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The Last Convict Ships

Convicts and transportation



Source: In 1879 J. A. Heaton published a ‘Book of Dates’ relating to the early years of the Colony of New South Wales. It is an extraordinary work and provides facts, figures and observations on a wide range of ‘colonial doings’. All spelling, including place names, has been left as per the original documents.


The Eden was the last convict ship but one – that landed convicts in New South Wales, November 18, 1839.

The Hashemy, 936 tons. Captain Ross, with 212 convicts, arrived in Sydney Harbour June 8, 1849. [A great meeting took place to protest against transportation, June 11, 1849.  Mr. Robert Campbell was chairman in the absence of Mr. Robert Lowe. Mr. Lamb moved the adoption of the “protest,” which was : –

“ We, the free and loyal subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty, inhabitants of the city of Sydney and its immediate neighbourhood, in public meeting assembled, do hereby enter our most deliberate and solemn protest against the transportation of British criminals to the colony of New South Wales. Firstly, – Because it is in violation of the will of the majority of the colonists, as is clearly evidenced by their ex-pressed opinions on this question at all times.  Secondly, – Because numbers among us have emigrated on the faith of the British Government that transportation had ceased for ever. Thirdly, – Because it is incompatible with our existence as a free colony desiring self government to be made the receptacle of anothercountry’s felons. Fourthly, – Because it is in the highest degree unjust to sacrifice the great social and political interests of the colony at large to the pecuniary profit of a fraction of its inhabitants.   Fifthly, Because, being firmly and devotedly attached to the British Crown, we greatly fear that the perpetration of so stupendous an act of injustice by Her Majesty’s Government, will go far towards alienating the affections of the people of this colony from the mother country. For these and many other kindred reasons – in the exercise of our duty to our country – for the love we bear our families in the strength of our loyalty to Great Britain – and from the depth of our reverence for Almighty God – we protest against the landing of British convicts on these shores.” Mr. Lowe, who had in the meantime arrived, seconded this. A deputation of six presented the petition to Governor Fitzroy for transmission to England. They asked the Governor to send the prisoners back, but he refused.  A meeting was held June 18, 1849, and the first resolution prayed Her Majesty to remove Earl Grey from her counsels.]

“Tuesday, June 19, 1849 – All the convicts will be removed from the ship this morning. They have all been engaged.  In addition to those previously mentioned, a large draft was sent to Parramatta on Saturday under engagement to Mr. Fitzgerald, M.L.C., and Mr. Lawson, and others. The forty-five sent to Moreton Bay were forwarded at the expense of the Government, not being under any engagement but merely sent to the district in order that the settlers there may have an opportunity of hiring them.  All the rest have been taken from the ship at the expense of the employers. The only restrictions are that the men are not to be landed in Sydney and they shall not be employed in the county of Cumberland.”
– From Sydney newspapers.

JaneIsabella, A small craft, seized at Port Macquarie, by prisoners, and not since heard of, October, 1823.
An assigned servant of Thomas Potter McQueen, and five of the prisoners of the Crown,absconded, on October 4, 1828, from his station and attempted to reach Timor or New Guinea overland. After penetrating the country for 200 or 300 miles, and enduring the most frightful sufferings, by which all his companions died,  Mr McQueen’s servant returned, and gave himself up, November 26, 1828, to Peter M’lntyre, J.P., of Sigenhoc Estate.

Seizure of the Government barque “ Lady Franklin,” Captain Willett, by 22 convicts when on their way from Hobart Town to Nor-folk Island, December 28, 1853. [The convicts overpowered the guard and retained possession of the barque for eleven days, when they loaded the ship’s boats with provisions and left in them.]