Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Lady Juliana

The Lady Juliana was not officially part of the Second Fleet as the ship left England six months before the ships of the Second Fleet departed. The journey took eleven months arriving at Port Jackson a few days before the arrival of the Second Fleet ships.

Mary Bateman was born in London in 1773. On 7 May 1788 fifteen year old Mary Bateman was tried at the Old Bailey for the theft of a silver watch from James Palmer and Elizabeth Sully was tried for receiving the watch as stolen goods at her lodgings at 45 Cable Street, East London where she entertained her clients. On 12 March 1789 108 females (including Mary) were transferred from the prison to the transport ship, the Lady Juliana - a ship carrying only female prisoners. A report about the ship appeared in The Times 7 February 1889 p3 -

The ship, Lady Juliana, which is ordered by Government to carry over the convicts to Botany Bay, is a fine river-built vessel, and was the first ship that was taken by the Americans on her passage from Jamaica to London, and was afterwards retaken by a man of war, and conveyed to England.

One hundred marines are ordered by Government to be raised to go to Botany Bay in the Lady Juliana.

 The ship remained on the Thames until early July when it sailed to Portsmouth and then to Plymouth before beginning the long voyage to Australia on 29 July 1789.

A week after the departure of the ship a report about the Lady Juliana belatedly appeared in The Times 4 August 1789 -

A convict ship is now laying there which has two hundred and sixty females* on board; the youngest eleven, the oldest sixty-eight. Five of them appear to have been blessed with the favours of Providence, and a good education. - One of the latter class was about four years ago at Brighton, and in the most gay and alluring style drove her phaeton.

The crew of the ship consist of thirty, and five or six officers; each of whom is allowed to select a mate for the voyage. Government have ordered the baby cloathes for sixty - supposing the salubrity of the sea-air may, during the long voyage, produce twins to every honest woman.
The two hundred and thirty unemployed females are to remain untouched according to the law agreed to.

*This figure is a little high. Bateson in his book, The Convict Ships, (p121) states that the ship left Plymouth with 226 female convicts aboard though John Nichol in his diary gave the figure as 245.
Two hundred and thirty convicts were listed on the Colonial Office lists. Fifty-one of the women were aged 19 or younger, 116 were aged between 20 and 29, 40 were aged between 30 and 39, 15 were aged between 40 and 49 while eight were more than 50 years.

The voyage to Port Jackson took 309 days. A detailed report of the voyage is provided in the book, The Floating Brothel.

Three weeks after leaving Plymouth the ship arrived at Santa Cruz, Teneriffe. This provided the opportunity to bring fresh water aboard. For the first few days the decks of the ship resembled a laundry as the women washed clothes and bedding in fresh water as opposed to salt water available when at sea. Additional supplies including fresh fruit and vegetables as well as fresh and salted meat were sourced for the next leg of the voyage. The opportunity to earn some money was taken by some of the convicts who took the opportunity, with assistance from some crew members, to visit crewmen on neighbouring ships.

In the second week of September the ship left Santa Cruz for Cape Verde Islands where additional supplies were loaded before sailing to Rio de Janeiro. As the ship ventured south temperatures and humidity increased as they approached the equator. Fish became the major source of food resulting in many of the women learning to catch fish. October was the beginning of the wet season with the ship encountering heavy rain and storms.

The Lady Juliana arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 2 November 1789 and remained in the harbour for 45 days. In this Portuguese colony repairs were made to the ship and fresh supplies were brought on board. On one part of the deck a tent had been set up for the women about to give birth. Elsewhere on the ship women entertained visiting seamen. 

The trip from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town took 50 days and the Lady Juliana arrived at Table Bay on 1 March 1790. The ship remained in Cape Town for 19 days. By now it was autumn and the ship would encounter dangerous seas as it crossed the Southern Ocean. The women would have heard tales of the ships wrecked in these waters including the fate of the Guardian which had hit an iceberg at the end of December when travelling to Port Jackson. The trip to Port Jackson took 75 days. The ship entered Sydney Harbour on 3 June but due to bad weather had to wait three days before being towed to Sydney Cove on 6 June 1790.

Although the voyage of the Lady Juliana was longer than other voyages from England to Australia only five convicts died during the trip. Bateson (p123) suggests that a number of factors could account for the low mortality rate –
     The women were issued with sufficient rations
     The ship had been kept clean and fumigated throughout the voyage
     The women had had free access to the deck during the voyage and had not been confined to below deck
     Long stays at port with access to fresh provisions

The women had also been kept busy during the voyage with daily routine established aboard the ship including cooking and cleaning. Some of the convicts spent time sewing shirts to be sold on arrival at the colony.

The trip from Plymouth to Port Jackson must have been terrifying for the women as they sailed to the unknown however the conditions aboard the ship were much better than conditions experienced by convicts travelling on the Second Fleet ships arriving several weeks later with a high mortality rate and many seriously ill convicts.

It was winter when the Lady Juliana arrived at Sydney Cove. Two and a half years after the establishment of the new settlement supplies in the colony were low and rations to the convicts had been greatly reduced. Attempts to grow crops were not as successful as had been hoped. New supplies from England were needed for the survival of the colony so when a ship carrying another two hundred convicts (even though they were women) and only limited supplies arrived it was not greeted with great enthusiasm. The supplies were unloaded first while decisions were hastily made as what to do with the new arrivals. The convicts finally were allowed ashore on 11 June to stay in the hospital building or huts or tents that formed the convict settlement. On the Sunday they would have attended the church service led by Reverend Richard Johnson. Some of the babies born on the ship were also baptised that day.

On 21 June the store ship, Justinian, arrived much to the relief of the inhabitants of the colony followed by the three convict ships comprising the Second Fleet during the following week.

  • Bateson, Charles: The convict ships 1797-1868. Sydney, Library of Australian history, 2004 (originally published 1950)
  • Flynn, Michael: The Second Fleet: Britain’s grim convict armada of 1790. Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1993.

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