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George III sailed from Woolwich on 14 December 1834 for Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, under the command of Captain William Hall-Moxey, with a total of 308 persons on board. There were 220 male convicts, plus guards, their families, and crew. On 27 January 1835, a fire broke out while George III was nearing the equator. It was extinguished with only great difficulty and all on board were put on reduced rations as the fire had destroyed part of the ship's stores. An unbalanced diet caused an outbreak of scurvy and fourteen convicts died before the ship reached the coast of Van Diemen's Land on the morning of 12 March 1835.
To avoid being blown offshore and thus delaying arriving in Hobart Town, the master decided to enter the torturous D'Entrecasteaux Channel between Bruny Island and the Tasmanian mainland. At about 9.15 pm that evening George III hit a rock and over a period of several hours broke up in the heavy swell. The convicts were kept below to allow the women and children to be safely evacuated by the ship's boats. The guards fired their guns to quell rising panic; this gunfire is believed to have killed between one and three of the convicts. Many others drowned below decks, including many of the sick in their beds. In all, 133 lives were lost in the disaster, of whom 128 were convicts.
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The Wreck of George the Third | Knud Bull | 1850
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