Free Settler or Felon 

Convict Ship Countess of Harcourt


First Name

Surname / Subject


Use the Search Box above to find your Hunter Valley Ancestor.
Embarked 194 men
Voyage 134 days
Deaths 2
Surgeon's Journal - Yes
Previous vessel: Mariner arrived 23 My 1827
Next vessel: Guildford arrived 25 July 1827
Captain William Harrison
Surgeon Superintendent Michael Goodsir
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. She brought convicts to Van Diemen's Land in 1821 and to New South Wales in 1822, 1824, 1827 and 1828. [3]

Departure from England

The Countess of Harcourt was reported to be in Margate Roads on the morning of 11th January. On January 13th she was in Portsmouth with the loss of an anchor and cable chain after contrary winds.

She departed Portsmouth bound for Dublin to embark convicts on 17th January.

Essex Hulk, Kingstown

The prisoners may have been held on the Essex Hulk at Kingstown harbour. John Speer M.D. Surgeon R.N and Medical Superintendent on the Essex published 'A brief Account of the Diseases that appeared on board the Essex Prison Hulk, during the Years 1825, 26, and 27'.........

The Irish government having determined to station a hulk at Kingstown, considering it would be beneficial to the public, by saving the heavy expense of demurrage, as well as other expenses attendant on the shipment of prisoners for New South Wales, they accordingly stationed the Essex there, and commenced receiving prisoners in the year 1825.

During the year 1827, the hulk was remarked for being healthy, which I attributed to the few prisoners that remained on board; but some extraordinary diseases of the heart appeared, and one case of hypertrophy of the left ventricle occurred in a tailor, and was produced by rheumatic metastasis: the pulsation was visible in all his arteries: he lived many months, and ultimately died suddenly. Such diseases appear particularly prevalent amongst prisoners, and I believe, generally speaking, are occasioned by the depressing passions acting on, and deranging, the general circulation; and, when detected early, they may be alleviated by general and local bloodletting, purgatives, and low diet, and by removing those unfortunate individuals to their final destination

Essex Hulk

Some of the prisoners had been incarcerated for quite some time before transportation. Patrick Carey was tried in Cork in 1822. He was sent to the Richmond General Penitentiary which had been established in 1820 in Grangegorman, Dublin as an alternative to transportation. It was part of an experiment into a penitentiary system to specialise in reform rather than punishment. There were accusations of unspeakable cruelty and proselytism and a Commission of Enquiry was ordered in which Patrick Carey was mentioned....

He had suffered most severe hardships, persecutions, and punishments, in order to induce him to renounce the Catholic Religion, and become a hypocritical professor of the Protestant Religion, Having expressed a desire to go to the Chapel, he was put into the stocks, and was confined for upwards of two months in a solitary cell, and being within two years of the time appointed by the administrators of justice for his complete liberation from the Penitentiary for his desire to go to Mass, and to see the Catholic Chaplain he was conveyed to the hulk at Dunleary, in order to be transported. On the day before he was sent from the Penitentiary he entreated the Catholic Chaplain to see him before his departure, but was hastily sent away without being allowed to have any communication with him continue

Departure from Ireland

The Countess of Harcourt was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Mariner in January 1827.

After embarking 194 prisoners at Kingstown Harbour, Dublin the Countess of Harcourt departed on 14 February 1827.

Michael Goodsir's Journal

Michael Goodsir kept a Medical Journal from 21st December 1826 to 11 July 1827. Those mentioned in his journal included soldiers of the 39th regiment - Private David Guerin; Private Thomas Carron; Private John Hodgkinson; Private Denis Kelliher; Private Peter Mitchell Private Bryan Freeman and Convicts John Hanlan and Thomas Larkin. [4]

The two Convicts who died on the voyage out were William Bell who became ill on 14th February at Kingstown and died 26th March worn to a complete skeleton according to the surgeon; and James Ennis who died on 27th June when the ship was already in sight of Sydney. [2]

Michael Goodsir remarked at the end of his journal: Considering the state the men were in when they embarked, many of them having just left Hospital having had attacks of dysentery and continued fever, the ship on her passage was very healthy. The two men that died on the voyage were both very much diseased when they embarked. William Bell with phthisis I objected taking the day before we sailed but Dr. Trevor the Inspector was of opinion the voyage would do him good and said his destination could not now be altered. The other complaints I attribute to the severity of the weather at the time and change of quarters. The principal expenditure has been in purgative medicine having many cases of irregularity of the bowels during the hot weather, the men generally were in better health when landed at Sydney than when they embarked at Dunleary.[2]

Arrival at Port Jackson

The Countess of Harcourt arrived in Port Jackson on 28 June 1827.The prisoners were mustered on board by Colonial Secretary Alexander McLeay on 2nd July 1827. One prisoner who had been removed to Sydney Hospital later died. The convict indents include name, age, education, religion, marital status, family, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, previous convicts, physical description and where and to whom assigned. There is also occasional information regarding colonial crimes, deaths and colonial pardons included.

Assignment of Convicts

The Australian reported that the Countess of Harcourt brought with her 'useful directions' from the Secretary of State regarding the distribution of prisoners among new settlers. All settlers were to be furnished with the services of prisoners as soon as possible and they were to be preferred to all others in their claims upon the colonial government for these services, whenever a prison ship came into harbour. The settling of this matter apparently delayed the landing of the prisoners and they were not landed until about 13th July.

