Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Guildford (8) - 1829

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 115 days
Deaths: 4
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: John arrived 13 September 1829
Next vessel: Layton arrived 8 November 1829
Captain John Harrison
Surgeon John Stephenson
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and Passengers of the Guildford identified in the Hunter Valley

This was the last of eight voyages of the Guildford bringing convicts to New South Wales. The others being in 1812, 1816, 1818, 1820, 1822, 1824 and 1827.

Two hundred prisoners were embarked in Dublin. Their crimes included stealing, burglary, house robbery, highway robbery, perjury, passing forged notes, manslaughter, desertion, cutting and maiming and bigamy. There were several sent for whiteboy crimes such as attacking a house, bearing arms and arson. Four men died on the passage out.

The Guildford was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Eliza in March 1829.


The Guildford delayed fourteen days pending the result of an effort made by Lord Eldon to obtain the release of a convict then on board the Guildford who was convicted of subornation of perjury. The convict was E. Radford Rowe, a barrister called to the Irish Bar in the Michaelmas term 1799. Lord Eldon was successful in his appeal, and Radford Rowe was landed from the ship the day before she sailed and detained in Dublin. [4]

The ship departed Dublin on 12 July 1829.

Surgeon John Stephenson

The following paragraphs are excerpts from the Medical journal of John Stephenson from 4th May to 4 November 1829.....

During the whole month of May the ship remained at Deptford fitting and preparing for the reception of the Convicts and Guard etc., On the 19th one officer and 29 men with a portion of women and children were embarked; but nothing occurred worthy of notice in a Medical point of view.
In the early part of June the vessel arrived at Dublin and on the 16th 200 convicts were embarked as were also three Government passengers making the total number of persons on board 203. Of these, several required medical or surgical treatment but no case of any importance was put on the lists. The facility with which the Guard and ship's company can procure spirits is the occasion of much drunkenness from which originate many accidents, inflammatory and bowel complaints

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 39 privates of different corps who were accompanied by 4 women and 3 children under orders of Lieutenant McLean of the 89th regiment.

Select here to find convict ships bringing detachments of the 63rd regiment.

Sergeant Thomas (William) Morris came on the Guildford as a soldier of the 63rd regiment. After serving with the 73rd regiment in India and elsewhere, he retired for a few years before enlisting again with the 63rd regiment. Select here to read an extract of his account of the voyage to Australia on the Guildford.

The Voyage

About the 12th or 13th August a great and sudden change took place in the temperature of the atmosphere and state of the weather. The thermometer also which had previously ranged from 65° to 67° at 2 pm fell in one day to 55° or 56° above which it has rarely risen since, and this weather became wet, cold and blowing. The convicts who are very poorly clad most of their clothing being worn out during the month we were detained in Dublin, have in consequence suffered severely from dysentery; upwards of 40 being taken ill in a very few days and many more are likely to suffer. The fatal case which occurred shall be given at length and I may remark that this patient in some measure fell a victim to his own imprudence. He was employed as cook subject of course to great changes from heat to cold and on being taken ill not only drank large quantities of rum but concealed his illness for two days......

The cold wet weather continued through September and October; during this period the greatest number of people were ill and so far from their being able to have anything like fresh air it was but rarely those who were in health could enjoy that luxury on deck without getting wet. The following summary will show how very uncomfortable the situation of all must have been - Of 50 days between the 11th September and 31st October there were very wet with heavy showers of hail, much lightening and strong breezes. 17 very wet and hard gales 7. Dry and fine with hard gales 5. Moderate breeze cloudy wet weather 10. Calm with thick fog and very damp wet 4. And of fine weather 7. Of course this greater part of the time the motion of the ship was distressing to the patients. As the dysentery was almost entirely confined to the convicts so were all the inflammatory complaints and pneumonia but none except two cases of the latter were of any importance. Several trifling cases of scurvy occurred during the last two or three weeks of the voyage. The disease showing itself by swelling of the gums, livid spots on the legs etc., but no case of an aggravated nature took place. In the surgical way I had little or nothing to do
. [1]

