Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Sophia - 1829

Embarked: 192 men
Voyage: 124 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 537
Crew 44
Previous vessel: Vittoria arrived 17 January 1829
Next vessel: Ferguson arrived 26 March 1829
Captain Thomas Elley
Surgeon Alick Osborne
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Sophia identified in the Hunter Valley

The convicts of the Sophia came from counties throughout Ireland- Armagh, Sligo, Dublin, Kildare etc., and also some soldiers from England who were deserters. Among their ranks were weavers, pedlars, grooms, bakers, boatmen and sawyers.

The Freemans Journal reported in September 1828......

Yesterday morning, thirty-five male convicts, most of them youthful delinquents, were removed from Newgate, to the Essex hulk in Kingstown harbour, preparatory to their being transported to our Australian Settlements, pursuant to their several sentences.
Newgate Prison Dublin - Dublin City Council
They were conveyed in nine jaunting cars, escorted by a troop of the 7th Hussars. In their progress through the streets, they evinced the most reckless indifference as to their seemingly unhappy situation; their shouts of exultation, waving of hats and handkerchiefs etc., would intimate that they considered their change as one rather 'devoutly to be wished' than to be dreaded as a meed of punishment for their delinquencies.. They were all comfortably clothed in the prison uniform, and appeared clean and in good health
. [3]

Essex Hulk - Kingstown Harbour

The Essex hulk in Kingstown harbour ....A former Royal Naval vessel, HMS Essex, arrived at Kingstown harbour in 1824 to be cut down and converted to a prison hulk. This ship was used as a floating prison and as a detention centre for convicts awaiting transportation to Australia. ...See Guardships at Kingstown for more information about the Essex.


The Sophia was the next vessel to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the City of Edinburgh in June 1828. The Sophia departed Dublin on 15th September 1828.

Kingstown Regatta 1828Kingstown Regatta 1828 - Afloat

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 28 men of the 39th and 63rd regiments, five women and four children under orders of Major Thomas Poole and Lieut. Bell. They were ordered for embarkation at Deptford on 2nd July 1828.

Cabin Passengers

Cabin Passengers included Mrs. Poole and three Misses Eliza, Maria and Caroline Bell, sisters of Lieutenant Bell. Select here to find other convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th and 63rd regiments to New South Wales.

Surgeon Alick Osborne

Alick Osborne kept a Medical Journal from 7 June 1828 to 25 January 1829 -

One soldier, Thomas Ault aged 23 died from phthisis, and two prisoners also died -

Peter Hoey, aged 86. Hoey had two sons and a son in law on the vessel and although he was old and infirm and Alick Osborne 'had little hope of landing him', he could not refuse the old man's request. Hoey was put on the sick list on 19th September and died on 21st December 1828;

Peter Hanagan, aged 40 according to Osborne, was labouring under great mental depression, absolutely broken-hearted and devoid of all energy, and died 9 January 1829.

There were a few cases of scurvy which appeared early in the voyage thought to be due to the diet in the Hulk. The symptoms soon disappeared when the vessel got out to sea and a diet of preserved meat, cooked daily and made into a broth was served up.

Port Jackson

The Sophia arrived in Port Jackson on 17th January 1829 and the convicts were mustered on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 21st January 1829.

Alex Osborne had the gratification to see it remarked in the Sydney Gazette of the state of robust health of the convicts who were landed from the Sophia.


The prisoners were distributed to various applicants. In the Hunter Valley they were assigned to John Pike, Alexander Warren, J.P. Webber, James McClymont, John Hooke, Robert Lethbridge, R.C. Dillon, William Buchanan, William Harper, Gilbert Cory, Francis Beattie and others.

Convicts of the Sophia identified in the Hunter Valley:

Beck, John

Bowen, John

Bryan, James

Burns, Patrick

Byrne, Michael

Byrne, Lawrence

Carey, John

Chitty, Robert

Delamore, Charles (Christopher)

Donnell, John

Donnelly, David

Donnelly, John

Duffy, James (alias Machin)

Fannery, Andrew

Fearan, Charles

Feeney, Patrick

Ferrall, John

Fitzgerald, James

Gaul, Michael

Grainger, William

Griffin, James

Grist, Charles

Hamill, James

Harper, Robert

Hickie, John

Hoey, Peter jun.,

Hoey, Michael

Johnston, William

Keasey, Patrick

Kelly, Michael

Kennedy, John

Kenney, Arthur

Lardner, John

Leonard, John alias Patrick

Magee, John

Malone, John

Martin, William

McBride, William

McCann, James

McElroy, James

McGillion, Patrick

McLoughlin, Thomas

McMahon, Martin

McMullan, Samuel

McNeill, Archibald

Meade, Michael

Mooney, Henry

Moore, Edward

Murphy, Edward

Noble, Matthew

O'Donnell, John

O'Neill, Bernard

O'Neill, Owen

O'Neill, Thomas

Owens, Owen

Reilly, John

Rellish, Patrick

Robinson, Thomas

Robinson, William

Scanlon, James

Scott, Edward

Short, William

Spears, James

Uniacke, Bartholomew

Ward, Patrick

White, James

Whitla, William

Notes and Links

1). Hunter Valley bushranger Robert Chitty arrived as a convict on the Sophia. Robert Chitty was employed as a constable near Norah Head in the 1830's. He later joined with others to form the Jewboy gang (bushrangers). He was executed in 1841.

Patrick Feeney was only seventeen years old when he arrived in 1829. He died a horrible death at the hands of an executioner two years later having been found guilty of bushranging and robbing settler Hugh Cameron.

