Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Layton - 1829

Embarked: 190 men
Voyage: 138 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Guildford arrived 4 November 1829
Next vessel: Lucy Davidson arrived 29 November 1829
Master John Hurst
Surgeon James Osborne
Prisoners and passengers of the Layton identified in the Hunter Valley

The Layton was built at Lancaster in 1814. [3]


Prisoners transported to New South Wales on the Layton came from England, Scotland and Wales - London, Stafford, View of the Justitia Hulk, with the Convicts at Work, near Woolwich. New Newgate Calendar or Malefactor's Register (PAI9265)Derby, Gloucester, Kent, York, Durham, Surry, Denbigh, Middlesex, Chester, Lancaster, Somerset, Warwick, Worcester, Norfolk, Northampton, Hertford, Northumberland, Nottingham, Bedford, Leicester, Cambridge, Cumberland, Salop, Berks, Berwick, Rutland, Ayr, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Carnarvon and Carmarthen.

Convicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the 'Justitia'. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The 'Justitia' was a 260 ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. Read more at Royal Museums Greenwich

They were held on prison hulks while awaiting transportation. John and William Bamlett were tried at Kingston Assizes on 27 December 1828. They were received on to the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich on 7 January 1829 and transferred to the Layton with many others on 5 June 1829. James Cockayne spent less time on the hulk. He was tried at Derby on 24 March 1829 and sent to the Ganymede hulk before being embarked on the Layton on 3 June 1829. [4]

Military Guard

The Military Guard embarked on Wednesday 20th May 1829 - Lieutenant Miller of the 40th regiment and 29 soldiers of different corp, together with four women and three children. The soldiers were on the way to join their regiments in India.


The Layton departed Sheerness 19th June and Deal on 23 June 1829.

Surgeon James Osborne

James Osborne kept a Medical Journal from 11 May to 17 November 1829.

Much of the voyage passed without incident, however in an accident on 20 June convict Caleb Wheeler was struck with a block fracturing his nose which bled profusely for some time. [2]

The following men were treated by the surgeon. Two died and at least four were sent to the hospital in Sydney on arrival:

Samuel Horton, convict, treated for ulcerated legs from leg irons. (Returned to the hulk and later transported on the Lord Lyndoch)
Martin Millett, aged 19, Convict;
Hugh Feeney, aged 23, Convict;
Charles Shearman, aged 26, Guard;
Joseph Nibbs, aged 24, Guard; suffered pneumonia, 18 June 1829 while still at Sheerness. Discharged to duty, 26 June 1829.
David Murdoch, aged 19, Convict;
James Quin, aged 35, Guard;
Timothy Smith, aged 21, Convict;
Joseph Hobbs, aged 25, Convict; Discharged to the convict hospital at Sydney, 9 November 1829.
Thomas [Beck], aged 37, Convict; Discharged to the convict hospital at Sydney, 9 November.
George Eastman, aged 49, Convict; dysentery. Put on sick list, 25 October 1829, at sea. Died 3 November 1829, at sea.
Thomas Ray, aged 33, Convict; diarrhoea accompanied with symptoms of scurvy. Put on sick list, 25 October 1829, at sea. Died 29 November 1829, at sea.
Thomas Riley, aged 19, Convict; Discharged to the convict hospital at Sydney, 9 November 1829.
Thomas Leathead, aged 25, Convict; Discharged to the convict hospital at Sydney, 9 November 1829. [5]

Port Jackson

The Layton arrived at Port Jackson on Sunday 8 November 1829 which was a rainy day in Sydney with winds from the W. and NW. Temperature at midday was 23C.

Convict Muster

A muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on the 11th November 1829. The convict indents reveal the name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, occupation, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, prior convictions, physical description and to whom assigned on arrival. There is also occasional information about conditional pardons, colonial crimes and deaths.

