Tam O’Shanter passenger list

It is impossible to be sure of who was on board the Tam O’Shanter, and being a privately-owned vessel, there is no record of the crew beyond the name of the master. The ship was chartered by Colonial Treasurer Osmond Gilles, acting in his private role as a merchant, although much of the cargo space was taken up by builder John White.

The Tam O’Shanter carried passengers who paid their own way as well as emigrants for the Colonization Commissioners. The ‘Register of Emigrant Labourers Applying for a Free Passage to South Australia’ lists the people considering life in the new colony. Those accepted and boarding a vessel were given an embarkation number, and from the grouping of numbers the particular emigrants can generally be identified. In the case of the Tam o’Shanter, embarkation numbers were not allocated, but of the fifty adults officially carried, well over half were engaged by White and Gilles, or sent out at the request of Colonel Torrens. These people were all recorded as being on board, and in preparing A Free Passage to Paradise?, Pat Button has consulted other sources to identify the remainder.

The only record of the voyage is the diary John White maintained for about the first six weeks. In it he mentions others on board, amongst them for instance ‘thomas’ who ‘washed a Shirt Handkerchiefe and one Pair Of stockings’ and may have been an unlisted servant. Miss Catchlove would have answered to ‘Ketch Lave’, but it is impossible to recognise ‘Mr Juls’, who ‘fell down the Hatch with his wifes Child and brake her harm’. In The Life of Samuel White, John’s grandson Captain S.A. White provides a list of both cabin passengers and many of the emigrants. This must have been based on an original document as the results of John White’s phonetic spelling and illegible writing can be clearly discerned. Amongst the misspellings, Finke becomes ‘Junke’ and elsewhere ‘Fouke’, Maslin ‘Masters’, Freeth ‘Firth’, Hinross ‘Hennas’, McGlashan ‘McGaplin’, Stuckey ‘Putty’, and Nokes ‘Makes’. Messrs Robinson, Parker and Vosett also make an appearance.


Master: Whiteman Freeman


John E. Barnard

Captain Walter Bromley

Mrs Freeman

James (surgeon)

Thomas Maslin

William Finke

William Nation

William Walters

John White


Amelia Allen

Charlotte Allen

Sarah Allen

Thomas Allen

Mrs Allen & child

Thomas H. Allen

Joseph William Allen

William Allen

Inkson Bell

Mrs Bell & 4 children

Edward Binisset

Stephen Blunden

Henry Briggs

Mrs Briggs & 2 children

Charles Catchlove

Edward Catchlove

Mrs Catchlove

Harriet Catchlove

Jane Catchlove

Thomas Clark

George East

Mrs East & 2 children

Charles Forbes

Mrs Forbes & child

George Freeth

Henry Gilbert

George Guthrie

Henry Hardington

Alfred Hinross

William Hinross

Robert Jaques

Phillip Lee

Mrs Lee

Thomas Martin

John McGlashan

Henry Moseley

Joseph Nokes

G.H. Phillips

Mrs Phillips

William Phillips

Mrs Phillips & 3 children

Henry George Price

John Roberts

Fanny Rogers & 6 children

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8 Responses to “Tam O’Shanter passenger list”

  1. Brian Corbett October 26, 2011 at 11:44 am #


    I am a Great Great Grandson of John Clarke.

    Our Family History has always stated that John Clarke arrived in South Australia from Ireland in November/December 1836 on the Tam O’Shanter. This has been passed down by each generation and I have a “document” written by one of his sons James Clarke wherein he records “Father left Ireland in July 1836, ……When he arrived at Holdfast Bay in December 1836 ….. When Governor Hindmarsh arrived father attended the Proclamation Ceremony….”

    He married Catherine Taggart on 7th September, 1840.

    From my own research I think I can recall George Kingston called for all early pioneers to confirm the date and ship of their arrival in Adelaide because no shipping record of these early arrivals existed or they had been lost or destroyed. John Clarke was included as a passenger on the Tam O’Shanter.

    I am most interested in your reference to “Register of Emmigrant Labourers Applying for a free passage to South Australia” – is this register available for research?