Owen Owens was another executed for colonial crimes.

2). William John Whitelaw (Whitla) arrived on the Sophia, having been tried in Antrim.....William John Whitla, for knowingly having in his possession a forged Bank of Ireland note - The prisoner pleaded guilty; 14 years transportation. (This is the same person who is charged with stealing last summer, two bank post bills, for £100 each, from the trunk of Mr. Trottter, who had lodgings at the time in the house of the prisoner's father at Ardglass. This depraved young man had been educated as a surgeon, by his father who is a respectable retired Clergyman) - Belfast Newsletter - 1 April 1828. William Whitla was later employed as a surgeon in Maitland. Other convict surgeons in the Hunter Valley included Patrick Montgomery, Henry Turner Harrington, John Waugh Drysdale, George Bridge Mullins, Thomas Parmeter and Henry White

3). Michael Sheals, for an assault on John Downey; also for stealing from him 7s6d in Belfast, on 18th November last. Guilty; transportation for life. - Belfast Newsletter 1 April 1828

4). Dublin - Commission - Last Day - Yesterday, Mr. Justice Moore and Mr. Justice Vandeleur took their seats on the Bench at the usual hour. There was no case of any interest tried during the day. The following are the sentences: James Abbott, James Rielly or Wall, and John Kennedy or Martin - Assault and highway robbery of 2 1/2d. Sentence of death recorded. Christopher Creighton and Edward Scott - Burglary and felony. Death recorded - When Creighton heard the sentence, he exclaimed, against the Judge, 'May God d - n you, and bad luck to you,' and then walked into the dock, uttering the most horrible imprecations on the Judges. - James Browne and William Robinson - Cow stealing. Seven years' transportation - William Grainger - Cow stealing. Seven years' transportation. Patrick Quigly - Killing a cow. Sentence of death recorded. - Freemans Journal - 8 January 1828

5). Alick Osborne was employed as surgeon on the convict ships Lonach in 1825 Speke in 1826, Sophia in 1829, Sarah in 1829, Planter in 1832, Fairlie in 1834, Marquis of Huntley in 1835 and the Elphinstone in 1838

6). Return of Convicts of the Sophia assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 21 June 1832; 5 July 1832).....

David Donnolly - Ploughs etc. Assigned to James Phillips at Hunter River
William Fox - Errand boy assigned to David Johnson at Cook's River
John Gamble - Ploughman assigned to William McArthur at Camden
Thomas O'Neill - Ploughman assigned to J. Harris at Shane's Park

7). Convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th regiment included the following -

Regalia departed Dublin 16 March 1826. Lieutenant William Sacheverell Coke

England departed the Downs 6 May 1826. Major George Pitt D'Arcy

Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness 16 May 1826 - Major Donald MacPherson

Boyne departed Cork 29 June 1826 - Captain Thomas Edward Wright

Speke departed Sheerness 8 August 1826 - Lieutenant Henry Clarence Scarman

Phoenix departed Dublin 27 August 1826 - Lieutenant Charles Cox

Albion departed Plymouth 4 October 1826 - Captain Francis Crotty

Midas departed Plymouth 16 October 1826 - Lieutenant George Meares Bowen

Mariner departed Cork 14 January 1827 - Captain Charles Sturt

Countess of Harcourt departed Dublin 14 February 1827 - Lieutenant George Sleeman; Ensign Spencer

Guildford departed Plymouth 31 March 1827 - Captain John Douglas Forbes

Manlius departed Downs 17 April 1827 - Quarter-master Benjamin Lloyd

Cambridge departed Dublin 2 June 1827 - Colonel Patrick Lindesay

Champion departed London 3 June 1827 - Ensign Reid

Bussorah Merchant departed London 27 March 1828 - Ensign W. Kennedy Child

Sophia departed Dublin 15 September 1828 - Major Thomas Poole

Portland ; departed Portsmouth on 27 November 1831.

8).Convict ships bringing detachments of the 63rd regiment -

Albion departed Sheerness 1 June 1828 - Lieutenant M. Vickery

Eliza departed London 29 June 1828 - Major Sholto Douglas

Marquis of Hastings departed 30 June 1828 - Ensign Stulbmer

Royal George departed Spithead 26 August 1828 - Captain J. Briggs

Vittoria departed Devonport1 September 1828 - Lieutenant Aubyn

Governor Ready departed Cork 21 September 1828 - Lieutenant J. Gibbons Lane

Ferguson departed Dublin 16 November 1828 - Captain D'Arcy Wentworth

Mellish departed Falmouth 2 January 1829 - Captain Baylee

Lord Melville departed London 5 January 1829 - Lieut-Col. Burke

Waterloo departed London 14 March 1829 - Lieutenant T. Grove

America departed Woolwich 8 April 1829 - Adjutant T. Montgomery

Norfolk departed Spithead 22 May 1829 - Ensign W.J. Darling

Guildford departed Dublin 12 July 1829 - Lieut McLean 89th

Larkins departed Cork 16 August 1829 - Captain Mahon

Claudine departed London 24 August 1829 - Captain Paterson

Sarah departed London 29 August 1829 - Lieutenant Croly

Dunvegan Castle departed 30 September 1829 - Lieutenant John Gray

Katherine Stewart Forbes departed Spithead 14 October 1829 - Major Fairtclough


[1] Journal of Alick Osborne. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.348-349, 386

[3] Freemans Journal 25 September 1828