Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

David Boyter R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 13 June 1810

Naval Service

David Boyter was included on the Navy List of 1814. He was on the List of Medical Officer who had served at War. He was employed as Surgeon on the Hebrus at the capture of L'Etoile in 1814 when 13 men were killed and 25 were wounded and was commended by Captain Edmund Palmer for his care and attention.[1]

He was still on the Hebrus in 1815. One of his assistants described one of the procedures that took place:

'Twas at the commencement of July, in the delightful summer of the year 1815 soon after Napoleon's disastrous defeat at Waterloo, that two British frigates, Hebrus and Pactolus, with the Falmouth corvette, were assembled at the mouth of the river Gironde for the avowed purpose of assisting the royalists to equip and organize themselves in military parties, that they might be enabled to rise and overthrow the power of General Clausel, then established at Bordeaux.......Mr. Boyter, our surgeon, asked me to render some little assistance in performing the operation upon poor Huntley (for such was our unfortunate shipmate's name). The poor fellow's jacket was quickly ripped off, and it was a lamentable spectacle to behold his mutilated frame; his only words were, Doctor, bear a hand. The most stern and iron nerve, I am sure, must give a momentary shudder, when the surgeon, after having made the first incision, and drawn back sufficient skin to cover the stump, grasps the knife with firmness, and cuts determinedly through the quivering flesh, severing the arteries and muscles down to the bone; then, I am confident, is the time to try the wretched sufferer's courage: poor Huntley winced at this terrible period, but afterwards continued only to mutter, as before, 'Bear a hand, good doctor'. Tis a mistake, I doubt not, to believe the suffering either severe or excessive, in comparison, when the bone is severed, and the marrow touched by the saw; but the most courageous heart will flinch when the arteries are hooked out until the ligatures are fastened. The operation on his arm was skilfully completed in little more than twelve minutes, but the agony he suffered was excruciating when the splinters were extracted from his face and breast; after which, having a cordial restorative administered, he was laid in a cot from whence he never rose again.[2]

Surgeon Superintendent

In the early 1830's David Boyter was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships:
Front page of David Boyter's Medical Journal of the voyage of the Andromeda
Mermaid in 1830 (returned to England on the Dunvegan Castle in August 1830);

Camden in 1831

Andromeda in 1833

Hero in 1835. He returned to London on the Norfolk in February 1836. Surgeon Obadiah Pineo returned on the same vessel.

Agent for Emigration

In 1836 Dr. Boyter was appointed agent of emigration to New South Wales on the plan suggested by Sir Richard Bourke, subject to the confirmation of the Secretary of State. He was instructed to proceed to Scotland, and in that country to select mechanics for emigration to the colony, of the following descriptions, and in the following proportions: viz., carpenters, one eighth; joiners one eight; stone masons, one half; blacksmiths, one eighth; and bricklayers one eight. These artificers were all to be married men, and accompanied by their wives and children; the ages of neither of the married couple to exceed thirty years.[3]

The Australian reported that Dr. Boyter was to offer a passage to Sydney on the following terms:

Each married couple under thirty years of age a bounty of £30. Each child above two and under seven years £5; Each child above seven and under 15 years £10; Each unmarried daughter above fifteen and under thirty years £15; any young woman, under the protection of a family above 18 and under 30 years £15.

This bounty according to the present rate of passage money in London is perfectly adequate to pay the whole expense; it may, therefore be considered a free passage.

Dr. Boyter entertains the fullest expectations of being able to procure as many respectable families for Forfarshire and the adjacent counties as will require a ship of large tonnage for their conveyance; in which case, a ship of the first class will be brought into the Tay, and receive every person on board, with all their necessaries and luggage; and Dr. Boyter will feel bound to proceed direct to NSW in the vessel himself. As Dr. Boyter has frequently been in the Colony and made himself fully acquainted with everything relating to emigration, the whole superintendence and direction have been entrusted to him
. [4]

He was on the List of Surgeons of the Royal Navy who was fit for service in 1841.


David Boyter died in 1850.

Notes and Links

Marriages - Walker Boyter - At Edinburgh on the 11th inst., by the Rev. A.E. Watson, M.A. of St. George's Episcopal Church, George Harry Walker Esq., son of the Rev. G.E. Walker, rector of Farleigh Surrey, to Helen Cecilia, only child of the late David Boyter M.D., R.N., (Caledonia Mercury 13 June 1863)


[1] Bulletins and other State Intelligence

[2] The United Services Magazine

[3] A History of New South Wales by Thomas Henry Braim

[4] The Australian 14 February 1837