Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Malabar - 1819

Embarked: 173 men
Voyage: 135 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Grenada arrived 21 October 1819
Next vessel: Recovery arrived 18 December 1819
Captain William Ascough
Surgeon Evan Evans
Hunter Valley Convicts and passengers arriving on the Malabar in 1819

This was the firsst of two voyages of the Malabar bringing convicts to Australia, the other being in 1821 to VDL. [2] The Malabar was the next convict ship to leave England for New South Wales after the departure of the Atlas on 10th June 1819.

The convicts came from counties in England and Wales - Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, London, Suffolk, Norfolk, York, Berks, Chester, Kent, Surrey, Norfolk, Lincoln, Sussex, Nottingham, Lancaster, Oxford, Suffolk, Dorset, Warwick, Lincoln, Stafford, Gloucester, Carmarthen. There were also several men who had been court-martialled in Cambray in France (CM), Trinidad (CM) and Demerara (CM).

They were held in prison hulks until being embarked on the Malabar. Francis Kingsbury who had been court-martialled in France and found guilty of murder and robbery was incarcerated on the Bellerophon Hulk. He was transferred to the Malabar on 3rd June 1819. John Close who had been convicted at the Old Bailey and sent to Newgate prison was transferred to the Malabar with many others on the 7 June 1819.

Surgeon Evan Evans recorded the convicts' arrival on board:

At 10am on Thursday 3rd June 1819 anchored at the Little Nore. At 1pm received fifty convicts from the Retribution hulk, at 2pm received fifty convicts from the Bellerophon hulk. At 6pm weighed and made sail and anchored a little below the Great Nore.
Saturday 5th June 1819 anchored off Dungeness

Monday 7 June at Spithead - Received thirty-two convicts from the Laurel hulk and at 2pm received forty convicts from the Leviathan hulk. Selected the sixteen youngest amongst them and had them put in a separated prison. (3)


On 16th June the surgeon received dispatches for the Governor of New South Wales and the Captain received his orders to sail. On the following morning Thursday 17 June 1819 at 6am under a north-easterly breeze the Malabar set sail and departed Spithead.

On the voyage they touched at Rio de Janeiro where fresh provisions were purchased.

Free Passengers

Michael Stack, Clerk of the Ship and his brother James Stack applied for a discharge from the ship. Captain William Ascough applied to Governor Macquarie on their behalf that they remain in New South Wales. (CSI)

Port Jackson

The Malabar arrived at Port Jackson on 29th October 1819, anchoring in Sydney Cove the following day. Governor Macquarie recorded the arrival in his Journal - Saturday 30th October 1819 This forenoon anchored in Sydney Cove, the vessel Malabar, Commanded by Cap. William Ascough, with 170 male prisoners' from England - whence She sailed on the 17th. of June last ( - touching at Rio Janeiro, which She left on the 17th. of August); Mr. Evan Evans R. Navy, being Surgeon Sup; -; and the Guard consisting of 31 men of the 89th. Regt. commanded by Lieut. Ashhurst of the 34th. Regt. - The Guard and Convicts have all arrived in good Health, none of either having died on the Passage. - This Ship brings no Dispatches or Passengers. - She left the Regalia Private Merchant Ship, at Rio Janeiro. -

Surgeon Evan Evans

Surgeon Evan Evans kept a detailed daily journal. He included the weather conditions, location of the vessel and minutiae of prisoners' life on board.

The prisoners of the Malabar were landed on Friday 5th November and surgeon Evans recorded in his Journal -

'At 5am the convicts were all landed with their rations. At 10am His Excellency the Governor inspected the convicts in the jail yard and asked them if they had any complaints to make and if they were perfectly satisfied with their treatment during the voyage when they all answered that they had no complaint to make, and were perfectly satisfied with their treatment.

And His Excellency was pleased to express his entire satisfaction at their appearance and very healthy state. In closing the foregoing journal I have great satisfaction in stating that the 170 convicts, 32 soldiers comprising the guard, 9 women and 6 children embarked in England in the Malabar were all landed at Sydney in perfect health not a single person lost during the voyage; they were at all times very healthy. The convicts were allowed to be on deck as much as possible consistent with the safety of the ship. The greatest attention was at all times paid to ventilation and cleanliness. The excellent quality of the provisions, the commodious way these ships are fitted out and the liberal supplies of every comfort in case of sickness, for the convicts, all tend no doubt to preserve them in that good state of health which was the case throughout the voyage in the Malabar. The convicts with very few exceptions on board the Malabar behaved quiet and orderly and their treatment was at all times humane and lenient.' [3]

On 6 November the Sydney Gazette reported that they were in receipt of a Letter of Thanks addressed to Captain Ascough and Dr. Evan Evans of the Malabar, from the prisoners, for the humane attention to their health and comfort experienced during the passage. [1]


The convicts were distributed to Parramatta, Windsor, Liverpool and Emu Plains for assignment as soon as they were landed.

The following men were later assigned to Hunter Valley settlers: Joseph Branch was assigned to T.W.M. Winder; James Clarke to James Mudie; John Duck was assigned to Standish Lawrence Harris; Thomas Fox to George Jackson Frankland at Paterson; George Smith to Rev. George Augustus Middleton

Departure From The Colony

William Ascough gave notice of his intention to depart in a notice dated 20th November. Dr. Evans, Thomas Webster, Chief Officer of the Malabar; David Brown, Second Officer and John Brown Third Officer of the Malabar also gave notice of their intention to depart the colony.

On 18 December the Sydney reported: Yesterday Martin Ward, a prisoner who came in the Malabar, was charged before the Superintendent of police with attempting to effect his escape from the Colony n the same ship; and which being satisfactorily proved, he was sentenced to two years labour at Newcastle.

Notes and Links

1). Evan Evans was also employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Phoenix in 1822

2). Hunter Valley Convicts / passengers arriving on the Malabar in 1819

3). Lieut. Ashurst of the 34th regt., departed on the Atlas bound for Madras in January 1819

4). Convict John Sterry Baker of the Malabar was tried at the Suffolk Assizes on 26 March 1819 and sentenced to transportation for life. In the colony in 1825 he was found guilty of sheep stealing for which he received a sentence of death, commuted to 14 years at Moreton Bay penal colony. He absconded from Moreton Bay on 8 January 1826. For more than 14 years he lived with the Upper Brisbane native tribe. He was saved and became known as Booralsha when an old woman of the tribe recognised him as the spirit of her dead son Booralsha, returned to earth. John Baker didn't return to the settlement until 1840. The authorities thought he could be useful so he wasn't punished but was employed as an interpreter. - Truth 15 April 1951

5). William Ascough was also Master of the following convict ships - Ann and Amelia 1825; Marquis of Huntley 1826; Marquis of Huntley 1828; Marquis of Huntley 1830; Portland 1832; Portland 1833; and Mary 1835.

6). Return of Convicts of the Malabar assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....
James Branch - Carpenter assigned to Thomas Arndell at Hawkesbury
James Clarke - Tinman assigned to James Mudie at Castle Forbes
James Read - Seaman assigned to John Abbott at Windsor
William Rogers - Butcher assigned to George Blackett at Liverpool.

7). National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/46/5 Description: A journal relative to the convicts embarked on the Malabar for a passage to New South Wales by E. Evans, Surgeon and Superintendent.

8). Resources used to create Convict Ship pages


[1] Sydney Gazette 6 November 1819

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

[3] Journal of Evan Evans. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.