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Convict Ship Countess of Harcourt


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Embarked 172 men
Voyage 109 days
Deaths 1
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Tons: 517
Previous vessel: Eliza arrived 22 November 1822
Next vessel: Lord Sidmouth arrived 27 February 1823
Captain George Bunn
Surgeon Superintendent Robert Armstrong
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail
Convicts and passengers of the Countess of Harcourt identified in the Hunter Valley

The Countess of Harcourt was built in India in 1811.[3] Convicts were transported to Australia on the Countess of Harcourt in 1821 (to VDL) and to New South Wales in 1822 1824, 1827 and 1828.

A Visitor to the Ship

The vessel was visited by surgeon Thomas Reid while at Cork and he later wrote of his impressions......

24th. - My friend, having a yacht, invited me to have a sail through the harbour at Cove, and along a part of the coast. We visited the Surprise, a frigate fitted up for a convict depot, and afterwards a convict ship, called the Countess of Harcourt, about the proceed to New South Wales with male convicts. Her complement of prisoners had nearly arrived, and the judicious arrangements of the surgeon superintendent Dr. Armstrong, had already produced regularity; they were all as tractable as sheep; many of them were even quite cheerful. They might well be contented; - it was a happy change for them*. The condition of a convict in New South Wales is ten thousand times more comfortable than that of a peasant in Ireland, - in fact, there can be no comparison between them. *Mr. Commissioner Bigge, in his report laid before parliament in 1822, remarks: The convicts embarked in Ireland generally arrive in New South Wales in a very healthy state; and are found to be more obedient, and more sensible of kind treatment, during the passage, than any other class. [2]

On the 1st September Dr. Edward Trevor informed Henry Goulburn, Chief Secretary at Dublin Castle that an examination had been made of 172 convicts bound for New South Wales on the Countess of Harcourt. Captain George Bunn acknowledged receipt of the prisoners as well as various articles for use on the voyage such as pencils, slates and writing books. Robert Armstrong also acknowledged receipt of the medical supplies for the voyage.....Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers, National Archives, Ireland.

Military Guard

A detachment of the 3rd regiment (Buffs) under orders of Capt. John Rolland formed the Guard.

Free Passengers

Assistant Surgeon Robert Ivory of the same regiment came as a passenger. Other passengers included the Rev. William Bedford, Mrs. Bedford and three children.

Surgeon Robert Armstrong

Robert Armstrong kept a Medical Journal from 12 July 1822 to 26 December 1822.

In his Summary at the conclusion of the Journal he remarked that The cause of their disposition to derangements of the digestive organs may perhaps be attributed to change of diet. It appears that at the Depot at Cork from whence the prisoners embarked the diet consists almost entirely of potatoes and oatmeal. On their embarkation they were at once put upon a diet to which they had never before been accustomed which added to the despondency on leaving their native country and the indolence necessarily connected with their confinement on board ship, may probably be sufficient to account for the complains in question. At an early period of the voyage from the great number of cases of constipation the supply of purgative medicine was soon expired which rendered it necessary to obtain a supply from the Assistant Surgeon of the 3rd Regiment of Foot, a passenger on board and also from the ship's medicine chest on promise of returning them on the arrival of the ship in New South Wales. [5]


First Officer Mr. Cunningham;
Second Officer Mr. Cousins;
Third Officer Mr. Parker

A Court case recorded in the Morning Post and instituted by a seaman named Sullivan for wages owed while on a voyage of the Countess of Harcourt relates the movement of the vessel in 1822: -

Several seamen were hired in London and signed articles to proceed from London via Cork and elsewhere, to Van Diemen's Land and back to London; the Countess of Harcourt was hired by Government to convey convicts, and sailed from London in October, 1822, proceeded to Cork and thence to Sydney Cove (instead of Van Diemen's Land), where she landed her convicts, took in a cargo of tar for Batavia, at which port she afterwards took in another cargo, and then proceeded homewards; having arrived in the Downs, the captain landed and came to London, where he received orders to go to Holland with the vessel; five of the crew however refused to go to Holland, alleging that the articles did not stipulate for their going there. The Captain refused to pay their wages because they refused to work on the passage. Lord Stowell delivered judgement that the men were entitled to their wages. [1]

Port Jackson

The Countess of Harcourt arrived in Port Jackson on Saturday 21st December 1822. She brought 171 male prisoners having lost one on the voyage. At least two wives of soldiers gave birth to healthy babies on the voyage.

Convict Muster

A muster of convicts was held on arrival and included information such as name, where and when convicted, sentence, native place, trade, age, physical description and occasional information eg., tickets of leave. There is no information in the indents as to where and to whom the prisoners were assigned on arrival however ninety-six of the men were forwarded to Parramatta for distribution. From there they were sent to government service or to various settlers throughout the colony including Joseph Morley, William Lawson, John Herbert, William Hayes, John Blaxland, John McArthur, Charles Throsby, James Atkinson, John Dwyer, John Campbell, George Bowman, Henry Baldwin.

Departure from the Colony

The Countess of Harcourt departed Sydney on 29th January 1823 bound for Mauritius

Notes and Links

1). Robert Armstrong was also surgeon on the convict ships Tottenham and Dick in 1821

2). Other ships bringing detachments of the 3rd regiment included the Guildford, Shipley, Asia, Surry, Mangles, Asia, Southworth, Henry, Princess Royal, Eliza and Brampton

3). Court Case re mariners' wages - English Admiralty Reports 1822 - 32

4). Convicts of the Countess of Harcourt identified in the Hunter Valley -

Baker, John  
Bunker, John  
Byrne, Andrew  
Cronin, John  
Driscoll, Daniel
Duffy, Timothy  
Dunn, Thomas  
Fagan, Charles  
Finnigan, Hugh  
Forde, Daniel  
Glynn, John  
Hoskins, John  
Kelly, John  
Kenny, Thomas  
Madden, Edward  
Mangan, John  
Martin, Henry  
Mohan, Thomas  
Monaghan, John  
Murphy, John  
Naughton, Matthew  
Neal, Thomas  
Newcombe, Arthur  
Norman, John  
Shaughnessy, Patrick  
Shea, John  
Spunner, Robert  


[1] Morning Post on 12th May 1824

[2] Thomas Reid, Brief Sketches of The Moral, Physical and Political State of the Country in the year 1822

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.344-345, 384

[4] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/18/2 Description: Medical journal of the Countess of Harcourt, convict ship, for 12 July to 26 December 1822 by Robert Armstrong, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the said ship was employed on a voyage to New South Wales.

[5] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

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