Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Phoenix - 1826

Embarked: 190 men
Voyage: 120 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 500
Previous vessel: Speke arrived 26 November 1826
Next vessel: Grenada arrived 23 January 1827
Captain Alexander Anderson
Surgeon Joseph Cook
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Phoenix identified in the Hunter Valley

Conditions of Prisons in Ireland

In 1829 John Speer M.D. Surgeon R.N and Medical Superintendent on the Essex hulk published 'A brief Account of the Diseases that appeared on board the Essex Prison Hulk, during the Years 1825, 26, and 27'.........

The Irish government having determined to station a hulk at Kingstown, considering it would be beneficial to the public, by saving the heavy expense of demurrage, as well as other expenses attendant on the shipment of prisoners for New South Wales, they accordingly stationed the Essex there, and commenced receiving prisoners in the year 1825.

Prisoners to be embarked on the Phoenix were held in the Essex Hulk at Dublin prior to transportation. Following is an account of the diseases that appeared on the Essex in 1826 when the Phoenix prisoners would have been held there.......

The year 1826. During the spring quarter, a few cases of fever appeared, exhibiting no extraordinary symptoms, and yielding to the former line of treatment. In the summer months, sycosia menti and porrigo prevailed. The former attacked upwards of sixty prisoners: it appeared infectious, and as if communicated by the shaving brush; it was marked by small tumors on the chin and under lip; sometimes the cheeks, face, and scalp had their surface inflamed and thickened, and in circular clusters, healing occasionally, and followed by others; many of them the size of a pea, filled in the top with a yellow fluid like pus, often discharging this, and suppurating in the course of one night, matting the beard together, which produced a deformed appearance of the patient, and rendered shaving very difficult.
Essex Hulk, Kingstown Pier
In some instances the disease continued six months, alternately healing and breaking out. My method of treatment, in the inflammatory stage, consisted of leeches, stupes, poultices, with purgatives; and, when the violence of the inflammation was subdued, alternatives, tepid baths, the unguentum nitratis hydrargyri initius, unguentum picis, and plummer's pill. In most cases the digestive organs were much disordered, and the use of mercurial alteratives, alkalies, and decoction of bark, were all found useful.

In the chronic form, the murias hydrarg. in solution proved beneficial. In a variety of instances all these remedies had but little effect, until the patients were removed from their crowded apartments to a purer air; which was generally followed by a speedy cure. Several cases of porrigo appeared, chiefly confined to the scalp and ears: these yielded, in general, after shaving the head, to tepid ablutions of soap, oatmeal, bran, and warm water. A lotion of the sulphate of zinc, after leeches, was found useful; the hydr. unguentum nitratis was also used. During the autumn, dysentery prevailed. Nothing particular occurred in the progress of the disease, and the mercurial plan of treatment was adopted with success

Military Guard

The Guard on the Phoenix consisted of a detachment of 39th regiment under orders of Lieut. Charles Cox and Ensign Charles Benjamin Lloyd. Select here to find other convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th regiment to New South Wales


Father Daniel Power, Roman Catholic Chaplain arrived in the colony as a cabin passenger on the Phoenix. He was already in ill health in 1826 and died in 1830. Find out more about him in an article the Catholic Press written in 1917.

Convicts Embark

Joseph Cook kept a Medical Journal from 6 July 1826 to 12 January 1827. It was an unusually long and detailed journal in which he also noted the impact of the weather on the health of the prisoners.......

On the 4th August 1826, 190 male convicts were embarked from the Essex Convict Hulk in Kingston Harbour, Dublin, mostly young men from 18 to 28 - they generally report themselves in health, but many have the sallow prison complexion. A few days after being on board, diarrhoea prevailed generally and continued as long as the ship remained at Kingston, but in so mild a form as only a few cases required medicine. The change in diet was evidently the cause - the allowance of animal food on board the Essex being very scarce and on the Phoenix each convict having a full allowance of Beef and a proportion of vegetables daily.

