Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Asia (I) - 1825

Embarked 190 men
Voyage 116 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Grenada arrived 23 January 1825.
Next vessel: Henry arrived 27 February 1825
Captain Thomas F. Stead
Surgeon James Alexander Mercer
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Asia identified in the Hunter Valley

The Asia was built at Aberdeen in 1819. Convicts were transported to Australia on the Asia in 1820, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1830, 1832,1833,1836 (VDL) and 1840 (VDL) [1]

Military Guard

The guard was the first detachment of the 57th regiment and consisted of Captain Richard Heaviside, Lieut. Le Merchant, 2 Serjeants, 1 Corporal and 30 privates.

Departure from Cork

The Asia departed Cove of Cork on 29th October 1824.

Surgeon James Mercer

James Alexander Mercer kept a Medical Journal from 28 August 1824 to 28 February 1825. He considered himself fortunate in that the first time he went to New South Wales in charge of prisoners (on the convict ship Asia in 1822) there was little sickness, and on this voyage there was again little sickness and no deaths. He had only two cases that he considered troublesome, one being John Gorman who was cured after Mercer operated to relieve a hydrocele.

The Voyage

For the first few days of the voyage the winds were strong with a high sea running and most of the men were seasick, however after a few days the ship came into fine weather and all recovered. After they were clear of the Bay of Biscay all the irons were struck off and when near Madeira all the woollen clothes, shoes and stockings were collected, labelled and stowed away in bread bags. This left the convicts with two shirts and two pairs of trousers each until the evening dews began to get heavy and the air cooled when the surgeon had the warmer clothing re-distributed. There was such fine weather for most of the voyage that the convicts and guard ate the majority of their meals on the deck.

The men were regularly bathed early in the morning, fifty at a time passing through the bathing tub as mustered by the surgeon. Their beds were stowed at 7 bells and dinner was at midday. They were served their lemonade on the quarter deck immediately after dinner each day. [2]

The youngest prisoners on board were Thomas Bowen (16), Charles Curneen (16), Thomas Lyndsay (15), James Murphy (16), Francis Ramsey (17), William Rogan (17) and Robert Rogers (17). The surgeon made them attend school every day for a certain number of hours. They were probably schooled by Denis Lynch a 40 year old schoolmaster from Queens County. Described in the indents as a quiet man with hazel eyes and grey balding hair, Denis Lynch was sent to the Carters Barracks on arrival. After school was finished for the day when the ships duty permitted the boys were encouraged in harmless amusements.

The surgeon believed the men should be encouraged to be active. All the convicts on this voyage were allowed dancing as a form of amusement until 8 o'clock at night when they were mustered and secured in the prison for the night. Carpenters, joiners, shoe makers and tailors were seldom unemployed on board. Other men picked oakum and assisted in sailing the ship. The surgeon recorded his thoughts on the employment of prisoners on the voyage out -

I wish I could in conformity with the 22nd act of my instructions say I had discovered some method of employing prisoners on the passage, but I really have not, nor in a well regulated ship do I think constant employment by any means necessary particularly for the preservation of health for such as are willing to make themselves useful need seldom be entirely idle. At 5 bells am Sunday and Thursday I always have muster when every man must appear clean shaved and in clean shirt and trousers. This naturally leads to as many washing days they need not therefore be as inactive on the passage as at first view would be supposed. Tis true all this is their own and ships duty. Government reap no advantage from such labours, nor do I know any way in which they could be advantageously employed towards lessening the enormous expense of sending them out unless it were practicable to exact on board something after the plan of the tread mill which coupled to and working wheels similar to those of the steam vessels would by a few hours exercise occasionally in light winds, and calms greatly expedite the voyage and proportionally lessen the expense. And so far from being a punishment, by often times saving them many days exposure to a vertical sun it would tend to their comfort, for a very few leagues often carry a ship from the failure of N.E. Trade to the commencement of S.E. hence there would be no delay on the Line. [2]

Convicts and soldiers mentioned in James Mercer's journal included:

John Brophy,
Denis Lynch,
Edward Coughlan,
John or James Bowe,
Thomas Bowe,
William White,
Robert Rodgers,
John Slevin,
John Devinish,
Michael Cully,
Martin Keegan,
Thomas Brenan,
James Lynch,
Barny Maguire,
Stephen Geraghty,
Charles Rickards.
John Gorman, aged 37, convict;
Robert Eager, aged 37, soldier;
Dominick Doherty, aged 21, convict;
Patrick Brogan, aged 45, convict;
Michael Kearns, aged 19, convict;
John Matthews, aged 19, convict;
James Doyle, aged 18, convict;
William Collison, aged 24, private of the guard (3)

Arrival in Port Jackson

King Island was sighted on 9th February and they arrived in Port Jackson on Tuesday 22nd February 1825.

Convict Muster

One man was sent to hospital on shore on arrival and a Muster was held on board on Friday 25th February by Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn. The indents reveal the name, when and where tried, sentence, native place, trade, age, physical description, remarks on their conduct during the voyage and where assigned on arrival. There are also occasional notes about relatives already in the colony, colonial sentences and deaths.

