Mary was built at Ipswich in 1811. According to Lloyd’s Registers, she was one of 758 ships who would be named Mary. There was a total of four ships of that name built in 1811 – in Ipswich, Bideford, Dundee and Workington. And in the 1820s, at least three more named Mary were built in Ipswich! Five convict ships named Mary arrived in Port Jackson, NSW: June 1817, May and August 1819, January 1822 and June 1836 – these were NOT voyages of the ship Mary built in Ipswich in 1811.
When launched at Ipswich on 8th May 1811, our ship Mary was 361 tons and depending when and where in the records one finds her, the tonnage rated as high as 370. Initially she was armed with 12 guns and by 1815 carried four nine-pound guns and eight 12-pound cannonades (continuously firing guns). Although the ‘golden age’ of piracy was over on routes between Britain and America, the Indian Ocean and the China Sea remained home to many pirates and early 19th century merchantmen such as Mary were often prey.
Mary had a varied career. She was built for service in the East India Company from 1811 to 1813. Her maiden voyage was from Portsmouth to Port Jackson, NSW arriving in May 1812 with stores, via Rio de Janeiro. She left NSW in August 1812 bound for Calcutta and by a circuitous route arrived back in London in August 1813.
Mary first appears in Lloyd’s Register with master Lauchlan [Laughlin] and her original owner M. Boyd. She was surveyed with an A1 classification but had not been surveyed again since her launch (left). After more years of trading she undertook five convict voyages (see table below).
The Ship’s Builder
Shipbuilder Jabez Bayley built over a dozen ships for the Royal Navy between 1804 and 1814 as well as Mary – one of at least five merchant ships – at his Ipswich ship yard in Suffolk. He was declared bankrupt on 18th December 1824 [TNA Ref. B3/490]. Bayley was baptised (1771), married (1805) and buried (1834) at Stoke Green Baptist Church, St Mary Stoke, Suffolk.
The Ship’s Owner
Mary had a number of owners during her convict transportation era; the only period not covered by the above table was the period between 1824 and 1827. Sailing on 7th July 1828, Mary probably made her first trading voyage with Wigram & Co. to VDL with ship’s master Shuttleworth. By 1829 Jamieson was her regular master to VDL . But by the date of Mary‘s fourth convict voyage, Wigram had relinquished ownership, with Jamieson continuing to sail her – but this time to New South Wales with a new owner.
Green & Co. was the owner of Mary, the first convict ship to transport 21st Regiment soldiers to New South Wales in 1832. Green & Co. was almost certainly the Bristol Company started by John Green, shipbuilder, at his Wapping Yard, Bristol alongside the River Frome. This company both built and owned ships – including ownership of convict ship Lady Raffles.
The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers
Mary sailed from London 4th September 1832 with 170 male convicts. These prisoners had been convicted and sentenced in Assizes and Quarter Sessions courts in many counties throughout England, as well as from the Scottish Courts of Justiciary. They also came from Gaol deliveries in Middlesex, London and Surrey.
Only one of the prisoners is mentioned as a death on board – John Marshall, age 26, convicted at York Assizes. Marshall died of scurvy on 22nd December 1832. Most sources indicate that there were two deaths on board, but no other is mentioned in the surgeon’s case notes, nor his sick list. Eleven prisoners were admitted to Sydney Hospital on 6th January 1833 with catarrh (2) and scurvy (9). Perhaps one of these men died in the hospital.
Mary was one of 21 convict ships arriving in New South Wales from British ports in 1833. The 21st Regiment troops were convict guards on ten of these ships arriving convoy-like, assembling in NSW. Within two weeks of arrival, these same men sailed on Norval for Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land.
Those who guarded the convicts on Mary are listed left: two officers, one sergeant, 28 rank and file troops, accompanied by three women and seven children. Private #522 Keron Doolan would be one of six men to serve in Western Australia by September 1833; Doolan settled in the Colony after his discharge. The Captain of the guard, Richard Daniell, died in Western Australia in 1835.
Six of the 21st Regiment personnel were on the Sick List, including Captain Daniell, but only Private #139 George Barry was sufficiently ill to have a case note written about him by the surgeon (right). He deteriorated rapidly with cholera but after treatment (and five pages of case notes), he was restored to health and discharged (returned to duty on board) on 20th August 1832.
The Master for this voyage was Captain Alexander Jamieson and the Surgeon Superintendent William C Watt R.N.
The Ship’s Voyage
06 Aug 1832 21st guards embarked on Mary at Deptford.
04 Sep 1832 Departed Chatham, London with 170 convicts on board.
05 Jan 1833 Arrived Port Jackson, New South Wales.
Passage 123 days. Disembarked 168/169? convicts.
16 Jan 1833 Departed Port Jackson, NSW on Norval.
30 Jan 1833 Arrived Launceston, VDL (after a near miss).
The Ship’s Journal
William Conborough Watt R.N. maintained his Surgeon Superintendent’s journal on Mary from 8th March to 5th August 1833, accompanying the 21st Regiment guards from Deptford, London to Port Jackson, NSW.
Watt was born in 1795 in New Monkland, Lanarkshire and died in Malta in 1848. He was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy in 1810 following which he served in the Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport, near Portsmouth. In 1819 he was made Surgeon. He was well credentialed with MRCS 1815, MD Glasgow 1827, FRCS 1843. And served with distinction during the Burmese War of 1825. He was a well experienced convict ship surgeon superintendent, having taken three voyages to NSW prior to his appointment to Mary: Edward 1829, Roslyn Castle 1830, and Exmouth 1831 caring for both male and female prisoners.
The Nosological Abstract shows that he wrote case notes for nine patients for cholera, constipation, phthisis, pneumonia (2), Psora (2) i.e. psoriasis or scabies, scurvy and vertigo. Scurvy was rampant on the voyage and was responsible for serious disagreements between Watt and the ship’s master, Alexander Jamieson, regarding its treatment.
William Watt’s case notes and general remarks in his journal were very thorough; he often made comments about the temperament and physical attributes of the nine patients about whom he wrote case notes.
An example is John Knowles who was a convict sentenced to 14 years at Leicester Borough Quarter Sessions. Exactly a year after his sentencing, he arrived in Port Jackson on Mary. Watt’s two-page Case 7 begins, a shoemaker by trade who has led a very irregular life and has been in the habit of using a great quantity of ardent spirits supplied him by the ships company for doing jobs for them. Complained of an obtuse pain in his left side…. Knowles was treated from 3rd to 14th October when he was restored to health and discharged.
The Ship’s Demise
Currently unknown. Lloyds Register no longer listed Mary after 1841.
Wikipedia, Wikipedia Commons.
Lloyd’s Registers 1811-1841.
British Museum illustrations.
The Convict Ships, 1787-1868, Charles Bateson, 1974.
Free Settler or Felon? website [Jen Willetts].
Claim a Convict website.
Australian Medical Pioneer Index.
Three Decks – Warships in the Age of Sail website [Cy Harrison].
Log of Logs, Ian Nicholson 1993.
Mary 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 Mary, ADM101-51-6, National Archives, Kew.
Sydney Gazette 8 Jan 1833.
Sydney Herald 17 Jan 1833.
The Tasmanian 8 Feb 1833.
© Diane Oldman 2023