The Africaine was a barque of 316 tons. It was built by Robert and Thomas Brown junior in 1832 at their shipyard on the River Tyne, downstream from Newcastle. The yard lay on the south bank of the river at Jarrow in County Durham, the same county in which the Tam O’Shanter was built.

The first owner intended to send the Africaine to Quebec in Canada and that perhaps lead to the French spelling of the ship’s name. However, in the end it sailed to Smyrna, in modern day Turkey.

In early 1834 the Africaine was purchased by London ship-owner Thomas Finlay. It sailed to Sydney via Calcutta, Mauritius and Hobart in 1835. The following year it was chartered as a private venture by Robert Gouger, Colonial Secretary, and John Brown, Emigration Officer, to take goods, stock and passengers to South Australia. This voyage was again made under the command of John Finlay Duff who had become a part-owner.

Barque Africaine in the Indian Ocean. JM Skipper, 1836. Image courtesy of NLA.

The Africaine was 30.1 metres long and was 8.3 m wide across its beam. It offered comfortable accommodation. The best cabins above the deck, at the stern were occupied by Captain Duff and the merchants who chartered the ship. Forward of them, where there was less head room, were cabins for the intermediate passengers. Further forward again, there was an open area fitted with tiers of bunks for the assisted emigrants travelling third class.

The crew’s forecastle would have been right at the bows, at the front of the ship. There was also a round-house, a house forward on deck to accommodate the ship’s officers and the galley or kitchen. One passenger, Arthur Gliddon wrote that he sat and shot birds from the round-house.


Carrying capacity 316 tons

Length 30.1 metres (99 feet), beam 8.3 metres (27 feet), depth in hold 5.6 metres (18 feet 6 inches), height between decks 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches)

Built by Robert and Thomas Brown at Jarrow, County Durham in 1832

Rigged as a barque.

-Information compiled by Bob Sexton.

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