Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Providence - 1811

Embarked:140 men; 41 women
Voyage: 162 days
Deaths 5 - 6
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Indian arrived 16 December 1810
Next vessel: Admiral Gambier arrived 29 September 1811
Captain Alexander Barclay
Surgeon Richard Hughes
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Providence identified in Hunter Valley region

The Providence was built at Calcutta in 1808. Prisoners to be transported on the Providence were convicted in counties and cities throughout Ireland.

Some had been convicted many months prior to embarking on the vessel.....

MONAGHAN - 17th March 1810 - The Assizes for the County of Monaghan commenced on Monday the 12th March before Mr. Justice Fox in the Crown Court, and Mr. Baron McClellan in the Civil. There were more than a dozen people put to trial this day charged with various crimes including several for rape, murder, stealing money and using an unlicensed still, however only one - John Conway, convicted of stealing seven pair of pistols from James Nicholson, was sentenced to transportation [3]

DUBLIN- 23rd July 1810 - We congratulate the inhabitants of the County and the Public at large, that by the exertions of the magistrates of James street Division of Police, a most daring gang of robbers have been brought to justice and convicted before Mr. Serjeant Moore, the chairman of Kilmainham, at his first sitting; when three of the fellows, of the names of Delamar (Richard Delamore), Kavanagh (Cavanagh), and (James) Hart, received sentence of transportation. Several bank notes together with two cases of pistols loaded, were found on their persons. Owing to the prompt exertions of the magistrates, these miscreants were apprehended in a few hours after their committing the robbery, for which they are to undergo the penalties of the law. -[4]

CARRICKFERGUS - August 1810 - The following convicts passed through this town from the gaol of Carrickfergus on Wednesday last, on their way for transportation to Botany Bay......

Catherine Gleen, for shop lifting; John Davison for burglary; William Stephenson for stealing a bank note out of an office in Belfast; James Crone for bleach-green robbery; John Martin for horse stealing; Andrew Girvin for burglary, under his former sentence. He had been at Cork before on his way to be transported; but on account of his youth was consigned to the Captain of a West Indian trader, on condition of his never again appearing in Ireland. He soon robbed the Captain of his watch and, returning to Belfast, resumed his old trade. John Morrow alias Murray, for having forged notes of the Bank of Ireland in his possession, for which he could not satisfactory account. This man was a very great offender, in issuing forged notes to a considerable account in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down and Derry. If he had escaped at Carrickfergus, bills of indictment were against him both in Armagh and Down for similar offences
. - Belfast Newsletter 10 August 1810

CARLOW - On 16th August 1810 in Carlow, Owen Fogarty was indicted for uttering forged notes, purporting to be notes of the Bank of Ireland, and also for having such notes in his possession. He was acquitted of the first, and found guilty of the second and received sentence of transportation. [2]

GALWAY - In September an order was received by Mr. Edington, the keeper of the County gaol of Galway, from the Castle of Dublin, for the immediate transmission to Cork of the several prisoners under sentence of transportation, where they were to be put on board the transport ship there. There were six prisoners who had been tried in Galway - Patrick Burks, Mary Cummins, Honora Fahey, William Hanley, Edward Kelly and Patrick Naghton. [1]

Military Guard

The guard consisted of two subaltern officers, and thirty-six soldiers of the 73rd regiment under orders of Major Andrew Geils. Ensigns Murphy and Greenshields of the First Battalion of the 73rd arrived to join their regiment.

Other detachments of the 73rd regiment arrived on the Dromedary, Indefatigable, Archduke Charles, Guildford, Hindostan, Fortune, Ann, Indian and Admiral Gambier.

Cabin and Free Passengers

Free passengers included Mrs. Geils and William Mitchell (Colonial Secretary's Index)


After the prisoners were received on board at the Cove of Cork the Providence proceeded to Falmouth where she departed on 21st January 1811 in company with the Narcissus frigate.

Rio de Janeiro

The Providence parted from the Narcissus at Teneriffe and arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 23rd March, departing there on 14th April 1811.

Port Jackson

The Providence arrived at Port Jackson 2nd July 1811.

Arrival of the convict ship Providence at Port Jackson in 1811


Four male prisoners died on the passage out and two females.

Government Public Notice 27th July 1811...Captain Alexander Barclay, Commander of the transport Providence lately arrived here from Ireland and Mr. Richard Hughes the Surgeon of the vessel having given into this Office an attested list of the names of convicts who died after having been embarked at Cork on board the Providence by Order of the Government of Ireland, His Excellency the Governor deems it expedient that the same should be published in order that all persons concerned with or interested in the fate of those unfortunate persons should be sufficiently apprised of the event.

