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Week 23 - Landfall

[ 24th of July 1836 to 30th of July 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 23: Weddings ]

At last the first two ships, the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham are within sight of land. The Duke of York is the first to arrive, reaching the coast of Kangaroo Island on 26 July and sailing safely into Nepean Bay mid-morning on 27th. A beautiful rainbow greets them on arrival, a sign to the ever-faithful Captain Morgan that God continues to smile on their enterprise. He gives thanks that they have been delivered safely from their travels on the ‘tempestious ocean’. There is some consternation shortly afterwards as they realise that they have sailed into harbour on a flood tide, which promptly recedes leaving them aground.  But luckily the sea is calm and they are able to float free safely.

Of course they are keen to explore the Island and a small party promptly sets off for the shore. Samuel Stephens claims the honour of being the ‘first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A.’  Over the next few days they set about exploring and searching for fresh water. They find a river, which Stephens names the Morgan in honour of the captain. It will later be re-named the Cygnet, by which name it is known today. Although the distances are not great, the little party also discovers one of the hazards of Kangaroo Island almost immediately, when the party becomes lost in thick scrub around the river.  It will be late on the next day before they reach the ship in safety, after many anxious hours without food or water. The Duke of York is a very welcome sight. Doubly so, since they find that the Lady Mary Pelham has also arrived in the interim and is anchored alongside. The little settlement seems set to begin in earnest.

The remaining vessels are spaced at intervals over the long sea route. High seas and storms continue to afflict the John Pirie and the poor animals are suffering badly.  There is a fair chance that they will not survive much longer, unless the weather improves.  The Africaine also runs into rough weather, and Captain Duff calls all able bodied men on deck in the middle of the night, to help haul in the sails. The Buffalo meanwhile is still tacking in English waters waiting for favourable conditions to set sail.  The enforced delay does allow for an unusual ceremony on board however, as Governor Hindmarsh exercises his new-found authority to issue licenses enabling three couples to be married before the entire ship’s company. They all troupe to the Governor’s cabin afterwards where they are ‘regaled’ with refreshments, then continue the celebrations on deck with wine, singing and dancing.  It is an optimistic start to their journey south.

map: Kangaroo Island 1831

1831 map of Kangaroo Island by S M Mowle


Journals from passengers at sea:

Sunday 24 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This morning the sun was vertical, and we are now south of it. Although we shall henceforth be receding from the sun, still if we experience, as is most probable, calms and very light winds about the equator, the heat will be much more oppressive than at present. Today it is 80o in my cabin in the shade & with a thorough draft.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Tuesday 26 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Diary: Gouger diary - flying fish

This morning the first mate found on the deck a flying fish which although somewhat injured in the tail afforded to our amateur artists an opportunity of trying their skill. The accompanying sketch I copied from a painting by Brown who among his other qualifications now turns out to be a very good artist. [Here follows a coloured drawing of the fish] The scientific name is Dactylopterus volitans. Some idea may be formed of the height the fish sometimes fly by this fish having been found upon the deck which is above the water about twelve feet. They generally however fly within two feet of the surface.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Tuesday 26 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This 24 hours gentle breeses from the SW with plesent weather all sail set at 8 AM saw the Island of Kangaroo a head bearing by compass NNE at 5 PM shortd in sail to the two top sails cape boder beari ng SW wedge Island south althorp Island bearing NE run dureing the night a moderate distance from Kangaroo Island Lattd at noon 35.56 South In the everning held a prayermeeting read the 20th chapt of Acts four prayed sung ceveral hymns and found it good to pray in all most sight of our haven – last night was a lovely night I was up most of the saw covernant bow which spoke the promices of Jehovah

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Wednesday 27 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

