John Pirie journal writer

The diary kept on board the schooner John Pirie lacks the first two pages so that the author is not identified and even its subject has to be deduced from internal evidence. However it is obvious from similar sentiments and even turns of phrase to be seen in the letters from Captain George Martin to both his wife and to George Fife Angas that captain and author were closely associated. The author was deeply involved with the animals on board, but there is nothing in the lists of crew and passengers, or in the Directors’ Minutes of the South Australian Company, that links anybody specifically to this duty.

Later records, however, enable the author of the diary to be identified. On 26 March 1842 The Register published the news that John Brown, who had come out as a storekeeper with the South Australian Company, had been speared by Aboriginal people at Port Lincoln. The South Australian reported three days later that he came from Shields, County Durham, and was the only cabin passenger on board the John Pirie with the late Captain Martin. As a Company servant, Brown was listed in the ‘Register of Emigrant Labourers’, which records that he was a farmer’s labourer aged 28, single, and at the time of application resident at 43 Bell Wharf, Lower Shadwell. He was engaged at eighteen shillings per week.

It therefore seems very likely that John Brown was the author of the diary. He is not to be confused with the Emigration Agent of the same name who came out by the Africaine.

The executor of Brown’s will, which is held at the Supreme Court, was Captain John Bishop, who had arrived in Port Lincoln in 1839 as master of the brig Dorset. Bishop evidently retained the diary as being of no commercial value and it remained amongst his papers. A copy came into the possession of the State Library through one of its staff, Helen Thomson, who was a Bishop descendant.

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6 Responses to “John Pirie journal writer”

  1. Descendant of Henry Douglas May 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Hi Glen,

    I found that Chandlers Hill Road was once called Douglas Hill. See my comment to Sharon. We have ancestors in the same graveyard and three of Henry’s deceased children were moved to the new cemetery when the Happy Valley Reservoir was built. Henry Douglas’s vineyard and house is now flooded under the reservoir but can be seen when the water level is low.
    I would be interested to read Charles Chandler’s book – what is it called?

  2. Glen Chandler March 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Further to my comments yesterday regarding the author

    The second part of the transcript is a record of the settlement of the John Pirie personnel, both at Salt Lagoon, (possibly by Nepean Bay) on Kangaroo Island, and at Holdfast Bay.
    Another author probably wrote this as the style differs. In the diary of the voyage, that author refers to Charles or Chas Chandler, whereas (for Monday September 12) there is an entry,
    “… accompanied by a man named Chandler….”,
    , which seems to indicate that this author had not yet met Charles Chandler.

    Furthermore, it is likely that this author was a woman, suggested by entries referring to “The men” and one recording “….all the men went down to Kingscote………leaving me quite alone….” (August 29).

  3. Glen Chandler March 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Charles Chandler (after whom “Chandlers Hill” was named) was my great great grandfather. Many references about him will appear after Thurs June 2nd 1836.

    The following was written by me in a preface when copying the “John Pirie ” diary in 2002

    …The author of the John Pirie diary is not identified.
    He (or she) refers to “Captain Martin” or “the Captain”.
    An entry on April 1st refers to “our Captain” so it is reasonable to assume that the Captain did not write it.
    The nature of the entries on navigation would indicate someone with skills in that area….

    • Sharon April 4, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

      Hello Glen, Charles Chandler was also my ancestor. I have read the journal as well and find it quite a interesting read. It’s great to have such an historical document about our ancestor, and his role in keeping the livestock for the survival of the fledgling colony. I grew up on Kangaroo Island, and never realised my roots to SA’s “first fleet”. I remember the pride I felt during the re-enactments on significant anniversaries to commerate their arrival. Maybe we could exchange family history information.

      • Glen Chandler April 20, 2011 at 9:34 am #

        Hi Sharon, Looking at our family tree from Charles down thru Wm Henry, to Richard Chandler, I see a Sharon L P****** married to Erek A*****. Is that where you fit in ?
        Charles Chandler’s headstone is in the Happy Valley cemetary, cnr of Serpentine Road and (significantly) Chandlers Hill Road.

      • Descendant of Henry Douglas May 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

        Hi Sharon,
        Our ancestors would likely have been connected in the first months of Kangaroo Island’s history….Henry Douglas landed on KI on 3rd Oct 1836 off the “Emma” and with Wilkins (his man) and Mrs Wilkins they built a bush hut near the salt lakes. Wilkins was later employed in the garden the SA Company were making on KI. Henry became ‘Foreman of the Yard’, his duty being to see that timber and cargo of incoming vessels was stacked and stowed and guarded at night. He left KI for the mainland four months later on the “John Renwick” to take up his land options there. I am also living on KI after visiting for 50+ years, and while I knew a little about my roots in the SA first fleet (as Henry Douglas kept a diary) I have been busy with discovering my previously unknown convict roots in NSW (on the other side of the family).
        I read an interesting comment that Henry made – to the effect that he purchased two goats and some pigeons at the Cape of Good Hope and landed the ‘finest’ goat and one or two pigeons. The goat later had two kids, so her progeny may be there yet and she may be the ancestress of that class of stock now on the island!

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