    I am surprised by your statement that there was only one Clark(e) on the Tam O’Shanter when our family (including respected family historian the late Hazel Zilm) always stated that our John Clarke was indeed a passenger.


    Brian Corbett

    • Allison October 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks, Brian. I’ll pass on your question about the Register, and get back to you.

      Allison – History SA

    • Allison October 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi Brian,

      I’ve been in touch with Bob Sexton, who has done a great deal of research about these early ships.

      The ‘Register of Emigrant Labourers …’ is most easily accessed by means of a hard copy in the Family History area of the State Library.

      Bob also offers the following possibility in relation to your Great, Great Grandfather:
      ‘It sounds as though the family has good reason to believe their man was on the Tam O’Shanter. However there is no doubt about the name appearing in the official records. One possibility is that the abbreviation ‘Jno’ for John was used at some stage and as Js and Ts are indistinguishable, it is not beyond the imagination to turn ‘Jno’ into ‘Tom’, and then expand the name into a proper ‘Thomas’, as it appears in the records.’

      Thanks for your interest in the site, and for sharing your family history resources with us.

      Best wishes
      Allison – History SA

  2. Anne Crawley October 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    likewise, Josiah Rogers, Mrs Bleechmore nee Rogers, WT Skuce and Mrs Fanny Skuce are not listed, but are recorded elsewhere as being on the Tam O’Shanter. But website is great.

    • Allison October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      Hello, Anne.

      Thanks for your comments – I’m glad you are enjoying the website.

      I passed your comment onto Bob Sexton, who has done a great deal of research on the passengers and emigrants on board the ships, and hopefully his response below answers your query.

      Allison – History SA

      Opie in his ‘South Australian Records to 1841’ lists these people as coming on the Tam O’Shanter. Other than passengers paying their own way, those on board were all despatched by the Colonization Commissioners and appear in the ‘Register of Emigrant Labourers Applying for a Free Passage to South Australia’, which did not name children but gave their sex and age. The ten members of the Rogers family amongst them included the 19-year-old Josiah James Rogers, of whose second name Opie was evidently unaware, and the 18-year-old Fanny Rogers, who was named as Mary Frances when she married Thomas William Skuce in 1838. Thus both in fact appear in our passenger list. Mrs J.E. Bleechmore on the other hand was Caroline Louisa Rogers before she married Joseph Edwin Bleechmore in 1852, and as a child is therefore mentioned but not named in our list. If, as Opie claims, Skuce was also on board the Tam O’Shanter, he was not recorded as passenger or emigrant, and one possibility is that he was a member of the crew who was discharged after the ship was stranded in the port and underwent lengthy repair.

  3. Monica Lee October 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    A passenger Jonn Clarke an irishman was on the TamO Shanta but doesnt appear to be listed.

    • Allison October 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks, Monica.
      I’ll pass your information on to the person who has been working on the passenger lists.
      Allison – History SA

    • Allison October 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      Hello, Monica.
      Thanks for your comment. I have passed it on to Bob Sexton, who has done a great deal of research about who was on board the first ships to arrive in South Australia, and his response is below. As we mention in the introductions to the passenger lists on the website, it is very hard to unravel all the various pieces of infromation about who was on board these ships, but I hope Bob’s response is helpful.

      Cheers, Allison – History SA

      There was a Thomas Clark a passenger on the Tam O’Shanter, but no John Clarke. According to the ‘Register of Emigrtant Labourers Applying for a Free Passage to South Australia’, Thomas was a carpenter and joiner, aged 30 and single, who had been engaged to work in the new Colony by the builder John White. There was in fact a ‘John Clark’, who arrived by the Warrior in 1840. Thomas was recorded as ‘J. Clarke’ in Opie’s ‘South Australian Records Prior to to 1841’, and this entry has since been copied by, for instance, H.J. Finnis in ‘Before the Buffalo’. Thomas’s name was written out in full in the Colonization Commissioners’ records but unfortunately ‘J’s and ‘T’s are usually indistinguishable in manuscript so little store can be placed on a single initial, and the presence or otherwise of a final ‘e’ is a matter of personal choice or perhaps simple misunderstanding. It is certainly clear that there was only one Clark(e) on board the ship.

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