Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Mermaid - 1830

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 152 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Forth arrived 26 April 1830
Next vessel: Nithsdale arrived 12 May 1830
Master William Henniker
Surgeon David Boyter
Hunter Valley Convicts and Passengers

The Mermaid was built at Calcutta in 1817. On this voyage she carried a crew of 37.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 30 non-commissioned officers and privates of different corps under the command of the Hon. Cecil Gordon and Lieut. Blackburn of the 17th regiment. Three women and four children accompanied the Guard.

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included the Captain's wife Mrs. Henniker.

Surgeon David Boyter

This was David Boyter's first voyage as Surgeon Superintendent on a convict ship. As with his later voyages he kept a detailed Medical Journal which is easy to read and includes weather conditions and illnesses experienced by the guard and convicts before leaving England and on the voyage to Australia........

In relating the observations I have made during a voyage to New South Wales on the health and management of the convicts under my charge, I shall commence at the period when the guard came on board.

The guard consisted of two Officers, and 29 men, rank and file. They were marched to Gravesend from Chatham on a very cold rainy afternoon. From Gravesend they embarked in a small lighter, proceeded to Deptford and arrived on board the Mermaid at 12 o'clock at night on the 12th November. During the whole time they were exposed in an open boat to the inclemency of a cold rainy November night, and when they came on board the Mermaid being then in great confusion fitting out in a hurry, was equally dirty and uncomfortable.

The consequences that followed this exposure were long felt by most of them. I had several cases of ophthalmia, one proving very tedious, only giving way to a course of Mercury, frequent scarification and stimulating applications to the eye. A number of them were laid up with colds.

On 6th December while lying at the Nore, the surgeon discovered small pox on board. He treated the affected patient and inoculated fifteen other men who had never been exposed to the disease.


On 8th December they sailed through the Downs and on the 10th were off Plymouth where they met with a gale of wind from the West which continued for several days.

The Voyage

The Hospital and Prison were completely inundated with water in the above storm and the prisoners were nearly all sea sick and unable to help themselves. There was no dry place in the hospital to place patients and shutting the hatchway above only added to the misery of the day by excluding pure air. The surgeon attributed the death of Moses Stephenson to sea sickness suffered at this time. Stephenson became so low and despondent that he never recovered his health and died on 19th January. The surgeon recorded the cause of death as Synochus.

On the 2nd January J. Jennott aged 19 and J. West aged 13 both ships' crew became ill with eruptions that turned out to be small pox. They were isolated until the surgeon considered them well.

The Mermaid was becalmed for three weeks in the tropics and the men became ill with headaches, skin rashes and debility. From 18th January to 1st February thirty-five men were treated by the surgeon. They called at Bahia where they remained 10 days and took in supplies of fresh beef and vegetables. They sailed from there on 13th February.

Towards the end of February, a convict by the name of Charles Rose passed away. He had been ill for most of the voyage but successfully treated by the surgeon. His death followed a fall on the deck from which he never recovered.

During March and April the weather continued fine and clear and on 29th April they sighted the coast of Australia.

There were several accidents to members of the guard on this voyage and David Boyter included them in his journal because they qualified for pensions..........
Private Henry McInally aged 27, 31st regiment received a severe contusion across the loins on 3rd December 1829 by getting entangled between the capstan bars and bulkhead while the crew were heading up the anchor.
Private Henry Cooper aged 20, 63rd regiment lost his little finger and partial loss of the one adjoining of the left hand from a fall on glass on 27 January 1830.
Thomas Copperinger aged 25, 17th regiment received a fracture of the right patella on 28th March from a fall during a gale of wind.

David Boyter returned to England in August and was next appointed surgeon superintendent on the convict ship Camden in February 1831. He was later surgeon on the Andromeda in 1833 and the Hero in 1835.

Arrival in Australia

On passing through Bass Straits Captain Henniker passed very close by to dangerous sunken rocks which he believed no person had ever before noticed and on arrival in Sydney he published a notice in the Sydney Gazette: -

At 1 hour 40 minutes p.m. saw appearance of sunken rocks close to the ship; in all stud-sails, and steered between what appeared to be 5 or 6 sunken rocks, apparently in a group of not more than 3/4 of a mile extent.

The Mermaid arrived in Port Jackson on 7th May 1830 with 198 male prisoners.

