35
weeks passed
10
weeks to go

Week 36 - the Africaine approaches

[ 23rd of October 1836 to 29th of October 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 36: Family Life ]

In South Australia

It is a slow week for Colonel Light and his surveyors.  On 23 October deputy surveyor George Kingston finally arrives at Rapid Bay, after some weeks on Kangaroo Island.  It is not clear why he delayed there so long, but his arrival means that Light can divide his forces to cover a greater area. Progress is imperative.

We hear one last time from George Martin, captain of the John Pirie. In a long letter to his wife Mary, written from Hobart on 29 October, he provides a summary of the journey from his perspective.  Apparently he was unimpressed with Kangaroo Island, which he dismisses as ‘a most wretched & barren place not worth anything’, in contrast with the mainland, which he describes enthusiastically. ‘I must confess, that in all my travels I never saw so fine a country before & abundance of fresh water’. We learn that Mary is to join him and that they may seek to join the settlers in South Australia.

At sea

Although Light does not yet know it, the Africaine is fast approaching.  On 23 October Mary Thomas reports passing Cape Leeuwin and the ship makes good progress across the Great Australian Bight. Several whales pass in front of the vessel, spouting up water.

 

Mary Thomas, painted by her daughter Frances, aged fourteen. 1834. Image courtesy of the Estate of Joan Kyffin Willington.

 

Thankfully for the survey party, the Buffalo is further behind. On 28 October it is approaching the coast of Africa, although still some distance out. Young Bingham Hutchinson reports fine sailing conditions, which is good news for the young mother in labour on board. Her new baby is born safely that morning.

The atmosphere is more stormy in the captain’s cabin. Hindmarsh seeks his secretary’s opinion on the extent of his executive powers as governor and is not pleased with the answer. Stevenson argues that the governor should act in concert with his Executive Council: Hindmarsh apparently announces that he is ‘determined to act singly and uncontrolled’.  The stage is set for subsequent battles, although at this stage Stevenson is inclined to think that Hindmarsh will ‘probably come or be brought to his senses ere he be called upon to act’.

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


Journals from settlers in South Australia:

Sunday 23 October 1836

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

23 October-Sunday. The Rapid arrived with Mr Kingston from Nepean Bay; employed this afternoon getting things on shore. Rain great part of the day, with strong breezes.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Sunday 23 October 1836

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

[Sunday 23 October?]

On Sunday morning Colonel Light, Pullen and I started on a walk towards Cape Jervis, but seeing from one of the hills that the ‘Rapid’ had just come into the Bay, we returned and found that she had brought over a great number of the Surveyors and Labourers with stores which we have been busy landing ever since. The Brig started this morning to bring the rest of the Surveyors and some of the females from the Island. When she returns the party will be divided – some remaining here, and the others going up to Holdfast Bay, the name given to our last anchorage, from our having ridden out two very serious gales there. With regard to myself, the present arrangements are that I remain with the party here and I have consequently got all my traps on shore. The heat in the day is excessive, and the flies, the greatest pests imaginable, crawling incessantly to the eyes, and if not immediately dislodged, blowing there.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 27 October 1836

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

27 October-People employed in cutting wood for a store-house, and in various jobs.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 29 October 1836

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

29 October-Very sudden changes, hot and cold alternately, with showers. At five p.m. Captain Lipson and Mr Pullen arrived in the hatch-boat, from Nepean Bay. I wrote to Captain Rolls of the Cygnet to receive on board Captain Lipson and his family and proceed to Port Lincoln.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 29 October 1836

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

Hobart Town, Oct. 29th 1836.

