Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Prior adventures of the Lady Shore

Source: William Anderson 1757-1837. An English 3rd-rate ship-of-the line (74 guns) in three positions off Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, flying the Royal Navy ensign. Painted circa 1795. Oil painting on canvas. You can buy it here

It appears the Lady Shore had rather an interesting life. In 1796, the year before she played host to the mutiny described in this post, she was taken as a prize by the French ship Le Moineau (It is mis-spelt in the journal here) a few day's sail from Cape Town. In a slightly unusual turn of events, especially as the English and French were at war at the time, the French decided not to keep the ship, so after taking all that they could, and destroying a far deal more, they took a few prisoners and gave the ship back to the English, who limped on to Cape Town.

Logs, journals, letters and charts were always taken by the victors, and rarely survive in official collections. So in this case we are left with a rather rare example of an account written during the time the events were taking place - not in the original log book, but on pages Williams probably carried around in his pocket.

Cape Town had only just been occupied by the British in 1795, forcibly taking it from the Dutch, who several years later (in the name of the Batavian Republic under Napoleon) won it back by treaty.

So during this time, there were a lot of British warships in the vicinity, and indeed the journal, part of which is transcribed below, records many ships at anchor in Table and Simon's Bay when she arrived. Within a few days the Lady Shore was re-rigged, with a newish set of spars and rigging, and on her way to London via St Helena as part of a protective convoy which saw its own bit of action against the Dutch.

The reason the French let the Lady Shore go therefore doesn't require much deduction: She had VIPs on board, and had just run the gauntlet from Isle de France (Mauritius). They knew there were plenty of the enemy around, and taking the Lady Shore in the state she was in would undoubtedly slow things up. It appears Williams was able to talk up those ideas, so the French further damaged the Lady Shore enough to delay news of their presence long enough to get a good start home. Perhaps they wanted the British to know their VIPs had escaped and therefore not be quite so zealous when pursuing other French ships.

I don't know who these VIPs may have been, but I suppose it could be found out. I've written to a couple of museums in France hoping to find the log of Le Monieau. It would be good to see the story from the other side.

Below is my transcription of some of the pages from the journal. Each paragraph represents a page. It is handwritten, but Williams used the system printers did at the time for making sure all pages are there and in the correct order by printing the same word twice: last on one page and first on the next. He doesn't appear to have heard of full stops, but put that down to it being written all in a rush.

(the way it reads below you're not immediately sure whether the disorderly state referred to on the first page refers to the ship or his wife)

James Williams
Commander of the
Lady Shore

Ship Lady Shore in possession of the French off the Cape of Good Hope, ------------
Tuesday 19th July 1796.

At 8 PM was captured by a French Man of War, the Cape of Good Hope, bearing then about ESE 16 or 17 Leagues, Myself, Mates, and the greater part of the Crew, also Captain Bris??? of His Majesty’s Navy was immediately sent on board the French Man of War, found her to be the le Monieau of 26 Nine pounders and 190 Men, commanded by Captain Tayeau, from Mauritius bound to Bordeaux and after a great deal of persuasion having represented my wife, and family was on board, and no person left on board to protect them from any insult that might be offer’d knowing well the state the must be in just boarded by an Enemy at 11pm I was permitted to return to the ship and found her in very disorderly state indeed as I expected; they French crew breaking open chest’s trunk’s, locker’s, etc, and Plundering Myself, Mates, and Crew, Brissai (?), of our Wearing Apparel, Books, Papers Etc, and in short every thing

could lay hands on, I was on going onboard ^immediately^ ordered to my Cabbin, and a Centinal placed over me, At 4AM I was requested to come on deck; where I found they had carried away the Fore topmast, Main Top Gall.t Mast, Jibb Boom, with all the Yardes and Sailes beating under her bows, at day light the ship was a perfect Wreck, all her Sails blown and split to pieces, Owing to the Intoxicated state their Crew was ^then^ in, the Ship lay labouring in the trough of the Sea and shipping a quantity of Water, the Wreck lay ?ealing under her Bows for near four hours before they cut it away, they then seeing the disabled ^state ^ the Ship was then in, it appeared to me their was a probability of recovering the Ship and Cargo again, if I could possibly persuade the Lieutenant she was very leaky, which I thank God, had the desired effect, and was the saving of Ship, and Cargo, without a doubt, knowing she had Ship’t a great deal of Water and that it would find it’s way to the ^Pump^ well, I sounded the Pump, and shewed him by the line, she ^had^ a great quantity of Water in her, as the Ship was tumbling about she had weted the line a great way up, that She was very leakey and it would be impossible to carry her to any distant

