Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Planter - 1832

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 121 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 367
Previous vessel: Eliza arrived 6 September 1832
Next vessel: Hercules arrived 16 October 1832
Captain R.L. Frazer
Surgeon Alick Osborne

The Planter was built at Lynn in 1829. Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the Planter on this voyage in 1832 and 1839.

Prisoners came from districts throughout England - Surry, Sussex, Wiltshire, Oxford, Essex, Berkshire, London, Lancaster etc. A few had been court-martialled at Corfu and John Pearce a schoolmaster and missionary was tried at Sierra Leone. As well as the usual farm labourers and shepherds there were also butchers, a game keeper, watchmaker, linen draper, coachman, jeweller, silk weaver, a miller and a doctor.

The Planter was delayed in Portsmouth having been placed in quarantine after some of the prisoners were found to be suffering from cholera, and did not depart London until 15th June 1832.

Military Guard

The Guard included Lieutenants Bullin and Irvine of 38th regiment and 28 rank and file of the 4th regiment, 1 serjeant of 39th; 3 women and 1 child.

Cabin Passenger

James Busby c. 1833

Mr. James Busby came cabin passenger.

Surgeon Alick Osborne's Journal



We sailed from Portsmouth on the 15th of June, 1832, in the ship Planter, of 368 tons, with 200 convicts, for Sydney, New South Wales. On embarkation, the prisoners were surprised to find good biscuit, beef, pork, peas, flour, raisins, lemonade, wine, etc. issued to them, in lieu of the coarse brown bread and indifferent beef sometimes supplied by contractors for the hulks.


We had favourable weather at the commencement of the voyage, and got sight of, and passed, on the 30th, Porto Santo, and Madeira, islands once so famous for the richness of their wines and the salubrity of their climate.

Their credit on the latter account has declined since the termination of the war, which opened the classic and delightful shores of Italy to the invalid; and the taste for the wines of Madeira which had been gradually sinking, perhaps received its death-blow from the fastidiousness of our late gracious monarch, George the Fourth.

These islands were discovered in 1418, by John Gonzales Zarco, and Tristram Vaz Terceira, Portuguese gentlemen who were bound on an expedition to Africa, and driven off by stress of weather; and from the circumstance of their fortunate escape, named the first Porto Santo, and the other, being covered with wood, they named Madeira.

The Convicts

The convicts have hitherto behaved tolerably well, and are now beginning to enjoy themselves after the first brush of sea sickness. Having gone out with Irish convicts on a former occasion, I find a sad difference between the English and them. The one polished, artful, and vicious, - poor Pat simple, innocent, and as tractable as a child; with a civil word you can do any thing with Paddy.

In one of my voyages from Cork, there happened to be among the rest a father and two sons for sheep-stealing. Old Murtagh was advanced in life, the sons fine athletic young men. Two days after embarkation, I observed Rory, the eldest, eyeing me very wistfully, but apparently unwilling to trespass: I beckoned him aft, and desired to know what was the matter, hoped the old man kept up his spirits, etc.: emboldened by my manner, he simply begged, ' if your honour would be pleased to divide the bolts between me and Dennis, for the ould man's getting tender, God help him! and I'm afear'd he won't get to the end of the journey any way.' I felt ashamed at having overlooked the poor old man so long, (he was fourscore, but I did not know he was so old,) and instantly removed the old man's irons, amidst the prayers and benedictions of the whole party.

On another occasion, there was a complaint made of the biscuit being in very small pieces. I ordered a whole biscuit to be produced, and desired the complainant to eat it; he began to break it and commence. 'Now,' said I, ' you complain of the bread being small, and yet you break this before you eat it.' - ' Sure enough, your honour, we never thought about that, and we won't be after troubling your honour any more any how;' and certainly there was very little trouble with them the remainder of the voyage.

Convict Employment and Amusement

July 29th. - Crossed the equinoctial line; the weather fine, and climate delightful; the prisoners, basking in the sun, seem to enjoy themselves vastly. We open the prison doors at sun-rise, and they all take their beds on deck, and stow them in the netting, and then bathe (a bathing tub supplied by government,) before breakfast. Some assist in washing decks, wringing swabs, etc.; some turn the winch for the rope-maker, others clean out the prison, some carpentering, shoe-making, tailoring, and employment, if possible, is found for every one. At ten o'clock, boys mustered to school till twelve, and again, when the decks are swept up after dinner, to school from two till four. After four, the decks are cleared up, work ceases, and they entertain and amuse- themselves with various Olympic divertisements, tumbling, climbing, and dancing, which are exercise and amusement. On some occasions I have supplied gloves, for sparring exhibitions for an hour or two; and, in addition to the salutary operation of the exercise, I think it tends to dissipate bilious feeling, and prevents many petty broils and contentions below.


We have now repeated complaints of petty thieving in the prison at night, stealing bread, tobacco, or any thing to keep the hand in. Sometimes they steal trowsers and blankets, for the purpose of destruction, out of the pure spirit of mischief, aware that they cannot use them, they tear up, and throw them overboard, or into the water closets. Sometimes the culprit is caught in the act, then we punish him with twelve or sixteen hours of solitary confinement on bread and water, and for a second offence, one dozen lashes, which always procures us a respite from all offences for a week or ten days afterwards.

