Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Pyramus - 1836

Embarked: 120 women
Voyage: 116 days
Deaths: 0
Surgeon's Journal: Yes
Previous vessel Bengal Merchant arrived 9 December 1836
Next vessel Earl Grey arrived 31 December 1836
Captain George Nathaniel Livesay
Surgeon Obadiah Pineo
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Follow the Irish Convict Ship Trail

The Pyramus was built at Sunderland in 1822. Convicts were transported to New South Wales on the Pyramus in 1832 and 1836 and to Van Diemen's Land in 1838.

The Pyramus was the next convict ship to leave Ireland for New South Wales after the departure of the Captain Cook in July 1836 and the next convict ship bringing female prisoners from Ireland after the Thomas Harrison departed in February 1836.

Convicts Embarked

One hundred and twenty female convicts and 31 children belonging to them were conveyed by the Waterloo Steamer from the penitentiary in Cork to the Pyramus at Cove on 23rd August 1836.

Free Passengers

Besides these there were eight women and 21 children who were all considered free settlers, and were wives and children of prisoners already in New South Wales. [1]


The Pyramus departed Cork on 20th August 1836.

Surgeon Obadiah Pineo

Obadiah Pineo kept a Medical Journal from 23 July 1836 to 29 December 1836 -

He referred to the females on the Pyramus as exceedingly troublesome, but not half so hardened as many of the Englishwomen brought out. He was kept busy in preventing the women from quarrelling and in maintaining their health. Most of them were young and healthy, some were middle aged but none were old. One of the infants accompanying a convict mother died and another was born on the voyage.

The women were kept on deck all day with the exception of the two schools which the children were encouraged to attend. Obadiah Pineo thought that the Irish learned quickly and 'much may be done with them by way of management and a little coercion' and were less hardened in crime than the English or Scottish.

There was not even one case of scurvy. Keeping the prisoners on deck all day and using chloride of lime and alternately vinegar was considered useful in keeping the women in good health

Obadiah Pineo was about fifty-nine years old on this voyage. His first appointment as Surgeon Superintendent on a convict ship was on the England which arrived in Port Jackson on 28 September 1835. He returned to London on the Norfolk in February 1836 and embarked on this voyage of the Pyramus. He returned to England and joined the Lord Lyndoch in April 1838. Select here to find out more about Obadiah Pineo.

Port Jackson

The Pyramus arrived in Port Jackson on 14th December 1836.

Convicts Disembarked

The first Christmas in Australia was celebrated on board as the women weren't landed until Monday morning 26th December.

On disembarking, thirty-one women were forwarded on the Steamer Tamar to Newcastle. See below for the names of those sent directly to Newcastle. Select here to find out what happened to some of the women who were later sent to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

Many women had relatives either on board with them or already in the colony. The following information is from the Remarks column in the convict indents:

Eliza Tully or Carr and Sarah Tully were sisters, both on board
Ann Whelan - Husband Patrick Byrne came out about 5 years previously;
Elizabeth Hanlon came per Roslin Castle in 1836
Jane or Bridget McMahon - Brothers John McManus came 4 years previously and Edward McManus about 3 years previously
Ellen Gordon or McLally - Husband Roger Gordon or Duffey came per Captain Cook in 1836
Catherine Clarke - Husband Richard Murphy in 1833; Brother Thomas Clark in 1835
Honora Shea - Son Daniel Shea in 1836; daughters Judith or Mary Shea and Margaret Shea both on board the Pyramus
Judith Coakley - Sister of Denis Coakley
Mary Driscoll - Husband Cornelius Driscoll came 6 years previously; Mother Mary Walsh and Sister Ellen Walsh arrived 6 years previously
Catherine Dignum - John Dignum about 3 years previously
Mary Rooney - Brothers Christopher Rooney 4 years previously and John Rooney 6 years previously
Ellen Corcoran - Husband William Corcoran five years ago
Ann Floyd - Husband Matthew Wilkinson came per Waterloo in 1836; Sister Bridget Daly in 1836
Sally Durkin - Husband Patrick Durkin convicted at the same time
Celia Ward - Husband James Ward convicted at the same time
Margaret Cullen and Mary Cullen both on board; Sister Ann Cullen came 3 years previously
Ann Hagan - Sister Mary Hay arrived 4 years previously
Catherine Shaw - Brother John Scan or O'Donnell 6 years previously; husband John Shaw came per Captain Cook in 1836
Bridget Smyth - Sister Ellen Riley and Mary Mustard arrived 5 years previously
Bridget Doherty - 1st husband Patrick Gallagher came about 5 years previously
Edith O'Neill - Sisters Mary and Anne James came about 6 years previously

