The Second Fleet

Continuing Our Tasmanian Story – from Botany Bay and Port Jackson

The first of the ships that sailed with the Second Fleet, the notorious Lady Juliana, carried Hannah Pealing, second wife of Stephen Martin (and probably my 5 x Great Grandmother); Mary Butler (5 x Great Grandmother who was to marry William Saltmarsh and then James Jordan); and Ann Howard (wife of Thomas Lucas, mother of Richard and grandmother of Ann Lucas who married William James Coventry).

Convicts of the Second Fleet

Those in the new colony greeted the arrival of the Lady Juliana at Port Jackson, on 3 June 1790, with considerable enthusiasm. Many had begun to think they had been abandoned by Britain. The ship’s arrival brought letters and news from home and of the fleet that was to follow. However, while the ship’s stores enabled a slight increase in the provision of rations, the arrival of so many more mouths to feed was of concern to those in charge. David Collins, Captain of the Marines and Judge Advocate, wrote with some bitterness:

… in the distressed situation of the colony, it was not a little mortifying to find on board the first ship that arrived, a cargo so unnecessary and unprofitable as two hundred and twenty-two females, instead of a cargo of provisions; the supply of provisions on board her was so inconsiderable as to permit only an addition of one pound and a half of flour being made to the weekly ration.[i]

Following the women’s disembarkation on 11 June, Collins wrote that:

… many of them appeared to be loaded with infirmities incident to old age, and to be very improper subjects for any of the purposes of an infant colony. Instead of being capable of labour, they seemed to require attendance themselves and were never likely to be any other than a burden to the settlement…[ii]

Before the end of June, the rest of the Second Fleet arrived. It was not to be the panacea that many had hoped for. A quarter of the prisoners had died en route and two thirds of those who landed were sick. To provide room for profitable cargo, the prisoners had been overcrowded; to save money they had been underfed; and for their misbehaviour they had been too closely confined.


Robert Dodd, Lady Juliana, 1783 (courtesy British Museum)

With an influx of more than a thousand convicts and soldiers into the colony, Governor Phillip decided to send a large group to Norfolk Island. On 1 August 1790, 157 female and 37 male convicts were sent to the island. Three quarters of the women had arrived aboard the Lady Juliana. Among them were Hannah Pealing and Mary Butler. Ann Howard was to follow some years later.

Hannah Pealing

Hannah Pealing was born about 1771, probably in London.  Little is known about her early life.  On 1 September 1785, when she was about fourteen, her name was listed amongst those who received charity from the parish of St Clement Danes in London.  The record shows she was provided with shoes and aprons.

Two years later, at the age of sixteen, on 12 December 1787, Hannah was sentenced to seven years’ transportation for stealing a silver watch valued at three pounds, a steel chain worth a shilling and a silver seal valued at five shillings. Each item belonged to Duncan Ross who told the jury at the Old Bailey that he had been pickpocketed by a prostitute. He said he had been walking down Drury Lane a month earlier when Hannah approached him and asked for a penny. She allegedly asked him to ‘go with her’ and when he refused she snatched the watch and chain from his pocket and ran to a nearby house. Duncan chased her but was beaten and thrown out of the house by five women and a man who came to Hannah’s assistance.[iii]

Hannah was held at Newgate gaol for another fifteen months before embarking on the Lady Juliana on 12 March 1789. The women’s section usually contained about 300 women and children. At embarkation, Hannah’s age was given as eighteen.

Eight weeks after arriving at Sydney Cove, Hannah was sent to Norfolk Island, arriving there on 7 August.

Mary Butler

A couple of years younger than Hannah, Mary Butler appears to have lost her family when young and also to have supported herself through prostitution, working in and around East London’s Cable Street. Her story is not dissimilar to Hannah’s. Cable Street had a reputation for cheap lodgings, brothels, drinking inns and opium dens, just a short distance from the docks through which the bounty of Empire passed.   She was reportedly just fifteen when she appeared at the Old Bailey, on the same day as Hannah. Along with Mary (Pol) Randall, Ann Clark, Ann Wilson and Mary Reading, she was

