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Briefly about the Mary Thomas:

Mary Thomas was clearly a redoubtable woman.  She was 49 years old when she, her husband Robert and their five children sold all their belongings in England and embarked for South Australia.  Mary travelled on the Africaine with four of her children, while the elder son, Robert George, an apprentice in Colonel Light’s survey team, travelled [...]

Read more about the Mary Thomas

Journal Entries written by: Mary Thomas

Friday 1 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]


On this day, July lst, my son William was taken ill of the scarlet
fever, and my youngest child Helen was so swollen with Oedema, referred to during the nineteenth century as ‘dropsy’. An abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body causing swelling of the soft tissues (usually in the lower legs and feet). dropsy
from the effects of the same disorder, which she and Mary both
had just before we left England, as to be confined to her bed
scarcely able to breathe.

On this day our To navigate difficult stretches of water, ships took pilots on board. Pilots were coastal navigators with knowledge of their local waters and they captained the ship through the channel or harbour. pilot left us and I sent letters to London,
Gosport, and Chalton near Petersfield, Hants.

We had hitherto walked on any part of the deck we pleased
and the mate said nothing to the contrary, but the day before the
captain arrived on board the following notice was posted at the
head of our stairs: ‘The passengers in the Cabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants. intermediate cabins are
not allowed abaft the A machine used to lift heavy loads or to weigh an anchor. The hauling rope passes in turns around the body of the capstan, which is mounted on a vertical axle and rotated by means of horizontal bars affixed to its head. capstan .’ This produced an altercation
between Mr Thomas and some others with the mate, who was a
Scotchman and possessed a sufficient share of his national pride,
but as far as his duty was concerned was an excellent seaman. He
said it was usual with all passengers who were not in the state
cabins, and he should insist on the order being obeyed, which they
flatly told him they would not – and to show that it was dis-
regarded we went to any part of the deck, the same as before,
without being interfered with by anyone.

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 1 July 1836 ]


Saturday 2 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

We again set sail, I having been up all night in
attendance on the children. I went on deck at daylight and saw
the Isle of Wight hills, the last view that I had of my native
country, and the reflection that it would in all possibility be the
last cost me some tears.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 2 July 1836 ]


Tuesday 5 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The weather hitherto had been remarkably fine, but
this afternoon some rain fell and the wind rose considerably. The
night passed A squall is a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. squally and I was again up with the invalids in my
cabin, William with the scarlet fever, and Mary with such a
violent pain in her head and neck, and excessive weakness, that I
was afraid to trust her out of my sight. Helen was now better, and
in the next cabin, which was allotted to my three daughters and a
young female whom we brought out with us as assistant. We had
also brought two men as agricultural labourers, and two printers,
one an apprentice, as Mr Thomas intended to issue a newspaper,
as soon as possible, in conjunction with Mr Stevenson, the Governor’s
Secretary, who was to be the editor, and with whom he had
entered into partnership for the purpose. Much of our luggage
on board, of which we had a great quantity, consisted of a printing
press, type, and other materials necessary for the undertaking.
William usually slept in a hammock which was slung near
us in the Cabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants. intermediate where our cabins were situated, in the
most airy part, for we could not obtain any in the after part of the
vessel. …
We had a surgeon on board (at least one who called himself
such) but as to his medical skill, if he had any, he showed but
little of it with regard to my children. When William was so un-
fortunately taken with the scarlet fever he did not once come to
see him, although he was in the opposite cabin and well aware
of it, till I asked him; and when he said a blister was necessary
for his throat, instead of preparing it – as I expected he would
do, having a medicine chest on board – he went on shore at Deal
and remained the whole day. So I took my own method by
applying a A poultice is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed, or painful part of the body. poultice , which I afterwards continued, and William
found great relief from it. Fortunately I had also a bottle of saline
mixture and another of the gargle which I had from the doctor
who attended the other children before our departure, which with
some lemons we procured from Deal, enabled me to give him what
was most necessary. At least he was more indebted under Providence
to my nursing for his recovery, than to any medical attendance
on board; as was Helen likewise. The three girls also suffered
severely from seasickness, especially Frances, the eldest, who was
confined to her bed for several days. Mr Thomas suffered but
little from that cause, and for myself, thank God, I was very well,
and though sometimes ill it was soon over…
The young girl we brought with us I found but little use, as she
would not exert herself much for anyone, though well able to do
so. I was five nights without taking my cloaths off, and slept but
little the whole time. I had great reason to be thankful that I bore
it so well, or I know not what others would have done. All the
children continued ill – William just beginning to recover from
the fever, but not out of bed, Helen also confined to her bed, and
the others but little better – unable to procure any comforts for
them which I would have had on land, the ship rolling about so
that nothing would stay in its place, and during the night in total
darkness, as no light was allowed after 9 o’clock, except in the
state cabin, and what we had was only a miserable lamp, the very
shadow of a light, hung up in the centre between the cabins. With
all this it required some resolution to keep up my spirits, and thank
Heaven I did keep them up. Though the hatches were often
closed during the night, for it rained heavily with tremendous
thunder and lightning, I did not feel the least alarm or repent
having undertaken the voyage; my greatest anxiety being to get
the children well.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 5 July 1836 ]


Sunday 10 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This being Sunday we, for the first time after we
came on board, had Divine Service on deck, amidst the heaving
of the ship, the sea being very rough, and the roar of the waves
sometimes almost drowning the voice of the officiator, the sur-
geon. In the evening we came in sight of the island of Madeira,
and passed it in the night, with a strong breeze blowing.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 10 July 1836 ]


Sunday 24 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

A nautilus was seen dancing on the waves with its transparent sails and little shell for a boat; the sight was very beautiful.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 24 July 1836 ]


Friday 29 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This evening we had a specimen for the first time of the usual weather in a tropical climate. The wind during the day had been calm and we made but little progress, but about 7 o’clock that night a sudden squall arose and was immediately succeeded by a tremendous shower of rain such as is [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 29 July 1836 ]


Saturday 6 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Again a rough head wind, which drove us every way but the right, everything and everybody tumbling about. Mr Thomas had hitherto boasted that he could stand upon his feet though others could not, but this day threw him flat on his back. The children had many falls, as did almost everyone. For myself, I [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 6 August 1836 ]


Tuesday 2 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Who killed my cat? Suppose I tell;
Unless deceived, I know full well;
But you, perhaps, may guess the plot
When I have told you who ‘twas not.
‘Twas not the captain nor the mate,
For they, I’m sure, had no such hate,
But both expressed their deep regret
That Puss with such a fate had met.
‘Twas not the steward; he desired
That she should every day be fed,
And said, ‘I tink dat man so bad
Who dared do wicked act so sad.’
‘Twas not the sailors; one and all
They would apprehend a squall,
And vow that man should drowned be
Who threw a cat into the sea.
‘Twas non who in the steerage dwelt,
For they had more humanely felt,
And all, with Nature’s truth inspired,
Her stripes and beauty much admired.
Who was it, then, who killed my cat?

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 2 August 1836 ]


Friday 5 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

A fine morning after a very rough night but the wind a little lower, though still against us, the sea swelling and foaming tremendously, and the ship leaning so much to leeward that it was almost impossible to stand. We had learned by this time, however, what it is to be at sea.

