Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Edward - 1831

Embarked 158 men
Voyage 128 days
Deaths 5 Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 406 Crew: 32 men
Previous vessel: York arrived 7 February 1831
Next vessel: Lady Harewood arrived 4 March 1831
Captain James Gilbert.
Surgeon Thomas Bell
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Edward identified in the Hunter Valley

The Edward was built in Bristol in 1806. Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the Edward in 1829, 1831 and to Van Diemen's Land in 1834. [3]

Convicts from Ireland

Between the months of 1 January 1830 and 1 January 1831, six ships departed Ireland with approximately 850 prisoners bound for New South Wales...... Forth (I), Forth (II) (females), Hercules, Andromeda, Edward and the Waterloo

The Return of the Number of Convicts Transported from Ireland to New South Wales between those dates reveals that the prisoners had been held in the following three prisons:
Hulk Surprise (334 convicts), located at Cork
Hulk Essex (400 convicts) located at Dublin
Cork Penitentiary (females) (120 convicts).

The total of 854 prisoners noted in the Return is a little short of Charles Bateson total in The Convict Ships (845), but is close and may not account for those who were rejected by the surgeon as being too ill to survive the voyage.

Burning of the Essex Hulk

Some of the convicts on board the Essex hulk, stationed at Kingston Harbour, Dublin, set fire to the vessel in three places, close to the water. The flames were fortunately suppressed, and all on board, being upwards of three hundred prisoners, were transmitted, for better security to the Hercules .[1]

The remaining prisoners were sent to the Surprise Hulk at Cove of Cork and from there embarked on the Edward.....

The Standard reported the burning of the Essex on 17 June - The Essex Hulk stationed in Kingstown harbour is on fire and nearly consumed! A number of convicts are on board. The sloop of war Trincolo, and the revenue brig Shamrock, with some transports, have sent all their boats to the assistance of the unfortunate prisoners; and a strong force of horse and foot police from the city has been ordered off to Kingstown.

Surgeon of the Edward, William Bell described the burning of the Essex ....since July last when some of the most evil disposed attempted to burn the Essex Hulk in consequence of which those who remained (after the full number of prisoners were sent on board the Hercules for New South Wales) were sent to the Surprise Hulk (at Cove) from which 121 cases came on board the Edward. Although the burning did not succeed in Dublin, they again ventured three times to commit the same horrid act in Cove.

Essex Hulk


The Edward departed Cork on 17 October 1830 with 158 male convicts.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of Captain Deeds and Ensign Irskine with 29 men, five women and seven children of the 17th regiment. .

Surgeon Thomas Bell

Thomas Bell kept a Medical Journal from 23 August 1830 to 14 March 1831.......

The diseases on board the Edward on the passage from Cove of Cork to New South Wales were principally dysentery, fever and two cases of cholera. For the first month they were all free from disease until they put into Porto Praya in St. Jago for a fresh supply of water. [2]

None of the convicts would have been allowed on shore, however the seamen and perhaps the surgeon and captain may have ventured out. Two years later in September 1832, Lieutenant William Henry Breton on his voyage to the colonies went on shore at Porto Praya - he described the scenery in his 1833 publication Excursions in New South Wales, Western Australia, and Van Diemen's Land.........

We anchored at Porto Praya, the principal town of the island, and a party of us immediately went on shore. The landing is always indifferent, frequently very bad, and even dangerous. On my former visit to this place in a frigate, one of our boats was upset, and some of the crew were nearly drowned. On landing we had to walk along a sandy beach, and across a valley which extends to the port, and contains a few wretched looking trees; then ascending a steep acclivity by a bad road cut out of the rock, we found ourselves in the town. It consists of a large square, one rather wide street, and a few lateral streets of a miserable appearance, and stands upon a bold rocky projection, elevated considerably above the sea, with a valley on each side, and bare hills and barren valleys behind. From it, with the exception of the above mentioned trees on the one side, and a few acres of garden ground and thick wood in the valley on the other, the eye looks over a region as bare and desolate as can possibly be imagined; in short, no spot I ever saw can, in apparent sterility be compared to it.

