Lotus was built at Whitby in 1811 – initially as a full-rigged ship of 397 tons; later in her career she was rigged as a barque. Lotus‘s first voyage was a trading trip to Quebec arriving on 22 Jun 1827, Captain John Summerson her master. She again loaded cargo from London, sailing on 15th May and arriving in Quebec 4th July 1828; she returned to London on 5th August 1828.
The first trip by Lotus to Australia seems to have been to Swan River – sailing from London on about the same day as the first Swan River immigrants arrived there – in June 1829. Lotus arrived at the Swan River on 6th October 1829. Sources vary, but she was probably one of the first dozen immigrant ships to arrive in Fremantle and then continued on to Hobart (October) and Sydney (December).
Lotus made only one convict voyage, described on this page.
The Ship’s Builder and Owners
Lotus was built by Thomas Barrick (1796-1859) of Whitby. He was one of the many Barrick family members who built and owned ships in the 18th and 19th century. He and his brothers, Henry (1786-1872) and George (1788-1888), inherited the ship building business from their father Henry who died aged 41.
Between 1780 and 1866 the Barricks shared a shipyard with the Barry family at the mouth of Bagdale Beck known as Dock End on the West side of the River Esk. The two families were three generational in the business. Lotus‘s ownership remained with the Barrick family either as Barrick & Company or H (Henry) Barrick throughout her career, her masters most often Joseph Summerson or Joseph Samson.
In the early to mid-19th century, three generations of the Barrick family turned out nearly 100 ships representing a total of 30,000 tons. Most were under 300 tons each, with Lotus at 397 tons being one of the largest.
The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers
Lotus sailed from Portsmouth on 13th December 1832 with 216 male convicts on board. These prisoners had been convicted and sentenced in Assizes and Quarter Sessions courts in many counties throughout England. They also came from Gaol deliveries in Middlesex, London, Southampton and Kent. There were no convict deaths on board.
The Ship’s Guards and Carers
Lotus was one of 14 convict ships arriving in Van Diemen’s Land from British ports in 1833. The 21st Regiment troops were convict guards on most of these ships.
Those who guarded the convicts on Lotus are listed left: two officers, one sergeant, 28 rank and file troops, accompanied by eight women and seven children. In addition, Mrs. Schaw, wife of Major Schaw, gave birth to a daughter during the voyage (Case No. 79).
Eleven of the troops on board Lotus were treated by the Surgeon. Michael Brannan, the 16-month old son of a soldier was the only death on board which occurred early in the voyage. The boy died of hydrocephalus – a rare condition caused by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. The surgeon noted that the parents reported this had occurred in two previous pregnancies and that the boy had been ailing some days past (Case No. 38).
Private #447 James Hertnan was the only soldier on Lotus to serve in Western Australia. He settled in the Colony after his discharge in July 1840.
The Master for this voyage was Captain John Summerson and the Surgeon Superintendent Henry Gordon Brock R.N.
The Ship’s Voyage
16 Nov 1832 21st guards embarked on Lotus at Deptford.
13 Dec 1832 Departed Portsmouth, with 216 male convicts on board.
10/11 Feb 1833 Arrived Rio De Janeiro, Brazil having assisted passengers of Hibernia.
20 Feb 1833 Departed Rio De Janeiro.
15 May 1833 Arrived Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land.
Passage 154 days. Disembarked 216 convicts.
The Hobart and Sydney newspapers generated a great deal of newsprint about the fire on board Hibernia, an emigrant ship with over 200 emigrants plus crew on board. She left Liverpool on 6th December 1832 bound for Van Diemen’s Land. Predictably the reported number of emigrants, those rescued, and those who drowned varies considerably and contemporary accounts often failed to mention another ship – Isabella – taking passengers on board.
