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Convict Ship Fortune 1806


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Convict Ship Fortune 1806

Embarked: 260 male convicts
Voyage: 165 days
Deaths: 3
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: William Pitt arrived 11 April 1806
Next vessel: Alexander arrived 20 August 1806
Captain Henry Moore
Convicts and passengers of the Fortune identified in the Hunter Valley region

The Fortune was built in Spain.

Prisoners transported on the Fortune were convicted in counties in England, Scotland and Wales - Gloucester, Middlesex, Warwick, York, Oxford, Kent, Lancaster, Somerset, Chester, Bucks, Surrey, Northampton, Sussex, Chester, Essex, Bristol, Wiltshire, Cambridge, Leicester, Lincoln, Southampton, Hereford, Berks, Nottingham,' Huntingdon, Suffolk, Norfolk, Worcester, Cumberland, Devon, Denbigh, Carnarvon, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen There were also several soldiers who had been court martialed.

Prison Hulks

Some of the prisoners were held on the Retribution hulk before being embarked on the Fortune. One of the men, Joseph Bather was tried in Lancaster in March 1804. He was sent to the Retribution on 13th December 1804 and spent a year there before being transferred to the Fortune with other prisoners on 14th December 1805.

Retribution hulk....Retribution hulk

Prisoners from other hulks were transferred to the ship in January 1806 -

The Newcastle Courant reported a case concerning two young boys on 26th January 1805 -

At the Admiralty sessions, held at the Old Bailey, Jan 16, Benjamin Waterhouse, and Thomas Canterbury, the former sixteen and the latter thirteen years of age, were found guilty of boring holes in the bottom of a sloop, the property of Benjamin Kerrage, then lying about half a mile from Weymouth harbour, in five and a half fathoms water, laden with stone. These boys had been left on board by the master and mate; and by their own confession it appeared that when they were alone in the vessel, one of them said, he wished there was a hole in her bottom; and that they both went down, and, having taken away the lining, they bored two holes in the outside plank, with a large gimlet, the handle of which coming off, it dropped through the hole into the water. They got on shore and ran away into the country. Sir W. Scott, after an appropriate admonition, sentenced them to fourteen years transportation.

The boys were tried on the 16th January 1805 and afterwards taken to Newgate prison. From there on 19th March 1805 they were admitted to the Captivity Hulk with several other prisoners who were also later transported on the Fortune. Thomas Canterbury drowned on 5th July 1805 while on the hulk. Benjamin Waterhouse was sent on board the Fortune on 9th January 1806.

Other prisoners who had been tried in London admitted to the Captivity and subsequently transported on the Fortune at this time included James Martin, Thomas Jones, Charles Pollard and Thomas Simms. [2] Select Duke of Portland convict ship to find out more about life on the Captivity Hulk.

Military Guard

The military guard on the Fortune consisted of 27 rank and file commanded by Ensign Mullin of the 8th Royal Veterans Battalion.


The Fortune departed 28th January 1806 in company with the Alexander and store ship Lady Madeline Sinclair. The three vessels were under convoy of the Porpoise under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Short. Captain William Bligh and Provost-Marshal William Gore were on board the Madeline Sinclair.

William Bligh's correspondence to Viscount Castlereagh on 15th March 1806 while at sea (lat.11 13 N; long. 24 00 W) gives an indication of the animosity that existed between Captain Short and himself: -

I have the honor to inform your Lordship I am thus far on my voyage to fulfil the mission His Majesty has entrusted to my care; but I regret to say that Captain Short, holding the command of the Porpoise while I am in this ship, has pursued such an irritating and vexatious conduct to me as governor and his superior officer in naval rank, that I shall, so soon as I can draw up the documents, send them to your Lordship, and beseech you to remove him from under my command. [1]

The Fortuneparted company with the Porpoise and Sinclair when the Sinclair proceeded to the Cape.

Rio de Janeiro

The Fortune arrived at Rio on 11th April and departed there 30th April leaving the Alexander and Elizabeth whalers at that port.

Port Jackson

The Fortune arrived in Port Jackson on 12th July 1806. Three convicts and a soldier of the guard died on the passage out. The Fortune brought with her the news of the death of the Right Honorable William Pitt.