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 5 August 1836 ]


Sunday 7 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This day, being Sunday, and the weather being fine, though the wind was still contrary, we had Divine Service on deck. Three ships were seen in the distance, also two large birds, supposed to be the albatross. This I thought an extraordinary circumstance, as we were then three hundred miles from land, the nearest being the Gold Coast.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 7 August 1836 ]


Wednesday 10 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

August 10 Contrary winds are still blowing, as sailors call it, ‘right in the teeth’, and the ship lurching so much in consequence as to make it exceedingly disagreeable. The sailors are uttering imprecations on the destroyer of the cat, and wishing all sorts of evil may befall him.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 10 August 1836 ]


Thursday 11 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

August 11 We made signals to an American vessel bound for the South Sea fisheries.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 11 August 1836 ]


Saturday 13 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

August 13 We spoke with a Dutch ship bound for Rio Janeiro. Wind still in the same quarter.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 13 August 1836 ]


Sunday 14 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The stars also presented a splendid appearance, and we could now see the Southern Cross, that is, five stars in the form of our Saviour’s cross. This is only seen in the Southern Hemisphere. (The cross is assumed as the Australian arms and worn by the Government officers, the emblem being stamped on their buttons.) It likewise frequently happened that a beautiful rainbow was seen at sunrise, which, as it appeared on the edge of the water, was truly magnificent.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 14 August 1836 ]


Thursday 18 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

A curious creature was drawn up with a pail of water. It was called a glaucus, and was of a dark purple. When the sun shone on it a variety of colours was reflected. It had four appendages about an inch long, with shorter ones again branching from each in different directions. Its length was [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 18 August 1836 ]


Saturday 20 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Three birds called Cape pigeons have been flying about the vessel. This would seem a trifling occurrence except at sea, where a bird so far from land excites as much notice as any extraordinary animal in the street of London.  

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 20 August 1836 ]


Sunday 21 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Thermometer up to 70 degrees.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 21 August 1836 ]


Monday 22 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This day, at about 6 o’clock in the morning, we crossed the Line. I was up and intended being on deck, but was not aware that we were so near it. Now, having cleared the equinox, we got into the trade winds and went at a very good rate, expecting to be at the Cape [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 22 August 1836 ]


Tuesday 23 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This day our allowance of water, which had hitherto been three quarts daily to each adult and half or two-thirds to children, according to their age, was reduced to one pint for each person. Generally speaking, we had a sufficiency, though it was sometimes such as no one in England would think of giving to a dog. It was as black as ink, with a thick sediment at the bottom, and smelt worse than a stagnant ditch. Those who go to sea, however, must make up their minds not to be over-nice or over-particular about anything.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 23 August 1836 ]


Wednesday 24 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

I mentioned yesterday that our allowance of water had been reduced, but last night the surgeon, conceiving that it was a scheme to avoid, if possible, stopping at the Cape of Good Hope, which would have been a great disappointment to many of the passengers (ourselves among others, for we were not only desirous of seeing the Cape, but wished to purchase some articles there which might be useful to us), urged the The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. steerage passengers to send a letter to Mr. Brown, who, being agent for the emigrants sent out by the Commissioners, was bound to see that the terms stipulated by them were strictly fulfilled. One of these was that each person should be supplied with three quarts of water per day per diem. In consequence of this we again had our full quantity. In the state cabin, I believe, there was no restriction, but though all the Cabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants. intermediate passengers paid handsomely for their passages, our own costing us nearly two hundred pounds, in respect to supplies of every description we were no better off than the The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. steerage passengers, and even they ought to have had better provisions than were often served to us.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 24 August 1836 ]


Sunday 28 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

AUGUST 28.-This morning, at about 8 o’clock, we had a specimen of ship discipline which, however necessary it may be to maintain subordination, was nevertheless disgusting to the passengers. One of the sailors, who happened to be at the helm, received some orders from the chief mate which he swore he would not obey, and made use of some very abusive language, whereupon the mate struck him. Catching hold of the binnacle, the man overturned it and broke the compass, cutting his head at the same time. The captain was then called, and he also struck the man several times. Some sailors having been called up, the captive’s hands were tied behind him, and he was fastened to a hencoop on the deck, where he remained the greater part of the day. But what made the incident appear worse was that it happened to be Sunday, and we had Divine Service with the culprit in full view, the blood streaming down his face. The man was, I believe, often abusive, but yet it was thought by some that the punishment exceeded the offence, especially as it was well known that the mate was, on account of his surly behaviour, by no means a favourite with the crew, or, indeed, with anyone else on board the vessel.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 28 August 1836 ]


Tuesday 30 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

AUGUST 30.-This being Mary’s and my birthday, we managed to make a cake and give a slice of it and a glass of wine to all our young men. I should not have mentioned this, but it also happened to be the birthday of Mr. Hallett, a gentleman in the cabin, and of one or [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 30 August 1836 ]


Wednesday 31 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

… We had now been rather more than two months at sea, and though we were all well stocked with clothes I found it necessary sometimes, as, I believe, most of the passengers did, to wash a few small things such as pocket handkerchiefs, partly to prevent them from getting mouldy, a condition to which I found everything very liable, whether dirty or clean. I mention this to show that our supply of water was sufficient with economy for so doing, but I could not boast of their whiteness when washed in muddy water. Some of the steerage passengers, I understand, washed all their clothes. How they managed it I do not know, but one of the women washed for the surgeon I before mentioned (an Irishman), and, of course, charged an extravagant price, which caused him to make the observation in my hearing that every man while on board of ship ought to be his own washerwoman.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 31 August 1836 ]


Thursday 1 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 1.-We had by this time managed a little better with regard to our cooking, that is, we had made friends with the cabin cook, and by the occasional bribe of a glass of rum he would bake for us whenever he could; sometimes a beef steak pie (salt beef, of course) or a rice pudding (the latter without either eggs or milk) or a dripping cake. Dripping, which in some measure answered the purpose of butter, I purchased from him at a shilling a pound. The wine also was better than at first, whether from the effects of the voyage or not I cannot tell, but we had some of a very fair quality.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 1 September 1836 ]


Saturday 3 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 3.-Several Cape pigeons flying about the vessel. We had now a fair wind, and were going at a good rate.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 3 September 1836 ]


Sunday 4 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4.-The thermometer was now lowered to 70 degrees, and we found it necessary to resume some of the clothing which we were glad to dispense with while passing through the tropics.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 4 September 1836 ]


Monday 5 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 5.-This morning succeeded the roughest night we had yet experienced. Last evening, at about 6 o’clock. the wind, which had been brisk all day, began to increase. The sky darkened, and rain soon followed. All the passengers were instantly ordered below, at least, all the ladies, but some of the gentlemen chose to remain on deck. The ship, which for the last three weeks had been lying on the The starboard is the right side of a ship or a boat perceived by a person on board facing the bow (front). starboard side, on which our cabins were situated, was now shifted to the other, and leaned so much to The old term for the left hand side of a ship looking forward. The right hand side is starboard. To avoid mis-hearing an order, it is now referred to as ‘port’. larboard during the whole night that it was with difficulty we could keep ourselves in bed. So apprehensive was I that the children in the next cabin would fall out of their berths, as Mary and Helen slept in the upper one, that soon after midnight I got up and dressed myself to be in readiness if anything should occur to require my assistance. Fortunately, nothing of any consequence happened to them, but the doctor, whose cabin was opposite to ours, was called about 2 o’clock to a woman in the steerage, of the name of Paul, who had beena euphamism for childbirth taken ill . This had been expected for some time, and consequently all the men in that part of the vessel were instantly turned out of their berths and sent upon deck for two hours, which in the midst of a cold, dark, and stormy night could not be very agreeable. In the meantime, however, a new passenger made his appearance in the form of a male infant, thus bringing the total number of souls on board to exactly one hundred. The child was born amidst the roaring of the wind, the splashing of the waters, and the incessant rocking of the ship, and was afterwards named James Africaine, in memory of his having been born on that vessel.