… indicted for feloniously assaulting Joseph Clark, in the dwelling house of Joseph Rider, on the 10th day of November 1787, and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person, and against his will, a silver watch, value 4l., a silk handkerchief, value 2s, a guinea, a half guinea and eleven shillings, one bank note of 20l. and one bank note of 15l, his property.[iv]

In his evidence to the court, Joseph swore that he had been robbed between eight and nine in the evening at 45 Cable Street, a ‘house of bad repute’. He had withdrawn money from the bank to cover the cost of stock for his new chandler’s shop at the corner of Angel Gardens and Back Lane, Shadwell. He said that he had drunk a pot of beer with his two brothers earlier in the day but nothing further. He was carrying half a cheese upon his head as he looked into the window at no 45 on his way home. Ann Clark and Mary Reading came to the door and allegedly forced him into the house by grabbing the hand with which he held the cheese. Ann took the cheese and pushed it into a chest by the bedside, declaring that Joseph would stay the night. With that she pushed him towards Mary Butler, who was sitting by the fire, and said he should send for something to drink. At which point Joseph gave them a shilling and was given half a pint of gin in return. They then played cards and brought another half pint of gin, after which Joseph felt very sick. Joseph insisted that he wanted to leave but that if they wouldn’t let him without buying more he would send for more gin and something for supper, as they asked. He handed over a guinea and was brought change. Incredulously, Joseph claims he was then forced, before having eaten any of the supper, to go upstairs with Mary Butler, with Mary Randall shoving him from behind! There, Mary Randall forced his clothes off and pushed him into bed. Mary Reading arrived with some beef on a plate and then returned with more gin. Supposedly fearing for his life, Joseph drank the gin and when Mary Randall offered to take care of the money protruding from his pocket, Joseph declared he was fit enough to look after it. However, Mary Butler was accused of having taken his hands and pulled them behind him. Apparently too afraid to resist, Joseph watched on as Mary Reading took the money and a watch from his breeches and fob and passed it to Randall who ran off down the stairs. At this point Joseph apparently grabbed his coat and ran after her, pursuing her to the sign of the Green Man. Joseph went into the house but the landlord called him a dog and shoved him into the kennel! It happened that, a few days later, Joseph was at the King’s Arms, opposite the Guildhall, when Mary Butler and Ann Clark were arrested and identified his handkerchief.

I dare say that it is hard to imagine a conviction on the basis of this story. However, it seems that a lodger in the house, Benjamin Allen, saw much of went on, apparently through a crack in the door, and gave evidence corroborating Joseph’s story. Questioned, he said he’d have been knocked in the head if he had tried to help Joseph.

The women said little in their own defence and witnesses called on their behalf did not appear. Mary Randall and Mary Butler were found guilty of stealing, but not of the capital offence of taking money violently, and they were sentenced to seven years transportation. Anne Clarke, Ann Wilson and Mary Reading were found not guilty.[v]

Following her conviction, Mary was moved from Clerkenwell, where she had been held since her arrest on the 14th of November and, like Hannah, she served the first fourteen months of her sentence at Newgate, before setting sail on the Lady Juliana in March 1789. Again like Hannah, she was among those quickly moved to Norfolk Island after the ships’ arrival at Sydney Cove.

Ann Howard

Ann Howard also faced the Old Bailey jury on the 12th of December 1787.[vi]  Again, little is known about her early life, although she was said to be 28 at the time of her conviction.   The crime that brought her seven year’s transportation was the theft of clothing belonging to a Mr John Reader. The record of her trial is brief but suggests that she has been employed as a nurse to Mrs Reader, only to abscond later the same day with a corded dimity petticoat, valued at three shillings, two muslin aprons, valued at four shillings, and a child’s laced cap, worth ten pence. Like Hannah and Mary, Ann was also held at Newgate Prison until she was transferred to the Lady Juliana on 12 March 1789. However, unlike the younger girls, Ann was to spend four years in Port Jackson before she was transferred to the settlement on Norfolk Island.


[i] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Kindle edition

[ii] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Kindle edition

[iii] Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online,

[iv] Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online,

[v] Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online,

[vi] Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online,

Online resources

Hannah Pealing on my Ancestry Tree

Mary Butler on my Ancestry Tree

Ann Howard on my Ancestry Tree