Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Parkfield - 1839

Embarked: 240 men
Voyage: 109 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Whitby arrived 23 June 1839
Next vessel: Blenheim arrived 27 September 1839
Captain J.T. Whiteside
Surgeon  Alexander Neill
Prisoners and passengers of the Parkfield identified in the Hunter Valley

The Convicts

The Parkfield prisoners were mostly convicted in counties in England, Scotland and Wales including Lancaster, Somerset, Stafford, Warwick, Kent, Lincoln, Nottingham, Bedford, London, York, Leicester, Bucks, Essex, Chester, Cumberland, Derby, Westmoreland, Surrey, Worcester, Hertford, Gloucester, Bristol, Norfolk, Salop, Devon, Denbigh, Oxford, Huntingdon, Hereford, Glasgow, Radnor, Flint, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Chatham Court Martial, Gibraltar CM, Dominica. [2]

There was also one man, Alphonse who was tried in Dominica. John Kelly was court-martialled at Gibraltar.

There were sixteen soldiers sent for different offences, among whom were four soldiers of the 67th regiment, who were transported for manslaughter in killing a marine in a drunken fray at Chatham.

Surgeon Alexander Neill

Surgeon Alexander Neill kept a Medical Journal from 1st May 1839 - 7 September 1839. He described his examination of prisoners at the various hulks from which they were embarked......


On Saturday 4th May 1839, the ship dropped down to Woolwich and fifty prisoners were embarked from the Justitia and fifty from the Ganymede hulk, apparently in very good health. One of the men had been subject to epilepsy from childhood and has had several very severe attacks since embarkation, from his being a great nuisance to the other prisoners I did apply to have him removed but we sailed before an answer arrived. After the embarkation of the Woolwich prisoners we proceeded the same evening to Sheerness by steam and when we arrived on Sunday morning the 5th I reported the ship's arrival to Sir J. Hill.


On Monday I went to Chatham and examined the prisoners, rejecting several who were labouring under diseases and I was rather astonished to find symptoms of scurvy in one case as bad as I have seen at sea, purple spongy gums, contraction of the muscle of the legs and macula on the chest and arms; this case only shows the great necessity for a surgeon commencing a four month voyage to be accordingly particular in his examination of prisoners. One hundred and fifty prisoners were embarked at Sheerness from the Fortitude at Chatham making in all 240.

Military Guard

The military guard and passengers included Captain Rice, Ensign Kelly, 29 rank and file of the 31st regiment., 6 women and 9 children who all embarked at Deptford.


The Parkfield departed Sheerness on 15 May 1839

The Voyage

They had not encountered even one gale on the voyage out and there were no prisoners on the sick list. In his summary of the voyage, Alexander Neill made the following unusual observation:

I beg further to state that in two voyages in convict ships, I have found dogs a very great nuisance, not only making dirt about the decks but in one case tearing down the ventilation near the beds; and another great objection to their being on board a ship crowded with people is that they are liable to be trampled on accidentally by the prisoners, which in the part of the owner of the dog, nine times out of ten be called wilful; and greatly likely to lean to discussion amongst those whose duties should go hand in hand.
Some of those treated by the surgeon during the voyage included:

William Barnett, aged 23, sailor;
Joseph Smith, aged 38, sail maker;
William Harding, aged 23, sailor;
John Connor, aged 18, boy;
Isaac Newton, aged 23, sailor; s
Edward Alexander, aged 17, boy;
William Stubbs, aged 21, convict; s
Jesse Sherlock, aged 25, convict;
William Harding, aged 21, sailor;
Robert Chatham, aged 22, soldier;
Edward Smith, aged 22, convict;
Edward Goodwin, aged 25, convict;
James Brown, aged 31, convict;
Peter Yates, aged 21, convict;
Edmund Swaden, aged 60,
Charles Street, aged 26, convict;
James Quick, aged 48, convict;
Richard Norwood, aged 21, private;
Edward Goodwin, aged 25, convict. [4]

Port Jackson

The Parkfield arrived in in Port Jackson on 1st September 1839.

Surgeon Alexander Neill

The Sydney Herald reported that the convicts were inspected on Monday 2nd September by the Board of Health Officers, who were highly gratified at the cleanliness of the vessel and good order of every one on board. Mr. Neill, the surgeon was congratulated on his return to the Colony by his many respectable friends, all of whom were happy to hear of his arrival without the death of a single individual. This is the gentleman who so politely volunteered his services on the occasion of the John Barry being placed in quarantine some years back, and was very near to losing his own life.

Alexander Neill was employed as surgeon-superintendent on the convict ships Recovery in 1836, Heber in 1837 and Eden 1842 (to VDL).

Inspection by the Governor

On Saturday 7 September the convicts of the Parkfield were inspected by the Governor Sir George Gipps in Hyde Park Barracks.

Hyde Park Barracks...Hyde Park Barracks

Work and Assignment

His Excellency told the second class men that it was impossible that he could do anything for them for two years after their arrival, but after that period all who behaved themselves well would receive the indulgence of being assigned to private service. The first class men he said must remain in government employment for six months, after which they would be assigned out, if they deserved it. At their work they would be divided into gangs of ten or twelve men who would be made responsible for each others' conduct, so that if they have a bad man amongst them it would be in their interest to inform their superintendent of it, and the man would be removed.

Governor George Gipps....Sir George Gipps

Willingness at their work he particularly impressed upon them, as being necessary if they wished to obtain any indulgence.

Three men who attempted to escape from the ship after arrival in harbour were placed in the second class.

Departure from the Colony

In an advertisement soon after arrival the Parkfield was said to be well known as one of the fastest sailing vessels carrying British Colours and could also stow a fair cargo. She could be chartered by contacting Captain Whiteside on board or agents Dunlop and Co. in Queen Street.

Notes and Links

1). Prisoners and passengers of the Parkfield identified in the Hunter Valley

2). John Summers who held a ticket of leave dated 19th August 1846 was on a Colonial Office list of thirteen people who applied for who applied for their families to be sent to New South Wales. Address of his wife was given as Turkey Hill, Maidstone, Kent.


[1]. Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X642]; Microfiche: 738

[2] Bateson, Charles, Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney. pp354 - 355

[3] Journal of Alexander Neill. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 Original data: The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

[4]. National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/58/3 Description: Medical journal of the Parkfield, convict ship from 1 May 1839 to 7 September 1839 by Alexander Neill, surgeon and superintendent, during which time the ship was employed on a passage to New South Wales. Copy of daily sick book