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Convict Ship Surgeons - A


Samuel Alexander     James Allan     Richard Allen     Richard Alley     John Turnpenny Altree  Charles Anderson    James Anderson     Matthew Anderson     William Anderson     John Andrews     Thomas Andrews    Lancelot Armstrong     Robert Armstrong     Thomas Arndell  Joseph Arnold     Matthew Austin

ALEXANDER, Samuel R.N.,*18 November 1811

Samuel Alexander of the Royal Navy was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Almorah which departed the Cove of Cork 24 August 1820 and arrived in Port Jackson on 22 December 1820.

He wrote in his medical journal at the end of the voyage that -  ulcers were troublesome to the convicts in the first part of the voyage and were to be attributed to the prisoners entertaining an idea that if they could get their legs ulcerated, their irons would be taken off; however by undeceiving the convict on this head, and pursuing a strict plan of treatment, the ulcers were soon overcome..

He also ensured that cleanliness and ventilation in the prison were maintained as best as possible. The prisoners were kept occupied by his plan of appointing a particular duty each day such as scrubbing cloths, mustering clothes, airing bedding etc. A school was also established amongst the prisoners. (93)

He was planning to leaving the colony at the earliest opportunity and requested claims to be presented in January 1821.



ALLAN, James R. N., *13 February 1815

James Allan was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Canada  which departed Cork on 21st March 1817 and arrived in Port Jackson 5th August 1817.

James Allan was appointed surgeon to the San Josef, Plymouth 1st January 1833 (Navy List)

James Allan (a) M.D. was appointed Deputy Medical Inspector at the Royal Hospital Haslar 4th February 1845.(Navy List)




ALLEN, Richard R. N., *16 July 1826

 Richard Allen was employed as surgeon superintendent on the Parmelia which arrived in Port Jackson on 16th November 1832 and the James Laing in 1834

Richard Allen died on 29 June 1834 on board the James Laing. The Asiatic Journal reported that he shot himself on 29th June while under temporary derangement of mind. He was 37 years of age.

'that there had been much sickness among the convicts on the voyage. Excessive fatigue, and great anxiety for the sick, had occasioned an affection of the brain in Mr. Allen, which terminated fatally. He was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and was deeply deplored by his sorrowing widow and family' .

An inquest was held on board the reported that Mr. Allen had been for some time previous to the arrival of the vessel, in a very abstracted and despondent state and had shown evident symptoms of aberration of the mind. He had been unremittent in his attention to his duties, and the comforts of the prisoners committed to his charge during the voyage. On the approach of the ship to the to the heads, he had some conversation with Captain Tomlin R.N., commanding the vessel about half past 3 am, on Sunday morning, after which he retired to his cabin, and had been there about an hour and a half, when the Captain was awoken in his cabin, which was next to that of the deceased, by the report of a pistol; he immediately arose, and found it proceeded from the cabin of deceased, whom he found quite dead, having applied a pistol to his head, the contents of which had deprived him of life. Verdict, destroyed himself by a pistol, shot while labouring under aberration of mind.



ALLEY, Richard (First warrant 1783)

Richard Alley was employed as surgeon/ naval agent on the Lady Juliana in 1790. He returned to England on the Waaksamheyd in 1791 and was then appointed surgeon to the Royal Admiral in 1792

David Collins referred to Richard Alley in 'An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales'.........

There arrived in the Royal Admiral as a superintendent charged with the care of the convicts, Mr. Richard Alley, who formerly belonged to the Lady Juliana transport, in quality of surgeon, in the memorable voyage of that ship to this colony; a voyage that could never be thought on by an inhabitant of it without exciting a most painful sensation. This gentleman went to England in the snow with Captain Hunter, whither the comforts of long voyages seemed to accompany him. Immediately on his arrival there, he was appointed by the commissioners of the navy to come out in the Royal Admiral as surgeon and superintendent of the convicts embarked in that ship, with an allowance of twelve shillings and sixpence per diem until his arrival in England, exclusive of his half pay as surgeon of the navy..... An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 1, by David Collins.

Richard Alley was mentioned in the Historical Records of Australia......