The Ship’s Journal
Henry Gordon Brock R.N. maintained his surgeon superintendent’s journal on Lotus from 5th November 1832 to 21st May 1833, accompanying the 21st Regiment guards from Deptford, London to Portsmouth, Rio De Janeiro, and finally to Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land. It was a journey with a difference for Brock who had additional responsibilities for the rescued passengers of the emigrant ship Hiberna.
Brock was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy in 1812 and became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1818. The Royal Navy appointed him Surgeon in 1821. In 1825 he received his MD (Edinburgh).
Brock had an extraordinary career: he served on Leander RN in 1819; he became surgeon superintendent of convict ships Marmion 1827, Surry 1829, Argyle 1831, Lotus 1833 and William Metcalfe 1834 arriving in VDL, and Thomas Harrison 1836 to NSW. In 1838 he was surgeon on board Orontes, an emigrant ship to Sydney.
In 1833 Brock was granted 3,000 acres of land at Red Rock, Avoca, Tasmania. He built a home he named ‘Rosemount’ and became a respected man in the district employing probationary convicts. He died on 16th December 1862 in Middlesex, after returning to England in 1859.
Henry G Brock’s general remarks in the Lotus surgeon’s journal were uncharacteristically brief – he wrote, Having on three preceding journals given in detail such abstractions respecting the health of the convicts as my experience enabled me to offer, I beg here briefly to state that I have no remarks to make beyond what has already been given and to which I beg to refer. Brock was referring to the unusually high number of case notes written about those who were sick on board. Of the 99 passengers on the sick list, he wrote 83 detailed case notes.
The Nosological Abstract indicates that of 92 out of 99 sick passengers were discharged to duty, six were admitted to Hobart Hospital upon landing, and one soldier’s child died as mentioned above. The chief medical condition was synocha and snyochus – both terms were used in the 19th century to describe two distinct types of continuous fever. Scorbutus (scurvy) was the next most common ailment and four people with the condition were admitted to hospital.
The Ship’s Demise
Lotus underwent some damage repair in 1837 and further small repairs in 1843 and 1844 at which time she was trading between Bristol and Quebec City.
The ship was on a voyage from Bristol to Quebec City when she was damaged by ice in the Atlantic Ocean (Lat. 46o 2′ N. Long. 46o W.) and foundered on 10th May 1844. Swallow rescued her crew. Other ships were on hand to take survivors to Quebec: Cornwall took seven plus Captain Samson; Transit took seven; Isabella took six.
Captain Joseph Samson, master of the Lotus, wrote a comprehensive account of the loss of Lotus in a letter to Mr Whitwell of Bristol City dated 22nd May 1844. It was published in the Bristol Mercury on 22nd June 1844.
Wikipedia, Wikipedia Commons.
Lloyds of London Registers 1826-1844.
Assisted Immigrants (digital) Index, Museums of History NSW.
The Ships List website.
The Convict Ships, 1787-1868, Charles Bateson, 1974.
Claim a Convict website.
State Library of Queensland website.
Free Settler or Felon? website [Jen Willetts].
Australian Medical Pioneer Index.
Tasmanian Ancestry, Vol. 19, No. 2 p.96, 1998.
Maritime History of the Port of Whitby, Stephanie K. Jones, 1982.
Log of Logs Vols. 1, Ian Nicholson 1993.
Lotus Transportation Roll HO11-8-199/203, National Archives, Kew.
21st Regiment Embarkation Roll WO25-3503, National Archives, Kew.
Musters & Pay Lists WO12-3802 to 3809, National Archives, Kew.
Journal of Her Majesty’s Ship Lotus, ADM101-45-5, National Archives, Kew.
Montreal Gazette July 1827, 1828.
Sydney Gazette 5 Dec 1829.
Sydney Monitor 1 Jun to 8 Jun 1833.
Sydney Herald 3 Jun 1833.
Sydney Gazette 4 Jun 1833.
Morning Post 21 Jun 1844.
Bristol Mercury 22 Jun 1844.
© Diane Oldman 2023