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Week 27 – a scandal averted

lithograph of a wallaby

At Kangaroo Island Samuel Stephens is gradually settling into a routine, although his habit of rising well before 6 am in the middle of winter cannot endear him to his men. He sends the company stock off to good grazing land near the Salt Lagoon, and selects a portion of land for a more permanent [...]

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Week 26 – the expanding settlement

scene: kangaroo island

On Kangaroo Island The fledgling settlement on Kangaroo Island is now into its third week and it is not a happy place. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross are increasingly anxious about their failure to find an adequate supply of fresh water nearby. Both the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham need to replenish [...]

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Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink. We finally [...]

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Week 16 – towards Australia

Scene: a fair wind and cross sea

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are now steering south east towards Australia, a novelty they appreciate.  Although it brings bad weather and rough conditions, the travellers on the John Pirie also welcome the cooler conditions, after being ‘almost stew’d alive for a Month’. There is an interesting comment here on the trying conditions of everyday life [...]

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Week 10 – fine weather and sea shanties

image of an emigrant's trunk with leather straps and brass fittings

With good sailing conditions at last, both the Duke of York and the John Pirie were making good progress, both heading south off the coast of Africa.  By 30 April the Duke of York sighted the Island of Brava, the southernmost island in the Cape Verde group, off the coast of present day Senegal, while the John Pirie passed [...]

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Week 09 – to sea at last

Model of the ship Duke of York

Clear of the Channel at last, the Duke of York was finally making progress, although conditions were still uncomfortable for the passengers.  Captain Morgan reported that the seas were high and that ‘great quantities’ of water continued to swamp the decks.  This was bad news for those below, who would have been wet, cold and [...]

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Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

An oil painting by Washington Allston of ships in a storm at sea, 1804.

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 dramatically into what one of our informants described as a ‘perfect Hurricane’.  All but overwhelmed by ‘a most tremendious Sea’, the little ship was literally [...]

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Week 04 – A fair wind

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

The middle of March found both the John Pirie and the Duke of York still anchored close to shore in the English Channel, as strong adverse winds and torrential rain delayed their departure still further. But by 19 March the winds had swung around and Captain Morgan prepared his ship once more for sea. His duty called, [...]

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Week 02 – Storm in the Channel

As February 1836 drew to a close two of the three South Australian Company ships, the John Pirie and the Duke of York, left Gravesend at the mouth of the Thames and began their careful navigation of the English Channel towards the Atlantic Ocean. Poor Captain Morgan continued to be very anxious about his wife, who was due [...]

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