Following are some of the convicts mentioned in the surgeon's journal:

John Morriss, aged 19, convict;
Peter Hart, aged 19, convict and John McNeil, aged 20, convict;
The first of these patients [Peter Hart] was a stout florid, very well looking young man but lazy and inanimate, the other [John McNeil] an idiot from infancy with a paralytic affection of the right hand and arm, active, bustling and very passionate, they were put on the list the same day for the same symptoms.
J Stevenson, aged 23, convict; sick or hurt, dysentery, robust young Englishman.

Port Jackson

They arrived in Port Jackson on Wednesday 4 November 1829. This was a hazy day in Sydney with winds from the S.E.. Temperature 64F - 69F.

Convict Muster

Two days later the Muster was held on board by Alexander Macleay the Colonial Secretary. On this day the temperature was 98F at midday.

The convict indents include the prisoner's Name, Age, Education, Religion, Marital Status, Native Place, Trade, Offence, Place and Date of Trial, Sentence, Prior Convictions, Physical Description and where assigned on arrival. There are also occasional details regarding relatives already in the colony, pardons, punishments and deaths.

Notes from the Indents:

John Anderson alias Clarke - Sent to Norfolk Island
Samuel Birney died in HM General Hospital Liverpool 3 October 1832
William Bodle. Wife convicted and expected as Eliza Ann Bodle
Joseph Byrne, Clerk. No place of assignment recorded
Patrick Bryan age 56. Died in Sydney Hospital 19 March 1832
James Brennan. Sent to Norfolk Island
Michael Connelly. Died McLeay River district 5 July 1849
Henry Cooke from Dublin. Executed at Sydney 11 July 1833
Michael Dobbin alias William Lawless from Dublin. Died in Sydney Hospital 1836
Fitzgerald - died in Sydney Hospital 24 April 1837
Patrick Flood Died on the passage out
Richard Gearon - Died at Liverpool 24 December 1830
James Gillers - Attorneys Clerk. No place of assignment given
Patrick Gough - Died on the passage out
Thomas Henry. Sentenced to Norfolk Island
Peter Hart - Died on the passage
David Jones - Sent to Norfolk Island
John Legg - Died in 1830
John McElwaine - Died in Sydney Hospital
Thomas Maher - Idiot. Lame right arm
John Main. Sent to Pinchgut
George Potter - Wife expected as Catherine Potter
John Reilly - Died during the passage
John Smith - Died in the hospital at Port Macquarie 1837 [4]

The youngest prisoners on board were Christopher Burton (14), Lawrence Foley (13), Richard Gearon (15), John Gildea (15), James Hagan (14), Michael Jones (15), John Keigh (15), James Kelly (15), Patrick McNamara (15), James Maguire (15), James Murphy (15), John Quin (15), John Redmond (14), Henry Smith (13), Michael Smith (14), Patrick Smith (13) and Stephen Timmins (15). They were all sent to the Carter's Barracks on arrival.

Cabin Passengers

The three passengers who had embarked in Dublin were Mr. Roger Therry, Esq., Commissioner of the Court of Requests, Mrs. Therry and Mr. Shea, Clerk to Mr. Therry. Roger Therry later wrote of his first impressions of Sydney in Reminiscences of Thirty Years' Residence in New South Wales and Victoria. The scenes he described would soon be a familiar sight to the prisoners who arrived on the Guildford.... The convicts at an early hour of the evening were shut up in their barracks which accounted for their disappearance from the streets on the occasion of my first visit. When, however, day dawned in Sydney, the delusion of the evening was dispelled. Early in the morning the gates of the convict prison were thrown open, and several hundred convicts were marched out in regimental file and distributed amongst the several public works in and about the town. As they passed along - the chains clanking at their heels - the patchwork dress of coarse grey and yellow cloth marked with the Government brand in which they were paraded - the downcast countenances - and the whole appearance of the men, exhibited a truly painful picture.

