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Convict Ship Surgeons - R


*Date of Seniority Royal Navy

RAE, William R.N., * 29 March 1808


William Rae was born in Dumfries-shire in 1786, the son of Matthew Rae of Park End Annandale, Dumfries shire. He was educated at Loch Maben and Dumfries and afterwards graduated M.D. at Edinburgh University. In 1804 he entered the medical service of the East India Company and in the following year was transferred as surgeon to the Royal Navy. He served first in the Culloden under Sir Edward Pellew. In 1807 he was twenty-one years old, when in the Fox, he took part in the destruction of the Dutch ships at Gressic in Java. Subsequently when the squadron was becalmed in the Bay of Bengal, he contrived an apparatus for distilling water. (57)

He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1811.

When attached to the Leyden in 1812 - 13 he was very successful in his treatment of the troops suffering from yellow fever at Cartagena and Gibraltar, and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief and the medical board. (57)

He married his first wife Mary, daughter of Robert Bell in 1814

William Rae received a warrant of appointment as Surgeon Superintendent to the Eliza convict ship on 19th June 1822. He kept a Medical Journal from 19th June 1822 to 26 November 1822. 160 male prisoners arrived on the Eliza under his care. In December he embarked in Sydney on the Castle Forbes ship for Hobart. (possibly continued to England on this vessel)

His next appointment as Surgeon Superintendent was to the Isabella in 1823. The Isabella departed Cork in August 1823 and arrived in Port Jackson on 16 December 1823. William Rae kept a Medical Journal from 14th July 1823 to 24th December 1823. 195 men arrived as prisoners under his care on this vessel. He was planning to leave the colony at the earliest opportunity in January 1824.

In 1824 he was appointed to the Bermuda station. Here at St. George's Bermuda, he married his second wife Margaret, in June 1825. Margaret was the daughter of Robert Lee, Assistant Deputy Commissary General at Bermuda. She was born at Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1800.

He was appointed Surgeon Superintendent to the convict ship Marquis of Huntley. The Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness on 16 May 1826 and arrived in Port Jackson 13 September 1826. 198 prisoners arrived under his care on the Marquis of Huntley. He embarked on the Fairfield for the return voyage (direct) in October 1826.

His next appointment, the Prince Regent convict ship, departed London on 11 June 1827 and arrived Port Jackson on 27 September 1827. 180 prisoners arrived under his care on the Prince Regent. He returned to England on the ship Elizabeth in November 1827. Surgeon James McTernan returned on the same vessel

His last appointment to a convict ship was to the Marquis of Hastings. The Marquis of Hastings departed Portsmouth on 30 June 1828 and arrived in Port Jackson on 12 October 1828. 178 prisoners arrived under his care on this vessel.

He was forty-two years old at this last appointment to the Marquis of Hastings, however his career was far from over. In 1829 he was appointed Surgeon to the Melville (Hospital) (99)

In 1838 he was called on as a witness at the trial of several soldiers who had been accused of murder of mariners at Chatham. William Rae, then head surgeon of the Melville Hospital performed the post mortem examination on one of the men who had been bludgeoned to death.  (100)

In 1839 he was extra licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians

He was on the List of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1844 (Chatham)

He was appointed Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets 17 January 1849 (101)

William Rae can be found in the 1851 Census. He lives at East Stonehouse, Devon.  He is aged 63 and gives his employment as Naval Officer, Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets. His wife Margaret gives her place of birth as North America, resides with him and is 38 years of age. His sister-in-law, Elizabeth Gregory age 40, a widow lives with them and also Jane Lee age 24 also a sister-in-law. They employ two servants.

The entry from the British Medical Directory of 1853 gives the following information - William Rae, Royal Naval Hospital, Plymouth - L.R.C.P. Lond; F.R.C.S. (Nom)1843; M.R.C.S.E. 1811; Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets and Inspector of Royal Naval Hospital Plymouth. Contributor of a "Description of a Fracture Apparatus, with engraving" published in The Lancet.

In 1855 he was present when the First Lord of the Admiralty held his fourth levee of the season at the Admiralty, Whitehall. (102)

William Rae was created C.B. in 1855 and Knighted in 1858 at St. James Palace

In the 1861 Census he resides with his wife at North Walk Barnstaple. William is 74 and Margaret 54. Their sister-in-law Mary, a spinster age 35 lives with them and they have two servants. In the 1871 Census they reside at Hornby Lodge with a sister-in-law and two servants.

