Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Surry - 1831

Embarked: 200 men
Voyage: 132 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Jane arrived 5 November 1831
Next vessel: Asia arrived 2 December 1831
Captain Charles Kemp.
Surgeon Colin Arrot Browning
Prisoners and passengers of the Surry identified in the Hunter Valley

This was the sixth of eleven voyages of the Surry bringing convicts to Australia. Convicts were transported to Australia on the Surry in 1814, 1816, 1819, 1823, 1829 (VDL), 1831, 1833 (VDL), 1834, 1836, 1840 and 1842 (VDL).
The Surry was a square-rigged transport ship with an overall length of 117 ft. 6 ins., a breadth above the gunwales of 29 ft. 6 ins, and a draught, when loaded, of 18 ft. She was copper-sheathed, and had quarter galleries, with a bust of Minerva for a figurehead [1].

Surgeon Colin Arrot Browning

Colin Arrot Browning was born in Scotland in 1791, so about forty years of age on this voyage.

He kept a Medical Journal from 25 June to 8 December 1831. He recorded that Mr. Charles Kemp (Master) of New South Wales came on board on 11th July 1831. Also on the 11th July one hundred and twenty male prisoners were transferred from the Leviathan and eighty from the York hulk to the Surry.

They had been inspected by Dr. Porter prior to embarkation and only those considered to be in good health had been forwarded, although James Welsh managed to conceal his illness. Convicts often attempted to conceal their illnesses so as to be accepted onto the ship as they wished to escape from the horror of the hulks. James Welsh died at sea a few weeks before the ship arrived in Sydney.

Colin Arrot Browning published England's Exiles; or a View of a System of Instruction and Discipline (London, 1842) which he writes of the Surry....

Excerpt from England's Exiles by Colin Arrot Browning being his first appointment to a convict ship, the Surry in 1831


The Surry departed Portsmouth on 17 July 1831.

Illness on Board

They were delayed in the English Channel due to contrary winds during which time the weather was cold and wet and many of the prisoners suffered from sea sickness. Dr. Browning was kept busy on the voyage. He listed no fewer than seventeen different illnesses suffered by the prisoners. They contracted diseases such as pneumonia and catarrh which the surgeon considered a modified influenza, resistant to medicine given for common catarrh. Twenty of the guard and 28 of the ship's company were also affected.

There were also cases of Phlogosis, Cynanche, Pneumonia, Enteritis, Hepatitis, Arthropyosis, Dysenteria, Cephalalgia, Vertigo, Caligo, Dysopia and Dysuria. One person died of Tabes Mesenterica. Dr. Browning considered the clothing supplied was not adequate and recommended each convict should be issued with 2 pairs of flannel drawers and 2 flannel shirts or Guernsey frocks. Neither was the quantity of medicine supplied by government adequate, Captain Kemp supplementing supplies from his own stock.

There was only one slight case of scorbutus and the surgeon attributed this circumstance to the prisoners having been actively and agreeably employed on the voyage. [3]

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of a detachment of the 4th Regiment under the command of Captain Charles Waldron and Ensign Morris of 38th Regiment. Passengers included Mrs. Waldron and nine children; 3 women and 4 children. Select here to find convict ships bringing detachments of the 4th regt.

Captain Waldron died in 1834 after having been attacked by two servant girls Mary Maloney and Sarah McGregor (per Kains). Below is an extract from Captain Waldron Deceased by W.G. McDonald, Illawarra Historical Society, 1972.

Captain Waldron was born in Ireland in 1780. He first served in the Roscommon Militia and received his first regular commission in 1800. He married a Miss Jemima Thomas, whose family name is said to have been given to Mount St. Thomas. Waldron distinguished himself in the Peninsular War, was wounded at Redinha and in the bloody storming of Badajoz, and in 1813 received his captaincy. Seventeen years later, still a captain, and having in the meantime served for 4 years in the Portuguese Army, he exchanged into the 39th Regiment, then about to sail for New South Wales.