......Richard Ayley (Alley) and Lieutenant Thomas Edgar who were sent out in the Lady Juliana, transport, and Mr. John Turnpenny Altree, who came out as surgeon in one of the transports that left England in May 1787, and who has been since employed at Norfolk Island, return to England (in the Dutch snow Waaksamheyd in 1791) HRA Series 1 Vol 1.,  p.254.

ALTREE, John Turnpenny

John Turnpenny Altree assisted in giving medical treatment on the voyage to Australia of the Lady Penrhyn in 1788.......

Governor Phillip to Under Secretary Nepean (Per Dutch snow Waaksamheyd)

Sydney 21st March 1791

This will be delivered to you by Mr. John Turnpenny Altree, who came from England in the Lady Penrhyn transport with the First Fleet. During the passage out he assisted in the attendance of such convicts on board the ship as required medical treatment, and has been since that time employed at Norfolk Island by Mr. King, the late commandant, and by the Lieutenant-Governor as an assistant to the surgeon there, and in clearing and cultivating the land, in which line he conducted himself, as far as I am informed, to the satisfaction of those who employed him, until he left the island, for which services he has never received any compensation except twelve pounds, which, since his arrival here, I have directed the Commissary to pay him.

What his future views are he can best explain. He wishes to return and the character given of him by Lieutenant King and Captain Hunter in lines me to wish he may succeed. He will, I presume, be thought to merit some little recompense for the time he was on Norfok Island, and his demands will not, I believe be very great. He was in the militia as lieutenant and surgeon's mate, and wished to be received here as a subaltern in the New South Wales Corps.....A. Philip. - HRA., Series 1 Vol., 1 p. 258.

Governor Phillip to Secretary Stephens

Sydney 13 March 1791 (Extract), Sir, ........Richard Ayley (Alley) and Lieutenant Thomas Edgar who were sent out in the Lady Juliana, transport, and Mr. John Turnpenny Altree, who came out as surgeon in one of the transports that left England in May 1787, and who has been since employed at Norfolk Island, returns to England (in the Dutch snow Waaksamheyd in 1791) ...HRA Series 1 Vol 1.,  p.254

Altree Links:

John Turnpenny Altree, son of 'the late Dr. Altree', who died at Wolverhampton age 64 in 1798 (Monthly Magazine) (European Magazine)

ALTREE Edward Stephen son of John Turnpenny & Sarah born 30th Mar 12 Apr 1770 ;  ALTREE Henry son of John Turnpenny & Sarah born 12th May 12 Sep 1775 ;  ALTREE James son of John Turnpenny & Sarah his wife 10 Oct 1768;   ALTREE Sarah Austin daughter of John Turnpenny & Sarah (born) 16 Dec 1772 ;   ALTREE Thomas Charles son of John Turnpenny & Sarah his wife 16 Jan 1778;  .........St. Giles Church, Willenhall - Transcripts of Parish Registers by P. Galloway

Keast Genealogy Website

Ancestry Message Board

Fellowship of the First Fleeters

Altree at Wolverhampton -

Model of the Lady Penrhyn

John Turnpenny Altree (Ancestry)



ANDERSON, Charles Abercromby

Charles Anderson was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Lord Dalhousie in 1852. The Lord Dalhousie departed Cork 30 April 1852 and arrived in Van Dieman's Land on4 August 1852

Medical Register 1865 entry for Charles Abercomby Anderson as follows:

Date of Registration 14 May 1861. Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, Royal Navy; Lic. Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh 1841; M.D. Univ. Edinburgh 1842.



ANDERSON, James A. R.N.,

James Anderson was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Roslin Castle to Van Diemans Land in 1828. The Roslin Castle departed the Downs 19 August 1828 and arrived on 16 December 1828. He kept a medical journal from 17th July 1828 to 21st December 1828.


ANDERSON,Matthew R.N.,*12 April 1814

Matthew Anderson was included in the Navy List of 1814. He was appointed surgeon superintendent on the Surry which departed 22 December 1818 and arrived in Port Jackson on 4th March 1819. He was granted permission to return to England on the Surry and his next engagement was to the Mangles which left Falmouth on 11th April 1820 and arrived 7th August 1820. He returned to England and was engaged to act as surgeon-superintendent on the Mangles which departed Cork 21st June 1822 and arrived in Port Jackson on 8th November 1822. He returned to England on the Marshall Wellington in February 1823.

