Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Portland - 1833

Embarked: 193 men
Voyage: 125 days
Deaths: 9
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons 385
Previous vessel: Diana arrived 25 May 1833
Next vessel: Asia arrived 27 June 1833
Captain William Ascough
Surgeon Charles Inches
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail

The Portland was built at Bristol in 1822. [2] Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the Portland in 1832 and 1833.

Surgeon Charles Inches

Charles Inches kept a Medical Journal which commenced on 18th December 1832 while the ship was still in England.

Signature of Charles Inches from the medical journal on the voyage of the Portland in 1833

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included Lieut. Wallace, D.A.C.G. Brackenbury, Mrs. Brackenbury, Miss Brackenbury and Miss Frazer.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 1 subaltern of the 26th regiment, one sergeant, one corporal and 27 rank and file of 21st Fusiliers accompanied by 5-6 women and 11 children under command of Captain Frazer of 26th regt., They embarked at Deptford on 28 December 1832.

Cove of Cork

On the 1st January 1833 the Portland dropped down the river to Gravesend, and another subaltern of the 16th regiment joined the ship. On the 3rd January 1833 they proceeded to the Cove of Cork, arriving there on 11th January. They remained at the Cove of Cork for six weeks while arrangements for the convicts were made.

Cholera was still rampant in Ireland and as well the prisoners had a very restricted allowance of food in their diet on the hulk amounting to only 20 ounces a week per man, so that by the time they were embarked on the Portland their health was in a poor way. Later the surgeon remarked that the longer they stayed on the Portland, the better their health got.


On 2nd February 184 male convicts were embarked and on the 9th February eight more men were received on board. The Portland departed Cork on 21st February 1833 with 193 male convicts.

Illness During The Voyage

There was an unusual degree of sickness which the surgeon attributed to the convicts of Ireland being much inferior in health and vigour than the convicts in England. As well their clothes were worse, being more or less worn and thin. By the time they reached the cooler weather in the southern latitudes the surgeon reported that their clothes were in tatters.....By this time, notwithstanding the pains actually taken by most of the poor fellows their clothing very generally gave way and with difficulty was held together, however by procuring patches of old canvas and sewing them to the most needy, they continued to keep themselves covered and to get into Sydney in good condition as to health.

In need of water and with 15 prisoners seriously ill, the Portland had touched at Lisbon however in consequence of one man on board having already died of cholera, on entering the Tagus, the ship was immediately ordered off. [1] During the voyage two more deaths occurred from cholera. The last case of this appeared in March. Six people also died from fever and other diseases. According to Charles Inches' journal nine people died altogether.

Port Jackson

The Portland arrived in Sydney Cove on 26 June 1833. In consequence of rumoured illness on board, despatch of the mails that had arrived was delayed until an examination of the vessel had taken place.

Convict Muster

The convicts were mustered on board on 1st July 1833. The indents reveal the name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, offence, sentence, date and place of trial and physical description. There is no indication in the indents as to whom the men were assigned on arrival.

Dr. Bowman on behalf of the Board of Health boarded the Portland and submitted his report to the Executive Committee who sat at a late hour to receive it. He pronounced the vessel healthy and the men were landed on Saturday 13th July 1833.

The detachments of the 21st Fusiliers that arrived by the Asia and the Portland, proceeded on the Funchal to join the strength of the Regiment stationed at Hobart.


In the Sydney Herald on 22 July 1833, distribution of the convicts reported:

161 assigned to private service

9 assigned to the Commissariat Department

4 assigned to the Surveyor General's Department

4 sent to Port Macquarie

2 sent to Carter's Barracks (boys)

4 unfit for assignment

Departure of the Portland

The Portland sailed for Launceston in the first week of September. Passengers included William James Cox, Mrs. Eliza Cox, Misses Rebecca, Mary and Georgiana Cox, Mrs. Thompson and two children, Miss Blanchford, Dr. Inches, Mr. Edward Lord, Mr. J.S. Uther, Mary Reeves, John McMahon, Andrew Galligher, John Davis, James Murray, John Gray and Michael Power, Henry Tully and John Stewart.

Two of the seaman William Ambrose and John Raine, refused to sail on her stating, that they had signed articles under Captain Ascough, and that they were not forced to serve under a new captain. They could not, nor would serve under Captain Coghill who was taking over as captain of the Portland. They were sentenced to 7 days hard labour in the Gaol.


The Portland was wrecked seventeen miles to the East of the George Town Heads in October 1833. All but two survived the wreck. The infant daughter of Mr. Cox was washed from it's mother's arms and although rescued from the sea by a sailor could not be saved. The carpenter of the ship also drowned. The Master of the vessel was said to be lying dangerously ill at George Town. [3]

Notes and Links

1). Charles Inches was also employed as surgeon on the William Glen Anderson in 1831 (VDL), Westmoreland in 1835, the John in 1837 and the London in 1844 (VDL)

2). John Coghill was Master of the Mangles in 1820, 1822, 1824 and 1826

3). 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.

4). Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Portland in 1833.

5). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 21st regiment (Royal Scotch Fusiliers) and Officer in command of the Guard....

Mary departed London 4 September 1832 - Captain Daniels 21st regt.,

Roslin Castle departed Cork 8 October 1832 - Lieuts. Bayley and Pieter L. Campbell. 21st

Andromeda departed Portsmouth 17 November 1832 - Lieuts. Lonsdale and Armstrong 21st regt.,

Mangles departed London 14 December 1832 London

Asia departed the Downs 21 February 1833- Lieuts. Kelly and Wilson of 6th regt.,

Lord Lyndoch departed Sheerness June 1833 - Lieut-Col. Leahy. Headquarters of 21st

Royal Admiral departed Dublin 4 June 1833 - Lieut. Ainslie 21st regt.,

Aurora departed Portsmouth 4 July 1833 Major Delisle 4th regt.,

Java departed Cork 24 July 1833- Lieut. Wrixon, 21st regt.,

Neva departed Plymouth 29 July 1833 - Lieut. McEdwin 1st or Queens Own regt.,

Lloyds departed the Downs 25 August 1833 - Lieut. McKnight 21st regt.,

Fairlie departed England 27 October 1833

Bengal Merchant departed 28 March 1838 - Lieut. Dear of 21st regt.,


1. Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Friday, 05 April, 1833

2. Records of Bristol Ships, 1800-1838 (vessels Over 150 Tons) edited by Grahame E. Farr......

Records of Bristol Ships 1800 - 1838 - Grahame E. Farr - The Portland

3. The Colonist and Van Diemen's Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Hobart Town, Tas)

4. Journal of Charles Inches. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

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