Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Alexander Dewar R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 14 January 1805

My thanks to descendant Bob Faires for the following information:

Naval Service

Alexander Dewar joined the Royal Navy on 1 November 1802 as a mate aboard the ship Harpy. On 10 October 1803 he was reassigned as a mate on the Diligence (or Diligente), a shore ship where he remained until 13 January 1805. During 1804, while serving on the Diligence, he attended the University of Edinburgh.

On 14 January 1805, Alexander Dewar was appointed a Surgeon of the Royal Navy. Less than a week later, on 20 January 1805 he began to serve aboard the Moselle, a Cruizer-class brig-sloop of the Royal Navy launched in 1804 with 18 guns. She was part of the Royal Navy from 1804 to 1815, and served during the Napoleonic Wars in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the North American station at Halifax.

He was then assigned, on 7 November 1807, to serve as surgeon aboard the Leonidas, a 36-gun fifth-rate frigate, a type of warship, launched just two months prior. The Leonidas was involved at the taking of the island of Cephalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece, in October of 1809. On 16 October 1813, just before the Leonidas was to convoy to the West Indies, Alexander Dewar was re-assigned and employed as surgeon aboard the hospital ship Trent, stationed at Cork, Ireland. The Trent may have remained in the Cove of Cork, Ireland during Alexander’s entire stay on the ship which lasted until 3 February 1816.

Surgeon Superintendent

On 29 November 1816, Alexander Dewar was appointed Surgeon Superintendent of the Chapman convict ship.

There was a mutiny on the Chapman on the voyage to Australia during which convicts were killed. Alexander Dewar, John Drake and Christopher Bustead were accused of murder. Select here to find out more.

Alexander Dewar departed Australia on the Harriet bound for England under close arrest in December 1817. Along with Captain John Drake and Lieut. Christopher Busteed Alexander Dewar was found Not Guilty on 12 January 1819. Alexander Dewar never served aboard a ship in the Royal Navy again and his service record shows his date of discharge from the Chapman as 12 January 1819, the date he was found Not Guilty of murder aboard the Chapman.


Shortly after this, Alexander Dewar and his family are noted as living in in Sunninghill, Berkshire England, when their son James Robert Dalton Dewar was born on 25 November 1819. Alexander and his wife Mary Ellum lived there until 1850. After that time, they moved every year or two. His wife died on 28 September 1855 on High Street in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.


Alexander Dewar died on 3 October 1859 at Barossa Villa on Lower-road in Islington, England.