Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Southworth - 1832

Voyage: 129 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - yes
Previous vessel: John arrived 8 June 1832
Next vessel: City of Edinburgh arrived 27 June 1832
Master John James Coombs
Surgeon James Forrester
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
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Prisoners and passengers of the Southworth identified in the Hunter Valley

Cork Depot

In 1832 the convict establishment at Cork consisted of a depot at Cork and a hulk at Cove. Under arrangements made by Dr. Edward Trevor, female prisoners were held in the depot (penitentiary) and male prisoners were sent directly to the hulk moored in the harbour[1]

A description of the Cork Penitentiary was included in A Topographical History of Ireland in 1835 - .The Female Penitentiary or Convict Depot occupies the site of the old fort erected in the southern suburb in the reign of Elizabeth. It is capable of containing 250 inmates, who are brought hither from all parts of Ireland and remain until the arrival of vessels to convey them to their final place of destination.

During their residence here they are employed in needle work, washing and knitting, so as to supply not only themselves but all the convicts sent out or Ireland with clothing: the number of suits thus made annually is about 1000. The number committed to this prison in 1835 was 457, of whom 315 were transported to New South Wales. Schools have been established in all the prisons

Cork Penitentiary 1832

......Reports from Commissioners, Parliamentary Papers House of Commons on the Gaols of Ireland, January to August 1833

Embarking On The Southworth

The female prisoners may have made the journey from the depot to the convict ship by water -

Cove of Cork - Dublin Penny Journal 18 August 1832

The Dublin Penny Journal in 1832 described the scenery they may have passed by -

Suppose you depart from Cork for Cove, by water - on the left, as you proceed down the river, are the wooded heights of Glenmire, crowned with numerous villas and mansions. On the right, the almost equally rich grounds leading to Blackrock Castle and Monstown. The great interest of the passage by water to Cove, arises from the sinuous winding of the estuary of the Lee, by which rapid changes of scenery are presented to your view, embellished by a succession of woods, ships, castle and villages. Blackrock Castle is fine - the reach at Passage, where merchant vessels usually ride at anchor is beautiful; but when you turn Battery Point, and see the noble harbour of Cork spreading its broad bosom before you, with its fortified isles, and a large fleet riding securely under their shelter, you feel that it is at once lovely and magnificent.

One hundred and thirty-four female prisoners were received onto the Southworth from the Cork penitentiary on 14th January 1832. Their ages varied from 13 to 70.

Departure From Cork

The Southworth departed Cork on 6th February 1832. [4]

Surgeon James Forrester

James Forrester kept a Medical Journal from 2 December 1831 to 8 June 1832. He recorded that the women were generally speaking, healthy and except in a few instances where emaciation had been induced by long confinement, they were robust........ Consequently there was a corresponding paucity of complaints during the voyage as the scanty contents of the journal demonstrate.......... The women did however suffer dreadfully from sea sickness and James Forrester used most of his allowance of medicines to treat the women.

They were reduced to a deep and obstinate dejection and he used every mode at his disposal to console them. ...... This state of prostration and abandonment, naturally induced an apathy and aversion to exercise which only yielded to coercion. This sluggishness and subsisting for the first time in their lives on salted and dry provisions was followed by torpor and irregularity in the digestive powers ending in obstinate constipation.

One of the prisoners, Elizabeth Murray aged 28 died on the voyage. [3]

The Voyage

The Southworth was forced by strong winds to sail a long way to the south before getting the usual trade wind to enable them to proceed Eastward, the prisoners were thereby exposed much sooner and longer to the rigours of a low temperature than generally happens in voyages. This, added to the deteriorated state of their clothing especially shoes, induced almost general and intractable catarrhal afflictions which further depleted the medical stores. If not for the ship's medicine chest the surgeon would have been forced to put into the Cape of Good Hope for a fresh supply, thereby incurring heavy demurrage. [3]

Free Passengers

Passengers on the voyage of the Southworth included John Hubert Plunkett, Solicitor-General + family;
Ann Kingston, a free woman and 4 children;
Mary Fleming, free woman with 4 children;
Mary Gillespie, free woman + 4 children;
Mary Gillespie, free woman.
Mr. Kean,
Rev. John McEncroe.....

