I beg to submit the following remarks connected with the conveyance of convicts to Australia.
1. I would suggest that a convict guard at the rate of ten men to every hundred convicts
would be ample, and that a steady intelligent Sergeant Major is most indispensible,
especially where no officer is sent in charge. I would also recommend that every ship should
have at least one Principal and three Assistant Warders, as I consider such men from their
knowledge of convicts to be invaluable in their management.
The system of sending warders to sea, supplied with thick chunky boots only fit to be worn
on shore, renders them unable to get about the decks with any comfort to themselves, and
when the ship is knocking about much, makes them almost helpless. In the 'Merchantman' to
obviate their inconvenience, I allowed them to go about bare-footed, but of course in cold
weather this could not be done. I would therefore recommend that proper shoes be supplied to
2. I most decidedly object to the presence of women on board convict ships, it is no place
for them, and in case of an outbreak they would be a bad incumberance, and in fact their
presence would be a further inducement to determined and lawless ruffians to try and get the
ship into their possession.
3. The dieting on board is quite sufficient both for guard and convicts when in health but I
would strongly recommend a supply of poultry for the use of the sick, or perhaps what would
be better still, to require the Master to victual from his mess any number of sick persons
on the Surgeon Superintendent's requisition, granting a far remonstration and at the same
time the ship's provisions could be checked. By this means the recovery of the sick would be
most materially assisted.
A supply of malt liquors, wine and brandy are also necessary, the port wine allowed not
being sufficient. In the 'Merchantman', I demanded them at Bermuda and Admiral Milne, the
Commander in Chief in the West Indies, quite agreed with me as to the necessity, and granted
4. The system carried out at Bermuda of allowing convicts half a gill of rum daily I look
upon as being objectional, it is an indulgence which, I conceive, men undergoing penal
servitude are not entitled to, besides I can see no benefit from it in a medical point of
view to men in good health. In the 'Merchantman' I considered it prudent to allow half a gill
of wine daily but it was not looked upon at all as an equivalent for the rum that had been
stopped and was the cause of much discontent on board. By my instructions, I am forbidden to
allow smoking on board, but in the case of the convicts embarked in the 'Merchantman' in
Bermuda, I thought it prudent to continue the system pursued there, more especially as the
Comptoller there, with the Governor's approval, sent on board a regular supply of tobacco for
their use, and I am sure that had I acted up to the strict letter of the law, I should have
had the greatest difficulty in managing them, but I must strongly protest against such an
indulgence, which I concern to say the least of it is by no means beneficial to health and
most decidedly prejudicial when taken to the smallest excess.
5. The Colts Revolvers sent on board were rendered in a manner inefficient from the small
quantity of ball cartidges, (250), and precision caps (375) supplied. It is of course
necessary to keep revolvers loaded to render them immediately available, now this could not
be done, as after a certain time the revolvers missed fire owing to the damp of the ship. I
would therefore recommend that the supply should be sufficient to enable them to be fired
off at least once a week, say for four months. 30 rounds for each chamber are now supplied.
6. I would suggest the stowage of spirits in all convict ships should be so far removed from
the neighbourhood of the convicts as to render them getting at it an improbability; this was
the case in the 'Merchantman', but I am led to believe that in some ships, the spirit room
has been broken into owing principally to its proximity to them.