Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Convict Ship Sarah and Elizabeth - 1837

Embarked: 98 women
Voyage: 112 days
Deaths: 2
Surgeon's Journal: yes
Previous vessel: Norfolk arrived 12 February 1837
Next vessel: Prince George arrived 8 May 1837
Master John Davidson
Surgeon John Rankine
Follow the Female Convict Ship Trail
Prisoners and passengers of the Sarah and Elizabeth identified in the Hunter Valley

The barque Sarah and Elizabeth was built at Yarmouth in 1830.[3]

Female prisoners of the Sarah and Elizabeth were convicted in counties and cities in England - London, Lancaster, Northumberland, Warwick, York, Middlesex and Essex. One woman was tried in Jamaica. Although they were convicted in England, twenty-five of the women were born in Ireland.[2]

The previous female convict ship from England was the Elizabeth which departed in June 1836. As with the prisoners of the Elizabeth these women were convicted of crimes that were mostly non-violent and included various forms of stealing, robbery and pledging. Mary Wood was an exception. She was transported for violent assault

Surgeon John Rankine

John Rankine kept a Medical Journal from 16 December 1836 to 3rd May 1837. This was his first voyage as surgeon superintendent on a convict ship. In 1838 he was surgeon on the Lord William Bentick to Van Diemen's Land.

The prisoners were embarked at Woolwich in December 1836. The surgeon thought their appearance was as good as could be expected when taking into consideration their former habits of life, their age, and that some had been confined in prison for many months. Sixty-nine had come from Newgate prison, seventeen from Liverpool, seven from Warwick, two from Newcastle and several others from various prisons. Two women were sent on shore before departure leaving 98 who sailed for New South Wales. [4]


The ship departed London on 1st January 1837.

There were two deaths on the voyage out, the first, Augusta Bennett alias Jane Jones died just a short time after sailing. She had been extremely debilitated and had been held in Newgate prison for more than eighteen months. The second, Celia Williams from Jamaica, the surgeon described as a negress who was also in delicate health and subject to hysterical fits.

The remainder of the prisoners enjoyed tolerably good health during the whole voyage. There were three births, the first a natural birth, the second a breach and the baby died shortly after birth. The third was a natural birth with the complication of the retention of the placenta which was dealt with by the surgeon satisfactorily. [4]

Port Jackson

They arrived in Port Jackson on 23 April 1837. Cargo included 21 tons slate and sundry government stores

Sunday 23rd April, the day the ship arrived, was a cloudy day with winds from the south-west. At noon the temperature was 72F (22C). On the 2nd of May when the women were landed the day was clear with north-westerly winds, the temperature had dropped to 70F (21C)

The printed indents include information such as name, age, education, religion, marital status, children, native place, trade, offence, when and where tried, sentence, former convictions and physical description. There are no details in the indents as to where the women were assigned on arrival.


Many of the women on board were married or widowed and there were quite a few who left children behind in England. Those who brought their children with them in included:
Sarah Ash who came with her 2 year old daughter;
Mary Campbell with her three year old son and
Ann Chester who brought two children with her aged 2 years 6 months and 1 month.

Female prisoners with children were probably sent to the Female Factory at Parramatta.

Families in want of female servants were advised they could be supplied from the convicts of the Sarah and Elizabeth if applications were made on or before Saturday 29th April. Assignees were required to enter into the usual engagement under a penalty of 40/- to keep their servants for one month unless removed in due course of the law.

On the 3rd May, several women were forwarded to Port Macquarie by the steamer William the Fourth.

Fifteen of the women have been identified in the Hunter Valley in the following years. Select here to find more about prisoners and passengers of the Sarah and Elizabeth.

Relatives In The Colony

There are occasional remarks regarding relatives already in the colony or those who are about to arrive.

Elizabeth Wise and her daughter Elizabeth Wise were tried in Lancaster for housebreaking and arrived just a fortnight before their son and brother George Wise who was transported on the Prince George.

Catherine Connolly - Catherine's Aunt Ann Finnigan also arrived on the Sarah and Elizabeth

Phoebe Dunsmore's husband William had been convicted at the same time as her and arrived on the James Pattison.

Elizabth Lannan - Father John Medicott arrived as a convict c. 1822

Jane Morgan's brother John Morris was already in the colony having been sentenced to transportation for life seven years earlier.

Emma Mayner was a first cousin of Mary Smith who came to the colony free and ran the Green Gate public house in Sydney.

Mary McIntyre was a niece of John O'Connor who came free to the colony two years previously.

Eugenie Caroline Lemaire's husband had previously been a prisoner at Hobart.

Ann Lee was a daughter of John Mendicott who had been transported fifteen years previously.

Mary Ann Jenkins' husband John Jenkins was a prisoner in Van Diemen's Land two years previously.
Mary Anne Parker, a widow age 44 who was convicted of stealing clothes had come to the colony free previously as wife of a soldier of the 4th regiment.

Mary Ann Selkirk had a sister Susan Johnstone who came to the colony free three years previously.

Mary Smith had a brother Thomas Gallagher who arrived on the Isabella six years previously.

Jane Watson's husband William Pendergass came on the Norfolk.

Sophia Youngs who was convicted of horse stealing was described as a Gipsy. Her husband arrived as a prisoner on the Moffatt in 1836.

Departure From Port Jackson

Weather permitting, the Sarah and Elizabeth was to leave Port Jackson on the return voyage to London on 16th August 1837, taking with her 256 casks of sperm oil brought in from the Ann (whaler); 360 bales of wool, 41 bundles of whalebone; 1787 ox and cow horns; 973 tips, 10,000 bones, 10,000 hoofs; 500 bundles rattans; 1 box tortoiseshell; 2 bags of hair; 364 ox and cow hides; 52 pieces cedar; 4 boxes of tea; 1 case books and 1 ton of bones.

