Convict Ship Louisa
Embarked: 90 women
Voyage: 101 days
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Previous vessel: John arrived 25 November 1827
Next vessel: Florentia arrived 3 January 1828
Master Aaron Smith
Surgeon Superintendent Joseph Cook
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Convicts of the Louisa identified in the Hunter Valley
The Louisa was built in Workington in 1810. She carried a crew of 32 men on this voyage.  Ninety women were embarked probably early in July 1827. The women had been tried in Stirling, Glasgow, Lancaster, Cumberland, Kent, Bristol, Sussex, York, Aberdeen, Chester, Montgomery, Lincoln, Ayr, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Durham, Devon, Norfolk, Surry and Wilstshire and were probably brought from county gaols to London by carts and caravans. More than a quarter had been tried in London and would have been taken directly to Newgate prison after trial.
Mrs. Fry visiting female prisoners at Newgate -
DepartureThe Louisa departed Woolwich on 24th July 1827 with ninety female prisoners and 21 children from England and Scotland. It was a remarkably fast journey - eighty-four days to Bass Strait, reportedly the fastest passage known at the time.
Surgeon Joseph CookThe Australian remarked that Joseph Cook had been in England only 14 days when he embarked on the Louisa and had returned to the colonies in only a little over nine months.
He kept a Medical Journal from 6th July 1827 to 18 December 1827........ Most of the women gave their calling as servant, nursemaid or housemaid. Some according to the surgeon's journal had been prostitutes. (1)
The first entry was for Elizabeth Dean on 31st July. Elizabeth was 36 years old. She had been in the jail at Hastings and became ill while still at Woolwich. Her illness was exacerbated by drunkenness and she suffered 'rigors' throughout the voyage, although according to Joseph Cook she was in good health by the time she landed.
The next case was that of James Williams, probably the son of Sarah Williams. Joseph Cook recorded the circumstances of the child's death in his journal:
James Williams, aged 15 months, convict's child, taken ill at Woolwich; sick or hurt, dysentery (marasmus), embarked with his mother from Bristol had been partially taken from the breast two days before leaving that place and having been brought here on the top of the coach by exposure during the night and getting wet, was feverish and bad cough; put on sick list 4 August 1827, died 29 August 1827 at 8 pm.
The child of Priscilla Kelly (Weymss) also died on 3rd September aged 15 months.
Jane Brett aged 2, suffered from pertussis (whooping cough) and survived.
Although many women had left children behind at least nine brought children with them on the voyage -
Jane Brett (3)
Jean Cameron (1)
Mary Graham (4)
Ann Goldie or Hughes (7)
Catherine Lyons (1)
Mary Anne Mean (5)
Ann Manby (1)
Avis Pope (1)
Hannah Wright (2).
Several women suffered dysentery, venereal disease and fevers, however none of the women suffered from scurvy and no deaths occurred. (1)
Joseph Cook was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Phoenix in 1826, Southworth in 1822,Sir Charles Forbes in 1825 (VDL), Louisa in 1827, Mellish in 1829, Forth (11) in 1830 and the Portland in 1832.
Port JacksonIt was around the 18th November when the women were given their first sight of Australia when the vessel reached Cape Otway.
They arrived in Port Jackson on Monday 3 December 1827, a remarkably fast voyage of 100 - 101 days. The Louisa was one of five convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1827, the others being the Grenada, Brothers, Harmony and Princess Charlotte. Over five hundred female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1827
Muster of ConvictsOn Thursday 6th December Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay and Principal Superintendent of Convicts Frederick A. Hely inspected and mustered the women prior to their landing and distribution.
Sarah Radford a house servant from Devonshire who, according to the indent was the fairest lass on board with a fresh fair complexion, dark brown hair and eyes and a good looking ingenuous countenance, was immediately assigned to Mr. Hely.
Sarah Murhens was the youngest prisoner on board. She was just 15 years old and described as 'well looking'.
Her sister was already in the colony having arrived on the Grenada in January 1827.
