Stakesby 1833

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The Ship

Lloyds Register 1815

Stakesby‘s first Lloyds Register entry in the Supplement of 1815 is out of alphabetical order and spelt incorrectly as ‘Stokesby’. The entry records no owner but does indicate that she sailed from London to Jamaica with her master named Grimsmore. Stakesby was described as a ship built with spruce, single deck with beams and an A1 classification. Her 1816 listing in the main Lloyds Register is identical. An unverified image of her specifications [Wikipedia] is left.

In her early years Stakesby had a varied career – trading in the West Indies, Europe, India and Batavia. In 1823 she carried emigrants from Ireland to Quebec. She was under licence with the East India Company on a voyage from London to Bengal from 1830-1831. After transporting convicts to Van Diemen’s Land with guards from the 21st Regiment, she had several voyages as a troopship to other parts of the Empire. In her final years she was sailing from London to Quebec until she went missing in 1846.

Three steamships operated by Rowland & Marwood Ltd of Whitby, built in 1880, 1922 and 1930 were also named Stakesby.

The Ship’s Builder and Owner

Lloyds Survey 1835

The Chapman family was well known in Whitby for more than two centuries as mariners, rope makers, merchants, ship builders, ship owners, bankers and ‘gentlemen’. Chapman and Campion, W L Chapman & Co., Thomas Chapman & Co., and W S Chapman built 18 ships between 1800 and 1817 [Jones:132]. The extensive ‘Chapman Family of Whitby Papers’ from whence this data is derived are preserved in the North Yorkshire County Record Office.

We have a reference to Stakesby‘s owners as Henry Simpson, Edward Chapman and W S Chapman [Weatherill:125]. In that assortment of marine interests I can only assume ‘W S’ to be Wakefield Simpson born 1790 and died 1863 in High Stakesby, Whitby, son of Abel Chapman and Elizabeth Wakefield. He married Dorothy Simpson making Henry Simpson of Stakesby ownership his father-in-law in 1814. W S Chapman built six ships from 1815 to 1817 totalling 1286 tons. But who built Stakesby in 1814?

Some sources, e.g. Hackman, indicate the builder as W S Chapman. And on Stakesby‘s first survey of record in June 1835, her builder is recorded as ‘Chapman and Co.’ The ship, later rigged as a barque, continued in the ownership of the Chapmans until her final voyage in 1846.

The Ship’s Unwilling Passengers

Albion and the Star 20 May 1833.

Stakesby sailed from Spithead on 22nd May 1833 after 216 male convicts boarded from their previous ‘home’ on the prison hulk York in Gosport at the mouth of Portsmouth harbour. The Spit Sand forms the western side of the channel leading into the harbour. The prisoners had been sentenced in the English county Quarter Sessions and Assizes Courts, and Middlesex and London Gaol Deliveries. One soldier, John Siminet, was sentenced to 14 years at court martial in Montreal, Lower Canada. Fifty nine of the prisoners had been sentenced to life.

No prisoners died on the voyage and the surgeon remarked, ‘Nothing of an unusual nature occurred during the voyage and the health of the prisoners was in general good.’

The Ship’s Guards and Carers

Lloyds Register 1833

Stakesby was one of 14 convict ships arriving in Van Diemen’s Land from British ports in 1833. This was Stakesby‘s only convict voyage to Australia. The 21st Regiment troops were convict guards, arriving convoy-like, assembling in VDL. Within six weeks many of the guards would be detached to the (then) convict-free Swan River Colony.

Only one soldier on board Stakesby would become part of the Swan River Colony 21st detachment: Drummer Michael Quinn who took his Army discharge in July 1840 and settled in the Colony.

Five of the 21st guards were recorded on the ship’s sick List. One of them, John Tait, suffered from febris (fever) was admitted to hospital while at Deptford, but was returned to the ship before its sailing. There were two cases of pneumonia, the balance, single cases of rheumatism and dysentery. The soldiers on board Stakesby are listed left.

The master for this voyage was Captain Miles Corner and the surgeon superintendent David Thomson R.N.

The Ship’s Voyage

The Hobart Town Courier 6 Sep 1833

23 Apr 1833 Surgeon Superintendent David Thomson commenced his Journal.
05 May Deptford – one officer and 30 troops embarked.
13 May Spithead – 216 male prisoners embarked from the prison hulk York.
22 May Sailed from Spithead bound for Hobart, Tasmania.
04 Sep Arrived Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land.
Passage 105 days direct.

The Ship’s Journal

The Australian 27 May 1847

David Thomson R.N. received his LRCS in 1807 and was appointed surgeon in the Royal Navy in 1810. His first visit to Australia was as surgeon on Prince Regent in 1827, a voyage carrying merchandise and passengers. Thomson then served as surgeon superintendent on convict ships Eliza (1830 VDL), Earl of Liverpool (1831 NSW), Stakesby (1833 VDL) and New Grove (1835 VDL). This was followed by his appointment as surgeon on the emigrant ship John Barry (1837).

Thomson purchased land in Pentland, Murrurrandi and settled there in 1843, registering with the NSW Medical Board in 1848. He returned to England c. 1850 and retired to Guernsey, Channel Islands where he died in 1874.

Thomson maintained his surgeon superintendent’s journal on Stakesby from 27th April to 27th September 1833. March 1833. It was not maintained in the usual style in that there was no separate Sick List for the less serious health issues, but these names were grouped together and appear within the journal with a case number. This results in a total of 35 case notes sometimes covering the same complaint and sharing the same remarks about treatment. It made for less paperwork, but I suspect it may not have been acceptable to naval authorities who, from changes in 1836, were stricter about the format of the journals. Thomson’s general remarks were very brief, and the nosological abstract incomplete. Nontheless all 216 of his charges made landfall in Hobart.

Thomson’s case notes show that pneumonia (8), dysentery (6), typhus (5), acute rheumatism (4) and cholera (3) were the most common health conditions.

The Ship’s Demise

Lloyds Register 1846


Stakesby disappeared in 1846 while sailing from London to Quebec. Lloyds Register for 1846 shows her with Richards, master, Chapman, owner, and trade London–Quebec. The entry carries the annotation “Missing” (left).



Surgeon Thomson’s General Remarks [ADM101-69-4]
Wikipedia, Wikipedia Commons.
Lloyd’s Registers 1815 to 1846 [Maritime & Historical Research Service].
Lloyd’s Survey Report for 1835 [Lloyds Register Foundation].
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.
Three Decks – Warships in the Age of Sail website [Cy Harrison].
Ships of the East India Company, Rowan Hackman, 2001.
The Ancient Port of Whitby and its shipping. Richard Weatherill, 1908.
The Maritime History of the Port of Whitby 1700 to 1814, Stephanie Karen Jones, 1982.
21st Regiment Embarkation Roll WO25-3503, National Archives, Kew.
21st Regiment Musters & Pay Lists WO12-3801 to 3809, National Archives, Kew.
Journal of Her Majesty’s Ship Stakesby, ADM101/69/4, National Archives, Kew.

Shipping & Other Notices
Albion and the Star 20 May 1833.
Morning Herald 21 May 1833.
Hobart Town Courier 6 Sep 1833.
Sydney Morning Herald 11 Sep 1843.
The Australian 27 May 1847.


© Diane Oldman 2023