Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Surry - 1840

Embarked: 213 women
Voyage 102 days
Deaths: 1
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Tons: 461 Crew: 36 men
Previous vessel: Mangles 27 April 1840
Next vessel: Maitland arrived 14 July 1840
Master George Sinclair
Surgeon Edward Leah
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail

This was the tenth of eleven voyages of the Surry transporting convicts to Australia, the others being in 1814, 1816, 1819, 1823, 1829 (VDL), 1831, 1833 (VDL), 1834, 1836 and 1842 (VDL).

The Surry was a square-rigged transport ship. She had 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(1)

The Surry was the last convict ship to bring female convicts from England to New South Wales.


The Surry departed the Downs on the 2 April 1840.

Free Passengers

Free passengers included Mr. J. Strickland of the Commissariat Department and J. Boore of the Engineer's Department.

Surgeon Edward Leah

Edward Leah kept a Medical Journal from 9 March to 27 July 1840...........

Of the 213 prisoners with whom I left England, 186 were received from the Millbank penitentiary, the remainder from Newgate and county gaols. Twelve children of prisoners were embarked with their mothers one of whom aged 5 months died at Woolwich previous to sailing from the effects of the inclement weather; another died of marasmus at sea 18 July, this was aged 10 months. Six free women with 13 children were also embarked, a total of 243 persons on sailing from Woolwich.

Female Prisoner at Millbank
Edward Leah recorded in his journal the daily routine he had established for the women -

With respect to moral discipline I found it necessary to give them my constant attention and to adopt a straight forward impartial line of conduct. I appointed two Matrons to have a general superintendence on mess woman to each mess of 8 persons, three School Mistresses and one Nurse for the Hospital. A copy of the scale of victualling with the quantities for each mess was given to each matron to be hung up in their respective berths. Two persons attended the serving out of provisions every morning and this was commenced as soon after 8 o'clock as circumstances would admit of. The cooks of whom there were two were allowed on deck at 6 am to prepare the breakfast the fuel being arranged under the boilers on the previous evening. At 7.30 all the women were allowed on deck to wash themselves and at 8.15 they had their breakfast. Immediately after breakfast they commenced cleaning the deck under the superintendence of one of the Matrons, one person from each mess taking her turn to clean for the day if the weather was fine......

At 9 pm I locked down the free people which I found to be as necessary as it was to do so with the prisoners. At this time I always tried the lock of the prisons and saw that the hatchway lamps were trimmed

Children of Convicts

Of the convicts who were embarked, forty seven women left children behind in England. The indents reveal seven of the women who brought children with them on the voyage -

Ann Adams 1 x 4 year old;
Mary Denner 1 x 5 year old;
Mary Denney 1 x 7 year old;
Winifred Dwyer x 1;
Ann Evans 1 x 13 year old;
Catherine Grey 1 x 10 months old;
Ann Macgrady 1 x 2 months old.

Scottish Prisoners

Twenty four of the prisoners had been convicted in Scotland.....

Jean Aitken (Edinburgh);
Elizabeth Cairt alias Betty McIndoe (Glasgow);
Ann Campbell (Glasgow);
Mary Campbell (Edinburgh);
Mary Denny alias O'Donnell (Glasgow);
Mary Dingwall (Edinburgh);
Susan Docherty (Glasgow);
Christian Dott (Edinburgh);
Mary Henny (Edinburgh);
Margaret Jamieson alias McDonald (Edinburgh);
Isabella Lawson (Edinburgh);
Margaret McCartney (Glasgow);
Mary McCall alias Hay (Edinburgh);
Margaret McIntyre (Glasgow);
Julia McLean or Semple (Glasgow);
Bell or Isabella McNicol (Glasgow);
Ann McWalters (Glasgow);
Susan Martin (Edinburgh);
Elizabeth Martin (Edinburgh) - died at sea on 21st May
Margaret Neill (Glasgow);
Janet Russell or Robertson or Janet Watson or Whitehall (Edinburgh)
Ann Squair (Edinburgh);
Margaret Wallace (Edinburgh);
Mary Wiffen (Glasgow)

Convict Indents

The indents include the name, age, religion, education, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, former convictions, physical description and occasional information regarding relatives already in the colony or about to arrive.......

Mary Ayton's sister Ellen Doyle had been transported five years previously and her brother Daniel was also in the colony.
Thurza Cartilige's sister Sarah Cartilige came out twelve months previously.
Emma Croft's husband Thomas Crofts was transported on the Maitland
Mary Ann Hart's brother John William Jordan was transported on the Lady Kennaway
Elizabeth Hawkins' sister Fanny Hawkins was transported 10 years previously
Mary Henny's husband Adam McDonald had been transported five years previously
Sarah Horsley's nephew John Farmer arrived in the colony three years previously
Sarah Little's husband John Little was a prisoner on the Maitland
Mary Ann Peter's relative William Peters had been out eleven years
Frances Tomlin's uncle Duncan Dallas had been sent out 14 years previously
Rebecca Tyrrell's father William Cotton had been transported three years previously.