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 5 September 1836 ]


Tuesday 6 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 6.-The rough weather still continued, and but few of the passengers ventured on deck, not liking to be so exposed to wind and water. Nevertheless, I preferred taking a view of the sea, of which I was always an enthusiastic admirer, and the sight, though awfully grand, was truly beautiful, and what made it [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 6 September 1836 ]


Wednesday 7 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 7.-The weather still rough and wind contrary, sending us back towards London. Thermometer reduced to 61 degrees.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 7 September 1836 ]


Thursday 8 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 8.-A delightful morning and not so cold; very little wind ancl making slow progress.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 8 September 1836 ]


Sunday 11 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 11.-For the last two days the wind has been blowing right astern, which, though it sent us on at a rapid rate, caused the vessel to rock from side to side in a manner that was very unpleasant.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 11 September 1836 ]


Tuesday 13 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 13.-Going at ten and a half knots an hour.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 13 September 1836 ]


Monday 19 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 19.-A tremendous sea, though but little wind, which is usual in these parts. This evening there was a faint glimmering of the Cape of Good Hope. It appeared like a cloud at a great distance, and none but those who had been to sea before would have taken it for land.

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 19 September 1836 ]


Tuesday 20 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 20.-This morning the cliffs of Simon’s Bay were distinctly visible, and gradually increased on the sight. A lofty range of mountains stretched on each side of us, and formed a grand spectacle, and, of course, an agreeable one to all on board, it being exactly twelve weeks since we left London.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 20 September 1836 ]


Wednesday 21 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 21.-This day, Wednesday, about noon, we anchored in Simon’s Bay. A gentleman and lady in the cabin of the name of Hallett, with their family of three children and a servant, joined us in a boat, as they preferred going on shore with us rather than with the cabin party, on account of their family. Some black natives came alongside, and we engaged one of their boats. When we reached shallow water, there being no jetty, we were carried on shore in the arms of the men, to our no small amusement, and my daughter Mary was the first of our party to set foot on Africa.

There is a small town here, as they call it, which consisted entirely of one street, or, rather, of one row of houses at the base of tremendous hills and facing the water. The whole much resembled a newly-founded watering-place in England. The inhabitants were chiefly English, with some Dutch, but we saw a great many of the native Africans, quite black, with woolly hair. They took much notice of us, and seemed to be well a ware that we had just arrived from England.

We went to the Anchor Inn, kept by an Englishman; others to different inns and lodgings, of which there were several in the town. We partook of lunch as soon as we arrived, of bread and cheese and butter, with bottled ale, all of which were excellent. Never did I relish anything so much, after being so long confined to ship diet, and this seemed to be the case with everyone. We then took a walk, as the weather was very fine, and returned to dinner at 4 o’clock. This consisted of a boiled leg of mutton and rump steaks, with potatoes and cabbage, followed by a bread pudding and excellent pastry. Four bottles of Cape wine were also placed on the table, and everything seemed to be in a style which we did not expect from the appearance of the place, especially as the Anchor was not the principal inn, which was called the Clarence, and where we first went. Some of the cabin party having taken possession of the latter house, the landlady turned us out rather unceremoniously, at which we were not a little surprised, considering our number – fourteen in all. However, we immediately went to the Anchor, and there remained till Friday afternoon, and most likely were the better customers, as all the cabin party set off the same night for Cape Town, about twenty miles distant…

There was not much to he had at Simon’s Bay besides fruit as the shops, or stores, as they were called, contained but little stock…

A sort of caravan, resembling a London omnibus, drawn by six horses and driven by a Malay with a tremendously long whip, brought the captain and party from Cape Town. I heard one gentleman say that he rode in one drawn by fourteen horses, but they are invariably small, and would bear no comparison with those of England. We likewise saw a light wagon, to which were attached eighteen bullocks.

The oranges are very fine. I bought a hundred for three-and-sixpence, also a hundred of a smaller sort, called snatches, for a shilling. Mr. Thomas purchased a box of raisins, containing twenty-eight pounds, for four shillings. They were very sweet and without stalks. There was also a great quantity of dried fruit, such as apples, pears, and apricots, but we were too early for grapes and melons, as we arrived in the spring…

Mr. Thomas purchased some potatoes for seed, and a roll of canvas for a tent to supplement a large one which we had on board…I bought a quart bottle of genuine cayenne pepper for seven-and-sixpence, some of which I have to this day.

I mention these things to apprise those who may have forgotten to provide themselves with some such necessary articles, and are fortunate enough to put in at the Cape of Good Hope, that they may be obtained at Simon’s Bay on reasonable terms, and I believe still cheaper at Cape Town. No doubt, in the lapse of time since we were there (nearly twenty-eight years) everything has been greatly improved and the stores are supplied with a greater variety.

On the whole we enjoyed ourselves very much, and so well satisfied was our landlord that before we parted he insisted upon our partaking of a bottle of champagne, and wished us a good voyage and prosperity in our new settlement. We had some difficulty in making him understand where it was to be, for at first he imagined that we were bound for Van Diemen’s Land, South Australia being then a new name for the colony, and I believe not till we arrived at the Cape had the inhabitants heard of such an intended settlement.

I must here mention the wine called Constantia, which, as our landlord told us, can only be produced in two or three vineyards within a small district where the soil is favourable to the growth of a particular grape from which it is made. It is very rich in flavour, and was indeed a treat to us. It sold at two shillings per bottle. The ordinary Cape wine was sold at a penny per glass. Mr. Hallett’s and our men were on shore drinking it as they did beer in England. It got the better of them, and they continued drinking and smoking nearly all night, making such an intolerable noise that we could not sleep. However, they seemed to enjoy themselves, like their masters, and the next day we treated them to a good breakfast and dinner, with sufficient wine to make them comfortable without being tipsy. They returned to the ship highly gratified.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 21 September 1836 ]


Friday 23 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

At about 5 o’clock on Friday evening we also returned to the vessel, and the following morning again set sail for Australia…

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 23 September 1836 ]


Sunday 25 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 25.-Wet and stormy, but while we were on shore the weather was remarkably fine, the sky being cloudless in the daytime and at night the moon shining with peculiar brightness.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 25 September 1836 ]


Thursday 29 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 29.-This was Michaelmas Day, and the roughest we had yet seen since we had been on board. Not that there was much wind, but a tremendous sea burst over the decks and poured down the hatchways like a river, completely drenching all that came in its way. Our opposite neighbour, intending to go on deck, had just left his cabin when a wave came down over his head and gave him so complete a shower-bath that he was obliged to return and change his clothes; yet we had the satisfaction of knowing that the wind was fair and that we were proceeding at a rapid rate.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 29 September 1836 ]


Friday 30 September 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SEPTEMBER 30.-Last night exceedingly rough weather, and this morning the sea still running mountains high, but indescribably beautiful. Well did the psalmist say, “They that go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters, these men see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.”

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 30 September 1836 ]


Tuesday 4 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 4.-A strong wind after a rough night, which was now increased to a complete gale. The sails had been all furled but two, and the ship rocked so much that everything which was not securely lashed was overturned and out of its place. The waves so incessantly broke over the vessel that it was almost impossible to stand on the deck. I ventured up for a few minutes to take a view of the raging sea, with its towering hills of water covered with foam, but grand beyond all description. I could have stood for hours to look at it, for I had now become too much accustomed to it to feel alarm. Although it inspired me with awe, it filled me with wonder and admiration.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 4 October 1836 ]


Friday 7 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 7.-The wind calmer, but the ship still going briskly on, making an average about two hundred miles in twenty-four hours. These scraps of nautical information I obtained chiefly from the captain, whom I did not scruple to question respecting anything that I thought worth recording, and as many of the passengers were aware that I kept a diary, they were usually willing to give me any information that lay in their power. Some of them did the same thing, I believe, but they were not so accurate in dates and many other circumstances, for I was applied to more than once after we arrived in Australia for information on several matters by our former shipmates, who confessed that they could not depend upon their own records.