The arrival caused consternation throughout the town when it was heard that small pox had been on board and the vessel was quarantined pending a Medical Board enquiry. The vessel was released in the evening when it was found that all the patients had been long recovered.

Convict Muster

The convicts were mustered on board by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 10th May and landed on Tuesday morning 18th May 1830. The indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, offence, trade, when and where tried, sentence, prior convictions, physical description and where assigned on arrival. There are also occasional notes re deaths, pardons and relatives in the colony.

John Atterbury died in Newcastle Hospital

John Burgess died in Sydney Hospital 23 November 1830

Thomas Burroughs, soldier and shepherd from Gloucester had been in the colony before as a soldier of the 28th regiment.

John Boot was accidentally killed by a fall from a dray at Invermein

George Baird was born in Philadelphia

George Cuckow, age 22 and Thomas Cuckow age 64, father and son.

John Davis from London, Mercantile Clerk sent for embezzlement

George Emery - drowned off the coast on 1 January 1835

Edward Eades - Blind

William Hardesty from Leeds. 2nd conviction. Sent before in the Speke in 1821

Richard Jones age 26 from Kildare. Tried in London. Mercantile clerk. Assigned to the Commissariat

William Jones from Lancashire. Mathematical Instrument maker. Assigned to James Reid at Rosebrook. Died at Rosebrook in 1830

Thomas Kershaw from Rochdale died 16 April 1845 at Singleton

George Kerridge age 18. from London - Compositor and mercantile clerk. Son to Kerridge in office of the Attorney General

Hamlet Kelsale - potter from Stafford. Colonial sentence of transportation for life to a penal settlement reduced to 10 years

John Kipling from Hull, mercantile clerk and traveller. Sent to Newcastle Hospital on arrival

Thomas Livesy from Lancashire. Died at Camden

Thomas Millburn age 46 from Yorkshire. Attorney and solicitor. No place of assignment recorded

Abraham Matson from Northampton. Died in Newcastle hospital

John Mowat - Father at Van Diemen's Land as John Mowat

Archibald McPhail alias Campbell McDonald, soldier and labourer. Here before per Dromedary

Joseph Roberts - Died in Port Macquarie Hospital
Thomas Topley - died at Sydney 6 December 1831

Henry Simmons died in Bathurst Hospital 21 December 1832

William Strong - medical student from Glasgow. Sent to Wisemans as medical attendant on arrival

Thomas Worts from Norfolk - Died 1841


The Monitor reported that four of the gentlemen prisoners are under orders for the val. (Wellington Valley), however the men who were clerks and lawyers were mostly privately assigned.

Quite a few were also assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company. Others were assigned to country estates. In the Hunter region they were often employed as shepherds and agricultural labourers.- See George Mosman at Williams River, Edward G. Cory and Alexander Park at Paterson, James Bowman, James Black, William Dangar, John Bingle, Edward Sparke, Robert and Helenus Scott, William Brooks and James Reid.

The Mermaid arrived just a month before the announcement of the new 'Bushranging Act'. This Act did little to deter convict James Gibbons who was assigned to William Dangar on arrival and later became a notorious bushranger. He was captured after robbing the Murrurundi Mail in 1839.

Convicts of the Mermaid in the Hunter Valley region:

Arthur, Alexander
Calico printer and blacksmith from Glasgow. Assigned to A.A. Company

Askew, William
Ploughs, shepherd, milks. Native place Nottingham. Assigned to A.A. Company

Atturbry, John
Ploughs, reaps, milks, shepherd. Native of Bucks. Assigned to A.A. Company

Baggaley, George
Carter from Worcestershire. Assigned to George Mosman

Bailey, Peter
Potter from Stafford. Assigned to George Mosman

Ballard, Jonathan
Carpenter and joiner from Liverpool. Assigned to James Phillips

Birley, George
Whitesmith from Birmingham. Granted ticket of leave for Muswellbrook 1841

Blott, William
Ploughs, shears. Tried in Hertford. Assigned to the A.A. Company

Booth, John
Brass founder from Birmingham. Assigned to Donald McIntyre

Bradshaw, Henry
Porter from London. Assigned to the A.A. Company

Brooks, Thomas
Mat maker from Bedford. Assigned to the A.A. Company

Brooks, William
Brass worker from Birmingham. Assigned to James Thompson at Dartbrook

