Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Guildford - 1820

Embarked: 190
Voyage: 139 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Previous vessel: Shipley arrived 26 September 1820
Next vessel: Morley arrived 30 September 1820
Captain Magnus Johnson
Surgeon Hugh Walker
Prisoners and passengers of the Guildford identified in the Hunter Valley

The Guildford was built in 1810 on the River Thames. [3] She made eight voyages to Australia with convicts - 1812, 1816, 1818, 1820, 1822, 1824, 1827 and 1829.

The Convicts

The convicts came from counties in England - Berks, Bristol, Cambridge, Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Dorset, Essex, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford, Rutland, Somerset, Stafford, Southampton, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwick, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, York, Leeds, Isle of Man. One prisoner was court-martialled at Portsmouth. The convict indents don't reveal their crimes however the crimes of five of the most notorious men known as the Cato Street Conspirators was well documented elsewhere........

Cato Street Conspirators

The Cato Street Conspirators were tried and found guilty of high treason at the Old Bailey on 16 April 1820. Most of the Conspirators were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, however all sentences were later commuted. John Brunt, William Davidson, James Ings, Arthur Thistlewood and Richard Tidd were all hanged and beheaded at Newgate Prison on May 1, 1820. Their bodies were placed in coffins, filled with lime, screwed up and placed in line with each other in a channel which had been dug alongside the subterraneous passage that led to the cells. The graves were covered with earth and stones.

The death sentences of Charles Cooper, Richard Bradburn, John Harrison, James Wilson and John Shaw Strange were commuted to transportation for life.[4]

They were sent to the Captivity Hulk at Portsmouth, but did not remain there long as they were sent to the Guildford on 2nd May.

Military Guard

Officers commanding the guard of the 46th regt., were Lieut. Dawe of 46th and Ensign Codd of 48th regiment.

Cabin Passengers

Thomas Berdmore Allen who was appointed colonial assistant surgeon and later worked at Parramatta and Sydney Hospitals. He died before 1829.


The Guildford departed Portsmouth on 14th May 1820 with 190 male prisoners.

Surgeon Hugh Walker

Hugh Walker kept a Medical Journal from 15 April 1820 to 5 November 1820.

Six weeks after commencing the voyage, he had the irons struck off the boys who were learning to read. He was pleased with their progress as many did not know any letters when they arrived on board. The prisoners were usually put in handcuffs as punishment for theft or quarrelling. There was only one mention of corporal punishment, that of James Knibbs on 2 August, was given 2 dozen lashes for theft.[1]

Cape of Good Hope

The ship reached Simons Town on 6th August where they received fresh water, vegetables and fruit. Four prisoners were received on board from Cape Town. There was a dispute here between Hugh Walker and Lieutenant Dawe of the Guard over the method of punishment of one of the prisoners, John Flynn who had stolen bread from a soldier. The dispute was settled with a verbal judgement from Captain Moresby of the Menai to whom the surgeon had appealed. John Flynn's punishment was to be put in handcuffs.[1]

Voyage from Capetown

They got under weigh from Cape Town on 17th August. There was a violent squall on the night of 30th August. The sail was ripped to pieces and cross jack yard was torn away. On the 27 September they passed by Jervis Bay and by this time the convicts were allowed on deck without restraints.

For the most part, this seems to have been one of the easier voyages. The surgeon attributed the remarkable health of the convicts to cleanliness, ventilation and daily mustering on deck. Those who had early signs of scurvy were treated with lemon and bark successfully. There was little severe punishment and the boys were able attend school. Hugh Walker would have liked the prisoners to have been supplied with 'pipe and tabors', so that they could dance to prevent them brooding on their misfortunes. He also suggested that oakum picking as the best occupation for convicts.[1]

Port Jackson

They reached Port Jackson Heads at 8am on 30 September 1820 and at noon Captain John Piper, Naval Officer of the Port came on board. By 2pm they had anchored in Sydney Cove. There had been one death, that of an infant girl and one birth, the wife of Sergeant Wardrobe of the 46th regiment, was delivered of a son.

On the 4th October 61 convicts trans-shipped from the Shipley and bound for Van Diemen's Land were embarked on the Guildford and Mr. Campbell came on board to inspect the convicts.

On the 6th October the five men known as the Cato Street Conspirators were disembarked in Sydney

After a dispatch from Under Secretary Goulburn warning Governor Macquarie that the five Conspirators had not repented of their crimes and were 'not indisposed to embark on further crimes of the same measure', Governor Macquarie was advised to separate them from other convicts. On arrival the five men were sent to work in the gaol gang at Newcastle, however Commandant Morisset later commended the prisoners for their quiet and orderly conduct. [5]

They all remained at Newcastle until 1823 and all except Richard Bradburn later moved to the Bathurst district.

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). An Authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy and Trials By George Theodore Wilkinson

3). Pipe and Tabor - Wikipedia

4). The ill-fated Hugh Walker was also employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Minstrel in 1825.


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Hugh Walker on the voyage of the Guildford in 1820. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/31/2 Description: Journal of the convict ship Guildford by Hugh Walker, Surgeon, for 15 April 1820 to 5 November 1820, on a voyage to New South Wales and then Van Diemen's Land. The journal takes the form of a diary recording the daily cleaning of the prison and hospital quarters, mustering of convicts on deck, position of the ship and temperature at noon, the opening of casks of provisions and the treatment of the sick.

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

[4] Caledonia Mercury 6 May 1829

[5] HRA Series 1, Vol. 10