Lady Mary Pelham

The Lady Mary Pelham, like the Duke of York, had been a Falmouth packet. The Lady Mary Pelham carried a female bust as its figurehead; the Duke of York carried a male bust.

The Falmouth packets were contracted to carry British mail overseas. They also carried passengers and gold bullion and they had a reputation for speed and reliability. The Lady Mary Pelham’s portrait was painted in Malta in 1818 and the painting is now held by the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall in Falmouth.

It was one of two ships of identical dimensions that were built by John Pelham at Rotherhithe, on the Thames, in 1816. The other was the Marchioness of Salisbury. That vessel was bought by the Navy when they began to take over the packet service from the post office and was re-named HMS Nightingale.

However, the Lady Mary Pelham remained in private hands until it was purchased by George Fife Angas for the South Australian Company. It was converted from a brig to a barque by adding a third mast to increase its speed for the long voyage to South Australia. It was also fitted for whaling so that it could catch a return cargo of whale oil in the South Seas after delivering its first cargo to South Australia.

It left Liverpool on 30 March 1836. The Lady Mary Pelham only carried six passengers who paid their fares but, as with all the Company’s ships, the crew was considered to be an addition to the new colony’s population, and they were officially counted as twenty two emigrants.

Lady Mary Pelham, 1818. Watercolour by Nicolas Cammillieri. Image courtesy of National Maritime Museum, Cornwall, UK.


Carrying capacity 206 tons

Length 25.7 metres (84 feet 2 inches), beam 7.3 metres (24 feet), height between decks 1.7 metres (5 feet 7 inches)

Built by John Pelham at Rotherhithe, County Surrey in 1816.

Originally rigged as a brig and converted to a barque for the voyage to South Australia.

-Information compiled by Bob Sexton.

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