal the name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, crime, date and place of trial, sentence, prior conviction and physical description of the prisoners. There is also occasional information about colonial crimes and deaths however there is no indication in the indents as to where the men were assigned on arrival.

Seventy-two Eliza convicts have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley in the following years. Select here to find out more about these men.

Departure from Port Jackson

The Eliza sailed from Port Jackson on 24th September. On 25th October 1832 the Sydney Herald reported that the Eliza bound for Singapore had returned to port through stress of weather, having encountered severe gales of wind, and nearly wrecked off King's Island.

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). Select here to find the punishment endured by John Creedon at Hyde Park Barracks in 1833

3). There were possibly two different surgeon superintendents by the name of Thomas Bell. The signature on the medical journal of the Eliza, Prince George in 1837 and Portsea in 1838 are all similar. The signature on the medical journal of the Thames in 1829 (VDL) and the Edward in 1831 seem to have been signed by a different Thomas Bell.

4). Two of the convicts arriving on the Eliza achieved notoriety......

Francis McNamara (Frank the Poet) composed several well known poems and became known throughout the colony for his words of poignancy and protest. One of Australia's best known folk songs, Moreton Bay has been attributed to Frank the Poet.

James Ryan from Cork was only 16 when he was sentenced to 7 years transportation. He was 17 years old when he was executed after having the misfortune to become involved in one of the colony's most infamous episodes - the convict uprising at Castle Forbes.

5). George Cott from Cork was also only 16 years of age. The youngest convict on the Eliza was Daniel Torpy from Tipperary who was 15 years of age.

6). William Sullivan was convicted of bushranging in 1835.

*Shillelagha - thick stick of blackthorn or oak used in Ireland, typically as a weapon.


[1] Journal of Thomas Bell. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817 - 1857. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-51.