Nearly three-quarters of them were under twenty-five years of age and a great number were between twelve and sixteen years of age.

Military Guard

The Guard, consisting of part of the grenadier company and battalion of the 39th regiment under orders of Lieut. George Sleeman and Ensign Spencer were disembarked in the afternoon and marched to their quarters in the military barracks, through George Street, preceded by bugles, drums, and fifes, playing the regimental welcome. The military detachment was marched from their barracks during the afternoon of Monday, towards Woolloomooloo Bay at the head of which a general halt was made. For better than an hour afterwards, the soldiers kept up an almost incessant fire upon two targets, which were set up at no great distance from the water's edge. When they had riddled and knocked about the targets, till they could no longer stand upright, the detachment retreated to barracks. [1]

Departure from Port Jackson

The Countess of Harcourt sailed for the Isle of France on 20th August 1827.

Notes and Links

1. Michael Goodsir was also employed on the convict ships Hercules in 1825, Waterloo in 1829 and Royal George in 1830 (VDL).

2. Captain William Harrison was an old visitor to Sydney. On his last trip before the Countess of Harcourt he was in command of the Ocean.

3. Daring Robbery - William and Mary Brennan were indicted for a felony in the house of Hugh Rorke. The prosecutor, who is a publican in Pill lane, stated, that on the night of Saturday week, the prisoners and another person came to his house at a very unseasonable hour, and demanded admittance; he refused to comply with their request, when one of them stated that they were peace officers, on which he opened the door; they then immediately closed on him, and took a silver watch out of his fob. He succeeded in securing the two prisoners at the bar, but the third person made his escape with the watch. The Jury, under the direction of the Learned Recorder, found William Brennan Guilty. The female prisoner was of course acquitted, being the wife of the man in whose company the felony was committed. Sentence, seven years transportation. - Freeman's Journal 19 September 1826

4. Edmund Sharpe, a glazier, who was employed to glaze and clean the windows of Mr. Stokes, of Mount street, having contributed while thus engaged, to make free with a flute, and a Latin Dictionary, was fully convicted of the offence and sentenced to seven years transportation - Freeman's Journal 19 September 1826.

5. Convicts and passengers of the Countess of Harcourt identified in the Hunter Valley

6. Seventeen convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1827 - Grenada, Brothers, (F) Albion, Midas, Mariner, Countess of Harcourt, Guildford, Marquis of Hastings, Princess Charlotte, Manlius, Cambridge, Harmony, Prince Regent, Champion, Eliza, John and the Louisa

7. Return of Convicts of the Countess of Harcourt assigned between 1st January 1832 and 31st March 1832 (Sydney Gazette 14 June 1832; 28 June 1832).....
Andrew Caldwell - Whitesmith assigned to John Mann at Williams River
Patrick Cullens - Errand boy assigned to Patrick Carlon at Banks Town
William Dolan - Farm man assigned to Rowland Mortan at Sydney
Michael Dounes (Downes) - Carter assigned to Laurence Kenny at Sydney
Samuel Fencley - Groom assigned to William Lowe at Sidmouth Valley
Peter Kinch - Indoor servant assigned to George Sippe at Sydney
Peter Kinch - House servant assigned to Chief Justice Forbes in Sydney
Henry Lane - Miller assigned to Thomas Barker in Sydney
Michael or Nicholas Duffy - Pipe maker assigned to George Brown in Sydney

8. Convict ships bringing detachments of the 39th regiment included the following............

Regalia departed Dublin 16 March 1826. Lieutenant William Sacheverell Coke

England departed the Downs 6 May 1826. Major George Pitt D'Arcy

Marquis of Huntley departed Sheerness 16 May 1826 - Major Donald MacPherson

Boyne departed Cork 29 June 1826 - Captain Thomas Edward Wright

Speke departed Sheerness 8 August 1826 - Lieutenant Henry Clarence Scarman

Phoenix departed Dublin 27 August 1826 - Lieutenant Charles Cox

Albion departed Plymouth 4 October 1826 - Captain Francis Crotty

Midas departed Plymouth 16 October 1826 - Lieutenant George Meares Bowen

Mariner departed Cork 14 January 1827 - Captain Charles Sturt

Countess of Harcourt departed Dublin 14 February 1827 - Lieut. George Sleeman; Ensign Spencer

Guildford departed Plymouth 31 March 1827 - Captain John Douglas Forbes

Manlius departed Downs 17 April 1827 - Quarter-master Benjamin Lloyd

Cambridge departed Dublin 2 June 1827 - Colonel Patrick Lindesay

Champion departed London 3 June 1827 - Ensign Reid

Bussorah Merchant departed London 27 March 1828 - Ensign W. Kennedy Child

Sophia departed Dublin 15 September 1828 - Major Thomas Poole

9) More about 39th Regiment.


[1] The Australian 29 June 1827

[2] UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857. Medical Journal of Michael Goodsir on the voyage of the Countess of Harcourt in 1827. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney : pp.346-347, 385

[4] National Archives - Reference: ADM 101/18/4 Description: Medical journal of the Countess of Harcourt, convict ship, from 21 December 1826 to 11 July 1827 by Michael Goodsir, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the ship was employed in taking convicts from Kingston harbour Dunlary to New South Wales.

Site Search
search engine by freefind advanced