John Yearsley

Court Martial 14 Oct 1814. Tried in St Ann's Barracks, Barbados.
Sentence: Life
Vessel: Atlas III
Voyage Date: 16 Jan 1816
Arrived July 1816 aboard the Atlas
Listed as 'Missing' in 1826/1830/1832/1833/1835 and 'Absconded' in 1841 - Australian Convict Musters (NSW & Tasmania)

Henry Yearsley (alias Hazle, alias Bottom)

Birth Year: 1801, Gloucestershire. 5 foot 4 inches, complexion sallow, hair black, eyes light blue
Trade: Labourer
Convicted/Trial Date: 17 oct 1820, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England
Crime: Larceny
Sentence: 7 Years, Transportation.
Vessel: Adamant
Arrival Date: Sept 1821
Voyage Date: 26 Mar 1821
Colony: NSW
Certificate of Freedom: 27/961. Awarded 17 October 1827


Life aboard the Adamant - an example of the hardship faced by convicts on their journey to Australia

The "Adamant" (the ship that Joseph Bull sailed on) was a sailing Ship of 427 tons and was built at Blyth near Newcastle, England in 1811.The ship arrived in Sydney on the 8th August 1821. At that time, the colony was governed by Lachlan Macquarie. The population of the colony was approximately 25,000.

The trip to Port Jackson, Australia, a distance of some 13,000 miles, lasted just over five months (163 days) and even though there were apparently no official complaints by the convicts, the trip must have been a terrible ordeal, as the prisoners were most likely starved.

The master, Captain William Ebsworthy apparently instigated the stealing and concealment on board of large quantities of sugar, wine beef and other provisions and medical comforts which were supplied for the convicts needs on the voyage. In the book, Convict Ships by Charles Batison, it is recorded that this voyage was to prove claims of criminal negligence on the part of ships steward, George Farris and arguably Captain Ebsworthy, as the convicts were starved and their medical supplies were not given to them.

However, according to the Sydney Gazette, September 1821, it is claimed that the prisoners were inspected by his Honor, The Lieutenant Governor and appeared to be "In the very best of health" when they landed. Only two lives were lost on the voyage.

Though Court proceedings were later taken in Sydney against Captain Ebsworthy over these shortages, the matter being referred to the Navy, the outcome is unknown to the writer.

From the National Archives, Kew, England. Medical journal of the Adamant, convict ship from 10 March to 12 September 1821 by James Hamilton, surgeon superintendent

