Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Surry - 1834

Embarked: 260 men
Voyage: 132 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous voyage: Susan arrived 8 July 1834
Next voyage: Roslin Castle arrived 15 September 1834
Master Charles Kemp
Surgeon John Smith
Convicts and passengers of the Surry identified in the Hunter Valley

Give me the liberty to think, to speak, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all other liberties - Milton. [4]

Tolpuddle Martyrs - The Canberra Times 11 Aug 1984. The Original is in possession of the British Trades Union Congress
This was the eighth of eleven voyages of the Surry bringing convicts to Australia, the other voyages being in 1814, 1816, 1819, 1823, 1829 (VDL), 1831, 1833 (VDL), 1836, 1840 and 1842 (VDL).

The Surry was built at Harwich in 1811. She was a square-rigged transport ship with an overall length of 117 ft. 6 ins., a breadth above the gunwales of 29 ft. 6 ins, and a draught, when loaded, of 18 ft. She was copper-sheathed, and had quarter galleries, with a bust of Minerva for a figurehead[6].

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of Lieut. Sheaffe, Ensign Knowles of the 50th regt., and 30 rank and file of the 50th regt.,

Free Passengers

Mrs. and Miss Sheaffe, seven women and 10 children, families of the guard

The Convicts

Among the two hundred and sixty convicts transported on the Surry were men who would become known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs. George Loveless, his brother James Loveless, their brother-in-law Thomas Standfield, their nephew John Standfield, James Hammett and James Brine were found guilty of making 'unlawful oaths' at the Dorchester Assizes in March 1834 and sentenced to 7 years transportation. All the men except George Loveless were transported on the Surry. George Loveless was sent to Van Diemen's Land on the William Metcalfe.[2]

The house in which George Loveless and associates formed an Agricultural Labourers' Union in 1833 at Tolpuddle, Dorset - The Australian Worker 19 October 1938
The house in which George' Loveless and associates formed an Agricultural Laborers' Union in November, 1833 at Tolpuddle, Dorset, England.

Embarking on the Surry

Following is an extract from A Narrative of the sufferings of J. Loveless in which John Standfield described their journey from Dorchester Castle to the Surry

Statement of John Standfield -
My uncle, George Loveless, having, in his pamphlet recently published, presented to the public a detailed statement of the causes that led to the formation of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers at Tolpuddle, our subsequent unjust apprehension and committal to prison, and the circumstances connected with our mock trial and harsh sentence, it is unnecessary for me here to repeat them: I shall therefore commence my short statement from the period when we left Dorchester Castle for the hulks.

Dorchester Castle, March 27, 1834. - We received orders early this morning to prepare ourselves for the coach bound to Portsmouth. After we were ironed together the coach drove up to the castle door and we mounted: the officer in charge was a Mr. Glenister. We arrived at Portsmouth about eight o'clock in the evening, and were instantly conveyed to the York hulk; the irons that we wore from Dorchester being struck off, and fresh ones put on. We remained there until the 29th, in No. 9 ward. In the morning all hands were ordered on deck, and after an examination there were 100 men chosen. After dressing another pair of irons were put on, and we were taken in a lighter on board the ship Surrey, at Spithead, where another hundred men were brought from the Leviathan to join us. On the 31st we set sail for Plymouth, and arrived there on the 2nd of April, and took in sixty men from the Captivity. I then addressed a letter to my mother and received an answer two hours before we set sail. On the 11th of April we weighed anchor and bore away for New South Wales.

I then began to feel the misery of transportation-confined down with a number of the most degraded and wretched criminals, each man having to contend with his fellow or be trodden under foot. The rations, which were served out daily, were of the worst quality, and very deficient in quantity, owing to the peculations indulged in by those officers whose duty it is to attend to that department. In addition to this, the crowded state of the vessel, rendering it impossible for the prisoners to lie down at full length to sleep, the noxious state of the atmosphere, and the badness and saltness of the provisions, induced disease and suffering which it is impossible to describe. Added to all this, in the case of myself and brethren, the agonizing reflection that we had done nothing deserving this punishment, and the consciousness that our families, thus suddenly deprived of their protectors, and a stigma affixed to their names, would probably be thrown unpitied and friendless upon the world. [3]

The Voyage

Surgeon John Smith kept a Medical Journal from 20 March - 3 September 1834...... His first case was that of James Ramsey a twenty-six year old soldier, part of the Guard on the Surry. Ramsey had been discharged from hospital only a few days previously. Barely recovered from his 10 day stay in hospital, the march from Chatham to Gravesend, and exposure to cold in the small vessel that conveyed him on board the Surry, he did not recover sufficiently to return to his duties until 10th April, three days after the Surry set sail. Ramsey fell ill several times more during the voyage, his illness being exacerbated by drunkenness, a previous bout of cholera and night duties as sentry.