He arrived in the colony again as surgeon on the Castle Forbes on 19th January 1824.

In all 681 convicts arrived in Australia under Matthew Anderson's care. In total he lost only six prisoners.

He was appointed colonial surgeon on 18 February 1824 and was granted land in 1826 which he called Redesdale. In about 1834-35 he had a weatherboard cottage built, with a separate stone kitchen to the rear. The property was later called Manar(3) 

He was jury member at the inquest into the death of Lieut. Masters who died in the same accident as Lady Mary Fitz Roy in 1847 and was in charge of the Colonial Hospital at Parramatta for many years.

Matthew Anderson died at Parramatta on 7th July 1850 age 61 years. A neat marble memorial to his memory was placed in St. John's Church Parramatta in 1851.  (SMH 28 June 1851)

Hambledon Cottage.



ANDERSON,William R.N.,*4 January 1815

William Anderson was included in the Navy List of 1814.

He was employed as surgeon superintendent on the convict ship City of Edinburgh which departed Cork on 23 June 1828 and arrived in Port Jackson 12 November 1828.

Possibly also Surgeon Superintendent of the Bussorah Merchant to VDL in 1830




John Andrews was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Marion in 1848 and the Eliza in 1850.

The Eliza departed London 24 December 1849, arrived in Van Diemen's Land 3 April 1850 and Norfolk Island 30 April 1850.


There are two surgeons by the name of John Andrews in the 1865 Medical Register of 1865. One gives residence R.N. Hopsital, Haslar, Gosport, Hants (MRCS 1825) ; and the other gives residence as 'Surgeon, Royal Navy' (MRCS 1841)




Thomas Andrews was employed as surgeon on the
Three Bees in 1813 - 1814


ARMSTRONG, Lancelot R.N.

Lancelot Armstrong was promoted to the position of surgeon in the Royal Navy 10th June 1807. He was included in the Navy List of 1814

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship Daphne in 1819.

The Daphne departed Cork on 28 May 1819, touched at Teneriffe and arrived in Port Jackson on 21st September 1819. In October Lancelot Armstrong was on the Committee with James Bowman and Daniel McNamara employed to make a survey of the General Hospital at Sydney. (3)

He was stationed at the Royal Navy Hospital at the Cape of Good Hope from 1831....




The 1841 Census records Lancelot Armstrong residing with his wife Jane at Gilnockie cottage, Cannonbie. They are both aged 50 and have three others residing with them.

Lancelot Armstrong died in 1848. The United Servicemen published his obituary....Late of the Naval Hospital at the Cape of Good Hope.....Lancelot Armstrong at Gilnockie Cottage, Cannonbie on the 23rd ult, aged 63. The deceased served as assistant surgeon on board the Ajax at the Battle of Trafalgar. He was also on board one of the ships under Admiral Duckworth, when she blew up in the passage of the Dardanelles. He lost the whole of his clothes etc and saved his life by swimming.

An account is given at Wikipedia.....On 1 February 1807 Ajax, under the command of Captain Henry Blackwood, joined Admiral Sir John Duckworth's squadron at Malta to participate in the Dardanelles Operation. During the operation an accidental fire destroyed Ajax. The fire began on the evening of 14 February while Ajax was anchored off Tenedos. The fire began in the bread-room where the purser and his assistant had negligently left a light burning. As the fire burned out of control, the officers and crew were forced to take to the water. Although 380 people were rescued, 250 lost their lives that night, including many of the crewmen who had been at Trafalgar. Ajax burned through the night and then drifted on to the island of Tenedos where she blew up the following morning.

ARMSTRONG,Robert R. N.,*16 September 1816

Robert Armstrong (Deputy Inspector) was on the List of Medical Officers who served at War...Assistant-Surgeon on the Albion at Algiers (?1816)

Robert Armstrong was employed as surgeon superintendent on three convict ships to New South Wales.

The Tottenham which sailed from Plymouth on 17th April 1818 and arrived in Port Jackson 14th October 1818.

