Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Ferguson - 1829

Embarked 216 men
Voyage: 130 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Sophia arrived 17 January 1829
Next vessel: Mellish arrived 18 April 1829
Captain John Groves
Surgeon Charles Cameron
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Hunter Valley convicts arriving on the Ferguson in 1829

Convicts to be transported on the Ferguson came from counties throughout Ireland. They had been convicted of house robbery, stealing, vagrancy, shop-lifting, picking pockets, forgery, perjury and manslaughter. There were also men who had been convicted of Whiteboy crimes.


Newgate Prison Dublin - Dublin City Council......Newgate prison, Dublin

The Freemans Journal reported in September 1828......

Yesterday morning, thirty-five male convicts, most of them youthful delinquents, were removed from Newgate, to the Essex hulk in Kingstown harbour, preparatory to their being transported to our Australian Settlements, pursuant to their several sentences.

They were conveyed in nine jaunting cars, escorted by a troop of the 7th Hussars. In their progress through the streets, they evinced the most reckless indifference as to their seemingly unhappy situation; their shouts of exultation, waving of hats and handkerchiefs etc., would intimate that they considered their change as one rather 'devoutly to be wished' than to be dreaded as a meed of punishment for their delinquencies.. They were all comfortably clothed in the prison uniform, and appeared clean and in good health. [2]

Essex Hulk, Dublin

Military Guard

In October 1828, it was reported in England that a detachment belonging to the 82nd Regiment of Foot marched from Chatham to Sheerness, for the purpose of relieving a detachment of the 63d Regiment of Infantry, which had been ordered to embark on board the Ferguson as guards over the convicts. The detachment of the 63rd was under orders of Capt. D'arcy Wentworth.

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included D.A.C.G. Thomas Stafford Esq., Dr. Russell, Assistant Surgeon of the 63rd Regiment, Ensign Dunbar of the 39th Regiment, Mrs. Wentworth and Master James Henry who was travelling to New South Wales to join his father.

Departure from Dublin

The Ferguson departed Dublin on 16th November 1828

Surgeon Charles Cameron

It was customary for surgeons to be provided with a list of the particulars of the convicts under their charge. This did not happen on the voyages of either the Ferguson or the Governor Ready. In later correspondence surgeon Charles Cameron explained why this occurred:

Surgeon Cameron to Colonial Secretary Macleay.
Convict Ship Fergussan.

30th March 1829.
In answer to your Letter of the 2Sth inst. requesting me to transmit the Lists I may have in my possession, containing such information as could be procured, respecting the character and connexions of the Prisoners under my Charge. I beg to inform you that, when the Prisoners came on board at Dunleary, I applied to the Principal Superintendent of Convicts in Ireland, Dr. Trevor, for the Lists required, and also the Overseer of the Essex Hulk, shewing them my orders from the Navy Board to have the List in my possession for delivery to His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales.

Mr. Lamb, the Overseer of the Hulk, told me that he could not give me one without the permission of Doctor Trevor: and Dr. Trevor refused to give me the Lists, stating his reason for acting in this manner to be 'that I might become prejudiced against a Man by knowing that his Crime was bad'; and that I might in consequence ill treat him or allow others to do so; I remonstrated with him, as far as I considered my Situation would permit me, but without avail, and I was obliged to rest satisfied by stating that I would be under the necessity of representing the circumstance.
I have, etc,
Cameron. Surgeon Superintendent. [1]

Charles Cameron kept a Medical Journal from 23 September to 8 April 1829.

The prisoners were already in a low state of health when they embarked and bad weather in the early part of the voyage caused many of them to suffer sea sickness. Scorbutus (scurvy) had appeared in the prisoners and soldiers by early March and although the cases were numerous, the surgeon did not consider most of them serious.

On 26 March 1829 the Ferguson arrived in Sydney Cove. Charles Cameron noted on this day that fresh beef and vegetables being daily supplied to the prisoners, would improve the general health of the scorbutic patients rapidly.

