Hindostan 1839 – One for the Ladies

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The Ship’s Owners and Builders

Lloyd’s Register 1839 lists ‘Richardson’ as the ship’s owner. Christian Richardson & Co. (ship owners) and Holt and Richardson (ship builders) were families intertwined in the shipping business known as the Dock Company which established a dry dock and shipyard on the eastern bank of the River Esk. They also operated the ropery at Spital Bridge. Between 1804 and 1819 they built 27 ships for a total of 7226 tons, perhaps the last of which was Hindostan which was launched in 1819.

At the time of Hindostan‘s voyage in 1839, she was a sailing ship of 544 tons, length 109 ft. 10 ins., breadth 29 ft. 10 ins. Her first convict voyage was to New South Wales in 1821, her third and last to Van Diemen’s Land in 1840/41.

The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers

Arrival notice [Hobart Town Courier 13 Sep 1839]
On 9th May 1839, 179 female convicts sailed from London on Hindostan. Sixteen of the women had one or more children for a total of 19 on board at the outset of the voyage. At least two children were born at sea, one of whom was ten weeks old on arrival. Although the newspaper report (right) indicates only 18 children arrived, we have no way of checking this as the Surgeon’s Journal for the voyage is not extant. Mary Davis (alias Fury) died at sea on 1st August and two other women died soon after landing. The average sentence of the women was nine years, and six of them had been sentenced to transportation for life. Fifty-five of the the women had been to trial and sentenced in the Central Criminal Court; this means the Old Bailey in London.

The Ship’s Guards and Carers

Seven ships transporting over 1100 convicts left England for Van Diemen’s Land in 1839, along with their guards from the 51st Regiment. The number of ships coming and going became so commonplace, that even the press barely mentioned any detail other than the departure and arrival dates. On this occasion we have found nothing more than a date about her departure. Nonetheless two officers: Captain Percy Rice and Ensign E H Kelly, accompanied by Sergeant Hugh Dufley and 27 Other Ranks embarked on Hindostan on 1st May, their pay made up to the 7th September 1839. Three of the soldiers on board, Privates William Beardman, Charles Holt and Charles Horn, later became part of the Swan River Colony detachment, took their Army discharges in Perth and settled in the Colony. The Master of the vessel was George Lamb(e) , the Surgeon Superintendent Thomas Wallis McDonald R.N.

The Ship’s Voyage

Hindostan sailed from London on 9th May and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 12th September 1839 (126 days).

The Ship’s Journal

HMY Victoria & Albert

Surgeon Thomas Wallace (Wallis) McDonald made two voyages on convict ships to Australia, on Hindostan in 1839 and Lord Lyndoch in 1840. Both voyages to Van Diemen’s Land were with convict guards of the 51st and 96th Regiments of Foot. For more than 30 years McDonald made steady promotions in the Royal Navy including the appointment as Surgeon on the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert and Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals and Fleets. McDonald would certainly have completed a Journal for his voyage on Hindostan, but this journal is not catalogued in The National Archives in Kew.

The Ship’s Demise

Hindostan foundered in the Atlantic Ocean on 27th August 1851 on her way from Whitby to Quebec. Nine of her sixteen crew went down with the ship. The survivors, including the Captain, took to a boat and were rescued by the schooner Martha Greenow. They were landed at Shelburne, Nova Scotia the following month.


Lloyd’s Registers 1839.
A Maritime History of the Port of Whitby 1700-1914, Stephanie Karen Jones.
Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.
Convict Records of Australia, State Library of Queensland.
Musters & Pay Lists WO12-6201, National Archives, Kew.
Australian Medical Pioneers Index.
Hobart Town Courier 13 Sep 1839.
Shipping and Mercantile Gazette 29 Sep 1851.


© Diane Oldman 2020