Archdeanon John McEncroe

Port Jackson

The Southworth arrived in Port Jackson on Thursday 14th June 1832, a voyage of 129 days.

Convict Muster

A muster was held on board by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 20th June 1832. The women were ordered to be landed on the morning of Thursday 5th July.

The convict indents include the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, Native place, trade, offence, date and place of trial, sentence and physical description. There are occasional details of colonial crimes, deaths and pardons :

Ann Byrne from Co. Meath died in the General Hospital Sydney in 1836
Eliza Byrne from Co. Wicklow was sent to the Factory in 1838
Anne Cosgriff sent to the Female Factory 1839
Ellen Fox died in Parramatta Hospital 21 March 1838
Mary Hogan died in Parramatta Hospital 4 December 1837


There is no information in the indents as to whom female prisoners of the Southworth were assigned on arrival. Approximately thirty of the women have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. Select HERE to find out more about these women.

A list of female prisoners assigned to settlers in the month of October 1832 was published in the Sydney Gazette and the following women from the Southworth were included in the list:

Mary Butler - Assigned to T. Fitzgerald, Hunter St. Sydney
Judith Dowd - Assigned to F. Meredith, Liverpool
Mary Dempster - Assigned to John Jones, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Judith Dowd - Assigned to Benjamin Young, Liverpool
Margaret Keilly - Assigned to Richard Loseby at Bong Bong
Mary Kavanagh - Assigned to Jane King at Parramatta
Mary Keating - Assigned to Michael Ryan, Castlereagh St. Sydney
Ann Lindsay - Assigned to Lewis Barnet, Sydney
Selina McGarry - Assigned to John Condon, Sussex St. Sydney
Bridget Murphy - Assigned to Eliza Davies, Pitt St. Sydney
Mary McNamara - Assigned to A.J. Rutter, Parramatta
Catherine McCarthy - Assigned to Thomas Quigley at Parramatta
Mary Nowlan - Assigned to William Philips, Sydney
Abigail Purcell - Assigned to Esther Slade, George St. Sydney
Sarah Robinson - Assigned to Andrew Petrie, Church Hill Sydney
Honora Stephens - Assigned to Percy Simpson at Parramatta
Rose Sherrehan - Assigned to Patrick Quin 38 Clarence St. Sydney
Eliza Welsh - Assigned to Benjamin Herbert at Prospect
Martha Ward - Assigned to William Roberts at Hunter St. Sydney.

Departure Of The Southworth

Early in August the Southworth departed Sydney with the 39th regiment bound for Madras.

Notes and Links

1). James Forrester was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Brothers in 1827 and Amphitrite 1833.

2). The Southworth was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1832, the others being the Pyramus and the Burrell. A total of 381 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1832

3). The county calendar, which was unusually light was disposed of yesterday by three o'clock. The following trials took place and sentences passed .....John Carty and Judith Carty were convicted of a larceny. They were sentenced to seven years transportation. ..Freeman's Journal 12 April 1831.

4). Dublin - Recorder's Court - Elizabeth Reilly for stealing blankets sentenced to seven years transportation. - Freeman's Journal 28 June 1831.

5). Dublin - Recorder's Court - Catherine Murphy, Anne Walker, Catherine Callanan, Margaret Keely, stealing a hat. They were all old offenders. Murphy was confined four times before and Walker twice. Transportation for seven years. One was a little girl about eleven years old, when they received sentence except the child, none of them was in the least affected. one of them said, 'thank your Lordship, I was wishing to go to my husband' Another said, 'arrah, by Jaesus, we'll get a black husband, hurrah for the Lord Mayor and Perrin. Anne, Neal, Anne Connor, and Ellen Bentley stealing a silk pocket handkerchief the property of George Studdart Esq., Guilty. Neal, seven years' transportation, an old offender, although no more than fourteen years of age; Connor and Bentley, seven months imprisonment.- Freeman's Journal 25 June 1831

6). John Hubert Plunkett - Extract from the Catholic Press

John Hubert Plunkett

7). The Southworth transported convicts to New South Wales in 1822 and 1832 and to Van Diemen's Land in 1830.


[1] Transportation, Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives of Ireland

[2] Lewis, Samuel., A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

[3] Journal of James Forrester. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

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