The View From Mount Clarence

A look back at settlement along Western Australia's South Coast

Black Anderson: A Story of the South Coast – Part 2a

A 2022/3 Revision of one of the South Coast’s most disreputable historical characters

Earliest Maritime Albany



Above: King George Sound has always held a majestic vista. Ship’s captains were able to glean fair impression of the places they were due to visit from the charts they worked, and King George Sound promised much, indeed tended to exceed expectation when those exalted features finally loomed large and real. Over the years 1830 to 1890, for many sailors aboard those ships the imagery was too good to pass up and they jumped.  Image: 1. Cropped section of 1837 map of Western Australia drawn by the Surveyor General, J.S. Roe. 2. Breaksea Island, Michaelmas Island and King George Sound. Source: 1. Discoveries in Western Australia at Trove 2. LocationsHub Website. Placed by Screenwest.




Parts 2a & 2b of this challenging post are dedicated to John Robertson and the publication of Sealed Souls, his insightful and highly informative compendium of narrative chapters and exhaustive supporting glossaries which tell the story of sealing along Australia’s southern coastline. Robertson’s work is the result of more than twenty years researching and compiling information relative to the people and boats engaged in the industry and how they came to impact our particular coast over twenty tumultuous years; 1820 to 1840. Among the many rogue characters described, Robertson contends the identity of Black Anderson comprises three aliases. The third, John William Anderson, bringing the life story of an anomalous Indian servant turned sailor to a murderous close. But there is another possibility, and it was while considering Robertson’s proposal it occurred to me, we only know so much about Anderson because that’s all there is. This post, built upon and inspired by the work of Robertson, is an attempt to show that John William ‘Black’ Anderson may have been James Anderson, long time assumed (but not yet proven) to be one of three men aboard the emigration ship ‘James Pattison’ which arrived at Albany during the month of June 1834. 


Note: This post assumes James Anderson, Robert Brianson and Isaac Winterbourne formed part of the crew aboard the James Pattison sailing of February 1834. No known official passenger or crew list pertaining to this voyage is in existence, the premise is based on the entries of all three men in the Erickson Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians which itself appears to have made the assumptions based on the men’s names appearing in the Spencer Albany Census of 1836 and surrounding documentation relating to the men and their involvement in events recorded at Albany between 1835 and 1837. In an attempt to show the men could have been aboard, this post necessarily takes an IF, THEN approach. IF Anderson was aboard the James Pattison in June 1834, THEN the following occurred.






In the mid-1830s Albany was mostly a ramshackle scatter of bell tents, other crude canvas shelters and under-construction huts and houses, strung about a scrubby shore that sometimes looked dismal and sometimes wonderful, bright and as rich in opportunity as any oceanic waterfront anywhere in the world. Especially to anyone looking for a brand-new start.

Charts of our South Coast may have had a habit of raising eyebrows, and initial impressions of King George Sound most often exceeded expectation, but to those aboard incoming ships notions of a lively town burgeoning somewhere amongst its many recesses were soon put to rest. Albany suggested more but was in reality an underpopulated, underserviced entity where hopeful settlers quickly found themselves querying the validity of the colonial promise they’d been sold. During the mid 1830’s it was very early days at Albany. There wasn’t even a landing to tie up at, you had to wade ashore through the weedy shallows, luggage and whatever else on your shoulders.

If the incomers were not monied or else in some way indentured to a patron of a group emigration vessel such as the James Pattison, or a family organised ship bound for a new settlement somewhere in the Antipodes, such as the Spencer’s ‘Buffalo and Governor Stirling’, King George Sound still held out its hand in welcome. Even under less than pleasant conditions its wildly looping configuration presented as a place of refuge to a brand of man born into harsh adventure. Men perhaps of greater pluckiness than mere land hungry speculators, they were nonetheless of much lower social standing. From the 1830s, some aboard those scheduled sailings were themselves scoundrels and scapegraces too, unsettled seamen desperate for their share of the New World dream.

