Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Portland - 1832

Embarked: 178 men
Voyage: 120 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons 385 Crew: 29 men
Previous vessel: Isabella arrived 15 March 1832
Next vessel: Captain Cook arrived 2 April 1832
Captain William Ascough
Surgeon Joseph Cook
Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Portland in 1832

The Portland was built at Bristol in 1822. She was 385 tons with a length of 107'5"; breadth (below 28' 4"; height (cabin) 6' 1"; quarter, main and forecastle decks; three masts; square stern; ship rig; quarter galleries and bust head. [2]

The Portland transported convicts to New South Wales in 1832 and 1833.

The Convicts

The Convicts came from counties in England and Scotland - Norfolk, Middlesex, Cambridge, Southampton, London, Wiltshire, Essex, Lancaster, Huntingdon, Hereford, Salop, Sussex, Warwick, Berks, Northampton, Oxford, Surrey, Suffolk, Stafford, Worcestershire, Edinburgh, Jamaica and Gibraltar.

Their crimes included various forms of stealing, robbery, house robbery, forgery, passing base coin, embezzlement, poaching, picking pockets etc., There were few if any violent criminals amongst them. Most of the Swing rioters to New South Wales had been transported on the Eleanor in 1831, however at least three prisoners on the Portland had also been involved in Swing Riots.....

James Baker from Baskingstoke convicted of machine breaking at Reading in December 1831, Job Hatherell from Wiltshire convicted of sending a threatening letter and Robert West from Lynne convicted of machine breaking

There were also two soldiers who had been court-martialled.......

Philip Murray from Co. Tyrone was court-martialled for desertion in Jamaica and sentenced to 7 years transportation and Hugh O'Neill from Co. Tyrone was court-martialled for desertion in Gibraltar and sentenced to 7 years transportation

Convict Hulks

The convicts were held in the Captivity, Leviathan and York hulks where they had worked in the Dock-yard from seven o'clock until, twelve, in the mornings, and from a quarter past one o'clock until half past five, in the afternoons.

The Captivity, pictured centre below, had three decks, the under-deck being an additional one, with ports cut to admit light. The officers consisted of an overseer, or captain, three mates, a surgeon, a chaplain, with inferior officers, quarter-masters, and guards, amounting to nineteen in number. Divine service was performed twice, weekly, by the chaplain.

Captivity Hulk

The Captivity, was formerly the Bellerophon man-of-war, of 74 guns, 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.

Convict Embarked

One hundred and seventy-eight male prisoners were embarked at Spithead on 14 November 1831.

Most of the Portland prisoners were young men in a good state of health with the exception of a few who suffered chronic leg ulcers.

Military Guard

Lieutenant Archer of the 16th regiment commanded the Guard and travelled as a cabin passenger. The Guard consisted of two non-commissioned Officers, 27 Privates of the 4th and 39th regiments, two women and four children who all travelled in steerage.

Surgeon Joseph Cook

Joseph Cook kept a Journal from 21st October 1831 to 11 April 1832. The Portland did not depart Spithead until 27 November 1832 and Joseph Cook reported that during that time the winds and weather were variable. Catarrh appeared as an epidemic during these days and continued to recur during the whole of the voyage, almost all on board having been affected with it more or less, but in the greater number of instances so slight as not to require confinement or medical treatment. The prisoners were also much affected with costiveness induced by sea sickness and change of diet but the general state of health on board during the voyage was good.

The leg ulcers they had suffered with on arrival on the Portland speedily recovered under the surgeon's treatment of adhesive straps and a change of air and better diet.

The Portland was off the coast of Brazil on 14th January 1832. During the voyage the convicts were admitted on deck daily as much as the state of weather and other circumstances permitted, one half taking their meals on deck alternatively. Attention was paid to cleanliness and the between decks kept as dry as possible. The surgeon did not report heavy rain until off the coast of Australia when they also experienced westerly winds. The temperature occasionally reached 89° in the prison at nights while passing through the tropics. [1]

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. In all those voyages only four prisoners died under his care.

Those treated by the surgeon during the voyage included:

Bridget Halpin, aged 40, soldier's wife;
Elis Halpin, aged 2 months, soldier's child
Thomas Allcock, aged 20, convict;
G Kendall, aged 24, private, 39th Regiment;
William Jones, aged 54, convict; contusion having accidentally slipped down the main hatch way ladder;
David Hall, aged 53, convict;
James Thomson, aged 17, convict;
David Price, aged 24, convict;
Richard Clough, aged 28, convict; c.
William Toll, aged 38, convict;
Thomas Lucas, aged 21, convict.[3]

Port Jackson

The Portland arrived in Port Jackson on 26th March 1832.

Convict Muster

A Muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary on 29th March 1832. There had been no deaths on the voyage and 178 male convicts, the original number, were landed at Sydney on 6th April 1832. All except one, William Toll who had suffered scurvy, were fit for immediate employment.

Notes and Links

1). Joseph Backler who was convicted of passing forged cheques arrived on the Portland.

2). 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.

3). Find out more about Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Portland in 1832

4). Robert West and the Swing Rioters - Joe Mason

5). Political Prisoners

6). George Green late of Paterson labourer, was indicted for the wilful murder of Diamond an aboriginal near Paterson on 3rd of January 1836. The prisoner was a shepherd in the employ of Mr. Walter Windeyer at the period in question; the country at that time was in a very disturbed state on account of the hostility of the blacks who had committed several murders and robberies in that district; the atrocities at length rose to such a pitch that the shepherds and stockmen refused to go out unless armed; the prisoner was consequently allowed a pistol for his protection. On the day in question while he was driving his sheep, he was set upon from behind by several blacks who pinioned his arms, and others proceeded to drive the sheep together, as was supposed to drive away; the prisoner struggled very much and succeeded in extricating himself and drew his pistol from under his coat and fired at the party and then ran for his life. A few days afterwards the mangled remains of a human body were found near the scene of the contest, which were said to be the remains of Diamond a black who had been missing since the day in question and was reported to have been shot by Green; an inquest was held but the Jury came to no satisfactory conclusion and the matter dropped for many months till raked up by the Crown officers. Mr. Windeyer was called by the prisoner for character and a remark of that gentleman caused a little amusement when he described the prisoner to be moderately honest. The Jury without hesitation returned a verdict of Not Guilty. Sydney Monitor 14 August 1837

7). Captain William Ascough made his fortune as a ship's captain and owner bringing convicts to the Colony in the ships.......
Malabar 1819;
Ann and Amelia 1825;
Marquis of Huntley 1826;
Marquis of Huntley 1828;
Marquis of Huntley 1830;
Portland 1832.
Portland 1833
Mary 1835.
William Ascough became an extensive landowner. He died tragically in 1836.

8). Convict Isaac Newton was assigned to Edward Sparke at the Hunter River on arrival. He remained in the area for the rest of his life and in 1838 married a convict lass by the name of Margaret Jones who had arrived on the Numa in 1834. Find out more about Isaac Newton here.

9). 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.

10). 4th (or The King's own) Regiment of Foot


[1] Journal of Joseph Cook. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: 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.350-51.

[3] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/60/4 Description: Medical and surgical journal of His Majesty's convict ship Portland for 21 October 1831 to 11 April 1832 by Joseph Cook, surgeon, during which time the ship was employed in a voyage from England to New South Wales.