Port in that state as I was uncertain that the Ship must have sustain’d material damage, from the wreck beating so long under her Bows which he seemed to be very much Alarm.d ^at^ and replied tht they should be obliged ^them^ to burn her, I had learn’t by this time, the Moniceau had dispatches and also two Commissioners from the Mauritius of great importance, which was much in my favour as they did not wish to be delay’d, I then endeavour’d to dissuade him ^from^ the Idea of burning her, as their would be a number of Prisoners onboard and a long Voyage, must make use of a great deal of Water, therefore should be very unpleasant Passengers, and requested he would represent the state she was in to his Captain and Officers, which he seemed very inclinable so to do, for he appeared to be heartily tire’d of his disorderly Crew; they had almost upset the Ship during the Night in squalles’ before the Mast, and sails, went Notwithstanding the disabled state she was then in, of the Captain, Officers, & Crew, should think proper to give us up the Ship again, I would endeavour to reach some Port with her which I have reason to believe they little expected at.

10AM the Second Lieutenant came to take charge of the Ship, /as Prize Master,/ to remain and carry the Ship, wherever they should judge fit to send her, and the former went onboard who was their first Lieutenant; however he had not been lon onboard, before they came to a determination, to take out part of the Cargo such as was most valuable, their Boats was hoisted out immediately, also the Prize Master wa hail’d from the le Monieau, and order’d to hoist all the Boats belonging to the Prize and to clear away immediately to get at the Bale Goodes which was stowed in the Hold, and their Boates came onboard with a number of hands, they first begin clearing away in the tween decks on the Bales of Cotton that was stow’d their getting them on deck and throwing overboard the same, and every thing else that came in their way to get at the hatchways to open the Hold where the bale Goods, Sugar, and Indigo, was stow’d, having broke open the Hatchway and got at the above Goods the Boats was Keep’t continually employ’d carrying to Same onboard the le Monieau, also a

quantity of Provision Rice, Ghee, and all my Cabbin Stores, and left the Ship almost destitute of every species of Provisions-------------------------------------------------
Wednesday 20th July
Prisoner as before, they French Crew employ’d taking the Cargo out as before,-----
Thursday 21st July
Prisoner as before, the French Crew employ’d as before, At 21(?)PM, the Mates, and Crew, was returnd to the Lady Shore all excep’t Mr. Williams third Mate, and Antoney a Seaconnie, who was keep’t as prisoners, in order to carry them to france, to Condemn the property they had taken out of the Prize, the Lieutenant then inform’d me that the Captain Officers and Crew of the French Ship of war, had come to a Resolution to give up their Prize, and the remaining part of the cargo to the master, Mates & Crew, of the Lady Shore. for their sole use that she would be deliver’d up that night for me to proceed wherever I should think proper, and Crew, of the French republican Ship call’d the le Monieau, at 10 PM came orders

the before mentioned Certificate from under they Hands, an Seal, of the captain, Lieutenant and Crew, of the Republican Ship of War, call’d the le Monieau, to deliver me up the Ship with the said Certificate to Certify to all whom it may concern, that the Ship Lady Shore and remaining part of her Cargo our lawful Prize, We do voluntary give the said prize, to the Master, mates, and Crew of the English Ship Lady Shore, for their sole use to act and ^do^ with the same as they shall think fit and this our Certificate is ^given^ to serve when need, the Ship was then delivered up accordingly to me, also a Certificate from under the Lieutenant Hand who was prize Master, that he had deliver’d up the English Ship lady Shore, Prize to the le Monieau, agreeable to the captain, Officers, and Crews/orders as their voluntary gift to the Master, mates, & Crew of the Lady Shore, for their sole use; and to proceed wherever they think proper, he then left the ship, with his Crew; the Wind being from the Wrd; got her head to the NE and stood in shore that night with what little sail we could

