Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Camden - 1831

Embarked 198 men
Voyage 119 days
Deaths 0
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 450
Previous vessel: Eleanor arrived 25 June 1831
Next vessel: Georgiana arrived 27 July 1831
Master William Fulcher.
Surgeon David Boyter

The Camden was built on the Thames in 1799. Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the Camden in 1831 and 1833.

Prisoners came from counties in England, Wales and Scotland - Glasgow, Perth, Dumfries, Inverness, Ayr, Flint, Carmarthen, Merioneth, Edinburgh, Monmouth, Montgomery, Essex, Lancaster, Warwick, Lincoln, York, Middlesex, Oxford, Berks, London, Hertford, Bristol, Surrey, Worcester Bedford, Derby, Durham, Chester, Gloucester, Nottingham, Leicester, Norfolk and Stafford.

Cabin Passengers

Passengers included Captain Cooper and wife and Lieut. Bell of the 48th regiment.

Military Guard

The Guard consisted of 29 men - a detachment of the 11th Light Dragoons.

According to David Boyter the Guard were embarked in fine weather and under the most favourable circumstances. They were mostly very young men and had every appearance of high health and spirits.

The prisoners were also mostly young men and in a fair state of health. They came from districts throughout England and most were held on various Hulks to await transportation to the colonies.

Surgeon David Boyter

This was David Boyter's second voyage as Surgeon Superintendent. He kept a Medical Journal from 26 February to 25 July 1831.

He had fewer serious diseases to contend with on this voyage compared to his first on the Mermaid and there were no accidents noted in his journal. Prisoners suffered various fevers, haemoptysis, phthisis, dysentery, dyspepsia and towards the end of the voyage, scorbutus.

David Boyter remarked in his Journal that 198 convicts were received from four different hulks. Those from the Cumberland had the appearance of being less attended to than those of the other hulks, a great many of the Cumberlands had large ulcers on their legs, three of them so large and apparently of so long standing and character that he felt bound to reject them.....*possibly only 195 prisoners eventually sailed.

The ulcers had been caused by injuries received at work in the Dock yards and the surgeon set about curing them with simple dressings and cleanliness. His efforts were thwarted in the first few weeks as the prisoners suffered with sea sickness and were unable to attend to the ulcers properly, however afterwards with proper care the sores began to improve. The men became ill again in the hot weather as they neared Teneriffe.

The soldiers of the guard also suffered from headaches at this time, caused the surgeon thought, by laying about the decks in the sun and the ardent spirits they were allowed as part of their rations. The Camden remained in the tropics for four weeks. The weather was fine and dry and medical complaints few. As they approached colder latitudes the thermometer dropped from 78° to 86° to 50° and the men began to suffer sore throats and coughs. As they approached Sydney and had been 17 weeks on salt provision, scurvy also began to appear among the convicts and David Boyter remarked that if they had spent another week at sea he would have more serious cases of scurvy to deal with, however the timely supply of fresh provisions restored the men to a fair state of health. [1]

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Camden arrived in Port Jackson on 25 July 1831. [2]

Convict Muster

A muster of 192 convicts was held on board on 27th July. Six men were in the hospital in Sydney. The convict indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, occupation, native place, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, prior convictions, physical description and where and to whom the prisoner was assigned. There are also occasional notes such as dates of death or colonial sentences.

Notes from the Indents:

Alexander Adam died in the Gaol Hospital at Windsor 1 September 1837

Charles Cleary died at the Wollombi

Robert Campbell - father in colony John Campbell about 4 months before

James Dacey - Aunt Betsey Dacey arrived 20 years previously

John Davis sent to Norfolk Island

George Dowie - Father in colony - Robert Peebles

Stephen Giles - brother in the colony - Abraham Pulling

James Ikin. Uncle in colony Joseph Ikin in August 1830

John Kaye - wife in colony Elizabeth Kaye convicted at same time per Kains

Edward Mantle - Cousin in the colony William Wellard with Mr. Robertson, watchmaker [3]

Life in the Colony

Find out what happened to some of those sent to the Hunter Valley - Hunter Valley convicts/ passengers of the Camden

Many of the men of the Camden were subject to punishment such as William Graham and John McCrorie....

Return of Corporal Punishments inflicted by Sentence of the Sydney Police Bench, from the 4th to the 30th September 1833, in the presence of E.A. Slade, J.P. Superintendent Hyde Park Bench.......
William Graham, per ship Camden, absent without leave, 25 lashes. Skin lacerated at the 13th lash; at the 15th the convict appeared to suffer great pain; but during the whole of the punishment he did not utter a word, nor groaned ; but when cast loose from the table, the expression of his countenance indicated much suffering. The convict says that he never was flogged in this colony before. I did not discover any marks of punishment on his back
- Parliamentary Papers

John McCrorie Tried at Ayr 14 September 1830. Sentenced to 14 years transportation

28 November 1832 - 7 days on the tread mill for being absent from Muster

4 February 1833 - 1 month on the tread mill at Hyde Park Barracks

24 April 1839 - 7 days in the cells at Newcastle for drunkenness

3 April 1840 - 7 days in the cells at Newcastle for drunkenness

30 March 1841 - 50 lashes for disorderly conduct

28 September 1841 - 10 days in the cells at Newcastle for drunkenness

28 June 1842 - 2 months on the treadmill for being out after hours at Newcastle

25 October 1842 - 3 months imprisonment with hard labour for drunkenness and being out after hours

31 January 1843 - 2 months imprisonment with hard labour at Newcastle - Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series:NRS 12188;Item:679

Departure of the Camden

The Camden was on her return voyage to England when she spoke the Palambam near Rio de Janeiro in July 1831. [4]

Notes and Links

1). David Boyter was employed as surgeon convict ships Mermaid in 1830, Camden in 1831, Andromeda in 1833 and the Hero in 1835.

2). Return of Convicts of the Camden assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832).....John Clarke, Shipwright assigned to Michael Hindmarsh at Illawarra


[1] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of David Boyter on the voyage of the Camden in 1831. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[2] Bateson, Charles and Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.350-351, 387

[3] New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842. Original data: Bound manuscript indents, 1788 - 1842. NRS 12188, microfiche 614 - 619,626 - 657, 660 - 695. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.

[4] Sydney Gazette 28 July 1831