Daphne 1819

Dancing on convict ships.

Music and dancing on deck in the evening.

The Daphne transported 180 convicts from Ireland in 1819.  These men came from all over the country and had been held in the Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, and the Cork Prison – both places where dancing was known to have occurred.

Surgeon Superintendent, Lancelot Armstrong of the Royal Navy cared for the convicts and recorded only two deaths during the voyage— both men who had been ill when they boarded the ship.  In his detailed medical journal he notes “Music and dancing on deck in the evening” on 14 September 1819.  It is impossible to know whether this was a regular occurrence or if it was recorded as an unusual event.

It was common practice for groups of men, especially sailors, to join together to enjoy percussive step dances (the precursor of modern tap) and social group dances (known as country dances).


Surgeon-Superintendent Lancelot Armstrong’s Medical Journal


Convict ship Daphne

List of some of the convicts

Story of HMS Daphne


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