Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship John - 1829

Embarked: 188 men
Voyage: 109 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Norfolk arrived 27 August 1829
Next vessel: Guildford arrived 4 November 1829
Captain Robert Norsworthy
Surgeon Superintendent John Love
Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the John

The John was built at Chester in 1810. [2] Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the John in 1827, 1829 and 1832; and to Van Diemen's Land in 1831 and 1833.

The Convicts

Prisoners came from the following cities and counties in England and Scotland - Nottingham, London, York, Surrey, Kent, Derby, Warwick, Stafford, Hereford, York, Lancaster, Salop, Worcester, Lincoln, Bucks, Leicester, Suffolk, Devon, Edinburgh, Jedburgh and Glasgow.

They were incarcerated in the hulks to await transportation. Some of those men tried at the Old Bailey on 4th December 1828 including John Ponsonby, Peter Fenn, Edward Nightingale, John Price, Thomas Ousby, William Jones, John Atridge and Elijah Rivers were taken to Newgate prison where they were held until 7 February 1829 when they were transferred to the Retribution hulk at Woolwich. They embarked on the John on 18 May 1829.

Retribution hulkDrawing of two convict hulks? at quayside steps, one HMS Retribution.


The John departed from Sheerness on 27 May 1829.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 29 rank and file of different corps, who were accompanied by four women and four children under the orders of Lieut. Forbes of the 89th regiment. Other convict ships bringing soldiers of the 89th regiment included the Atlas, Speke, Baring and Minerva.


Passengers included Archdeacon William Grant Broughton, Mrs. Broughton and two children; and Samuel and Hannah Hatton, servants to the Archdeacon.

William Grant Broughton kept a ship board diary describing aspects of the voyage, the ship and the convicts. His sentiments towards this new chapter in his life would have been echoed by the many prisoners locked below..... The prospect of being soon delivered from a state of irksome confinement occasions no sensation of joy: where we are going there are none of those whom we desire to see or whom we have been accustomed to love and value. Select here to read more about William Grant Broughton including extracts from his diary and the voyage on the John

Surgeon John Love

John Love kept a Medical Journal from 24 April to 24 September 1829...........

The state of the health both of the prisoners and guard on board the John has been most satisfactory; there were men complaining from time to time with slight ailments and sometimes requiring medicine, but none who I would have ever been obliged to put on the sick list even in a vessel of war except those related in the preceding journal. These were some slight ulcers arising from abrasion of the cuticle by the irons and rapidly healing on their being removed.

I have to attribute their state of health to a favourable passage and favourable weather almost the whole of the time so that the prisoners were on deck nearly the whole time from seven in the morning until sundown in the evening. Taking breakfast and dinner on deck, the lower deck was also in a perfect state, being always cleaned by dry holystoning and two stoves kept lighted every day from morning until the prisoners were sent down in the evening. The bottom boards in the under sleeping berths were taken up every day and kept so till the evening so that every part of the deck was perfectly cleaned, dry and ventilated.

The prisoners were on deck every day when the weather would permit. When lime juice or wine were served every man drank his allowance on the deck in the presence of the orderly corporal and sentry.

Those men treated by the surgeon on the voyage out included:

John Wright, aged 32, prisoner

John Birmingham, aged 48, prisoner

Allen McLean, aged 18, prisoner

William Tuller, aged 26, prisoner

Peter McQuirk, aged 24, prisoner

Port Jackson

The John arrived in Port Jackson on Sunday 13 September 1829. There were no deaths on the voyage out, however two men were sent to the hospital on arrival. Sunday 13th September 1829 was a cloudy day with showers in Sydney. The wind was from the west. Temperature 13C - 21C.

Convict Muster

A muster was held on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay on 17th September 1829.
The indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, where and when tried, sentence, prior convictions, physical description and where assigned on arrival. There are also occasional notes re deaths, pardons, punishments and relatives already in the colony.

The Australian on 23 September 1829 remarked....The ship John which brought out the Venerable Mr. Broughton, has added to our stock of pastoral nobility, a ci-devant Lieutenant and Ensign, a Land Surveyor, and seven Clerks; the entire of whom, it is expected, will as usual be packed off for Wellington now vulgarly styled the Valley of Swells, there to rusticate ad infinitum.

