The Elizabeth was built at Chepstow in 1809. This was the second of three voyages bringing convicts to New South Wales the others being in 1816 and 1820.
The Elizabeth was the next convict ship to leave Ireland bound for New South Wales after the departure of the Minerva in January 1818 and the next convict ship bringing female convicts from Ireland after the Canada in March 1817.
Surgeon William Hamilton
William Hamilton received his appointment as Surgeon Superintendent on the Elizabeth on 30 May 1818. He kept a Medical Journal from 9 July to 25 November 1818.
At the Cove of Cork on 10th July, he inspected the vessel and found the prison, hospital and ship generally clean and well ventilated. On the following day he prepared to accept seventy female convicts from the sloop Precious which had arrived from Dublin. The women were clean and they were permitted to bring their own clean clothing with them. Any articles that were dirty were destroyed. Later that afternoon another twenty-eight women were brought on board from the prison at Cork. Intriguingly, these women cheered as they came along side the Elizabeth. Among them was Margaret McGreavy and her daughter Mary Anne who would later join James McGreavy in Newcastle. An additional three women were embarked on the 13th July.
Preparing for the Voyage
According to William Hamilton, many of the convicts both old and new appeared to be suffering from intemperance and long confinement. Each mess (probably of six women) was issued with a teakettle, wooden bowl, platter, soap, sugar and tea; and each woman with a half pint tin-pot and wooden spoon. The weather was uncommonly hot for that time of year but there was no serious illness reported by the surgeon.
On 16th July the women were supplied with a linen petticoat, towel and hat in addition to clothing already supplied. The petticoat would be comfortable, especially in warm climates, however the surgeon feared that the hat, from its general weight would not be able to be worn by the women. It was black and woollen and similar to those worn by the common people of the other sex in Ireland. As the women settled into a new life on board the ship, there was some bickering amongst the women from Dublin and those who had come from the prison at Cork, but otherwise they remained orderly.
The surgeon continued to treat their minor ailments and the ship was inspected by Rear Admiral Sir Josiah Rawley, the commander-in-chief of the port who was accompanied by Lieutenant Lewis, agent for Transports.
Children on the Ship
Captain Ostler was concerned about the twenty children who had come on board with their mothers, and later when the ship was inspected by Dr. Trevor he arranged that three of the boys (aged about twelve) were to be sent back on shore as they might by industry be able to earn a subsistence. The other six boys and eleven girls were allowed to remain with their mothers. Most of them were under seven years of age and had come with their mothers from Dublin. They had no friends or relatives nearby.
Just before departure on 26th July, two passengers came on board - William Fallan and Michael Riddington, both had orders from the Secretary of State for a passage to New South Wales.
The ship had received orders to sail and with fine weather and a light breeze the ship weighed anchor and 101 convict women and 17 children gazed on the shores of Ireland probably for the last time.
The women were well behaved and most were over their sea sickness in a couple of days. The surgeon had more difficulty with the first mate of the ship Mr. Purnill, who was unwilling to comply with orders. The women were allowed on deck and the prisons were cleaned and by the 7th August they had sighted the Island of Porto Santo and the following day the island of Madeira. Tenerife was in sight by the 9th August and St. Jago on the 16th August.
Crossing the Equator
When the ship crossed the equator on 1st September, the women were permitted to witness the usual ceremony of the seamen when crossing the equator; they joined in with much good will and humour and were so well behaved that they were indulged with half a pint of wine each that evening. By mid September the surgeon was concerned that scurvy may appear. He examined all the women but found no symptoms and thought all the women were in better health than when they had embarked and were much improved in their looks.
Near the Cape of Good Hope
By 24th September they were approaching the Cape of Good Hope and the women and children were beginning to feel the effects of the cold weather. As the women were all well and scurvy had not appeared, they probably did not call at the Cape, however a month later some symptoms of scurvy had arisen and the women were issued with lime juice and sugar. The surgeon was intrigued to observe the reactions of the women as they sighted the coast of Australia for the first time on the 18th November.
On 19th November 1818 at 8pm they were close to Sydney and the following morning the ship anchored at Port Jackson.
On the 21st Mr Campbell came on board and examined the women who all expressed themselves satisfied with the treatment they had received on the voyage. There had been no deaths on board and all the women were reported to be in good health.
Five of the women were immediately assigned to private service -
Honora O'Hearne to Mr. Moore at Liverpool;
Ann Daly to Captain Brabyn;
Ann McLoughlin and Mary Bergin to Nicholas Bayly
Ann Armstrong to Mr. Williamson.
Another fifty-one women were sent by water to the Female Factory at Parramatta. Francis Oakes was Superintendent at the factory at this time. Select here to read the evidence he gave to Commissioner John Thomas Bigge in 1819 regarding the distribution of female convicts and their transfer to Parramatta. (For a list of the fifty one women see Series: (NRS 937) Copies of letters sent within the Colony, 1814-1825 Item: 4/3499 Page: 174 - Ancestry)
Eighteen convict ships arrived in the colony in 1818. Of these three transported female prisoners - the Elizabeth, the Maria and the Friendship.. A total of 282 women arrived on these three vessels in 1818.
Notes and Links
1). Convicts of New Holland - Felipe Bauza - drawings made on the Spanish Scientific Expedition to Australia and the Pacific in the ships Descubierta and Atrevida under the command of Alessandro Malaspina, 1789-94 - State Library of New South Wales.....possibly similar hats to those described worn by the convicts of the Elizabeth?
2). Mary O'Hair and Eleanor Branagan were tried for picking the pocket of John McAuley in Lisburn of 2l. and upwards in silver. - Mary Bateman - Seeing the two prisoners with a woman who had a very bad character, watched them for a little, and saw them go into a shop and press round John McAuley, who was at the counter; they then hastily came out and one of the prisoners dropped a number of tenpennies, which they were some time in picking up Witness gave the alarm, when McAuley found he had been robbed and the two prisoners were secured, but the third made her escape - Guilty - Transportation. - Belfast Newsletter 1 April 1817.
5) William Hamilton was also surgeon superintendent on the Maria to Van Diemen's Land in 1820 in and the Norfolk to New South Wales in 1825.
6). Descendant Contributions:
Mary Walsh Mary Walsh, age 20, was tried in Queens County, Ireland in March 1817 and received a sentence of 7 years transportation. There were only two prisoners of the Elizabeth who were tried in Queens County - Mary Walsh and Mary McDonald who was also convicted at the March Assizes in 1817. On arrival they were both assigned to the Female Factory at Parramatta. Later Mary Walsh was assigned to private service to Rev. Matthew Davenish-Mears of Pittown, NSW as a domestic servant.