This 24 hours gentle breeses and clear weather
AM we ran down close to the reefe which forms the
harbour of nepean bay found the entrance and
at 10 or half past came to anchor in three
fathoms water in neapean bay gave the
ship 30 fathoms cable but we found we had not
preceived it was flood tide and at ebb found our
selves aground NB at 10 PM in 2 fathoms water but perfectly safe
the water being perfectly smooth we got out all our
boats and anchored them in shore and got ready
for moveing when the tide suits we landed the
colonan manager and Mr Bear and we went to gather
to look for the lagoon but had to return unsucksess
full night comeing on
In the everning had family worship I could not
but see and admire the singular hand of god in our
safe deliverance through the track less ocean and bring
ing us safe to these uncultivated shores no sooner than
we had come to anchor and the sails firld than a
covenant bow extended its self on shore from one bow
of the ship to the other in all its beauty O how true
is Jehovah to his promices to his family on earth
how good has he bing to us when passing through
the tempestious ocean my peace flowed like a
river not a cloud did arise to darken the skys
or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes
once more was I enabled to bow before the Lord on
the land

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Wednesday 27 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

After a pleasant voyage from England in the S.A. Co.’s Barque Duke of York we reached Nepean Bay Kangaroo Island and brought up in 4 fathoms water at ½ past 10a.m. we lowered a boat and Captain Morgan, Mr. Beare, myself and 5 hands went ashore. I was the first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A. We rambled a little while in the bush then examined the shore for some distance and returned at dark well pleased and well tired

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 28 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The weather the last two days has been very fine but oppressively hot. In my cabin, kept as cool as possible by the ventilator, windows & door being open, the thermometer has nevertheless ranged between 82o and 84o. The length of the evening again is not very pleasant, it being too dark by seven o’clock to read. The brilliant moon however is a great comfort. Harriet remains in excellent health and spirits. Yesterday a large turtle passed us, and in the morning the ship was absolutely surrounded by large fish, there being according to Capn Duff’s computation not fewer than 100 porpoises & bottle-nosed whales around the vessel at one time, some of which are 20 feet long. The mate struck a whale with the harpoon but having hit it on the head, it is supposed, the weapon was blunted & did not take effect. A nautilus also was seen last week sailing by.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday July 28 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

…Mr Stevens, Mr Bear and myself went in search of the salt and fresh water lagoon and in our way found a fresh water river entrance from the sea we went up about 5 miles we saw a few swans and a great quantity of ducks Mr Stevens gave the river the name of Morgan by christen it with brandy at 7 PM we returnd on board Mr Richards was at prayers with the little flock after the days adventures I was tired and wanted rest

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 28 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Sent a boat ashore with my hands to erect 2 tents for the temporary accommodation of the parties who might land. Directed them to spend the rest of the day in trying to find fresh water. At noon put off in a boat and traced down the N.E. shore of the Bay in the hope of finding the salt Lagoon and a good place for landing the cargo. Did not succeed, but found a small river salt at the entrance but fresh about 3 miles up. We rowed up it about 6 miles saw many thousands of ducks and swans (which our guns and shot were too light to kill) made a fire had coffee and at dark set off back. This river not being laid down on any chart nor before as I believed known I named The Morgan, as a mark of respect to Captain Morgan, of our barque, “Duke of York”. The entrance is over a bank of sand having 3 to 6 feet of water on it at high tide, but nearly dry at low water, and at first sight it appears only one of a number of pools of water. For some distance it is about 40 yards wide, and 3 to 6 feet deep, it afterwards draws it to 10 yards in width, but increases in depth.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 28 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The Rams are uncommonly weak, not having
taken any nourishment, for the last 10 Days, except
what has been given to them, by means of a Bottle, and
the little Ewes, have again suffer’d, most severely in the
late Gales, indeed it is really astonishing, how these
poor Animals survive, after enduring so many hardships
being almost continually Wet, and Cold, besides when the
Sea’s, some rushing upon the Deck, in Gales of Wind,
they are for a while, almost overhead in Water, and dread-
-fully knocked about, by the violent rolling, and pitching
of the Vessel

