Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Elizabeth 1 (1) - 1816

Embarked 155 men; 2 men re-landed
Voyage 123 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Atlas arrived 22 July 1816
Next vessel: Mariner arrived 11 October 1816
Captain William Ostler
Surgeon Caryer Vickery
Convicts of the Elizabeth identified in the Hunter Valley region

The Elizabeth was built at Chepstow in 1809. This was the first of three voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1818 and 1820.

The Convicts

Most of the convicts of the Elizabeth had been tried in counties and cities in England - London, Essex, Lincoln, Middlesex, Lancaster, Nottingham, Surrey, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol, Devon, Stafford, York, Salop, Suffolk, Norwich, Somerset, Leicester. There were also those who had been tried or court-martialled at the Cape of Good Hope, Gibraltar, Malta, Quebec CM and Upper Canada CM.

Prison Hulks

Several had been tried at the Old Bailey in London on 13th September 1815 and were transferred to the hulk Laurel by the following January. They remained there until being embarked on the Elizabeth on 14th May 1816. [1]

Superintendent of Ships and Vessels John Henry Capper submitted a Report which tells a little of the living conditions for prisoners on the Laurel .......

My Lord,
London, 26th January 1816.
Since I had the honour of reporting to your Lordship in October last, upon the state of the different convict hulks, I have again inspected every part of the establishment; and I have great satisfaction in confirming what I anticipated in that Report, as likely to result from the plan which had been adopted under your Lordship's authority, on board the several ships, for forming them into compartments and classing the prisoners.

The convicts have (with only one exception) conducted themselves in a very orderly and becoming manner, and the respective officers have strictly conformed to their instructions. The provisions and clothing supplied by the contractors have been of such a quality as not to afford any ground for complaint. I think it my duty to detail to your Lordship the progress which has been made in the alterations on board the different hulks, by dividing them into, compartments.

The Captivity in Portsmouth harbour is formed into seven compartments, and the prisoners all classed according to character. The divisions in this ship have been so constructed, as to enable the officers to inspect the prisoners at all times; and it is very satisfactory to know, that these alterations have been made in such manner as not to impede the ventilation. The separating the prisoners of indifferent character, from those who are orderly disposed, has produced so great a change, that I have been assured by all the officers, that their duty in governing the convicts has been made comparatively easy to what it was formerly. Upon the last quarterly examination into the character of the respective prisoners in this ship (which consisted of 422) only nine of them were returned as being bad behaved. In addition to the Chaplain's reports, which I had the honour of transmitting to your Lordship in October last, I beg leave to enclose one which has since been made to me by the Rev. Mr. Tate, Chaplain of the Captivity and Laurel Hulks: the candid manner in which Mr. Tate has always expressed himself upon the moral state of the convicts, enables me, without the least hesitation, to give implicit credit to his statement.

The convicts belonging to the Captivity are all usefully employed in the dockyard at Portsmouth, and their state of health has been remarkably good throughout the last year.

The Laurel Hulk at Gosport (which at present contain 270 prisoners) has also been divided into seven compartments : the conduct of the prisoners in this ship, and the attention of the officers to their respective duties, stand so parallel with those of the Captivity, that I need not enter into any statement upon the subject - The convicts are efficiently employed upon the public works carrying on under the direction of the Ordnance Department, and their health has also been good.

Report of John Henry Capper, Esquire, Superintendent of the several Ships and Vessels for the Confinement of Offenders under Sentence of Transportation 26 January 1816.

Military Guard

The Military Guard consisted of a serjeant and 32 privates of the 46th Regiment under command of Captain Humphrey. The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Marquis of Wellington, Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, Three Bees,
General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Sir William Bensley, Morley and Bencoolen

Convict Ship Lord Eldon Convict Ship Fame Convict Ship Recovery Convict Ship Elizabeth Convict Ship Three Bees Convict Ship General Hewitt Convict Ship Guildford Convict Ship Shipley Convict Ship Ocean Convict Ship Sir William Bensley Convict Ship Morley Convict Ship Marquis of Wellington Convict Ship Canada Convict Ship Bencoolen Convict Ship Larkins Historical Records of the 46th Regiment Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 46th regtiment to Australia

Convicts Embarked

One hundred and fifty-five male prisoners were embarked, two were re-landed and two died on the voyage out - John Powell died 4th September 1816 and James McCarley died 26th September 1816. [2]


The Elizabeth departed England on 4th June 1816.

Port Jackson

The Elizabeth arrived in Port Jackson on 5th October 1816, five days before the Mariner.

Cabin Passengers

Judge-Advocate John Wylde arrived on the Elizabeth with his family including his brother-in-law and clerk Joshua John Moore and his father Thomas Wylde whom he recommended as Clerk of the Peace. His daughter Harriett would later marry Lieutenant John Palmer. The Sydney Gazette reported that Judge Wylde was to land on the 9th October at twelve noon. The Governor's barge was taken alongside the Elizabeth to receive him and convey him to the Landing place on the Governor's Wharf. He was accompanied by Mr. Secretary Campbell, Captain Ostler, Surgeon Caryer Vickery, military personnel as well as private friends. A Salute of thirteen Guns was fired from Dawe's Battery immediately on the Judge Advocate's leaving the Elizabeth in Honor of his safe arrival at Sydney and a like salute was fired from the Elizabeth.

