Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Recovery - 1819

Embarked: 188 men
Voyage: 139 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Malabar arrived 30 October 1819
Next vessel: Minerva arrived 17 December 1819
Captain William Fotherley
Surgeon Peter Miller Cunningham
Convicts and passengers of the Recovery identified in the Hunter Valley

The Recovery was built at Batavia in 1799. Convicts were transported to Australia on the Recovery in 1819 (NSW), 1823 (NSW) and 1836 (NSW) [1]


The Recovery departed Portsmouth on 31st July 1819 and sailed direct.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of a detachment of 46th regiment., commanded by Lieut. Marsh of the 45th Regiment.

The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Ocean, Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Sir William Bensley, Morley and Bencoolen.
Convict Ship Lord Eldon Convict Ship Fame Convict Ship Recovery Convict Ship Elizabeth Convict Ship Three Bees Convict Ship General Hewitt Convict Ship Guildford Convict Ship Shipley Convict Ship Ocean Convict Ship Sir William Bensley Convict Ship Morley Convict Ship Marquis of Wellington Convict Ship Canada Convict Ship Bencoolen Convict Ship Larkins Historical Records of the 46th Regiment Convict Ships bringing detachments of the 46th regtiment to Australia

Surgeon Peter Cunningham

This was Peter Cunningham's first voyage as surgeon superintendent of a convict ship. He kept a Medical Journal from 7 July to 30 December 1819......

....On the convicts joining this ship at Woolwich a very considerable proportion of them laboured under Dysenteric symptoms with ulceration of the mouth and tongue from thick encrustation of tartar upon the teeth - many of these men had their complaints of several weeks standing but all of them had great disinclination to complain from their anxiety to leave the country and their fear of being returned to the hulk if found to be unhealthy.

Disease was aggravated considerably in those who laboured under it and appeared chiefly I believe in those who were free from it by the great heat and closeness of the weather at the time of joining, want of sufficient ventilation below in comparison to what they had been accustomed in the Hulk and their being obliged to eat the fresh beef for two days without salt, none having been supplied for that purpose. When in the Southern latitudes the weather became cold and continued more or less so until the arrival of the ship at Port Jackson, no windsail having been used from about the above period and it being often necessary to cover up the hatches with tarpaulins to keep up a proper temperature below. At this time pneumonia and catarrhal affections became prevalent and continued as to the end of the voyage.

The hours for breakfast, dinner and supper were 8am, 12 noon and 4pm and every evening for an hour and half the galley fire was kept lighted for boiling their tea and coffee pots or cooking whatever little articles of comfort they had supplied themselves with for the voyage. Corporal punishment was never resorted to during the voyage, but the culprit punished by ironing or confinement in the stocks, separated from all intercourse with his fellow prisoners and kept on bread and water if the nature of the crime required severer punishment. Four of the most trustworthy and best-behaved convicts were appointed captains of the deck, to have charge of keeping the decks clean and that the convicts conducted themselves with propriety. [2]

Peter Cunningham wrote of this first voyage of the Recovery in his publication Two Years in New South Wales: A Series of Letters, Comprising Sketches of Actual State of Society in that Colony...

Towards the conclusion of my first voyage, I desired one of the scribe on board to make out an alphabetical list of the names, trades, and various particulars of the other convicts; when he came to me in a doubtful mood, scratching his head, and observing, 'When I ask what their trades are, all the answer I can get from three fourths of them is, ';A thief, a thief'; shall I put these down as labourers, sir?' It is pleasing, however to observe how anxious some of them are to conceal the name of their family, to prevent its disgrace, from the shame that has fallen upon a member of it; - or the ingenious excuses they sometimes make to their friends, to account for their sudden departure from the country, in order to prevent the giving pain, - never failing to point out, however, how bright their future prospects are. My hospital man, for instance, writes thus to his mother: 'you will be rejoiced to hear that I am in a good situation at last, after all the pain my misconduct has given you, which shall never be the case again. I have been appointed to the lucrative situation of doctor's mate of the Recovery East Indiaman, now bound on a voyage to that country; and as it is my intention to settle in one of the distant colonies, you need not expect me in England for many years to come. [3]

There were no deaths on this voyage. Illnesses included Phthisis, Catarrh, Hepatitis, Cynanche, Ophthalmia and Erysipelas

They Sydney Gazette reported:

Yesterday also arrived the Recovery, Captain Fotherley, with 188 male prisoners; none died on the passage, which was direct. She left England the 3d of August; and affords another happy instance of the humane consideration of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent in securing the lives of pardoned exiles.[4]

Port Jackson

The Recovery arrived in Port Jackson on 18 December 1819.

Notes and Links

1). Charles North who arrived on the Recovery was sent to Newcastle penal settlement for a colonial crime. He was one of eleven pirates who seized the cutter Eclipse from the harbour in 1825. Find out more about their daring escape here.

2). Convict Thomas James was employed as an overseer on the Great North Road

3). John Benson was assigned to John Laurio Platt; John Chisholm was assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens;

4). Convict James Farrell/Farroll was born in Bedworth Warwick. He had been trained as a surgeon. He was convicted of horse stealing and sentenced to transportation for life. He was employed by government because of his medical skills, however was sent for one year to Newcastle penal settlement in 1821 for an unknown colonial crime.

5). Peter Cunningham was also employed as surgeon on the convict ships Grenada in 1821, Recovery in 1823, Grenada in 1825 and the Morley in 1828.

6). Convicts and passengers of the Recovery identified in the Hunter Valley

7). Return of Convicts of the Recovery assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 5 July 1832).....
William Pate - Labourer assigned to Isaac Williams at Sydney8). Resources used to create Convict Ship pages


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

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857.Medical Journal of Peter Cunningham on the voyage of the convict ship Recovery in 1819. Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] Two Years in New South Wales: A Series of Letters, Comprising Sketches of Actual State of Society in that Colony.

[4] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Sat 18 Dec 1819 Page 3