Richard Webb 1841/42
The Ship, Builder and Owner
Richard Webb was built in Redbridge, Southampton in 1840 by William Morrice [Sexton:232]. She was a barque of 403/486 (old/new) tons, measuring 105.2 x 26.2 x 19.0. Redbridge, on the River Test, had been a busy shipbuilding town in the 17th and 18th centuries turning out ships for the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy.
Of William Morrice, the builder, I have no information. The Morrice family was a well established group of ships’ masters and owners from Aberdeen and the surname comes up frequently in Lloyds Registers in the 19th century, but I do not know if William was from the same crop. An online search of Aberdeen directories suggests not.
D. Halket and Halket & Company of London also appear frequently in Lloyds Registers as ships’ owners, but again, detailed information about an individual or the company are scarce. D. Halket, owner of the convict ship Richard Webb on her voyage in 1841/42, is also listed as owner of John Brewer on its voyage to Hobart, VDL arriving a month after Richard Webb also with guards from the 99th Regiment; it was also built in Redbridge. Returns of convict ships in Parliamentary Papers show that Halket was being paid $4 5s. 9d. per ton for freight on the Richard Webb‘s voyage to Australia; less for John Brewer, despite being a larger vessel. Halket & Company was also the owner of Emily, another convict and immigrant ship of the 1840s – this time built in Sunderland. David Halket is recorded as the principal of Halket & Company of 19 St Helen’s Place, Bishopsgate, London, later of Herne Bay, Kent, a ship owner and agent, and investor in many mining projects, and was certified bankrupt in early 1855.
The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers
Richard Webb started her voyage at Deptford, but within a month was leaving Kingstown, Dublin with 193 prisoners on board; there were five prisoners’ children on the voyage. For some reason these convicts and their crimes have not been as well recorded as usual in my sources. Nonetheless, about one hundred of the names are present on the sick list and/or case notes of the Surgeon. Four of them, died on board: Thomas Green (45 years), apoplectic stroke; Mark Fitzgerald (64), atrophia; Patrick McDermott (30), pneumonia or bronchitis; John Donohoe (23) phthisis. None were admitted to a barracks or general hospital upon arrival in Hobart.
The Ship’s Guards and Carers
By the end of 1840, the transportation of convicts to New South Wales was dribbling to an end. But in 1842 Richard Webb was one of twenty-three convict ships arriving in Van Diemen’s Land from British ports. She was, however, ultimately bound for New South Wales where the majority of 99th Regiment troops in Australia were then garrisoned. Guarding the convicts to Hobart were Lieutenant W Muir? and 30 troops of a detachment of the 99th. Nineteen of these men were recorded on the ship’s sick list, some on more than one occasion. Other military on board were a handful of officers and men of the 28th and 96th Regiments. After a short stay in Hobart, the 99th detachment re-boarded Richard Webb and sailed on to Port Philip, NSW to join their regiment. Only one of these men served, married, had children and took his discharge in Western Australia – Sergeant Richard Donovan. Donovan and his family moved to Melbourne shortly after his discharge.
The Master of the vessel Richard Webb was Robert McLachlan, and William Rogers, R.N. was the Surgeon Superintendent on the voyage.
The Ship’s Voyage
Embarked 99th detachment 13 Oct 1841 Deptford; sailed 15 Oct 1841.
Arrived 1 Nov 1841 Kingstown, Dublin; sailed 15 Nov 1841.
Arrived 4 Mar 1842 Hobart VDL – passage 109 days; Surgeon disembarked 9 Mar 1842; sailed 15 Mar 1842.
Arrived 22 Mar 1842 Port Philip, Sydney, NSW; 99th guards disembarked.
Captain Robert McLachlan and crew sailed 16 Apr 1842 Port Philip, Sydney for India via Guam in ballast.
The Ship’s Journal
Surgeon William Rogers made two voyages on convict ships to Australia – Arab arriving in Hobart April 1836, probably a different experience from this voyage as his charges in 1836 were 131 female convicts. Rogers maintained his journal on Richard Webb from 13th October 1841 to 9th March 1842 when he disembarked in Hobart. He subsequently returned to England on Fanny in June 1842; I have no explanation for his movements from Hobart to Sydney during the months between.
The Nosological Synopsis in the journal (right) shows that a common ailment among the passengers was catarrh – 42 instances, mostly among the guards, probably caused by sleeping on deck against orders! Cases of constipation totalled 39, with its antithesis, diarrhoea with 14 cases recorded. Rogers’ case notes on the convicts who died were very thorough.
The Ship’s Demise
Captain Robert McLachlan and his crew, the ship in ballast, left Sydney on 16th April 1842 for Guam and Batavia, final destination India. The ship struck a coral reef south of Tiger Shoals, in the Flores Sea south of Celebes. The entire crew managed to board three long boats, and after thirteen days of deprivation reached Batavia on 22nd May 1842. It is likely that the journey transporting convicts to Australia was the vessel’s maiden voyage, and was thus totally wrecked during this, only her second voyage. She is listed in 1843 Lloyds Register as ‘wrecked’.
Lloyds of London Registers 1840-1843.
Shipping arrivals and departures, South Australia, 1627-1850 by R T Sexton, 1990.
The Bon-accord Directories of Aberdeen 1840-1860.
Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Sydney: Volume III, 1841-1844 and Gazetteer, Graeme Broxam, Ian Hawkins Nicholson, 1988.
The Sunderland Site [Peter Searle].
Convict Records of Australia, State Library of Queensland.
Australian Medical Pioneer Index.
Returns of Vessels 1841 [Parliamentary Papers Vol. 52, Department of Transport].
Musters & Pay Lists WO12-9804-205 to 208, National Archives, Kew.
Journal of Her Majesty’s Ship Richard Webb, ADM101-64-1, National Archives, Kew.
London Evening Standard 16 Oct 1841.
Colonial Times 8 Mar 1842.
The Australian 24 Mar 1842.
Colonial Observer 20 Apr 1842.
Sydney Herald 20 Apr 1842.
Sydney Herald 25 Jun 1842.
Sydney Gazette 28 Jun 1842.
London Express 1 Nov 1855.
Thank you, Peter Searle in Canada and Gary Bloom in Aberdeen for helping out with seeking builder and/or owner of Richard Webb.
© Diane Oldman 2022.