Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Princess Charlotte - 1827

Embarked: 91 women
Voyage: 128 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Marquis of Hastings arrived 31 July 1827
Next vessel: Manlius arrived 11 August 1827
Captain Daniel Stephenson
Surgeon Charles Cameron
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Hunter Valley Passengers and Prisoners arriving on the Princess Charlotte

The Princess Charlotte was built at Sunderland in 1812. [1] She was being fitted up in the Thames River in preparation for taking female prisoners to New South Wales in February 1827.

The female prisoners to be embarked on the Princess Charlotte came from counties in Scotland, Wales and England. At least 27 women had been tried in Scotland and about 50 were tried at the Old Bailey and probably taken straight to Newgate.

Newgate Prison

Newgate prison was bad enough however for those who came from outside London their harrowing ordeal began long before they even reached the Metropolis. Just three years previously convicts to be embarked on the convict ship Brothers were brought to London in dreadful circumstances. Their ordeal was included in the Memoirs of the Life of Elizabeth Fry.....

It appears that twelve arrived on board handcuffed. Eleven women from Lancaster were sent to the ship iron hooped round their legs and arms and chained to each other. The complaints of these women were very mournful they were not allowed to get up or down from the coach without the whole being dragged together; some of them had children to carry. They received no help or alleviation to their suffering.
Elizabth Fry visiting Newgate
A woman from Cardigan travelled with a hoop of iron round her ankle until she arrived at Newgate where the sub matron insisted on having it taken off. In driving the rivet towards her leg to do so it gave her so much pain that she fainted under the operation. She stated that during a lengthened imprisonment she wore an iron hoop round her waist. From that a chain connected with another hoop round her leg above the knee, from which a second chain was fastened to a third hoop round her ankle in the hoop that went round her waist were she said two bolts or fastenings in which her hands were confined when she went to bed at night which bed was only of straw

By 1827 fourteen years had passed since Elizabeth Fry began her work inside Newgate prison and the intervening years had seen many improvements. The women held in Newgate would have been subject to the same rules and regulations as those who arrived on the previous female ship from England, the Grenada.

In 1827 the women incarcerated there prior to transportation were under strict discipline: -

Rules for regulating the conduct of the Female Prisoners in Newgate....

1. The Matron, on behalf of The Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate had the general superintendence of them in respect of conduct and work procured.

2. The women were divided into classes and a monitor chosen from amongst the most orderly.

3. A suitable woman was appointed as keeper of the Women's Yard to prevent disorder there

4. No begging was allowed

5. No quarrelling. By a peaceable and orderly demeanour they were to endeavour to promote each other's comfort and improvement.

6. Swearing, immoral conversation and indecent behaviour to be avoided

7. Card playing and all other gaming; as also plays, novels and other pernicious books with all immoral songs were strictly prohibited.

8. The women were required to attend in the work room every forenoon to hear a portion of the Holy Scriptures; for which purpose on the first ringing of the bell 10 minutes before the reading commenced, the monitors collected them that all would be ready at the second ringing.

9. Cleanliness of their persons and apartments was required of all women. Pledging of any article of apparel strictly forbidden [2]

Embarkation of Convicts

The prisoners began to come on board the Princess Charlotte on 5 March 1827. On that day 40 women and four children were embarked from Newgate. The four women who brought children with them on the voyage were Violet Lawson, Sarah Morris, Ellen Walks and Sophia Zealey.

The rest of the prisoners arrived over the next two weeks including several women from Scotland who did not embark until 17th March.

Departure from England

The Princess Charlotte departed Woolwich on 31st March 1827. After departing Woolwich they anchored in the Downs on the 3rd April. Many of the women became sea sick on the way to the Downs.

Surgeon Charles Cameron

This was Charles Cameron's second voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. His first was on the female convict ship Midas in 1825. He returned to England with the best wishes of the women after his kind attention to them on the Midas. Just a year later he was appointed to the Princess Charlotte and embarked on another voyage to the colonies. He kept a Medical Journal from 9th February to 24th August 1827.....

He began treating convicts and passengers before the vessel left England. Ten month old William Murphy died before the ship left port and Margaret Henderson was returned to Durham jail on 28th March, having been subject to fits.

