Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Morley - 1817

Embarked: 175 men
Voyage: 113 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Sir William Bensley arrived 10 March 1817
Next vessel: Shipley arrived 24 April 1817
Captain Robert R. Brown
Surgeon Robert Espie
Convicts and passengers of the Morley identified in the Hunter Valley

The Morley was built on the Thames in 1811. This was the first of four voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1818, 1820, 1828 and 1829. She also transported convicts to Van Diemen's Land in 1820 and 1823. The Morley was the next convict ship to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the Sir William Bensley and the Fame in October 1816.

Newgate Prison

Some of the prisoners who were under sentence of transportation were held in Newgate prison in October 1816. Six of the men masterminded a daring outbreak in that month. They cut through the roof of their cells at the top of the gaol and tying their blankets together formed a rope to let themselves down in the space between the walls of Newgate and the Physicians College. Five of them got clear away despite a desperate pursuit.


The sixth was Maurice Healy who had been imprisoned for burglary. He was detained by an old woman who locked him into a small yard from which there was no possibility of escape.[1] He was captured and sent off to the Bellerophon hulk on 28th October with several other prisoners - Francis Ross, William Lewis, John Copsey, Richard Mincing, Bernard Levy and Isaac Greenslade to await transportation.

The large Vessel in the centre is the Captivity, this was formerly the Bellerophon

The large Vessel in the centre is the Captivity, this was formerly the Bellerophon to which ship, when commanded by Captain Maitland, and cruising in Basque Roads, off Rochefort, the Emperor Bonaparte surrendered himself, about six o'clock A.M. on the 15th of July, 1815.* Near the margin, on the left, is the Sheer-hulk, used for fixing the masts and rigging of the vessels in the harbour. The Bellerophon was paid off and converted to a prison ship in 1815, and was renamed Captivity in 1824 to free the name for another ship. Moved to Plymouth in 1826, she continued in service until 1834, when the last convicts left. The Admiralty ordered her to be sold in 1836, and she was broken up.

Charles Dupin visited the Bellepheron hulk in 1816 and made the following observations......

I visited the famous ship the Bellerophon, which lay near the arsenal, transformed into a hulk for convicts, who, instead of being sent to Botany Bay, are employed on those works.

In the conduct and arrangement of this hulk, everything has been adopted that the most refined humanity could suggest to render a floating prison supportable and even comfortable to its inmates. The convicts are lodged in little cabins, having large port-holes, closed with iron-gratings, which admit a sufficient quantity of air. The partitions of the chambers or cabins are formed of iron railings, at intervals, and are covered with simple curtains, which are drawn aside at certain times of the day to let a free air through the different apartments. To each chamber is attached a privy, constructed beyond the side of the vessel, and yet so built as to prevent all possibility of escaping by it. Let not these details disgust our false delicacy. I appeal to those who have languished in ordinary prisons, to decide on what renders existence in them supportable or insupportable. On Sundays and holidays the convicts are collected together in a neat chapel, constructed at the foot of the mizen-mast, where it occupies the space between deck
. [2]

Prisoners on the Bellepheron were transferred to the Morley on 18th November 1817. Some prisoners on other hulks had already been embarked - those who were on the Retribution hulk were transferred to the ship on the 21st October 1816.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of a detachment of the 46th regiment under the command of Lieutenant Purcell.

The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Marquis of Wellington, Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Sir William Bensley, Morley and Bencoolen.

Free Passengers

Mr. J.T. Amos came as a free passenger and a few discharged soldiers also came as free passengers.


The Morley departed England on 18th December 1816, reached the Cape on 18th February and sailed from there for Port Jackson on the 25th February 1817.

Surgeon-Superintendent Robert Espie

This was Robert Espie's first voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. The medical journal for this voyage does not seem to have survived however in the journals of the voyages of the male convict ships from England, the Shipley in 1818 and the Roslin Castle in 1834, Robert Espie's treatment of male convicts is revealed.

He believed in having prisoners released from their irons and giving them access to the deck whenever possible as well as every indulgence available. He was less tolerant of female prisoners in his care especially by the time of his last appointment to the Elizabeth in 1836.

Robert Espie was employed as Surgeon-Superintendent on the convict ships convict ships Morley in 1817, Shipley in 1818, Dorothy in 1820, Lord Sidmouth in 1823, Lady Rowena in 1826, Mary in 1830(VDL), Roslin Castle in 1834 and Elizabeth in 1836.. Only eight convicts died under his care in all eight voyages. He returned to England via Batavia on the Morley in May 1817.

Select here to read Commissioner J.T. Bigge's report on the duties of surgeons.

Port Jackson

The Morley arrived at Port Jackson on Thursday 10 April 1817. There were no deaths on the voyage.

The indents reveal the name, age, when and where convicted, term, native place, calling and physical description.

The prisoners were landed on 18th April 1817 and assigned to government service or settlers at Parramatta, Windsor, Liverpool in Bringelly soon afterwards.

Select here to find out more about mustering and disembarking the prisoners.


The Morley and the Sir William Bensley departed for Europe by way of Batavia on 18th May 1817.

Notes and Links

1). John Matthews, soldier of the 102nd and 73rd regiment came a free passenger on the Morley

2). Select here to find out more about Bushranger William Baker

3). Convicts and passengers of the Morley identified in the Hunter Valley

4). Return of Convicts of the Morley assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832).....
Francis Fox, Weaver assigned to William Johnston at Bathurst
Daniel Garcia, Fruiterer assigned to John Randall at Nepean


[1] 'Breaking Prison.' Times [London, England] 29 Oct. 1816: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.

[2] Brief Account of the First Journey in England in 1816 made by M. Charles Dupin, for the purpose of visiting the British Ports, Docks and other Public Works. Extracted from his Memoire, presented to the Academy of Sciences of the French Institute in 1818.