Here you will find a selection of articles, reviews and various information sources, that can be used by genealogists to assist in their research. Contact us if you require any further details about any information on this page.
Did your convict spend time on one of Great Britain’s Prison Hulks?
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) offers a wealth of information.
The following letters can be found in the Treasury Papers of the AJCP.
[The Treasury Papers also reveal long lists of felons on board the various hulks. There are quarterly lists of both those awaiting transportation and those sentenced to hard labour. To find these reports go to Our Projects page and consult our under-progress index of the Treasury Papers.]
[Once you have read these letters, you may want to go to our Links page and look at the Blackheath Connection web-site of Dan Byrnes for more information about Duncan Campbell.]
T1/600, Reel 3549
Letter written by Duncan Campbell, overseer of the convicts on the River Thames:-
30 Nov 1784
I think it my duty to acquaint you for the information of my Lords of the Treasury that I have this day received His Ma jesty’s commands and instructions touching the employment of the convicts for transportation which have been removed from the several gaols on board the Censor Hulk; which instructions I will with all possible dispatch carry into execution; but to do this with effect, it will be necessary to have an additional number of Lighters, Boats and Guards to attend while the convicts are working in the Lighters or on shore. These, with the cloathing (sic) and provision which His Ma jesty is pleased to direct may be in the same proportion as given to those who are ordered to hard labour, will of course increase the present expense of that ship The Censor is calculated for the accommodation and safe custody of 240 convicts and upwards. For that number certain I am willing to engage, and to find ship, officers and crew, four lighters, or more if necessary, sufficient boats and guards, and to find medicines and surgeon, as has been hitherto done for the convicts at hard labour on the Thames. And this I will agree to do for one year to commence 12 th October last for the nett sum of £6,500 to be paid quarterly. If my Lords have no ob jection I should wish likewise to enter into a contract for those on board the Justicia viz 250 certain, for one year at the rate allowed me for last instalment 12 th October.
I pray you Sir to lay this before the Board and to take their Lordships pleasure thereupon
Signed Duncan Campbell
NB The difference that will appear between the expenses of the two ships arises from the hospital and receiving vessels which, with their Lordship’s permission, I can make to serve both hulks.
T1/608, Reel 3549
State of Bounties and Cloathing given by order of Duncan Campbell Esquire to the several convicts discharged from the Hulks and pardoned by recommendation of the Court of Kings Bench.
A list of the Sundry Slops and Bounties which I (Duncan Campbell) have delivered and paid to the discharged and pardoned convicts by your order. (From 31 st July 1783 to 10 th July 1784.
Here are listed names of convicts by date of discharge and what they were paid.
Also in T1/608 you will find the Coroner’s list of convicts who died on board the hulks.
T1/613, Reel 3549
This refers to the hulk Dunkirk situated near Plymouth, overseer Mr Cowdry.
Costs in 1874 included –
To Boathers paid before any boat was allowed for the Dunkirk 10/-
Cash paid for crooping for irons the convicts took from their legs and threw overboard 5/-
Cash paid for slop cloathes issued to the convicts as per list £97/14/8
Cash paid for straw for the convicts £1/10/-
Cash paid for 10 gallons of oil of tar £1/2/-
Cash paid to surgeon for attendance and medical supplies £26/15/6
Cash paid to Turnkey £18/-/-
Cash paid to other Turnkey £18/-/-
To Cowdry as overseer for 111 days £55/10/-
T1/616, Reel 3549
Report of Convicts ordered to Hard Labour on board the Hulks at Woolwich from 11 th July to 12 th October 1785 –
This is a list of 278 convicts under columns headed – Name; Age; Date of the order of Court and where from; Years; and a remarks column showing when some were discharged. The ma jority were sentenced to 3 to 5 years.
Below the list, Duncan Campbell wrote –
The convicts named in the above return have since last report been employed when health and weather permitted in raising gravel from Barking or Woolwich Shoals, in wheeling the same for the purpose of filling up a large moat making considerably higher the ground contiguous to the Proof and Practice Butts which they have erected; in sawing of timber for the Laboratory, and in other occasional works in the Warren at Woolwich under the direction of the officers of the Board of Ordnance.
This was followed by –
Report of Convicts under sentence of transportation moved from sundry gaols by command of His Majesty on the Censor Hulk at Woolwich from 11 th July to 12 th October 1785.
Here you will find a list of 258 names under columns headed – Name; Age; When and where convicted; Sentence; and an unnamed remarks column.
The sentences were mostly for transport for 7 years or life to America. However, some were to go to Nova Scotia or Africa.
At the conclusion is written –
The convicts in the above return which have been ordered on board the Censor Hulk under the Act authorizing their being put to labour are by His Ma jesty’s command and instructions under the same regulations those ordered to hard labour on the Thames and have been occasionally employed in the same works.
Lord Sydney wrote the following –
20 th March 1785
The season of the year having so far advanced, it has been judged advisable that the transportation of the felons to the coast of Africa who are now confined in the several gaols in this country should be deferred until such time as the rainy or sickly season upon the coast shall be over, but as the gaols are in so crowded a state that infectious distempers are daily expected to break out, His Ma jesty has thought fit that some place of temporary confinement should be appointed for the reception of such of the said convicts as are under sentence or order of transportation. The Censor Hulk which has already been hired for that purpose has been found a proper place of security, and upon an application by my order to Mr Duncan Campbell, he has offered to supply another vessel, I transmit herewith a copy of his letter stating the terms he is ready to agree upon and I must desire that Your Lordships will take the matter into your immediate consideration and receive His Ma jesty’s further commands with respect to the hire of this vessel, or for preparing some other place of temporary confinement for the convicts above mentioned, until the latter end of August or the beginning of September next, at which time the season will arrive for carrying into execution the plan transmitted to Your Lordships in my letter of the 9 th February last.
(signed Lord Sydney)
The letter Lord Sydney referred to –
5 March 1785
I have no spare hulks at present but can provide a vessel fit for the purpose in a few days ready to receive the number of male convicts you mention a fortnight after.
Terms – For temporary confinement and not put to labour – 1/- each man per day, and 10/- a head for cloathing- paid quarterly.
I must incur a very large expense in buying and fitting with anchors cables and a vessel for this service. The monthly hire of such a vessel (of 700 tons burthen) and for so short a period, with boats, proper officers and guards, and ship’s company will be £175 per month for the first 6 months. If to be kept after that time, £150 a month.
If to be put to labour – furnishing Lighters will increase the expense.
Signed Duncan Campbell.
T1/617, Reel 3549
For medicines and attendance on the undermentioned convicts from different counties, confined in Wood Street Comptor by order of the Right Honourable Thomas Townshend, late one of His Majesty’s Secretarys of State.
Here you will find a list of medicines and to whom they were dispensed – as well as the cost of each. It was prepared by William Witty of Castle Street, London, Apothocary.
Dates are 1 Oct 1782 to 30 Sep 1783
e.g. 1 Oct 1782 six doses of Pills Jno Jones 3/-
a purging draught Jno Tovill 1/-
[Mr Kirby was the Keeper of Wood Street Comptor where sundry convicts sentenced to transportation were kept.]
T1/636, Reel 3550
An account of expenses in conveying convicts from Woolwich to Portsmouth by John Townshend and Thomas Sing.
Bread, cheese and beer and other articles for 20 convicts on the road £2/4/6
Expenses attending and guarding said convicts from Woolwich to Cumberland Fort £8/-/-
Horse hire for Sing and Townshend in so doing, 6 days £3/-/-