Bufton, John
Blacksmith and stableman from Shrewsbury. Died in Newcastle Hospital 1841

Burgess, John
Gardener, groom and indoor servant from Hertford. Assigned to James Bowman

Birley, George
Sent to Newcastle Gaol 1841

Bygrave, James
Miller from Hertford. Assigned to Edward Gostwyck Cory

Chadwick, John
Silk weaver from Manchester. Assigned to A.A. Company

Chamberlain, George
Ploughs, reaps, milks. Native place Bedford. Assigned to James Thompson at Dartbrook

Champkin, William
Ploughman, reaps, milks. Native place Bedford. Assigned to George Mosman

Cheyne, Alexander
Ploughs, shears, reaps, milks. Native place Inverness. Ticket of leave Maitland 1854

Churchward, George
Indoor servant from Newington. Newcastle Stockade 1842

Cooper, George
Brickmaker from Stafford. Assigned to C.G. Watson Brisbane Waters 1832

Dawson, James
Native place Bedford. Assigned to Edward Sparke

Doeman, John
Stonemason from Hertford. Ticket of leave Scone 1841

Eades, Edward
Stable boy from London. Assigned to Henry Dumaresq 1833

Eason, Thomas
Horse dealer from Berkshire. Ticket of leave for Hinton 1838

Flint, John
Ploughman and soldier from Bolton. Assigned to John Moore at Brisbane Water

Gallowen, James
Alias Galloway. Hawker from Dublin. Assigned to James Black on arrival

Gibbons, James
Weaver from Rochdale. Assigned to William Dangar. Notorious Bushranger

Gibbs, George
Errand boy from London. Assigned to William Dumaresq

Glover, James
Carpenter and joiner from Hereford. Ticket of Leave Brisbane Water 1840

Goodman, Nathaniel
Tanner's Labourer from Leicester. Assigned to John Bingle on arrival

Hardesty, William
Cloth dresser from Leeds. Assigned to Robert Scott in 1836. Transported before on the Speke in 1821

Harris, Joseph
Ploughman, reaps, milks. Native place Stafford. Assigned to Rev. Richard Hill on arrival

Haworth, James
Weaver from Manchester. Assigned to the A.A. Company

Hicks, James
Cow herd, reaps and milks. Native place Hertford. Assigned to Edward Sparke on arrival

Higginson, Samuel
Errand boy from London. Assigned to Edward Sparke on arrival

Holliday, William
Ploughman, reaps, milks. Native place Kingston. Assigned to Alexander Park on arrival

Holt, James
Ploughs, reaps, milks. Native place Middlesex. Assigned to James Black on arrival

Johnson, John
Bricklayer's labourer and soldier from Hants. Assigned to Robert and Helenus Scott on arrival

Jones, Richard
Ploughman, reaps, milks. Native place Monmouth. Assigned to William Dangar on arrival

Jones, Samuel
Ploughman, shears, reaps. Tried in Shrewsbury. Assigned to William Brooks

Jones, Thomas
Ploughman, shepherd, reaps. Native place Worcester. Assigned to John Bingle on arrival

Jones, William
Clock maker, mathematician from Lancashire. Assigned to James Reid on arrival

Kelsale, Hamlet
Potter from Stafford. Assigned to J.B. Bettington at Bathurst on arrival. Absconded from Newcastle Hospital in 1840

Kerr, James
Cow boy from Glasgow. Assigned to Robert Scott on arrival

Kershaw, Thomas
Carter and weaver from Rochdale. Assigned to Andrew Bennett at Paterson on arrival. Died 1845

Kipling, John
Merchant Clerk and traveller from Hull. Assigned to Newcastle Hospital on arrival

Lander, William
Blacksmith from Glasgow. Ticket of Leave for Maitland 1835

Lewis, Joseph
Tried in Gloucester. Assigned to James Webber at Markham, Paterson on arrival

Matson, Abraham
Shepherd from Northamptonshire. Assigned to Andrew Bennett at Paterson on arrival

Meggett, Peter
Sea man from Inverness. Assigned to Thomas Crawford at Maitland in 1836

Miller, Joseph
Shepherd from Warwick. Assigned to Robert and Helenus Scott on arrival

