Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Minstrel - 1812

Embarked:127 women
Voyage: 143 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous voyage: Guildford arrived 18 January 1812
Next voyage: Archduke Charles arrived 16 February 1813
Master John Reid.
Surgeon: Alexander Noble
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Minstrel identified in the Hunter Valley

The Female Prisoners transported on the Minstrel in 1812 came from counties throughout England - Norfolk, Surrey, York, Southampton, Suffolk, Lancaster, Chester, Somerset, Northumberland, Salop, Stafford, Kent, Lincoln, Cumberland, Warwick, Gloucester, Cambridge and Sussex, however the majority were tried and convicted in London.

Newgate Prison

The London women were probably incarcerated in Newgate prison prior to transportation. This was before Elizabeth Fry commenced her visits to Newgate as she didn't begin until after Stephen Grellett contacted her in 1813.

The other women from further afield may have been taken directly to the ship -

The Leeds Mercury reported on 4th April 1812 that Frances Hardcastle and Amelia Barnes from the Castle; and Mary Dinsdale and Mary Bell from the City Gaol were to be delivered on board the Minstrel Transport ship; and on the 8th April 1812 the Bury and Norwich Post added Bridget Crack and Mary Bray who were to be removed from the gaol to be transported to New South Wales for seven years.

In all 127 female convicts were embarked on the Minstrel however one was re-landed. Thirty-six women were under the age of 21. Many left husbands and children behind and most would never return to England.

Free Passengers

Passengers included :

Lieutenant-Colonel Davy of the Royal Marines, who was appointed His Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor of Hobart

Lieutenant Oxley of the Royal Navy.

John Beamont, Naval Officer.

Walter Lang - VDL Settler and carpenter

Edward Roach, husband of Margaret Roach convict on board;

Sophia Warner, widow of William Warner;

Benjamin Goddard, the young son of one of the convict women Catherine Harvey.


The Minstrel sailed from England on 4th June 1812 in company with the Indefatigable.

Rio de Janeiro

The Indefatigable and the Minstrel arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 29th July and found there the Archduke Charles from Ireland with 150 male and 40 female prisoners bound for Port Jackson. The three vessels sailed in company from Rio the 11th August 1811 but the Archduke Charles separated the following day. The Minstrel and the Indefatigable kept company until the 17 August and then separated in a gale of wind.

Port Jackson

The Minstrel arrived in Port Jackson on 25 October 1812 with one hundred and twenty-five prisoners. One woman had died on the passage out. According to the Sydney Gazette the women were all in a fine healthy state. The convict indents give only basic information such as name, when and where convicted and sentence. No ages are recorded, nor the offence committed. [2]

Parramatta Female Factory

On the 28th October an order was given that the few women who were permitted to be assigned to people in Sydney were to be landed that afternoon with a complete set of slops and bedding. The remainder of the women were to be taken to Parramatta Female Factory by water at sunrise the following morning. Boats were to be ready alongside the Minstrel to receive them and convey them twenty miles up the river to Parramatta.

The women were probably fortunate to have made the journey when they did as the weather was probably fine and warm, however three weeks later they witnessed the first storm since their arrival in the colony. There was a torrential downpour. Crops were destroyed, pigeons killed by enormous hailstones and newly shorn sheep perished in the cold as the Parramatta River rose to an alarming height before subsiding once more.

Lieutenant Robert Durie of the 73rd Regiment was Commandant and Magistrate at Parramatta when the women arrived. He was appointed to the position in June 1810 and received an allowance of 5 shillings per day paid from the police fund for the extra duties he performed as Magistrate. In November 1812 it was announced that Captain Durie was proceeding to Europe on twelve months leave to attend to private affairs. He was directed to take charge of a detachment of Royal Marines who were proceeding to England on the Isabella.* Captain Haddon Smith of the 73rd regt., was appointed to the position of Commandant and took up his duties on 1st November 1812.


The Minstrel departed Port Jackson on 6th July 1813 bound for England.

Convicts and Passengers of the Minstrel Identified in the Hunter Valley:

Banks, Mary
On list of convicts sent to Newcastle in February 1813

Blandy, Sarah
Tried at the Old Bailey 30th October 1811. Sentenced to transportation for 7 years for pocket picking. Age 27. Sent to Newcastle penal settlement in June 1813. In December 1813 remainder of sentence remitted and to be returned to Sydney

Bray, Mary
Alias Bell. Tried Suffolk Bury St. Edmonds Quarter Sessions 18 March 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. On list of prisoners to be sent to Newcastle in April 1817

Cahill, Mary
In 1828 age 46, free by servitude. Servant employed by Mr. Fitzgerald at Brisbane Water

Clarke, Mary
Tried at the Old Bailey 3 April 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for pocket picking. Age 24. Sent to Newcastle in March 1817.