The weather was mild and when it rained the men were sent below. Their clothes were cleaned on board the Essex by the washing machine; and the prison was kept as dry as possible, the deck being cleaned in the morning by heated sand. [2]

Departure of the Phoenix

The Phoenix was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Boyne in June 1826. [3]

The surgeon recorded that the Phoenix weighed anchor and departed Kingstown Harbour on 27th August and that by this time there was an improvement in the appearance of the convicts, however for several days they were generally indisposed with sea sickness. A number also had habitual coughs. In September they began to recover from the sea sickness and in general enjoyed good health.


On the 9th September they arrived off Madeira, the weather became warm and the convicts' hair was cut. They bathed at daylight on the deck every day and when the weather permitted, ate their meals on deck also. Their woollen clothing was carefully packed up for them until it would be needed in the cold southern latitudes.

By 16th September they were experiencing hot sultry weather and the men began suffering from fevers. Windsails were set up at each hatchway, by day and night the scuttles were kept open and an airing stove was used in the prison.

Crossing the Equator

They crossed the equator on 11th October and the weather began to cool. The woollen clothing that had been previously stored was distributed again. Other than some cases of fever and dysentery most of the convicts remained well.

By November the weather had become cold and wet and a heavy sea prevented the convicts taking sufficient exercise on deck. A stove was used daily in the prison and hospital and every means employed to keep the between deck as dry and well ventilated as possible. Some of the men were suffering with rheumatism, catarrh and pleurisy and the wine which was sparingly used at the beginning of the voyage was now offered to each convict daily. In addition to their other clothing, flannel drawers and worsted stockings were supplied. The same cold weather continued until the 19th December, however as they sailed north up the coast of Australia the weather became milder and they were again able to exercise on deck.

Arrival at Port Jackson

One prisoner died on the passage out. He had been ill while still in the hulk however had concealed his illness as he had a relative sailing on the same vessel. Two men were still in hospital when they sailed into Port Jackson on Christmas Day 1826 and the others according to the surgeon were in a stout, healthy condition.

The guard were disembarked on 26th December all in good health. According to the surgeon's journal catarrh had prevailed in the colony, in a violent form during the summer, carrying off many of the inhabitants and some of the prisoners of the Phoenix were also affected with this complaint. In consequence one of the men was sent to the Colonial Hospital in Sydney.

Prisoners Mustered

Alexander McLeay

The prisoners were mustered on board on Tuesday 2nd January by the Colonial Secretary Alexander MacLeay. The convict indents include the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, prior convictions, and physical description of each convict and where and to whom they were assigned.

There is also occasional information regarding colonial sentences, deaths and pardons.

In January another two convicts were sent to the Hospital, one with dysentery and the other as the result of an accident.


On 11th January the remainder of the prisoners were disembarked in a state of health fit for employment.

Hyde Park BarracksHyde Park Barracks

The Monitor reported in January 1827: The prisoners by the Phoenix that landed two weeks ago, were inspected by the Governor at Hyde Park Barracks. For the most part they consisted of young Irishmen, of hale, hearty appearance. There were also a considerable number of boys. Previous to their disembarkation, the greater proportion were assigned to the service of Settlers, who generally find the Hibernian the preferable servant when required for the purposes of grazing. English answer best for husbandry.

Surgeon Joseph Cook

In January a Government Order was issued regarding the return of Surgeons to England: The Commissioners of the Navy having expressed their desire that the Surgeons of His Majesty's Navy, who are employed on board Convict Ships, should return to England by the first Opportunity after their Arrival in this colony; It is hereby notified that any Surgeon, neglecting to return home as directed, will not be again employed in the Convict Service, and that the Pay of such Surgeon will cease on the Day the Ship, by which 'he might have returned, sails from the Colony'. The Surgeons will be required, in Order to their receiving their pay, to produce a Certificate to the Navy Board, from the Governor, that they have embraced the first Opportunity of returning Home.

