The Arabian

The convict transport Arabian set sail in November 1846 from Kingstown, Dublin bound for Van Diemen’s Land carrying 150 female prisoners and 37 children. Ann Mahony was one of these prisoners, and while she does not appear in the Surgeon’s Journal, a look at this record provides interesting insight into the journey itself and the illnesses experienced along the way.[1]

Shortly after arrival in Hobart Town, Robert Wylie, Surgeon Superintendent, recorded his general remarks:

The remarks here are necessarily the same as those given on the Nosological report, that is, that on the 9th & 10th Novr 1846 – 150 Female prisoners & 37 children were Embarked at Kingstown on board the Arabian, all apparently in good health. After being some time at sea, & the sea sickness having reduced the Breast-milk of the nurses the Children were supplied with nourishment daily – one day arrowroot, with wine & sugar, & the next boiled rice with preserved meat, alternately, during the voyage, notwithstanding 7 died. (2 of whom were born on board having had 3 births altogether) 4 of Atrophia 2 of Diarrhoea & 1 of Pneumonia. One Convict died of Phthisis, having been ill previous to embarkation but concealed her malady that she might come with her friend who was transported for the same offence. The Prisoners generally were healthy during the voyage, towards the latter part of it, some of them became affected with bowel complaints, which were checked by opium & peppermint water. I observed petechia on the legs of 2 & during the last fortnight 12 or 15 complained of sore mouths & on examination I found the gums sound, but some slight excoriations on the inside of the checks, lips & on the roof of the mouth, which were removed in a few days by a gargle of diluted sulphuric acid, or alum water. Six were sent to the Hospital. Ten nurses to the Dynnyrne nursery & the remainder 133 were transferred to the Anson with 2 or 3 exceptions, in as good, & some better condition, than that in which they Embarked.

R. Wylie

Surgeon Superintendent


Later in 1847, a notification that ‘one hundred and six of the women who arrived per Arabian’ were eligible for private service was advertised by The Convict Department.[2]

Convicts Eligible for Service, Colonial Times, 31 August 1847, National Library of Australia (Trove)
Convicts Eligible for Service, Colonial Times, 31 August 1847, National Library of Australia (Trove)

While we are unable to say for sure, it is likely that Ann Mahony was one of these women – all possibly eager, nervous or apprehensive in commencing the next ‘stage’ of their respective sentences.

Their time as assigned servants had officially begun.


Click here for main Ann Mahony story



[1] Ancestry. UK, Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011; Original data: Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes): Convict Ships etc: ADM 101/4/4 – Medical Journal of the Arabian, 1846 -1847, p.15. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Retrieved 16 June 2016 from (link is external)

[2] Trove, Colonial Times (Hobart, Tasmania), Tuesday 31 August 1847, p.2 (Convict Department). Retrieved 16 June 2016 from (link is external)