Clay, Louisa
Sent to Newcastle penal settlement in February 1816 and January 1818

Connor, Catherine
Catherine Connor (Conner) alias Burke - Tried at the Old Bailey 30th October 1811. Sentenced to transportation for 7 years for house breaking. Age 28. Sent to Newcastle in February 1813 and April 1817

Grave, Hannah
Hannah Grave - Wife of William. Tried Cumberland Assizes 31 August 1811. Sentenced to 14 years transportation. Sent to Newcastle in October 1813.

Hannell, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Hannell - Tried at the Old Bailey 29th May 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for grand larceny. Age 19. Married three times 1. James Walton. 2. John White. 3 John Butler Hewson. Sent to Newcastle under colonial sentence where she was employed by government. Her daughter Mary Ann age 4 resided with her in 1825. In April 1825 charged with being an accessory to a robbery at the Parsonage and sent to Port Macquarie. Elizabeth Hannell went on to lead successful life in the colony. Her three sons Jesse, John and James played prominent parts in the early development of Newcastle. James Hannell became an Innkeeper and the first Mayor of Newcastle in 1859.

Lucas, Mary
Mary Lucas - Tried Surry Quarter Sessions 4th March 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. Sent to Newcastle in April 1814

Mitchell, Martha
Martha Mitchell (Reynolds) - Tried at Croydon, Surrey Assizes 27th March 1811. Sentenced to transportation for life. Sent to Newcastle penal settlement in 1814. Petitioned for mitigation of sentence in 1822 however was still assigned to government employment in 1825. In 1822 Martha married John Reynolds who arrived on the Coromandel in 1804. They were among the Early settlers at Patterson's Plains.

Pearce, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Pearce - Tried at Gloucester Assizes 9th March 1811. Sentenced to 7 years transportation. Absconded from Newcastle settlement at the same time as John Cobb - 31st October 1814. Still at large in December 1814. Tried at the Criminal Court and received a further sentence of three years transportation in 1822

Pearce, Theresa Elizabeth
Theresa Elizabeth Pearce alias Mary Abrahams - Tried Middlesex Gaol Delivery 30 March 1812. Sentenced to transportation for life. In October 1817 resided at the Female Factory at Parramatta and applied for permission to marry Edward Matton. In 1822 sent to Newcastle penal settlement for 3 years having been charged with feloniously stealing in the dwelling house of Bridget Riley at Sydney. Ten months later she petitioned to be removed from government service so that she could make her own living as a needlewoman. Her health had declined since arrival at the settlement rendering her unable to do her government service. She was still in government service in 1825

Roach, Catherine
Catherine Roach alias Murphy - Tried at the Old Bailey 3 April 1811. Sentenced to death for coining offences. Sentence mitigated to transportation for life. Age 48

Roach, Margaret
Margaret Roach - Tried at the Old Bailey on 15th January 1812. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for shoplifting. Age 29. Wife of Edward Roach a carpenter who came free on the Minstrel. In 1821 sent to Newcastle for a colonial crime. In January 1825 Edward Roach petitioned for his wife Margaret to be returned to him from Newcastle as he was suffering from a paralytic disease and was incapable off exerting himself for his own support or for that of his family including three helpless children one of whom had been admitted to the Orphan School in 1822. Margaret Roach was employed by John Powell at Patterson's Plains in 1828

Notes and Links

1). *The Isabella was wrecked in the Falkland Islands in February 1813. Joseph Holt wrote of the wreck of Isabella in his memoirs. Captain Durie's wife was enceinte when they were wrecked and was confined under a bank in a turf bog with only General Holt's wife to assist when her time came. Captain Durie was later compensated by 133 pounds for the loss of his belongings.

2). John Oxley at Moreton Bay.

3). Colonial Appointments

4). The Petition of Mary Abrahams -

To His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, The Humble Petition of Mary Abrahams

That Petitioner was sent to this settlement about 10 months ago by the Sentences of a Criminal Court for 3 years.

That Petitioner's Health has been in an exceedingly ill state ever since her arrival on this settlement and is thereby rendered unable to do her Government duty which she would most readily do if not completely disabled from doing so.

She therefore humble hopes your Excellency will be pleased to allow her off the Stores as she could maintain herself by her own industry being a good Needlewoman

And she shall, as in duty bound, ever pray, Mary Abrahams [1]


[1] Colonial Secretary's Papers, Fiche 3163-3253 Source Information New South Wales, Australia.

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4004]; Microfiche: 633