Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

David Wake Bell R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

David Wake Bell was recommended as Surgeon on the convict ship Sugar Cane in 1793. He was about 33 years of age at the time of sailing.

Lieutenant Bowen to Secretary Nepean,
Navy Office, 28th January 1793
The bearer, Mr. David Wake Bell, surgeon in the Navy has got Sir Henry Martin's leave to go in the Sugar Cane in the room of Mr. Jamieson. He is strongly recommended as a very proper person for that service.
I. am etc. J. Bowen

Voyage of the Sugar Cane

David Wake Bell kept Under-Secretary Nepean informed of the proceedings on the Sugar Cane for the next few months. Their progress from the Downs to Plymouth, Kinsale, Cork, Rio de Janeiro and Port Jackson can be followed through his letters (See voyage of the Sugar Cane)

Return to England

David Bell returned to England on the Britannia - The Britannia store ship having been dismissed from government employment was immediately engaged by the civil and military officers for the purpose of purchasing a variety of stores they stood in need of, with the particular view of fetching cattle from the Cape of Good Hope. Messrs, Richard Kent and David Wake Bell, the naval Agents who came out in the Sugar Cane and Boddingtons transports were instructed to take their passage by the Britannia it being the first opportunity that had offered of their returning to England unless a considerable expense had been incurred by their taking the route of India. [2]


It was reported in 1836 that David Wake Bell, Surgeon R. N., formerly a physician in his Majesty's quarantine department at Scilly, had died at his residence, Bridge Terrace Topsham in his 76th year after a long and painful illness. According to the Topsham burial index he died on 19th October 1836. His wife Louisa died 11 March 1818 aged 45.


[1] HR NSW Vol 2. p.5

[2] Grose to Henry Dundas 31st August 1794, HRA, Series 1, Vol 1., p 482