Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

H.M. Brig Kangaroo 1814

In 1812 - 1813 two new ships H.M.S. Emu and H.M. Brig Kangaroo were dispatched to Australia at the request of Governor Macquarie who intended to use them in colonial services.

Voyage of H.M.S. Emu

On 11th November 1812 H.M.S. Emu, commanded by Lieutenant Alexander Bissett R.N., with 49 female convicts on board sailed from England bound for Hobart. During the voyage the Emu was seized by American privateer Holkar. On 17th January 1813 Lieutenant Bissett and the female convicts were landed on the island of St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands where they remained for twelve months before being returned to England. The Emu was later destroyed. The female convicts were not allowed to re-enter England and were kept in a ship off Portsmouth for several months until another ship could be found to take them to Australia.[1]

They finally sailed on February 1814 aboard the Broxbornebury arriving in July 1814.

Voyage of H. M. Brig Kangaroo

Commander of H.M. Kangaroo, Lieutenant Charles Jeffreys was born on 16 October 1782 at Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, the son of Ninian and Mary Jeffreys. He joined the navy at age 11 and served as midshipman in various ships before his passing certificate as lieutenant was issued by the Admiralty in August 1803. He was commissioned lieutenant in March 1805. In August 1810 at Lambeth, Surrey, he married Jane Gill of London.[2]

On 10th February 1813 he was appointed to the Kangaroo.

In 1813 H.M. Brig Kangaroo commanded by Lieut. Jeffreys departed England in company with Earl Spencer. The Kangaroo called at Rio de Janeiro and the Cape where they remained until 14 November 1813 and arrived in Port Jackson on 10 January 1814 with 39 women and children, the families of convicts in the colony. There were also five free settlers and a servant on board. James Napper who was appointed Surgeon to the Kangaroo on 27 February 1813, was accompanied by his wife. Charles Jeffreys' wife Jane also joined the ship. John Martin, first mate had also been granted permission to settle in the colony and to receive a grant of land. His family joined him on the voyage also[3]

The voyage had taken seven months and eight days to complete and on arrival Lieut. Jeffreys was required to account for the delays. He stated that he was at Madeira from 21 June to 3 July 1813 in consequence of H.M.S. Inconstant, under whose orders he was, having gone there. Then he was at Rio de Janeiro from 20 August to 20 September for refreshments and to get the brig caulked in every part of her upper works, they having proved leaky in consequence of her having been built of green wood. After 45 days' passage from Rio to the Cape of Good Hope on account of heavy weather he was at the latter place from 3 to 13 November replenishing water and getting refreshments which the women passengers stood in great need of, and to refit the rigging which had suffered damage in the foul weather.[4]

Port Jackson

The ship was in need of further repairs by the time they reached Port Jackson. Charles Jeffreys' Report of the defects is preserved in the Colonial Secretary's correspondence:

Gunwales, Topsides and Half Ports want repairing having been carried away in different gales of wind during the passage out.
Decks and walk ways want caulking.
Rigging throughout wants overhauling and refitting[5].

Families of Convicts on the Kangaroo

Previously to this time there were few families of convicts given government passage to Australia. The decision to send these families came about as a result of the Report and Recommendations of a Select Committee that had been appointed in England to Inquire into the manner in which Sentences of Transportation were executed, and the Effects which were produced by that mode of Punishment. The Committee included Governor John Hunter, Alexander McLeay, Governor Bligh, James Duce, Harris, Thomas Robson, Maurice Margarot, William Richardson, Mr. Commissary Palmer, Captain Matthew Flinders, Rev. Johnston, Robert Campbell, George Johnston, J.H. Capper, Lieut. Edward Lord Their Observations were Reported to The House in 1812.

Among the many observations in the Report were some referring to the overwhelming number of male convicts in the colony compared to female which explains why the families of convicts came to be sent to Australia -

'The women (female convicts) sent out are of the most abandoned description, and that in many instances they are likely to whet and to encourage the vices of the men, whilst but a small proportion will make any step towards reformation ; but yet, with all their vices, such women as these were the mothers of a great part of the inhabitants now existing in the Colony, and from this stock only can a reasonable hope be held out of rapid increase to the population; upon which increase, here as in all infant colonies, its growing prosperity in great measure depends. ...At present, the number of men compared to that of women, is as 2 to 1; to this, in great measure, the prevalence of prostitution is reasonably to be attributed; but increase that proportion, and the temptation to abandoned vices will also be increased, and the hopes of establishing feelings of decency and morality amongst the lower classes, will be still farther removed. The supply of women to the colony, must, however, be materially diminished by the proposed system of employing convicts in Penitentiary Houses; and Your Committee think this an additional reason for affording increased facilities to the wives of male convicts, who may wish to accompany or follow their husbands to New South Wales. This permission is now seldom granted, and that only to the wives of men transported for life or for 14 years. It is however the most eligible way of providing the colony with women, and one which may with very great advantage be much extended.[6]