Many women left children behind in Ireland. The following women brought their children with them........
Elizabeth Lawless (1 child)
Mary Linehan (2 children)
Marcella Mite ( 1 child)
Mary Ryan (2 children)
Judith Shea ( 1 child)
Margaret McKergan ( 3 children)
Judith Deering (3 children)
Mary Driscoll (1 child)
Sally Durkin ( 1 child)
Mary Moyles (1 child)
Ann Flood (2 children)
Celia Ward ( 1 child)
Catherine Carty (1 child)
Maria Johnson (1 child)
Mary Sullivan ( 1 child)
Ellen Gordon (2 children)
Mary Prestage ( 1 child)
Mary Cox ( 1 child)
Bridget Doherty (2 children)
Catherine McGowan (2 children)
Mary McNamara ( 1 child)
Mary Christie ( 1 child)
Edith O'Neill ( 1 child)
Eliza Molloy ( 2 children)
Bridget McMahon ( 5 children)

Departure from Sydney

The Sydney Gazette reported that the Pyramus was to depart Sydney in January/February for New Zealand to take in spars at Hokianga for London. Rev. Frederick Wilkinson and family took their passage on the Pyramus. They returned to New South Wales on the Margaret in 1839. [2]

Notes and Links

1). Belfast Quarter Sessions - Tuesday - Elizabeth Gafney, for stealing a cloth waistcoat, on 1st May, the property of Jane Gordon at Belfast. Guilty; to be transported for seven years. The prisoner has been twelve times on the Police Books. - Belfast Newsletter 14 July 1835.

2). The Pyramus was one of five convict ships transporting female prisoners to New South Wales in the year 1836, the others being the Henry Wellesley, Thomas Harrison, Roslin Castle and Elizabeth. A total of 668 female prisoners arrived in the colony in 1836.

3). Captain George Livesay had previously commanded the convict ship George Hibbert in 1834.

4). A List of women who were sent from the Pyramus directly to Newcastle Gaol arriving there on 27th December 1836.......

Catherine Anderson - Servant from Dublin. Assigned to Henry Didsbury at Newcastle on 29th December 1836.

Bridget Burke - Servant from Galway. Assigned to James Reid at Newcastle on 29th December 1836

Ellen Curtis - Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27th December 1836

Judith Coakley - Servant from Cork. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Judith Cuffe - Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Mary Anne Collins - Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836. Assigned to W. Dutton of Maitland on 30th December 1836

Catherine Carmody - Servant from Tipperary. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Margaret Cullen - Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Mary Christy alias Smith - Servant from Tyrone. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Mary Ann Donaldson - Servant from Edinburgh. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836. Assigned to Rev. Wilton at Newcastle on 29th December 1836.

Judith Deering - Servant from Carlow. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836.

Mary Driscoll - Servant from Cork. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Eliza Doherty - Servant from Donegal. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836. Assigned to Lieut. Jonathan Warner at Lake Macquarie on 29th December 1836.

Catherine Dignam - Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836

Margaret Davidson Servant from Dublin. Sent to Newcastle gaol for assignment on 27 December 1836. Assigned to Morpeth area on 2nd January 1837

Margaret Devine Servant from Kings County. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to Mrs. James Reid at Newcastle 2nd January 1837

Ann Floyd Servant from Co Clare. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to Edward Denny Day at Maitland on 2nd January 1837

Julia Murphy Servant from Limerick. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to Rev. L. Threlkeld at Lake Macquarie on 31 December 1836

Honora Buckley. From Co. Kerry. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to H.C. Semphill on 29 December 1836

Mary Donnelly From Co. Caven. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to Mrs. Radford at Newcastle on 28th December 1836

Ellen Corcoran From Cork. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment.

Rachael Alexander From Co Armagh. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment

Susan Connolly From Dublin. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to J.H. Crummer, Police Magistrate at Newcastle 31 December 1837

Mary Cullen - From Kilkenny. Admitted to Newcastle for assignment.

Mary Cox or Connolly - From Co. Mayo. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to John Thomas at Newcastle on 28 December 1836

Mary Cleary - From Tipperary. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment.

Anne Dunn - From Tipperary. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment

Mary Halleran From Limerick. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to Col. Henry Dumaresq on 30th December 1836.

Marcella Mite From Kings Co., Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment

Sarah Perkins From the Isle of Man. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to John Smith at Newcastle on 28th December 1836

Bridget Smith (Smyth) From Caven. Admitted to Newcastle gaol for assignment. Assigned to George Wyndham at Hunters River on 6th January 1837

5). Lucy Cooper (an Australian Tale) attributed to John Lang, first appeared as a serial in Sharpe's London Magazine in 1846. It is a tale about a convict girl with the fictional name of Lucy Cooper who was said to have arrived on the Pyramus in 1836. Lucy Cooper was the first novel written by an Australian native born author. More about John Lang at the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Lucy Cooper - An Australian Tale -

Chapter 1.........

It was early in the year 1836, that the Pyramus, a convict ship, from Deptford, dropped her anchor in Sydney Cove. The morning had been obscure and moist, and the light on the South Head was first perceived about three o'clock. Towards five, the bold promontories of Sydney Harbour, now distinctly visible in the daylight, and distant about a mile asunder, lowered on either bow; the middle head, within them, appeared to terminate the shallow bay; when, suddenly, an opening to the southward presented a channel for the further progress of the ship, which almost immediately opened to the westward, and displayed the noble waters of this celebrated port.