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 7 October 1836 ]


Sunday 9 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9.-The wind still fair, but the sea not so rough. It was remarkable that, with two exceptions (one of which was after we left the Cape, when the weather was too boisterous to admit of Divine Service on deck), Sundays have been very fine and generally calm, as if the winds and waves [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 9 October 1836 ]


Tuesday 11 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 11.-A fine morning after a very rough night. I did not undress.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 11 October 1836 ]


Wednesday 12 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 12.-Although several times we had had very high winds and rough weather we had not as yet had anything that could be called a storm, but this day and the following night we were destined to experience such a one as the oldest sailor on board had not seen for many years, and in which they declared many a vessel would have foundered and gone down. In the morning there was nothing more than a stiff breeze, but about noon it rose considerably, and continued to increase till it became a complete hurricane. The vessel plunged and rolled from side to side in such a manner that those who had never been to sea can have no idea of, and the waves dashed over the ship with fearful violence. The captain, mates, and crew were upon the deck the whole night. For myself, I neither undressed nor lay down, but continued sitting at my cabin door, listening to and watching the progress of the storm, which from 9 to 12 o’clock was truly awful. The wind then lowered a little for about an hour, when it again rose with redoubled fury, and so continued till daylight. Then it ceased blowing with violence, but the agitation of the sea continued unabated for several hours.

Fortunately our lamp, which hung midway between the cabins, and which was usually extinguished at 10 o’clock, was on this occasion suffered to burn the whole night. I was very glad of such a companion, as I was sitting alone, being, I believe, the only passenger who was so foolish, it may be called, as to sit up. But I could not be satisfied otherwise, for had an accident occurred we would have been instantly overflowed, as, notwithstanding the hatches were close shut, the water frequently came over the decks with such force as to pour through the crevices in torrents. About midnight a sailor came down with a pail and a mop to soak it up, and again at 6 o’clock in the morning, when, as I thought, the storm being over, we would have no more for that time. I followed with a cloth, and made the floor as dry as I could, but had scarcely finished when a tremendous wave dashed through a square hole which had been left open, and not only completely deluged the part which the sailor and I had been so industriously endeavouring to dry, but also overflowed my own cabin, which till then had escaped such a disaster.

I could not help laughing, though I was well drenched myself, to see our work so quickly undone, but the only remedy was to do it again, which I did without the help of the sailor, who probably was not aware of what had happened.

I have often said that I would like to witness a storm at sea, but then I meant myself to be on dry land and only a spectator of the warring elements, for little did I conceive the terrors of such an awful scene. Yet, as it pleased God to bring us safely through the danger, I am not now sorry that I have heard the terrific roar of the winds and the rush of the mighty waters, though I candidly confess that I do not wish to hear them in like manner again. We had one satisfaction, however, and that was that the wind, though violent, was still in our favour, and sent us swiftly on.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 12 October 1836 ]


Saturday 15 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 15.-This day it was so cold that a slight shower of snow fell.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 15 October 1836 ]


Sunday 16 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 16.-Still going on rapidly. During the last six days we have sailed no less than fourteen hundred miles, which the captain told me was the most he had ever made in the same space of time.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 16 October 1836 ]


Thursday 20 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 20.-This day the thermometer was reduced to freezing-point.

When we left London we had on board a young man of the name of Constable, who acted as second mate, but for some reason, which I do not know, he was left at the Cape of Good Hope… The absence of this young man from among the officers of the ship was regretted by many of the passengers, as he was very civil and obliging. The chief mate was just the contrary, and seemed to take a delight in annoying the intermediate passengers whenever he had an opportunity to do so… Among other instances in which he displayed his authority was that of removing the step-ladder, preventing us from going on deck, or occasionally keeping us there during his pleasure when we wished to return to our cabins. It so happened that the trapdoor by which access was obtained to that part of the hold where the ship’s stores were kept was on a level with the floor of my cabin, and only a few feet from it. The ladder by which we ascended to the deck rested on it, and was consequently removed and generally drawn up whenever the storekeeper had occasion to descend to the hold for supplies… It so happened that whenever the aforesaid store was opened we were almost sure to be half-smothered with dust. Moreover, ·a considerable quantity of straw and chaff were generally left for anyone to clear away who chose to do so, but being nearer to us than to any of the others, of course it fell to our share to dispose of it in the best way we could. This we did for a long time without complaint, but one day, a larger quantity of rubbish than usual being deposited close to our cabin door, and seeing no reason why those who left it there should not clear it away or cause it to be done, I went on deck with the intention of asking one of the sailors to remove it. Meeting Mr. Smith, I drew his attention to it, and requested that he should send someone with a broom for that purpose. Not only did he peremptorily refuse to send anyone, but replied to my request with the most insulting language, insomuch that I threatened if he behaved to me in that manner again I would complain to the captain. He told me I was welcome to do that, and, pointing to the quarter-deck, said, “There is the captain. Tell him what you please.” But the captain was not there at the time, or I would have applied to him immediately. Determined, however, to put a stop, if possible, to the mate’s insolence, I resolved to take his advice and appeal to the captain as the only way. Accordingly, the next day I addressed the following letter to Captain Duff:-

Sir-As I presume you will not knowingly suffer anyone on board this vessel to be in any way ill-treated, I consider myself justified in stating to you the particulars of an occurrence which happened a few days ago, in which I was grossly insulted by Mr. Smith, the chief mate, and which likewise led to an altercation last night on the deck, the circumstances of which I think you ought to be acquainted with. But before I proceed I beg leave to state that the complaint I am now about to make has no allusion whatever on my part to anything that passed on a former occasion, nor did I give Mr. Smith the slightest provocation to treat me in the manner he did, but I cannot, in justice to myself and my family, tamely submit to such repeated insults as we have experienced from him since we have been on board this vessel. You must be well aware that all those in the intermediate cabins, ourselves in particular, are greatly annoyed by the frequent opening of the hatchway leading to the hold, and that at all hours of the day, by which our ingress and egress are not only often prevented, but we must also put up with the dust and litter proceeding from the stores, with many other inconveniences, to which even the steerage passengers are not subjected, but all this we should not complain of, knowing it is unavoidable, if we could meet with that civility and attention which, as respectable persons, we think ourselves entitled to, for in this respect I speak in the name of all concerned, though the ungentlemanly behaviour it produced from the chief mate was directed to me alone. It happened, then, a few mornings since that the storekeeper had left a more than usual quantity of dust and dirt, which, as usual, was left for us to clear away, and, being opposite to my cabin, it was not very pleasing or agreeable. Mr. Thomas, therefore, sent a message to the mate requesting a broom and mop to enable us to clean it, but his answer was that he had neither, and if Mr. Thomas wanted them he might fetch them himself. This passed, and we took no further notice, being compelled to let the litter remain till a short time after, when I went on deck, and seeing Mr. Smith close by I pointed down the steps and requested that he would send someone to sweep away the dirt there, to which, with a scornful air, he replied, “Pray, Mrs. Thomas, who do you expect to clean it?” I said it certainly was not my place to do it, nor did I suppose that anyone there considered it their place to do so, that if we swept our own cabins it was surely sufficient without cleaning after the ship’s crew. He then asked me where our servants were, saying that we had too many servants, and if I expected anyone on board the vessel to be my servant or to do anything for me I was mistaken, to which I replied that it was not my servants’ place any more than mine to clean after his men, and supposing that we had brought no servants on board, how was it to be done then? “Done,” says he; “why, do it yourselves, to be sure.” This was his precise answer, to which I replied that I would not be insulted by anyone, and that if he behaved to me in that manner again I would complain to the captain. “There is the captain,” said he, “on the quarter-deck. Go and complain to him.” If you, Sir, had been there at the time, I would certainly then have made you acquainted with his conduct, as I cannot suppose that you or any gentleman in the cabin would suffer his wife to be insulted. Of course, I related what had passed to Mr. Thomas, and in consequence of Mr. Smith’s refusing to allow such a trifling request as mine to be complied with he forbade his men to assist the crew in any way whatever, which before they had done on all occasions, not only with his sanction, but particular desire, and he always felt a pleasure whenever their services were available in any way. Yesterday morning the same annoyance again occurred from the stores, when a quantity of chaff and straw was left and the same neglect ensued as before with regard to clearing it away. Therefore, when Mr. Thomas saw his men pulling the rope (for it seems Mr. Smith had asked them if they meant to mind what that foolish man said), he again forbade them, which he would not have done, notwithstanding his previous orders, could we be treated with common civility. But Mr. Smith has taken every opportunity to annoy and insult the passengers in this part of the vessel from the day we embarked to the present time. As another instance of his discourteous behaviour last night he prohibited the cook from baking any more bread for the intermediate berths, a luxury which we have seldom enjoyed since we came on board, but there being two loaves in the oven at the time, one belonging to me and the other to Mrs. Lewis, he compelled the cook to turn them out half-baked, and, of course, spoiled; but as there can be no reason why others should suffer on my account, and as I consider myself more especially the party aggrieved, I have taken upon myself to state these particulars, and now appeal to your justice as commander of this vessel and to your generosity as a man whether you will suffer such conduct to pass unnoticed. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, MARY THOMAS.

