Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Perseus - 1802

Embarked: 114 men
Voyage: 173 days
Deaths: ?1
Surgeon's Journal: no
Previous vessel: Atlas arrived 7 July 1802
Next vessel: Atlas (II) arrived 30 October 1802
Captain John Davison.
Surgeon W.S. Fielding
Perseus prisoners and passengers identified in the Hunter Valley

The Perseus arrived at Portsmouth from Deptford on 1st January 1802.

Health of the Convicts

Free passengers as well as convicts were required to be in good health to embark on the voyage. When the Perseus arrived in Portsmouth it was found that two of the female passengers were heavily pregnant prompting the following correspondence from Sir John Fitzpatrick dated 26th January 1802:

I have the pleasure of informing you that at present there is a favourable appearance in respect to the probable healthiness of the convicts on the voyage to New South Wales. But I cannot say the same for the Passengers, several of whom are uncleanly and will not subject themselves to regulation. There are two women passengers on board the Perseus, from whom, in consequence of their advanced state of pregnancy, there is much to be apprehended ; for there is no one matter which so soon contaminates the air in a crowded place, and a hot climate as the unavoidable consequences of women's lying in; where they cannot have the necessary means of cleanliness or fresh air and where they must be subject to every inconvenience arising from the crowd and clatter of all about them.
Thus do they themselves risk the fatal consequences, whilst those around them and afterwards the ship at large, must experience the effects of foul, contaminated, putrid air, and the unoffending babes equally suffer. Hence it is, that in the transporting of Troops, we must never permit any woman, be who she may to proceed if likely to be brought to bed on the passage. There I pray you to transmit this my opinion that Elizabeth Loyde, on the Perseus the wife of John Loyde, a carpenter, now pregnant near eight months and Margaret Jones wife of a stonemason pregnant seven months should not at present proceed. The former has her husband on board and four children ; the latter her husband only. [1]


The men forming the Guard on the Perseus and also the Coromandel were provided by the contractor for the voyage. They were civilians and considered to be part of the crew. The contractor provided 20 men for Coromandel and 16 for Perseus. He was paid by the Transportation Board a rate of £75 for each guard.

Free Passengers

Free passengers on the Perseus included Charles and Mary Ann Palmer and their children Clara aged 3 and Sabina age 10 months; Edward and Ann Pugh; Mary Pitches; Mary Beaumont; Catherine Roby Stanley and William Hiscock.

The Morning Post and Gazetteer dated 9th February 1802 reported that the Buffalo, Coromandel and Perseus with convicts on board for New South Wales, departed Portsmouth harbour with a fleet under command of Rear Admiral Collingay, however due to appalling weather conditions the Perseus and Coromandel did not weigh anchor until the 12th February when winds had abated and fog had cleared.


The Perseus departed Spithead in company with the Coromandel and sailed via Rio de Janeiro and the Cape.

Port Jackson

They arrived in Port Jackson on 4 August 1802

According to Governor King, the prisoners of the Perseus arrived in good health -

Governor King to the Transport Commissioners,

9th August 1802.

(HRA, Vol. IV)
The healthy state in which the Coromandel and Perseus arrived requires my particularly pointing out the masters of those ships to your notice. It appears by the log books, surgeon's diaries and the unanimous voice of every person on board those ships of the utmost kindness to the convicts. This, with the proper application of the comforts Government had so liberally provided for them and the good state of health all the people were in, induced the master of the Coromandel to proceed without stopping at any port. He arrived here in four months and one day, bringing every person in a state of high health, and fit for immediate labour; and although it appears that the Perseus necessarily stopped at Rio and the Cape, yet the convicts were in as good condition as those on board the Coromandel; nor can I omit the great pleasure felt by myself and the other visiting officers at the grateful thanks expressed by the prisoners and passengers for the kind attention and care they had received from the masters and surgeons, who returned, an unusual quantity of the articles laid in by Government for the convicts during the voyage.


A large quantity of clothing arrived on the Perseus including 2250 red jackets; 2250 duck waistcoats; 2250 trousers; 750 blue jackets; 750 blue pantaloons; 2500 hats, Cockades and Feathers; 2500 pair shoes; 500 pair boots; 10 gr. yellow buttons; 10gr. Horn Moulds; 11 lbs thread; 1000 tailor's needles and 20 thimbles.

In Harbour

While moored in Port Jackson in October 1802, the Perseus was struck by lightning and narrowly escaped being wrecked in consequence. [3]

Departure from Port Jackson

The Perseus departed Port Jackson bound for China in October 1802.

Prisoners of the Perseus identified in the Hunter region:

Denton, William
Tried at Bury St. Edmonds 19 March 1801. Shoemaker. Sentenced to transportation for life. Sent to Newcastle in March 1815; Sent to Newcastle in February 1818. In January 1819 he petitioned for a mitigation of his sentence.....The humble Petition of William Denton, Respectfully sheweth, That your Excellency's Petitioner arrived in this Colony in the ship Perseus, Davis Master, a Prisoner for Life!!!
That during 18 years which Petitioner has been in the Colony the greater part of which has been devoted to government labour. Petitioner has humbly to pray your Excellency will, with that benighty so invariably evinced by your Excellency take into consideration his long servitude by granting unto your Petitioner a mitigation of sentence and as is duty bound will ever pray etc
. William Denton was recommended for a Ticket of Leave after his petition however he was sent to Newcastle again in 1821 having been tried on 9 February 1821 and sentenced to 1 year transportation, and he was unlikely to be given the same indulgence again.

