Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Blenheim - 1839

Embarked 200 men
Voyage 131 days
Deaths 4
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Parkfield arrived 1 September 1839
Next vessel: Gaillardon arrived 22 October 1839
Captain John Gray
Surgeon William McDowell
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Blenheim convicts and passengers identified in the Hunter Valley

The Blenheim sailed from London to Kingstown, Dublin where 200 male prisoners were received on board on the 8th May 1839.

The Convicts

The men came counties throughout Ireland and had been convicted of crimes such as larceny, burglary, receiving, stealing, manslaughter, coining, murder, assault, rape, abusing serjeant, desertion, arson, perjury, forging a Will and bigamy. Several were also convicted of white boy crimes.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 20 rank and file of the 51st regiment under Ensign and Adjutant McGregor and Ensign Kirby. [1]

Departure from Ireland

The Blenheim departed Dublin on 19 May 1839 and spoke the Parkfield on 6th June.

Surgeon William McDowell

William McDowell kept a Medical Journal from 23 April 1839 to 8 October 1839

He reported all the men to have been in good health on embarkation however there was an outbreak of dysentery in July. The surgeon considered it due to the bad water they had on board which emitted a most offensive putrid effluvia, almost intolerable, and caused many bowel complaints. [4]

Cape of Good Hope

Fresh water and provisions were obtained at the Cape on 6th August, however it came too late and three prisoners died from dysentery -

James Maginness (died 2 August 1839),

Martin Graham (died 26 July 1839) and

Michael Farrelly (died 7 August 1839).

Later another convict James Benson also died after suffering tonsillitis.

Very bad weather was encountered on 4th September, one prisoner James Feeney a 26 year old labourer from Westmeath, became so frightened that he required treatment from the surgeon. [4]

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Blenheim arrived at Port Jackson on 27 September 1839. William Brophy was probably sent straight to the General Hospital on shore where he died on 2nd October 1839. The remaining prisoners were landed by 8th October 1839.

Convict James Cross died in the General Hospital on 3rd December 1839 and Daniel Keene died in the General Hospital Sydney 24th December 1839. [2]

Notes and Links

1). Blenheim convicts and passengers identified in the Hunter Valley

2).Convict ships bringing detachments of the 51st regiment included the Neptune, Waterloo, William Jardine, Bengal Merchant, Lord Lyndoch, Westmoreland, Clyde, Earl Grey, Portsea, Elphinstone, John Barry, Blenheim, Waverley and the Middlesex

3). William McDowell was employed as surgeon superintendent on the Harmony in 1827 and the Diamond in 1838

4). Other convict ships experiencing bad weather during the voyage


[1]. Sydney Gazette 20 August 1839

[2]. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 738

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney. pp354 - 355

[4] Journal of William McDowell on the voyage of the Blenheim 23 April 1839 to 8 October 1839. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey