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Listed below are the names of the vessels which played a part in our ancestors’ lives. Photographs of the Oaklands, Darling Downs, Anson and the Buckinghamshire are in our Family Album. Ship photography did not become common until the 1870s, and it is most unusual to find photographs of many ships before that date. Ghost Ships, are those vessels as yet eluding me. Our ancestors arrived in Australia between 1839 and 1910 (see timeline).

Regulations for the Selection of Emigrant Labourers describes the criteria which many of our ancestors had to meet for selection for free passage to South Australia. Coming South Australia’s days of sail by David Day notes: "An investigation by a British parliamentary committee in 1844 likened conditions aboard emigrant ships, when encountering bad weather, as being akin to a "loathesome dungeon". With the ship battened down against the storm, passengers were confined below deck, where there was little light, for days at a time…. the stench was like that from a pen of pigs. The few beds they had were in a dreadful state, for the straw, once wet with sea water, soon rotted..."

The discovery of gold in Australia in 1851 brought thousands more immigrants. When transportation of convicts to Australia ceased in 1868, about 160,500 British convicts had swollen the population to an estimated 1,539,552. By 1910, when the last of our ancestors arrived, Australia had an estimated population of 4,425,083 including up to five generations of descendants of the first of our ancestors to arrive. (Statistics from Encyclopaedia of Australia CDRom).

[Abberton] [Anson] [Buckinghamshire] [Bussorah Merchant] [Catherine Adamson] [Cesar Godeffroy] [Condor] [Darling Downs] [Duke of Bedford] [Emma Euginea] [Epaminondas] [Fairfield] [Hindostan] [Kinnear] [Marbz] [Martaban] [Oaklands] [Orator] [Rajasthan] [Sir Edward Parry] [Solon] [Time and Truth] [Trafalgar] [Ghost Ships]


Year of Arrival Surname


1839 Johnston Fairfield
1839 Dodd Buckinghamshire
1839 Grieve Abberton
1841 Matthews Hindoston
1843 Keogh Orator
1848 Keogh Kinnear
1848 Keogh Anson
1848 Whitford Duke of Bedford
1848 Matthews Bussorah Merchant
1849 Gordon Emma Euginea
1850 Gardner Condor
1850 Champion Trafalgar
1853 Guerin Sir Edward Parry
1853 Smith Epaminondas
1854 Brown Time & Truth
1854 Hoffman Marbz
1855 Wieneke Cesar Godeffroy
1856 Gordon Catherine Adamson
1859 Hoffman Solon
1862 Tolmie Rajasthan
1873 Yeowell Martaban
1874 Begg Darling Downs
1879 McGlashan Oaklands
c1891 Whiskin "Ghost Ship"
c1910 Gardner "Ghost Ship"

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Walter Grieve arrived in Sydney as a steerage passenger on the Abberton on 20th August, 1839, bringing sheep from the Scottish moors to help the Balfour family establish a sheep station in Australia. The Abberton was a 451 ton vessel, which on this journey, sailed from London on 15th April. It had general cargo, 25 officers and crew and 36 passengers. "Journey on the Abberton - A diary written by John Cane" is held by the libraries board (LTL, Melb. MS 10766).

Migrant Ships for South Australia 1836-1860 by Ronald Parsons:

ABBERTON 451t o.m., 3 mast square rig ship, B.1818 Ipswich, 77'8"x29'2"x5'9" tween decks, Marshall, London. Arrived 13 December 1846, from London & Plymouth, left Plymouth 1 September, Capt Thomas Pain. Arrived 3 August, 1884, from London & Plymouth, left Plymouth 24 April, Capt. William Carr. Arrived 29 October 1849, from London & Plymouth, left Plymouth 5 July, Capt. William Carr. Arrived 29 October 1850, from Plymouth 26 July, Capt. James.

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Anson Convict Hulk, Hobart, Tasmania

Elizabeth Keogh (nee Arkin) was transported to Van Dieman’s Land on the Kinnear in 1848 and on arrival was placed in the Anson convict hulk for six months.

(information courtesy Michael Quin-Conroy):

The vessel arrived in Hobart Town on 4th Feb. 1844.

The convict transport Anson, was originally one of England's 74-Gun frigates, however in 1843 at Sheerness she was converted to a transport at a cost of 12,307 pounds, and was handed over to the Prison's Department after her arrival.

The Anson also bought a full library of books for various prisoner's barracks in the colony.

After the prisoners were disembarked, the vessel was firstly towed to New Town Bay, and then later to her final resting place in Prince of Wales Bay.

Immediately after possession occurred in Hobart, she was used as a female prison hulk, being moored in the Derwent River off Queens Domain below Government House and near what was known as Powder Jetty. However after 1850 the women were removed to the Cascades, and a thorough inspection of her wood-work and fastenings was ordered by the then Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Denison. Although the timbers were found to be in good condition, her treenail fastenings were very much decayed and it was decided to break her up. Early in 1851, upwards of 100 men, convicts and the crew of HMS Havannah then in port, began the task of ripping the Anson apart. Sadly her figure-head was simply left on the beach to rot.

Hobart Town Courier, Tues 29 Oct 1844, p2, col. 4: "The Anson"

We had the pleasure a few days since to pay a visit, too long deferred, to the female penitentiary on board the Anson, under the superintendence of Dr and Mrs Bowden. As we ascended the ship ladder we were agreeably saluted by the singing of the prisoners, who are assembled on Wednesdays for afternoon service. The singing, as well as the general service, is conducted by the Rev Mr Giles, and with very great effect his congregation appearing to unite with him throughout. Through the politeness of Mrs Bowden, who appears desirous to afford strangers an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the system pursued by her, we were conducted through every part of the ship, and informed on every particular of our inquiries. We found that besides the necessary duties of the establishment in washing and cooking, the women were employed in various descriptions of needlework, in the manufacture of shoes, straw hats, door mats, etc., as far as the very limited means at Mrs Bowden's command will allow. Every part of the ship exhibited remarkable cleanliness, and we could not have expected to witness such general health, and to find the ventilation so good, where so large a number are collected together in a limited space. But these physical appearances constitute the least recommendation of those who superintend the arrangements on board the Anson. We remarked with great satisfaction the subdued, respectful, and throughout proper deportment of the moment exhibiting a very striking contrast with what we have been too long accustomed to in similar establishments in this country. No one who is acquainted with the trying circumstances in which the best disposed are placed in service in this colony will expect too much of Mrs Bowden's management when they are again turned into society but this reflects nothing upon the establishment, from which in more favourable circumstances the best results could not fail to arise. We only lament that one so well fitted for her sphere of duty, and actuated by principles so high, and distinguished by energy so great, should not find everything favourable to her permanent success. As a mistake - arising from the letter of the Colonial Secretary to the Bench of Magistrates - generally exists, that the depot at the Brickfields is peopled from the Anson, we may as well state that this is not the case at present, whatever may be contemplated by the Government.

[Sketch of Anson's hull]

BRAND, Ian The Convict Probation System: Van Diemen’s Land 1839-1854, 1990, page 271, 78.

Champ inspected the Anson in August 1846. At that time there were 375 women on board, of whom 158 were in the first stage of probation, the remainder being pass-holders awaiting hire. He found the ship clean, but the sickness rate higher, in proportion, than at the female factory. A few wooden separate apartments had been built on board, but these were unsatisfactory. There were also three solitary cells, poorly built. Although most of the officers were women, there were a number of male warders, "with the exception of two discharging little duty, except in conveying letters and messages". There was a ratio of one female officer to twenty-three women, compared to one to fifty-nine at the female factory. The establishment of officers had been set in London, and he was unable to alter it. AOT CO 280/195/545, Act. Compt. Gen. To Lt. Gov., 1 August 1846.

Although there are some glowing reports on the work conducted therein, she was not a success according to reports and this resulted in her scrapping. On 6th April, 1846, Magistrate A.B. Jones wrote to the Comptroller-General, giving his reasons for recommending the removal of the women now in the Anson to some building on shore.

