We have just launched two new historical record collections which offer a peek into daily life aboard Australia-bound English convict ships.
These collections are journals that were penned by ships’ medical officers, who were required to keep a record of all patients, treatments and outcomes during a sea voyage.
UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1815-17 and UK Surgeon Superintendents’ Journals of Convict Ships, 1858-1867 include over 43,000 records depicting vivid and often gruesome details of ‘contemporary’ treatments and medical practices, as well as stories of life aboard convict ships, from the perils and prevalence of grog-related accidents to a simple chronicle of the daily routine on a 19th century sailing vessel.
If you are one of the 20% of Aussies (i) claiming convict history, you may well have an ancestor included in these collections. Individual records list the names and ages of passengers, convicts and crew who were sick or may have come to the surgeons’ attention.
Life Onboard a Convict Ship
Interesting stories that can be found in the collections include:
These journals detail daily life on board these ships and paint a riveting picture of what the journey to Australia must have been like for convicts. These often gruesome accounts are a must read for anyone with a convict connection.
The records are also valuable for those family history researchers who may have reached a dead end as they may include the missing link to passengers who did not recover and never made it to their destination.
You can search these and more Australian convict records online at Ancestry.com.au. Let us know if you make any exciting discoveries!
(i) The Australian Constitution Referendum Study, 1999
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