Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Albion (1) - 1823

Embarked 200 men
Voyage 154 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Captain W.R. Best (to Van Diemen's Land.)
Surgeon Superintendent James Mercer

Departure from England

The Albion departed Spithead on 20th May 1823

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 32 rank and file of the 40th regiment under orders of Lieutenant Nathaniel Lowe of 40th regiment. The 40th regiment had been serving in Ireland.

Following is an excerpt from Historical Records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment By Raymond Henry Raymond Smythies listing the ships that brought detachments of the 40th regiment to New South Wales in 1823 and 1824 -

Early in March 1823, the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton received an intimation that it was intended to send the regiment to New South Wales. In the meantime it was ordered to proceed to Dublin, thence by sea to Liverpool, and after that by road to Chatham, in order to form guards for convict ships when required.

The head quarters reached Dublin on 15th March and occupied the Royal Barracks. On the 30th the whole regiment embarked at Pigeon House, in eight small vessels, and reached Liverpool the following day.

A twenty eight days' march, including three Sundays, brought the regiment to Chatham. The Regiment marched in three divisions; the first arrived at Chatham on 21st April; the second, consisting of two companies, halted, and remained at Deptford; and the 3rd reached Chatham on 23rd April.

During the next year the 40th was sent out, in small detachments, as guards on board convict ships to Australia. This was after several years' rough service in Ireland, and but a short period of rest in England. -

Embarked; 25th April 1823 on ship Albion. Lieutenant Lowe

Embarked; 5th July 1823 on ship Asia Captain Bishop

Embarked 10th July 1823 on ship Isabella. Lieutenant Millar

Embarked 18th July 1823 on ship Sir Godfrey Wilestoe. Captain Hibbert

Embarked; 29 July 1823 on ship Guildford. Captain Thornhill

Embarked 31st July 1823 on ship Medina. Lieutenant Ganning

Embarked 5 August 1823 on ship Castle Forbes. Lt.- Col. Balfour

Embarked 29 December 1823 on ship Prince Regent. Captain Stewart

Embarked 5th February 1824 on ship Chapman. Captain Jebb

Embarked 25 February 1824 on ship Countess of Harcourt. Captain Morow

Embarked 14 June 1824 on ship Mangles. Lt.- Col Thornton

Embarked 14 June 1824 on ship Princess Charlotte. Lieut Neilley

Other ships bringing detachments of the 40th regiment included the Minerva and Ann and Amelia.

Free Passengers

Passengers included Mr. and Mrs. Sweetman and three daughters. Two convicts were taken on at the Cape of Good Hope.

The Voyage

James Mercer kept a Medical Journal from 3 April to 17 November 1823. Two hundred convicts came under his care. His journal relates the methods he used to occupy the men.........
The 12th article of my instructions directs me to be particular in noticing the number of convicts on deck at a time. To do this there was no occasion, for they were never divided but all on deck when the weather and ship's duty permitted from morning to 7 or 8 o'clock at night and so far from confining them or any of them below, it often became necessary to lock the prison doors to prevent their escaping off deck.

In stormy weather they were in and off deck at pleasure, but be it as it might were never suffered to use the prison closets in the day time, a circumstance worthy of notice as it kept the tween decks always clean and sweet.


Whether on deck or below I managed as much as possible to keep their minds employed by some bodily exercise. Several seamen among them generally found plenty of employment (about the ship); many were employed at times picking oakum; the mechanics, of which there were a good many, found constant employment. The afternoon of every day was spent in merriment and many exercises such as singing, dancing, single stick playing, sparring (muffled), leap frog and many other pranks only known to themselves. When to this catalogue I add a society formed in the main prison for the suppression of vices, of which Joseph Sloggett (a saint with only one leg) was president. I believe I shall have stated all our labours and diversions. The duties of this society with which I never interfered, were at times laborious for previous to the detection of a few night walkers, numerous petty robberies were committed, their exertion in bringing these marauders to light and consequent punishment were truly laudable and in addition to saving me much trouble they certainly have done a deal of good and really acted up to the import of their assumed title. [1]

Arrival in Van Diemen's Land

They arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 21 October 1823, a voyage of 154 days.

Prisoners of the Albion identified in the Hunter Valley region

Bowyers, John

Robinson, Charles

Notes and Links

1). Surrey Sessions - Henry Marshall, alias Moore - A young man of prepossessing appearance, and not more than 18 years of age. It will be recollected, that he endeavoured to pass for a gentleman of high rank and fortune. He was tried for stealing a pistol.. It appeared, from the evidence of Hall and another officer, that on the day after the prisoner was committed, for not paying a hackney coachman his fare, he was locked up in the strong room at Union Hall with two felons, and the report of a pistol was heard, and a smoke issued from that room. The pistol was taken out of the hands of one of the felons, who said he had got it form Marshall. The two felons had been so strictly searched, that it was impossible they could have taken in the pistol with them. The prisoner denied that he had stolen the pistol. The Jury found him guilty. The chairman said, he understood that Hall had inquired into the history of the prisoner, which it might be necessary to hear publicly. Hall said, the prisoners' character was, perhaps, one of the worst that had ever come before the Court. So far from his being the son of a gentleman of rank, he was the son of a butler and his mother a poor washerwoman, who with difficulty supported herself. The prisoner was her only son, and his habits, from his earliest years, had been most depraved, his propensity to thieving being quite incorrigible. Before he was thirteen years old, he was sentence to be transported for seven years; but, his sentence being commute to imprisonment at the Penitentiary, he got upon the public, after a confinement five years and a half. His first act, after passing the prison door, was to go and rate his mother, from whom he stole five other customer's shirts, and he had packed up fourteen more to carry away. Sentence. Transportation for seven years. - The Sunday Times 27 October 1822. Issue 2.

3). In 1827 Lieutenant Nathaniel Lowe of the Mounted Police was charged with the murder of aborigine Jackey Jackey - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Mon 21 May 1827 Page 2


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Medical Journal of James Mercer on the voyage of the Albion to VDL in 1823. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.