John Barry 1821

Dancing on convict ships

19 August 1821 …the soldiers were still on deck in numbers at the time, having just finished their usual evening dancing…

Surgeon-superintendent, Daniel McNamara kept a medical journal on the convict ship from 16 May to 10 November 1821.  180 convict men embarked at Cork and no deaths were recorded on the voyage.  McNamara noted that a “causeless alarm” had been raised by one of the prisoners, possibly trying to promote a mutiny, however, he “makes the point that the soldiers were still on deck in numbers at the time, having just finished their usual evening dancing and it would have been impossible for the prisoners to succeed in any attempt to take the ship at that particular time.”  It is unclear whether McNamara is referring to the soldiers dancing or the convicts –either way, it is significant to note that it was a usual occurrence.

It was common practice for groups of men to dance together. It would not be unusual for groups of sailors, soldiers or convicts to dance.

References

Surgeon-Superintendent Daniel McNamara’s Medical Journal

Links

Willetts, Jennifer. (2019). Surgeon-Superintendent Daniel McNamara

Willetts, Jennifer. (2019). Convict Ship John Barry

History of John Barry

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