Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Forth - 1835

Embarked: 196 men
Voyage: 105 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Bengal Merchant arrived 30 January 1835
Next vessel: Lady Nugent arrived 9 April 1835
Master Henry Hutton
Surgeon Thomas Robertson
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail

The Forth was built Leith, Scotland in 1826.

One hundred and ninety-six men were embarked on the Forth at Cork. They came from counties throughout Ireland - Tipperary, Limerick, Mayo, Belfast, Dublin. Waterford, Westmeath, Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford, Meath, Queens, Kerry, Roscommon, Clare, Donegal, Kings, Carlow, Wicklow, Tyrone, Antrim, Leitrim, Sligo and Cork.

Their crimes ranged from picking pockets, stealing items and livestock to manslaughter and murder. Some were convicted of white boy crimes - fire arms offences, abduction and assaulting habitation.[2]


The Forth set sail for New South Wales on 21 October 1834.[1]

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 29 rank and file of H.M. 50th regiment under the command of Captain Turner of 50th and Ensign Anderson of 41st regiment; eight soldiers' wives and eleven children.

Detachments of the 50th Regiment arrived on the convict ships Susan, Surry, Forth, Bengal Merchant Hooghley, Hive, Blenheim, Royal Admiral, Lady Nugent, Parmelia, James Laing, Captain Cook, Hero, Roslin Castle, Henry Porcher, Henry Tanner, Lady Kennaway and the Arab.

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included D.A.C.G. Reid, Mrs. Reid and two children; and Mr Paget [6]

Surgeon Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson kept a Medical Journal from 30 August 1834 to 24 February 1835. [3]

The Voyage

During the voyage when scurvy appeared, the prisoners were given an additional allowance of wine, lime juice, with preserved meats which caused the scorbutic eruptions to disappear.

The other cases related in the surgeon's journal were all of the inflammatory nature requiring an active antiphlogistic practise. Bleeding, brisk purgatives, nauseating medicines with blisters were given as treatments.

The weather during the voyage was remarkably fine and dry. The thermometer varied according to their situation.. The Deck and sleeping berths were kept dry and clear by dry holystoning and were constantly ventilated with windsails. The clothes were aired every day and the prisoners on deck from 8am till sunset. [3]

Port Jackson

The Forth sailed direct and arrived in Port Jackson on Monday 3 February 1835.

The Sydney Gazette reported that the Forth had made one of the quickest passages ever made, having sailed from Cork on 21st October and being only 103 days on the passage. [7]

Convict Muster

The convict indents reveal that of the original number of prisoners embarked in Cork, one hundred and ninety-two prisoners were mustered by the Colonial Secretary in Sydney. One man had died on the passage out (Michael Kennedy); three were sent on shore to the hospital; two were not embarked or were sent back on shore in Cork.

Details recorded in the indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence and physical description. There is no indication where the prisoners were assigned. There are occasional notes re colonial crimes, pardons and deaths:

Joseph Boyle was sentenced to 10 years in a penal settlement for a colonial crime in 1842.

Stephen Connor died in Sydney Hospital on 6th March 1835

John Cottis from Dublin died at Port Macquarie

Michael Crohan died in the service of A.A. Co., at Port Stephens

John Farrell died in Sydney Hospital 13 February 1835

Charles Grey, a shipmaster from Boston America was sent to Cockatoo Island for a colonial crime

John Galligan from Co. Antrim was murdered by the blacks at New England on 6 January 1838

John Hall from Wexford was shot by the Police while trying to make his escape

Hugh Joynt died in Port Macquarie Hospital July 1839

Michael Leydon received the King's Royal Pardon dated 4 April 1836

John Leydon received absolute pardon dated 4 April 1836.
(the above two with their brother Peter Leydon were convicted of abduction)

Timothy May alias Bergan was sent to Cockatoo Island for security

Michael Moran died at Maitland while in the bridge party 13 June 1837

James McGrath had several punishments against his name including 6 months in the iron gang and Raymond Terrace in 1843 and at Maitland in 1840

James Rogers from Galway convicted of abduction granted Royal Free Pardon dated 4 April 1836

Michael Traynor died in Port Macquarie hospital 18 August 1840

Richard Young sent to Norfolk Island for life

Departure from the Colony

Captain Hutton intended to sail the Forth to Manilla and Canton after departing New South Wales on 8th March 1835. [4]

The Forth and Captain Hutton were never heard of again after departing Manilla in July 1835......

Henry Hutton having sailed on board a vessel at Manilla, in July, 1835, on a voyage to London, and the vessel never having been since beard of, nor any one on board, presumed to be dead. Henry Hutton, the master of the merchant ship Forth, a bachelor, sailed from the port of London in the month of November, 1834, on a voyage to Manilla, where he arrived on or about the 20th of May, 1835. In the month of July, 1835, he re-embarked on board the said ship from Manilla on his return to London, where the ship was expected to have arrived in about four months afterwards, but neither the ship nor any person on board have since been heard of. The ship and cargo were insured, and the underwriters had paid as upon a total loss. The party had made no will. Phillimore, under these circumstances, submitted that the party must be presumed to be dead, and he prayed administration of his effects to be granted to his mother as next of kin.[5]

Notes and Links

1). Political Prisoners

2). Thomas Robertson was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the following convict ships to Australia:
William Bryan to VDL in 1833

Forth to NSW in 1835

Surry to NSW in 1836

James Pattison to NSW in 1837

Planter to NSW in 1839

Equestrian to VDL in 1845

3). Find out more about convict/bushranger Richard Young (alias Gentleman Dick) who arrived on the Forth

4). Prisoners and passengers of the Forth identified in the Hunter Valley region


[1] The Australian 10 February 1835

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4019]; Microfiche: 694

[3] Medical Journal of Thomas Robertson on the voyage of the Forth in 1835. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4] Sydney Herald 9 March 1835

[5] Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the English Ecclesiastical Courts ... By Joseph Phillimore, Jesse Addams, John Haggard, James Fergusson, Sir George Lee, Edward Duncan Ingraham, William Calverley Curteis

[6] The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842) Thu 5 Feb 1835 Page 2

[7] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Thu 12 Feb 1835 Page 2