Third Fleet (Australia)

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The Third Fleet comprised 11 ships that set sail from the Kingdom of Great Britain in February, March and April 1791, bound for the Sydney penal settlement, with more than 2,000 convicts aboard. The passengers comprised convicts, military personnel and notable people sent to fill high positions in the colony. More important for the fledgling colony was that the ships also carried provisions.

The first ship to arrive in Sydney was the Mary Ann with its cargo of female convicts and provisions on 9 July 1791. Mary Ann had sailed on her own to Sydney Cove, and there is some argument about whether she was the last ship of the Second Fleet, or the first ship of the Third Fleet, or simply sailing independently, as was HMS Gorgon. The vessels that unambiguously belong to the third fleet all left together.

The ships that make up each fleet, however, are decided from the viewpoint of the settlers in Sydney Cove. For them, the second set of ships arrived in 1790 (June), and the third set of ships arrived in 1791 (July–October). The Mary Ann was a 1791 arrival.

The next ship to arrive just over three weeks later, on 1 August 1791, was Matilda. With Matilda came news that there were another nine ships making their way for Sydney, and which were expected to arrive shortly. The final vessel, Admiral Barrington, did not arrive until 16 October, nearly 11 weeks after Matilda, and 14 weeks after Mary Ann.

Ships of the Third Fleet[edit]

Ship Master Dep. England Arr. Sydney Duration Male convicts: arrived [deaths] (boarded) Female convicts: arrived [deaths] (boarded)
Mary Ann Mark Munro 16 Feb 1791 9 Jul 1791 143 days 141 [9] (150)
HMS Gorgon Commander John Parker, RN 15 Mar 1791 21 Sep 1791 190 days 30 [1] (31)
Matilda Matthew Weatherhead 27 Mar 1791 1 Aug 1791 127 days 225 [25] (250)
Atlantic Archibald Armstrong 27 Mar 1791 20 Aug 1791 147 days 202 [18] (220)
Salamander John Nichol 27 Mar 1791 21 Aug 1791 148 days 155 [5] (160)
William and Ann Eber Bunker 27 Mar 1791 28 Aug 1791 154 days 181 [7] (188)
Active John Mitchinson 27 Mar 1791 26 Sep 1791 183 days 154 [21] (175)
Queen (came from Cork, Ireland) Richard Bowen 19 Apr 1791 26 Sep 1791 160 days 126 [7] (133) 22 [-] (22)
Albemarle George Bowen 27 Mar 1791 13 Oct 1791 200 days 250 [32] (282) 6 [-] (6) (arrival of females is a mystery)
Britannia Thomas Melvill 27 Mar 1791 14 Oct 1791 201 days 129 [21] (150)
Admiral Barrington Robert Abbon Marsh 27 Mar 1791 16 Oct 1791 203 days 264 [36] (300)
TOTAL 1716 [173] (1889) 169 [9] (178)

Atlantic, Salamander, and William and Ann departed from Plymouth; their naval agent was Lieutenant Richard Bowen. Albemarle, Active, Admiral Barrington, Britannia, and Matilda departed from Portsmouth; their naval agent was Lieutenant Robert Parry Young. Queen departed from Cork, Ireland; she had her own naval agent, Lieutenant Samuel Blow.

After having delivered their convicts, Active, Admiral Barrington, Albemarle, and Queen sailed for India. French privateers captured Active and Albemarle as they were almost home. Pirates murdered most of Admiral Barrington's crew near Bombay, but she was apparently recovered. A French privateer captured her in 1797.

Britannia, Mary Ann, Matilda, Salamander, and William and Ann went whaling. Britannia was wrecked off the coast of New South Wales some years later, in 1806. Matilda was wrecked on a shoal in February 1792.

People of the Third Fleet[edit]

From the above table it can be seen that 173 male convicts and 9 female convicts died during this voyage. Though this death rate was high, it was nowhere near as high as that which occurred on the Second Fleet. Convict arrivals on the Third Fleet included:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Convicts of the First Fleet". Retrieved 25 February 2020.

External sources[edit]