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Adelaide Observer 12th January 1850

Shipping Intelligence – Arrived



472 Tons, Douglas Master, from London and Plymouth 25th September. Passengers –


in the cabin

Mr and Mrs Watson

Mr H R Watson

Mr J F Fegan

Mr W Goldie

Miss Coe and Mr Coe

118 in the steerage

E Tillery

S Shetliff wife and 2 children

Harriet Areton

J J Areton

A Bassett

Thomas Rogers wife and child

John Clay

John Bulwer wife and 2 children

Thomas Babbington and wife

Sarah Ann Babbington

Jane Willard

Hay Rogers

S W Adcock

W Adcock

Eliza Norwood and child

G Walmsby

G Tilley wife and 8 children

J Lume

R Bow

Mr Middleton and wife

John and Thomas Middleton

Isabella Middleton

J Hutchinson wife and 4 children

Luke Brell

J Grosse

E Watson wife and 2 children

H Logan

Robert Miller

E Arnold

W Thernett and wife

R Shelton wife and 4 children

S R Fraser

G Capts

G Bearpark wife and 2 children

D M Otty

Edward King

G Greenhow

J Boyer wife and child

W T Holl

J Osborne

W Urboin




Adelaide Observer 19th January 1850

Died At Plymouth, September 25, 1849 on board the Douglas, bound for Adelaide, Mrs Wellerd.

At sea, on board the Douglas, bound for Port Adelaide

Sept 26, 1849  Mr Bassett, of Cholera

27th                          Mrs Thornett, of cholera

28th                          Mr Thornett, Mr and Mrs Thomas, Mr Miller and Mr Adcock of cholera

Oct 2nd                    Mr Bulmer of cholera

4th                            Mr Bulmer’s child of cholera

5th                            Mr Barnard’s child of cholera

9th                            Mr John Clay aged 27 of cholera

15th                          Mrs Boyer’s child aged 8 months of diarrhoea

16th                          Miss Bahington aged 15 years and Mrs Landells child of diarrhoea

                                (note – could be Babbington as per the passenger list)

21st                          Mrs Landell after a months illness from exhaustion and seasickness

                                leaving 5 small children

30th                          Mrs Barnard aged 48 of fever

Nov 1st                    Mrs Tilley’s infant

Dec 1st                    Mrs Middleton of dysentery

7th                            Mrs Hutchinson of dysentery leaving a husband and 4 young children

14th                          Mrs Ellis’s son aged 3 years of dysentery

18th                          Mrs Hutchinson’s child of inanition

24th                          Mrs Parnell’s child of convulsions


At Port Adelaide on board the barque Douglas on Sunday, January 13th 1850

Edward Evans, brother of Mr Evans of the London firm of Bradbury and Evans,

of dropsy, superinduced by habitual intoxication during the voyage.

At Port Adelaide on board the barque Douglas, Henry Logan aged 19 of fever.

January 16, at Adelaide of typhus fever, aged 29, Athalia wife of David Barnard.

Deceased was a passenger in the barque Douglas.


19th January 1850

The barque Douglas has been anchored up the stream and the present position of the vessel is so chosen,

that the sea breeze will waft the wind from the ship of death right into the numerous and crowded craft below.

The Customs Officers have had no orders to prevent bedding or clothes being removed; the Health Officer has,

in his report to the Colonial Secretary of the 11th instant, certified officially, that “the persons and bedding of the

emigrants are in good order.” On the 13th one individual died, on the 14th another, on the 16th a third.

Where the category will end, must remain for the present in question.


19th January 1850


The Death Ship


On Tuesday there was an inquest at the “Port Hotel” on the body of Henry Logan, aged 19 years, a passenger by the barque Douglas, who died at the Emigration Depot, on

Tuesday afternoon. George Bearpark, a passenger, stated that he accompanied the deceased to town on Saturday last; they dined at the “Norfolk Arms”, and the deceased neither ate nor drank to excess from the time he left the ship until he returned. Shortly after his return he went ashore again, with the chief mate and two females. The deceased was a steady man on board. The witness added he had no complaint to make of the treatment he had received on board the DouglasJames Dontwaithe

a seaman, stated that he knew the deceased throughout the voyage. On Saturday he seemed well and hearty, but complained of being poorly on Sunday morning, and on Monday he was quite childish. Witness attended him under the doctor’s directions, and saw him die in the Emigration Depot- John Fostus Fegan, surgeon of the Douglas, stated that after he was called to attend on the deceased, he (witness) ascertained that “he had been indulging himself in eating to excess.” Witness considered it was a case of common fever, and treated it accordingly, resorting to the usual febrifuge medicines. When the case became critical witness sent for Mr Duncan, who agreed in the propriety of sending the deceased ashore. On going to visit him in the depot, witness ascertained the man had died. – Mr Duncan was of opinion, from what he saw of the deceased, and heard from the surgeon of the ship, that the death was occasioned by effusion on the brain, resulting from fever. The jury after asking several questions as to matters which the Coroner decided to be irrelevant, returned a verdict of “Natural death”.

