Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Eliza I (1) - 1820

Embarked 160 men
Voyage 98 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 511
Previous vessel: Lord Wellington arrived 20 January 1820
Next vessel: Prince Regent arrived 27 January 1820
Captain Francis Hunt
Surgeon James Marr Brydone R.N.,
Convicts and passengers of the Eliza identified in the Hunter Valley region

The Eliza was built in Calcutta in 1806 and carried a crew of about 40 men. [2]

This was her first voyage bringing convicts to New South Wales. She was the next vessel to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the Recovery in July 1819.

The prisoners to be embarked on the Eliza came from counties in England, Scotland and Wales. They were held in county prisons before being transferred to London where they were incarcerated in prison to await transportation.

Convicts Embarked

The men from Glasgow were sent to the Justitia hulk on 27th April 1819 and transferred to the Eliza on 9th September 1819. Other prisoners from the Justitia were also embarked on this day. By the end of September 1819 there were a total of 242 people on board- 160 prisoners who had embarked at Woolwich; 36 guard, 39 ships crew and 5 passengers by order of the Navy Board.

Surgeon James Marr Brydone

James Marr Brydone kept a Medical Journal from 15 September 1819 to 31 January 1820.

On the 9th October the ship took on water and provisions. On the 10th October she sailed from Spithead anchoring at the Isle of Wight on 11th October, leaving there on the 12th October 1819. [1]

The Equator

They reached the Equator on the 15 November where the surgeon noted that the prisoners were locked down for three hours while the ship's company and guard 'amuse themselves in the usual ridiculous custom' on crossing the equator. [1]

Sydney Cove

After a voyage of 98 days the Eliza came to anchor in Sydney Cove at 9am on 20 January 1820. [1]

Convict Muster

Six days later Mr. Campbell, the Governor's Secretary and Mr. Hutchinson, Superintendent of Convicts came on board to inspect the prisoners, make note of their descriptions and enquire if there were any complaints about the passage out. On this occasion several men made complaints of short rations of pork in the early part of the voyage. (Convict Provisions)

Convicts Disembarked

The men were disembarked at 6am on 31st January and inspected by Governor Macquarie. One prisoner had died on the voyage out (William Ashley), and two remained convalescent (John Allen and John McIntosh). On the same day the men were disembarked, orders were given for their distribution to various settlers and public works. Their lives as assigned servants had begun.


There were several younger prisoners, however they may not have been treated differently to the older men as they were assigned alongside them. The Carter's Barracks that later housed younger prisoners was not yet established in that capacity. The youngest prisoners were Duncan Campbell (16); John Charter 16); Jacob James (16); John Jones (16); Samuel Maggs (16); John Parker (16); James Smith (16); Francis Stewart (16); John Watts (14).

Twenty-four Eliza convicts were sent by water to the Parramatta district. Eighteen were sent to work on the Western Road party; another four were assigned to William Lawson; Henry Dart was assigned to Lieut. King and William Brown to Mr. Rouse, his father being a teacher. Twelve men were assigned in the Liverpool district and six in the Windsor district. Fifteen were assigned to the agricultural establishment at Emu Plains.

Life in the Colony

For the most part they were in for a harrowing few years particularly if they strayed outside the law again. The year following the arrival of the Eliza new regulations regarding tickets of leave were introduced. If prisoners stayed out of trouble they could expect to become eligible for a ticket of leave in a few years time. A ticket of leave entitled a convict to reside where he chose within a Police District. He could work for wages but was obliged to report to the authorities regularly at the ticket of leave musters. Those prisoners with a seven year sentence could have a ticket after four years servitude; for a fourteen year sentence they would serve six years and eight years for a life sentence.

Charles Tinkler had potential to make it through the next eight years and therefore receive his ticket of leave, but this was not to be. He was a miner by trade and soon after arrival volunteered to work at the Coal Mines at Newcastle where the work was arduous, food scarce and punishment for transgressions harsh. Although he had volunteered he fell foul of the law when he absconded from the settlement and was declared a bushranger. He was apprehended in January 1822 and sent to Port Macquarie penal settlement......Tinkler's horrific death was reported two years later in 1824 in the Sydney Gazette.....

Foley, an aboriginal black native, was indicted for the wilful murder of one Charles Tinker, a crown servant at Port Macquarie, on the 28th March last. By the evidence it appeared, that the prisoner occasionally lived in the house with the deceased and two or three other white men, and that he was in the custom of going out with the deceased, to shoot ducks and other game; such being an indulgence extended by the Commandant to the deceased, on account of his good conduct. At the instigation of the prisoners, the deceased proceeded upon a fowling excursion, accompanied by the prisoners, two other blacks and the father of the prisoners. No tidings being obtained after 3 or 4 days absence a military party was sent out in search, who was found in a wounded state, a spear having entered the lungs, and still remaining in the body. The poor man was immersed in water, with his head reclining on a stump. At first he seemed insensible; but immediate attention being had to his pitiable condition he recovered sufficiently to give an account of what had happened to him. He was taken to the hospital at Port Macquarie and cared for there by
Dr. Moran but died soon afterwards

Departure from the Colony

In September 1820 Captain Hunt, Mr. Hall, Chief Officer, Mr. Wallan, Second Officer, Mr. Manners, Third Officer and Thomas Grant, Boatswain all advertised their intention to depart on the Eliza within a few days.

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and passengers of the Eliza identified in the Hunter Valley region

2). George Ison arrived free on the Eliza as a sailor. He was transported to Newcastle Penal Settlement for a colonial crime soon after arrival

3). William Moore was recommended by Commandant Henry Gillman in 1825 to be employed/paid as an Overseer at the coal mines where he had been working for the previous five years.

4). Peter Ponsonby was assigned to James Mudie at Castle Forbes. He may have been present at one of the most infamous events of the day, the convict uprising at Castle Forbes in 1833. He later testified as to the working conditions for convicts on the estate.


[1] Medical Journal of James Marr Brydone on the voyage of t he Eliza in 1820. 1 October 1839 - 9 April 1840 UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.342-343, 383