He is listed in the Medical Register 1865. - Residence Trafalgar Lawn, Barnstaple, Devonshire.

The Aberdeen Journal reported his death on 9th - Sir William Rae K.C.B., Inspector-General of Hospitals and Fleets, and Justice of the Peace for the counties of Dumfries-shire and Devon, died this morning (the morning of the 8th) at his residence, Hornby Lodge, Newton, Devon aged 87. His wife was his sole heir.

Dame Margaret Rae died at Hornby Lodge on 11 June 1892 (London Gazette)


RANKINE, John R.N., * 23 August 1814

John Rankine was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

John Rankine was appointed to the Madagascar on 5 June 1833 (The Navy List 1834)......

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the female convict ship Sarah & Elizabeth in 1837 and the Lord William Bentinck in 1838. He kept a medical journal from 16 March to 3rd September 1838 while on the Lord William Bentinck voyage.



REDFERN, William

WILLIAM REDFERN. The Story of His Life. (By S. Elliott Napier.) .....

About the beginning of the year 1797 a youth of nineteen donned the uniform of a surgeon first mate, and entered' upon his duties as a member of the company of H'.M.'S. Standard, stationed at the Nore. This was William Redfern, destined in after life to play a very conspicuous part In the early history of the colony of New South Wales. In May of the year mentioned certain members of the Standard's crew complained of the food supplied to them, and asked the young surgeonís mate to support their protest. He agreed to do so , and advised the men to "make a united appeal. Unfortunately for him and for the instead of petitioning In the ' proper way, the crews mutinied. This was In May,1797, and the event is known in history as the "Mutiny of the Nore." The result of it is well known to everybody. The leaders were overpowered and hanged out of hand; and the others punished with varying degrees of severity. Redfern was charged with complicity in the mutiny, found guilty and sentenced to death! He had expressed his sympathy with the undoubted wrongs of the sailors, and urged them to be united; the head and front of his offending had that extent, no more. So the authorities did not hang him. He was kept in prison for four years until sent to New South Wales in the Minorca

Thomas McCann and George Lewis were also tried for mutiny in 1797 and arrived in New South Wales on the Minorca















He married Miss Sarah Wills, the daughter of Edward Spenser Wills of Geelong and Sydney in March 1811 and they had two sons. Read more about William Redfern in the Sydney Morning Herald 31 July 1926

William Redfern died in 1833



REID, David R.N. * 8 April 1799


David Reid was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814.

David Reid's first appointment as Surgeon Superintendent on a convict ship was to the Baring which departed England on 20 April 1815, called at Madeira and Rio and arrived in Port Jackson on 17 September 1815 with male 298 prisoners.

Three years later he joined the Baring on her second voyage as a convict ship. He kept a journal from 18 October 1818 to July 1820 on this voyage.

He was again employed as surgeon superintendent on the Providence which arrived in Hobart and on 7th January 1822 at Port Jackson with female prisoners.

David Reid departed the colony on the Tiger in March 1822, and returned again on the Mariner with his family in 1823 and settled in Australia.

He was on the List of Surgeons of the Royal Navy unfit for service in 1841

Find out more at the Australian Dictionary of Biography entries for David and Robert Reid, sons of David Reid R.N.,

David Reid died in 1840. The Colonist reported his death -  At Inverary Park, on the 6th instant, David Reid, Esq., J.P., Surgeon in the Royal Navy, in the 65th year of his age. He had been one of the first settlers, and was the oldest Magistrate in the southern country; his death is a public lossóby it the colony is bereaved of an upright and zealous Magistrate, and society of a truly honest man.



REID, Thomas *10 January 1814

Thomas Reid was appointed Assistant-Surgeon on the Canopus in 1810.

He was born in Ireland in 1791 and educated in County Tyrone and entered the Navy around 1811. He passed his examination at the Royal College of Surgeons in England on 7 May 1813 and was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in London in 1815. He was a prison reformer and at the instigation of Elizabeth Fry he made voyages as surgeon-superintendent of the convict ships Neptune, to Sydney in 1818, and Morley, to Hobart Town and Sydney in 1820 (with female prisoners).

He returned to England on the Guildford in October 1820. Other surgeons returning on the Guildford included Robert Espie and Hugh Walker.

From the Dictionary of National Biography ...........Thomas Reid revisited his native country in 1822 and made an extended tour through the central, northern, and southern parts of the island.