An inquest was held at the “Joiners Arms” Inn at 6 o’clock on Wednesday evening last, before W Wyatt,

Esq. Coroner, upon the body of Athalia Barnard, aged 29, a passenger by the Douglas. The poor woman’s remains lay in an outhouse; and a more deplorable state of emaciation could not be conceived. George Mayo, Esq., M.D. stated that he was called at 9 o’clock on Tuesday night by Mr Emery, landlord of the “Joiners Arms” to see the mother of a family whom he had taken in, and who seemed in great distress for want of a sleeping place. On seeing the deceased, he (Dr. Mayo) found her in a dying state. He directed warm wine and water to be administered, and hot bottles to be placed to her feet, but stated that nothing would have any effect. Warm brandy and water, and warm broths were also given, but nothing would excite the pulse in the least. She spoke a few words incoherently. He remained with her for an hour, and directed the landlord to have somebody to be with her during the night. She was labouring under typhus-fever. Death was caused by prostration, resulting from fever. A Juryman suggested that the ship ought not have been allowed to come into port. The Coroner quoted Dr Duncans report to the Governor as a proof that no disease was on board when the Douglas arrived. David Barnard, husband of the deceased and a passenger by the same ship, who himself looked very ill, was examined, and stated that he left the ship on Tuesday morning, sending his wife on in a cart to Adelaide, with the children. The ship’s doctor had seen them, and said deceased would be all right when she had fresh air. She could not walk unsupported, out of the ship, and was led by two men, and lifted into the cart. Next he saw her at the “John Bull” eating house, kept by

Mrs Smith. The landlady would not let the family stop, as deceased was so ill. It was about 6 o’clock in the evening, and she left in half an hour. Had deposited 10s with the landlady. It had not been returned. Hired a

cart and came to the “Joiners Arms”. Deceased was ill on board for seven or eight days. He found no fault with the ships doctor but some of the passengers complained of him. Had sago and arrowroot of his own, on board. Got a little wine also. The wine was not allowed by the doctor. Had to buy that on board. Some of the pork was very rough and bad. Sometimes complained to the third mate of it. One cask was thrown overboard, but they got them to eat others. Was obliged to take it or none. The ship was kept clean, for their own sakes by the women. The doctor approved of deceased’s removal, and said she would be well in a day or two. Deceased was always healthy until she entered the Douglas- a bustling, hard working woman, as ever lived. Had no complaint to make of any person on board the ship. Never saw any medical comforts given away, on the voyage, but a little sago to himself. Isaac Emery, landlord of the inn, examined – He saw the last witness with a cart load of goods in Currie Street, not knowing where to find a place for his family. He said his wife was ill. A fellow passenger came up and said that his wife and children were turned out of the “John Bull”. The husband said, “Oh, what then will my poor wife do?”. Witness took his own cart to the eating house, and ascertained that she had been put into another spring cart, and driven up the other end of Currie Street, to seek a cottage to live in. Went in pursuit of the cart, and found deceased in it, with the children. The woman looked very ill. The cart conveyed them to his inn. A bed was made and the large room given up to them. Fetched Dr Mayo, who promptly attended. She died about five o’clock on Tuesday morning. Witness and another sat up with her alternately all night. The Coroner said there was a call for some kind of enquiry about this case and others on board the Douglas. If the Jury wished to see the surgeon he would adjourn the enquiry. He did not think it necessary. Mr Emery said one of the children would soon follow the mother. A conversation arose among the Jury as to Dr Duncan’s duties as Health Officer, and as to his report of the healthy state of the ship, contrasted with the above evidence. The son of the deceased, a boy of 13, looking very ill, not sworn examined, said that his mother was insensible all the time in the eating house. She was there all day. Nothing to eat or drink was given her. the landlady said she “could not have them coughing and gulping there.” She was put into the cart.

Edmund Arnold, a passenger by the Douglas sworn- Was a friend of deceased and the family. Saw her at the “John Bull” eating house and appealed to the landlady to let them stay until a lodging could be procured. Met Mr Emery, who kindly

