Convict records of George Murray
|10/7/1835 - Convict prison hulk register Justitia|
The Moffatt was built in India. She was made of teak and fastened with iron and although old, leaked little water except through the ports in bad weather. She sailed with a crew of fifty seven.
On 23 April, 1836 one hundred convicts were received from the hulks at Woolwich and on the 29th and 30th, 300 more from the hulks at Portsmouth. The men had been inspected on the Hulks and found to be healthy, however became chilled when they had to wash before leaving the hulks in inadequate clothing. They were probably conveyed to the Moffatt in open boats. This later gave rise to catarrh, rheumatism and pneumonia. Some men had been years on the hulks and some only a matter of weeks.
Among the prisoners were eighteen 'blacks from West India islands', two of whom died on the passage out. One of the prisoners received from the hulk at Portsmouth was found to be insane and was returned to the hospital, leaving 399 to embark on the voyage. Three more died on the journey leaving 396 prisoners to arrive in Port Jackson on 30th August 1836. The total number on board on arrival was an astonishing 498 people, almost 200 of whom had been ill at some time in the voyage.
The surgeon's final remarks suggest a disagreement between himself and Captain Bolton. The Moffatt had come direct (did not put into the Cape for fresh provisions). With three crew so very ill with scurvy and other of the prisoners also suffering, surgeon John Smith would have preferred to procure fresh provisions to ease their suffering. This request Captain Bolton obviously refused, electing to reach his destination in the shortest time possible. John Smith wrote in his Journal that he thought surgeons should be able to compel the master of a vessel into port to secure fresh food if necessary.
As the Moffatt approached the Sydney Heads at 2pm on 30th August, it was blowing a gale from the south. The vessel reefed the topsails and hauled up ready to receive a pilot on board at Middle Head. No pilot could be seen however and so they attempted to tack and in doing so split the main topsail to ribbons. They attempted to stand out to sea but could not clear the Heads. Now fearing for their lives, they cut the anchors and left the prisoners and such men as could be spared to take in the sail and veered away expecting at any moment that the ship would be on the rocks. After an hour they were approached by a vessel bringing Mr. Watson, the pilot and a number of able seamen to assist. Boats from H.M.S. Rattlesnake also came to assist and eventually the vessel and all on board were saved, although the anchors were lost and new sails would have to be procured.