found three feet of water in her; all the Upper Deck Hatche’s off; and the appearance of a great quantity of water having gon down, which has greatly injured the Cargo, and have every reason to suppose from the quantity of water they left in the Hold, and the Ship tumbling about in the trough of the Sea, the ground tier of Sugar, must have received considerable damage, found the after Hatch to be missing, suppose’d to be thrown overboard, secured the same in the best manner we could by nailing plank over it and sailing the same up. At day light she appear’d a perfect Wreck they had wantonly cut an Anchor from her Bows, paid two Cables overboard, cut & destroy’d all the Running Rigging, Sails, from the Yard’s; All the Ammunition, tore to pieces two suits of Colours, and in fact, every thing they could not possibly carry with them, about ½ past 6 AM saw the land bearing NE b E 10 Leagues, and a large fleet in sight to the Wrd, which shew’d English Colours, a fresh gale from the Wrd, with hazey weather at 8 AM made the Cape of Good Hope bearing ENE at 11/ rounded to, and stood up False Bay.

False Bay
with baffling winds and hard rain at 6 PM Anchor’d in the bottom of the Bay
NB, this Log contains 36 hours.
Friday the 22nd July
At day light weighed with a light breeze from the Erd; and stood into Simons bay. At Noon came too with the sheet Anchor in 10fms veered away and moor’d Ship, I went onshore immediately and proceeded to Cape towne, to the Honb’le East India Company Agent their to acquaint him what had happen’d and the state of the Ship, requested their would be survey hel’d thereon to examine into the state of ^the^ Ship, Cargo, which was order’d accordingly by Admiral Sir G: K: Elphinstone Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Fleet etc, etc, etc.

The journal goes on to describe the refitting of the ship and then is structured in the rather systematic way all logs are once the ship is under way. Unless you're a climatologist, it doesn't exactly make compelling reading. The final entry is interesting though, and if we didn't know the Lady Shore made further voyages, and the fact that the journal itself survives, makes strangely foreboding reading. I'll say why at bottom:

Thursday 17th Nov
Ground 70 fms
Hard squalls with rain
Ground 80 fms in 2 reef Main Top Sl

Squally as at 2am

Hard Squalls hail and Rain
AM Bent the Cables


Spoken a frigate told us the Lizard bore NW 9 Leg
Latt?. Obsv? 219''.27' N*
*These question marks appear in the original

They're not really sure where they are, They can't see a damned thing, and can't take readings. They're reefed in and have readied the anchors. It's blowing a great Atlantic storm, and they've just heard the Lizard is near.

The Lizard is a peninsula, and the Southernmost part of mainland Britain, and forms part of Cornwall. Both it and the Scilly Isles are responsible for nobody knows how many wrecks, but it's a lot. There are all kinds of stories of wrecking (sometimes deliberate) going on down there over the centuries (and it happens today as well), probably the most famous wreck and wrecking being that of this naval convoy in 1707 when about 1400 men died. Anyway, funny that the log just stops there, and turns up again at the British Library!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Heads Up

Te Rauparaha's Moko. By his own hand. Source: Te Ara New Zealand. (It would be interesting to know the reason why his tattooing was never completed in life)

In recent years there has been a concerted effort to repatriate the preserved heads of Maori to New Zealand. On top of earlier successes in Australia and Argentina, there has been a rush during 2007 and 2008 (eg see Rouen, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Chicago). Although the issue can at times be beaten up that this brutal trade was all the European's doing, you can see from these articles published in 1820 and 1831 that the trade was deplored by the governments (and at least some citizens), and outlawed when it could no longer be ignored or put down to the occasional aberration.

The first article here is from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 08 January 1820. The subject doesn't seem to come up again for ten years.

The NSW governor's order reproduced below (Source: Asiatic Journal. Calcutta. October 1831.) also made room to state that efforts will be taken to confiscate and return the remains to relatives. The guilty parties were individuals of both races.

This particular article and ban is in direct response to glut on the market brought about by events that began off Kapiti Island: A raid by the Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and others led by Te Rauparaha on the Ngai Tahu people. (Te Rauparaha was the composer of the famous Ka Mate haka and reputedly a regular punter at the Thistle Inn, which still stands, though a recent aggressive refurbishment, insisted on by the WCC, has resulted in a loss of atmosphere for me - though I can regretfully understand why it was needed).