agreed to take them in. Knew that deceased was ill on board ship for at least a week. The general treatment of the passengers on board was curious. Witness complained numberless times, and had the captains fist in his face, who threatened to bring five of his men down and thrash all the passengers. The passengers were kept short of the agreed supply of water and preserved meat and several other articles on board. The doctor was very inattentive during the early part of the voyage. Indeed he was seldom seen. He was sent for, but did not show. One one occasion when two or three were dying daily, the doctor was told to come for several were dying. He replied, “Let them die and be d----d”. Two bottles of medicines marked No 1 and No 2, appeared to be all he had to give and were ordered apparently indiscriminately. Witness was ill of cholera but recovered. he received no attention whatever. Others were similarly served. The officers of the ship conducted themselves so indecently, that no respectable female could be comfortable. There could be no question that there was sickness to a great extenet when the ship arrived at the Port, notwithstanding Dr Duncan’s report.  Several passengers could not walk. Throughout the voyage he never saw any medical comforts whatever given away. Had to pay two shillings per lb. of sago. The Captain was habitually drunk and seldom seen. The Coroner summed up, by expressing his opinion that a very strict enquiry into the general state of the Douglas would be made by the Government. The jury assented to its importance, and returned a verdict of “Died by the visitation of God, from typhus fever.” The foreman of the jury desired to express their unanimous opinion that very grave censure was merited by Mrs Smith’s further inhuman conduct in turning out a dying woman, who had paid ten shillings deposit and received no sustenance all day. The Jury also wished a Government officer to be appointed to visit all ships, and unanimously thought Mr Emery deserved honourable mention for his industrious kindness in acting the part of the good Samaritan.

We can only add our surprise that neither Dr Duncan, the Health Officer at the Port, nor the surgeon at the ship, was present at this important inquiry.


Adelaide Observer 19th January 1850

The Douglas – The Death Ship


In the olden time when the 'Douglas' was the terror of all Scotland, and few were found to bar his progress, to some the

name was nevertheless dear. What must Old Ocean have thought of the barque “Douglas which lately reached our shores?

There was open and declared war against rival clans on the part of the Scottish Chieftain – there was a promise of kindness

and good sustenance made by the the brokers of this doomed ship. How has this promise been kept? Death has stalked over

the waters, and the shark and the porpoise has made many a meal of human carcases supplied from the cholera ship – the bodies

of men, women and children.
True, there was variety to relieve the direful monotony on the voyage. Sales of effects belonging to the departed took place,

and large sums were realised thereby; bodies, scarcely cold, were toppled into the deep, with little if any ceremonial of Christian burial;

a thoughtless captain, desirous of dispersing the gloom, danced on the deck with a lady's bustle, and afterwards sold by auction the interesting relic for the sum of six shillings, to the highest bidder; an officer was "taken in adultery" and a defrauded husband quenched

his wrath with a glass of rum; a beer-shop was opened by a penny-turning passenger, on the strength of a stock of porter bought

from the Captain and retailed at sixpence a glass to the thirsty; brandy, too, was sold by the Captain at  3s.6d. a bottle, rum at 3s, port

and sherry at 3s. a bottle and molasses and sugar at 8d. per pound.

But none of these sales are to be wondered at. The medical comforts could not be found until nearly the end of the voyage, although the saleable stores of the skipper could readily be come at as long as the money of the buyers lasted.
Indeed, such was the scarcity of the ship's dietary, that we are told a rat was skinned, dressed and eaten by the cabin passengers; while anything they could lay their hands on was grabbed by those in the steerage.
Quoting a passenger's journal, we find that on the morning of December 7th (the comforts for the sick) being missed from the 17thSeptember to the 7th December), the steward went round and told the passengers they could have sago and arrowroot with milk, at the same price as they had been charged before (sixpence per pint can), as they had managed to find the 'medical comforts'. It is the opinion of all or a great majority of the passengers that several lives, out of seventeen who died, may have been saved if proper attention had been paid and medical comforts served out to them.

Three officers, the first, second and third mates had 'fancy girls' selected from among the fair passengers. These libertine pranks occasioned little or no surprise on board the Douglas. Pork was issued on the 24th December of so horrible a quality that complaints were made to the Surgeon Superintendent. His mild reply was, that they would be "d--d glad to eat it".
Other entries in a journal we quote verbatim:

“The sailors very stupid after a night's drinking. They were not fit for work” “The Captain made his appearance after a month”

“The Captain has not his appearance this last fortnight; he has been up to his old habit of drinking”
These and such as these are extracts from a journal kept diligently, and we have reason to believe, truthfully on board.
But Death - the grim monster - was very busy in the early part of the voyage. The following are proofs of his prowess:
September 24th - a poor woman died of sea-sickness, aged 76,with fourteen pounds sewn up in her stays.
September 26th - Mr Bassett died after 12 hours sickness of cholera
September 27th - Mr Adcock died of cholera, the berths smelling horrible
September 28th - three more passengers were buried, namely a nice young man of the name of Miller,
and Thorns and his wife of cholera, which cast quite a damper upon the whole crew.
September 29th (the journalist says) sent a requisition to the Captain to put in at Madeira.
We have sixty more passengers than we ought to have; we are huddled and messed together worse than pigs; wished myself

home again, as they were seized with cholera all around me, and their groans were insufferable.