It took some time but eventually approval was given by Earl Bathurst for the wives to follow their husbands to the colony :

Earl Bathurst to Governor Macquarie. (Despatch No. 8. per ship Fortune; acknowledged by Governor Macquarie, 28th June, 1813.)
Sir, Downing Street, 10th November, 1812.
The Select Committee of the House of Commons having recommended that further facility should be given to the Wives of Convicts to follow their husbands to New South Wales, I am to acquaint you that about ten Women of this description will be embarked in the Brig ' Kangaroo,' which is now fitting for the Colonial Service of New South Wales.

H. M. Brig Kangaroo in Australia

Names of the passengers, Convicts' Wives and children disembarked from H.M. Colonial vessel Kangaroo 12th January 1814:

Samuel Bradley, Settler
Ester Bradley, Settler
Elizabeth Martin, Settler
Miss Jesse Martin, Settler
William Martin, Settler

Margaret Rey, Servant

Mrs. Napper, Settler
Daniel Tindale, Convict's son
Charles Tindale, Convict's son

William Ash, Convict's son
Christopher Ash, Convict's son
Mary Fogharty, Convict's wife. - Derwent
Elizabeth Wood, Convict's wife
Sarah Steward, Convict's wife
Sarah Blay, Convict's wife - Derwent
Jane Tindall, Convict's wife
Mary Tindall, Convict's daughter
Sarah Hitchcock, convict's wife
Eliza Hitchcock, convict's daughter
Maria Hitchcock, convict's daughter
Sarah Read, convict's wife
Lydia Read, convict's daughter
Sarah Hancock, convict's wife - Derwent
Mary Box, convict's wife
Elizabeth Leach, convict's wife
Martha Bell, convict's wife
Sarah Middleton, convict's wife
Jemima Middleton, convict's daughter
Catherine Compton, carpenter's wife
Catherine Compton, carpenter's daughter
Martha Jennings - convict's wife
Helen Ash - convict's wife
Catherine Ash - convict's daughter
Mary Dawkins - convict's wife
John Wood - convict's child
Mary Steward - convict's child
Jane Steward - convict's child
James Blay - convict's child
William Blay - convict's child
John Blay - convict's child
James Tindale - convict's child
Ruth Hancock - convict's child
William Bell - convict's child
Sarah Middleton - convict's child
Caroline Middleton - convict's child
Hannah Ash - convict's child

Deaths during the voyage - William Middleton died 29 November 1813 aged 9 months
Sarah Frogarty died 16 December 1813 aged 22 months [8]

Colonial Voyages

H.M. brig Kangaroo made voyages for the colonial government along the east coast of Australia ferrying passengers and convicts and conveying goods and troops between settlements.

She took part in the evacuation of Norfolk Island when that island was abandoned by government and the last settlers removed in February 1814, although Lieut. Jeffreys was not in command at this time.[3]

In April 1815 H.M. Kangaroo departed Sydney on a voyage to Ceylon for merchandise and to transport military convicts from Ceylon back to Australia. The last contingent of the 73rd regiment under command of Lieutenant Thomas Skottowe were also conveyed to Ceylon. Read Lieut. Jeffreys' Journal of the voyage published in the Hobart Gazette in May 1816

Newcastle From Prospect Hill
Newcastle in New South Wales with a distant view of Point Stephen, taken from Prospect Hill drawn by I.R. Brown; engraved by W. Preston - State Library


In March 1816 H.M. Kangaroo conveyed twenty-five convicts to Newcastle penal settlement :

John Bryant per Baring
William Yarnold per Earl Spencer
James Kew per Admiral Gambier 1811
Thomas Gallagher per Archduke Charles
William Jones per Fortune 1806
David Dixon per Fortune 1813
Charles Taylor per Indian
Alice Rigby per Wanstead
Terrence Kelly per Boyd
Benjamin Dean per Ann 1810
Peter Clay per Indian
Louisa Clay per Minstrell
John Maxwell per Boyd
Patrick Riley per Three Bees
Simon Byrne per Three Bees
Thomas Moody per Earl Spencer
James Wells per General Hewitt
Abraham Moses per Surry
William Evans per Glatton
Edward Primmer per General Hewitt
James Read per Marquis Wellington
John Lavender per Baring
George Williams per Marquis Wellington
Thomas Corbett per Marquis Wellington
John Ballance per Archduke Charles