My Dearest Mary,

I have at length an opportunity of writing you, by the ship, Elphenston, to inform you that we have all arrived safe at our port; the first part of the passage till nearly as far as the Cape, we had very fine weather, never once having ocasion to take a reef in, but the remainder just nothing but dreadful gale but we did not suffer any loss, she being a very fine sea boat, and I made Kangaroo Island to the hour, the other two ships the Duke of York & Lady Mary Pelham, having left England one ten & the other fourteen days before me, arrived but five & ten days before me, so I think I don well in so small a vessel, particularly as both those vessels where fast sailers having been both Packets, the two Commissioners Ships we beat one fourteen days & the other six weeks, I was three weeks short of four months from Dartmouth, nothing particularly happen’d on the passage except one of our women passengers jumpt overboard in the heat of passion, the vessel was going at the rate of six knots at the time, I put the vessel about emidiately & stood towards her & succeeded in picking her up just as she was going down, she soon recover’d but blam’d me for saving her, she afterwards refused to take any food or nurishment till she became really ill and …………….. leaving a husband and four young children one not then ween’d, but it was a great blessing to them all, for she was a most horrid wretch, all the rest I landed safe & well satisfied, but not so with either of the other vessels for they appear’d to have had nothing but quarreling all the passage out, and on shore after they landed, & the crews of the vessels in a very insebordinate state, till my arrival, and I soon set them to wrights, after having set them in Irons and it was out of the Manningers power to rule them, ther being no Gov. nor any power to inforce obedience, I on the contrary have not had the least dificulty with any one on board, after I had restored them all to good order & disiplene, the first Mirical I don was to join together two couple in holy Matrimony, one was no less a person than Mr. Stephens, the Maninger, after which I set about exploring the country, but found Kangaroo Island, a most wretched & barren place not worth anything, & feeling uneasy at the appearance of future prospects, I took a whaleboat, mand and arm’d it well, & went over to the main, which is but twelve miles across, I proceeded up the gulf of St Vincents to the distance of from 100 miles or more, landing ocasionally and walk’d inland, & I must confess, that in all my travels I never saw so fine a country before & abundance of fresh water, and but few natives, not having fell in with more than eight in all that extent of country; on my return I found the vessel nearly ready for sea again and having made my arrangements, and occording to my advice we proceeded for Hobart Town for sawd timber & such articles as I saw them most in need off, we had a very good passage of six days and had scearsly got in the river before Hobart Town was viseted with a continuation of most terrific gales for three weeks, such as has not been before experienced in the memory of any one in the Island, thank god is was now my watch below, on my arrival I was most heartely wellcom’d by every person I met…

Robert & George is going to school to morrow to Mr. Giblins Father, a very good school at New Town where I have got them to take both, through favour, for fifty pounds a year, I have provided them well with everything, & I am happy to say they are fine Boys & loved by everyone who knows them, I have great hopes in them, & I trust in God, that my dear girls will prove a comfort to us also – I hope & trust you are all well in health, and that you have been abble to mannage to rub through. I have wrote to Mr Angas who I have no doubt will render you every assistance in his power & advance you what money you may require to fit yourself & children out little respectable, and also procure you a passage out, either to Kangaroo Island or Van Diemens Land, but I think you had best if possible endeavour to get to Hobart Town first, & I will see you shall be provided for on your arrivel, but should you arrive at Kangaroo Island first, you will find yourself well received, I shall have a house built, and a garden for you before you arrive; endeavour to provide yourself & children as respectable clothing as your means will enable you, I am thank God in better health than ever I was & getting very lusty, & I have every prospect of dooing well, having an oppertunety of making a good deal trading backwards & forwards to the —. Mrs. Stephens is inclined to afford me every oppertunety of adding to my stock, therefore with the blessings of God I trust we shall yet see better days, & God send you safe to me again, The best month for you to leave England so as to insure fine weather will be in the months of June or July, I hope your brother & all his family are all well and in prosperety, I have wrot to them, & I hope & trust Mother & Eliza with her children are also well & that you are friendly with all for belive me my dear Mary that it is far more pleasing to make friends than enemys, I sepose Parnell is dead, & I trust he died a christian, & confeced his falshoods, should your Mother & sister come out to this part I will do all I can for them, give my love to them, also give my love to Mr. & Mrs. Barrow, Carters, Quillys, Ann & all inquiring friends – Mrs. Lord lives in the country and I am informed she looks as well as ever, Should you see Mr. Simpson the Father of my secont mate give my best respects to him & his family & tell him I have great pleasure in giving a good account of his son, he behaves himself mutch to my satisfaction, he has been very attentive to my two Boys, in teaching them to read and write; & I shall not fail in advancing so soon as I see a good oppertunity.

You must take cear to have a few comforts with you when you leave, independant of the ship, as you are an old Traveler you are well aquainted with what is necessary, be sure you take plenty eggs with you for the children, you see that I have not been afraid to face my enemys, but I assure you that I have not one is thes whole place, & to prove that my credit is good, I have sold Bills … of £200 for articles purchased her for our settlement, and it will I trust convince those persons who gave your Mother such favourable account of me, that I am not afraid to meet any one in this world that I have seen before, I hope Marian is a good girl and is kind & obedient to you, for she ought to be a patern to the rest, I have no fear of Georgiana , give my love to them all & kiss them all for their Father. I hope little Tom is growing a fine boy as will Isabella, Polly, & dear little Stewart. I hope you have not neglected poor Polly   lip, Robert & George send their dear love to you & their sisters & brothers, Robert never hears your name mentioned but he crys bitterly, poor George he often talks of you but of course have not that sense of feeling, he is the fiddle of the vessel, once more give my love to all inquiring friend and accept the love of
Your ever Afectionad Husband,
George Martin.

