James Coventry, Quartermaster HMS Sirius 1788

Born 1754 Perth Scotland. James married Ann Cree, 23 July 1786, St Martin in the Fields Westminster, England. He joined HMS Sirius as Quartermaster on 7 November 1786, aged 32 years; he was reduced to the rank able seaman on 11 July 1787 and regained the rank of Quartermaster on 14 August 1787, once again James finds himself as an able seaman on 10 May 1788.

25 May 1788: Sentenced to 500 lashes for wounding and attempted murder of fellow crewmate John McNeal in a drunken quarrelled, John McNeal was bashed him about the head with a musket. James received part of his punishment on 28 May 1788; the remainder was remitted in honour of the King’s Birthday.

James was left stranded on Norfolk Island in March 1790 and mustered on 20 March 1790 on Norfolk Island after the shipwreck.

James drowned while helping to unload provisions and passengers from the Justinian and the Surprize, on 17 August 1790. His will left all his belongings to his wife Ann who lived at 10 Greek, Street, Soho, London, England.[1]

Tuesday 17th Fine Moderate weather the Ships came into the Bay about 8 oClock the Boats went of to them to Land the Provisions Stores people &c. the Large cutter Beloning to the Sirius in coming on shore from the Surprize with 4 four casks of Salt Provisions Six women Convicts and a Young child beloning to one of the women Just as the Boat was coming into the passaged a Surf Struck the Boat and nearly filld her as well as forced the Boat on the Reef the next Sea that came Struck the Boat again and She parted in the middle when everybody in the Boat was floating about in the Surf in the Sight of near five hundred people within a few Yeards of use and we could give them very little assistance the Tide running too Strong by which accident Jas. Coventry, David Bain, two Seamen belonging to the Sirius who were part of the Boats Crue (Crew), Johnstone, Caddy, Chaffey and the child were all drowned as also Jno. Roberts a Convict who went in to assist them was also drowned the mother of the child is one of the three women that are Saved it was a Shocking Sight to See So many of our fellow creatures Strugling for life and we only able to give them very little Assistance and that little at the Risk of our own lives I had my Coat of to goe in to there assistance and Should have gone if one of the Convicts had not advised me not to goe in and I am now very Glad that I did not for it is very likely but what I should have Shard the Same fate that Jno. Roberts did the other boats have been Empd.[2]

[1] TNA, 1792, Probate 11/1219/289.

[2] Ralph Clark, The Journal and Letters of Lt. Ralph Clark 1787-1792.