Home site -
before 1849
© Email
The way to Civilisation

Convicts to Bermuda
Page 2
From 1823 to 1850

The Dockyard at Bermuda
Source Bermuda Travel

Convicts to Bermuda. Source of notes: Newspapers of Australia from 1820 to 1850

Introduction notes end with extract dated Monday 31 October 1825
Here - Page 2 Extracts dated from Saturday 15 April 1826 to 1840
Page 3 Extracts dated from Monday 3 February 1840
Page 4 Extracts dated from Saturday 25 March 1843
Page 5 Extracts dated from Saturday 22 April 1848

The Royal Naval Dockyard at Bermuda in 1848 go here for large image

The Dockyard at Bermuda in 1848

The labels are - Hulk "Tenedos", Naval Hospital, Stone quarry, Cockburn's Cut and Bridge, Batteries, Hulk "Medway', Hulk "Coromandel", Hulk "Dromedary", New Victualling stores building, Keep and Commissioner's House.
Scan of handcoloured, original section of a newspaper page dated 1848, showing a woodcut of the dockyard under construction on HMD Ireland Island Bermuda. The hill towards the left was levelled by quarrying. Illustrated London News, 29 July 1848.

Saturday 15 April 1826

Hobart Town Gazette (Tas. : 1825 - 1827) Saturday 15 April 1826, Page 4,
Miscellany, Original And Select. Item 1, top of first column.
An English whaler has discovered a long low island between New Caledonia and New Guinea, the natives of which had many articles which appear to have belonged to the unfortunate La Perouse and his crew, who must have been wrecked on that island. His last departure was from Botany Bay, 40 years ago, to explore the Archipelago to the north of New Holland.

two-thirds down column 2, - these 4 paragraphs,
To prepare quills of the goose, turkey, eagle or other birds, suspend them in a vessel of hot water ...
Supposing the world to be divided into 3O parts, l9 are Pagans, 6 Jews, or Mahometans, and 5 Christians.
Convicts continue to be transported to Bermuda, to improve the ports and public works there. About 2000 are to be employed at the Breakwater at Plymouth.
The most humane method of killing eels, ...
The Baltic sea is found to have subsided a foot and a half within the last 40 years.

Wednesday 19 July 1826

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Wednesday 19 July 1826
Miscellaneous Estimates. (From the Times of March 3.)
Tne estimates for miscellaneous services have been printed by order of the House of Commons. The following are the items, and some of them cannot fail to appear large :
Secret service money, 50,0001.
Printing for the two Houses of Parliament, 109,3241.
Printing the records of the kingdom, 7,5001.
Stationery for the public departments of Government, 102,0001.
For forming an index to the journals of the House of Commons, 10,1801.
Extraordinary expenses of the Mint in gold coinage, 34,0001.
Loss on coining Irish silver tokens, 23,0001.
Estimated expense of prosecutions relating to the coinage, 5,0001.
Estimated sum to defray the expense in the Lord Chamberlain's department, for fittings and furniture to the two Houses of Parliament, 8,7001.
Estimated amount of law charges for the year I82(;. 12,0001.
Estimated expense for confining, maintaining, and employing convicts at home and in Bermuda, 92,1001.
Estimated expenses incurred for the abolition of the slave-trade and the support of captured negroes, 35,0001.
Estimated expenses of the commissioners appointed under treaties for the abolition of the slave* trade, 18,0001.
Estimated expenses of missions and special commissions to the new States of America, 60,0001.
Estimate of the sum which may be wanted for the salaries and contingent expenses of the consuls-general, consuls, and vice-consuls, in Spanish America, 40,0001.
Estimate of the amount of Bills drawn, or to be drawn, from New South Wales, 120,0001.
The estimate for misssions and commissions, for consuls and vice-consuls, to the new States of South America, appears large. It is 100,0001.

Friday 15 December 1826

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart, Tas. : 1825 - 1827) (about) Previous issueFriday 15 December 1826
The prisoners sent out in such numbers, three or four years ago, to Bermuda, for the purpose of completing the Government works at that Island, are now, we understand, to be removed forthwith to New South Wales. We may therefore expect a large increase of prisoners in the ensuing year. The Home Government, it appears, are nearly sick of the Penitentiary system as carried on at Millbank. We are glad to hear it is to be abandoned, and prisoners are to be sent out to this Colony as formerly.