It is astonishing what an elevation of spirits exists with these unfortunates. They are always as cheerful and happy as the day is long.

They are all Optimists, and being at the bottom of the wheel, expect every revolution will elevate them in the scale of society; and they mostly indulge in brilliant anticipations of their ultimate success in the colony. I always endeavour to favor the best view of the matter; it inspires confidence, promotes cheerfulness, and exerts a most beneficial influence on their health and conduct during the voyage.

Tristan De Cunha

August 12th. - In latitude 38° south; the island of Tristan De Cunha in sight, but the wind freshening from the westward, with appearance of hazy weather, obliged to bear up without communicating.

The island is round, high, and of a conical shape, about thirty miles in circumference; summit never clear of snow. I visited it in October, 1829, when the inhabitants consisted of six women, seven men, and fifteen children. The climate is genial, though cold and foggy in the winter months, June, July, and August; the soil is fertile, and they possess abundance of cattle, poultry, potatoes, etc, for which they have a little trade with the South Sea Whalers, which frequently touch here for refreshments.

Cold Weather

The weather is cold, and nights raw; we have now issued the flannels and warm clothing, which has been carefully hoarded for the occasion; and we now give a gill of wine on alternate days, which has hitherto been given only on Thursdays and Sundays.

We have swinging stoves in the prison to dry up any damp and make the place as comfortable as possible; and windsails down day and night, unless it rains, to keep up a constant circulation of fresh pure air.

Island of St. Paul

September 16th. - Passed the island of St. Paul's.

Bass Strait

October 10th. - Entered Bass' Straits, which separate New Holland from Van Diemen's Land, with a continuance of favourable winds, and got sight of the coast on the following day.

The appearance of the land along the coast is far from attractive, and presents the unvaried aspect of solitary sterility; and the brilliant anticipations, the longing for a sight of this land of promise, this Eden of the imagination, (for all have heard some part of the glowing accounts which have been given of Australia,) are dispelled by the gloomy prospects of the drear reality.

Port Jackson


Anchored in Sydney's Cove on the 16th of October; and the following morning, as in duty bound, waited on his Excellency the Governor, to deliver to him a letter of introduction from a friend in England.

The Governor being engaged, I had not the honour of seeing him. Delivered my letter to his private secretary, a young man of pleasing address and genteel deportment, who informed me that it was quite sufficient to put my name in the book, which I complied with, and had not the pleasure of seeing the Governor from that day to this. (1)

Convict Muster

The convicts were mustered on board by the Colonial Secretary on 19th October 1832. The indents include the name, age, marital status, family, religion, education, native place, trade, offence, date and place of conviction, sentence, physical description and occasional information such as tickets of leave, date of death or colonial crimes. There is no information as to where or to whom the prisoners were assigned.

The men were to be landed on the morning of the 29th October.

Seventy-six convicts of the Planter have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. One of the convicts, Benjamin Stanley was executed for the murder of Robert Campbell in 1844. Select here to find what happened to other convicts of the Planter.

Notes and Links

1). Alick Osborne was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Lonach in 1825, Speke in 1826, Sophia in 1829, Sarah in 1829, Fairlie in 1834, Marquis of Huntleyin 1835 and the Elphinstone in 1838.

2). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/60/2 Description: Medical and surgical journal of HM transport Planter from 14 May to 29 October 1832 by Alick Osborne, surgeon, during which time the said ship was employed in transporting convicts to New South Wales

3). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment -

Jane departed Cork 29 April 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain George Mason

Surry departed Portsmouth 17 July 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain Charles Waldron 38th regt.

Asia departed Cork 6 August 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain Richard Chetwode

Norfolk departed 15 October 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. David William Lardy 4th regt.

Captain Cook departed Dublin 5 November 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Gibbons 49th regt.

Portland departed Portsmouth 27 November 1831.

Isabella departed Cork 27 November 1831. Commander of the Guard Captain William Clarke 4th regt.

Bussorah Merchant departed Dublin 14 December 1831. Commander of the Guard Lieut. William Lonsdale 4th regt.

John departed the Downs 7 February 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. George Baldwin 31st regt.,

Lady Harewood departed Portsmouth 15 March 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Lowth 38th regt.,

City of Edinburgh departed Cork 18 March 1832 . Commander of the Guard Lieut. Bayliss

Clyde departed Portsmouth 9 May 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut-Colonel Mackenzie

Eliza departed Cork 10 May 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Hewson

Planter departed Portsmouth 16 June 1832 under command of Lieuts. Bullin and Irvine of 38th regt.

Hercules departed the Downs 19 June 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Gibson 4th regt.

Dunvegan Castle departed Dublin 1 July 1832. Commander of the Guard Lieut. Thomas Faunce 4th regt.

Parmelia departed Sheerness 28 July 1832 under Command of Captain Young 38th regt.

Waterloo departed Sheerness 12 March 1833 under Command of Captain Mondilhan 54th regt.


1. Surgeon Alick Osborne's medical journal on the voyage of the Planter

2. Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The Convict Ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-51.