Government House, Sydney - John Eyre...Government House c. 1807. John Eyre. State Library NSW

On landing at the Governor's Stairs, the Judge Advocate was received by the Magistrates, the Provost Marshal and other Officers of the Colony and taken to one of the Magistrates houses for refreshments. In the afternoon when the Judge Advocate was again returning from on board with his Lady, the prisoners who arrived in the vessel took the opportunity of joining the ship's company in manning the yards and cheering as his boat left the ship. [3]

Convict Muster

Colonial Secretary Mr. Campbell mustered the convicts on board. He found that .......

'with the exception of convalescents from scurvy they were in good health and generally fresh looking, active men. The cases of lameness or permanent bodily disabilities were much fewer than usual, whilst at the same time the serviceable description of mechanics such as carpenters, masons, bricklayers and those whose trades conduce to the forwarding of buildings are still fewer being more deficient than in any other case within my recollection. Without exception every prisoner expressed gratefulness to the kind and humane attention of the Captain and Surgeon during the passage' [4]

The convict indents include information such as Name, When and Where Convicted, Sentence, Native Place, Calling, Physical Description and occasional information regarding Tickets of Leave and Pardons.

Convicts Disembarked

The prisoners were landed on Friday 11 October in a healthy state and mustered in the presence of His Excellency the Governor, Lachlan Macquarie who was afterwards pleased to give instructions for their distribution to the various situations assigned them. Select here to read the procedure recorded by John Thomas Bigge of the disembarkation of prisoners.

There were several young prisoners on the Elizabeth -

John Dent aged 12, George Edwards age 13 and John Stokes age 13 who were all tried in Surrey and Michael Haggerty age 14 and William Cadell who was only 10 years of age who were both tried in Bristol.

The Carters Barracks at Brickfields was yet to be established when the Elizabeth arrived and all these boys except William Cadell were sent to Windsor with the other men for 'distribution' to various employments and assignments. William Cadell was sent to the public school.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie......Governor Macquarie

The arrival of the Elizabeth is noted in the Diary of Lachlan Macquarie.....

Saturday 5. Octr. 1816 !!! This morning early anchored in Sydney Cove the Elizabeth Male Convict Ship, Commanded by Capt. Wm. Ostler, from England - whence she sailed on the 27th. of May last, with 153 Male Convicts on board with a Guard of 34 Soldiers of the 46th. Regt. Commanded by Capt. Humphries of same Corps, two Convicts only having died during the Voyage. The new Judge Advocate John Wylde Esqr. and his Family, have arrived in this Ship; and I have received very important Dispatches by this conveyance from His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl Bathurst, conveying to me the delightful tidings of the Prince Regent's entire approbation of every part of the line of conduct pursued by me towards the late Judge Advocate Mr. Ellis Bent; and also the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Mr. Jeffrey Hart Bent, in the late discussions and Disputes with them, on Public Points of Duty, connected with their respective Offices. - H. R. Highness has entirely disapproved of their very insolent, disrespectful, and insubordinate conduct towards me; marking his high displeasure thereupon by superseding both, and removing them from their Offices immediately - Mr. Wylde having been appointed to succeed Mr. Ellis Bent as Judge Advocate - and a Mr. Field (both Barristers of Eminence) to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the room of Mr. Jeffrey Hart Bent.

Departure from the Colony

The Elizabeth was engaged to convey troops to India on her departure from New South Wales in October 1816. She returned to New South Wales with prisoners in 1818.

Colonial Crimes

Michael Haggerty was convicted of a colonial crime with fellow shipmate Thomas Till in 1820. With other prisoners they made a daring escape from Sydney gaol in April 1820. When captured they were both sent to Newcastle penal settlement and then to Port Macquarie penal settlement. Thomas Till escaped in a boat from Port Macquarie in 1822 and was executed for his crimes. Michael Haggerty escaped from Port Macquarie but was captured at Port Stephens and sent to Macquarie Harbour, Van Diemen's Land.

Notes and Links

1). Forty-three men who arrived on the Elizabeth were under the age of 21 years.

2). Esther Ames wife of convict Robert Ames arrived free on the Elizabeth

3). Convicts of the Elizabeth identified in the Hunter Valley region

4). Nine convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1816 - Mariner, Fanny, Mary Anne, Ocean, Alexander, Guildford, Atlas, Elizabeth and Surry. Approximately 1,415 prisoners arrived in NSW in 1816.

5). William Ostler was also Master on the convict ships Elizabeth 1818 Elizabeth 1820; and the Marquis of Hastings in 1826

6). Account of the prisoners who died on the voyage to Australia in 1816.

7). Ships departing Port Jackson in 1816


[1] Sheerness and Woolwich - The Report of John Henry Capper dated 26 January 1816

[2] House of Commons Papers

[3] Sydney Gazette 12 October 1816

[4] Ancestry. Colonial Secretary's Correspondence. Main Series of Letters Received. State Records NSW.