He was a sincerely religious man who laboured earnestly to ameliorate the condition of the prison population of the country. In early life he drew attention to the conditions attending the transportation of convicts male as well as female, to the penal settlements in Australia. He showed how bad was the discipline to which they were subjected on board ship during their transference, and how atrocious were the arrangements made for their reception when they arrived in New South Wales. He strongly advocated that convicts should no longer remain idle, but should be employed in a rational manner.

Travels in Ireland in the year 1822: exhibiting brief sketches of the Moral, Physical and Political State of the country written by Dr. Reid was published in 1823

Thomas Reid died in London in 1825.(1)



RING, Thomas


Thomas E. Ring was on the List of Surgeons who were fit for service in 1841. He was appointed to the Wasp

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship John Renwick to Van Diemen's Land in 1843. The Launceston Examiner reported that the John Renwick left London on 7th December with 161 male convicts under Dr. Ring's care. He returned to England on the Agostina in June 1843.

He returned again as Surgeon Superintendent on the Angelina in August 1844. The Cornwall Chronicle reported that the Angelina arrived in Hobart from Woolwich on 24 August, having sailed on 25th April. She brought 167 female convicts and 9 children. Three convicts died on the passage and 2 children also. This voyage also employed a Matron, Mrs. Steedman who had formerly been in charge of female prisoners in the laundry at Millbank prison. In advertising for employment on arrival, she referred to Dr. Ring of Macquarie Street, Hobart Town.

In October 1844 Dr. Ring departed Hobart for Sydney on the brig Louisa and in January 1845 departed Sydney for London on the St. George.

He was on London College of Physicians List of extra licentiates in 1844 (Medical Times)

In 1852 the Morning Chronicle reported that he was absent from duties on the Waterloo flag ship due to illness. 



RITCHIE, Daniel R.N. *1846


The Maitland Mercury of 28 July 1852 included a report from The Times dated April 1852.........The Pestonjee Bomanjee, Surgeon Superintendent Daniel Ritchie (1846) late of her majesty's ship Rattler, left her moorings opposite the Royal Arsenal, with 100 convicts on board, and will take on board 150 additional at Portsmouth, and 100 youths all males, from Parkhust Prison, Isle of Wright, and then proceed with them to Van Diemen's Land where they will obtain tickets of leave on their arrival.

Select here to read  The voice of our exiles; or, Stray leaves from a convict ship by Daniel Ritchie

The family returned to Melbourne from Liverpool on the vessel Donald McKay in October 1857. The passengers on the Donald McKay included Simon Ritchie, Jane Ritchie, Janet Ritchie and Daniel Ritchie R.N., (Hobart Town Mercury 14 October 1857)

Daniel Ritchie's name was removed from the List of the Royal Navy by 1861

Daniel Ritchie returned to Scotland with his family for a visit. He died in Edinburgh in December 1865 and his wife did not return to Australia. Find out more about Daniel Ritchie at Heritage Victoria



ROBERTS, George R.N. * 5 November 1823


George Roberts was appointed to the position of Assistant Surgeon on 24 May 1810.

He was appointed Assistant Surgeon to the Redwing in 1818

He was promoted to the position of Surgeon in January 1824 (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine)

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Lord Melville  which departed the Downs 6th June 1830 and arrived at Port Jackson 21st October 1830.

The Gilmore  which departed London 27 November 1831 and arrived in Van Diemen's Land 22 March 1832

The Heroine  departed Portsmouth 15 May 1833 and arrived at Port Jackson 19th September 1833.

The Waterloo to Hobart in 1835

and the Waterloo from Dublin to Port Jackson in 1836.

He was Surgeon Superintendent on the immigrant ship William Nicol in 1837. The Sydney Herald reported in October 1837 that the William Nicol was the first vessel chartered by the Government for the conveyance of Highlanders to Port Jackson. They arrived from the Isle of Skye under the superintendence of an old visitor Dr. Roberts R.N. In the ship there were 311 persons including 73 female adults and 169 children. George Roberts was on the List of Surgeons given advances or remunerated for services as Surgeon Superintendents in 1838. He was paid £20/1/9d for his services on the immigrant vessel William Nicol.

His next appointment was to the Lady Nugent which departed Gravesend 23rd July 1838 and arrived on 27 November 1838 in Sydney. Two hundred and thirty eight Government emigrants came under George Roberts care on the Lady Nugent.

The Sydney Herald reported in February 1840 that the James Pattison arrived in Sydney with 187 Government Immigrants under the superintendence of Dr. Roberts. The James Pattison had made the quickest passage ever known, having been only eighty two days from the Lizard. The James Pattison had always made excellent passages under Captain Cromarty and the immigrants were very healthy. There were no deaths and two children born on the passage.