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 28 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Three weddings amongst the young Emigrants
this morning. The ceremony was performed by Mr Howard
on the quarter deck in the presence of the Governor, officers
passengers, emigrants and whole ships company. Mr Howard
on this occasion acted under a license granted by the
Governor, and as some doubts have occurred to me, as to the
legality of marriages under such circumstances, I subjoin
a Copy of the licence under which they were celebrated.
“By His Excellency John Hindmarsh Esq. Captain in
the Royal Navy, Knight of the Royal Hanoverian order,
Governor and Captain General of His Majesty’s province
of South Australia,
“Whereas it hath been represented to me that A.B.
&c (Here the names and last residences of the parties
are enumerated) are desirous of being united in
matrimony and that there are no lawful impediments
to the solemnization thereof, now therefore I hereby
authorise you to proceed to solemnize the marriages
between the parties herein before designed with
all convenient speed according to the rites of
the Church and for so doing this shall be your
warrant. Given under my hand & seal &c”
Signed by the Governor &
addressed to the Rev. Mr Howard.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 28 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Light airs & fine wr, wind S.S.E. steering W.b S.
at 11. The whole of the crew & passengers assembled
to witness the celebration of three weddings on board, previous
to which part of the Morning Service of Prayer, & part of
the Prayers to be used at sea, were offered up by the Revd
C.B. Howard: after the ceremony the married couples and
bridesmaids were regaled in the cabin by His Excellen-
-cy the Governor. Noon. Light airs & fine wr. wind S.S.W.
P.M. Light winds & cloudy, S.W. with a threatening aspect.
The first number of the “Buffalo Telegraph” appeared.
(This was a periodical, to be continued weekly during the
voyage, by contribution of original articles by those on
board). Contributed “a letter from Bembridge” &c. &c. &c.
The wedding parties were regaled with wine on the quarter-
-deck, after which followed singing & dancing. Wind
freshened during the evening against us. Shortened sail.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 29 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Spent some hours in carefully examining the N.W. shore of the Bay for fresh water and left my men under Mr. Beare, to dig on the beach at what I thought the most likely spot. Returned to the ship, dined and set out in a boat with Capn. and 4 hands to trace the “Morgan” further up. We rowed till dark then rested made a fire and had coffee and supper at 10p.m. it being clear moon light pulled on again until prevented from working the oars by the quantity of dead timber laying over it, made 2 paddles out of the boat seat and pulled on again till ½ past 1a.m. when we were unable to get any further by reason of the dead timber, landed, tied the boat to a tree, made a fire, rested and had tea and coffee, then put our things under a tarpaulin, and set forth at ¼ to 2a.m.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 29 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Early this morning when off the Bill
of Portland, encountered a heavy gale from the
South West. The Buffalo was not built to contend
against the wind, so we put about after a brief
struggle and ran back for St Helen’s where we came
to anchor at 7 p.m. A Manuscript weekly news-
-paper, edited by Miss Mary Hindmarsh, appeared
yesterday. It does not display superabundant talent
and will not last above a week or two, although
there is little difficulty in extracting old epigrams
and worn out bons mots. A thing of this kind could
be made the source of much interest and amusement
as well as instruction. Some young people are
jealous of their information being suspected, on those
subjects the more especially of which they know nothing.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 29 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

passed the Cape in Latitude
37½. This day the Steerage passengers
refused to get a cask of biscuits from the hold
for themselves.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 29 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

S W                 2 oClock morning Came on to Blow
a Gail We hove too under Close Reefe
Main and fore top Sails and Mizen
She Began to take in 18 inches of water
in 3 howers we put in portsmouth 6
OClock the Saim Evening by Loosing 52 miles

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 30 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