Mr. & Mrs. Bascombe sends
their best respects
God bless you & send you soon to me.

Bring the certificate of your Marriage & the births
of Marian & Thomas, for should anything happen to me
you can get your Dower of that 800 acres of land which
is now become very valuable.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Journals from passengers at sea:

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 extract ]


Sunday 23 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Sunday, Octr 23. Light airs & hazy. Divine Service was in
-               terrupted by a sudden increase of wind & wet,
which rendered it necessary to furl royals & tgt sails,
& take in two reefs in the topsails…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Sunday 23 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Sunday Octr 23. Service to-day upon deck, indecorously interrupted by
the Captain who made a vast commotion in adjusting the sails when
there was certainly no pressing necessity for any thing of the sort.
The people were dismissed; but in five minutes he ordered them all
to be summoned by the bell: Mr Howard however declined to proceed
with the sermon and merely went through the remaining prayers. This
abrupt & irreverent conduct has created much discussion though very
little difference of opinion. It is especially strange that he should have
chosen such a time for making or shortening sail, when his favorite
position is that the fast or slow progress of a ship does not depend on
the number of sails set. Unfortunately for us this is the theory he in-
-variably puts in practice & yesterday we had for six hours the
precise amount & no more canvas spread under a moderate &
favorable breeze, than the ship bore under the heavy gale of the night.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Tuesday 25 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Tuesday Octr 25. A long sederunt with Capt. Hindmarsh in reference to his
powers as Governor. He maintains that all appointments are in his hands,
& that in no case he is obliged to submit any such to the Council even for
their advice. I have told him plainly my opinion, which is that subject to his
right of proposing, & the power of pardoning or remitting the sentences of
convicts, all executive as well as legislative acts must be done by him in Council
By the Royal instructions he has power to carry his propositions into law even
against the opinion & voice of the “whole or major part” of his advisers – being
obliged however in such a case to assign his reasons for so acting to the
Secretary of State at home – a check, which if not quite sufficient against
temporary acts of folly or despotism is at least fully so as regards their per-
-manence. His Excellency scarcely seemed pleased with my frankness;
but I only gave my honest opinion & not before it was asked, and am
totally indifferent as to its palatableness. He says he is determined to
act singly and uncontrolled – that he has Lord Glenelg’s & Mr Stephen’s
authority for so doing and will not, to use his own words “abate an
inch of his Master’s prerogative” – forgetting perhaps that His Majesty
has in the instance expressly delegated his authority, prerogative & all
to others. But it is in vain to argue with him on this point, or indeed
on any other. He will however probably come or be brought to his senses
ere he be called upon to act.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 27 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Thursday, Octr 27, Fresh gales & squally. Head S.E.b E. Wind from
N.W. to West. Noon. Do Wr. Miles run, 199 + 8781, =
8980. Lat. 35E42′ So. Longe 3E46′ Wt. P.M. 2.30 A heavy sea struck the
starbd quarter boat & stove her. Wind round to S.W. At 5
saw a whale about 40 feet long. Furled mizen topsail &
mainsail: down topgalt yards in the forenoon.
Evening. Strong breezes & heavy squalls occasionally. Wind West.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 28 October 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Friday, Octr 28. More moderate & cloudy. A baby born this morng.
Set tgt sails. Noon. Modte & fine. Miles run, 173 + 8980 =
9153. Lat. 35E49′ So. Longe 0E40′ Wt. Water on board, 100 tons.
P.M. Fresh breezes & fine. Wind S.E. Head East, ENE, &c &c

[ Read the full journal extract ]


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 extract ]


Next week

Light divides his survey team into three and prepares to go to Port Lincoln, leaving Maria Gandy with Dr Woodforde at Rapid Bay. The Africaine reaches Nepean Bay and six of the young men decide to walk across the Island. The Buffalo passes Cape Agulhas on the tip of Africa.

Find out more:

Vessel/s: | | | | | | |
People: | | | | | | |
Place/s: | | | | |
Topic/s:


Share this page:


Comments or Questions:

2 Responses to “Week 36 – the Africaine approaches”

  1. Evan Holt October 24, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    The moral of the story is never hold a Divine Service (“Buffalo” 23 October) without first shortening sail, as you never know what umbrage Aoelus or Zephyr (Greek God of the west wind) might take.

    • Allison October 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks, Evan. Good advice, I’m sure!

Add your comment:

Please read our moderation policy before commenting
To display your avatar when you comment, the Bound For South Australia 1936 website uses free and globally recognised Gravatars. Learn more and register here to get your free gravatar.


css.php