Dr. Roberts returned to England on the Portland in April 1840.

He was employed as Surgeon on the Verona in 1842





J.J. W. Roberts was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Lord Auckland in 1846 (VDL) 





John Robertson was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship William Jardine which arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 2 November 1844 and the Maitland which arrived 27 October 1846.





Thomas Robertson was appointed Assistant Surgeon on 9 July 1812

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships:

William Bryan in 1833 (to VDL)

Forth to Port Jackson  in 1835

Surry to Port Jackson in 1836

James Pattison to Port Jackson in 1837

Planter to Port Jackson in 1839

Equestrian to Van Diemen's Land in 1845

He is listed in the Medical Register 1865 - Residence Burnt Ash villas, Lee, Kent. Qualifications Lic. Royal College Surgeons, Edinburgh 1812.


RODMELL, John  (R.N.) *24 February 1800


John Rodmell was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

John Rodmell was appointed Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Mary  in 1822 and the Medina in 1823. He died on his third voyage as Surgeon Superintendent.

The Sydney Gazette reported .......29th April 1826 - The Woodman, Capt. Daniel Leary, burthen 419 tons, from Sheerness, 6th December, Cape of Good Hope, 4th March with 146 male prisoners, 4 having died on the passage; and also the Surgeon Superintendent Mr. Rodmell. In consequence of the death of Mr. Rodmell, Mr. (Cornelius) Kellie of H.M. Ship Helicon, undertook the charge at the Cape. The guard consisted of Captain Wakefield, and Ensign Innes of the 30th and 2 sergeants and 7 rank and file of the 57th. - SG 24 May 1826



ROGERS, William  R.N., * 16 February 1814


William Rogers was appointed Assistant Surgeon on the Firefly Steam Vessel at Falmouth on 20 December 1833

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Arab, which arrived from London on 30 December 1836 with 131 female convicts, and was Surgeon Superintendent on the immigrant ship Layton. The Layton departed from Bristol in September 1837 and arrived in January 1838. Cabin Passengers included Rev. Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Rogers. On the document of arrival it was stated that there were 122 emigrants and 110 children. Two crew members died and seventy children on the passage out. Measles had broken out soon after leaving the Channel. He was on the List of Surgeons remunerated for services as Surgeon Superintendents. He was paid £200 for his services on the Layton

In February 1838 he took the place of Dr. Browning at the Quarantine station where the passengers who arrived on the fever ship Minerva were being cared for. He took up residence in Ward No. 1, a portion of which was partitioned off for his use.

William Rogers was on the List of Surgeons of the Royal Navy who were fit for service in 1841.

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Richard Webb in 1842 (to VDL). The Richard Webb departed Dublin 5th November with 199 male prisoners and arrived in Hobart on 4th March 1842. Four women, six children, five free settlers and six children of prisoners also came on the Richard Webb. William Rogers kept a Medical Journal from 15 October 1841 to 9th March 1842. He departed for London again on the Fanny on 17 June 1842.



ROSS, Samuel.....

Samuel Ross was employed as Surgeon of the Fortune in 1813.

In July 1813 in Sydney he gave evidence in the trial of Archibald McNaughton and Phillip Connor who were charged with murder of William Holness.



ROSS, Archibald (Colquhoun?)


Archibald Ross was on on the List of Gentlemen who appeared before the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh who were fully qualified to practise the arts of Anatomy, surgery and Pharmacy and accordingly received Diplomas in August 1829

He  was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Susan in 1834. Dr. Ross kept a Medical Journal from 24 March 1834 to 26 July 1834

Archibald C. Ross, M.D., died at Funchal, Madeira a week after his return to labour amongst the sufferers from cholera. He was 47 years of age. (The Lancet 4 October 1856)



ROSS, David R.N., * 24 May 1810


David Ross was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

David Ross was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Strathfieldsaye to Van Diemen's Land in 1831 

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



ROWE, George R.N., 27 November 1795


George Rowe was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

George Rowe was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship New Grove to Van Diemen's Land in 1834. He became dangerously ill and in consequence the vessel called at Scilly where David Thomson was appointed Surgeon Superintendent.



