Captain George Ralls...
1838 - 25 January 1927
George Tolman Ralls was born in Horsey, Bridgewater, Somerset,
England, the son of George Ralls (born 16 Sept. 1808) and Mary
abt 1811). Although his mother's surname suggests
that his middle name should be Toleman, all other references
do not use the 'e'.
The Captain's parents and grandparents were born in Horsey,
Bridgwater, Somerset, England, so I assume the Captain was
born there, and the prior two generations were from Ashcott,
Young George had 5 sisters (3 older) and 2 brothers (1 older)...
- Mary Tolman Ralls (born 22 Feb 1832)
- Jane Ralls (born about 1834)
- Julia Ralls (born abt 1836)
- John Tolman Ralls (born abt 1837)
- Anna Ralls (born abt 1841)
- Diane (Dinah) Ralls (born 1845)
- Orlando Ralls (born abt 1848)
brother John was my great-great-grandfather.
GONE TO SEA
Captain George must have gone to sea at a young age and under
an accomplished master, because by early 1870 at the age of
31 he was master of his own vessel, the "Maryborough".
These facts are carved on his first wife's headstone. (story
to follow of how I came across this amazing information)
From "TheShipsList" archives I have come across
a couple of references to the "Maryborough".
The "Maryborough" was originally named the "Robert
Parker", and there are accounts of her voyages in a book
named "The Passage Makers" by Michael Stammers. She
was renamed "Maryborough" on 10 April 1862 when she
was purchased by Baines and Co. of the Blackwall Line. She
was put on the Australia run to Queensland but was never a
fast ship. Although well made she did not make any fast passages
FIRST WIFE: Susan Brewer
[Author's note: I can only assume that this is George Tolman
Ralls first wife from the details on a headstone in a churchyard
of Brisbane city, Australia. There cannot have been many
ships captains by that name sailing in these waters in that
time. The surname Brewer was supplied by the person who
had researched this headstone in Brisbane]
The "Maryborough" sailed from Gravesend, England
on 9 December 1869, under the hand of a 31-year-old Captain
George Ralls, and arrived in Brisbane on 15 April 1870. Captain
Ralls was presumably accompanied on this journey by his pregnant,
27-year old wife Susan. This was not unusual and the
Captain's second wife, Adelaide, travelled at least three times
with her husband from England to New Zealand in the 1870s as
three of her children were born "at Sea".
Less than six weeks after their arrival in Brisbane, Susan
infant son George, were dead and buried in the Paddington
Cemetery in what is now the heart of modern Brisbane, only
to be rediscovered by family 132 years later
to the day, and their lives remembered and noted with flowers.
How they died I have been unable to ascertain, and it
can only be assumed that Susan and the young George died
as a result of childbirth complications.
Susan Ralls (nee Brewer) headstone reads...
Sacred to the memory
Susan the beloved wife
George RALLS master of
the ship "Maryborough"
who departed this life
21st May 1870 aged 27 years
also George infant son
of the above died 13th May 1870 aged 5 days.
Let not your heart
be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions. John xiv:1,2.
(Click photo to open large versions
in new page, close that page to return here)
The great grandnephew
of Captain George, Malcolm Ralls and his wife, have now retired
from New Zealand to Brisbane and have visited the headstone. Malcolm
is the grandson of George Ralls brother John Tolman Ralls.
Malcolm's daughter Julie is my third
cousin, and lives at Whangarei Heads, New Zealand.
The person that took this photograph
(not related) commented on the pattern of lichen and staining
on the headstone that bore some resemblance to the Grim Reaper.
SECOND WIFE: Adelaide Tompkins
[Author's note: I have only recently
discovered (Sept 2005) Adelaide's surname, through her
sister Susanna and brother-in-law John Henry Dickinson
on the night of the 1891 UK census.]
George Ralls and Adelaide Tompkins were married in the Jan-Feb-March
quarter of 1872 and the marriage is recorded in the UK General
Register Office (GRO) index for the district of Bicester, Volume
3a, Page 751.
George was obviously not of the 'girl in every port' kind
of sailor, well at least not while he had the privileges of
captain anyway, and travelled with his wives. Adelaide
gave birth to their three eldest children at sea, and this
is recorded in White Wings as well as on the various census
results that the children appeared on subsequently.
This must have been an arduous and at times terrifying life
for a woman of those times, where a one-way voyage lasted over
three months, for half the year your family is twelve thousand
miles away, and there are no hospitals when things go wrong.
In January 2006 while searching for records of my great grandfather's
arrival in New Zealand, I came across a reference to the death
of the infant son of "Captain G.A. Ralls, of the City of Auckland"
on 10 September 1873.
I have included a transcript from the newspaper articles of
the time reporting the arrival of the City in the port of Auckland
on the page dedicated to the City
This meant that the captain and his new wife Adelaide lost
their firstborn and a second son for George, just four days
out from their arrival in New Zealand on the captain's first
voyage as the master of the City of Auckland. I will
try a search of deaths registered in New Zealand in that year
to ascertain if the death was registered here when the ship
arrived, and report results here.
THE "CITY OF AUCKLAND"
In 1873 Captain Ralls, at the age of 35, was in command of
the ship "City of
Auckland", not to be confused with
another ship called simply "Auckland".
The "City" was a fine new vessel, constructed in
1869 especially for the immigrant trade between London and
Auckland, New Zealand. She was a strong ship of 5½-inch
teak with copper fastening over an iron frame, and her first
under the command of Captain William Ashby, a respected captain
of the time who had made several prior voyages to New Zealand
and was well qualified to oversee her construction. Captain
Ashby was a part-owner of the ship as well.
Captain Ashby made four return trips from London to Auckland
averaging about 96 days for the outward voyage, and then on
5 June 1873 the "City" again left London but this
time under the hand of Captain George Tolman Ralls.
Captain George made five return voyages from London to Auckland
from 1873 until 1877, and then on his sixth voyage to New Zealand
the ship was wrecked on Otaki Beach, New Zealand, on the night
of 22 October 1878. More on the
The Captain retired to the village of Sandford-on-Thames,
Oxfordshire, and in 2004 I had some young friends who were
living and working/travelling near London, and they travelled
to modern-day Sandford and brought me home some brilliant photographs
(see Links below).
Sandford 2004 photos