Roger Therry - Roger Therry (1800-1874), by Richard Read. State Library of NSW...Roger Therry (1800-1874), by Richard Read, 1834 State Library of New South Wales, Original : ML 180

Nor was it much improved throughout the day, as one met bands of them in detachments of twenty yoked to waggons laden with gravel and stone, which they wheeled through the streets; in this and in other respects they performed all the functions of labour usually discharged by beasts of burden at home. These were painful scenes, but to the pain they caused was soon added a thrill of horror, by a scene that I witnessed a day or two subsequently.

The Sydney hospital, well situated, was in a line with the prisoners' barracks, and at a short distance from them (about 300 yards ). In an enclosed yard of these barracks, shut out from the public road by a very high brick wall, flogging was administered. A band of from ten to twenty were daily at one period marched into this yard to be flogged. As I passed along the road about eleven o'clock in the morning there issued out of the prisoners' barracks a party consisting of four men, who bore on their shoulders (two supporting the head and two the feet) a miserable convict, writhing in an agony of pain - his voice piercing the air with terrific screams. Astonished at the sight, I inquired what this meant, and was told it was 'only a prisoner who had been flogged, and who was on his way to the hospital'

Departure from Sydney

The Guilford under Captain Harrison departed Sydney on 22 December 1829 and arrived in Hobart on 1st January 1830. Passengers to Hobart included Captain Patterson 63rd regt., Mrs. Patterson, Captain and Mrs. Storey 20th Regt., Captain Wentworth, Captain Rayman, Mrs. Rayman and child; Lieut. Crawley, Ensign Poole, 63rd regt., Lieut. Miller 40th regt., Dr. McLeod, Inspector of Hospitals; Dr. Stephenson R.N. Mr. Canning of H.M.S. Crocodile; Miss Lyons; as well as soldiers of the 57th, 39th, 40th regiments.

On 19th January the ship sailed from Hobart bound for Bombay with Government stores and passengers - Major and Mrs. Turton, Captain Dalrymple, Captain Sweeney, Lieut and Mrs. Williams, Lieut Miller, Lieut. Ellis; 193 non commissioned officers and privates, 24 women and 36 children of the 40th regiment; Dr. Donald McLeod, Captain Story, Captain and Mrs. Rayman.

The Australian reported in 1833 that the Guildford had sailed from Singapore on her return to England almost two years previously and had not been heard of since.

Therry's Account of the Escape of an Apprentice

The story of the Guildford is tragic. A few months after our arrival in NSW wrote Therry, the Guildford on her home ward voyage from Madras (whither she went in search of a cargo from inability then to procure one in Sydney), foundered at sea. The ship and all on board were lost. Only one of the crew which sailed from Dublin survived.....

'A few years had passed since my arrival in New South Wales when a frigate commanded, I imagine, by the Hon. Captain Hans Blackwood, put into Sydney. A fine young sailor the next morning presented himself at my house in Hunter Street and announced himself as the 'boy Brown' of the Guildford. He had been an apprentice on board, and we had taken some notice of him on the outward voyage. We rejoiced at his escape from a watery grave to which in imagination we had long since consigned him.

He said that on the day that the Guilford weighed anchor in Madras Roads - the last day she was ever seen afloat - his term of seven years service had expired. Desirous of leaving the Guildford and joining the Imogene frigate lying about a mile distant from his own ship he demanded his discharge.

The captain (Harrison) refused the request on the plea that he was short handed and could not spare him from the ship. Brown watched his opportunity when the captain went below. Throwing off his clothes and leaping from the forecastle of the Guildford he dashed boldly out and swam in the direction of the Imogene.

He had six minutes start before he was missed. Harrison then lowered a boat and with four men pulled after him.

It was a hot pursuit, and, as events proved, one of life or death for the poor lad. The boat and boy came alongside the Imogene together. The boy ran up the side of the ship with Harrison quickly after him. Captain Blackwood astonished by such an unusual visit on becoming acquainted with the occasion of it, gave judgement on the case.