Mottram, Peter
Sawyer and wheelwright from Cheshire. Ticket of leave Newcastle 1836

Nimmo, Andrew
Weaver and labourer from Paisley. Assigned to John Turner at Hunter River on arrival. Wardsman a Newcastle Hospital in 1835

Palmer, John
Harness maker from Nottinghamshire. Ticket of leave Merton 1845

Parker, William
Cook and publican from Suffolk. Assigned to James Adair in 1836

Parton, John
Alias Barton. Errand boy from Stafford. Ticket of Leave Singleton 1841

Pearson, Ralph
Iron founder from Durham. Sent to Newcastle Gaol 1841

Ponting, James
Shoemaker and indoor servant from Bath. Ticket of Leave Patrick Plains 1834

Pritchard, Joseph
Labourer from Bristol. Granted Ticket of Leave Maitland 1838

Reid, John
Tailor from Southwark. Assigned to William C. Wentworth at Windermere 1836

Simmons, Henry
Shepherd and ploughman from Maidstone. Assigned to William Harper at Oswald on arrival

Slater, William
Carpenter's apprentice from Harwich. Ticket of Leave Maitland cancelled 1851

Swaine, James
Hinge maker from Birmingham. Ticket of Leave Muswellbrook 1841

Tibbals, James
Stockinger from Leicester. Ticket of Leave Patrick Plains 1839

Topley, Thomas
Porter from Leicester. Assigned to William Harper at Oswald on arrival

Turner, George
Shears, milks and reaps. Native place Stafford. Assigned to William Cape on arrival

Walker, William
Ploughman from Yorkshire. Assigned to James Bowman on arrival

Walkley, James
Ploughs, shepherd, milks. Native place Gloucester. Ticket of Leave Maitland 1834

Watts, Thomas
Stable boy from Gloucester. Assigned to John Verge at Dungog in 1836

Williams, Henry
Errand boy from London. Assigned to James Bowman on arrival

Worsts, Thomas
Ploughs, shears, milks. Ticket of leave Maitland 1838

Wright, George
Native place Middlesex. Occupation sweep. Assigned to William Cape on arrival

Notes and Links

1).Select here to find out more about convicts / passengers of the Mermaid

2). Return of Convicts of the Mermaid assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832; 28 June 1832).....
George Cooper - Brickmaker assigned to C.G. Watson at Brisbane Water
John Doman - Stone cutter assigned to John McClaren at Sydney
Robert Mather - Stone cutter assigned to Richard Jones M.C., at Sydney

3). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 17th regiment. -

Dunvegan Castle departed Sheerness 30 September 1829 - Lieut. John Grey

Katherine Stewart Forbes departed Spithead 14 October 1829 - Major Fairtclough 63rd regt.,

Mermaid departed Sheerness 5 December 1829- Lieutenant Isaac Blackburn

Forth 1 departed Cork 1 January 1830 - Captain James Oliphant Clunie

Nithsdale departed Sheerness 1 January 1830 - Captain Robert G. Moffatt

Lady Feversham departed Portsmouth 8 April 1830 - Lieutenant Harvey 29th regt.,

Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness 9 April 1830 Lieutenant Watson 20th regt.,

Adrian departed Portsmouth 27 April 1830 - Ensign Reynolds

Lord Melville departed the Downs 6 June 1830 - Lieutenant Robert Graham

Hercules departed Dublin 3 July 1830 - Major J.W. Bouverie

Royal Admiral departed Portsmouth 5 July 1830 - Captain John Church

Burrell departed Plymouth 27 July 1830 - Captain John Alexander Edwards

Andromeda departed Cork 28 August 1830 - Captain Charles Forbes

York departed Sheerness 4 September 1830- Lieut-Col. Henry Despard

Edward departed Cork 17 October 1830 - Captain Deeds

Eliza II departed Cork 10 May 1832 - Lieutenant Hewson 4th regiment

4). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/53/4 Description: Medical journal of the Mermaid, convict ship from 29 October 1829 to 6 May 1830 by David Boyter, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed on a voyage to New South Wales.


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of David Boyter on the voyage of the Mermaid in 1830. 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] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 Original data: Bound manuscript indents, 1788 - 1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614 - 619,626 - 657, 660 - 695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.