Hughes, Thomas
Born c. 1785. Thomas Hughes was tried at Warwick in 1800 and sentenced to transportation for life. He was sent to Newcastle, probably for theft and by 1804/1805 was employed as flogger at the settlement. In January 1811 he was employed at Newcastle as a constable and scourger when he was summoned to Headquarters by Governor Macquarie who required him for a special purpose - that of an executioner. He was supposed to have been sent to Sydney on the Governor Hunter however when the crew discovered his intended profession they refused to take him on board and he was held over until the Sally sailed. Lieut. Purcell described his conduct at this time....In justice to this man I am bound to state notwithstanding his profession that he has always conducted himself as a very attentive constable which situation he has filled and kept in terms of the Commandants here of Mr. Throsby, Mr. Villiers and Mr. Lawson. He petitioned mitigation of sentence in December 1817 stating that he had been employed as public scourger at Newcastle settlement for nearly fifteen years during which his conduct had been uniformly good. He was granted a Conditional Pardon 31 January 1818. In February 1824 he petitioned for a grant of land...That memorialist in consequence of his situation as flogger etc., he cannot get a house to rent from any person and is much distressed for a place of residence for his family, he therefore humbly solicits your honor to be pleased to grant him a piece of ground to build a house on. His case was referred to the Surveyor-General, though he may not have received a grant. He was in Sydney in 1822 and 1825, employed as executioner. A daughter Amelia was born to Thomas Hughes and Susannah Smith in 1815. Susannah Smith died c. 1820 and when the 1828 Census was taken in November, Thomas was resident at Kent Street, Sydney with his wife Mary (Brown) who had arrived on the Lord Wellington in 1820, his occupation recorded as 'hangman' and 'finisher of the law'

Osborne, Richard
In July 1812 Richard Osborne petitioned for an indulgence of emancipation - That your Excellency's Petitioner was tried at Ely in the county of Cambridge in the year 1801 and received the sentence of Transportation for life. That Petitioner came to this Colony on the Perseus in 1802 since which time he has been in the employment of the Rev. Mr. Marsden. Petitioner hopes that his long continuance in the service of that Gentleman will be a proof to Your Excellency of his good conduct and to whom Petitioner takes the liberty of referring Your Excellency for a confirmation of the same. Petitioner prays Your Excellency will be pleased to take him into your benevolent consideration and grant him an Emancipation or such other indulgence as Your Excellency shall seem fit.. Samuel Marsden noted that the prisoner had lived in his service since his arrival which was a strong testimony in his favour. However in July 1813 Richard Osborne was sent to Newcastle penal settlement. He had been found guilty of stealing two cows the property of the Crown and for the second time in his life, sentenced to death; his accomplice James Harrex (Ganges 1797) was sentenced to 14 years transportation. In a Warrant dated 25 March 1813 Richard Osborne's sentence was commuted to transportation for the term of his natural life and to be kept at hard labour. He was sent to Sydney on orders of assistant surgeon William Evans in May 1814. He was in the employment of Rev. Marsden in 1822 - 1828.

Refrain, William
Alias Ruffain, Refayne, Reffeian. William Refrain was tried at Hereford in 1800 and sentenced to transportation for life. In February 1814 he was employed to work with Government horses, however in November 1814 he was sent to Newcastle, to remain there for one year. He returned to Sydney in March 1815, the unexpired part of his sentence remitted. In June 1822 he was government servant to Darcy Wentworth employed in horse breaking. He was charged with making away with a horse entrusted to his care by Edward Elliott of Seven Hills and sentenced to be transported to Port Macquarie for the remainder of his original sentence (life). Darcy Wentworth provided a good character for Refrain - As William Refrain has lived in my service in a confidential situation for eleven years past and uniformly conducted himself entirely to my satisfaction, I feel so far interested in his case and a duty incumbent on me, from a thorough conviction of his innocence on this charge as to request that the accompanying papers may be laid before His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane for his consideration. In June 1823 Captain Allman, Commandant at Port Macquarie was informed that provided William Refrain merited a good character from him, the Governor had no objection to his return to Sydney. In July 1823 William Refrain is an assigned servant to Darcy Wentworth. Two years later he was again tried before the Supreme Court with horse stealing however found not guilty

Notes and Links

1) Five convict ships arrived in New South Wales in 1802 - Coromandel, Hercules, Atlas, Perseus and Atlas II

2) Hunter Valley convicts and passengers arriving on the Perseus in 1802

3). Cambridge 9 March, At Ely Assizes, five prisoners were tried, one of whom was capitally convicted and received sentence of death, viz, Richard Osborn, for sheep stealing. William Garner and William Walker, convicted of fowl stealing were sentenced to transportation for seven years. Before the Judge left the town, Osborn was reprieved. - The Bury and Norwich Post: Or, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and Cambridge Advertiser (Bury Saint Edmunds, England), Wednesday, March 11, 1801; Issue 976. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

4). Historical Records of NSW

5). Below is a list of convicts of the Perseus who have been identified in the Hunter Valley, Maitland, Newcastle or Lake Macquarie districts

William Denton Tried in Suffolk 1797
Thomas Hughes tried in Warwick 1801
Richard Osborne tried at Isle of Ely 1801
William Refrain tried at Hereford 1800
Christian Sternbeck tried at Middlesex 1800
James Turner tried at Sussex 1801


[1] HRA, Series 1, Vol., III p. 372

[2] HR NSW p. 787

[3] Meteorological Essays By Francois Arago, Sir Edward Sabine