Notes from the indents:
Thomas Atkinson died at Illawarra September 1830
John Blackwall died at Port Macquarie 5 October 1845
Thomas Brooks - died in Port Macquarie hospital 2 June ?
George Burton served 4 years in a hulk UK
Charles Brotherton spent time at Norfolk Island
James Buckley served 7 years in a hulk UK
James Cockagne died in Liverpool hospital 25 June 1835
John Dalton died at Liverpool Hospital 17 April 1833
William Edmunds - Lieutenant R.N. Tried London. Sent to Wellington Valley
James Foster died in Newcastle hospital 14 December 1838
George Jones - Died in General Hospital Newcastle 2 July 1840
James Milward - Sent to Cockatoo Island
Walter Middleton, baker from Edinboro. Second conviction. Escaped from the hulk in UK after 22 months of 7 year conviction. Transported for escaping from the hulk
George Nightingale - sentenced to 3 years in irons by Supreme Court April 1835
Owen Owens - Vetinerary Surgeon assigned to John Gaggin
John Reikie - Wife convicted and expected by the Lady of the Lake as Mary Peterkin
John Rankine 53, and Henry Rankine age 20 father and son. John Rankine and wife Catherine Stewart sentence of death passed on them by Court in Sydney in August 1844 commuted to transportation to VDL for life
William Smith age 60. Second conviction. Served 6 years in hulk at Sheerness. Died at Port Macquarie
John Smith from Nottingham. Died at Bathurst 13 July 1834
Robert Turner. Drowned in the River Namoi 14 February 1838
William Wiles - Died at O'Connell Plains in November 1834
Peter Wood - Died at Windsor Hospital 20 March 1836
John Williams - Attorney. Sent to Wellington Valley on arrival

Convicts Disembarked

The prisoners were landed on Tuesday morning 17th November 1829.


In the Hunter region they were assigned to John Hillier, James Chilcott, Alexander McDougall, Thomas A. Scott, George Forbes, James St. John Ranclaud, William Bucknell, James Bowman, Henry Dumaresq, John Gaggin, William Dangar and Richard Cape.

Two men were sent to Wellington Valley as 'specials' - William Edmunds and John Williams

The younger prisoners were privately assigned not sent to Carter's Barracks>

Log Book

The Australian noted an extract from the Log book of the Layton: -

Thursday, 4th September at 3pm caught a Cape pigeon, with a label round its neck, thus inscribed: 'Symmetry, T. Stevens, bound for the Mauritius and Ceylon, all well on the 2nd September, 1829, South Lat. 30. 0 West Long. 22 deg'. It appears remarkable that the Layton spoke the Symmetry off the Cape de Verde about two months before. It appears that the vessels must have kept company within two days sail of each other, or at least within two days of a Cape pigeon flying for two months. What that distance was, we have yet to learn. [1]

Notes and Links

1). The State Library of Victoria Catalogue contains the following information about convict William Sydenham Smith who arrived on the Layton......Contents/Summary: Letter written by Edward Fosbery of the Police Department, Inspector General's Office, Sydney 12 March 1868 to Gideon G. Lang in Queenscliff, Victoria. The letter refers to the pardon of convict William Sydenham Smith. The accompanying documents refer to the conviction and transportation of Smith in 1828. The 'additional pardon' document is dated 6 March 1868.

2). Find out about bushranger John Hobson (Opossum Jack)

3). Prisoners and passengers of the Layton identified in the Hunter Valley

4). James Osborne was also employed as surgeon superintendent on the convict ships Palambam in 1831 and the Royal Admiral in 1835

5). Return of Convicts of the Layton assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832; 28 June 1832).....

John Blackwell - Stonecutter assigned to Thomas Shepherd at Darling Nursery

John Balsom - Stonecutter assigned to John Pike at Pickering, Hunter's River

Thomas Bird - Plasterer and labourer assigned to William Hutchinson at Sydney

James Brown - Scissor grinder assigned to Thomas Arkwell at Richmond

Robert Dugdale - Butcher and shoemaker assigned to Pierce Collets at Mount York

John Evans - Mason and slater. Assigned to Sir John Jamison at Regent Ville

George Johnston - Lamplighter, labourer. Assigned to John White in Sydney

George Morgan - Pewterer assigned to Mary Ann Sparke at Hunter's River

James Orpwood - Cabinet maker assigned to R.V. Dulhunty at Bathurst


[1] The Australian 9 December 1829

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

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

[4] Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books; Class: HO9; Piece: 4 Source Information UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849 Original data: Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849. Microfilm, HO9, 5 rolls. The National Archives, Kew, England.

[5] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/42/6 Description: Medical and surgical journal of the convict ship Layton for 11 May to 17 November 1829 by James Osborne, Surgeon, during which time the said ship has been employed on a passage to New South Wales with 200 male convicts.