The pilot had already assumed the direction of the vessel, which he had boarded from his whale-boat manned by four stout New Zealanders. The rain had gradually increased, until it assumed the settled character with which it is observed to descend in these latitudes, frequently for three or four days together, whilst the women had been ordered below, as well to secure them from the weather, as to prevent their hindering the crew in the important duty of working the ship. To those unhappy prisoners, therefore, two hundred and twenty-seven in number, the magnificent scenery of the Australian Shores afforded no other joy, than the poor consolation that their perils by sea were terminated, and the privations and discomfort of a five months' voyage about to be exchanged for miseries yet untried.

Under the most favourable circumstances, females on board ship experience annoyances which are unknown to the other sex ; and the amusements of which they are capable, are still fewer than those which break the monotony of a sea life to men. But, under the restrictions of a prison-ship, with a miserable diet, and a scanty provision of things of humblest necessity, together with poor clothing, and the crowded decks, it needed only the profligacy of more than two hundred bad women, confined together within the narrowest limits, for such a protracted period, to render the Pyramus a dreadful place of confinement and distress. It was with pleasure, therefore, that the women made preparations to go on shore. What little improvement in their costume their humble means afforded, was soon effected; and the prisoners were mustered and handed over to the authorities.

A large proportion of the women were immediately assigned to private service; and, amongst the rest, Lucy Cooper was allotted to the family of a barrister of some eminence, who immediately sent to have her conveyed to his country house. Although every sentiment of piety had been almost extinguished by a succession of events that, for eleven months, had crowded upon each other with painful and confused rapidity; and the abandoned wretches, by whom she was surrounded, omitted no occasion to ridicule and insult the least tendency to promote decency and order, still more any reverence for the laws of God or man: the force of early habit prevailed so far, that, when Lucy set her feet once more upon the 'dry land,' an involuntary murmur passed her lips, expressive of her thankfulness to God.

The landing-place projects far into the sea, being composed of massy stones, and affording a safe and easy footing. It leads to the northern extremity of the town, from whence the sea and land view are equally beautiful; and here a man was waiting, with a dray and four bullocks, ready to receive his fellow servant, who was safely lodged among some packages of grocery, butcher-meat, and a basket of bread. The slow pace of the bullocks, as they pursued their way down George Street, which is the principal street of Sydney, gave the stranger an opportunity of gazing at the rising opulence of this new capital. St. Philip's Church, the eldest born of the Church of England in the colony, was seen at the summit of a hill to the right, a few hundred yards removed from George Street; and still further on, to the left, the spire and church of St. James were very conspicuous.

The shops were full of business; the streets resounded with the hum of men; and evidence of the English origin of the place was no where wanting. Gradually, however, the houses eased to be continuous; open fields, which are now covered with the habitations of men, succeeded; and the turnpike-gate, of English aspect and construction, proved the limit of the town. The roads were deep in mud and clay; deep ruts and pools swallowed up the wheels, and the gutters on either side of the streets rolled their headlong torrents down the brick-field hill. The rain fell continuously, and gave no signs of intermission. To wrap herself in a coarse great coat belonging to the driver, and to take refuge beneath the folds of a heavy tarpaulin which lay upon the dray, was a natural and obvious measure. Dejection and low diet made the young woman shrink and shudder on the jolting vehicle, and a few scalding tears coursed one another down her cheeks, as the helpless, homeless, friendless nature of her position forced itself upon her thoughts.

But Lucy's meditations were soon interrupted. The dray stopped by the road-side, where a red bull's portrait indicated the presence of a public-house, one only of the very many which abound in the neighbourhood of Sydney. Here, without any attempt at concealment, an official of the inn picked a few stitches in the seam of a sack of flour deposited at the side of the dray; and having permitted the meal to flow forth in a full stream, which he received into a stable pail, he quickly disappeared with the plunder down a gateway. The driver looked on with apparent indifference, until the same person reappeared, bearing in each hand an overflowing glass of rum. The driver handed one of them to Lucy, and bade her 'take a ball' to keep out the wet; at the same time he poured the contents of the other down his throat, and proceeded to light his short and blackened pipe. Lucy Cooper, however, without tasting the coarse and acrid stimulant, returned the glass to her fellow servant, who testified no small amazement at her refusal to exhaust it. but showed no unwillingness to finish what his new acquaintance had left undone........continue Chapter 1

Lucy Cooper - Chapter II

Lucy Cooper - Chapter III

Lucy Cooper - Chapter IV

Lucy Cooper - Chapter V


[1] Kerry Evening Post 24 August 1836 page 4

[2] Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords - Evidence on the present state of the Islands of New Zealand - Rev. Wilkinson interviewed

[3] Journal of Obediah Pineo. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives, Kew, Surry

[4] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X639]; Microfiche: 720