Again on September 30th, Sunday, Reading service by a drunken doctor, a most miserable affair  indeed it does not appear

like Sunday to me. Indeed we doubt it would - poor pilgrims of the waters! No Sunday to thee, no rest to thee.

Disturbed in the night by drunken messmates coming to bed at all hours of the night. a most awful affair considering the sickness

amongst us.
October 2nd - another man died of cholera, leaving a wife and two children, well in the evening, eat a hearty supper,

and died in the morning.
October 4th - a child died. At the same time a party of messmates were drinking and singing profane songs until

three o’clock in the morning.
October 5th - another child-but this is little moment, at least these, doubtless, wing their way to Heaven, and are

well out of the doomed bark of death.
October 9th - young Clay died aged 27; a quarrel at the same time he was dying over a glass.
October 12th - a drunken party in the steerage keeping others awake all night
October 14th - a child died, aged eight months
October 16th - a young girl died aged 15 years; she was found in the morning lying on the floor, same day another

chubby child flew to heaven; same night a regular convivial meeting, as it was a sailor's birthday; plenty of drunken

men on board.
October 20th - two children were taken ill with scarlet fever.
October 21st, Sunday - a woman died, leaving five small children.

So the sickening list goes on, and we have not patience to pursue it further. With abhorrence we visited the ship on Saturday,

saw one poor fellow in articulo mortis, whom Dr. Duncan had kindly and promptly visited. Until that gentleman came, he was dying

with no friendly hand to aid him among his fellow-passengers; custom had made them cold and careless. This poor dying wanderer was

said to be brother of Mr Evans (of the eminent firm of Bradbury and Evans, proprietors of "Punch", and was killed by the filthy poison

drink, which he had been allowed to buy on board the Douglas.* Two other passengers have since followed him; and to prevent the

spread of disease, the ship has been ordered to be moored in the stream. The ship is one of Marshall and Edridge’s cheap system

vessels-the Surgeon one of their choice, the passage money only £15, and was thus advertised:-

“For the special accommodation of respectable persons, whose means will not enable them to meet the usual rates of passage money, or who may not desire to pay the ordinary rates, arrangements have been made to take a limited number of such, as steerage passengers at an exceedingly low rate of payment.”

The measure of respectability of course, being the ability to pay £15;-the chief profit of the brokers that on the sale of grog, brandy, costing them 1s., is sold for 3s. 6d., and so on through the chapter. English Emigration agents for these cheap ships are mere sordid actors in a dismal farce. The emigration agent here is not, we believe, officially called upon to interfere when persons have arrived without any charge upon the Land Fund of this colony; but in our mind the claims of humanity are imperative, and such claims ought not to be shirked under any pretence by the Local Government, or those to whom it has delegated its powers. We are glad to hear, however, that Captain Brewer is ready to interfere and to assist complainants in prosecuting those by whom they have been aggrieved or defrauded on the voyage.

The Captain of the Douglas is a maudlin drunkard. Our reporter saw him on Tuesday evening, on board the fever ship. His berth presented his portly person stretched on it, surmounted with firearms and daggers, which the toper sea-king has often threatened to use on his refractory subjects. Surely he cannot long survive his gross habits. Four bottles of stout and five bottles of wine in a day will very soon destroy the stoutest frame.

As an instance of the danger to be apprehended from placing such men in command, we may mention that when near the Cape de Verde Islands the ship was running right into St Jago, but the drunken skipper would not believe his mate’s warning, and instead that the loom of the land was a fog. The helm was happily under the guidance of a sturdy sailor, and at the expense of some riven canvas, and amidst fierce oaths from the captain, the Douglas was saved; and close under her starboard quarter, as she answered the helm, appeared the breakers, which indicated the rocks whereon, in a few minutes more, one hundred and seventy human beings would have foundered. So much for the sobriety and skill of the captain of the Douglas.

It seems there were two doctors on board-the ship’s surgeon and a professional passenger who occasionally officiated in consequence of the frequent indisposition of the ship’s surgeon. But the professional passenger was not a disciple of Father Mathew; and on one occasion, whilst attempting the surgeon’s clerical duties, in a state of intoxication, he read the prayers for a time of war, instead of the burial service at sea. Poor fellow!. The burial service on shore has since been read over his own emaciated remains!.

Fortunately for the prestige in favour of  the South Australian voyage, the Douglas is one of the exceptions; and it behoves the Government of this colony to notice the facts, and to draw a strong line of distinction in describing the melancholy difference between ships freighted for the conveyance of passengers who pay, and those which are chartered by her Majesty’s Commissioners for the free passages of persons duly recommended to them for that favour at the expense of this colony. The interference of the British Government is loudly called for. Let us hope that the voices which now cry “out of the depths” will at least be heard.


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