Asia 4 Surgeons Log 1836

General Remarks
Surgeon's Log
of the 4th Voyage
male Convict ship
Asia 4

Woolwich, England
Hobart Town, Van Diemens Land
Sailed 7th October 1835, landed 26th February 1836

Taken from the original PRO documents, transcribed by Denis Poole

Original spellings maintained in document.


General Remarks from the Surgeon's Log of the 4th Voyage of the Convict Ship Asia 4
Woolwich, England to Hobart Town, Van Diemens Land
Sailed 7th October 1835, landed 26th February 1836
There were embarked on board the Asia from the Hulks at Woolwich 190 Male Convicts and from the Hulks at Chatham 100 making in all 290. The general health of those from Chatham was good but not so with those received from Woolwich, among whom Intermittent Fever prevailed more or less during the whole of the Voyage. Several of the Convicts had been seized with the Disease while in the Hulks at that place others became affected for the first time soon after their embarkation, in whom however, there is little doubt the seeds of the Disease were sown while in Woolwich. These Cases were troublesome and from the debilitating nature of the complaint required considerable care in a Voyage where Scorbutus is so much to be dreaded. The supply of Sulphate of Quinine was soon exhausted and if Ague is generally Prevalent among Convicts sent from Woolwich a larger supply of this medicine would I think be requisite on board those ships in which such Convicts are embarked. Some of these cases terminated fatally --- Case No. 3 had however, repeated recurrences of Intermittent Fever and subsequently died of Apoplexy - to all appearances unconnected with the former Disease excepting in so far as it may have weakened the Patient and thereby favoured an unequal distribution of the blood.
Case No. 1 was almost hopeless before being brought on board this Ship. The Pemphigus Eruption superadded to the Aphthous Disease in the exhausted state of the patient rendered any attempt at improving the state of the suretions and strengthening the System abortive. Although no decided Case of Scorbutus occurred during the Voyage yet there was an evident Tendency to it exhibited in many circumstances of which the following are a few.-The Gums of several of the Convicts and Guards became swollen and tender so that the act of mastication gave pain. This was always removed by an extra allowance of Limejuice and Sugar and a Diet restricted to farinaceous food.-In some Cases where it was necessary to administer Calomel the System became suddenly and severely affected by it before many grains had been swallowed - One in particular - a Case of Iritis, where only twelve grains of Calomel had been taken, when in one night the Mouth became much inflamed and swollen and during the ensuing day the cheeks became turned and bloated. These to such a degree in a few days that the gums ulcerated and bled most profusely so as to produce excessive weakness. A gargle of Sulphate of Zinc & Opium dissolved in water stopped the bleeding and with attention to diet the Patient gradually recovered - the original Disease (Iritis) having disappeared long before. Although no signs of Scorbutus were evident in this Case yet I am of opinion that there was a tendency thereto as it is well known that those Labouring under Scorbutus are affected by a very small portion of Mercury. Such Cases as these ought to guard us in the free use of Mercury in long Voyages where those under our care are living on Salt Meat as their chief article of food. The two Cases of Dysentery (No. 4 & 5) had also I am inclined to think, some connection with this general tendency to Scorbutus although there was no diagnostic symptom to indicate any such connection.

The Oatmeal supplied to this Ship appeared to be of great service and I have no doubt tended to prevent this Disease (Scorbutus) from breaking out with violence.
With exceptions mentioned the Convicts were healthy. No one had to be sent to Hospital on arrival but all were landed in health on the 26th February.
P. Leonard Surgeon Superintendent ASIA Male Convict Ship

Notes from the Hospital Diary:-
- Alfred Evans, Son of the Sergeant of Arms died at Sea 23rd Nov. 1835, Aged two Years
- John Kean , Convict, died at Sea 12th Dec. 35, Aged 22 Yrs
- Edward Southern, Convict, died at Sea 16th Dec.35, Aged 21Yrs
- Samuel Morley Convict died at Sea, 22nd Jan.1836 Aged 27 Yrs.

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