Saturday, 3 December 2011

Royal Admiral - 1800

Royal Admiral - ship - 914 tons - built 1777
300 male convicts - 43 deaths

Uriah Moses was born in 1780, possibly at Exeter or maybe, according to some sources, Pontypool, Wales.  In 1798 he was accused of breaking into the shop of William Holmes - a linen draper and mercer in Whitechapel - (by cutting the glass, possibly with a diamond) on 8 December 1797 and removing four or five cards of black lace, two pieces of silk handkerchiefs and two pieces of calimanco calculated as being worth a total of seven or eight pounds. The 18 year old Uriah was described in the records as being four foot eleven inches tall, dark complexion, brown hair and grey eyes. At the trial at The Old Bailey it was stated that Uriah had worked with Mr Jacobs in Petticoat Lane as a glasscutter for three years but had left three years ago. Uriah Moses was sentenced to death, later commuted to transportation for life to New South Wales.

This was the second voyage of the Royal Admiral to Port Jackson - first voyage to Port Jackson was in 1792) . The ship measured 120 feet 2 inches in length and had a beam of 37 feet 10 inches.

The Royal Admiral left England on 23 May 1800. As well as 300 male convicts there were 11 missionaries on their way to islands in the South Seas. The trip to Rio de Janeiro proved to be an eventful one. On 23 June it was reported that there was a plot to seize the ship but nothing happened. However the missionaries stood guard in the steerage each night as a precaution. On 4 August French ships were sighted and the decks were cleared. There were four other British ships in the area and the convicts below deck could hear the boom of gunfire until two French ships surrendered. Fifty-nine prisoners from the French ship, La Concorde, were taken aboard the Royal Admiral. The French prisoners complained that the convicts robbed them. After 81 days from England the Royal Admiral arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 12 August.

The Royal Admiral left Rio de Janeiro on 15 September and arrived at Port Jackson on 20 November. The complete journey took 181 days. Forty-three convicts and the ship's surgeon died during the voyage. On embarkation most of the convicts were suffering from gaol fever - typhoid fever - and the deaths were due to this illness. Almost all the convicts required medical treatment on arrival at Port Jackson. On 10 March 1801 Governor King reported that the convicts were still very weak. On 30 October 1802 Governor King reported that many of the convicts were still ill and would never fully recover.

  • Bateson, Charles: The convict ships 1797-1868. Sydney, Library of Australian history, 2004 (originally published 1950)

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