Friday 1 June 1827

The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828) Friday 1 June 1827 By the ship Lucy Anne, arrived Weds 23 May from London the 19th of January and Cork the 1st of February, she touched at St Jago.
It has been also found necessary to send a number of Prisoners to Bermuda, where fortifications, upon a very extensive scale, are now in progress. The Dromedary, with 400 picked men, all under 30 years old, arrived there, in September last.-

Wednesday 11 August 1830

The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838) Wednesday 11 August 1830 Convicts On Board The Hulks.--
Among the papers lately printed by order of Parliament, are two Reports from Mr. Capper, Superintendent of the Hulks, on board of which convicts under sentence of transportation are kept at work. These hulks, ten in number, are stationed respectively at Portsmouth, Sheerness, Chatham, Woolwich, Plymouth, and Deptford. The number of con :victs on board was, on the 1st January last, 4,250, many of whom are under the age of ;twenty. A register is kept of the labour performed by these men, and entries of its estimated worth are regularly made in the offce books. A small number, rated as artificers, are considered to earn Is. 9d. a-day ; but the great majority being employed as labourers, are considered as worth only is. 3d. a-day. Yet, moderate avnis-this estimate of the value of their work, the amount, at the end of a year or half-year, is not greatly short of tihe total of their expence. Thus in the first six months of last year, the earnings of the convicts in these hulks amounted to .... £31,646 The total expence, including Superintendent's salary, was.......... 37,626
These statements are followed by short reports from the different chaplains' at the hulks, on tihe conduct of the convicts, as regards atten dance at public worship, and their moral behaviou' generally. The chaplains, eight: in number, report in general favoun ably, adding, however, that the orderly conduct of the prisoners is, doubtless, less a consequence of imoral improvemnet, than of the discipline in which they are kept. The boys are kept separate frben the men, and are made to attend during certain hours at school. At Bermuda there areo'three convict-ships, and the number of men confined on board is above'1,000. -The propirtion of earnings to expence is here nearly the samet viz. 13,0001

Monday 18 October 1830

The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 - 1839) Monday 18 October 1830 Arrived this day, the 18th instant, the ship Royal George, R. Embleton, esq. commanded from Portsmouth, 27th June, with 211 male prisoners. 4 having died on the voyage. The guard consists of 1 serjeant and 33 rank and file of the 17th. and 63rd. regiments, under the command of Colonel Logan of the 63d. regiment. Passengers, Mrs. Logan and servant, 5 women and 10 children of the military. By this conveyance we have the melancholy tidings of the death of His Majesty King George the Fourth, who died on Saturday the 26th June. We make the following extract from the Atlas of the 27 th. of June : The Duke of Clarence was proclaimed William the Fourth, King of England, on the following morning.

Monday 17 June 1833

The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842) Monday 17 June 1833
It has been ascertained by correct accounts, that, in 1820, each man incuned a total expense on board the hulks in England, of £33 10s. 2d , and in 1827, the lowest year, it amounted to £17 lös. 9d. At Bermuda, where hulks have been stationed since 1824, the expendituie is such as must exceed anything that has been visible amongst us. In that year, the expense to the public was at the rate of £31 8s. 4£d toi eich man. In 1828, when the latest accounts were made up, each man cost £29 16s. 2Jd. per annum.
In the penitentiaiy at Mill-Bank, the average annual cost for each prisoner, in 1820, was £35 0s lOd. In 1825, the cost of each prisoner was £57 12s. 2d , in the year following, C12 12s 6d. ; and in 1S29, for each pet son, the expense was £30 3s. Taking this, therefore, as the best establishment in England, we find that a little more than half the annual cost of one man, would, under proper management, have placed him on our shores.
In 1828, the average expense for passage of each of the male pnsoneis, sent to this Country, was £20 18s. 6d. ; the highest by the Bussorah Merchant, being rated at £28 15s.; and the lowest the Marquis of Hastings, at £24 9s. The expenses of fitting out a female piison ship are much greater. The charges for the females by the Mermaid, in 1828, weie £35 14s., and by the City of Edinburgh, £39 2s. 1 Hd. ; the charge lately made for femule prisoners, averages £30 each.
We refer our Re ulei s, thci efore, to these statements, from which it will appear, that the cheapest system hitherto devised for relieving Bntain of her criminals, is tiansportation , and that neither prisons nor penitentialles arc compatible to the system, which, by incurring a charge of £20 or £22), places the prisoner of England, upon our shores - and leaves him to be maintained, clothed, fed, and controlled, without further trouble to the Mother Country.

