Built in Sunderland in 1853 for Thomas and Co, the William Hammond was long, wide and deep, and weighed 683 tons. In 30 September 1854, it sailed from Plymouth to Hobart with 261 emigrating passengers on board. It docked in Hobart on 25 December, after a journey of 83 days, during which three children died.
When appointed to transport convicts to Western Australia in 1855, the William Hammond was still considered a new ship, and had an A1 rating. With Horatio Edwards as captain and George MacLaren as surgeon-superintendent, the William Hammond embarked 35 convicts from the Woolwich prison hulk Defence on 6 December 1855, and another 32 convicts from the hulk Warrior shortly afterwards. On 8 December she was towed out of Woolwich dock and sailed down the River Thames. After clearing the Straits of Dover she encountered stormy weather in the English Channel. She sailed along the south coast of England, docking at Portsmouth. On 17 December she took on 59 more convicts, and the following day she anchored off the Isle of Portland, where it took on 80 convicts from Portland Prison. It left Portland on 24 December, but shortly afterwards a sailor named John Gollately fell overboard while trying to stow the jib. Another sailor, John Deady, attacked the Chief Mate, David Kid, saying it was his fault the man fell overboard. The William Hammond then set in at Plymouth, where Deady was tried before a magistrate and sentenced to 21 days imprisonment. Six sailors who due to various illness were deemed unfit to travel were also disembarked. After taking on 45 more convicts from Dartmoor Prison, the William Hammond sailed for Western Australia on 5 January 1856.
The William Hammond sailed with 32 crew, 250 convicts and 98 passengers, most of whom were pensioner guards and their families. She sailed directly to Fremantle, and the journey took 84 days. Only one person died on the journey, a corporal in the pensioner guard named Henry Fraser, probably of tuberculosis. No convicts died, although there were reported cases of dysentery, diarrhoea and nyctalopia. The only other incident occurred on 28 January, when Kid was found to be drunk on his watch, having accessed the stores of rum without permission.
At about 7 P.M. on 28 March, the William Hammond sighted the lighthouse on Rottnest Island. Anchor was dropped in the lee of Rottnest early the next morning, and at 7 A.M. the Fremantle harbourmaster boarded the ship. The passengers were disembarked by mid-afternoon, and the convicts were disembarked over the next two days.
Little is known of the William Hammond's subsequent service, except that there is a record of immigrants arriving in Melbourne on the William Hammond in 1862.
For other convict ship voyages to Western Australia, see List of convict ship voyages to Western Australia.