The Surgeons and their Voyages - Tales from Transcribers
by Colleen Arulappu
Department of the
Admiralty, 1st December, 1836
The Surgeons Superintendents of Convict Ships are particularly desired to notice, that they will be required to render a regular Sick Book, with the Journal, and the Nosological Synopsis now added thereto, in a complete and Scientific state, together with a certificate from the Medical Storekeeper at Deptford, as to the condition and number of their Surgical Instruments, in all respects the same as if employed in King’s Ships, agreeably to the new Instructions for the Service Afloat, and that in the event of any failure in these particulars, the Certificates necessary from this Department, to entitle them to receive their Pay and Allowances will be withheld.
Transcribing the medical journals written by the surgeon superintendents aboard the convict transport ships was a journey itself, often taking often nearly as much time as a voyage and providing many glimpses of life aboard a convict transport ship. The routine, the accounts of illnesses and treatment and occasional brief tales of individual women vary but each surgeon gave something of himself in the journal jottings. Occasionally it was flash of humour, frustrations as their patients’ recovery from illness was slow and tedious, sometimes anger at disruption and revolt but always dedication to the regulations regarding cleanliness and avoiding dampness. The surgeons deserve their own stories and recognition for their role in the history of transportation. They were men the Royal Navy could be proud of with their records of successfully delivering prisoners to the colonies.
The Surgeons and their Voyages - Tales from Transcribers will be published below as a series of chapters.
- James Hall (Mary Ann 1822, Brothers 1824)
- David Thomson (Eliza III 1830, New Grove 1835)
- John Grant Stewart (Nautilus 1838)
- Edward Caldwell (East London 1843)
- Sir John Hamett (Gilbert Hendersen 1839-1840)
- James Patton (Persian 1827)
- John Stephen Hampton (Mexborough 1841)
- John Wilson (Emma Eugenia 1844)
- Charles Cameron (Midas 1825)
- Robert Espie (Lord Sidmouth 1823)
- Joseph Steret (Edward 1834)
FCRC Seminar Autumn 2014 paper by Colleen Arulappu: Five Surgeons and their influence