Te Rauparaha was a raider during the late 1820s. He and supporters had been forced from their northern homeland in the Western Waikato region, and he became a significant warlord. In 1827-28 he raided Ngai Tahu land around the Banks Peninsula area and Kaiapoi. His forces were soundly defeated, and he pondered revenge from his stronghold at Kapiti. It didn't take long to organise. In 1830 he hired (or commandeered) a brig commanded by trader John Stewart, and took it to raid Ngai Tahu once more. He was more successful this time, and came back with hostages (among them the chief Te Maiharanui (or Tama-i-hara-nui) who was reputedly tortured by Ngati Toa women, killed and eaten back in Otaki). A fair amount of heads were taken to Sydney to trade. (This wasn't the only source of heads though: a good trade had been going on in the Bay of Islands, Hokianga, and the Thames district also before this).

Stewart got in a lot of trouble over this episode, and several Ngai Tahu travelled to Sydney to testify the case. In the end though, the court said it had no jurisdiction over crimes committed in foreign countries, so nothing came of it. Ngai Tahu of the Banks Peninsula regions wanted very little to do with British citizens after that, which is perhaps why there is such a French presence down that way.

A series of further raids conducted by Ngai Tahu and Ngati Toa against each other resulted in more of these nasty goods crowding the market, which, on top of the previous atrocities, led to the proclamation in Sydney banning the trade.

Ngai Tahu in the end got the upper hand in this war, and peace was made between the two tribes in 1839, and marriages arranged. Perhaps the obligations of utu got a bit too hard follow, perhaps the Treaty of Waitangi signings had something to do with it: Te Rauparaha and several Ngai Tahu chiefs ended up signing it in 1840 and the years immediately following. Mostly though, Te Rauparaha and his small confederation had no real hope of occupying lands taken, and Ngai Tahu had so much they didn't really need that little bit around Cook Strait that Ngati Toa held.

The Ngai Tahu accent pronounces "NG" as a "K" sound. The word "Kai" in Maori means "food". I can just imagine the chuckles on board the Ngati Toa waka taua as the warriors made jokes about the "Kai Tahu"!

There is a famous picture, taken in the 1890s (I think) of Horatio Gordon Robley with a collection of heads. Be warned: it's pretty gross, and distressing to relatives.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Continuing the lady convict theme

Source: Morning Post and Gazetteer. London. 21 December 1799.

If there was any piratical event crying out for dramatisation in fiction or film it's this one, the subject of this post. Accounts are vague and contradictory but the drama is there, and it's because accounts vary so much means that you can do it and the historians can't complain too much.
Anyway, in a nutshell, in August 1797 a mutiny occurs on board a convict ship (called variously The Lady Shore, Jane Shore, or Lady Jane Shore) bound for Port Jackson. The convicts are female. The marines on board (convicts themselves, who had exchanged prison or execution for army service), are Irish republicans and Frenchmen, and all join forces in the fracas.
Those not murdered and who don't want to participate are put into a longboat. The longboat makes it to Brazil. The Lady Shore is captured a few weeks later in port at Montevideo, where, according to John Black, a purser, all were held in the prison, except for the pretty ones among the convicts; they were held in private houses. (It appears that only newspapers and missionaries had anything to say about this appalling behaviour. I've found a rather annoying website providing what appears to be original text, but doesn't reveal sources or proper dates. Worth a look though)

Black's extended account can be found here. It takes a while to download, but definitely worth a read. Later Black, on a return trip to England fell in with a whaler with a letter of Marque and joined the crew. He becomes master of another ship the whaler takes as a prize, and goes catching whales in the South Seas.

William Minchin, another mutinee (if that's a word), ended up In New South Wales and had a successful, if checkered, career there.
Another, Semple Lisle, gave a lot of attention to it in his biography.

