Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship China - 1846

Embarked: 199
Voyage: 126 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Master George Livesay
Surgeon George Shaw Rutherford

Convicts on this vessel came from counties in England and Scotland and Wales - Devonport, Somerset, Suffolk, Sussex, Lancaster, London, Kent, Southampton, Durham, York, Cambridge, Chester, Oxford, Warwick, Worcester, Essex, Derby, Hereford, Stafford, Wiltshire, Lincoln, Gloucester, Leicester, Bucks, Salop, Northampton, Dorset, Radnor, Jedburgh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Monmouth.

Surgeon George Shaw Rutherford

George Shaw Rutherford kept a medical journal from 30th December 1845 to 26 June 1846 -

I have the honor most respectfully to observe that 199 prisoners of the Crown were embarked from the Milbank Prison and one from the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich on board the convict ship China of which ship I had the honor to be Surgeon Superintendent, on the 31st December 1845 for a passage to Norfolk Island with a military guard of 50 men, 6 women and 5 children under the orders of Captain Johnson and Lieutenant Turner of the 65th regiment. [1]


We left Woolwich on the 7th January 1846 and the Downs on the 10th January 1846 to commence our voyage to our distant port.

On clearing the Channel we fell in with strong gales from the south west for several days which as usual occasioned considerable sea sickness amongst the guard and prisoners On recovering from which diarrhoea began to manifest itself amongst the prisoners to a considerable extent and which continued more or less troublesome all the voyage

The Voyage

We reached the Island of Teneriffe on the 5th February where we put into for refreshments and sailed again on the 8th the Ship continued generally healthy up to our passing the Cape of Good Hope when we got into cold damp and blowing weather when typhus made its appearance on board - first in one of the seamen who recovered and subsequently in two of the prisoners, the first of whom named Peter Gibson aged 21 died on the 14th day after he came on the sick list. His was the only death which occurred in the passage when we arrived at Norfolk Island we were perfectly free from disease there being none then on the sick list. [1]

Norfolk Island

The China arrived at Norfolk Island on 16 May 1846

The Launceston Examiner reported in June 1846 -

By the China, Dr. Rutherford has returned to the colony, making his eighth trip. The China conveyed prisoners and stores from England to Norfolk Island direct and discharged there. Dr. Rutherford was specially selected for the service, in consequence of the skill and care with which he had conducted his former trips losing but six men in eight trips [2]

The China and the Agincourt were taken up for the conveyance of troops to India.

Notes and Links

1). George Rutherford was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the following convict ships to Australia -

Prince of Orange in 1821

Lord Melville in 1829

Shipley in 1822

Royal Admiral in 1830

Marquis of Hastings in 1826

Commodore Hayes in 1823 (VDL)

Eliza in 1827

China to Norfolk Island in 1846

2). Norfolk Island Museum

3). Australian History Research


[1] UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. National Archives, Kew.

[2] The Launceston Examiner 17 June 1846