This letter was politely answered by Captain Duff assuring me that I did him justice in assuming that he would not knowingly suffer anyone on board the vessel to be uncivilly treated while he had the command of it, and that he would take care that there would be no cause for complaint in future. Whether Mr. Smith received a reprimand or not I do not know, but the next morning, to my surprise, he inquired if I wished first to go on deck, and added that the ladder would be replaced as soon as possible. From that day his churlishness seemed in a great measure to have left him, at least as far as the passengers were concerned, for I am not aware of anything unpleasant occurring afterwards to the end of the voyage.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 20 October 1836 ]


Friday 21 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 21.-The long boat repaired and painted, and preparation commenced for going on shore.

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 21 October 1836 ]


Saturday 22 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 22.-It was now four weeks since we left Simon’s Bay, and the wind, having been for the most part favourable, everyone was elated with the hope that another week would terminate the voyage.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 22 October 1836 ]


Sunday 23 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 23.-The wind much calmer. At 2 o’clock we came abreast Cape Leeuwin, the first pomt of New Holland, having passed Swan River, but the land being a hundred and fifty miles distant, of course we saw nothing of it.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 23 October 1836 ]


Monday 24 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 24.-Again a delightful morning and very mild, but showery in the afternoon; not making much progress. This evening the sun set with remarkable brilliancy, and at 9 o’clock there was an eclipse of the moon, of which we had a distinct view.

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 24 October 1836 ]


Friday 28 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 28.-We had for several days been going on so steadily, and yet making good way, that had it not been for a little occasional motion we might almost have fancied ourselves on land; at least, those of us who were below and at work, as I was; but this evening the wind rose suddenly, [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 28 October 1836 ]


Saturday 29 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 29.-This day it was still squally. Several whales seen; one came alongside and passed under the bow of the ship, spouting up water.

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 29 October 1836 ]


Sunday 30 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 30.-This day, Sunday, at about 2 o’clock, land was seen from the masthead, and in the evening it was distinctly seen from deck.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 30 October 1836 ]


Monday 31 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

OCTOBER 31.-This morning the point of Spencer’s Gulf was clearly visible. As the wind was contrary we could not make towards it, but steered away from it, and in a few hours it was again lost to sight

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 31 October 1836 ]


Tuesday 1 November 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 1.- At 4 o’clock this morning there was a beautiful view of Kangaroo Island, about ten miles distant. I was on deck at 6 o’clock. The sun had just risen with great splendour, and its rays then wholly obscured any sight of land, At 8 o’clock land again became visible, and at about noon was plainly observed.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 1 November 1836 ]


Wednesday 2 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 2.-This morning most of the passengers were up at 5 o’clock to take a view of Althorpe Island as we passed it. It appeared like a huge rock. It is supposed to be only an eruption in the sea. At about 10 o’clock we entered Nepean Bay. The flag was hoisted and the guns were fired to announce our approach. Soon after a boat with the mate and four sailors went on shore, and immediately returned with another boat, in which was a gentleman of the name of Stephens, who came out in a vessel called the Duke of York, and which was rowed by four men. One of them, Nathaniel Thomas, had been a resident on the island many years, but his appearance, I thought, was more like that of a savage than an Englishman. This man, by some mischance, fell overboard, and as the tide was running strong at the time he was carried some distance from the vessel before assistance could be rendered. Although he could swim well enough, he was watched by those on board with considerable anxiety on account of the sharks, which were known to be numerous. An oar, however, was thrown to him, on which he got astride till the boat reached him, and when he came again on the deck he shook himself as a dog does when just out of the water, and took no more notice of the matter.

At about 2 o’clock this day a party of six, including two of our young men engaged as printers, set off in a boat for the shore, furnished with four days’ provisions, to walk across the island (about fifty miles) and meet the ship on the other side, whither we were going.

At 4 o’clock we came within a mile of the shore; and soundings were taken-twenty-six fathoms and a fine, gravelly bottom. The day was fine and the sea calm. The boat did not return till nearly 9 o’clock, in consequence of the passengers not being able for a long time to find a landing-place on that side of the island; but when it began to grow dark their prolonged stay excited alarm, especially as there were five gentlemen in the boat (three of them married) besides the mate of the vessel, who went to see them safely on shore. At about 8 o’clock, therefore, the captain ordered a gun to be fired and a light in the shrouds was hoisted as a signal and guide. The crew also gave three cheers, and the echo of the cannon and the cheers of the men resounded from the opposite shore and gave additional effect to the beauty of the scene, for although the moon had not risen the evening was remarkably clear and serene, and the stars glittered over our heads in millions. At length our fears were relieved by the flash and report of a gun, and soon after another, and at last we discovered the boat approaching the vessel with all those safe who meant to return and one of the adventurers, whose heart failed him when they reached the unknown shore. The other six, all young men, were left to proceed on their way as they best could. Their names were:- Slater, a surgeon; Osborne, a well-educated young man apprenticed to Mr. Thomas as a printer; Fisher, engaged as a journeyman printer; Nantes, attached to Mr. Gouger (the Colonial Secretary) ; and Warren and Biggs, engaged by Mr. Hallett. We were naturally anxious, and could not help feeling somewhat uneasy at their setting out on such a romantic expedition, especially on account of Osborne, who was an amiable young man and a general favourite, and whose father, residing in London, had consigned him to our care. They had agreed to take their guns, expecting to find some game, and Osborne having a double-barrelled gun which was rather heavy, asked me to exchange it for the time for our single-barrelled one, and I did so accordingly. He and Slater were sworn friends, and the latter having the gun in his hands just as they were going to step into the boat, I said to him, half in jest,
“Don’t you lose that gun, Mr. Slater.”
“Ah, Madam,” said he in his hasty way (he was an Irishman), ” I will lose my life first.”
“Oh,” said I, laughing, ” I did not mean that. I only intended to caution you against laying it down under bushes, where you might not find it again.”

At night we saw so large a fire on the island that it reminded me of the burning of the Parliament Houses, which took place in October the year before. We were told that it was the brushwood, to which the islanders often set fire in order to clear the ground.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 2 November 1836 ]


Thursday 3 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 3.-This morning a boat containing some white men and one black woman, an aboriginal native, arrived to concert measures for discovering the ramblers. From the different accounts which we heard we really began to be very uneasy about them, but these people seemed to be under no apprehension as to their final safety. They said that the journey across the island which they proposed was utterly impossible, as the brushwood would so completely entangle them that they would lose their way and might never be found again, either alive or dead. But before I proceed any further I must give some account of the black woman, who, being the first native we had seen, excited our curiosity. Her clothing consisted of a red woollen cap, such as sailors often wear, and a shirt of the same material under a coat of thick leather, such as in England is used for harness and to cover trunks. Her countenance was pleasing, though perfectly black, and her hair not woolly, like that of African natives, but long and straight on the forehead. Her legs and feet were bare, and round her neck hung several rows of glass beads. Her chin was also ornamented with a kind of beard, and whiskers grew at the sides of her face. But what most surprised us was her musical voice, and the pleasing intonation with which she spoke the English language, for what she said she uttered with a proper accent and almost with fluency. Her height was about five feet six inches, and her age apparently about twenty-five years, but on being asked how old she was she replied, ” I cannot tell,” and this is the case with them all. She was taken into the steerage and regaled with biscuit and beef, which she seemed to relish exceedingly. She talked with great confidence as to being able to trace the young men, as she knew every part of the island. She added that there was no fear of their perishing, especially as they were provided with guns.

