The HMS York was a 74-gun naval vessel built in Rotherhithe and launched in 1807.
She had a fairly active career mainly in the Atlantic and West Indies although not involved in any very notable actions.
She was converted into a prison ship at Portsmouth in 1819 and could hold up to 500 convicts including
those passing through after being sentenced to transportation to Australia. The ship was eventually broken up in 1854.
Prison ships became widely used around Britain during the 18th- and 19th-centuries as the government sought to address issues of overcrowding in the jails on land. The first prison ship in Britain was the Tayloe on the Thames, commissioned by the Home Office in 1775.
Conditions aboard these ships were poor, and mortality rates were high. None of these prison ships had adequate quarantine or sanitation facilities to accomodate already unwell inmates who were brought in from land based gaols.
The image above is based on an etching of the HMS York ‘hulk’ moored at Portsmouth in 1828 by artist/engraver Edward William Cooke