It was admitted by Harrison that the boy's time was up, and, as to the plea of being short handed, Capt. Blackwood needed crew and it was his first duty to provided for the King's service.

He proposed however, to leave the boy a free agent and allow him to choose for himself. Of course the boy decided in favour of the Imogene. Harrison returned to the Guildford and immediately proceeded on his homeward voyage.

From that day until the one on which all things shall be made manifest, it will remain unknown where or how soon afterwards, the captain, crew and passengers consisting of several field officers, with their families on their return home after long service in India, and a rich cargo of merchandise were engulfed in the deep abyss of the ocean

The only remnants of the wreck ever discovered afterwards were the stern board of a boat and a bucket picked up at sea with the word Guildford painted upon them
. [4]

Convicts of the Guildford identified in the Hunter Valley :

Aspeel, William

Bird, William

Boyd, Thomas

Boyle, John

Boyne, Patrick

Brazil, John

Burns, Cornelius

Caffrey, John

Cassidy, Francis

Cavanagh, Michael

Connor, Patrick

Cunningham, Patrick

Doyle, Patrick

Ellard, Thomas

Fox, Maurice

Gillers, James

Gregory, Thomas

Hagan, James

Hare, William

Hughes, John

Hynes, Edward

Jones, David

Jones, James

Kavanagh, Hugh

Lagan, Richard

Lamb, John

Lennon, Patrick

Main, John

McElwaine, John

McNeill, John

Murphy, James

Owens, William

Perkins, John

Potter, George

Quirk, John

Redmond, John

Reilly, Francis

Reilly, Peter

Reilly, Thomas

Rogers, John

Thornton, John

Timmons, John

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). County of Down Assizes. Downpatrick - Monday August 4. - John Rogers, indicted for bigamy, in marrying Mary Montgomery, while his former wife Martha Mahoney was still living - guilty 7 years transportation. - Belfast Newsletter 5 August 1828

3). Patrick Connor for stealing ten pounds weight of iron chains the property of William Roper, Esq., The Court observed, that the severe sentence they were about to award to him was not so much for the value of the articles stolen as for his ingratitude in robbing his employer, and as a warning to others in a similar situation. Seven years' transportation. John McIlwain for stealing in the dwelling house of Mr. Heron of Montpelier - Seven years' transportation. On receiving sentence, the prisoner exclaimed in an exulting tone, 'the herring was never taken by a better fish, and that he would be fishing for the prosecutor going over'. - Freeman's Journal 4th May 1829. (John McIlwain died in Sydney in 1833).

4). The Guildford was one of 21 convict ships to arrive in New South Wales in 1829.

5). John Stephenson was also surgeon on the convict ships Eleanor in 1831, Waterloo in 1833 and the Neva in 1835.

6). Return of Convicts of the Guildford assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....

Christopher Burton - Errand boy assigned to F.C.L. Thomson at Camden
Patrick Connor - Carpenter and joiner assigned to John Palmer junior at Maitland
Maurice Fox - Errand boy assigned to William Hall at Maitland
Edward Hyndes - Errand boy assigned to James Moran at Palmer's Flats
James Keely - silk weaver assigned to Cornelius Prout at Sydney
Edward Merray (Murray) - Carpenter. Assigned to T. Flanagan at Bateman's Bay
George Potter - Labourer assigned to Dr. Fattorini in Sydney

7). Sergeant Thomas (William) Morris came on the Guildford as a soldier of the 63rd regiment. After serving with the 73rd regiment in India and elsewhere, he had retired for a few years before enlisting again with the 63rd regiment. The extract below is of his voyage to Australia on the Guildford......

.I was myself taken ill with fever, and as it was thought I should not again be fit for my duties, I was ordered home as an invalid, in company with a number of others, under similar circumstances. We had a safe and pleasant passage home, and before we reached England, the sea-breezes had so improved my health that I felt my constitution, which, in the extremes of Holland and India, had been subjected to such severe tests, was still unimpaired. I managed to bring a wife with me from Ceylon, the widow of one of our sergeants. She had been married several years without any visible effects; but on our voyage home she exhibited unmistakeable evidence of soon being in a position to confer on me the claim of paternity.