As soon, therefore, as it had been pointed out by the map on what part of the island the missing passengers had landed, the men, with the black woman, departed in the boat and Mr. Thomas accompanied them. He went to arrange with Mr. Hallett, who, with his family, had landed on the island and erected a tent there, as to what remuneration should be given for the search and how it should be conducted. At length it was agreed that four men and two women should set out immediately, with a sufficient supply of provisions and water, in a boat to that part where the young men had landed and follow them through the bush until they came up with them. For this service they were to receive six pounds. Accordingly they set off.

Mr. Thomas returned on board, and we then learnt that royalty itself had condescended to pay us a visit in the person of the black woman, for she was no other than the Princess Con, daughter of King Con, a chief of one of the native tribes. Her father was at that time on Kangaroo Island.

In the evening the sky was again illuminated by the burning brushwood.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 3 November 1836 ]


Sunday 6 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 6.-This afternoon we set sail for the mainland, which we reached about 4 o’clock. We anchored in Rapid Bay, in front of the most beautiful prospect imaginable. We could see some tents on shore belonging to the surveying party. Colonel Light, commander of the Rapid, was stationed there, and soon afterwards came on board. A party from the vessel went on shore, and on their return gave a most enchanting account of the country which everywhere resembled a gentleman’s park – grass growing in the greatest luxuriance, the most beautiful flowers in abundance, and the birds of splendid plumage. They saw several of the natives, who the surveyors said were of great service to them. They introduced themselves by the names which had been given them, as Peter and Tom, and most of them spoke English. We all seemed to wish this part to be fixed on for the seat of government, but it was said that the anchorage was not good, and we must proceed to Holdfast Bay, about forty miles further. Accordingly, the next morning we left this delightful spot and sailed for Holdfast Bay.

But my greatest regret was in leaving Kangaroo Island before we had heard something respecting the young men, for whom we began now to be seriously alarmed, especially as we had ourselves made a slight experiment of the difficulties of travelling in the bush, which sufficiently convinced us that our fears were not without reason. We had all spent a day on Kangaroo Island, and during a walk which I took with my husband we entered the scrub, as it is called, and incautiously proceeded till we were so completely bewildered that we began to be uneasy lest we should not find our way out of the labyrinth, which seemed on all sides to be interminable, for nothing could be seen but the sky above us and the bushes around us. Nor could we tell which way to retrace our steps, as no path which we had passed through was discernible. At length, however, after advancing, as far as we could judge, about half a mile, we fortunately caught through a small opening in the brushwood a glimpse of the sea, and immediately made towards it, forcing our way through the bushes down a step hill till we reached the shore. But for this providential escape our adventure possibly might have terminated as fatally for us as for the young men who attempted to accomplish the rash undertaking of traversing what was, at least to them, an unknown country…

Now that this part of New Holland was to be made a British colony, the South Australian Company had a station on the island, including a large tent containing stores and provisions. This was situated near the shore, and all beyond the immediate vicinity was a wilderness as far as the eye could reach, thickly overgrown with trees and bushes. According to report, this was the general character of the island, and a passage through was extremely difficult, even to those accustomed to such travelling, and doubly so to inexperienced young men. That nothing might be omitted which was likely to apprise them of their danger and make them aware that others were on their track, large fires were kept burning on the highest eminences for several nights as signals which they might see at a distance. Guns were fired at intervals, which it was hoped they would hear, but it was all of no avail, and we were reluctantly obliged to quit the shores of Kangaroo Island without any information respecting them.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 6 November 1836 ]


Thursday 10 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

… On the morning of the following day Robert, my eldest son, came on board. He was stationed at Rapid Bay with Mr. Kingston, with whom he came out in the Cygnet attached to the surveying party, arriving here about six weeks before ourselves.

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 10 November 1836 ]


Friday 11 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 11.-This day Mr. Thomas and our two agricultural labourers went on shore with our tents, and the weather being rough they did not return. The next day they were occupied in receiving the luggage as it was landed on the beach, and conveying what was necessary for present use to a site some distance away, where our tents were to be pitched. As everything had to be carried by hand, there being no other mode of conveyance, it was no trifling labour, especially through untrodden paths often full of holes, and with grass three or four feet high.

[ Read the full journal for: Friday 11 November 1836 ]


Sunday 13 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 13.-This day the girls and I packed up our bedding and such things as remained in the cabin, and went on shore to the place of our present destination. It is remarkable that we finally set sail on a Sunday and landed on a Sunday. We had two tents, the smaller of which the men had erected, and of which we, with part of our family, that is, our three daughters and the young woman who came out with us as assistant, took possession, gladly enough, though everything was in the roughest fashion imaginable. The two men located themselves in the sandhills, making a circle with packages and furniture and sleeping in the middle.

As for my two sons (for Robert had now joined us for the present) I made up a bed with a thick mattress on the ground in the open air, and as near as I could with safety to a large fire, and saw them asleep before I ventured to retire myself. My anxiety, however, would not suffer me to sleep much for that and many succeeding nights. Towards morning, however, I fell into a slumber out of which I was suddenly startled at about 5 o’clock by the loud crowing of a cock, which, with some hens we brought from the Cape of Good Hope, had roosted in a bush close to the back of the tent. I got up at the summons and, hastily dressing myself, went to see after my boys, both of whom I found fast asleep. The quilt that covered them was so saturated with dew that I could have wrung the water out of it. Yet they took no cold, nor seemed at all the worse for their night’s exposure, although it must have been very cold, as was proved by the following circumstance. A pewter jug had been accidentally left outside the tent in a tin dish containing some water, and on lifting up the jug to my surprise the ·dish came up with it, for the water had frozen to an eighth of an inch in thickness. This astonished me in a country where I did not expect to see such a thing, and yet the thermometer rose that day to About 43 Degrees Celsius. 110 degrees .

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 13 November 1836 ]


Wednesday 16 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 16.-As we had now obtained the poles belonging to the large tent from the ship, our men proceeded to put it up, and the children and I were busy all day in arranging our luggage and bedding. It was a marquee large enough to divide into two apartments, and gladly we took possession of our new habitation. It was situated near some large gumtrees about half a mile from the shore, and most of the settlers, both from the Cygnet and the Africaine, were within view. The country, as far as we could see, was certainly beautiful, and resembled an English park, with long grass in abundance and fine trees scattered about, but not so many as to make it unpleasant, and no brushwood. We were about a hundred yards from the nearest lagoon, where at that time there was plenty of water and very clear. Nor was it bad-tasted, though not from a running stream. Far from being so good for washing as to get clothes clean without soap, as some accounts represented, it was harder than even the water in London.

