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"Slains Castle" - the 1850/51 Voyage to Australia

The ship was commissioned by the Family Colonisation Loan Society in 1850 for its first sailing from London via Gravesend to Port Phillip & Port Adelaide

Departed London 28th. September, 1850 & Gravesend 1st. October, 1850

Arrived Port Phillip 25th. January 1851 & Port Adelaide 21st. February, 1851 

 

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"A Barque running before a Gale" by Thomas Somerscales. Image provided by the National Maritime Museum Picture Library, Greenwich, UK

 The Slains Castle, commanded by Captain H.T. Andrew, was commissioned in 1850 by the Family Colonisation Loan Society to carry its first sailing of emigrants bound for Australia. In his book "Migrant Ships to South Australia 1836 - 1866" Ronald Parsons describes the Slains Castle as a 3-masted barque of 503 tons built in London in 1836 - dimensions 121' x 26.5' x 19.7'. She was owned by Money Wigram & Co. and registered in London. Prior to this trip she had made previous voyages between England and New Zealand in 1841 under Captain James Petrie, in 1846 and later to Otago, NZ in 1852.

The Family Colonisation Loan Society was a body which was founded by Mrs. Caroline Chisholm on her return to England after 7 years in Australia. It was a philanthropic organization dedicated to assisting families of an "industrious and frugal class" to make a paid passage to Australia in relative comfort and safety. It also invited persons already in Australia to sponsor relatives to join them. Read more about it at these Links:- http://www.londonancestor.com/iln/colonisation.htm and http://www.hotkey.net.au/~jwilliams4/d2.htm

Fate of Official Passenger Lists                       Click Here  to view official list

At the time of the ship's arrival in Australia the Colony of Victoria had not yet been proclaimed and Port Phillip and the settlement of Melbourne were still a part of New South Wales. No manifest from the Slains Castle's 1851 trip is known to survive however an agent for the Board of Immigration, Melbourne boarded the ship 2 days after its arrival in Port Phillip and reported that  38 families had embarked in England - a total of 154 - plus 36 single male adults and 44 single female adults, making a total of 234 passengers. Some of the "single adults" on the voyage were in fact teenage members of the 38 families (a person was apparently considered to be an adult at 14 years of age) and others were travelling with siblings of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, by the time the agent made an official list of passengers 2 days later only 104 were still on board (hardly surprising!!!). Luckily for us, however, a comprehensive list of passengers was published by the Argus newspaper in Melbourne and 2 other partial lists survive. From the 4 sources it is possible to determine the names of the passengers who travelled on that voyage. (see Composite List below)

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Newspaper Lists of Passengers

The Argus newspaper in Melbourne published a comprehensive list of the Slains Castle passengers on Monday 27th January 1851. This may be viewed by following the National Archives of Australia Australian Newspapers link to Page 2 of the Argus 27th January 1851:- http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/. (This article is the first on the page, top left.)

There is a small list of names of the passengers who had travelled on to Port Adelaide which was published by the 2 local newspapers of the time. This list also records the names of other coastal passengers who made that trip from Port Melbourne but I have not included them here - those names may be viewed at Di Cummings "Bound for South Australia" pages:- http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/fh/passengerlists/1851SlainCastle.htm

 

Mr. A.L. Whitby's Log of the Voyage        Click here to see the names on Mr Whitby's List

A comprehensive list of names was also compiled by a  passenger, Mr. A.L. Whitby, who kept a log of the journey and listed most of the passengers on board. Mr. Whitby's diary is a fascinating story of  the daily life on board as he records weather conditions, births and a death and the terror of losing the main masts during rough weather - the risk of sinking only averted by a change in wind direction. He even tells of the shenanigans which occurred among some of the more unruly passengers and crew from time to time.

He also recorded navigational bearings along  the ship's route and the diary is well worth reading.   (Mr. Whitby's entire diary was  published as part of an article authored by Allan Hillier in the The Genealogist magazine issue December 1981volume 111, No. 8, page 251. The magazine is published quarterly by the  Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc and copies are available at some libraries and genealogical societies. The AIGS is also able to photocopy the article on request to this link - AIGS)

In the diary he lists the following crew members in addition to Captain H.T. Andrew:-

Thos Phelps - Chief Officer Malone - 2nd. Officer
Mr. McCaul - Surgeon 12 Able Seamen
4 Apprentices Ship's Carpenter
a Steward 1 Cuddy Servant
2 Cooks  

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My Composite Passenger List                Click here to view Composite List

A number of people have contacted me with additional information about their ancestors who were passengers as well as other people on the list about whom they have some information. Their names and contact details can be seen on the Composite List page. In particular Barry Tilley has provided additional information on the Tilley family and also the possibility of there being another passenger, Mr. Thomas Woods, who later married Elizabeth Tilley. (Mr Woods may be the person that Mr. Whitby named as Mr Ward.). Jenny Cooper has provided information on her ancestors, the Lucas family and also additional information on Mr Norton and the possibility of another family named Colton being on board.

By comparing all  the pieces of information it is possible to arrive at the surnames of all of the passengers who arrived in Australia. According to Mr. A.L. Whitby's log 2 baby girls were born during the voyage but  I also know that another baby was born to my great-great grandparents, the Crossland's. The official report records that one single adult  female, Elizabeth Bishopp, died during the voyage. Mr. Whitby's journal names her as Emma Bishop, aged 26 years who died as a result of dysentery and was buried at sea on January 21st. 1851.

The Immigration Reports says that 234 persons embarked in UK, 3 babies were born and one lady died so  it appears that 236 passengers would have arrived in Port Melbourne. There are 243+ names on the composite list but some of those are almost certainly duplicates i.e. Miss Lawson/Leeson probably the same person, Davis/Davy probably also one & the same and several people only occur on one list making it likely that their names were confused with someone else. It's also unknown how many people were in some of the families.

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I would love to hear from anyone who knows that their ancestors also travelled on this trip and are not listed and I'd also like to hear from anyone who can give christian names and other details for those passengers listed by surname only. Additional information, pictures, corrections and reports of broken links also gratefully received.

These pages prepared by Di Comley.

To contact me about information on this website click here

Other Family Names under research:-

EATON, GROSS, LORIOT, MCCRACKEN, POOL, RUSSON, SHAW, WATT, WHORWOOD, WORLEDGE

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