Copy of a letter from Mr. Charles Cameron, a surgeon in His Majesty's Navy and late surgeon of the Fergusson convict ship, to the Commissioners for victualling His Majesty's Navy, and for the care of sick and wounded seamen Wellcome Library-

Convict Muster

A muster was held by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 28th March 1829. Two prisoners had died on the voyage out. - Andrew Brush and Bryan Spollin. The convict indents include information such as name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, prior convictions, sentence, physical description and where the men were assigned on arrival. There is also occasional information about family members already in the colony or expected soon, tickets of leave, deaths and colonial crimes. -
Edward Brady's wife had been convicted also and was expected to arrive as Mary Brown
James Brennan died at Windsor 15th July 1851
Peter Boylan, brother of Christopher Boylan died in Harpers Hill Stockade
Bernard Connor died suddenly on the 16 December 1836 in the service of Andrew Lang
James Cousins died in the General Hospital Newcastle in December 1838
Daniel Collins drowned at Lawsons Creek Mudgee 25 February 1833
Nicholas Campbell died 19 November 1844 in Liverpool Hospital
William Devine aged 74, clerk and soldier had three sons already in the colony, two by the Sophia
Dominick Daley was Executed at Bathurst 22 November 1830
John Delany died in the General Hospital Sydney29 October 1846
Patrick Gleeson died in the Windsor hospital
Michael Keane has hanged in Sydney 31 December 1833 for felony
Thomas Knockton was later sent to Cockatoo Island and Norfolk Island
Lawrence Kennedy died at Port Macquarie 9 October 1834
Patrick Kelly died in Windsor Hospital 10 May 1832
Peter McGuire died at Maitland 2 August 1843
Patrick McKenna died in Parramatta hospital 18 July 1835
James O'Brien died on 19 June 1830 at the Fish river whilst under military escort
Charles Rorke died at Bathurst in 1833


The prisoners being about to land on 29th March, two men Thomas Ivory and Christopher Boylen, were sent to the hospital and another four - John Ryan, Hugh Ritchie, Patrick Quin, and John Clarke sent as convalescents, as they were still too weak to be assigned as servants to settlers. The youngest prisoners were Hugh Gallagher age 12, Matthew Cannon age 14; Bernard Neil age 14; Samuel Johnstone age 14; Patrick Crowe age 15 and Daniel Mullin age 15. They were sent to the Carter's Barracks on arrival. The oldest was William Devine who was 74 years of age and deemed too old for assignment. Michael Kelly was also unfit for assignment being paralysed on the left side.

Convict Assignment

Six men - James Mullholland, George Burn, Charles Clarke, William Hester, Cornelius Lowry and Michael McNamara were assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company. This was before the Company took over the coal mines at Newcastle and the men were likely sent to the northward to work as shepherds and hut keepers.

Other convicts were assigned to William Ogilvie, Standish Lawrence Harris, Robert Scott and John Smith.

Convicts of the Ferguson identified in the Hunter Valley -

Ball, John

Bartie, William

Battersby, William

Boylan, Peter

Brackenridge, John

Brady, Edward

Bray, Patrick

Burn, George

Caffrey, Michael

Campbell, Nicholas

Cannon, James

Carey, Alexander

Carolan, Thomas

Carroll, Patrick

Clarke, Charles

Collins, Patrick

Connell, James

Connor, Bernard

Connor, James

Costley, John

Cousins, James

Crow, Patrick

Davis, Patrick

Deering, Thomas

Delaney, John

Doyle, John

Duigan, Michael

Finnegan, Peter

Flinn, Thomas

Gallagher, Hugh

Galligan, Bryan

Gibbons, Darby

Gillen, John

Gleeson, Patrick

Graves, Storer

Guinn, Patrick

Hamill, John

Henry, Robert

Heslan, Patrick

Hester, William

Heveron, James

Hughes, James

Ivory, Thomas

Kearney, John

Kelly, Michael

Kelly, Patrick

Kenny, Michael

Lalor, John

Lowry, Cornelius

McCormick, Edward

McCullogh, John

McDaid, Bernard

McDermott, Thomas

McGrath, Owen

McGuaid, John

McNamara, Michael

McNamara, Patrick

Monaghan, Eneas

Moore, James

Mulholland, James

Neill, Patrick

O'Neill, James

Phelan, Patrick

Pitt, George

Quinn, Patrick

Ramsay, Charles

Reilley, Patrick

Rooney, Nicholas

Sherridan, Edward

Stinson, Robert

Stinson, Thomas

Stinson, William

Stuart, William

Notes and Links

1). Captain D'arcy Wentworth was the brother of William Charles Wentworth. He was ordered to proceed to Van Diemen's Land at the earliest opportunity after arrival, and expected to sail on the Tigress on the 31st March. Captain D'Arcy Wentworth had the honour of being the first Australian born person to be commissioned as an officer in the British Army. - He died in 1861

Obituary of Darcy Wentworth - Cornwall Chronicle 24 July 1861...Cornwall Chronicle 24 July 1861

2). Charles Cameron was also employed as surgeon superintendent on the convict ships Midas in 1825 Princess Charlotte which departed England in March 1827 and the David Lyon (VDL) in 1830.