Michael Casey or Cash, tried in Dublin August 1809, died in the Cove of Cork on 10th December 1810 of disease of the lungs

Daniel Kelly, tried in Antrim in March 1807, died at sea 16 March 1811 fever after amputation of a thigh.

Patrick Rogers, tried in Dublin January 1810, died at sea 9th May 1811, dysentery.

Mary Driscoll, tried in Cork March 1810, died at sea 10 May 1811, consumption.

Martha or Matty Kirk, tried in Dublin in June 1809, died at sea 20th June 1811, dropsy.

Thomas McCann, tried at Meath in March 1809, died at sea 24th June 1811, disease of the lungs.[7]

The Sydney Gazette reported on the 6th July - The lenient bill of mortality compared with many former voyages it must be concluded that the Providence has in the present instance been peculiarly favourable or that the treatment of the prisoners has been liberal and indulgent. To do every justice to the humanity of Captain Barclay's character we cannot omit to state, that with scarce an exception those arrived are in good health which is the fairest argument that can be used of their humane treatment.

Convict Muster

Governor Macquarie wrote in a dispatch to Earl Liverpool in October 1811 -

'I have to inform your Lordship that I have, on all arrivals of convicts ships, ordered a muster to be immediately taken of the convicts on ship board by my Secretary and the Acting Commissary, and I afterwards take a muster of them myself so soon as landed, in order to ascertain the manner they have been treated during the voyage, and whether they have any complaints to prefer against the commander or surgeon of the ship in which they came. By the previous muster I also acquire a knowledge of the trades or professions of the convicts, which enables me to appropriate them afterwards in the most advantageous way for Government, and at the same time most easy for themselves. I have much satisfaction in reporting to your Lordship that the convicts arrived by the four ships Indian, Providence, Admiral Gambier and Friends were in general in good health, having been well treated on board, and had no complains to make against either the commanders or the surgeons'. [6]


A Government Order was issued on 6th July 1811 -

The whole of the male convicts recently arrived in the Providence Transport are to be landed on Monday Morning next the 8th January at nine o'clock in order to be mustered and inspected in the Gaol Yard at Sydney, previous to their being distributed amongst the settlers.

The female convicts are to be sent direct from that Ship early on Monday Morning next to the
Factory at Parramatta. The Principal Superintendent of Convicts will take care to have boats ready early on Monday morning for the purpose of landing the male convicts at Sydney and conveying the female ones to Parramatta.

Convict Clothing

The following February (1812) Commissary William Broughton gave notice that the convicts of the Providence who were employed at Government labour were entitled to the summer issue of clothing only. This consisted for the men of One duck frock, one pair duck trousers, one cotton shirt, one pair of shoes and one leather cap; and for the women, one linen cloth jacket, one shift, one pair of shoes, one straw bonnet.


The Providence departed for China and England on 20th October 1811 with a detachment of soldiers of the 102nd regiment who had been permitted to remain in the colony on a sick certificate or leave of absence. - Lieut. Ovens and Major Cleaveland of the 73rd and Captain Piper of the 102nd regiments were accompanied to the Providence by Governor and Mrs. Macquarie and a large party of principal Officers. The boats departed from Government wharf at 6.30 and reached the vessel at about 7 where the distinguished guests remained until about 8.30.

Notes and Links

1). Convicts and passengers of the Providence identified in Hunter Valley region

2). James Connolly who became Principal Overseer of Macquarie Pier construction at Newcastle in 1818 arrived prisoner on the Providence. He still resided in the district in 1828 and was recorded as a settler with a herd of 70 cattle in the Census. Find out more about Macquarie Pier here.

3). Lawyer George Chartres arrived as a convict on the Providence

4). Artist Richard Browne who also arrived as a convict on the Providence. Find out more about his legacy here

5). From the National Archives the following information about the Providence - Built by Matthew Smith of Howrah 1807, sold in England 1811, repaired 1815, 2 decks, 3in bottom, length 127ft 10 1/2in, keel 101ft 10in, breadth 34ft 1 1/2in, hold 18ft 3in, wing transom 22ft 1in, port cell 29ft 2in, waist 10in, between decks 6ft 7in, roundhouse 6ft 2in, 630 tons. Principal Managing Owner: 3 Almon Hill.

6). Edward Eagar (1787-1866), lawyer and merchant, was born near Killarney, Ireland, the second son of Richard Eagar, an Anglo-Irish landowner, and his wife Frances. In 1804 Eagar was apprenticed to a solicitor and subsequently admitted as a solicitor and attorney in Dublin, but in 1809 he was sentenced to death at the Cork Summer Assizes for uttering a forged bill. Possibly as a result of family influence or his spectacular death-cell conversion his sentence was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in Sydney in the Providence in July 1811 and was assigned to Rev. Robert Cartwright to teach his children...continue.... Australian Dictionary of Biography....