Convicts Disembarked

The prisoners were disembarked on Thursday 24 September 1829 in a healthy condition. More than two thirds were drafted up the country the following day.[4]


The younger prisoners were assigned to the Carter's Barracks

In the Hunter Valley prisoners were assigned to the following settlers:

William Peppercorn
J. P. Webber
Willian Innes at
John McIntyre
Ferdinand Anley at Hunter River
George Augustus Middleton
George Townshend
John Pike
John Galt Smith
James Phillips
Francis Moran

Find out more about these settlers here

Notes from the Indents

John Butler from Suffolk, seaman and soldier and surgeon's apprentice was executed at Norfolk Island September 1834. In 1834 John Butler became part of an infamous colonial chapter when he took part in an uprising of 150 convicts. He was put on trial with many others, one of whom gave a testimony which brought tears to Judge Burton's eyes - 'Let a man be what he will when he comes here, he is soon as bad as the rest; a mans heart is taken from him, and there is given to him the heart of a beast'. John Butler was found guilty and executed for his crimes with twelve other cohorts a month later. (See Sydney Gazette 27 September 1834)

John Birmingham from Liverpool, Soldier. Lieutenant. Brother in law to Lieut. Hicks in the colony.

George Childs alias Giles from St. Albans. A runaway from the colony

Thomas Cane - Blacksmith from Stafford - died in the iron gang at Parramatta 6 February 1836

Thomas Chambers - Brass founder. Sister a prisoner in the colony, Mary Chambers

William Clayton from Leeds. Died in Sydney Hospital 30 May 1835

John Clark alias Thompson from Edinboro. Hanged in Sydney 2 June 1834

John Dooley alias Dodds. Wife in the colony as Ann Donnelly, came about the same time previous year.

John Clare Eustace from Dublin. Ensign in the army. Various colonial punishments. Sent for 30 days on the treadmill. Sent to the Iron gang at Moreton Bay. Died at H.M. General Hospital September 1832.

Charles Correy - Clerk from London

Michael Conner - Clerk and Gentleman's servant from London

George Denshire - Clerk from London

John George Jelf - Clerk. Brother in colony Robert Jelf, Clerk to Australian Agricultural Company

Francis Wright - Clerk from Norwich

Henry Hamilton Denham - Fancy painter and lythographic draftsman. Assigned to the Surveyor-General on arrival - Trial at the Old Bailey. (See also Letter to Mary Denham from Thomas Lawrence regarding paintings by her son Henry Hamilton(Denham) dated 1818. From: Album of watercolors and drawings. From an album made by Mrs. Denham and her husband between 1830-1850 comprised of approximately 105 sketches, watercolors, inscriptions, and poems. - Beinecke Digital Collections

Peter Flynn or Fenn. Clergy man at Jersey sent for forgery. Conditional Pardon dated 15 March 1845

Thomas Heightley - Horse surgeon, colt breaker

John Jeffery from Kent- Supposed to have been drowned about July or August 1834

Peter Maquirk - Sent to Norfolk Island

Denis Mahoney. Sent to Norfolk Island. Died 13 December 1845 in Liverpool Hospital

James Martin alias Leechman. Sent to Norfolk Island
John Maroney. Sent to Norfolk Island

Edward Nightingale - London hairdresser - Killed at Newcastle Stockade

Peter O'Neale. Sent to Norfolk Island

Samuel Rudkin. Stockinger. Accidentally killed at Yass

Samuel Rogers. Sent to Cockatoo Island for 2 years

William Ritchel alias John Smith from Derby. Serving 7 years in the hulk and escaped from there. Offence: returning from transportation. Died at Norfolk Island

Thomas Stedman alias Catt from Kent. Escaped from the colony and re transported on the Mary in 1833

Noah Tall - Sent to Norfolk Island

George Whitelace - Sent to Norfolk Island

John Welch. Died at Liverpool 6 Jun 1831

Notes and Links

1). John Love was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Mellish in1830 (VDL), Atlas in 1833 (VDL) and the Backwell in 1835

2). Hunter Valley convicts / passengers arriving on the John in 1829

3). Return of Convicts of the John assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....

William Brampton - House painter assigned to David Johnstone at Cook's River
Thomas Chambers - Brass finisher assigned to Thomas Wood junior in Sydney

Michael Connor - Clerk and gentleman's servant assigned to Francis Greenway at Sydney

James Larkwood (Lockwood) - Stone cutter assigned to Henry Marr at Sydney

Thomas Nixon - Weaver assigned to John Lane at Parramatta

Edward Nightingale - Hairdresser. Assigned to Thomas Markwell at Richmond

John Ogilvy - Plumber, painter. Assigned to F. Peterson in Sydney

Alexander Robertson - Weaver assigned to William Cox at Clarendon


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of John Love on the voyage of the John in 1829. 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.348-349, 386

[3] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/37/5 Description: Medical journal of the John, convict ship from 24 April to 24 September 1829 by John Love, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed on a passage to New South Wales.

[4] Sydney Gazette 26 September 1829.