At and around the Sound were a collection of islands large enough and watered enough to keep a couple of dozen small-boat mariners safe and fed for a while, given their own methods and devices. Eastwards along the coast were more islands, all the way to Cape Arid. The sealers ultimately needed a stronger economic structure to bind with, but there was enough for them to get by for months on end. At least for those served by the native women they’d clubbed and hauled into their whaleboats so that they may not grow as hungry, nor as cold at night. Over the summer of 1833/34 arrived what John Robertson called ‘the second wave’, a ballsy brigade of desperados fashioning from the mists of the Southern Ocean a remote and hard-crafted existence. Given the proximity of new Albany however, it did not have to be an altogether deprived one.

A grand name on a featureful map, King George Sound laid positive impressions upon almost all who came to gather there. It was a very small settlement, but its organisation was based upon systems of living derived from an intensely concentrated and developed social structure. One that relied upon the importation of wealth, labour and governance, that permitted its workforce high doses of alcohol, but which despised drunkenness, indolence and criminality. A society which barely knew how to include an indigenous race and really didn’t want to. At Albany during 1834 there were no more than two hundred white people at any one time. About 30 made up the itinerant mariner brigade, the rest comprising the organised settlers themselves. Divided into two camps, the settlers were made up of those with the means of commencing business and implementing government domination, and those less fortunate individuals reliant upon them for employment. As the elite could never do without security, they also brought a detachment of soldiers.

Knowing there was an economy in the making and therefore a market for skins, the waters around Albany drew its second wave from those seeking distance from the east. Given the value of their Aboriginal captives, the allure of anonymity in a small and remote place proved difficult to pass up. That Albany was part of the new ‘free’ Swan River Colony meant there were no convicts chained up in gaols and work parties, or on the run, and as a result no one employed to go looking for them.

When in June that year, the immigration ship James Pattison dropped sixty new settlers into the village, including at least three runaway sailors, suddenly there was a shortage of accommodation and a gross surplus of labour. There was a rush for housing, for shelter of any kind, and for work. The cheapest, least demanding category of emigrant found walls and a roof of some kind, while the others took up wherever they could. Though not paying wages, the small boat business offered subsistence and the promise of later profit. For on account of its infant status, the poor soil and lack of fresh water, countered by an abundance of headlands, hills, bays and beaches, Albany was a place of the sea and the sea demanded people who knew how to handle it.

Among both the investment and working classes the chatter was divided. Some had their hopes pinned on agriculture, what they knew and what they’d been promised, while others learned quickly there was another conversation at large. One about sealing and whaling, about fur skins, blubber and oil. For James Anderson, Robert Brianson and Isaac Winterbourne, three refractory sailors aboard the James Pattison, the lure of these pursuits was all they needed to jump ship, hide for a while, and then join the fray.

 Recap of Part 1


In Part 1 we took a macro look at Albany over the first hundred years and saw how its attention was divided between what was happening along the coast with regard to supply and transport, and how to attend to that down at the waterfront, versus what was needed to be done on-shore by way of building a community and some kind of supporting infrastructure so they could both attract and accommodate the expected boon in agricultural investment. Whaling and sealing were talked of and developed to a degree, but sealing suffered from devastated numbers and a repugnant reputation while the capital investment required for whaling was beyond the scope of virtually all settlers. At least initially.

We saw that there are two stories relating to Albany’s outlaw sealers and that they are distinct by way of time frame and actors. Between 1824 and 1827, a time of pre-history for the town of Albany, we have the story of Lockyer’s Pirates, and between 1834 and 1837, a period of relative rapid expansion, came the short violent story of Black Anderson and his demise.  The practice of sealing at Albany between 1831 and commencement of the Anderson period in 1834 was in place, albeit limited to just a handful of participants.

What we discovered by assessing the larger scale changes was that without a newspaper to record the everyday activities and thoughts of the community very little was remembered of those who did not carry government or settler positions of power. Those we have been able to build clear pictures of moved in official and organisational circles. Those we know very little about tended not to interact with the middle and professional classes, unless by way of business, so seldom were recorded. Working class persons tended to be described either as labourers, or else boatmen, sealers or mariners. Likewise, Aborigines of assistance were referred to as ‘natives’ and almost never identified by name, whereas with Aborigines of offence the opposite occurred.