Most of the inhabitants are blacks. From the town we walked a mile and a half to inspect some springs, and found there a good garden belonging to one of the merchants, and also a copious supply of excellent water, which flowed from beneath a rock. It is from hence that the government propose laying down pipes, in order to supply the shipping, and also the town, so as not to be under the necessity of depending, as is the case at present, on a well, inconveniently situated in a valley three quarters of a mile from the beach. Quitting the springs, we continued our walk, over loose lava without a blade of grass, and scarcely a plant of any kind, to a ravine called Trinidad. Here, however, the vegetation was truly luxuriant, and fruit of various kinds, particularly oranges, lemons, grapes, bananas, and cocoa-nuts, together with sugar canes, coffee, etc., were extremely abundant.

Surgeon William Thomas Bell reported on the voyage after leaving Porto Praya.......

Immediately after leaving Porto Praya almost all were attacked with disease of the bowels. On the slightest motion of the vessel all became immediately sea sick. And notwithstanding that the greatest cleanliness and ventilation was used during the voyage together with as much exercise as was possible to allow them, yet it was of no avail.

The principal reason I can assign for the convicts being so easily affected is in consequence of their minds have been kept in since July last when some of the most evil disposed attempted to burn the Essex Hulk in consequence of which those who remained (after the full number of prisoners were sent on board the Hercules for New South Wales) were sent to the Surprise Hulk from which 121 cases on board the Edward.

Relative to the agitation of the minds of the prisoners and of which I have a spoken, I must remark that the greater number of them being born in a country place the scenes they passed through since they became prisoners not at all contributed to their peace of mind.

Port Jackson

The Edward arrived in Port Jackson on 22 February 1831 with 153 male prisoners. A muster was held on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay on 26th February. One hundred and forty-eight prisoners were mustered, five were in hospital in Sydney and five men died on the voyage out. The indents include name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, trade, offence, where and when convicted, sentence, previous convictions, physical descriptions, where and to whom assigned. There are also occasional notes concerning colonial sentences, deaths and tickets of leave.

Peter Kilroy, James Moore and Patrick Carroll died at sea. William Armstrong and Richard Mooney died at the General Hospital Sydney soon after arrival.

There were possibly two different convict ship surgeons by the name of Thomas Bell. The signature on the medical journal of the Eliza, Prince George in 1837 and Portsea in 1838 are all similar. The signature on the medical journal of the Thames in 1829 (VDL) and of this one of the Edward appear to have been signed by a different surgeon to the Eliza, Prince George and Portsea.

Notes and Links

1). State Library of Victoria (Online).....Contents/Summary: A) Journal kept on board convict ship Thames, 17 Jun-23 Nov. 1829, on a voyage from Deptford to Hobart -- B) 'Convict ship Edward. From Cove of Cork to New South Wales. Copy of Hulk and Sail List'. Signed by Thomas Bell, Surgeon Superintendent. Lists names of 158 convicts, with county of origin, age, physical appearance, date of trial, crime, sentence and character during the passage, with a second list giving names and character -- C) Journal kept on board the convict ship Edward 24 Aug 1830-16 Feb 1831. Although the first page is inscribed 'Cove of Cork to N.S.W., journal commences at Deptford and concludes while the ship is still at sea. Edward arrived in Sydney, 22 Feb 1831.......... Notes: Original held by Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales at ZML MSS 34.

2). Select here to read about the punishment that convict Henry Hewitt endured at Campbelltown in 1833

3). Convicts and passengers of the Edward identified in the Hunter Valley

4). Prisoners convicted of white boy crimes included Bernard Cox - stealing arms - Longford Dominick Farrell - stealing arms - Longford. Michael Kenny - compelling to leave a farm - Longford William Moran - compelling to quit a farm - Longford Bernard Murphy - assault and riot - Monaghan William Noles - stealing a pistol - Cavan Bernard Shanley - stealing arms - Longford Michael Sharpe - ribbonman - Queens Co. Lawrence Shortall - found armed at night - Queens Co Thomas Fingleton - ribbonman - Queens Co...

