Life aboard the Retribution Hulk

by Manchester Turner in a letter to the Derby Mercury 11th December 1817

I promised to inform you some particulars regarding our situation. We arrived here on Sunday, and are confined in the same cell as the prisoners from the Isle of Ely were confined in (a privilege other prisoners are not allowed). We are ironed and go out to work; we were told our sentence on Tuesday night by the chaplain of our ship. We have barley and oatmeal night and morning and beef for dinner four days a week and other days bread and cheese. There is a school and chapel in the hulk which are regularly attended and it is far from being a reprobate place as we were lead to believe in derby, for if a person is inclined, every encouragement is allowed him to improve his morals. By our good behavior we hope to get a mitigation of our sentence and enjoy our liberty once more. A ship is expected here to proceed to Botany Bay in 15 days, and having made no provision for our journey, you will be so kind to tell the other prisoners to bring all clothes, shoes, stockings, knives, razors, needles and sewing cotton, looking glasses and combs which are expensive here.