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Journal of Arthur Bowes Smyth, 1787 March 22-1789 August [manuscript]
Bib ID 1837771
Format ManuscriptManuscript, OnlineOnline
Smyth, Arthur Bowes, 1750-1790
Online Versions
Access Conditions Available for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1787-1789] 
0.09 m. (1 v.) + 2 folders. 

MS 4568 comprises the journal relating to Arthur Bowes Smyth's voyage to Australia in 1787, his stay in New South Wales and the trip back to England in 1789. This original diary provides a detailed and often entertaining account of the voyage to Australia, the early weeks of the settlement at Port Jackson and a visit to Lord Howe Island. The entry for 26 January 1788 describes the encounter in Botany Bay with the French expedition commanded by La Perouse and Smyth's first impression of Port Jackson (1 v., 2 folders).


Arthur Bowes Smyth (1750-1790), surgeon, was born in Essex. In 1787, he was appointed as surgeon responsible for the women convicts on the "Lady Penrhyn" in the First Fleet. Importantly, he kept a diary from 22 March 1787 to 8 August 1789 under the name of Arthur Bowes, A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn. In his writings Smyth puts a human face to the convicts as well as revealing his interest in natural history, the collection of specimens and drawing, including the earliest existing depiction by a European of an emu. In April 1788, Smyth returned to England on the "Lady Penrhyn" via Lord Howe Island, Tahiti, China and St Helena. On Lord Howe Island, he made the earliest drawing of the now extinct white gallinule, and observed the currawong (or bell magpie) and four now rare or extinct birds, namely, the Lord Howe pigeon, the booby, the Lord Howe rail or woodhen and an extinct species of parakeet.


Manuscript reference no.: MS 4568.

The date of the final entry in this journal is uncertain. The last headed entry in the journal is dated 8th August 1789 although the final page of the journal appears to describe events taking place on the 11th.

Photocopy available for reference.

Also available online

The journal of Arthur Bowes Smyth, surgeon, Lady Penrhyn, 1787-1789 / edited by Paul G. Fidlon and R.J. Ryan. Sydney : Australian Documents Library, 1979.

Subjects Smyth, Arthur Bowes, 1750-1790 -- Diaries.  |  Lady Penrhyn (Ship)  |  Physicians -- Australia -- Diaries.  |  First Fleet, 1787-1788.  |  Transportation of convicts -- New South Wales.  |  Voyages and travels.  |  New South Wales -- Description and travel -- To 1850.
Time Coverage 1787-1789 
Occupation Doctors.  |  First-fleeters.
Exhibited Exhibited: "Treasures Gallery", National Library of Australia, 7 October 2011 - 15 December 2012.  Exhibited: Treasures Gallery, National Library of Australia, 16a April, 2016 

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In Use: Treasures Gallery Exhibition
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