A public auction of "a great quantity of materials, consisting of oak planks, &c." belonging to HMS Anson was held on Wednesday, 17th January, 1853.

The Critic, Friday 26th December, 1913 p2, col. 3 states:

Mr John Whelan, the clerk of the markets, has a relic of the long forgotten past in his possession. It is a piece of one of the cell fittings of the convict hulk Anson, which rode for many years in the waters of the Derwent, and was used for a place of detention for the worst class of female prisoners. The Anson was one of the old class of wall sided English frigates and she was built as strong as copper bolts and English oak could make a vessel. When the vessel was broken up the timbers were sold to various persons. A store in Murray street has several of the immense deck beams supporting one of its floors and one of the county churches can boast a carved lectern made from an old plank off the Anson. The piece of wood in Mr Whelan’s possession is studded with immense spikes, which are said to have been driven in the wood to prevent the prisoners cutting their way out with any knives they may have had in their possession.

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William Dodd's application to migrate to South Australia shows that he was a shoemaker and jobbing smith. A classified list of emigrants on the "Buckinghamshire" was published in the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register on Saturday, March 30 1839 (pg 2 column b). In the same newspaper (pg 6, column d), the ship's manifest was published.

The Buckinghamshire was 1469 tons under the command of Captain Moore. This was probably the largest ship to bring migrants in the days of sailing ships and on her only voyage to South Australia, brought the largest single contingent of passengers. She was built in 1816 at Bombay Dockyards, India by Jamsetjee Bomanjee as a fully rigged ship. The Buckinghamshire was originally one of the Honourable East India Company's fleet and was known as an East Indianman. For many years this company held a monopoly on shipping east of the Cape of Good Hope and it was only Acts of Parliament in 1813, 1823 and 1834 which broke this hold over British shipping. Between 1831 and 1834 the East India's fleet was dispersed. Some of the ships were bought for timber and broken up. The Buckinghamshire was purchased for £10,500 in 1834 by Messrs Thacker and Mangell. The owners of the ship at the beginning of its voyage to South Australia were listed as Mangles and Co. and the ship was registered to the Port of London. Captain Shea was master of the ship prior to this voyage.

The Buckinghamshire arrived at Deal from the Thames River on Friday, 7th December 1838. The ship's master was William Moore. The boat sailed to Portsmouth arriving on Saturday, 8th December. When it finally departed for South Australia on Tuesday 11th December it had a total of 512 passengers and 102 crew. The 512 consisted of 16 cuddy (cabin), 23 intermediate and 15 steerage passengers as well as 447 emigrants. The ship's tonnage at this stage was 1731 tons. Forty three days into the voyage, the ship was in contact with the Argyll at latitude 28 degrees south. When the Argyll arrived in Sydney, Lloyd's of London was notified of this meeting, recording the contact in its list dated 4th September 1939. A record of the voyage exists in the form of a diary extract written by John Channing and letters written by G Vickery, both passengers on board this voyage. Surgeon W.I. Harris drowned in a boating accident at Holdfast Bay. After travelling for 98 days the ship arrived in Adelaide on 22nd of March 1839. The "South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register" of Saturday, 6th April 1839, page 3, column b describes an inquest on the "body of a man which was found lying above high-water mark, on the sea-shore, about half way between the flag staff at Glenelg, and Holdfast Bay. The body was found to be that of a sailor of the name of Harding, belonging to the Buckinghamshire, who, along with the surgon, and another seaman belonging to the same ship, were drowned a day or two before, in the boat in which they were upsetting. The Jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned". The Buckinhamshire would have been a beautiful sight sailing up the Port River to the wharf. A watercolour painting of this sailing ship by Col. Light hangs in the Art Gallery of South Australia.

After leaving Adelaide on 11th April the ship sailed to Kangaroo Island, leaving on the 18th for Ceylon and India. The Buckinghamshire's arrival at the Cape of Good Hope was listed as 16th of June 1939 its voyage continuing until it arrived in Saugor from Madras on July 10th 1839.