Joseph Cook returned to London on the Marquis of Huntley in February 1827 together with surgeons Dixon, Nisbett, Henderson and Turner. Joseph Cook was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Phoenix in 1826, Southworth in 1822,Sir Charles Forbes in 1825 (VDL), Louisa in 1827, Mellish in 1829, Forth (11) in 1830 and the Portland in 1832.

Departure from Sydney

The Phoenix departed Sydney for Bombay at the end of January.

Convicts of the Phoenix identified in the Hunter Valley -

Boyle, Charles

Burke, John

Byrne, Thomas

Carrolin, Owen

Crawford, James

Crawford, Robert

Creighton, Patrick

Curtis, Joseph

Delmore, Thomas

Devine, Matthew

Dignan, Francis

Donelly, Lawrence

Doyle, John

Dwyer, Michael

English, William

Fitzharris, Denis

Flood, Peter

Gallagher, John

Groove, Edward

Hannigan, Patrick

Jordan, Thomas

Kelly, John

Kelly, Patrick

Kinsela, Walsh

Lindsay, Robert

Maxwell, James

McCann, John

McClane, William

McFadden, Dennis

McGarney or Garney, Patrick

McGregor, John

McKenzie alias McDonnolly, Hugh

Murphy, John

Murphy, Patrick

Nowlan, Christopher

O'Hara, Daniel

Phillips, Patrick

Ramsay, James

Rice, Patrick

Robinson, alias Lloyd, alias Morrisson, William

Rooney, Patrick

Rush, Michael

St. Clair, William

Staffords, John

Stewart, Edward

Sullivan alias Walsh, John

Tiney, Niel

Wilde, William

Williams, James

Willson, James

Notes and Links

1). Dublin - Recorders Court - Patrick Rice, James Burn, Michael Molloy and Patrick/Michael Larkin, were tried for stealing a pocket book containing six pounds in Bank of Ireland Notes, and a quantity of silver, from James Tully private soldier. Burn was acquitted, sufficient testimony not being advanced against him, the other three were convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation. Peace Officer Paisley of Arran Quay Police Office, from whence the prisoners were transmitted, stated that Burn, when manacled to Larkin, exclaimed - is it not a poor case to say, that I am going to jail for nothing - to which Larkin replied, - I am going there for something. The three prisoners who were found guilty, having no counsel employed, were at liberty to defend themselves which they endeavoured to do in a very scientific manner. Burn employed Mr. Bethel, who defended his client with great ability and energy. - Freeman's Journal 31 March 1826 *Patrick Rice and Patrick/Michael Larkin were both chemists in vitriol works in Dublin

2). Longford Assizes March 3 - James Byrne, Michael Byrne, John Duffy, and Thomas Mulhern were tried and convicted for a robbery in the house of Mr. Saunders, of Saunders' Grove, on the night of the 6th December last. They were severally sentenced to be transported for life. - Freeman's Journal 7 March 1826.

3). Recorder's Court - Wednesday - Thomas Bentley, a boy of about ten years of age, was convicted of stealing a piece of silk, which it seems was a commodity peculiar to his fancy, as he had already, for a similar crime spent two years in Smithfield Bridewell, therefore, being now considered by the Court incorrigible, he was sentenced to seven years transportation - Freeman's Journal 30th March 1826.