The birds here were of beautiful plumage. White and black cockatoos were in abundance, the former with a large yellow or orange coloured crest, sometimes pink. Parrots, or rather parrakeets, as they would be called in England, for they were very small, were of every variety of colour. Also there were wild ducks and flocks of geese, with occasionally a black swan flying. Here was also the mocking-bird, and it was quite amusing to hear him imitate our cock crowing in the morning and the call of the guinea-fowls at a neighbouring tent, which he did with great exactness, but in a more musical tone, for it sounded something like a barrel organ. But when he tried to imitate the laughing jackass it was so exceedingly droll that we could not forbear laughing heartily.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 16 November 1836 ]


Sunday 20 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

NOVEMBER 20.-This day the Africaine sailed for Van Diemen’s Land; the Cygnet and Rapid had also departed, so that we were left without any protection either by sea or land. This we thought was not right, especially as the Africaine was bound to remain a month after she had cast anchor. Consequently she ought to have been stationary till December 2. Moreover, we had heard nothing of the unfortunate young men who were still on Kangaroo Island, and for whose ultimate fate we were now seriously apprehensive. We were still hoping that the peculiar capacity of the black woman for tracing in the bush would enable the search party to discover the wanderers, though probably in an exhausted state. This was a sorrowful beginning, and greatly damped our spirits. but we could not give them up for lost.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 20 November 1836 ]


Tuesday 29 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This evening several fires were lighted for the purpose of burning the grass, and some of them came so near to us that I began to be alarmed, for the wind drove the flames with amazing rapidity, and the grass being perfectly dry, the fires burnt with such fury as is scarcely credible.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 29 November 1836 ]


Wednesday 30 November 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This evening the fires again began in different directions on the farther side of the lagoon, but the wind suddenly shifting, which is frequently the case, they advanced on us so rapidly on all sides that I could not retire to rest till they were extinguished, which was not till 3 o’clock in the morning. One fire ran along on the opposite side of the lagoon, destroying everything in its way with the utmost fury. I walked down to the lagoon alone (for everyone else had retired to bed), and saw the fire ascend a tree, which made me apprehensive lest it might be communicated to the trees on our side, as they nearly met. If such had been the case the consequences might have been dreadful, as the fire in all probability would have advanced to our tents in a few minutes. Thank God, it burnt to the water’s edge and then went out.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 30 November 1836 ]


Thursday 1 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This day we saw two of the natives, a man and a boy, for the first time in this part – the mainland… I showed them several things which greatly astonished them, particularly a telescope, which they took to be a gun. They thought it would make a noise, but when I drew it out and with some difficulty induced them to look through it, for they seemed to be afraid of it, they exclaimed, “Mawny! Mawny!” which is their word for anything wonderful. But a A Friction match – a kind of match tipped with a compound that ignites by friction. lucifer match surprised them still more, for they could not imagine how fire could be so instantaneously produced, while they were at considerable trouble to obtain it by rubbing two sticks together. When they move from one place to another they carry lighted sticks with them, and with dry leaves and by blowing with their breath they generally succeed in soon having a good fire.

Of course, these natives did not understand English any more than we did their dialect, but they pronounced our language by repeating whatever was said to them with an accuracy that was surprising and with a far superior accent to that of many Europeans not English, though they may have studied it for years. Afterwards we found that we were comparatively no strangers to them, though they were to us, for they had seen and observed our landing, but kept aloof. Subsequently they paid us several visits, but never annoyed us. On more than one occasion they proved very serviceable by helping to extinguish the fires, which sometimes came so near to us as to be extremely dangerous, beating them out with boughs from the trees or treading them out with their naked feet.

Likewise, on one occasion I could not get my fire to burn, for not having been accustomed to cook out of doors I did not understand exactly how to place the wood. Two or three of them, who were standing near, laughed at my deficiency in such useful knowledge, and, taking it to pieces, reconstructed it after their own fashion. The fire then burned brightly, verifying a saying I had often heard when a girl, that “None are so ignorant but you may learn something of them.”

[ Read the full journal for: Thursday 1 December 1836 ]


Sunday 4 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This day, about noon, a labourer a short distance from us accidentally set fire to the grass while lighting his own fire. The flames approached us so rapidly that we were all employed with boughs and water to keep them off our tents, or they would certainly have been burnt down. A bush at the back of the largest, where a hen was sitting, actually caught fire, and the bird’s tail was singed. I saved her, however, by throwing a pail of water over her, and notwithstanding her drenching the hen remained quietly on her nest. The flames then ran along the grass to a neighbour’s hut, and all our united efforts were required to prevent it becoming a prey to the devouring element. This was really no joke, and a few days after a tent not far distant was accidentally burnt down, but, I believe, without the fire doing any material damage otherwise.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 4 December 1836 ]


Sunday 11 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

DECEMBER 11.-This day, about noon, a report prevailed that a ship was in sight, and that it might be the Tam o’Shanter, the arrival of which we were anxiously awaiting. We sent the boys to the beach to inquire, and they soon returned with the news that the Emma, a vessel that came out before the Africaine, in the service of the South Australian Company, I believe, had returned from Kangaroo Island, whither she had been sent with stores, and that she had on board two of the young men who had been so long wandering on the island, Nantes and Fisher, our printer. This proved to be true, but the latter did not come on shore that day. Four of them at length returned with vague and rather contradictory statements that they had left Slater and Osborne near a lagoon, unable to proceed any further, but that they would do so as soon as they had somewhat recovered from their fatigue; that they had plenty of provisions with them, thus keeping up our hopes of their final safety. They never returned, however, nor could we learn anything with certainty as to their fate, though we made constant inquiry and questioned everyone in the least likely to afford information…

This melancholy affair distressed us all very much, and it was some time before we could settle to our ordinary occupationsavocations

From some casual words spoken by those who returned I began to suspect that some disagreement had occurred while they were on the island, especially as allusions were made to “that hot-headed Irishman.” Mr. Slater was, as far as I could observe, a kind-hearted man of gentlemanly manners, and generally on good terms with his fellow-passengers, but sometimes he showed unmistakable proofs of a fiery temperament, which on one occasion caused me some uneasiness. It so happened that something had occurred, I do not know what, that gave him great offence, and after giving vent to furious passion he shut himself in his cabin with a loaded pistol in his hand, declaring that he would shoot the first man who dared to enter it; but as he was the sole occupant of the cabin, of course no one had the right to enter it without his permission, and under those circumstances few cared even to pass the door. Nor would his irritated humour have given me much concern but that his cabin was situated next to one occupied by my children, and I could not help being apprehensive lest the pistol should go off, perhaps by accident, or otherwise. Either incident would have caused considerable alarm.

Osborne, however, went to him notwithstanding his threats, and not only induced hime to lay aside the pistol, but reasoned him into a calmer mood. This was not the only instance in which he succeeded, by his judicious arguments, in allaying the ruffled temper of Mr. Slater.

Whether anything of the kind had occurred or not during their route across Kangaroo Island I cannot tell, but that some dispute did arise I have reason to believe from hints which were occasionally thrown out by those who returned, and by which it appeared that they could not agree as to the course they should pursue, some of the party wishing to go one way and the rest another. How it was settled, of course, I had no means of ascertaining, except that Osborne, as usual, adhered to his friend, and they parted company with the rest. All my endeavours to obtain a satisfactory explanation for their absence failed, and though I repeatedly questioned all those who returned, and Fisher in particular, I could get no other answer than that they were on their way and would soon arrive.

As I said before, we never saw them again, and when all hope was gone the painful task devolved on me to convey the melancholy tidings to Osborne’s father. As the best means of doing so, I wrote to our agent in London, Mr. Leonard Baugh, and gave him a full account, as far as I was able, of the whole affair, requesting him to go to Mr. Osborne and break the sad news to him by degrees, and likewise to get it published in “The Spectator,” lest the people of England should think that the two unfortunate young men had been murdered by the natives. There was none on Kangaroo Island at that time, except a few women, and they were employed by the white residents.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 11 December 1836 ]


Tuesday 13 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

DECEMBER 13.-This evening another tent, not far from our encampment, was accidentally burnt down, but, I believe, without any material damage otherwise. A similar accident had also occurred at Kangaroo Island, where some property was destroyed.