Thursday 2 November 1837

The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842) Thursday 2 November 1837 HOUSE OF COMMONS, JUNE 27.
The House, this day, resolved itself into a committee of supply. Arnon; In the miscellaneous estimates we find the following -- The sum of £25,000 was voted to defray the expense of converting certain buildings attached to Albany Barracks, Isle of Wight, into a prison for the reception of juvenile offenders.
For the building of a new Custom-house at Glasgow, including the purchase on ground, the sum of £14,800 Was voted £53,400 for the expenses of convict establishments at home and at Bermuda, £244,100 for convict expenditure in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.
£1,500 for defraying a part of the charge of 'an expedition to explore the north-west part of New Holland. £5,309 5s. for defraying the expense of Western Australia.
£2,644 16s. 3d. for defraying the salaries of the twelve agents for emigration.

Thursday 14 February 1839

he Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Thursday 14 February 1839
Tho Transportation Committee. (Report continued from Saturday's Gazette )
Subjoined are the results of the Committee's inquiry into the effects of the Assignment System :
The sad conclusion - As the lot of a slave depends upon the character of his master, so the condition of a convict depends upon the temper and disposition of the settler, to whom he is assigned.
... in the third column ...
Your Committee will next proceed to consider the condition of those convicts who are subjected to compulsory labour, under the immediate charge of the Government, either in the Australian colonies or at Bermuda.
With respect to Bermuda, Your Committee have but few observations to make. All convicts sent there are employed by the Government on the public works in the dock-yards; in number they amounted to about 900. The system of punishment is essentially different from that pursued in the penal colonies, and closely resembles that adopted in the hulks in this country. The convicts, sent to Bermuda, are selected as being the best behaved; they are kept apart from the free population; they are shut up in hulks during night; they are worked in gangs during day; they are always under the superintendence of free overseers; they are paid a small amount of wages, a portion of which they aro allowed to spend, the remainder forms a fund for the prisoners, when they become free;
At the expiration of their sentences they do not remain in Bermuda and form a criminal population there, but are sent back to this country; this punishment, then, does not possess, what is supposed to be the great advantage of Transportation, namely, that it gets rid of the criminal population, and opens to them a new career in a new country, where there is not the same competition for employment, as here, but where the great demand for labour enables the freed offender easily to obtain, if he please, a livelihood by honest industry

The Buffalo

brings convicts - from Quebec in Canada, on 28th September 1839, to Hobart and Sydney

What is a 'Knot' in speed?

Originally, in the 16th century the English log line, by which a vessel's speed was measured, had knots at intervals of 42 feet. The number of knots run out by a half-minute glass gave the speed in knots? or miles per hour. There were seven fractional parts between the knots on the log line, each equalling six feet, hence a fathom being six feet. This was based on the notion that a mile of 5,000 feet equalled one minute of an arc of latitude. When it was determined that a minute of an arc was closer to 6,000 feet, the sea mile or nautical mile became a unit of measurement separate from the geographic mile. To compensate for this Richard Norwood in 1637 proposed that the knots on the log line be spaced at 50-foot intervals. The fractional parts of the knot, still termed fathoms, now totalled eight with a remainder of two feet (Taylor, 1971). This is why the 8 fathoms in a knot are not six foot each. It should also be noted that knots and fathoms were not only used to record the speed of a vessel but also to record the velocity of a current.

