(Parliamentary Papers 1847 vol.xiii 1-547
It will be perhaps useful, and give a clearer insight
to the subject, to describe
briefly the present extent of the convict establishment at Woolwich. It
comprises the "Warrior", an old 74: the "Justitia,"
formerly used as a store-
ship, and built in India; the "Unité," an old French
frigate; and the "Wye,"
a ship sloop.
The plan adopted for accommodating the convicts on
board the ships is con-
venient, and well adapted for the purposes of inspection. The decks are
divided longitudinally, leaving a passage in the centre for the guard
to patrol in during the
night. The space on each side is parted into small rooms, where the convicts,
classes of from 10 to 20 men in each, eat their meals and sleep. The central
ridor is formed by a barrier of open iron railings on each side. The men
hammocks, and were the passage well lighted at night with gas, it would
a more effective check against disorder than it is at present. The hospital-ship
not divided into classes, the decks being left flush, and the patients
sleeping on iron bedsteads.
It is fully established in evidence,
that at night the dying convict has been left without the attendance of
and at the complete mercy of a watchman a prisoner selected from among
patients in hospital; that, unless he expresses a wish, no minister of
his last moments; that the breath of life has scarcely escaped his lips,
when the bed
on which he has lain is ransacked by his fellow-prisoners, to find and
posses them-selves of any trifling articles he may have concealed ; that
the fact of his death is
only announced through a skylight to a guard upon deck, and no further
taken of it until morning ; that the corpse is removed from the unscreened
upon the deck, and washed in the full sight of the patients : afterwards
in a coffin, taken on shore to the Arsenal wharf in a boat, then placed
in a wheel-
barrow, and wheeled round to the dead-house, and there deposited until
under the provisions of the Anatomy Act or interred in the burial-place
Marshes. In the latter case, the coffin, without pall or covering, is
early in the morning to the ground, and there left until the hour fixed
chaplain for reading the burial service, when the steward of the ship,
convicts, are present.