The Alexander shipped 3,696 pounds of beef and 7,314 pounds of pork and the Fortune 14,448 pounds of beef and 28,768 pounds pork to be used for the subsistence of 260 the prisoners during the nine months after arrival. As well as the beef and pork, merchant Simeon Lord also imported many items on the Fortune including gentlemen's hats, boots and shoes, and ladies shoes and straw hats, woollen clothes and trimmings, cutlery, brass furniture for cabinet work, jewellery, tin in sheets with solder, tin ware, earthen and glass ware, window glass, plated tea pots, bridles, saddles and gig harness, Rio sugar, butter and cheese and various items of slop clothing.

Convict Muster

The convicts were probably mustered on board although only brief information was recorded. The convict indents included only the prisoner's name, date and place of conviction and sentence. There is occasional information about tickets of leave or pardons.

On the 20th July the Sydney Gazette reported that twenty convicts who arrived on the Fortune were proceeding to Port Dalrymple on the store ship Venus. Perhaps some of those who remained in Sydney witnessed the pomp and ceremony surrounding Governor King when he departed on the Buffalo in August 1806. The Fortune was still in Sydney Harbour and joined in the salute to the departing Governor.

Departure from the Colony

The Fortune departed for Bengal on 19th August. Those who were to take their passage to Bengal included George Garret, Edward Smith, Edward Dram, Edward Dry, Richard Clarke, Henry Moody, John Guernsey, Thomas Horrox, Timothy Merrick, Anthony Clarke, George Loder, William Smith, James Kirk, Thomas Daily and George Coulson.

The Fortune returned to New South Wales with convicts in 1813

Notes and Links

1). Henry Moore was also Captain of the Reliance in 1795 which brought Governor Hunter to the colony. Also on board the Reliance were surgeon George Bass and midshipman Matthew Flinders. Henry Moore was also captain of the Wanstead in 1814.

2). The death of convict Benjamin Waterhouse was reported in the Sydney Gazette in September 1817....Mr. Wiseman lost his vessel, the Hope of 15 tons, about two months ago at Port Stephens; on which occasion two men were killed by the natives; one of whom was Benjamin Waterhouse, formerly mate of the Lady Nelson and the other James Cowen. These unhappy victims to native ferocity had, as appears from Mr. Wiseman's report, proceeded in a boat up a creek, with intent to look after cedar, but never more returned.

It may have been on the Captivity Hulk in England that Benjamin Waterhouse first met Bryan Overhand, Master of the famous vessel Lady Nelson.

3). Cambridge - March 18 - At our Assizes which ended on Friday last, George Jubb, William Smith and Thomas Jubb for uttering forged Bank of England notes, were convicted, and sentenced to 14 years transportation - William Dockerell for stealing beans, and John Mashey for stealing stockings were each sentenced to 7 years transportation - The Bury and Norwich Post 20 March 1805.

4). Convicts and passengers of the Fortune identified in the Hunter Valley region:

Joshua Baither
Joseph Bridge
John Brown
William Brown / Chalkley
John Bunn
William Clarkes
Henry Foss
James Francis
John Gains / Gaines;
James Hargraves
Patrick Healy / Haley
Maurice Healy
James Heath
Samuel Hogg
Henry Jackson
James Martin
James McGuire / McNally
John Millwood / Millward
Bryan OverhandLancaster 1805.Sydney/ Newcastle
James Richardson
Henry Schooler
Thomas Sims
Benjamin Waterhouse

5). Convict Joseph Bather was sent to the penal settlement at Newcastle in 1812 after committing a colonial crime. Conditions were harsh at the settlement and he may have been sent to the coal mines or the limeburners gang. In a foolhardy bid to escape unending toil, deprivation and punishment he absconded from the settlement in February 1813. His name was posted in the Sydney Gazette with other absconders from Newcastle - some of the most desperate and hardened convicts in the colony. The Commandant at Newcastle (Lieut. Skottowe in 1813) encouraged natives to assist in tracking down absconding prisoners and Bather was captured at Broken Bay and returned to authorities in Sydney having been first stripped and beaten by the natives.

6). John Millward from Warwick had a very different experience as a convict. He was tried on 28th July 1804 and sent to the hulk Laurel. He was transferred to the Fortune with others from the Laurel on the 9th January 1806. He became a constable at Lower Portland Head and in 1819 accompanied John Howe's expedition to the north west.

7). The Fortune was one of four convict ships arriving in 1806. The others being the Tellicherry, William Pitt and the Alexander. Approximately 575 prisoners arrived in the colony in 1806.... 193 females and 382 males.

8). Resources used to create Convict Ship pages


[1] HR NSW, Vol. VI, p.46

[2] Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books; Class: HO9; Piece: 8 (Ancestry)

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