Port Jackson

The Surry arrived in Port Jackson on 14 July 1840 with two hundred and twelve female prisoners. The Maitland with male prisoners also arrived on this day. One prisoner, Elizabeth Martin had died during the voyage from debility, having led a most debauched life and consumed ardent spirits to excess according to the surgeon's journal.


Thirty-seven of the women have been identified residing in the Hunter Valley region in the following years. Select HERE to find out more about these women.

The Sydney Monitor reported that - No less a number than eleven assigned servants were returned to the service of government by 28th July. The assignees (willingly) paying the accustomed fee of 5 shillings to get rid of them, as being useless in their employment. We attribute this occurrence to the recent importation of the female prisoners arrived, lately by the fine ship Surry. Numerous application have been made throughout the Colony for the services of these women.

On 28th July 1840 twenty-six women were received into Newcastle gaol from Sydney. Among them were Sarah Carroll, Ellen Cunningham, Jane Gallagher, Hannah Gibson, Susan Hammond, Harriett Hussey, Margaret Jamieson alias McDonald, Cecelia Lewis, Mary Ann McCarthy, Phoebe Mash, Mary Ann Rogers, Ann Smith, Elizabeth Wiggles, Elizabeth Allsop, Isabella McNicholl, Sarah Mears, Elizabeth Needs, Ann Roberts. They were to be sent to the female factory for assignment.

Notes and Links

1). One of the women who arrived on the Surry, Mary Baker married John Thornton in 1841. She was executed in 1844 after being found guilty with Joseph Vale, of murdering her husband. - Account of the murder in the Maitland Mercury

2). The Surry was one of three convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1840, the others being the Isabella and the Margaret both from Ireland. A total of 461 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1840. The previous convict ship bringing females from England was the Mary Ann.

3). Mary Ann Hargreaves was described as a dwarf in the indents

4). There were two births on the voyage, both mothers and babies survived.

5).Mary Smith was tried in Derby. The following Petition has been transcribed by researcher Keith Searson in UK in conjunction with Colette McAlpine of the Female Convict Research Centre in Tasmania.....

Mary Smith, Derby 1839. Stealing from the Person. 15 Years Transportation. Source Home Office Criminal Petitions Series 1 Series HO 17 Piece Number - 126 Item Number YZ 62 Mary Smith Aged 21. Derby Borough Sessions July 1839. Gaol Report - An Abandoned Prostitute and Thief - 3 Times in Prison for Vagrancy -

I humbly certify that I have attended MARY SMITH for seven or eight years and consider her a young woman of weak intellect and constitution and she has been affected with Dropsy. William [Hoare] Surgeon Derby 18 July 1839

To the Right Honourable The Secretary of State for the Home Department The humble memorial of we the undersigned gentlemen and tradesmen of the town and county of Derby Thomas Smith Father Hope Street Derby Sheweth That MARY SMITH of the Borough of Derby - single woman, was on the 11th day of July instant - tried at the Derby Borough Sessions, together with several others, for felony, and convicted thereof, and sentenced to be transported for the term of 15 years. That she is a young woman of rather weak intellect and afflicted with Dropsy, as will appear from the Surgeons certificate hereinto annexed, and had up to the time the above offence was committed, been residing with her parents in Derby who are hard working and industrious people and have a large family to maintain. That in consequence of her parent's great anxiety about her and it being her first offence, your Memorialists humbly pray that the sentence passed upon her at the above Sessions may be commuted for imprisonment or mitigated, in such other way, as the nature of the case will admit of. And your memorialists will ever pray The Prosecutor - Samuel Faulke (his mark) Jona Chaplin Joseph Brown William Sowtn, Robert Ward James Stansby

6). Sarah Jones (alias Hannah Simpson), tried in Manchester and sentenced to 7 years transportation, who was free by servitude on 28 February 1848 was on a Colonial Office list of thirteen people who applied for their families sent to New South Wales.


[1]. Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships, p. 172

[2]. Medical Journal of Edward Leah. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes).The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3]. Reference: ADM 101/70/7A Description: Medical and surgical journal of Her Majesty's convict ship Surry for 9 March to 27 July 1840 by Edward Leah, Surgeon, during which time the said ship was employed on a voyage to New South Wales

[4]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642A]; Microfiche: 744