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Sunday, March 4, 2012

I have just read the most remarkable story I have ever read in my entire life.
It's the journal of the surgeon on board the Lady Penrhyn, Arthur Bowes Smyth (Dr Bowes), who records the First Fleet journey of the ship that transported the woman who may be my great, great, great, great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Bruce, to the penal colony of New South Wales.
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It starts in April 1787 with the ship waiting at the dock at Portsmouth, England for the naval leader of the First Fleet, Captain Arthur Phillip, to arrive.
My ancestor appears in Bowes' diary very early, after breaking her leg on board.
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[April] 15th Eliz Bruce, one of the convicts on board the Penrhyn, fell from the forecastle & broke her right Leg just at the Articulation of the Ankle.
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19th this day I attended (at the request of Dr Balmain) on the Woman wt. the fractured leg, &c removed the Bandage & dressed it up again; before the Bandage was removed the woman was in the most excruciating pain, but very soon after removing it she became perfectly easy and continued so.
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May Sun 13 This morng. at 5 o'Clock the Lady Penrhyn set sail ... a very find day wt. a good breeze at E.S.E. ...
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The name of Dr Bowes' journal is:
A journal of a voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, Merchantman William Crompton Sever, Commander, by Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon - 1787 - 1788 - 1789 being a fair copy compiled ca 1790
It is held by the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, and its digital order no. is Album ID 823394.
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Click here to see the digitalised version Surgeon Bowes journal