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 13 December 1836 ]


Wednesday 14 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

We had now been here a month, and certainly enjoyed the freedom of the open air and our spacious tent, which was oblong and large enough to divide into two apartments, in preference to the confinement inseparable from a ship’s cabin. But we were not destined to have these conveniences without alloy. Fleas, flies, and mosquitoes were innumerable. One or the other annoyed us incessantly, the first both day and night, which, perhaps, may partly be accounted for by our being so near a sandhill. The flies tormented us to such a degree that when I wrote my letters to England I was obliged to be constantly fighting with one hand while I wrote with the other, and no sooner had these retired from the contest than in the evening the mosquitoes came in such swarms as sometimes literally to cover the inside of the tent. We were obliged to have recourse to burning them out by burning some dry grass in a baking-pot; but this was not all, for the place was also infested with rats, whether native or imported I cannot say. They certainly were there before we arrived, for we frequently found their holes. They were different from the native kangaroo rat, were generally of a large size, and so bold that they seemed disposed to cultivate our acquaintance with rather more freedom than was desirable, often appearing in open daylight. They would scarcely be driven away. I had sufficient proof that they paid us nightly visits as well, for once I felt one run over my face. Having no means of keeping them out of the tent, I endeavoured to keep out other intruders (at least, at night) by pinning the canvas door to opposite sides and then placing a pail of water near it, so that if anyone attempted to enter they might have a chance of falling over it. Though this never happened, not infrequently in the morning I found a drowned rat in the pail. On one occasion, also, when I awoke, two of these animals were quietly seated on a chest of drawers, which stood at the foot of my bed, apparently watching me, and without attempting to move till I drove them away.

About this time our eyes became affected with An infectious inflammation of the eye. Also called Trachoma or Egyptian Ophthalmia. ophthalmia, which was then so prevalent that I believe very few of the settlers entirely escaped it. Many of the natives had it, and even the dogs suffered. My son William became totally blind one Sunday while attending Divine Service in the open air, and was led back to the tent by his brother. For myself I was nearly so for three days, and could scarcely find my way about. We had a skilful physician, however, in Doctor Wright, who came out with his wife and family in the Cygnet, and was at that time the only medical practitioner in the colony. Excepting this disease, which was extremely painful while it lasted, we were generally in good health.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 14 December 1836 ]


Tuesday 20 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This day William, then a boy of fifteen, completed an oven which he made of iron hoops fixed in the ground in a half-circle and covered with a thick coating of clay, afterwards burned. It answered exceedingly well and we not only baked bread in it but pies and puddings, and occasionally fresh meat, when we could get it, but that was seldom. This oven was the first constructed in the colony, and remained in its primitive state, as I was told, long after we quitted Glenelg.

About this time we also built a rush hut a short distance from our tents for the better accommodation of part of our family, but they had not long occupied it before everything was suddenly ordered to be cleared out to make room for the printing-press, in order to print the Proclamation of the Colony. In this place, about twelve feet square, the first printing in South Australia was produced…

[ Read the full journal for: Tuesday 20 December 1836 ]


Sunday 25 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This being Christmas Day and Sunday, Divine Service was held for the first time in the rush hut of the principal surveyor, a short distance from our tents. We attended, taking our seats with us, the signal for assembling being the firing of a gun. The congregation numbered twenty-five persons, including the two gentlemen who conducted the service. The thermometer stood at 100 degrees, and most of those assembled were in the open air.

In the afternoon we took a walk round the lagoon, and saw a large iguana basking in the sun. It was about three feet long, in form like a lizard, with a long pointed tail and of a beautiful light brown, in some parts approaching to gold colour. It observed us, but made no attempt to escape, and seemed perfectly harmless. This was the first reptile of any kind we had seen since our landing, but an iguana and some other smaller animals of the kind were brought on board the Africaine. A man told me that he had killed a black snake four feet in length. I also heard of another having been seen, but they did not appear to be numerous.

We kept up the old custom of Christmas as far as having a plum pudding for dinner, likewise a ham and a parrot pie, but one of our neighbours, as we afterwards found, had a large piece of roast beef, though we were not aware at the time that any fresh meat was to be had in the colony, and that, I believe, was partly salted. The fact was, when we landed at Glenelg, one of the passengers of the Africaine took charge of Captain Duff’s cow and calf, and the former, which had been tied to a tree near the lagoon, got over the bank and fell in, being so much injured that it was found expedient to kill her. Thus some of the colonists were supplied with their Christmas beef.

[ Read the full journal for: Sunday 25 December 1836 ]


Monday 26 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

This day was extremely hot. The thermometer rose to 120 degrees, the highest point we had yet seen it attain, and that in the shade, at least, in the tent, where it was generally hot, but I afterwards saw it at 150 degrees, exposed to the sun.

[ Read the full journal for: Monday 26 December 1836 ]


Wednesday 28 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

The following was published in The Observer, January 2, 1858, on the occasion of the colony having attained its majority. A festival was held at Glenelg on December 18, 1857, to commemorate the event:-

From the diary of Mrs. Robert Thomas, written the day after the Proclamation, December 28, 1836 :-

This was a proud and, I hope, will be a happy day for South Australia. Early in the morning it was announced that the Buffalo had arrived from Port Lincoln, accompanied by the Cygnet, which had gone thither to escort the Governor, Captain Hindmarsh, to Holdfast Bay. This made us all alive, and soon after Mr. Thomas received notice to attend at the tent of Mr. Gouger, the Colonial Secretary, where His Excellency the Governor was expected to be at 3 o’clock to read his Commission and Note: Mary is not correct in this. The colony was created in England by the Letters Patent and the South Australian Act. proclaim the colony. Mr. Thomas then went to the Company’s store and soon returned with a request that he would procure a ham, as Mr. Gilbert was not provided with one, which was done, and a fine Hampshire ham was dressed for the occasion. It was also requested that we would prepare ourselves to meet the procession, as all who could were expected to attend. We went accordingly, and found assembled the largest company we had yet seen in the colony, probably two hundred persons.

The Governor’s Private Secretary read the Proclamation under a huge gumtree, a flag was hoisted, a party of marines from the Buffalo fired a A rifle salute. In French means “fire of joy”. feu-de-joie, and loud hurrahs succeeded. A cold collation, of which we partook, followed in the open air.

The Governor was very affable, shaking hands with the colonists and congratulating them on having such a fine country. After the repast he mounted on a chair and gave the first toast, “The King,” which was received with three times three, and followed by the National Anthem, led by Mr. Gilles. The old royal appellation of “George ” was so natural to Englishmen, after four successive reigns of Kings of that name, that it was forgotten at the moment that a “William” was now on the throne, and the first line was sung as formerly, “God save great George, our King,” which excited a smile. Yet I believe that William the Fourth has not more loyal subjects throughout his wide dominions than those who were there assembled to welcome the arrival of the first Governor of South Australia. The health of His Excellency was then proposed and drunk with loud and universal cheering, followed by “Rule, Britannia.” Then “Mrs. Hindmarsh and the Ladies ” was proposed by Mr. Gilbert, and also received great applause, as did several other toasts.

The Governor then gave the following:- “May the present unanimity continue as long as South Australia exists,” which made the plain ring with acclamations. At about 5 o’clock His Excellency and lady departed to the ship, and some officers and others followed in another boat. They all seemed highly delighted with our village, as I may call it, consisting now of about forty tents and huts, though scattered about without any regularity. Everyone fixed his present abode wherever he wished, knowing it would not be of long duration. We took coffee in Mr. Kingston’s hut, and returned home about 7 o’clock.

The evening, as well as the day and the preceding one, was very hot, and the night continued so, insomuch that it was impossible to sleep, the thermometer having been sometimes upwards of 100 degrees in the tent. It seemed as if some of the colonists did not even go to bed, for we heard singing and shouting from different parties at intervals till long after daylight. Here I may remark that from the exceeding stillness of the night, except when the wind disturbed the trees near us, we could distinctly hear almost every sound that occurred, though at a considerable distance.

[ Read the full journal for: Wednesday 28 December 1836 ]


Saturday 31 December 1836

[, who arrived in South Australia on board the wrote.]

DECEMBER 31.- This morning we received intimation that the Governor had ordered ten men from the Buffalo to assist in getting our luggage from the shore. Accordingly they came, and, with their help, the men harnessing themselves to the trucks, all the heavy cases of goods and printing material were brought up. The latter was [...]

[ Read the full journal for: Saturday 31 December 1836 ]


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