On Thursday, March 1st 1851, the Buckinghamshire left Calcutta for England under Captain McGregor, with a crew of 100, of whom 30 were European and 70 Lascars. The passengers were made up of 70 soldiers of the 80th foot and their families, many of the men being invalids and 33 cuddy (cabin) passengers. The run down the Hoogly was accomplished in fair weather and on Monday, the 4th, the ship lay to for the night off Canterbury Point and dropped the pilot. The passengers and soldiers were singing and dancing when at about 10 pm a fire was discovered amongst the cargo of jute, and the pumps were manned at once. Unfortunately there was some panic among the soldiers and passengers, but the captain managed to persuade the soldiers to fight the fire, though not before seven of them had been drowned through jumping overboard. The Buckinghamshire continued to fire a signal gun and attracted a steamer which took off most of the passengers. The fire had by now taken a firm hold on the fore part of the ship up to the mainmast, the wreck ultimately drifting ashore where the remainder of those on board were taken off. The only persons lost were the seven soldiers previously mentioned. [Lloyds Register of Shipping 1838/9; Lloyds List 1838/9, "Dictionary of Disasters During the Age of Steam" by C. Hocking].

The "Illustrated London News" of April , 19 1851 reports:

Destruction by Fire of an East Indiaman, and Loss of Life.
On Wednesday it was announced at Lloyd`s that the "Buckinghamshire" Indiaman, a splendid ship of 2000 tons burden, was burnt, on her homeward voyage from Calcutta, a few days after she set sail, on Thursday, the 1st. of March last. Her crew amounted to nearly 100 hands, 30 being Englishmen, and 70 Lascars. She had on board , as steerage passengers, about 70 of the 80th.Regiment of Foot, with their families, and 33 cabin passengers, namely, Major Cooper, Lieutenant Swaly and Lieutenant Wilkinson, who had command of the invalids; Lieutenant Turner, Lieutenant Mason, Dr Pratt, Dr.Payne, Mrs.Macgregor, Mrs Murray and son, Mrs.Maxwell and six children, Mr. Church and one child, a Lady(name unknown) and six children, Mrs. Goodell, Miss. Clune, Mr. W. Murray, Mr. John Glenfal, Mr. Rich, Mr. Casey, and Mr. Chambers. The passage from Calcutta down the Hooghley passed agreeably, and on the evening of the following Monday, the 4th. of March, she was brought up for the night and to discharge the pilot off Canterbury Point, about ten miles below Diamond harbour. The weather was fine, and most of the passengers and soldiers were on deck, singing, dancing and otherwise amusing themselves. Shortly after they retired to rest , about ten o`clock, the vessel was discovered to be on fire in the forehold, and in a short time the flames extended over the whole vessel.

A steamer quickly arrived to their aid, and thus the greater portion of the crew and passengers was saved; but some of the invalids, who were in their fright, on the first alarm bring given, threw themselves overboard, were drowned. The noble ship continued burning the whole night and two following nights and days before she glided into the deep water and sank. None of the passengers saved even a change of clothing. Many of the families were reduced by the calamity to an absolute state of destitution.

It is as yet impossible to say how the ship caught fire. It is supposed that she was wilfully set on fire by some of the Lascars, but no evidence has been adduced to confirm this report.

She was laden with a most valuable cargo, consisting of East India produce. The total loss is calculated to exceed £120,000.

Migrant Ships for South Australia 1836-1860 by Ronald Parsons:

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 1469t/173ltT, 3 mast ship, B.1816 Hon. East India Co., Bombay, 170'6"x43'10"x5'9" tween decks, Mangles & Co., London. Arrived 21 March 1839, from London, from Plymouth 11 December 1838, Capt. Wm Moore. 512 passengers.

Extracted from an early SA paper

No 9 The "Buckinghamshire"
By Ida Forsyth (courtesy Wendy Tucknott)

The Buckinghamshire was a much larger boat than others that have been recorded, her tonnage being 1,450 tons against the Buffalo's 860 and the Rapid's 160. She was probably considered a very large boat indeed by 1839 standards-the last word in a luxury liner, and very fast, too, taking a little over 14 weeks for the voyage, leaving Portsmouth on December 11, 1838 and arriving at Holdfast Bay on 22 March, 1839.