I was discharged, and the excellent testimonials I had brought home with me, soon obtained for me employment. I might as well have staid with the regiment a few months longer, as it came home the following year, 1821. As years rolled on, I found my family increasing, with no corresponding increase in the means of supporting them in those ' piping times of peace.' My business was not only slack, but badly paid for; so having had about seven years' rest, myself and wife agreed that it might be as well to serve a few years more so that I might be entitled to the usual pension.

I had very little difficulty in getting an appointment as armourer sergeant; and after passing my examination at the Tower of London, I was sworn into the 63rd Regiment, just then returning from Portugal, and ordered out in detachments to New South Wales.

I had a two months' stay at Dover, and a few weeks at Chatham, when I received instructions to go on board the 'Guilford,' transport ship, having two hundred male convicts on board. I had my wife and family with me, and everything being ready, I once more parted from my relatives and friends, with very little expectation of being permitted to meet again.

We crossed the channel and made for Kings (now) Queenstown, to take in provisions; were detained some six weeks, in consequence of one of the convicts (Sir Richard Radford Rae), having, by counsel, raised some point of law on writ of error in his case; eventually he was taken on shore, and a less aristocratic criminal was sent on board, to make up the number.

At length we started on our course, in the middle of July, 1828. We had a detachment of the 63rd on board to look after the prisoners, who, as there were no back doors to run out of, were allowed as much liberty as was consistent with their safe keeping. There were a few desperate characters on board, who, for a time, were rather troublesome; but a little salutary punishment, and the fact, that the sentries, with their loaded firelocks, had their attention constantly directed to them, and that the least signs of a rising would draw upon them a volley of musketry, seemed to have its effects.

Thank God, we were not under the necessity of using these extreme measures. We had some rough weather, and a tedious passage of five months, before we reached Sydney, where the vessel, after disgorging its freight of innocents, proceeded with the detachment, including myself and family, and soon arrived at Hobart Town, which was to be the head-quarters of the regiment. It was some time, however, before they could be all mustered, as they came out principally by detachments.

I soon began to entertain a wish that our stay here (Hobart) might be a long one, as I was so agreeably situated, having a neat house to live in, with a workshop attached, in which to carry on my business as armourer; and that not fully occupying my time, I obtained many odd jobs from the townspeople, as well as from our officers, and nothing was supposed to come amiss to me; but my most agreeable diversion was in attending to my neat garden, in which we produced every description of vegetables and fruit common to England. Our men, however, had rough duty at times to perform, to protect the farmers against the hostile incursion of the savage aborigines, and to hunt up the bushrangers or escaped convicts, the conflict with whom was of the most fearful and dangerous character, as they knew they had no mercy to expect; it necessarily, therefore, became 'war to the knife.'

Our intercourse with the inhabitants of the town brought us sometimes into the company of persons who had attained great celebrity in England, and had been favoured with a passage out at the expense of the country. Many of them, who had money had the privilege from the governor of being engaged as servants to their wives or friends who had followed them here, they thus passed their time very comfortably, some of them keeping their carriages. The general feeling of the population was, that the colony should no longer be used as a convict settlement, considering that so long as it remained such, it would deter respectable emigrants from coming there. The large increase of the population, and the improvements which have been effected since, show that they were right...........Thomas Morris, Recollections of military service in 1813, 1814, and 1815 (London: Madden and Co., 1845)

8). 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

Vittora 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


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, Medical Journal of John Stephenson, 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.348-349, 386

[3] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/31/5 Description: Medical journal of the Guildford, male convict ship, for 14 May to 14 November 1829 by J Stephenson, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in a voyage to New South Wales.

[4] Truth 19 April 1925 - Roger Therry's account of a swimmer chased by boat of the Guildford.