The Dick departed 4th November 1820 and arrived in Port Jackson 12 March 1821 and the Countess of Harcourt departed Cork 3rd September and arrived on 21st December 1822.

Six hundred and ninety two prisoners arrived in Australia under the care of Robert Armstrong. In all thirteen men died under his care, this high number being because of the ten men who died of scurvy during the long voyage of the Tottenham.

Robert Armstrong was appointed to Plymouth Hospital in 25 February 1829.

 ....The Royal Kalendar and Court and City Register 1838

He published The Influence of Climate and other Agents on the human Constitution, with reference to the Cause and Prevention of Disease among Seamen; with Observations on Fever in general and an account of the Epidemic Fever of Jamaica in 1843.

He is on the list of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1844 (at Plymouth Hospital)

In August 1847 it was announced that he had been promoted to the rank of Medical Inspector and appointed to the Royal Hospital Plymouth vice Sir David J.H. Dickson M.D. who had retired. Armstrong was replaced as Deputy Medical Inspector at Plymouth Hospital by Dr. Oliver Evans who had previously been stationed at Bermuda Hospital (56)

Two years later a correspondent to the Daily News in March 1849 explained in part the cause of Robert Armstrong's dismissal from this position: .......Since the popular determination for financial reduction has become evident, the naval authorities, to prove their sincere desire to comply with the wishes of the times, have decided on not filling up two vacancies among the deputy inspectors which have lately occurred, although senior surgeons expect advancement in such cases. Dr. Lindsay, deputy inspector from half pay is appointed to the vacancy at Malta Hospital vice Dr. Watt, deceased. At the Plymouth Hospital Dr. Armstrong Inspector of hospitals is dismissed and a medical officer, with the title and pay of surgeon is to do the duty of this inspector.......

He is listed in the Medical Directory of England for 1853 - Hill's-court, Exeter - M.D. Edin. 1825; F.R.C.S. (Nom) 1843; M.R.C.S.E. 1816; F.L.S; Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets; late Phys. royal Naval Hospital Plymouth. Author of 'The influence of Climate on the human Constitution"; "The Epidemic Fever of Jamaica".

He died in 1855.......



Thomas Arndell arrived on the Friendship in 1788. He was one of the seven assistant-surgeons of the first fleet who formed the medical staff under Surgeon-General John White.(4) He became a Magistrate, Justice of the Peace and landholder and died May 1821.




ARNOLD, Joseph *8 March 1809

 Joseph Arnold was employed as surgeon on the convict ship Hindostan in 1809 and the Northampton in 1815. He departed on the Indefatigable  for the Barrier Reef on 13 July 1815. Read about the voyage of the Indefatigable here

Joseph Arnold, M. D. F. L. S. was born at Beccles, in the county of Suffolk, in the year 1783, and was the fourth son of Mr. Edward Arnold, an opulent tanner in that town. He was apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary in 1799, and at the same time placed under an able classical tutor, to receive instruction in the learned languages: for hitherto his education bad been confined to a common English grammar-school, In his native place. At the end of the five years, having profited as much as possible by his studies, both scholastic and medical, his father very wisely and liberally determined he should proceed to Edinburgh, where with unabated industry he pursued his professional views and received the honour of a diploma in 1807. A reward never more deservedly obtained. Upon leaving Edinburgh, he made several attempts to settle as a Physician, but in none of these succeeding to his wishes, he was induced upon the recommendation of a friend, to make trial of the Naval service. He entered agreeably to the regulation of that department as an assistant-surgeon on board the Victory, a flag-ship, under the command of Sir James Saumierez, appointed to the Baltic. This was in April 1808, and in the month of March of the following year, he was promoted to the surgeoncy of the Hindostan, then under orders for our Settlement in New South Wales. Not to particularise the several changes in his medical career, it may be sufficient to remark in a general way, that he served on board different ships of war, the Hibernia, the America, and the Alcmene, and in various stations in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, to the period of 1814, when many vessels were dismantled, and he was, to use the seamen's phrase, once more the rest of his obituary here


AUSTIN, Matthew

Matthew Austin was employed as surgeon on the Marquis Cornwallis in 1796


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