Edward Eagar fought for trial by jury and for freedom to trade commercially. Eagar was Australia's first liberal political agitator. He left his wife and three sons behind, taking his daughter with him to London. He was never to return. He married a 16-year-old girl and they had 10 children. His Sydney wife, Jemima, moved into a new house in Macquarie Street, just down the road from Parliament House, with William Wentworth, with whom she had a son.[5]

7). Love and Botany Bay - It may be remembered, that a short time since an account appeared of a romantic attachment,, which was so violent as to induce a young lady to follow a convict to Botany Bay. It had been reported that she was actually accompanying her lover, but this was not the case. The circumstance is of a very extraordinary nature. The heroine of the story, who is respectable and accomplished, had conceived an affection for the youth, which was not returned until all the resources by which a dissipated life had been supported were drained. The young man having experienced the ills which vice inflicts, was resolved to commence a life of virtue; but unluckily, so strongly had his former habits operated upon him, that the first step he took to reformation was one by which his character was lost forever. Being in want of the means of establishing himself and his beloved in a comfortable situation, he had the rashness to commit a forgery. The sentence of death, which had been passed upon him, was commuted to that of transportation; but the love of the young lady was rather increased by the disgrace proceeding to doubt from the consideration that she was the cause of the calamity. Her parents and friends exerted all their influence to check her ardour, but in vain, and they were compelled, by her threats of suicide, to let her follow her lover. She is about 24 years of age, and possesses a good person. - Freeman's Journal 9 October 1811.

8). Samuel Coats, Esq., was arraigned for feloniously stealing one leathern valise, containing various articles of value, as debentures, bank notes etc the property of Francis Dobbs Esq., After an exordium by one of his counsel, Mr. Burrowes, the prisoners pleaded guilty. The indictment being a felony at common law, and not under the Statute, by which it would be a felony of death, the sentence of course is transportation. The court called on him to retract his plea, if he was so advised. His plea could make no manner of difference in the punishment; the sentence must be the same as on an adverse plea. The prisoner again pleaded guilty, and the verdict was recorded. Freeman's Journal 5 July 1809

9) Wednesday morning between three and four o'clock one of the prisoners confined in the County of Galway goal, of the name of Hantly, (a noted coiner, and under rule of transportation) effected his escape, by means of false keys; but by the vigilance of Mr. Edington the keeper, and a young man belonging to the Tipperary Militia named Comyn, who happened to be on sentry at Meyrick's square, he was taken into custody, and lodged in his former habitation, under heavy irons. Freeman's Journal 4th September 1809 ( ?William Hanley)

10). Friday night the following persons confined in the county gaol of Limerick, attempted to effect an escape by breaking the walls of their cells , and from thence proceeding to a yard towards the river, intended by means of ropes to get into the street; Richard Clarke, under sentence of death; D. Danaher, do. T. Madden do. T. Sheedy, sentenced to transportation; James Sarjint, and John Carroll, committed for cow stealing; happily they were detected by the active gaolers Messrs. Hederman and Sperin, but not until the felons succeeded in opening the communication between their apartments and breaking a party wall...Freeman's Journal 26 September 1809

11). Escaped - Out of the County Gaol at Monaghan, On Monday the 12th August last...Patrick Ward and Michael Smyth; Michael Smyth under sentence of death - wore a dark drab jacket, old red waistcoat and dark cord clothes, was in the habit of peddling, and had deserted from the 89th regt. of foot, about 18 years of age, 5feet 4 inches high, stout made sullen countenance, dark brown hair, grey eyes, and heavy brows, spoke with a brogue, and had a mark on his right cheek, inclining to his mouth, and from the neighbourhood of Dundalk. - Belfast Newsletter 31 October 1809

12). Andrew Geils was appointed Commandant at Hobart in 1812. He sailed with his family from Sydney to Van Diemen's Land on the Ruby in February 1812.

13). Convicts and passengers of the Providence identified in Hunter Valley region

Richard Browne
Patrick Burke / Burks
George Chartres
Richard Clarke
Patrick Collins
James Connolly
William Curlett
Solomon Davis
Honora Fahey
James Hart
Patrick / Peter Hayes
Michael Hennessey
Thomas Madden
John Massey
William McDonald
Denis McHugh / McHue
Mary Mulholland
Patrick Norton / Naghton
James Nowland / Nowlan
Patrick O'Brien
Owen Riley / Reilley
Michael Ryan
Michael Smith
James Smith / Stubbs
Ellen / Elinor Sullivan


[1] Freeman's Journal 20 September 1810

[2] Freeman's Journal 16 August 1810

[3] Freeman's Journal 17 March 1810

[4] Freeman's Journal 23 July 1810

[5] Edward Eager - Wikipedia

[6] HR NSW Vol. VII, p. 610

[7] Sydney Gazette 27 July 1811