Scarborough (ship)

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Career (Great Britain)
Launched: 1782, Scarborough
Acquired: 1786
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 411[1][a]
Length: 111 feet 6 inches (34.0 m)[3]
Beam: 30 feet 2 inches (9.2 m)[3]
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Ship rig
Armament: None

Scarborough was a transport ship in the First Fleet, assigned to carry convicts for the European colonisation of Australia in 1788.[4]

In addition to her role as a convict transport, Scarborough was chartered by the British East India company for trading in tea.[5] Her masters included John Marshall.[6]

Construction and requisition[edit]

Scarborough was a square-sterned, three-masted barque of 411 tons, 111 feet 6 inches (34.0 m) long and 30 feet 2 inches (9.2 m) wide and with an initial height between decks of 4 feet 5 inches (1.35 m).[3] She was built in 1782 in the port of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, and was owned by Yorkshire merchants John, George and Thomas Hopper.[3]

In 1787 Scarborough was contracted for the First Fleet voyage by south London shipbroker William Richards, who selected her after consultation with Royal Marine officers Watkin Tench and David Collins.[7] Both marine officers would sail with the Fleet to Australia, Tench as a captain of marines and Collins as judge-advocate for the new colony. She was the second-largest transport selected for the Fleet after Alexander[3]

After selection, Scarborough was sailed to Deptford dockyard to be refitted for convict transportation under the supervision of Naval Agent George Teer.[8] The height between decks was increased to 6 feet 2 inches (1.9 m) amidships and between 6 feet 1 inch (1.9 m) and 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 m) fore and aft, and two windsails were brought aboard to improve the flow of air in the convict quarters.[9][10] Bulkheads were also fitted to separate convict quarters from those of the marines and crew, and space set aside for stores and a sick bay. An Osbridge machine was also installed to filter Scarborough's drinking water during the voyage to New South Wales.[10][b] Teer was entirely satisfied with Scarborough's fitout; in December 1786 he advised the Navy Board that she and her fellow First Fleet transports. were "completed fitted [with] provisions and accommodations .. better than any other set of transports I have ever had any directions in."[12]

Scarborough's crew as a convict transport was approximately 35 men including her master, three mates, a boatswain and a ship's surgeon.[9]


On her first convict voyage, as part of the First Fleet, her master was John Marshall and her surgeon was Dennis Considen. She left Portsmouth on 13 May 1787, carrying 208 male convicts, and arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney, on 26 January 1788. On leaving Port Jackson on 6 May 1788, in company with Charlotte, she traveled to China.[13] On 17 May 1788 she landed at Lord Howe Island for birds and vegetables, and arrived in England on 15 June 1789.

Scarborough returned to New South Wales with the notorious Second Fleet. In company with Surprize and Neptune she sailed from England with 253 male convicts on 19 January 1790. Her master was again John Marshall and the surgeon was Augustus Jacob Beyer. She arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on 13 April 1790, and spent 16 days there, taking on provisions, and 8 male convicts from HMS Guardian, which had been wrecked after striking an iceberg. She and Neptune parted from Surprize in heavy weather and arrived at Port Jackson on 28 June, 160 days out from England. During the voyage 73 convicts died (28%) and 96 (37%) were sick when landed.

After returning to England in 1792, she underwent repairs including resheeting.[14] She then plied the London to St.Petersburg route. Further repairs were undertaken in 1795 and 1798.[14] In 1800 the vessel plied the London to St.Vincent (Caribbean) run and was repaired and completely resheeted. Scarborough was then employed on the London-West Indies / St. Vincent run from 1801 to 1803.[14] Between 1804 and 1805, she plied the London to Tobago run.[14]


Scarborough was last listed in Lloyd's Register for 1805. Scarborough sprang a leak and foundered off Port Royal, Jamaica.[15][16]


A number of shoals and reefs in the South China sea were discovered by the Scarborough, including Scarborough shoal, First Thomas Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal.[17]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Contemporary Admiralty surveys also record a figure of 418 36/94 tons burthen, based on design. Another informal source, First Fleet Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King estimated Scarborough at 430 tons burthen.[2]
  2. ^ Osbridge machines: a rudimentary means of circulating water to remove sediment and reduce the incidence of bacteria. Naval surgeon William Turnbull described their operation as follows, "This machine consists of a hand pump which is inserted in a scuttle made at the top of the cask, and by means of it the water, being raised a few feet, falls through several sheets of tin pierced like colanders, and placed in a half-cylinder of the same metal. The purpose of it is to reduce the water into numberless drops, which being exposed in this form to the open air is deprived of its offensive quality."[11]


  1. ^ Register of Transports 1774-1794", Admiralty 49/127. Cited in Bateson 1969, pp.96-97
  2. ^ Bateson 1969, p.97
  3. ^ a b c d e Bateson 1969, p.96
  4. ^ Spennemann, Dirk H.R. "Historic Ships Associated with the Marshall Islands No. 2". Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Farrington, Anthony. Catalogue Of East India Company Ships' Journals & Logs (1600-1834). Ms. British Library. 
  6. ^ "Entries from the log book - Convict Ship Scarborough 1788". The settler or felon?. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Keneally 2005, p. 49
  8. ^ Frost 1984, p.112
  9. ^ a b Gillen 1989, p.430
  10. ^ a b Bateson 1969, p13
  11. ^ Turnbull 1806, p.40
  12. ^ Captain George Teer to Navy Board, 7 December 1786. Cited in Frost 1984, p. 113
  13. ^ Letter from Newton Fowell, midshipman HMS Sirius, to John Fowell, 12 July 1788. Cited in Irvine (ed.) 1988, p.81
  14. ^ a b c d Lloyd's Register 1793-1805
  15. ^ "LLOYD'S MARINE LIST. - June 1". Caledonian Mercury (13072). 22 June 1805. 
  16. ^ "Ship News". The Aberdeen Journal (2999). 3 July 1805. 
  17. ^ Sailing Directions - South China Sea. Taunton: UK Hydrographic Office. 


  • Bateson, Charles (1969). The Convict Ships. Brown, Son & Ferguson (Glasgow). OCLC 11085505. 
  • Frost, Alan (1984). Botany Bay Mirages: Illusions of Australia's Convict Beginnings. Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0522844979. 
  • Gillen, Mollie (1989). The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet. Library of Australian History. ISBN 0-908120-69-9. 
  • Irvine, Nance, ed. (1988). The Sirius Letters: The Complete Letters of Newton Fowell. Daniel O'Keefe. ISBN 1862900000. 
  • Turnbull, William (1806). The Naval Surgeon; Comprising the Entire Duties of Professional Men at Sea. London: B. McMillan. OCLC 822815824.