Embarked: 256 men Voyage: 158 days Deaths: Surgeon's
arrived 3 June 1790 Next vessel:
arrived 28 June 1790 Master Nicholas Anstis Surgeon William
The Times reported in January 1790
that the convicts from Lancaster going to Botany Bay, mutinied
in the Irish Channel; and were not subdued till the master shot
the ring leader Brown. (3)
convict ships Surprize, Neptune and Scarborough departed
Portsmouth on 19 January 1790. Many of the prisoners on the
vessels were already ill when they left England and by the time
they reached the Cape of Good Hope, thirty five prisoners had
William Hill commanded the guard on the Surprize.
In July 1790 he wrote to Mr. Wathen telling in part some of the
misery of the voyage. They sailed from Cowes Harbour 17th
January and arrived in False Bay Cape of Good Hope on 13th
so violent a tempest, which continued for six and thirty hours,
that left us no room even to hope an escape from a watery grave.
It being the winter season at our arrival was the reason of our
anchoring in False Bay as the safest harbour, otherwise Table
Bay in fine weather or in the summer season, is much to be
preferred, being contiguous to the Cape Town.....
had some conversation with the unfortunate Mr. Riou of the
Guardian; the loss of his
ship will be severely felt by this colony, and I much fear the
Dutch are taking every advantage of his situation, charging
enormous sums for warehouse room and fresh provisions for the
men, so that the cargo must, ere now, be insufficient to defray
the cost. ....
We left the Cape on 29th April. Would I
could draw an eternal shade over the remembrance of this
miserable part of our voyage - miserable, not so much in itself,
as rendered so by the villainy oppression and shameful
speculation of the masters of two of the transports. The bark I
was on board of was, indeed unfit, from her make and size, to be
sent so great a distance; if it blew but the most trifling gale
she was lost in the waters, of which she shipped so much; that,
from the Cape, the unhappy wretches, the convicts, were
considerable above their waists in water, and the men of my
company whose berths were not so far forward, were nearly up to
the middles. In this situation they were obliged, for the safety
of the ship, to be penned down; but when the gales abated no
means were used to purify the air by fumigations no vinegar was
applied to rectify the nauseous steams issuing from their
miserable dungeon. Humanity shudders to think that of nine
hundred male convicts embarked in this fleet, three hundred and
seventy are already dead and four hundred and fifty are landed
sick and so emaciated and helpless that very few, if any of
them, can be saved by care or medicine, so that the sooner it
please God to remove them the better it will be for this colony
which is not in a situation to bear any burthen, as I imagine
the medicine chest to be nearly exhausted, and provisions are a
The irons used upon these unhappy
wretches were barbarous. The contractors had been in the Guinea
trade, and had put on board the same shackles used by them in
that trade, which are made with a short bolt instead of chains
that drop between the legs and fasten with a bandage about the
waist, like those at the different gaols; these bolts were not
more than three quarters of a foot in length so that they could
not extend either leg from the other more than an inch of two at
most; thus fettered, it was impossible for them to move but at
the risk of both their legs being broken.
never have been so wounded as on this voyage, so much so that I
never shall recover my accustomed vivacity and spirits; and had
I been empowered, it would have been the most grateful task of
my life to have prevented so many of my fellow creatures so much
misery and death...26th July 1790
The Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in
June 1790, a voyage of 158 days.
Account of the English Colony.
A hospital was said
to have been established a little north of the present alignment
of Argyle Street, on the west side of Sydney Cove in July 1788.
The Surprize departed Port Jackson bound for Norfolk
Island in August 1790.
Notes and Links:
This was the same vessel that made the voyage in
2). On 29th September 1794 the Belfast Newsletter
reported of the fate of Captain William Hill...The following
melancholy circumstance is mentioned in a letter, received from
the Shah Hormuzear, dated the 20th ult. lately arrived at
Tellicherry from Botany Bay...."A most unhappy occurrence befell
us in a newly discovered island near New Holland. Mr. Carter a
young gentleman late of Calcutta and Captain William Hill of the
New South Wales corps, with six other Europeans, who had gone
ashore with one of our boats were cut off by the natives, and
were devoured by these animals"
3). Jasper Harris
arrived as a convict on the Surprise. He died in July 1800 and
was buried in the
Old Sydney Burial Ground, as was William Waller who died in
April 1806 and Thomas Holt who died in November 1807 and Henry
Todd who died in September 1807
5). National Archives - Company's packet, repaired by
Calvert, measured 1789, 3 decks, length 107ft 9in, keel 85ft
8in, breadth 29ft 5in, hold 13ft 3in, wing transom 17ft 8in,
waist 1ft 1in, between decks 6ft 9in, 394 tons. Voyages: (1)
From Bengal 1783. Capt David Asquith. Left Bengal 22 Apr 1783 -
11 Sep River Shannon - 17 Oct Downs. (2) 1783/4 Bengal. Capt
David Asquith. 23 Jan 1784 - 16 May 1785. (3) 1785/6 Madras and
Bengal (to remain). Capt David Asquith. Downs 10 Jul 1785. (4)
From China 1790. Capt N Anstis. Whampoa 4 Feb 1791 - 29 Apr
Anger - 8 Jul St Helena - 6 Sep Downs. (5) From Bengal 1795.
Capt Patrick Campbell. Calcutta 16 Nov 1795 - 16 Feb 1796 St
Helena - 21 Apr Kinsale - 9 May Downs.
detachment of New South Wales Corps on the Surprize was sent to
replace the Marines. A list is included in the Historical
Records of Australia Vol.1, p.193 dated 24 July 1790 - Captains
Nicholas Nepean, William Hill Lieutenants - at Sydney - John
McArthur, Edward Abbot, at Rose Hill - John Townson Ensign John
Thomas Prentice Surgeon's Mate
John Harris, (born at Moneymore, County Londonderry, Ireland
in 1754 and trained for the medical profession at the University
of Edinburgh. ) Serjeants: four, Corporals: four; Drummers:
four; Privates 93 Three privates had died since October 22 1789.
One drummer and six privates had deserted.