Illness and Accidents

Elizabeth Smith suffered a serious accident on the 5th April : - Her neck between her shoulder and down her back as far as the lumbar region was scalded by a tub of soup just out of the coppers, which fell down the hatchway onto the back of her neck. In two places the skin immediately peeled off and the inflammation of her neck and back appeared considerable and extensive. Instantaneous diarrhoea came on, which the surgeon attributed to the alarm. Being almost on the spot, alcohol and spirit (oil) of turpentine were alternatively and immediately applied for some time and afterwards kept constantly wet with cold vinegar and water. A few days later the surgeon reported that she had much improved, considerably better than he anticipated.

Other women Charles Cameron attended on the voyage included Julia Kane, Hannah Fox, Louisa Jones, Euphemia Barnet, Susan McGilp, Elizabeth Smith, Harriett Nicholson, Ann Hutchinson, Margaret Flinn, Elizabeth Carter, Catherine Parmenter, Susan Wilson, Sarah Atkinson, Elizabeth Douglas, Catherine Murphy, Jane Weldon, Maria Coutts (died) Catherine Hanley, Mary Eddison, Ellen Green, Mary Walker, Catherine Kelly, Clara Sutton, Mary Ann Grayson, Susan Jenkins, Mary Keefe, Frances Patrick, Susan Jarvis and Helen Walker.

On 6th April they were at the Isle of Wight and had fine weather with south westerly winds which caused considerable motion of the ship. On 9th April the winds were moderate and the weather fine however many of the women were still experiencing sea sickness. A week later on 16th April, they were Off Cape Finisterre with fine weather and south west winds however by the 18th strong south westerly winds, heavy rain and heavy seas were experienced. Adding to the misery of sea sickness, the ship became wet and very uncomfortable. Three days later on the19th April, the rain abated, however strong breezes from the south west which helped to dry the decks and prison also caused the sea sickness to continue and the surgeon was unable to convince the women that the headache and giddiness which many of them suffered from were occasioned by the motion of the ship. Despite this he always encouraged them to come to him with the most trifling complaints although in the case of Elizabeth Lloyd who was Welsh, and could not speak nor understand English, he was frustrated.

He had a nurse on board who also attended to the patients. She had 'a tolerable good knowledge in the duties of attending the sick having been some time a nurse in one of the wards in St. Bartholomew Hospital'. She was popular with all the patients and the surgeon praised her highly in his journal. On May 4th there was fine weather and rather pleasant conditions on deck, the sky being generally cloudy and the wind easterly and pretty strong. The surgeon remarked that they were then about the same situation where the sickness commenced on his last voyage to New South Wales (the Midas in 1825).

He advised the prisoners to keep out of the sun, to keep their heads always covered while on deck, and to come forward immediately at the slightest illness. He wrote:

This last they generally do for they appear very fond of using medicine, more particularly to have a little blood taken from their arm. I always however encourage them to complain to me if they have the slightest feeling of illness. In one department I have had very much practice (extracting teeth). Considering the number of persons on board, I believe it would be incredible if I had kept an account of the teeth I have extracted since we sailed. I am however informed by them, which may account for the circumstance in part, that the surgeons of the prisons in general do not condescend to extract teeth. [4]

On May 16th., the winds were south-easterly. Strong gales and much and uneasy motion of the ship prevailed. It was rather close below in the prison on account of the scuttles being necessarily kept shut but not nearly so hot as previously, consequently few were added to the sick list and those affected with fever improved. From almost the beginning of his duties he had been attending Maria Coutts with kindness and patience. She knew she was dying and her one wish was to reach land before she passed away, however despite all the surgeon's care, she did not realise her wish, and passed away at 5am on 12th June during a severe gale.

There were several prisoners who required almost constant treatment from the surgeon and seemed to be often in the hospital, and by the 5th July with over three weeks of the voyage still to go, all of them had signs of scurvy.

Arrival in Port Jackson

The Princess Charlotte arrived in Port Jackson on 6th August 1827. The voyage had taken 128 days.

Muster of Convicts on Board

The women were mustered on the 11th August 1827 by the Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay. The convict indents include the name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, physical description and where assigned to on arrival. There is also occasional information about colonial crimes, deaths and relatives in the colony.

The indents record Elizabeth Carter's husband Robert Giddins came out on the Princess Charlotte as a carpenter's mate although they did not marry until 1828. Hannah Fox had a husband back in London and two brothers already in the colony, Abraham and Barnett Levy.