The ship was a fine old East Indian under the command of Capt. W. Moore, and had 512 passengers on board, including 180 children. Of these, 443 were migrants being sent out by the Commissioners under the care of General Superintendent Nathanel Hailes for the colonisation of South Australia.

Many of these poor people were very misinformed over the whole business, being told that it was very much the same as moving from one county to another-from Dorset to Devon. The average labouring family was very ignorant, many of them spending their whole lives within a few miles of the village in which they were born.

Migrants Misled
This new colony, described in such glowing terms by agents anxious to obtain labourers, must have been a very great surprise to many of them. Although probably after a trying journey of months in a tiny sailing ship with the roughest of food and a shortage of water, any land would be welcomed, and even if they could raise their passage money few of them would feel like facing the journey back. They had come to stay, and soon learned to adapt themselves to new conditions.

On the passenger list the Buckinghamshire one reads the names of Mr & Mrs Cook, Mr & Mrs Hailes and three children, Mr & Mrs Hezelden, Mr & Mrs Robertson, Mr & Mrs Munday and three children, Misses Shultz, Williams and Harridge, the Rev. Mr Wix, Messrs, Gilbert, Brown, Ellis, Allen, Miller, Matchel, Templar, Poulden, Harding, Handcock, Pratt, Williams, Gratwick, Bourchier, Lock, Gothardt, Salmon and Snape.

Miss Nancy Gilbert's great grandfather, Mr Joseph Gilbert arrived in the boat. Anchoring at Glenelg, the natives helped in landing the various goods and carrying them up the shelving beach. Naturally, goods of all sorts and kinds were brought, many people bringing a store of provisions as well as furniture and household goods.

Imported a House
Mr Gilbert brought with him a wooden house in sections which he set up in the part which is now called Lower Hindley street. Soon, however, he went farther afield taking up land at Gawler and then in the Baroosa Range. Later he built a homestead on the lines of his English manor home and called it Pewsey Vale after the district in Wiltshire where he was born.

South Australia was particularly fortunate in the personnel of her early colonists, so many of them being members of good old English families. The new colony of South Australia appealed to their adventurous spirits and especially to the better class, as there was no convict smirch on the colony's escutcheon.

It is a smirch that modern Australians have almost forgotten, but 100 years ago it loomed very large.

Among descendants today of the pioneers in the Buckinghamshire are:- Dr Henry Gilbert, Messrs John, Tony and Peter Gilbert, Mr William Gilbert, his son and two daughters, Miss Harriet Stirling C.B.E., Mrs Russell Booth, Edward and Nan Booth, Mrs Brailsford Robertson, Judith, David and Stirling Robertson, Mrs Max Jaffrey, John and Andrew Jaffrey, Misses D, M and E Gilbert, Messrs Malcolm Collins, Hugh A Watson, Mesdames F. Cook, Lucy D. Davies, Mary W. Gow, Clive M. Price and Qualtrough, and Misses Mary Adison, Edith E. Rutt, and Mary Wisdom.

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Michael (Laurence) Hoffman emigrated from Bavaria to Queensland on the 'Marbs' which departed 15 November 1854 as Michel Merlein from Bayreuth in Bavaria, Schäfer (shepherd). The most obvious reason for using an alias would be that he was an illegitimate son - MERLEIN and HOFFMANN being the names of mother and father (or vice versa). For an illegitimate child to be known by the father's surname was not all that uncommon. Another possibility was that his mother might have remarried (or even married for the first time) and Michael Lawrence might have sometimes found it convenient to take the surname of the step father.

Or, he might have wanted to get out of the country without the authorities being aware of it. For young men between 16 and 25 years of age, this was often to avoid conscription into the army. However, Lawrence appears far too old for that - but there are many other reasons that a man might wish to slip away - some less honourable than others.

To emigrate, a person had to seek permission from the authorities. Part of the process involved advertising the intention in the local paper so that debts could be cleared before departure.