Port Jackson

The Surry arrived in Port Jackson via Hobart on Saturday 26 November 1831, a voyage of 151 days from embarkation to disembarkation.

Convict Muster

One hundred and ninety-six prisoners were mustered on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. (One prisoner had died and three were sent to the hospital in Sydney on arrival).

Details of the prisoners recorded in the indents on arrival include name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, trade or calling, offence, when and where tried, sentence, physical description and where and to whom assigned. There are also occasional details of tickets of leave, colonial sentences, relatives already in the colony and dates of death. [4]

Convict Assignment

On arrival the men were assigned to various applicants. Thomas Burton a merchant's clerk, Richard Fage a horse dealer and Thomas Lampshire a miner were assigned to the Australian Agricultural company. John Stone must have made an impression on the voyage as on arrival he was assigned to Captain Waldron who had been in command of the Guard. John Thompson, clerk and shopman was sent straight to Port Macquarie as a 'special'. [4]

Departure of the Surry

Sydney Gazette - December 1831: For London direct - The well known fast sailing ship Surry, 461 tons, register, Charles Kemp Commander. This Ship having recently been in the Service of the Honourable East India Company, was nearly rebuilt under the inspection of their Surveyors, and may now be considered equal to a new vessel. As the cargo of sperm oil just arrived in the Cape Packet, is about to be trans-shipped in the Surry, she will be one of the first ships for England; and having orlop beams, and great space betwixt decks, flax and wool will be kept entirely distinct from the oil. Her accommodations are excellent and she carries an experienced Surgeon. For Freight or Passage apply to Lamb, Buchanan and co., Castlereagh St. Sydney.

The Surry returned to New South Wales with prisoners in 1834.

Notes and Links

1). Address to the convicts of the Surry by Colin Arrot Browning......An address to the prisoners debarked from the 'Surry', at Sydney, December 8, 1831 - the 'Arab' at Hobart Town, July 5, 1834 - and the 'Elphinstone', at Hobart Town, May 30, 1836 / by the Medical Officer in charge during the voyage. Colin Arrott Browning 1791-1856.

2). Colin Arrot Browning was also surgeon on the convict ships Arab 1834 (VDL); Elphinstone 1836 (VDL); Margaret in 1840; Tortoise 1842 (VDL); ,Earl Grey in 1843 (VDL), Theresa in 1845 (VDL); Pestonjee Bomanjee in 1847 (VDL) and the Hashemy in 1849

3). England's Exiles by Colin Arrot Browning was published in 1842 and is an account of the voyage of the Elphinstone to VDL in 1836.

4). The National Library of Australia holds a sepia etching of the Surry arriving in Sydney Harbour. (C. 1962)

5). Return of Convicts of the Surry assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832).....

John Boston - Slater assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens

James Best - Farm Labourer assigned to Michael Phillips in Sydney

Thomas Burton - Merchant's clerk assigned to Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens

James Burley - Groom assigned to George Sippe at Sydney

William Clutterbuck - Brass stamper assigned to G.C. Curlewis at Sydney

Thomas Gray - Ploughs. Assigned to G.C. Curlewis at Sydney

Benjamin Jennings - Sweep assigned to Lieut. Col. Dumaresq at Hunter's River

William Mitchell - Ploughman assigned to Lieut. Col. Dumaresq at Hunter River

Anthony McDonald - Shoemaker assigned to William Thomas Jameson at Cabramatta

William or Randall Milward - Fellmonger assigned to James Devlin at Kissing Point

John Newman - Sweep. Assigned to Michael Philips at Sydney

Jonathan Spalls - Turner and farm boy assigned to E.J. Keith at Sydney.

6). 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 Portsmsouth 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.

7). 4th (or The King's own) Regiment of Foot.


1. Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney, p. 172

2. Ibid, pp.350-351, 387

3. Journal of Colin Arrot Browning. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

4. Bound manuscript indents, 1788 - 1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614 - 619,626 - 657, 660 - 695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.