Guide to the Diary of John Campbell (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Campbell , John (The William Jardine)
Diary of John Campbell (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1850 - 1851
Collection Number
1 item
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

1. Diary 15 July-21 November 1850 kept on William Jardine, noting daily routine of the surgeon, some incidents with the convicts on board, land sightings and the weather.

2. List of the 261 male convicts on board, compiled by John Byron, a convict sentenced to ten years transportation for forgery. The list gives name, age, marital status, birthplace, sentence, crime, original trade or occupation, conduct in prison, whether they could read or write, years of separate confinement and public works, conduct on board, height and sometimes weight on embarkation.

3. 'General regulations to be observed by prisoners on board the William Jardine', 'The Daily Routine', and a list of overseers, constables, cooks, barbers and clothesmen.

4. Notes by Campbell on the health of the convicts, guards and their families summarising the symptoms and treatment of the most common diseases.

5. Drafts of letters by Campbell to officials in Hobart and London, November 1850 and May 1851, describing the health and conduct of the convicts and guards who had arrived on the William Jardine.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1961 (AJCP Reel: M385). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Private residence: Mrs Eva H. Campbell; Newcastle-upon-Thyne.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series of Files.


Diary; Surgeon; Byron, John; Campbell, John (surgeon); Convict ships; Convict Ships: crew lists; Convict ships: health and medical services; Convicts; Convicts: Tasmania; Hobart, Tasmania; Medicine; Surgeons: convict ships; Tasmania; William Jardine, convict ship


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 88, p. 31.

Biographical / Historical

Surgeon on the ship William Jardine carrying convicts to Van Diemen's Land.

John Campbell was licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, in 1834. In 1846 he graduated from Kings College, University of Aberdeen, as a Doctor of Medicine.

In July 1850 Campbell received a commission from the Admiralty as the surgeon-superintendent on the convict transport William Jardine (master: James Raitte). The ship carried 261 male convicts, together with some women and children, from England to Van Diemen's Land. It arrived in Hobart in November 1850. Campbell returned to England on the barque Wellington in 1851.

Item Descriptions

Diary of John Campbell, 1850 - 1851 (File 1)

Diary kept as Surgeon-Superintendent on the convict ship William Jardine on a voyage from London to Hobart, 12 July – 21 November 1850.

The diary begins on the day that Campbell took up his commission as a surgeon and refers to his embarkation on the William Jardine at Deptford, the construction of a prison on the vessel, the transfer of convicts from hulks and the Millbank Prison, the departure from Tilbury (29 July 1850), the transfer of further convicts at Portsmouth, and the departure from Portland (12 August 1850). There is an entry for each day of the voyage, recording the position of the ship, the winds, and the control, behaviour and health of the convicts and women and children on the ship. The entries describe the daily routines, hygiene, illnesses and injuries of convicts and children, deaths and a post-mortem, inspections, the employment of convicts, exercises on deck, the issue of food rations, thefts and the punishment of convicts. The final entries refer to the ship's arrival at Hobart (15 November 1850), inspections by the Governor and the Comptroller-General of Convicts, and the disembarkation of the convicts. The entries are followed by several pages of remarks on the ship, diseases of convicts and children, and medical treatment.

At the end of the volume are copies of several letters written by Campbell in Hobart in November 1850 and in London in May 1851. The former were written to the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir William Denison, the Colonial Secretary, the Comptroller-General of Convicts, John Hampton, and the Physician-General of the Royal Navy, Sir William Burnett. The latter were written to the Comptroller of Victualling, James Meek, and the Surveyor-General of Convict Prisons, Colonel Joshua Jebb.

At the beginning of the volume are four documents written in a different hand:1. List of male convicts on the William Jardine, giving name, age, marital status, birthplace, sentence, crime, original trade or occupation, conduct in prison, literacy, years of separate confinement and public works, conduct on board, height and sometimes weight on embarkation. (pp. 2-36)2. General regulations. (pp. 38-43)3. Daily routine. (pp. 44-46)4. Office bearers, comprising a list of overseers, constables, cooks, barbers and clothesmen. (p. 48)

These pages were written by a convict, John Byron, who had been sentenced to ten years' transportation for forgery.