3). Extract from The Medico-chirurgical Review re scurvy outbreak on the Ferguson by Charles Cameron.....

Nitrate Of Potash In Scurvy. In a letter or report from Mr. Charles Cameron, a naval surgeon, to the Navy Medical Board, (with a sight of which report we have been favoured by one of the medical commissioners) there is given an account of a severe scurvy which broke out among the convicts on board the Ferguson transport, on her passage from Ireland to New South Wales, and which threatened to depopulate the crew, till fortunately it was checked by a solution of nitrate of potash in vinegar, or in a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice.

The convicts, 216 in number, were embarked on the coast of Ireland in November 1828, and were then in a low state of health, from deficient nourishment and the depressing passions. Bad weather was experienced on the early part of the voyage, and the convicts suffered greatly from sea-sickness. Their constitutions were thus still farther debilitated, and before the ship crossed the equator, the hospital was full of scorbutic patients, and many others were confined to bed in a dangerous state. The disease assumed a variety of forms, or rather a number of other complaints became engrafted on the scorbutic diathesis, and were thereby rendered much more formidable. Dysentery, however, was the most prominent feature or form, and affections of the lungs were also very common. Two of the men died of the scorbutic dysentery.

When they were preparing to bear away for Rio Janeiro, in order to procure refreshments for the sick, Mr. Cameron tried an old remedy recommended by Patterson many years ago, in his treatise on Scurvy - namely, nitre. The common stock of this being soon exhausted, a supply was procured from the gun-powder on board. The effects Mr. Cameron describes as almost miraculous - so much so that they abandoned the idea of putting into Rio, and pursued their course to New South Wales, where the convicts landed in unusual good health. The formula and mode of administration will be seen in the following extract. 'But I might add that the most distressing symptoms which my patients complained of, in the early stages, namely, a sense of 'oppression and sinking at the pit of the stomach,' were almost invariably relieved, or totally removed, by a few doses of the medicine. The prisoners themselves sensible of its good effects, that I had, for the first time, an opportunity of seeing men crave for medicine, the taste of which was certainly not pleasant; and their complexions were so much improved under its use - changing from a sallow, bloated hue, sometimes approaching to livid, to a clear, healthy colour - that it became matter of surprise to every one. ,

'The medicine was prepared, and exhibited in the following manner: -Eight ounces of nitre were dissolved in so much vinegar as would make the solution amount to sixty-four ounces. Sometimes equal parts of vinegar and lime-juice were used. A little sugar was generally added to render it more palatable; and about four drops of ol. menth. piperitae, diffused in a small portion of alcohol, was added to the whole, which rendered it more grateful to the stomach. 'One ounce of this solution was the dose, and was seldom exceeded. From three to eight doses, according to the stage of the disease and the severity of the symptoms, were given at equal intervals during the day - from six o'clock in the morning till eight at night. In general, when the disease was taken early, two or three doses a day, for a week or ten days, were sufficient; but it appeared to me to be always better to commence with three or four doses, and increase the number gradually - daily if necessary. In the advanced stages a much larger quantity may be taken, and is in fact required, than at the commencement of the disease; but although I have often given the solution to the extent of eight ounces daily, and on one or two occasions exceeded this quantity considerably, and have at the same time watched my patients very closely, I never observed any irritation of the stomach or bowels, or any other inconvenience which could be fairly attributed to it. It is, nevertheless, advisable to dilute each dose with two or three ounces of water when exhibited. While the constitution is thus being corrected and improved, particular symptoms will require the usual attention. The Medico-chirurgical Review, Volume 16

4). County of Down Assizes. Downpatrick - Monday August 4. - Charles Ramsay, for stealing a hat the property of Robert Townly. Guilty, 7 years transportation. - Belfast Newsletter 5 August 1828