The convict indents for the Louisa are more informative than most. As well as the usual information such as name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, calling, crime, date and place of trial, sentence and native place there is also occasional information regarding family members already in the colony or expected soon, deaths and other colonial information.
There is also a detailed physical description of each of the women including in some cases extra remarks - thus the details of the comely Sarah Radford mentioned above are revealed. Most of the women were without Sarah Radford's attributes and Alexander McLeay and Frederick Hely were unusually personal in their descriptions -
Ann Manby age 55 had a pock pitted complexion and a black beard!
Mary Muirhead from Scotland was described as a very large young woman;
Lydia Hitchens had an unprepossessing countenance;
Elizabeth Christmas spoke with the right side of her mouth;
Amelia Peacock was sullen looking;
Lucy Parkins had lost all the teeth in her mouth
and poor Mary Jones age 48 was described as 'sinister looking'.
AssignmentThe convict indents include the information of where each of the women was assigned on arrival.
The following women were later assigned to settlers....
Jane Brett was assigned to George Wyndham at Dalwood
Jane Cameron assigned to John Smith at Newcastle
Ann Carroll to William Bucknell
Mary Harrop to Thomas Holmes
Age 40. Servant of all work from Ireland. Married; three children came with her. Tried at the Old Bailey on 12 July 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing, on the 24th of June, 1 neckerchief, value 1d.; 1 half-sovereign, 3 half-crowns, 7 shillings, and 1 sixpence, the property of Hugh Higgins, from his person . Husband Thomas Brett, a former soldier arrived as a prisoner on Countess of Harcourt in 1824. The indents state that he was the carpenter in John Mackanness's employ. It is not known whether Jane and Thomas met up again in the colony, however Thomas was never going to be much help to her and their children. He was punished several times over before Jane even arrived. In 1826 he was punished with 25 lashes for repeatedly absenting himself from service and addicted to habits of drunkenness. A month later he was sentenced to work in irons for 6 months for stealing cedar boards. Jane was Assigned to Mary Leak at Brickfield Hills on arrival. At least one of their children was sent to the Orphan's Asylum. In September 1828 she was admitted to Sydney gaol and ordered to be returned to the Female Factory.
In April 1830 Jane Brett was assigned to George Wyndham at Dalwood. George Wyndham reported in his Diary that she arrived at Dalwood with a black eye. She died in August 1830. Her name appears in the Register Book of Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle
Age 30. Reads. Widow. Servant of all work from Argyleshire. One daughter with her on the Louisa, probably Christiana who was lodging with Henry Canny at Newcastle in 1828 Tried in Glasgow 30 September 1826 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for receiving stolen goods. Assigned to John Smith at Newcastle on arrival. Applied to marry John Brown (ship Agamemnon) in November 1828. Employed as housemaid to John Smith in November 1828
Age 26. Reads. Married with 1 child. Dairywoman from Stafford. Tried at Lancaster 23 October 1826 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing privately. Two former convictions. 5ft 4in, Freckled complexion, brown hair, hazel grey eyes. Scar on left cheek, corner of eye. Assigned to William Bucknell at Hunter River on arrival. In 1828 she was employed as a house servant by Edward Close at Morpeth. Note - Moreton Bay - Husband Owen in 88th regiment in East India)
Age 21. Reads and writes. Housemaid from London. Tried at the Old Bailey 12 July 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for illegal pledging. Assigned to Charlotte Lowe at Mr. Barker's on arrival on arrival. She was a Ticket of Leave holder when she married William Marshall at the School House at Maitland in July 1831. Witnesses at the ceremony were William and Honora Jackson.. William Marshall had arrived on the Asia in 1825 and was assigned to Edward Close in 1828. Maria died at Maitland in October 1832.
Harrop Mary Ann
Age 18. Reads. Nursemaid from Stockport. Tried in Chester 9 July 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing clothes. Assigned to A. Byrne in Sydney on arrival. Assigned to the Parramatta Female Factory. in 1828. Married Thomas Holmes at Newcastle in November 1829.