Folio 1: 19th March 1821; received eighty convicts from the Justitia, No sick.
Folio 2: Struck one iron off the following men- Joseph Palmer, butcher, William Howard, boatswain's mate, John Sidley, barber, and Thomas Long, cook.
Folio 2: William Hilton, aged 27, convict, taken ill off Woolwich; sick or hurt, catarrh; put on sick list 23 March 1821, discharged 24 March 1821.
Folio 2: 25th March 1821; struck one iron off Thomas Browan and Isaac Lyons in consequence of the iron being to small. Folios 2-3: William Wells, aged 27, convict, taken ill off Woolwich; sick or hurt, catarrh; put on sick list 26 March 1821, discharged 27 March 1821.
Folios 3-14: William Wade, aged 18, convict, taken ill off Woolwich; sick or hurt, venereal, bubo in the left groin and large chancres on the prepuce; put on sick list 28 March 1821, discharged 1 May 1821.
Folios 3-4: 28th March 1821; a great number of the prisoners complained of various theft being committed in the prison during the night, and James Thompson was caught with his hand in one of their pockets, put him in double irons. Handcuffed Griffith David for fighting with the men who were employed in cleaning the prison, also Thomas Gardiner for filthiness and other improper conduct. Ordered one iron off William Wells for coming forward and giving me the names of the aforesaid. At 6pm ordered the handcuffs to be taken off from the men above mentioned.
Folios 4 and 6: Ralph Booth, aged 21, convict, taken ill off Woolwich; sick or hurt, catarrh; put on sick list 29 March 1821, discharged 31 March 1821.
Folios 4-5: 1st April 1821; handcuffed Charles Wilson (boy) for swearing and abusing the guard and sailors.
Folio 5: 2nd April 1821; struck one iron off John Wyatt having an old eruption, and [Frank Younger?] to assist in cleaning the prison.
Folio 5: 3rd April 1821; struck one iron off John Job cook's mate and handcuffed James Henwright, William Smith and Ralph Booth for swearing and threatening to strike one of the prisoners who I appointed to [help?] in the prison, also Charles Gaugh (boy) for stealing.
Folios 5-6: John James, aged 18, convict, taken ill in the Downs; sick or hurt, fever, severe headache; put on sick list 4 April 1821, discharged 6 April 1821.
Folio 5: 4th April 1821; struck one iron off Abel [Sants?] who assisted in shaving the men.
Folio 6: Simon Evans, aged 61, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, catarrh; put on sick list 6 April 1821, discharged 8 April 1821.
Folio 6: 7th April 1821; There are a great number of convicts complaining of cold since they came on board, the few cases that I have related being the worst, I have presumed to omit the other, my treatment being much the same.
Folios 7-8: William [Thomas?] Barnes, aged 27, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, headach and bad taste in his mouth; put on sick list 9 April 1821, discharged 11 April 1821.
Folio 7: 9th April 1821; handcuffed Thomas Parson for making dirt between decks.
Folios 7-9: Thomas Oddie, aged 19, soldier, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, catarrh; put on sick list 10 April 1821, discharged 16 April 1821.
Folios 8-9: John Daniel, aged 20, soldier, taken ill at Mevagissey Bay; sick or hurt, catarrh, severe headache occasioned by a troublesome cough; put on sick list 11 April 1821, discharged 13 April 1821.
Folio 8: 11th April 1821; in consequence of various thefts being constantly committed in the boy's berth and finding that my threats were of no manner of use, I ordered Thomas [Wallaner?] to be tied up and the two boys from whom he stole some bread, to give him three lashes each.
Folios 8-10: Abel Sants, aged 39, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, rheumatism, severe pain in his right thigh and knee; put on sick list 13 April 1821, discharged 19 April 1821.
Folio 9: 13th April 1821; handcuffed Griffith David for stealing.
Folio 9: 14th April 1821; made application for some fresh beef for the prisoners and guard to Mr. Ebsworthy the commander. Flogged Charles Gough and Thomas Hepwell (boy) for stealing, the former I have been obliged to threaten repeatedly, but all to no effect, in fact there is hardly a day without some complaint being made against him, each of them got six lashes.
Folios 10-11: John Sidley, aged 40, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, severe headache, eyes flushed, pulse quick and full; put on sick list 17 April 1821, discharged 23 April 1821.
Folio 10: 17th April 1821; received for the use of the hospital, three knives and forks, two saucepans, one iron kattle, one bed pan, one spitting pot, one urinal, three pint pots, and three towels. Struck one iron from William Smith, Richard Miles and Samuel Davis, their legs having greatly swelled from the irons.
Folio 10: 19th April 1821; a great number of the prisoners seasick, struck one iron off from all the boys.
Folio 11: 23rd April 1821; from the great motion of the ship together with the general good conduct of the men, I thought it prudent to strike one iron off from each man.
Folios 11-13: John [Thomas?] Price, aged 16, boy convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, fever, severe headache, lassitude, thirst, skin hot and moist, breathing oppressed; put on sick list 25 April 1821, discharged 28 April 1821.
Folios 12-15: William Hilton, aged 27, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, great pain of the head, countenance flushed, hot skin and tongue foul; put on sick list 25 April 1821, discharged 3 May 1821.
Folio 12: 27th April 1821; gave Jonus Higgin (boy) three lashes for fighting.
Folios 12-20 and 27-40: William Wells, aged 27, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, fever, his head is much affected, skin hot and dry, tongue dry and brown in the middle, pulse small and frequent with pain in the umbilical region; put on sick list 27 April 1821, discharged 26 July 1821.
Folios 13-16: William Raynes, aged 18, convict, taken ill at sea; sick or hurt, pneumonia, violent pain in the left side between fourth and sixth ribs; put on sick list 29 April 1821, discharged 6 May 1821.
Folio 13: 29th April 1821; put the following men in irons for not assisting in cleaning the prison- Thomas Mensh, Thomas [Ronson?], James Haughty, Edward Stanley and William Watts, also James Higgins (boy) for fighting.