Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship John Barry - 1839

Embarked: 320 men
Voyage: 4 months
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Planter arrived 9 March 1839
Next vessel: Waverley arrived 17 June 1839
Captain John Robson
Surgeon Superintendent Campbell France
Convicts and passengers of the John Barry identified in the Hunter Valley region

The John Barry was built at Whitby in 1814[2]. The John Barry made five voyages bringing convicts to Australia - 1819 (NSW), 1821 (NSW), 1834 (VDL), 1836 (NSW) and 1839 (NSW).

The Convicts

The convicts came from England, Scotland and Wales - Bedford, Bristol, Bucks, Cambridge, Chester, Cumberland, Derby, Devon, Essex, Gloucester, Hertford, Kent, Lancaster, Leicester, Lincoln, London, Norfolk, Northumberland, Nottingham, Salop, Somerset, Stafford, Surrey, Warwick, Worcester, York, Anglesea, Cardigan, Radnor, Jedburgh, Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling. There were also men who were tried or court-martialled in Barbados, Demerara and Trinidad [3]

Military Guard

The Military Guard commanded by Lieut. Somerset, 51st regt., included Ensign Grimes 50th regt., and 29 soldiers and officers of the 50th and 51st regiments, accompanied by 6 women, 7 children. They embarked at Deptford on 31 October 1838.

Cabin and Steerage Passengers

Cabin passengers Mr. Colin Spaldin of the Engineers department and 3 government passengers.

Convicts Embarked

In November three hundred and twenty convicts were received on board at Woolwich and Sheerness. According to the surgeon, all appeared healthy although they 'had impaired constitutions induced by their previous habits, irregularities, dissipation or from other causes'.[1] Many had been held in prison hulks prior to embarkation. Select here to read a Prison Hulk Report describing a typical week in the life of convicts incarcerated in the Hulks in 1838.


The John Barry departed Sheerness on 17th November 1838.

Surgeon Campbell France

Campbell France kept a Medical Journal from 21 October 1838 to 26 March 1839 -

There was no general sickness of any consequence and the sicknesses that did occur were mild although 201 names were entered on the sick list during the voyage. The first part of the voyage was cold and wet with adverse winds, the thermometer ranged from 50 to 60. Catarrhs and bowel illnesses prevailing in the Channel and Bay of Biscay, were attributed to the cold weather, change of diet and sea sickness. In the tropics there were frequent calms and variable winds, with little of the usual trade winds. The thermometer ranged from 80 to 86 and febrile cases caused by the heat were numerous. Campbell France treated his patients with purgatives, antiphlogistic and diaphoretic remedies, tonic and improved diet.

The Southern hemisphere was generally cold but dry, the thermometer ranged from 45 to 55 In the Southern hemisphere, about latitude 44, fever and rheumatic complaints prevailed.[1]

Port Jackson

The John Barry arrived in Port Jackson on Friday 22 March 1839 with 319 men. One prisoner, Andrew Blythe had died from diarrhoea and general debility however the remaining prisoners were reported to be in a healthy state on arrival.

Notes and Links

1). Campbell France was also employed on the convict ships Asia in 1828 (VDL) York in 1831, Mary Ann in 1835, and King William in 1840.

2). Convicts and passengers of the John Barry identified in the Hunter Valley region

3). In days gone by convicts and their descendants understandably attempted to hide that they had been transported or at least the details of their crimes. Seventy years after the John Barry arrived in New South Wales one of the last of the convicts, Thomas Chester passed away. He was such a great age that his death was reported in the newspapers. - An Old Convict - Thomas Chester who was deported from England to Australian in the convict ship John Barry, died at Terara (Shoalhaven) last week, at the age of 104. His deportation was the result of a disturbance over wages in his native city, Manchester. (Illawarra Mercury 1st January 1909)

The story was told that he had been transported because of a disturbance over wages (rioting), however this seems not to have been the case. There were men on the John Barry who were transported for rioting (James Brennan, John Carvin and Michael Horn) however in the convict indents Thomas Chester who was born in Monmouthshire was recorded as a 24 year old engineer's labourer with two prior convictions who had been transported for the crime of burglary.

4). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 51st regiment included the Neptune, Waterloo, William Jardine, Bengal Merchant, Lord Lyndoch, Westmoreland, Clyde, Earl Grey, Portsea, Elphinstone,
5). National Archives. Sick book of the Male Convict Ship John Barry. Reference: ADM 101/38/5/4


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Campbell France on the voyage of the John Barry in 1839. 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.354-355, 391

[3] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 737