Bayreuth is a city in Oberfranken (upper Franconia) region of Bavaria with a population in 1956 of 60,500. The first two German immigrant ships to sail from Hamburg direct to Moreton Bay, entered the bay on Wednesday the 21st March 1855. These ships, the "Aurora" and the "Marbs" (also referred to as the "Merbz"), landed a total of 506 people - described as "fine and able looking people who will, without doubt, form a valuable addition to our labouring population".

Some of the immigrants were taken by steamer, "City of Melbourne" to Wide Bay, where they had been engaged for employers in that area. The steamboat "Swallow" took others directly up the Brisbane River to Ipswich, while the remainder came up the river by the "Palermo" and "Brothers" to the immigration depot at Brisbane, where they "enlivened the town with their glee and choruses, appearing to be highly pleased with the appearance of their new home.

Unfortunately the voyages of both ships were marked with tragedy and disaster. The "Aurora", a barque of 132 tons, left Hamburg on October 20th 1854 under Captain Mign. On entering Moreton Bay, it appears that she mistook the entrance, and coming in by the south passage went aground on the seaward side of Moreton Island. No casualties occurred and the crew and passengers were safely landed, some of the island and the others on Cleveland Point from where they were transferred to their various destinations. The "Aurora" was not so fortunate - left high and dry on the shore, there was no profitable way of getting her off, so she was stripped of her sails and other salvageable fittings.

The "Merbs", a barque of 178 tons, under Captain Wilder, left Hamburg on November 26th 1854. Sickness struck on the first day out of port and typhus, cholera and measles plagued those on board up until the last twelve days of the voyage. In all 47 deaths occurred on the voyage - 28 of these were children whose deaths were attributed to measles. This high mortality rate - 2% and complaints of insufficient provisioning led the Health Officer for Brisbane, Dr. William Hobbs, to report the matter to the authorities. His report led to an inquiry into the conditions aboard the ship. Dr. Hobbs was very critical of the insufficiency of clothing and the absence of fresh provisions and basic comforts. He attributed the high mortality to the lack of these necessities and suggested that unless the system was changed, it could be expected that other ships would suffer similar losses. He pointed out that the character of the vessel had to pay for each adult passenger - alive or dead - but would stand to lose nothing if all the passengers were to die, as he insured each of their lives.

Included in Dr. Hobb's report was the following scale of provisions and food allowance on which the "Marbs" immigrant existed for almost four months. The ship sailed direct - no ports were visited on the voyage from which fresh provision could have been obtained. The weekly menu was thus - Sunday - Half a pound of salt beef, and plum pudding. Monday - Half a pound of salt pork, potatoes and sour cabbage. Tuesday - Half a pound of salt beef, and peas. Wednesday - Two salt herrings per adult, potatoes and beans Thursday - Half a pound of beef, rice and treacle Friday - Half a pound of pork, potatoes and peas Saturday - Half a pound barley per adult and plums. The allowance of bread per adult was five pound per week, of coffee, 31 pounds amongst the whole passengers. The allowance of butter was one half pound per week per adult, and of sugar a quarter of a pound per week per adult.

Medical comforts for the voyage consisted of - wine (claret) - 80 bottles, Arrowroot - six pounds, sago - forty pounds, Oatmeal - sixty pounds, Vinegar - 4 Hogsheads. There were no supplies of milk for the children, no porter (port), no spirits, no lime juice, no clothing, no soap. Little wonder that on arriving in Brisbane, the immigrants "enlivened the town with their glee" - they were no doubt very pleased to leave the ship.

(The shipping information has been extracted by Mr C. F. Joy of Gordonvale, who wishes to acknowledge the assistance he received from Mrs J. Ruig of Singleton).

The "Marbs" was owned by Mr Marbs and built by him in Hamburg in 1851/52. A maritime reference written in German confirms Captain E.C. Wilder for the voyages from 1854-1861 and the destination for 1854/1855 Moreton Bay via Callao, in Peru. The listing also records the voyage 57/59 to Melbourne, so the "Marbs" apparently came to Australia a couple of times. The "Marbs" had a load capacity of 178t and dimensions of 120.6 x 30.6 x 18.10 h. [Ref: Kresse, W.: Hamburger Seeschiffe 1824-1888].

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