Lieut. Jeffreys considered the Newcastle harbour unsafe to enter. He voiced his concern in correspondence to Governor Macquarie dated 8 February 1816. -

His Majesty’s Brig Kangaroo
Sydney Cove February 8th, 1816
I have this day received your letter conveying to me His Excellency’s sentiments on mine of yesterday’s date. And stating that I am to hold myself in readiness to proceed on the shortest notice with provisions and prisoners to the Settlement at Newcastle and to bring a cargo of coals and cedar for Government. I have to state for His Excellency’s information that I shall attentively and carefully comply with his orders but in order to Fulfill the trust and confidence reposed by His Majesty’s Ministers to do my duty towards His Excellency and to justify my own conduct I feel it a duty incumbent on me to state to His Excellency that I have received Captain Flinders Charts including Hunters River from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and that I have also gathered such information as is practicable and find that the settlement and harbour at N. Castle is a dangerous and improper place for as large a vessel as the Kangaroo. I also would state that no private feelings have actuated me on this occasion but merely the good of His Majesty’s service and to preserve as fine a vessel as the Kangaroo. I shall be happy to offer any information in my power concerning the navigation of that river should His Excellency think proper

Lieutenant Jeffreys' Map of Newcastle Harbour

Lieutenant Jeffreys was generally considered by Governor Macquarie to be a timid mariner and unequal to the task he was employed for. Jeffreys eventually earned the wrath of Macquarie for his various misdeeds which included illicit rum smuggling, turning a blind eye to convict absconders on board the Kangaroo and taking with him escaping government debtor Garnham Blaxcell as a passenger. Governor Macquarie afterwards labelled him 'a vain, conceited, ignorant young man'.

Despite any personal failures however Charles Jeffreys was an experienced naval officer and he produced a map of Newcastle harbour, perhaps to underline his misgivings about taking so large a vessel as the Kangaroo into the harbour. His Survey and Map of Newcastle Harbour dated 1816, are a fortunate addition to the history of Newcastle.

The Map shows part of the Hunters River in 1816 - High Street/Watt St; the Lighthouse; coal mines; ship wreck Dundee lost 1812; Commandants Farm at Cottage Creek; Coal Yards and Watt St Wharf; and also where the Kangaroo had struck three times, where the Nautilus was lost in 1816 and the Estramina in 1813. View the map here.

Departure of the Kangaroo for England

Lieutenant Jeffreys departed Australia on the Kangaroo in 1817.

The manner of his departure greatly angered Macquarie who hoped Jeffreys might be punished on arrival in England, however this did not happen and Charles Jeffreys and his wife later returned to Van Diemen's Land as settlers.

Official List of Names of Officers and other free persons who were to return to England as passengers on H.M. Colonial Brig Kangaroo in 1817:
Captain W.G.B Schaw 46th regt
Lieut. Charles Dawe 46th regt
Lieut. G.A. Parker 46th regt
Mr. Thomas Hassall
Ensign Charles Bullivant 46th regt.,

The following were victualled during the voyage at the expense of the Crown as they were now free, having come out originally as convicts:
W.J. Speed
Thomas Alford
John O'Hearne
Edmond Flood
James Nangle
Benjamin Jacobs
Thomas Holden
John Bliss
Andrew Kane[9]

Notes and Links

1). Lantern slide of Hobart To, Van Diemen's Land, in February, 1817. Inscribed with the words 'Hobart Town in 1817. Drawn by Lieut. Chs. Jeffreys' - also shows Kangaroo Govt. schooner, church, Government House and Fort. University of Tasmania.

Thirty-three Years in Tasmania and Victoria: By George Thomas Lloyd favoured nephew of Lieutenant Charles Jeffreys

3). Lieutenant Thomas Thompson was Commandant at Newcastle in 1816.


[1] Troy Lennon, History editor, The Daily Telegraph November 30, 2017

[2] Australian Dictionary of Biography

[3] HRA Series 1, vol. VII, p.688

[4] Lieut. Charles Jeffreys, R.N. The Last Buccaneer? by C H. Gill, M.B.E., B.A., LL.B, F.R. HIST. S.Q. Read to a General Meeting of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland on Thursday 26 July 1979.

[5] Colonial Secretary' Papers. (Ancestry). Reel 6044; 4/1729 pp.7-16

[6] Report from the Select Committee on Transportation. National Library Australia

[7] HRA, Series 1, vol. VII, p. 539

[8] Colonial Secretary' Papers. (Ancestry). Colonial Secretary' Papers. Reel 6044; 4/1729 pp.7-16

[9] Colonial Secretary' Papers. (Ancestry). Reel 6046; 4/1737 pp.273-5