The account below comes from "The Annual Register, or a view of the history, politics, and literature for the year 1798". Second edition. London: 1806. p. 60:

The following is the account of the mutiny on board the Lady Jane Shore transport: The Lady Shore had on board, besides convicts, eight soldiers of the New South- Wales corps, amongst whom were German, French, and condemned criminals, reprieved on condition of serving, during life, at Botany-Bay. They arrived at Portsmouth while the mutiny on board the fleet was at its height. They formed a plan to seize the ship when she should get out to sea. Of this captain Wilcox was informed by major Semple. He complained to the transport-board of the danger of proceeding to sea with such men, while they had arms in their hands. The colonel of the regiment was sent to investigate the business; but he, perhaps, hesitating to give credit to Mr Semple, and, from the benevolence of his own heart, entertaining a better opinion of his men than it would seem they deserved, overruled captain Wilcox's desire. In this state they went to sea. — When four days sail from Rio de Janeiro, the mutineers rose, in the night, on the second mate, who was then on watch. He found resistance to so many armed men to be all in vain, and, of course, submitted to save to own life. They then entered the cabbin of the chief mate, and murdered him in the most savage manner, cutting his head off. They then proceeded, past Mr Black’s birth, to the round-house, where captain Wilcox was, and demanded admission, which he refused, and, on their farther persistance, fired a pistol at them through his door. They instantly broke the door in pieces, and murdered poor Wilcox in a manner too shocking to describe. They then returned to Mr Black's hammock, and, without the least warning, thrust their bayonets through it in several places, not the least doubting but he was in it. But, during the disturbance, be had quitted it, and concealed himself; which gave him an opportunity of begging his life, when their rage began to abate. This they granted, put him and ten others into the long boat, gave them a compass, and turned them adrift. They got safely to Rio de Janeiro, from whence Mr. Black took his passage in a foreign ship; but at sea fell in with a South Whaler, the captain of which (captain Wilkinson) received him on board. After this, captain Wilkinson took a Spanish vessel, value about 10,000 L. Mr Black was appointed prize-master, and carried her to the Cape. He has since sailed, with captain Williamson, to the coast of New Holland, to fish for whales.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Lady convicts, and anchovies cut a caper

Source: Sea Life Sixty Years Ago, by George Bayly. 1885.

Reading George Bayly should be compulsory. He's funny, humane, a great observer of people, and had some pretty amazing adventures. His book is short and easy to read for modern minds. It's not available online yet and seems only to have gone to one or two editions. If ever I make a website I'll scan the whole thing. I think the copy I have is a cheap American reprint from the early 1900s. I got it cheap. The ones on Abebooks are rather on the expensive side.

Over two chapters (this is the second of them) he describes his voyage on board the Almorah transporting female Irish convicts to Port Jackson. He records how they were berthed, how they lived, what they said. Because I can't upload all this to blogger, here is a little snapshot of what occured on the voyage from after they crossed the line until they arrived at Sydney in 1824. I've some other extracts from his book here.
The skipper of the Almorah got in a bit of trouble (Supreme Court Decsion 1 and Decision 2) in Sydney and that's how Bayly started his rather random wanderings over the Pacific.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Source: India Government Gazette. Supplement. 03 January 1828. p4.

This extract gives a good picture of conditions on board a convict ship. The author was responsible for the general health of the prisoners and seems to have taken the responsibility seriously. I suppose some were better than others.

An intersting article, as it goes into some depth as to the living conditions, food, clothing, and general care taken of convicts for the 6-odd month long voyage.

There is also a bit of interesting social information, as to the culture of the convicts and the language they used. This stuff later appeared in "A Residence of Eleven Years in New Holland and the Caroline Islands" by James F. O'Connell, 1835.

George Bayly, whose memoirs I've mentioned in previous posts, worked his first passage to the South Seas in a convict ship in 1824, transporting Irish women convicts to Port Jackson. It's interesting to compare the two sources. Bayly makes mention of most of what is stated here. I'll post that up next.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Good eating in Tasmania

Source: Edward Markham's Van Diemen's Land Journal. Edited by K. R. Von Stieglitz. 1953.

I was just going to put the bit in about the kangaroo steamer recipe but he's such a funny sort of writer. Have a look at the story about dinner at Government House as well. The original is in the Mitchell Library. Apparently it was thought to be a forgery but the experts of the 1950s seemed to think it passed muster. Markham did a tour of Australia and NZ in 1833-34. There is also a separate publication available of his New Zealand memoirs, edited and published in the 1960s, entitled "New Zealand or recollections of it". The originals of that are held at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Mostly he goes on about food, how foolish everyone is, and makes special mention of any young females he comes across on his travels, and whether or not he thinks they are worth a visit.