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In August 1783 the Swift was bound for Nova Scotia in America with 143 convicts (from Newgate prison and two of the Thames river hulks). When the ship reached the Channel the convicts seized the ship and ran it ashore near Rye, where they escaped. Of the 39 known to have been recaptured, 26 were tried again at the Old Bailey. Seven were hanged, and apart from one, the rest were sentenced to transportation to America for life. Ten of the Swift mutineers became First Fleeters.


With 179 convicts (including 20 women and two boys of about 12) on board the Mercury set sail for Georgia in America on 2 April 1784. The convicts rose against the crew beyond the Scilly Islands, but were forced to turn back because of bad weather. The Mercury was found at Torbay, where 66 of the convicts were retaken, others (Charles Peat and John Harris) being found as far afield as London.

The Mercury sailed again for America with those who remained on board, and 22 additional convicts, but it was refused permission to land the convicts in America. They were taken to Honduras, their eventual fate unknown.

A total of 108 are known to have been recaptured, two of whom were hanged. 24 of the ringleaders were sentenced to death but later reprieved to their former orders, like the remainder of the Mercury convicts. The First Fleet carried 67 of the recaptured Mercury escapees.

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