John Smith reported that it was more crowded on the Surry than on his previous voyages, carrying 260 convicts instead of two hundred, but every precaution was taken to prevent this being a cause of ill health or discomfort. Catarrh and diarrhoea were the main illnesses but were generally mild. Both diseases might be made less common by the issuing of flannel shirts and drawers. Several cases of diarrhoea were caused by worsted belts being taken from the prisoners on board the hulk.

Only two cases of scurvy were mentioned in the journal but there were at least three more very slight cases, two of which developed notable ulcers on their legs. The sores were dressed and their allowances of lemon juice and sugar increased. The disease did not seem to first attack those the surgeon would have expected it to, instead it attacked men who had previously been healthy.

The men were exercised as much as possible, dancing, acting plays, 'sky larking' and marching about were daily employment. They were also encouraged to join in the working of the ship. Cleanliness was also attended to and the meals were properly cooked. [5]

Port Jackson

There were no deaths or any serious sickness and they arrived in Port Jackson on 17 August 1834.

The Convict Ship Surry arrived in Port Jackson on 17 August 1834

Distribution of 260 male convicts who arrived on the Surry -
Assigned to private service - 241;
to Public Service as follows -
to Surveyors dept - 1;
to Commissariat Dept - 1;
in hospital - 7;
Unfit for assignment - 2;
placed in an ironed gang - 8

Hyde Park Barracks
John Standfield described the day they arrived at Hyde Park Barracks and subsequent assignment.........

On the 4th of September were conveyed on shore, and marched four a-breast to Hyde Park Barracks, where we found about 300 (what they called) old hands - men, if possible, worse than those with whom we had already been associated. We had all been assigned to our respective masters previous to coming on shore, and we had not been in the barracks more than three hours when James Brine was called for by the messenger to proceed to his master. On the 5th James Loveless and my father, Thomas Standfield, were called for the same purpose, and as I ran to bid my father farewell, my little bundle of necessaries was stolen from me. On the 6th James Hammett was called, and on the 8th I was sent for. I went to the clerk's office, and after much entreaty he gave me directions where I might find my father. I was then forwarded to my master, Mr. Jones, M.C., in Sydney, in which place I remained five days, when he sent me on board the
Sophia Jane steam-boat, to proceed to one of his farms on the Hunter's River, called Balwarra, about 150 miles from Sydney; and on the following day I arrived at my journey's end, being a farm three miles from the rising town of Maitland [3]

Notes and Links

1). Convict ship bringing political prisoners and protesters

2). Bushranger Henry Allen arrived on the Surry

3). John Smith was also surgeon on the convict ships Marquis of Huntley in 1828, Moffatt in 1836 and the Clyde in 1838

4). Convicts and passengers of the Surry identified in the Hunter Valley

5). Charles Kemp's account of his navigation after departing Sydney in August 1834 - Sydney Herald 21 August 1834

6). Thomas Standfield was assigned to Timothy Nowlan. His son John visited him 3 weeks after being assigned to Nowlan and was appalled by his father's condition.........

When I had been there about three weeks, I got liberty from the overseer to go and see my father. This was on a Sunday. I went to his master, a Mr. Nowlan, three miles distant from where I resided, and was informed by some of the men that he was in the bush with a flock of sheep. I went in search of him, however, trusting to Providence for finding my way back. After some time I found him in great distress, and he related to me some of the sufferings he had already gone through. In a few days after this he was sent to an out-station with a flock of sheep, and in about three weeks afterwards I saw him again. He was then a dreadful spectacle, covered with sores from head to foot, and weak and helpless as a child. I went to see the place assigned him for his lodgings, and arrived at the spot he pointed to the place where he slept, called watch-box. After my father had been out in the bush from sunrise to sunset, he had then to retire for repose to a watch-box, 6 feet by 18 inches, with a small bed and one blanket - a watch-box, where he could lie and gaze upon the starry heavens, and where the wind blew in at one end and out of the other, with nothing to ward off the peltings of the pitiless storm - these were the comforts of the watch-box. Besides this he had to walk four miles for his rations, which journeys he was compelled to perform by night. I visited him thus at intervals for about nine months, until he was removed to a station on the Williams River, at a distance of thirty miles. My visits were then broken off, for my overseer would not permit me to go so far, thinking it too great an indulgence. [3]

7). Read about the journey of Thomas and John Standfield from the Hunter River to Sydney in 1836

8). The Church shown up in a Letter to Rev. Henry Walter by George Loveless, One of the Doresetshire Labourers


(1) Mead, Tom., Man is never free : martyrs of injustice, Sydney, Dolphin Books, pp. 216 - 217

(2) Australian Dictionary of Biography - George Loveless

(3). A Narrative of the sufferings of J. Loveless, J. Brine, and T. and J Standfield ... By James Loveless, James Brine, R. Hartwell (of Dorchester.), John Standfield (a Dorsetshire Labourer.), Thomas Standfield

[4] Loveless, George, The Church Shown Up, in a Letter to the Rev. H. Walter, London, 1838

[5] Medical Journal of John Smith on the voyage of the Surry. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[6] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : p172