Although the surgeon gave most of the prisoners a good report for behaviour there are also several mentioned in the indents who were punished - Hugh Vaughn 12 lashes for insubordination; Thomas McDonnell 24 lashes for quarrelling; Patrick Caffrey 18 lashes for quarrelling; Laurence Brennan 18 lashes for insubordination; Christopher Walsh 24 lashes for quarrelling. The indents also reveal the names of several police constables found guilty of manslaughter at the Spring Assizes at Marysborough. John Kingsmill, George Walpole, Robert Harvey, John Owen and James Hincks were all assigned to government service on arrival.

Convicts Disembarked

The Sydney Gazette reported on 3rd March 1825...On Monday morning last at six o'clock the prisoners of the ship Asia, were landed at the King's Wharf, 190 in number, all healthy looking men; they were conducted to the Jail Yard and re-mustered, A great many applicants for servants were made, and the greater part of the prisoners were assigned over to masters. Captain Stead and Doctor Mercer gave most of the prisoners a tolerable character for sobriety and good behaviour during the voyage and they were on the spot assigned to respectable settlers and merchants.


They were inspected by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane who was pleased with their clean and healthy appearance. Except for John Glass who had lost part of his right hand and was sent to the Carter's Barracks on arrival, most of the prisoners who gave their employment as weaver, flax dresser or hackler were sent to the Factory to be employed there.

Departure from the Colony

The Asia was intending to sail for Calcutta on 25th March 1825.

Convicts of the Asia identified in the Hunter Valley:

Brennan, Lawrence

Brophy, John

Byrne, Patrick

Caffrey, Patrick

Callaghan, Thomas

Carr, Patrick

Carsons, John

Cochlan, Edward

Cronin, Patrick

Cullin, James

Donnelly, Michael

Donnelly, Patrick

Doyle, James

Doyle, John

Drum, James

Dunn, James

Finn, John

Gillespie, Dominick

Gorman, John

Hughes, William

Johnstone, William

Kelleher, Cornelius

Kelly, John

Kelly, Thomas

Kingsmill, John

Lysaght, James

McDonnell, Thomas

McEvoy, Patrick

McIneeny, Thomas

McNeil, Robert

Neill, William

Noonan, Jeremiah

Skerrett, James

Small, James

Sullivan, Thomas

Walsh, Christopher

Walsh, James

Walsh, Thomas

White, William

Notes and Links

1). The Asia was chartered by the East India Company in 1826 - Asiatic Journal

2). Return of Convicts of the Asia assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832).....
Patrick Cronin - Ploughman assigned to J.B. Bettington at Sydney
Patrick Carroll - Ploughman and groom assigned to W.T. Jamieson at Cabramatta
James Corbett - Tailor assigned to Lawrence Myles at Williams River
John Feaghan - Ploughman assigned to James King in Sydney

3). Robert Johnson, apothecary and surgeon from Glasgow was sent to the Wellington Valley on arrival (Valley of the Swells)

4) Vessels bringing detachments of the 57th Regiment........

Asia 1825 departed Cork 29 October 1824 Captain Richard Heaviside

Asia (III) 1825 departed Portsmouth 5 January 1825 - Lieutenant Thomas Bainbridge

Royal Charlotte 1825 departed Portsmouth 5 January 1825 - Major Edmund Lockyer

Hooghley 1825 departed Cork 5 January 1825 Cork - Captain Patrick Logan

Norfolk 1825 departed Portsmouth 17 April 1825- Captain James Brown

Minstrel 1825 departed Portsmouth 17 April 1825 - Lieutenant Henry John Tudor Shadforth

Lonach 1825 departed Cork 16 May 1825 - Lieutenant John William Donelan

Sir Godfrey Webster departed Cork 11 July 1825 Lieutenant John Ovens

Medway 1825 departed the Downs 2 August 1825 Downs - Lieutenant William Bates

Henry Porcher 1825 departed Dublin 5 August 1825 Dublin - Captain Vance Young Donaldson

Marquis of Hastings 1826 departed Portsmouth 22 August 1825 - Ensign Stewart

Mangles 1826 departed Cork 23 October 1825 - Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Shadforth

Sesostris 1826 departed Portsmouth 30 November 1825 - Major John Campbell

Prince Regent 1827 departed London 11 June 1827 - Lieutenant Campbell

Morley 1828 departed Dublin 3 November 1827 - Captain Robert Hunt

Borodino 1828 departed Cork 11 February 1828 Cork - Captain Philip Aubyn

Mangles 1828 departed Dublin 23 February 1828 Dublin- Lieut. Hill and Adjutant Lieut. Kidd

Bussorah Merchant 1828 departed London 27 March 1828 - Captain Burton Daveney (+ 1 soldier)

Marquis of Hastings 1828 departed Portsmouth 1828 30 June 1828 - Colonel Allen

Asia 1828 departed London 23 November 1828 - Lieutenant George Edwards>


[1] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Medical Journal of James Mercer on the voyage of the Asia in 1825. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/4/8 Description: Medical and surgical journal of the Asia convict ship for 28 August 1824 to 28 February 1825 by James Alexander Mercer, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in a voyage from the Cove of Cork to Sydney in New South Wales