The Ship’s Builder and Owners
Eden (513 tons, 123 ft. 9 ins. x 30 ft. 8 ins.) was built in 1826 and her first appearance in Lloyd’s Register is in 1827. She was built at Union Dock on the Thames at Limehouse. The area had many names from the 17th century before being taken over by Joseph Fletcher, Son & Fearnall in 1818 who named it Union Dock and operated first as shipbuilders and then ship repairers. The firm survived the downturns of the 19th century shipping industry until 1925 – mainly because of its repair business. A renowned ‘visitor’ to the Limehouse Union Dock was Cutty Sark in 1922.
Eden was initially owned by Colville & Co. From the outset the ship is listed on voyages from London to Jamaica in the West Indies with the same Master: P Slader (not Slater!).
In August 1836 Eden made her first voyage as a convict ship to New South Wales. This seems to have coincided with a change of ownership from Colville to Joseph Somes. Somes, at that time, was beginning to become heavily involved in the convict ship chartering business; between 1839 and the time of his death he owned around 25 convict ships. Eden made four voyages as a convict transport in 1836 (VDL) and 1840 (NSW), 1842 and 1848 (VDL), as well as immigrant voyages in 1838 to Adelaide, South Australia and in 1850 to New Plymouth, New Zealand.
According to Lloyds Register, Joseph Somes and P Slader spent eight years together in an Owner/Master arrangement from 1836-1843. However, in 1840, the year of Eden’s voyage with the 96th detachment of convict guards, Somes remained owner, but the ship sailed with a different master, despite the Lloyds’ listing; perhaps there was a change of plan after publication.
The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers
Seventeen convict ships left Britain for Australia in 1840. Eden was the seventh and last to set sail for New South Wales. Eden left Deptford for Woolwich with guards from the 96th Regiment and a ship’s surgeon on board. The Surgeon Superintendent recorded in his journal that the ship proceeded to Woolwich and received 150 convicts from two hulks; these would have been Justitia and Warrior. This was followed by a draught of 120 convicts from the hulks at Chatham: Euryalus and Fortitude.
Thus Eden left England at Sheerness with 270 convicts on board. The average sentence was 12 years, among them 50 ‘lifers’. Five of the convicts had been soldiers court martialled at Woolwich or Chatham; 28 were sentenced at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey); others were sentenced in Assizes and Quarter Sessions courts in counties throughout England. Prisoner Richard Gould was tried at the Old Bailey for burglary and theft and would continue to be troublesome even before the Eden set sail, when he attempted to escape.
The Ship’s Guards and Carers
The Master of the ship was Captain Henry J Naylor, and the Surgeon Superintendent George Ellery Forman, R.N.
Ensign Frederick Pearce (Pierce) with 29 rank and file of the 96th Regiment embarked Eden at Deptford on 27th June 1840. Only two of the guards ultimately served in the Swan River Colony. One of them, Private Robert Henderson took his Army discharge in Perth and became a settler.
Two corporals and 13 privates, convict guards from the 96th detachment, were recorded on the Sick List. Of these, 29-year-old Private Thomas Marshall died of a stroke (Apoplexia) on 7th August, one of three deaths recorded on the voyage. There were as many seamen on the Sick List as soldiers, leaving the convicts a healthier group by comparison.
The Ship’s Voyage
27 Jun 1840 96th detachment embarked at Deptford
30 Jun 1840 Received 150 convicts from prison hulks Justitia and Warrior at Woolwich
03 Jul 1840 Received 120 convicts from prison hulks Euryalus and Fortitude at Chatham
10 Jul 1840 Sailed from Sheerness
03 Aug 1840 Sailed from Santa Cruz after three days of provisioning
31 Aug 1840 Crossed the Equator
18 Nov 1840 Arrived at Port Jackson
19 Nov 1840 96th detachment disembark.
A passage of 131 days.
George Ellery Forman R.N. maintained the Eden’s surgeon’s journal from 16th June to 1st December 1840. He was appointed to the rank of surgeon in the Royal Navy in September 1828. Forman was an experienced convict ship surgeon when he embarked on Eden. He had sailed with Lady McNaughton 1835 (NSW), Platina 1837 (VDL) and Pyramus 1838/39 (VDL). His journal was somewhat longer than most – at 30 pages; much of the additional material was in his General Remarks. Unfortunately two key pages of these remarks are missing from my copy.
The Nosological Synopsis indicates that there was only one case of Scurvy during the voyage. The 71 attendances to Sick Bay were mainly minor conditions for which most were cured and returned ‘to duty’. However, two men were hospitalised and three died: Thomas Marshall the soldier mentioned above, Stephen Buckingham a convict who died of a continual fever (Febres Synachus) and James Jones a seaman who died of Meningitis.
The Ship’s Demise
Lloyds of London Registers 1826-1843.
Convict Records of Australia, State Library of Queensland.
Free Settler or Felon? website [Jen Willetts].
Australian Medical Pioneers Index.
Isle of Dogs – Past Life, Past Lives website.
National Maritime Museum Collections.
Passengers in History website [Maritime Museum of South Australia].
Musters & Pay Lists WO12-9612-1 to 45, National Archives, Kew.
Journal of Her Majesty’s Ship Eden, ADM101-22-3, National Archives, Kew.
Morning Advertiser 1 Jul 1840
Oxford Journal 18 Jul 1840.
The Australian 19 Nov 1840.
I would like to thank Stephen Harlow whose input via many emails during March 2023, was responsible for the additions and amendments to this page – especially in relation to the build place and builder of Eden. His interest stems from his forebears’ journey on Eden in 1850 to New Zealand.
© Diane Oldman 2022, revised 2023.