Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Fame - 1817

Embarked 200 men
Voyage 150 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: No
Tons: 464
Previous vessel: Lord Melville arrived 24 February 1817
Next vessel: Sir William Bensley 10 March 1817
Master Henry Dale
Surgeon John Mortimer
Convicts and passengers of the Fame identified in the Hunter Valley

The Fame was built in Quebec in 1812.

The Prisoners were convicted in counties in Scotland and England - Lancaster, Devon, York, Middlesex, Isle of Wight, Hertford, Warwick, Southampton, Stafford, Somerset, Bristol, Lincoln, Salop, Suffolk, Cornwall, Sussex, Essex, Wiltshire, Surrey, Norfolk and Aberdeen. There were also men who had been court-martialled in Upper Canada and Genoa.[4] After being transferred from county prisons they were held in prison hulks, including the Leviathan and Perseus to await transportation.

The Caledonian Mercury reported on Saturday 28th September 1816 that one hundred and thirty-five convicts were embarked at Portsmouth for New South Wales on the Fame and the next day one hundred and sixteen were sent to the Sir William Bensley for the same colony.

Both ships were expected to sail immediately and planned to touch at the Cape of Good Hope on the way.


The Fame departed Spithead 9 October 1816

Military Guard

Thirty privates and non-commissioned officers of the 46th regiment under the orders of Lieutenant Orange sailed as Guard on the ship

The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Marquis of Wellington, Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Sir William Bensley, Morley and Bencoolen.

Convict Ship Lord Eldon Convict Ship Fame Convict Ship Recovery Convict Ship Elizabeth Convict Ship Three Bees Convict Ship General Hewitt Convict Ship Guildford Convict Ship Shipley Convict Ship Ocean Convict Ship Sir William Bensley Convict Ship Morley Convict Ship Marquis of Wellington Convict Ship Canada Convict Ship Bencoolen Convict Ship Larkins Historical Records of the 46th Regiment Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 46th regtiment to Australia

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included Captain Thomas Laycock and wife Isabella (nee Bunker) Laycock with their two children. Isabella Laycock died soon after arrival. Their daughter Margaret Hannah Laycock was residing with Arnold Fisk and his wife Mary Ann (nee Bunker) at Newcastle in 1828.

Thomas Laycock first arrived in the colony as a nine-year-old with his parents on HMS Gorgon, as part of the Third Fleet. His father Thomas, was a quartermaster in the New South Wales Corps. Thomas Laycock (jun.,) also entered service with the New South Wales Corps, and was commissioned as ensign on 30 December 1795 and rose to lieutenant by 1802. After service in both Sydney and Norfolk Island, Laycock was sent to Port Dalrymple, Van Diemen's Land to serve under Captain Anthony Fenn Kemp in 1806. He served in North America during the War of 1812, and is most famous for being the first European to travel overland through the interior of Tasmania [3]

Soldier and Explorer Captain Thomas Laycock of 98th regiment in 1811....Thomas Laycock

Mrs. Kitchen, wife of Mr. Henry Kitchen, free settler and architect who had arrived on the Surry in 1816 also came free on this vessel.

Port Jackson

They arrived in Port Jackson on 8 March 1817.

Surgeon John Mortimer

John Mortimer informed Governor Macquarie of the state of the prisoners on arrival....

While I have to lament the decrease of our original number of two by the demise of William Collins an aged man of sixty five years without much previous indisposition and of William Banks an invalid from the day he joined, it is satisfactory to state that throughout the passage the prisoners and others on board enjoyed good health and that at this time our list is made up rather of the debilitated than of their suffering from actual disease.[2]

The men were mustered by Captain John Maunder Gill on 11th March 1817. Captain Gill later informed the Governor that... they are generally country men, young and healthy, a good proportion of carpenters but neither stone cutters or stone masons and few other mechanics of any useful description. They appear to have been well treated both by the Captain and Surgeon against whom no complaints were made of any moment. [1]


The prisoners were landed on Friday Morning 14th March and at 10 o'clock were inspected by Governor Macquarie; to whom they unanimously declared that during the entire passage they had experienced the most humane treatment. Select here to read more about disembarking of prisoners.


Thirty-three men were assigned to the Parramatta district, twenty to Liverpool and twenty nine to the Windsor district.

Departure from Port Jackson

The Fame departed Port Jackson bound for Batavia on 1st May 1817.

Notes and Links

1). Frederick Rhodes was assigned to John Howe on arrival. He accompanied Howe on his expedition to the Hunter in 1820.

2). There were three men by the name of John Smith on the Fame they were tried in Suffolk, Essex and Devon.

3). John Smith who was born in Essex, was tried in Suffolk. He was 43 years of age and a straw bonnet maker. He received a sentence of transportation for life. Ticket of Leave 34/1116

4). John Smith who was born in Cork, was tried at the Devon Assizes was 29 years of age and a labourer and tailor. He was sentenced to transportation for 7 years. Conditional Pardon 1425

5). John Smith was tried at Essex. He was 19 years of age and sentenced to transportation for life. Ticket of leave 29/888

6). In Sydney in July 1818 eleven desperate convicts made a bid for freedom by attempting to steal two boats. They attempted this while Governor Macquarie was on a tour of Newcastle settlement and there was no mercy for them when they were captured soon afterwards. Thomas Jones who arrived on the Fame was among their number. Find out more about their attempted escape here. The Governor considered them all to be of the most depraved characters in the colony and they were sentenced to work at hard labour in double irons at the Lime Kilns near Newcastle for up to three years.

7). Convicts and passengers arriving on the Fame identified in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle

8). Account of the number of prisoners who died on the passage to New South Wales.


[1]. Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Reel 6046; 4/1737 p.203

[2]. Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Reel 6046; 4/1737 p.200

[3]. Thomas Laycock - Wikipedia

[4]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4005]; Microfiche: 637