ROYLANCE, Thomas Christie (R.N.) *13 October 1807


Thomas Roylance was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

Thomas Christie Roylance was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Hadlow in 1818 and Lord Sidmouth  in 1821

Thomas Roylance married Eleanor Goodwin at St. Luke's Middlesex on 18th February 1818 just a few months before he set sail for NSW on the Hadlow (1). He returned to England with seven other naval surgeons on the vessel Shipley departing Sydney in April 1819.(2) In November 1820 he departed England once again as surgeon of the Lord Sidmouth.

Thomas and Eleanor's son John Thomas Bell Roylance was born 29 July 1821.

Thomas Roylance was court-martialled in 1825 for striking a purser. He died at Jamaica in 1830

  Colonial Times Vol. 2. 




RUTHERFORD, George Shaw R.N., * 29 March 1812

George Shaw Rutherford joined the navy on 29th March 1812 (153).

He was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814. (154)

He married Elizabeth Tilden on 16th February 1832 at Northfleet Kent, England and a daughter Elizabeth was baptised in 1834; son George Sydney in 1835; Mary Elizabeth in 1839, John James in 1841, William Albert 1843, Lucy Letitia in 1848 all in Marylebone.

George Rutherford was employed as surgeon superintendent on the following convict ships to Australia - click on the links to find out more about each of these voyages -

Prince of Orange in 1821 Lord Melville in 1829
Shipley in 1822 Royal Admiral in 1830
Marquis of Hastings in 1826 Commodore Hayes in 1823 (VDL)
Eliza in 1827 China (to Norfolk Island) in 1846

He had few cases of serious illness on most of the voyages, however the voyage of the China to Norfolk Island in 1846 proved more of a challenge. They departed the Downs on 10th January and one hundred and twenty six days later they experienced strong gales from the SW for several days. This caused considerable sea sickness amongst the Guard and prisoners, following which they suffered diarrhoea.

No fewer than from 70 to 80 cases came under his care in the course of the passage and he attributed the use of oaten meal porridge which was given daily for breakfast. They called at Teneriffe on 5th February for refreshments and after the Cape of Good Hope experienced bad weather once again when illness broke out. One of the prisoners Peter Gibson died at this time although by the time they reached Norfolk Island the vessel was free of all illness. (156)

George Shaw Rutherford was granted 2650 acres by Governor Darling on 24 June 1837.(157)

This land had been granted to John Cramer Owen in 1822, however John Owen returned to England without taking up the grant.

John Owen's brother Henry Dixon Owen was granted 1,100 acres adjoining this estate in 1822.

In the 1851 UK Census George Rutherford age 60 (M.D. Edinburgh, Surgeon, General Practitioner), his wife Elizabeth age 48 and their children George age 15, Mary age 12, John age 10 and William age 8 reside in Devonshire St. Marylebone. They had two servants -  a cook and a housemaid. George gave his birthplace as Ireland.

George Shaw Rutherford is listed in the Medical Register 1865. Residence 23 Devonshire Street, Portland place, London. Qualifications Lic. royal college Surgeons Edinburgh 1809 M.D. University Edinburgh 1818.

He died at 23 Devonshire Street Portland Place, London on 17th June 1868 aged 82.  .......... The Will of George Shaw Rutherford late of 23 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, Co. Middlesex, deceased who died 17 June 1868 was proved by the oath of Elizabeth Rutherford, aforesaid widow.. Effects under £9000 (155)

George Shaw Rutherford was the brother of James Rutherford also a surgeon superintendent. Select here to read James Rutherford's correspondence written in 1837 regarding his brother George and the accusations of James Mudie

In 1831, George Rutherford gave evidence before a Select Committee which was appointed to inquire into the best mode of giving efficiency to Secondary Punishments and to report their Observations to the House. Select here to read the evidence he gave.

Select here to find the location of George Shaw Rutherford's land in the Hunter Valley


153 A list of the masters, medical officers, and pursers of his majesty's fleet

154  Medical Times & Gazette

155. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England...National Probate Calendar UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

157.Government Gazette 19 January 1839


RUTHERFORD, James R.N. *2 April 1803


James Rutherford was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the following convict ships:

Regalia 1826 

Pyramus 1832 

Mangles 1833 

Hooghley 1834

He was on the list of retired surgeons of the Royal Navy in 1841

RYAN, Henry *20 September 1811


Henry Ryan was entered in the Navy List of Medical Officers in 1814

Henry Ryan was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Tyne  in 1819 and

Shipley in 1820, both to New South Wales.  He returned to England in April 1819 on the Shipley with seven other naval surgeons(2) 

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Claudine to Van Diemen's Land in 1821. He kept a Medical Journal on this voyage from 13 August 1821 to 27 May 1822.




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