Queens County Outrages...On the 4th instant, about one o'clock a.m. the house of Patrick Brenan of Cloppook in this parish (Stradbally) was visited by a party of the nightly legislators, demanding arms. Brenan, who is a Roman Catholic, bluntly refused compliance; upon which a sledge was stoutly applied to batter in his door. Parley having, of course, ceased on both sides, Brenan fired at the man who wielded the sledge - a deep groan was heard, and the body was removed behind the house by some of the party, who soon returned to enforce their demand for arms. Threats, intimidation of every kind, were held out, and at length a show of fire to burn the house was made. By the light, afforded by the blown coal and burning wisp, Brenan distinguished one of his next door neighbours in this horrid preparation and he also had the good fortune to get a view of another person - at the latter individual he took aim and shot him on the spot. The marauders then took to flight, carrying with them both the bodies. ON the next morning, Brenan lodged information against his neighbour whose name is Fingleton. He was soon afterwards apprehended at Timahoe, through the activity of Major Cosby, and lodged in Maryborough gaol. On the same night the house of Thomas Brenan, brother of Patrick was attacked and a case of pistols taken. (Freemans Journal 13 November 1829

5). Anthony Brown who arrived as a convict on the Edward accompanied Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell's expedition

6). Return of Convicts of the Edward assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....
Dennis Curtin,Shoemaker assigned to Charles Turner at Sydney
Bryan Flannagan,Sailor assigned to Alfred Kennerly at Rooty hill
Michael Prior,Labourer assigned to William Wilkinson at Liverpool

7). The Essex was an American Frigate of 36 guns, and was taken during the war at Valparaiso, by his Majesty's frigate Phoebe, of 36 guns commanded by Captain Hillier. More about the Essex at Guardships at Kingstown - Cormac F. Lowth; and Convict Hulk Essex by Donal O'Sullivan.

8). Returns of corporal punishment 1833 inflicted by the Bench of Magistrates at Campbell town, from the 1st to the 30th September 1833 in the presence of the Police Magistrate, William Howe, Esq., J.P., and John Coghill Esq., J.P....Henry Hewitt per Edward, insolence and an assault, 50 lashes. The part of the back exposed to the scourge assumed a deep purple colour before the end of the punishment, and there was a breach of surface over the greater part of the same space, which might be termed 'a raw' but no blood flowed; this was, as I afterwards found, the usual effect of 50 lashes. The prisoner was a vigorous young lad, apparently of great powers of endurance, but by flinching and writhing about seemed to suffer a good deal

9). Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 17th regiment........

Dunvegan Castle departed Sheerness 30 September 1829 - Lieut. John Grey
Katherine Stewart Forbes departed Spithead 14 October 1829 - Major Fairtclough 63rd regt.,
Mermaid departed Sheerness 5 December 1829- Lieutenant Isaac Blackburn
Forth 1 departed Cork 1 January 1830 - Captain James Oliphant Clunie
Nithsdale departed Sheerness 1 January 1830 - Captain Robert G. Moffatt
Lady Feversham departed Portsmouth 8 April 1830 - Lieutenant Harvey 29th regt.,
Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness 9 April 1830 Lieutenant Watson 20th regt.,
Adrian departed Portsmouth 27 April 1830 - Ensign Reynolds
Lord Melville departed the Downs 6 June 1830 - Lieutenant Robert Graham
Hercules departed Dublin 3 July 1830 - Major J.W. Bouverie
Royal Admiral departed Portsmouth 5 July 1830 - Captain John Church
Burrell departed Plymouth 27 July 1830 - Captain John Alexander Edwards
Andromeda departed Cork 28 August 1830 - Captain Charles Forbes
York departed Sheerness 4 September 1830- Lieut-Col. Henry Despard
Edward departed Cork 17 October 1830 - Captain Deeds
Eliza II departed Cork 10 May 1832 - Lieutenant Hewson 4th regiment


[1] Journal of surgeon William Martin of the Hercules. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Journal of Thomas Bell. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-351, 387

[4] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842. Original data: 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.