to trace the River Bank, intending to return to our boat to breakfast, but at ½ past 3 finding that we had suddenly and most unexpectedly lost the river (by turning a little from the bank into a bed of small tall brushwood in order to avoid climbing over a quantity of log timber) and being unable to recover it for want of an elevated spot of land or a tree from which to get a look out, we judged it best to lay-to till day-light, so made a fire and sat round it wondering no less how we lost the river, than how we were to find it again. At 6a.m. having held a council as to what should be done and having found the bearings of the sea by a small chart and compass which most providentially I brought with me and without which we should most probably have been lost we decided it would be best to shape our course due N.N.E. in hope of gaining the shore as we had no chance of finding our way back to the river. The only provision we had was 3 biscuits amongst us all. After various perplexities such as it is impossible to describe we reached the sea at 5p.m. and made a fire to dry ourselves and cook a Crow which I had shot and which was the only living creature we had been able to get near. The Captain and myself divided a leg of this small bird between us and let the men have the rest. We had just day light enough to examine the shore and found by the chart and bearings that we were in Napean Bay 12 miles west of our ship and hid from the sight of her by a projecting point of land. At 6p.m. we started again and at ¼ to 10p.m. we reached our tents where our men got food water and fire and from which we hailed the ship and got a boat sent off for us. On our way to the tents we found fresh water in the well I had left the men digging and drank of it with avidity and now I found that our Barque, “Lady Mary Pelham”, had that morning arrived from Liverpool and was anchored in safety by the “Duke of York”.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Sunday 31 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Letter to George Fife Angas
H.M.S. Buffalo
St. Helen’s July 31 1836
My dear Sir,
….The Tam O’Shanter came in to these roads
shortly after us having been also driven back. The
Captain reports all his emigrants well, with the
exception of a Mrs Stuckey who is considered by the
surgeon to be rather in some danger. The Dr of the
Buffalo & I have considered his report in the
case and are of opinion it is not more than
a severe attack consequent on sea sickness.

Believe me always my dear Sir
with greatest esteem Yrs faithfully
Geo Stevenson
G.F. Angas Esq

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Next week:

From now on we have two quite different threads to our story – the first following the emigrants who have reached Kangaroo Island and the second following those still on the ocean. The beginning on Kangaroo Island is far from auspicious, with a good deal of quarrelling and a threatened strike amongst the crews of both vessels.  On the Buffalo the Misses Hindmarsh exercise their creative talents, to some discouraging reviews from George Stevenson.

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Chart of Kangaroo Island with features noted by George Sutherland when he explored the region. Created by S.M Mowle.  Published in 1831. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia, F 488

Comments or Questions:

4 Responses to “Week 23 – Landfall”

  1. Diane Cummings August 4, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Greeting all. Week23-landfall includes a statement which may not be correct:
    “Samuel Stephens claims the honour of being the ‘first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A.”

    Please see the following Newspaper report which offers a more plausible suggestion – a decision reportedly made by Captain Morgan himself – that the infant daughter of Mrs Beare should be the favoured individual [to be the first to set foot on the virgin soil].
    http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/fh/passengerlists/1836DukeYork SA report.jpg

    I also refer you to Page 6, Column D of The South Australian REGISTER newspaper July 27th 1886 [titled - The Old Salt] for further information.
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/4048278?zoomLevel=1

    “Most of the passengers wished to be the first to land in the new colony, but Captain Morgan settled the dispute very cleverly. He instructed the second mate Robert Russell to have some sailors row the youngest, two and a half year old Elizabeth Beare, daughter of the Company’s Deputy Manager, Thomas Hudson Beare as close as possible to the shore. Then Russell was to carry her through the shallow water and place her feet on the beach while the adults were at dinner. In doing so she was the first white female to set foot on that strand. When this happened the crew began to cheer and the passengers soon realised that a landing had been made without them knowing it.”

    • Margaret August 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Thanks for this comment Diane. We are aware of these later references and will put an expanded discussion note on the site soon.
      Margaret History SA

    • Allison September 2, 2011 at 11:33 am #

      Hello, again, Diane.

      We have created a more comprehensive disucssion about the first landing – see what you think.

      regards,
      Allison – History SA

  2. Neil Miller July 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I am a direct descendant of Thomas Hudson Beare, (the second-in-command of the South Australian Company and the first family to arrive in our state ), and have just returned from the Settlement Day celebrations on Kangaroo Island. I am quite surprised that you did not state that 2 year old Elizabeth Beare was the FIRST of the settlers to set foot on KI, not Stephens ? There is a memorial plaque erected by the heritage volunteers on the site of the first landings and it specially states that ” The members of the crew of the Duke of York rowed Elizabeth Beare to the shore and the second mate Robert Russell carried her through the water and placed her on the sandy beach “, thus ensuring her place in our history as the first official settler to set foot on South Australian soil. This fact was heavily publicised during the 27th July 2011, 175th Anniversary Celebrations on the island. Could you please rectify this historical fact in your next edition of your wonderful ” Bound for South Australia ” website. Best regards to Mandy Paul, from Neil Miller.

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