The Propeller

The development of the propeller in 1840, brought a regular transatlantic steam line which caused the quick obsolescence of the sailing packets.
Transatlantic steamers were not new. In 1819, the Savannah had crossed the ocean from Georgia to Liverpool in less than a month. A hazard of this voyage is the area called the Bermuda Triangle, with many Missing Vessels. The first recorded merchant ship disappearance was in 1840, when the Rosalie vanished in the Sargasso Sea. Rosalie has often been listed as a derelict ship instead, confused with the very non mysterious drifter Rossini, and claimed to have never existed at all. However, the British Maritime Museum does hold a record of her. She was built in 1838, of 222 tons. There is still some debate whether she vanished or was found derelict. The London Times of 1840 listed her as derelict. From Rootschat Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser for July 7th 1840 reports the arrival in Dublin of a subaltern, two sergeants and 28 rank-and-file of the 69th Depot at Nenagh, en route for Deptford via Liverpool to be the guard on board the convict ship Horatio for Bermuda

Some comments

Re: Convict ship to Bermuda 1840 « Reply #5 on: Saturday 13 July 2013 Hi I have a convict who was disposed of to Bermuda. I believe the early convicts were housed in hulks in the harbour while the docks were constructed, you can find copies of oil paintings via google. The then governor was the person who introduced prisoner pyjamas with arrows on. there is also a convicts cemetery owned by the Bermudan National Trust.
Rootsweb details From: "Gay Fielding" Subject: Bermuda Convicts Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005
1824 marked the arrival in Bermuda on February 4 of the first ship of the white convicts labor force, on the Antelope, 300 of them with guards. From 1824 to 1863, the British Government shipped thousands of British convicts from London prisons or English prison hulks to Bermuda to build the Dockyard. About 2,000 of the 9,000 convicts died here from yellow fever or other diseases.
4 letters ending with : "Brian Swann" Sat, 19 Mar 2005 Thanks Gay - Very interesting re Bermuda. It is intriguing to follow the story of how the British overnment sent convicts to different parts of their Colonies at different times - since they started with convicts to Virginia in the 1620s. As one door closed another door opened - and sources of cheap labour were always needed somewhere.
Paul Carter at the TNA recommended the book "Albions Fatal Tree", 1975 as a very good source to understand the British criminal justice system in relation to transportation and its use in establishing the colony of NSW. Brian
From "Claudia Ferguson" Subject: Re: [PJ] Bermuda Convicts Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 there were 3 Justitia hulks at Woolwich, 1776-1791, 1815-1830, 1830 -1852 BUT the Coromandel was an outstation at Bermuda from 1829 - 1846 From: Wendy <"shadowgwen"@xtra.co.nz> Subject: [BERMUDA] Bermuda convicts Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 00:46:29 +1200 Dear Myrtle, The man I am tracing was a prison warder in the 1850s. I don't know where you are domiciled, but the CO [Colonial Office] series of correspondence registers held at the National Archives at Kew in London have extensive information about the convict establishment in Bermuda. [And the other establishments at Perth, Western Australia, and Gibraltar.] I was able to find the recruitment of my man, details of his embarkation to Bermuda, half yearly conduct reports on his conduct, details of his dismissal, plus two original letters from his wife to the authorities. I'm not sure if I saw lists of convicts, but there is certainly plenty of information about them, including monthly reports of their conduct and employment. If there are lists, this will be the place to look. I understand that a proportion of these registers have been microfilmed and are held in Bermuda.
You may find more by consulting the National Archives online catalogue, using the series code CO: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/search.asp
There is an online leaflet about the Colonial Office registers, how they work, and what they contain, at this link: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=276
And another about the records held for convicts: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=253
Hope this helps, Kind regards Wendy
From: John Weiss Subject: Re: [Carib] Bermuda prisoners Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2012 The UK National Archives holds lists of convicts on board convict hulks. The convict hulks shown for Bermuda in the period 1830 to 1844 are Antelope, Coromandel, Dromedary, Tenedos and Thames, and their quarterly returns are in the records HO 8/23-82. Notes on the record description indicates that "Section XIV of the Transportation of Offenders Act 1824 (5 Geo IV chapter 85) provided that the Superintendent of Convicts should make sworn quarterly returns of prisoners in the hulks to the Secretary of State", and so James Duncan should appear in each relevant return for the period of his stay at Bermuda.

Introduction, Here, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5

Elizabeth Janson's web contributions
began 1st Nov, 1998
See Ships that came to Port Phillip before 1849
© Say thanks to