The Australian reported on 22nd August 1827.....The females by the ship the Princess Charlotte embraced their mother earth yesterday morning, for the first time, with the better part of them for many a tedious months before. The women were ushered into the Dock-yard, and packed off to their different services during the day.

Convicts of Princess Charlotte identified in the Hunter Valley

Bassett, Emma

Chambers, Ellen

Duggan, Sarah

Jarvis, Sarah

Keefe, Mary

Morris, Sarah

Murphy, Hannah

Shirress, Margaret

Thornton, Elizabeth

Walker, Mary alias McNally, Mary

Descendant Contribution

Select here to read the Biography of convict Sarah Morris written by her descendant Janelle Collins. Select here to go to Janelle's Family Tree Addiction Blog

Notes and Links

1) 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). The Princess Charlotte was one of five convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1827, the others being the Grenada, Brothers, Louisa, and Harmony. Over five hundred female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1827

3). Charles Cameron was also surgeon on the convict ships Midas in 1825, Ferguson in 1829 and the David Lyon in 1830 (VDL)

4). Absconders:

Rose Bruce, servant from Perth age 23 absconded from Mr. Grey in Sydney in March 1828

Mary Campbell, servant from Inveraray, age 26, 4ft 9in, absconded from her master John Gurner in Sydney in January 1828

Mary Cox age 19, servant from Northampton absconded from G.H. Green in Sydney in March 1828

Ann Gordon, servant age 21 from London absconded from her husband John Williams in Sydney in August 1828

Emma Bassett was sentenced to 2 months in the 2nd class factory for being absent from her service in December 1827.

Euphemia Bennett was sentenced to 2 months in 3rd Class factory for absenting herself from service in October 1831

5). Prisoners tried in Scotland: -
Rose Bruce
Euphemia Burnett
Helen Campbell
Margaret Desley
Sarah Duggan
Elizabeth Douglas
Ann Elliott
Margaret Flynn
Janet Farrell
Mary Graham
Helen Grant
Jean Hope
Jean Inglis
Mary Lamond
Violet Lawson
Susan McGilp
Elizabeth Mill
Elizabeth Miller
Margaret Robertson
Margaret Shirrell
Catherine Urquart
Mary Vaughan
Mary Walker
Ann Westwater
Elizabeth Willson

6). Charlotte Williams was tried at the Old Bailey. The following Petition has been transcribed by researcher Keith Searson in UK in conjunction with Colette McAlpine of the Female Convict Research Centre in Tasmania.....

Charlotte Williams Old Bailey 1826 - Stealing a Reticule. Transportation for 7 years . Source Home Office Criminal Petitions Series 1 Series HO 17 Piece Number - 122 Item Number YL 29.

Charlotte Williams
Old Bailey October Sessions. 1826
To the Honourable Robert Peel
His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department
The Humble Petition of CHARLOTTE WILLIAMS
Humbly Sheweth That your humble Petitioner
CHARLOTTE WILLIAMS was tried and convicted for purloining a Reticule of the small value of seven shillings from the Soho Bazaar humbly submits to the mercy of His Majesty's Privy Council to take her case into their consideration being sentenced to seven years transportation and her first offence craves the leniency of their mercy for a mitigation to a small fine. Your humble Petitioner being nearly the first for trial on the commencement of the last October Sessions and her friends on her behalf being ignorant of the forms of the Court were absent, therefore your Petitioner was entirely without a friend to come forward as a Character. Your humble Petitioner has been sentenced by a British Jury submits to the decision but unfortunately being a married woman and the disgrace which your Petitioner has brought on herself and family, by disowning being married previous to taking her trial, trust, your benevolence in the situation your Petitioners husband stands and whose character never was impeached, now almost delirious thought my dreadful catastrophe for committing so rash an act to purloin so small an article

7). Transportation of Female Convicts

8). Female Convicts

9). Parramatta Female Factory

10). Newcastle Female Factory


[1] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347

[2] Sketch of the Origin and Results of Ladies' Prison Associations: With Hints ... By Elizabeth Gurney Fry

[3] National Archives - Medical journal of the Princess Charlotte convict ship from 9 February to 24 August 1827 by Charles Cameron, surgeon, during which time the said ship was employed in conveying female convicts to New South Wales

[4] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.