Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Shipley - 1817

Embarked: 125 men
Voyage: 127 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Morley arrived 10 July 1817
Next vessel: Chapman arrived 26 July 1817
Master Lewis Williams Moncrief.
Surgeon George Clayton
Convicts and passengers of the Shipley identified in the Hunter Valley

The Shipley was built in Whitby in 1805 [3]. This was the first of four voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales, the others being in 1818, 1820 and 1822.

Convicts Embarked

On 20 November 1816 seventy convicts were received on board at Woolwich in good health according to the surgeon, except for five with ulcerated legs. The remainder were embarked at Portsmouth.

They came from various counties in England including - Norfolk, Bedford, Wiltshire, York, Somerset and Gloucester. Most had been held in the prison hulks for many months.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 30 non-commissioned officers of the 46th regiment under orders of Lieutenant McPherson. The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Elizabeth, Larkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Ocean, Sir William Bensley, Morley, Marquis of Wellington, Canada and Bencoolen.


The Shipley departed England in company with the Morley on 18 December 1816.

Surgeon Superintendent George Clayton

George Clayton kept a Medical Journal from 19 November 1816 to 3 May 1817. The diseases he encountered on the voyage were few and simple in their nature and yielded readily to the treatment he gave. The men were not well-clothed and cold and moisture, which all his care was not able always to prevent, seemed to have been the greatest cause of most of the diseases that occurred. George Clayton followed the methods directed by the Transport Board as regarding cleanliness of persons and places, ventilation and fumigation. So that the air could flow freely, he would allow nothing extra to be stowed or kept in the prison such as clothing or charts other than absolute necessities. He kept the prison dry and warm by the use of the stoves.

This was George Clayton's first voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. He managed the convicts by a system of rewards for good behaviour and ordered only a few punishments........ With respect to occurrences, not any of moment took place. The prisoners, after those from Portsmouth had been embarked were a little unruly from a notion spread by the Portsmouth convicts that no punishments were used on board the passage ships and consequently they might act with impunity. But by hindering the admittance of any spiritous or fermented liquors on board and the punishment of one of the most violent men, the turbulence soon subsided and they became manageable. In order to prevent excitement no more than a 1/4 of a pint of wine to each man was allowed in one day, and that only on two days in the week. Only five punishments took place and two of those were given to one man (This was Benjamin Smith, a notorious thief, who was given 36 lashes on 11 April for putting out the lights in the prison in order to steal items from other prisoners.) Encouragement to good behaviour was given by taking one leg out of irons at first and on a continuance of good conduct the other. The greater number being unironed long before the end of the passage. Another effectual means of preserving order was the placing of a sentinel day and night in the prison with orders to report the disorderly, to keep the windsails free, to take care of the light and the fire in the stove when burning. [2] George Clayton was later employed as surgeon superintendent on the
Globe in 1819 and Competitor in 1823.

Port Jackson

The Shipley came direct, sailed through Bass Strait and arrived at Port Jackson 24 April 1817.

One hundred and twenty five male prisoners arrived on the Shipley. Thirty seven were under the age of 21.

Free Passengers

Governor Macquarie recorded the arrival in his journal on 24 April - all the Crew, Soldiers, and Convicts (have) arrived in good Health, none of the latter having died on the Passage. - Passengers Messrs. James Williamson (late Dy. Comy. of N.S.W.) Mr. John Smith and family and Bentley and Eades, as Free Settlers.

The above James Williamson first arrived in the colony in 1795 and was given control of the Commissariat in August 1796 and acquired land; in 1800 he returned to England; in 1802 he returned to the colony as Deputy Commissary; he was magistrate and Lieutenant Commander of the Parramatta Loyal Association at the time of the Rum Rebellion; he was placed in charge of the Commissariat; he was dismissed and charged with fraud in 1808; and in 1810 left for England with Bligh and testified on his behalf. On his return on the Shipley he became a farmer. [1]

Convict Assignment

Twenty seven prisoners were conveyed to Parramatta by water for assignment; 30 were sent to Windsor and 11 to Liverpool.

Departure from the Colony

The Shipley departed the colony on 8th June 1817 bound for Batavia. George Clayton was intending to depart on her on his return voyage to Europe.

Notes and Links

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

2). Diary of the convict ship Shipley for 19 November 1816 to 3 May 1817 by George Clayton, Surgeon and Superintendent, during which time the ship was employed in carrying convicts, soldiers and passengers from England to New South Wales. - National Archives


[1] Colonial Secretary's Index

[2] Medical Journal of George Clayton on the Shipley. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857

[3] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.340-341, 382