Notes and Links

1). The Sarah and Elizabeth was one of four convict ships bringing female prisoners to New South Wales in 1837, the others being the Margaret, Henry Wellesley and Sir Charles Forbes. A total of 533 female convicts arrived in the colony in 1837. The two vessels bringing prisoners from England in 1837 were the Sarah and Elizabeth and the Henry Wellesley. There were no female prisoners convicted in Scotland arriving in New South Wales in 1837.

Female Convicts to NSW in 1837

2). Some of the women were adorned with tattoos:

Mary Brown - Central Criminal Court - Blue dot back of left hand
Anne Clarke - Lancaster (Liverpool) - SFACMC on upper right arm, WCARMRID upper left arm.
Susan Collier - Central Criminal Court - CRSG on upper right arm
Johanna Daley - Central Criminal Court - WS on upper left arm. WS inside middle finger of left hand
Mary Green - Warwick - EB on upper right arm, blue ring fore finger of left hand
Jane Gribbin - Lancaster (Liverpool) - JLIHJT on upper left arm, JB back of left hand
Sarah Hall - Central Criminal Court - James Mary, I Love to the heart E...S and flower pot inside lower left arm, 5 dots back of left hand, dear mother, I love to the heart, anchor, DHIL inside lower right arm, five dots back of right hand, blue ring fore finger of same.
Ellen Herring - Central Criminal Court - Five dots back of left hand
Mary Ann Jenkins - Lancaster (Liverpool) - JJ on upper right arm
Ann Lee - Central Criminal Court- J.W.L. in blue, TLEB in red ink, outside upper right arm.
Rose McCollister - Lancaster (Liverpool) - TPR. McCAM, upper right arm, R.F.A.M.E.M upper left arm.
Margaret Magner - Central Criminal Court - JG inside lower left arm, JC on upper, W inside lower right arm.
Ellen Martin - Central Criminal Court - LW inside lower left arm
Eliza Mills - Warwick - HOTM on left shoulder, J+RJS on right shoulder
Eliza Percival - Central Criminal Court - NOPE, no pen can right, No tongue can tel, the skin hart that bids farewel. John Danel, heart pierced with two darts, IL, man, love, AND LIBET and other marks lower left arm, DBMN, heart and darts, Eliza Bignel and other marks on lower right arm :.: F EL and heart back of right arm.
Rachael Price - Warwick - TIJBT on upper left arm
Catherine Rourke - Lancaster (Liverpool) - JB on right shoulder, HL on left shoulder
Elizabeth Rutland - Warwick - H on upper right arm
Johanna Scanbury - Central Criminal Court - RP on upper left arm, blue dot back of right hand
Mary Ann Selkirk - Central Criminal Court - FRANK KEYS on upper right arm
Mary Smith - Middlesex - PN on upper right arm, TG upper left arm
Mary Sullivan - Central Criminal Court - Anchor and heart, MJ inside upper right arm
Susannah Webber - Central Criminal Court - I+T and heart pierced with two darts on upper right arm
Elizabeth Wise the younger - Lancaster (Liverpool)T,W EW on right shoulder

3). Petition by the parents of Mary Green.....Mary Green was tried at Warwick. The following Petition by Mary's parents has been transcribed by researcher Keith Searson in UK in conjunction with Colette McAlpine of the Female Convict Research Centre in Tasmania.....
Answered to Mr Attwood and Mr Scholefield 10 December 1836
- To the Right Honourable Lord John Russell His Majesty's Principle Secretary of State for the Home Office The Petition of WILLIAM GREEN and HANNAH his wife residing at Birmingham in the County of Warwick Humbly Sheweth That your Lordships are the unhappy parents of the unfortunate MARY GREEN who was tried at the last Warwickshire Summer Assizes for stealing a hat of John Fisher was convicted thereof and is now under sentence of transportation , but is still remaining a prisoner in the gaol at Warwick That is consideration of the tender age of the girl (being only seventeen) and the state of her health having from her childhood bee troubled with fits, which sometimes continue upon her for days together and require the prompt and tenderest care of a mother to restore her when so afflicted and this being the first offence, unconsciously and without consideration committed and into which she was unhappy betrayed and most truly repents expressing her utmost contrition. Your Lordships humble Petitioners earnestly solicits your Lordship will be pleased so to represent her unfortunate situation to His Most Gracious Majesty's (and the proper authorities) that in his clemency he may grant the object of your Petitioners care and regard a remittance of her sentence, and that she may be restored to her afflicted family and friends. And your Lordships Petitioners will ever pray We the undersigned Prosecutor and neighbours of the Petitioners - respectfully recommend their pray and solicitation to your Lordships kind consideration; Edward Crowley William Edwards Samuel Bradbury George Pugh John Barnes Thomas Hill William Caton.

4). National Archives. Reference: ADM 101/66/7 Description: Medical and Surgical journal of the female convict ship Sarah and Elizabeth for 15 December 1836 to 3 May 1837 by John Rankine, Surgeon, during which time the said ship was employed in her passage from England to Port Jackson, New South Wales.


[1] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12189; Item: [X640]; Microfiche: 729

[2] Irish born prisoners arriving on the Sarah and Elizabeth

[3] Bateson, Charles Library of Australian History (1983). The convict ships, 1787-1868 (Australian ed). Library of Australian History, Sydney, pp.354-355, 387

[4] Journal of John Rankine. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 . The National Archives, Kew, Surry