A Plague Ship


Elizabeth Bowden died in Manly Cove on the North Head of Sydney Harbour after contracting typhus on board the ship ‘Maitland’ in 1838. ‘Maitland’ passengers were accommodated on board or in tents as the Spring Cove quarantine area was already full to capacity with passengers from the ‘William Rogers’. Elizabeth was one of 286 ‘Maitland’ passengers and crew who contracted typhus or scarlet fever; 40, including  Elizabeth’s son Jacob Bowden died on board and others, such as her oldest son James Bowden, succumbed soon after. The report of a committee of enquiry was a damning indictment of the system which allowed immigrants to be ‘transported to the colony like cattle’.