The Hulk Deborah

One of the Five Prison Hulks, Deborah, Sacramento, President, Success or Lysander, painted yellow.
Source: State Library of Victoria, painting by David Michael Hartigan Little.

Deborah Cap Tally, being worn
by one of the Reformatory Boys.

courtesy of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria


Prison for Refractory Seamen

1853, January

Purchased [or possibly leased] by the Government for the purpose as a hulk for seamen sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

1853, May

Prisoners from Deborah digging drains, metalling roads, breaking stones and farming in Williamstown.

1853, 31 December

Reported that 5 prisoners and 161 refractory seamen were housed on board the Deborah.

1855, 19 March

Deborah vacated and prisoners transferred to the hulk Lysander to effect savings on account of Government reductions. Deborah retained in reserve for expected natural increase in prison population.

1856, July

Deborah described as out of commission on account of the dimminution of disaffected seamen to twenty-four.

Store Ship

1856, October

Inquest held on board the Deborah regarding the murdered Constable Owen Owens and refractory sailor John Turner.

1857, 30 January

Fire on board the Deborah while no prisoners were on board.

1857, April

Only one ship-keeper on board the Deborah.

1864, 8 June

Deborah taken onto Government patent slip to have her hull examined.

1864, 15 June

Tenders invited to caulk the penal hulk Deborah.

Reformatory for Juvenile Offenders

1864, 17 June

The first detachment of boys from the penal establishment, Pentridge [stockade], were received on board the hulk Deborah which has recently been fitted up as a reformatory for juvenile offenders, where they will be instructed in the minor duties of seamen.

1869, 7 January

Some reformatory boys were transferred from Deborah to Sir Harry Smith. After the transfer of the Training Ship Boys from Sir Harry Smith to Nelson in 1868, the role of Sir Harry Smith changed from that of an Industrial School to that of a reformatory. Deborah continued to be used as a reformatory.

1869, 1 February

Order constituting the Sir Harry Smith and the Deborah reformatory schools.

1871, 28 February

One boy from the reformatory ship Sir Harry Smith and one from the reformatory ship Deborah were presented with bronze medallions of the Royal Humane Society by the Governor. Both boys had independently saved another boy from drowning at their respective ships.

1873, 18 December

96 boys transferred from the reformatory ships Sir Harry Smith and Deborah to the new reformatory at Pentridge stockade.

Torpedo Depot Ship

1878, 7 January

Deborah described as still being lashed alongside of the empty Sacramento with both being in the charge of one officer.

1878, 16 March

Deborah & Sacramento handed over to Signal & Torpedo Corps & converted to Store Ships. Mast erected on Deborah for use to remove heavy items. Brick cookhouse on Deborah's deck etc cleared away.

Used to manufacture and store torpedoes [sea mines]. Most of the Torpedo Corps materiel was stored in the Deborah.

1878, 11 June

When a fire on board Deborah was extinguished by the Cerberus men, a reward of £25 was offered by the owners, McMeckan, Blackwood & Co. The men decided to donate the reward to the Melbourne Hospital and nominated Captain Mandeville as a life governor.

1878, 11 July

Hulks & torpedo stores on board handed over to the Naval Torpedo Corps as part of the Victorian Navy.

1878, September

The Chief Secretary (Premier) witnesses torpedo experiments from the deck of the Deborah.

1881, 30 April

Reclamation works being undertaken around Deborah & Sacramento. Deborah described as being "on the right, [coming down the Yarra] high and dry".

1882, 9 August

Torpedo stores, previously stored on board Deborah were handed over to the Military Torpedo Corps.

Broken Up

1885, 13 February

Deborah, described as being at Spottiswoode Point, advertised for sale. See below.

1885, March

Reported that Deborah and Sacramento are about to be broken up for firewood.

1888, April

Deborah and Sacrament described as "now broken up, exist no more".

'Tween Decks on the Deborah, Torpedo Cases in Readiness.
Australasian Sketcher, 8 June 1878 (State Library of Victoria)
Click image to enlarge.

Prison Hulks Debroah (left) & Sacramento just before Scrapping.
Image: Australasian Sketcher, 29 July 1882 (State Library of Victoria)
Click image to enlarge.

Auction Details.
The Age, 5 May 1885