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Week 24 - Trouble on land and at sea

[ 1836 to 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 45: Proclamation and Celebration ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 43: Kangaroo Island ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 40 - Finally! The harbour is found ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 37: Building a Home ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 36: Family Life ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 35: Pastimes ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 34 - a tempest ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 26: Whose story? ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 25 - The demon drink ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 22: In Good Time ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 20 - infectious disease ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 18 - the port of Rio ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16: Crossing the Line ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16 - towards Australia ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 15 - high drama on the John Pirie ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 08: Employment ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 06 : Weathering the Storm ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

The initial excitement of arriving at their destination is dissipating fast as Captain Morgan, Samuel Stephens and the passengers confront the realities of their new situation.  Their first concerns are finding fresh water and providing for one of the passengers, Mrs Beare, who is described as being ‘in a deranged state of mind’. Getting her into a tent on shore is an urgent priority.

That task achieved, Captain Morgan and Samuel Stephens resume their explorations and finally meet with two of the men, Henry Wallan and John Day, who are unofficial residents on the Island.  They visit their ‘nice little farm’, buy some pigs and vegetables and invite them to visit the ships with their Aboriginal female companions.  A cordial relationship is soon established and Henry Wallan agrees to work for Samuel Stephens for three months, for the sum of £1/10sh and provisions.

Scene: Mr Beares Tent

Mr Beare’s tents, Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island. ca. 1836. By Colonel William Light.

Here the cordiality ends. For the first time a passionate argument erupts between Stephens and Captain Morgan over a perceived slight.  It emerges that Morgan has serious concerns about some of Stephens‘ behaviour, particularly towards Mrs Beare, but we also see the first hint of a personal attachment developing between Stephens and Miss Beare, despite the disparity in their ages. The crews of both vessels are also disaffected and positively refuse to unload either cargo or passengers unless they are paid.  The South Australian venture sees its first strike – within a week of landing!  Stephens must hand over £90 to the crew to entice them to resume work.

At sea

There is trouble also at sea.  On the Africaine, Mary Thomas is both distressed and angry to find that her much–loved cat has been thrown overboard during the night by a group of the passengers.  The crew is also incensed.  Much superstition surrounds cats on board and harming a cat is believed to bring bad luck.  The crew threatens retribution against the culprit/s should they be found. Not surprisingly, no one owns up.  Mary has her suspicions however and pins up a poem about the incident where everyone can read it.  Many years later she finds that she was right.

Oddly enough, cats are also a problem on the Buffalo, but this time because there are too many of them.  George Stevenson manages to remove some before the ship leaves St Helens, and orders the emigrants’ deck to be cleansed to get rid of the stench they have created. Ironically he still believes that cats ‘are probably valuable in the colony’ – a remark that we now find hard to understand.  On a lighter note, the Misses Hindmarsh set about trying to entertain their fellow passengers, as befits young ladies.  They produce two editions of a hand written journal, the ‘Buffalo Telegraph’, which Stevenson dismisses as exhibiting ‘scarcely a redeeming point of intelligence or wit’. Since he is secretary to the Governor, we can assume that he probably keeps this view to himself for the time being!

Language warning

Please note that these sources contain language which is today considered offensive. It has been retained as it is part of the historical record and evidence of past attitudes.

Journals from passengers at sea:

Week 42: Numeracy Onboard

Over the past eight months we have read many journal entries, diaries and letters describing the experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings of those onboard the nine ships. We have followed the authors…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 25 – The demon drink

[ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | | | wrote.]

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 20 – infectious disease

[ | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | wrote.]

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state….

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 14 – steady progress

[ | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

[ | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

[ | | | | , on board the | | | wrote.]

On 26 March the John Pirie seemed to be making progress, as it finally cleared the English Channel and struck out for the Atlantic Ocean. But just west of the Bay of Biscay the weather worsened…

[ Read the full journal extract ]