5). County of Antrim Assizes - Carrickfergus - Thomas Kane - for stealing two pigs, from Joseph Hill...Joseph Hill lost two pigs in April last - he bought them in Belfast, and put them in a sack - did not miss them from his car till he was two miles from Belfast - saw them next day in Police Office - knew them by marks and his name on the sack - he was sitting on the car at the time they were stolen. - Martin McCabe - is a watchman in Belfast - took prisoner into custody about one in the morning of 5th April, with two pigs in a sack, as he was coming out of Squeezegut - took the pigs to the watch house but prisoner escaped - he was taken again next morning - Fullerton Thomson - got from last witness two pigs and a sack - the owner came next day and claimed them - Guilty - transported for 7 years.- Belfast Newsletter 1 August 1828

6). County of Antrim Assizes - Carrickfergus - James McGuiggan, for stealing a brass seat (a piece of machinery) from the shop of Andrew Law, Belfast. It was stated by Mr. Law's son, that prisoner came into the warehouse under some pretence, when he saw him take the piece of brass off the counter, and put it into his pocket. He had reason to suspect that the prisoner and his connexions had before repeatedly stolen articles form the shop - guilty; 7 years transportation - - Daniel McKinley, for stealing a pair of trowsers the property of Adam Cuppidge - Guilty; 7 years transportation - Patrick McQuiggan - for stealing money the property of James and Henry Black, Belfast. Mr. Henry Black stated that he had placed 10s on the desk in the shop for a particular purpose. He saw prisoner come into the shop, seize the money and run off. There was no one else in the shop and witness did not pursue him; but he had him taken soon afterwards - Guilty; 7 years transportation...... Belfast Newsletter 1 August 1828

7). Cavan Assizes - Luke and Pat McCabe, for highway robbery. Sentence of death recorded. Owen Fannon, for way laying and assaulting Edward Sinclair, near Belturbet; for putting him in dread of his life; and taking from his person a pistol, value ten shillings - sentence of death recorded; but, in consequence of his previous good character sentence commuted to transportation for life. Peter Galligan, Bryan Galligan and Patrick Turner, for arson. Death. - Freemans Journal 30 July 1828

8). Bushranger Lawrence Kavanagh arrived on the Ferguson.

9). Return of Convicts of the Ferguson assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832).....

Hugh Burke - Stonecutter assigned to John Hillas, Windsor Road

Patrick Crowe - Errand boy assigned to James Cracknell at Illalong

Thomas or Patrick Deering - Stable boy assigned to George Turner at Sydney

Peter Finnigan - Errand boy assigned to H. Macarthur at Parramatta

Thomas Ivory - Ploughs. Assigned to Duncan Forbes Mackay at Williams River

William Kelly - Carpenter and joiner assigned to Aspinall and co. at Sydney

Denis McCarthy - Indoor servant assigned to Elizabeth Kelly at Sydney

Michael McDaniel - Turner and carpenter assigned to Samuel North at Windsor

John Murphy or Reach - Cooper's apprentice. Assigned to William Walker and Co. in Sydney

10). Ships bringing detachments of the 63rd regiment -

Albion departed Sheerness 1 June 1828 - Lieutenant M. Vickery

Eliza departed London 29 June 1828 - Major Sholto Douglas

Marquis of Hastings' departed 30 June 1828 - Ensign Stulbmer

Royal George departed Spithead 26 August 1828 - Captain J. Briggs

Vittoria departed Devonport1 September 1828 - Lieutenant Aubyn

Governor Ready departed Cork 21 September 1828 - Lieutenant J. Gibbons Lane

Ferguson departed Dublin 16 November 1828 - Captain D'Arcy Wentworth

Mellish departed Falmouth 2 January 1829 - Captain Baylee

Lord Melville departed London 5 January 1829 - Lieut-Col. Burke

Waterloo departed London 14 March 1829 - Lieutenant T. Grove

America departed Woolwich 8 April 1829 - Adjutant T. Montgomery

Norfolk departed Spithead 22 May 1829 - Ensign W.J. Darling

Guildford departed Dublin 12 July 1829 - Lieut McLean 89th

Larkins departed Cork 16 August 1829 - Captain Mahon

Claudine departed London 24 August 1829 - Captain Paterson

Sarah departed London 29 August 1829- Lieutenant Croly

Dunvegan Castle departed 30 September 1829 - Lieutenant John Gray

Katherine Stewart Forbes departed Spithead 14 October 1829 - Major Fairtclough

11). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/27/4 Description: Medical journal of the Ferguson, convict ship, for 23 September 1828 to 8 April 1829 by Charles Cameron, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in carrying convicts to New South Wales


[1] HRA, Series 1, Vol. XIV, p. 697

[2] Freemans Journal 25 September 1828

[3] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.348-349, 386