4). (Extract)Recorder's Court - Michael Then, Michael Rush, William Bergin and James Connor or Coffee, were put forward, charged with stealing a pocket book, containing among several post bills, a Bank of Ireland fifty pound note, in the upper gallery of the Theatre, on the night of the 24th of October last, from the person of Mr. Pat. Martin, shopkeeper in Navan, Meath. Patrick Merton sworn, recollects Monday the 24th October when he came to Dublin; and after having dined at Mr. Cox's at a quarter past 3 o'clock he took one tumbler of punch and then repaired about his business, till a quarter to nine, when he went to the Theatre, where he never was in his life before, thinks there were about two thousand persons in the upper gallery, where he saw and came in contact with the prisoner Connor, who followed him in and laid his hands on witness in a very rough and heavy manner, and then placed them upon his shoulders. Witness is confident of his having the pocket book and money at this time. Witness complained of Connor's treatment, and said that he would not suffer such and told the prisoner he was a very improper person (here he was interrupted by the prisoner Connor, who said that he was a very poor man, he was unable to procure counsel, and besought the Bench to shew him justice) when being answered in the affirmative, the witness proceeded - Michael Rush then came up and pushing him (witness) forward, put his hand round his middle and raised him up then he found a hand coming from the calf of his leg up; to his breeches pocket and then he cried out he was robbed, but was prevented from making an alarm in some degree by Connor who leaped upon him; and it was then that witness took his hand from his waistcoat pocket where the money and pocket book lay; then his waistcoat was ripped open and his pocket book taken across his shoulder, when two or three unknown persons prevented him from running after them, and in the scuffle his hat was thrown off. After witness saw Bergin standing near him; but he did nothing .....The Jury after a very long and eloquent charge from the Recorder, retired and in less than ten minutes returned with a verdict of acquittal for Bergin but Rush and Connor were found guilty and sentenced to transportation for seven years. Freeman's Journal 11 November 1825

5). Eleven convict ships brought prisoners to New South Wales in 1826 - Marquis of Hastings, Sir Godfrey Webster, Mangles, Sesostris, Lady Rowena, Regalia, Marquis of Huntley, England, Boyne, Speke and Phoenix

6). Return of Convicts of the Phoenix assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832; 28 June 1828; 5 July 1832).....
Patrick Finnegan - Top sawyer and turner assigned to Dr. Wardell at Petersham
John Keane - Errand boy assigned to Timothy Hoy near Liverpool
Denis McFadden - Soldier. Assigned to Edward Kealy at Hunter's River
John Rooney - Errand boy assigned to Robert Williams at Richmond

7). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/59/8 Description: Medical journal of the Phoenix, convict ship, for 6 July 1826 to 12 January 1827 by Joseph Cook, Surgeon and Superintendent, on her voyage from Ireland to New South Wales.

8). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th regiment included the following............

Regalia departed Dublin 16 March 1826. Lieutenant William Sacheverell Coke

England departed the Downs 6 May 1826. Major George Pitt D'Arcy

Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness 16 May 1826 - Major Donald MacPherson

Boyne departed Cork 29 June 1826 - Captain Thomas Edward Wright

Speke departed Sheerness 8 August 1826 - Lieutenant Henry Clarence Scarman

Phoenix departed Dublin 27 August 1826 - Lieutenant Charles Cox

Albion departed Plymouth 4 October 1826 - Captain Francis Crotty

Midas departed Plymouth 16 October 1826 - Lieutenant George Meares Bowen

Mariner departed Cork 14 January 1827 - Captain Charles Sturt

Countess of Harcourt departed Dublin 14 February 1827 - Lieut. George Sleeman; Ensign Spencer

Guildford departed Plymouth 31 March 1827 - Captain John Douglas Forbes

Manlius departed Downs 17 April 1827 - Quarter-master Benjamin Lloyd

Cambridge departed Dublin 2 June 1827 - Colonel Patrick Lindesay

Champion departed London 3 June 1827 - Ensign Reid

Bussorah Merchant departed London 27 March 1828 - Ensign W. Kennedy Child

Sophia departed Dublin 15 September 1828 - Major Thomas Poole

9) More about 39th Regiment.


[1] A brief Account of the Diseases that appeared on board the Essex Prison Hulk, during the Years 1825, 26, and 27. By John Speer, M.D. Surgeon R.N. and Medical Superintendent, Essex; late Surgeon of the Castlekneck Dispensary.

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Joseph Cook on the voyage of Phoenix in 1826.. 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.346-347, 385