Age 27. Reads and writes. Single woman with 1 child. House servant from Greenock. Tried in Glasgow 4 May 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing in a dwelling house. Assigned to Joseph Underwood in Sydney on arrival. Sent to Newcastle gaol from Thalaba under sentence to 3rd Class Female Factory. Forwarded to Sydney on the Lord Liverpool cutter. Granted a Certificate of Freedom in October 1834. In December 1843 sentenced to 3 months confinement at Darlinghurst gaol. Sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in September in 1844. She was convicted of larceny of towells from a line in February 1848 and sentenced to six weeks in gaol as an idle and disorderly character.
Or Holmes. Age 30. Reads and writes. Married with 4 children. Needlewoman and dress maker from Paisley. Tried in Glasgow 7 May 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing clothes. Husband James Holmes, a warper at Paisley. Assigned to David Ramsey on arrival. In July 1831 sent to Newcastle gaol to be forwarded to the Female Factory
Age 35. Reads. Married with two daughters. One with her aged 17 years. Dairywoman and servant from Wiltshire. Tried in London 1 June 1827 and sentenced to transportation for life for stealing in lodgings. 5ft 2in, ruddy complexion, dark brown hair, dark hazel eyes, cocked nose. Assigned to David Bell in Sydney on arrival. Received a Ticket of Leave for good conduct in service at Invermein in April 1832. Ticket of leave cancelled for theft and drunkenness in January 1835. Assigned to Mr. Little at Invermein in 1837. Married Thomas Rourke (ship Isabella) at Maitland in 1837. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Patrick Plains in 1842 and a conditional pardon in 1848. Married William Brown (ship Prince Regent) at Falbrook in 1845
Age 20. Reads and writes. House servant from Devonshire. Tried at Exeter 27 March 1827 and sentenced to transportation for life for stealing notes. 5ft 3in, fresh fair complexion. Dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, Good looking ingenuous countenance. Assigned to Superintendent of Convicts Frederick A. Hely on arrival. Still assigned to Hely in November 1828. Applied to marry Thomas Ryan (ship Ann and Amelia) in 1829. Applied to marry John Broom (ship Princess Royal) in Sydney in 1838
Age 18. Reads. Servant of all work from Limerick. Tried in London 7 June 1827 and sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing a watch. Assigned to William Barnett 66 George St. Sydney on arrival. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1839
Age 34. Reads and writes. Married. Hat trimmer and servant from Bristol. Tried in Bristol 24 April 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for pledging a watch. Two prior convictions. Little finger of right hand crooked - very light eye brows. Fair complexion, light brown hair, hazel grey eyes. Assigned to T. Harvey at Pitt St. Sydney on arrival . In July 1832 she was employed as a house servant at John Laurio Platt's estate at Iron Bark Hill near Newcastle.
Age 26. Servant of all work from Cork. Tried at the Old Bailey in London 12 July 1827 and sentenced to transportation for 14 years for stealing on 23rd June, a watch, 3 seals, and a watch chain belonging to Robert Gingell. Husband James Williams employed as a shoemaker in London. Assigned to Arnold Fisk in Sydney on arrival
Age 17. Reads. House servant and nurse from Liverpool. Tried at Lancaster 30 April 1827 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing plate. Dark ruddy complexion, brown hair, hazel grey eyes, Long upper lip, scar on left thumb. Assigned to Samuel Dunn at Sydney on arrival. Married three times - Spouse 1 Joseph Mantle (m1828) Spouse 2. Daniel Knee (m 1843) Spouse 3. Thomas Howard (m 1865).
Notes and Links1. Seventeen convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1827 - Grenada, Brothers, (F) Albion, Midas, Mariner, Countess of Harcourt, Guildford, Marquis of Hastings, Princess Charlotte, Manlius, Cambridge, Harmony, Prince Regent, Champion, Eliza, John and the Louisa
2. National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/45/6 Description: Medical journal of the Louisa, convict ship from 6 July to 18 December 1827 by Joseph Cook, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed in a voyage from England to New South Wales
References1. Ancestry.com. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. 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.346-347, 385