Those who could write kept the records and spoke of themselves in official reports and appraisals, or else in letters to officials, family and friends, and therefore became the identifiable persons of the past. Those who couldn’t write weren’t given the courtesy of identification unless they were sought (usually for legal reasons), so very little came to be known of them unless some degree of notoriety was achieved. Because of this, we’re only now becoming familiar with the true number of settlers living at Albany during this time.

We learned through the letters of the writer William Nairn Clark (who took a still under-estimated interest in early Albany) that muttonbirding was common practice by 1842, telling us their salted carcasses could be bought for four pence each and that they made a delicious breakfast. Clark infers Albany was a place of the sea, alive with the activities of ships, sailors, small-boat mariners and their attendant Aboriginal women.

We learned that among the original N.S.W.’s convicts who arrived on the Amity late in December 1826 there were three men who gained their freedom ahead of the abandonment of the military camp just over four years later. One of these was the Irishman Thomas Noel/Noal, whose surname was corrupted to Newell. This man is closely associated with the confusion over the naming of Jimmy Newell’s Harbour. Pre-Transportation, he may have been a Lakeman about Connemara, but there is a strong tradition of open-sea sailing and rowing at Galway and greater chance he was one of them. King George Sound and its islands might have reminded him of Galway Bay and the Aaran Islands and become the reason why he chose not to return to Sydney. Tommy Noel/Noal/Newell was very likely an original mariner at Albany and therefore a participant in the sealing and muttonbirding game.


With regard to Black Anderson, we learned we have no more than two and half years of his life to work with. The rest is at best educated speculation. Nonetheless, Anderson generated so much interest we have reconstructed and presented he and his fellow boatmen in romantic form, as if we knew them across the entirety of their lives as characters of unforgiving rapacity and stalwart seamanship, but who surely must have been possessed of some redemptive qualities.

The burning quest for researchers over the last twenty years has been establishing the true identity of Black Anderson. Was he an African/American whaleman, sealer or sailor who arrived into Australian waters from the East Coast of America, as has been popularly touted? Or was he of Asian or Arab origin which merely described him as a man of colour?


Right: Sailors from the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Arab world and other lands east of the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) were known as Lascars and Lascars were described in the literature of the day as black. The first recorded European use of the word ‘Lascar’ predates the East India Company by at least a hundred years, and can be found in records of the employment of Asian seamen aboard Portuguese ships in the early 1500s. Image: Three Lascar sailors at work on an unknown ship. Source: Lascars, backbone of the empire, part of Nick Messenger’s ‘Old P&O’ website.


Inspired by the work of John Robertson and his outstanding narrative and glossaries which comprise the immediately invaluable compendium Sealed Souls, we wondered if more of Anderson was known, but that in those other adventures, also at sea between the islands and remote settlements across Australia’s southern seaboard, he went by other names. We wondered if, like Jimmy Newell’s Harbour, the man behind its name was not one man, but two or three. Men of dubious character held several aliases in those days. It was common.  If Anderson had a history in Australian waters prior to our knowledge commencing, then almost certainly it was under alternate names. Robertson backs this theory, citing Anderson as an amalgamation of three aliases. Certainly, one or more aliases amounts to very good reason why we have been able to make out so little of him. Unless, of course, there is no more to Anderson’s Australian story than we already have, in terms of time anyway. And that too is a distinct possibility.

In Part 1, through the historiography, we realised both Albany sealer stories were alive and well in 1842 when they made the Perth newspapers. Clark described Albany as a ‘great depot for sealers’ and included clear allusion to the memory of Lockyer’s Pirates. The description ‘great depot’ may represent an exaggeration of sorts, but there is no smoke without fire. The reputation had to come from somewhere. From 1831 Clark was a legal practitioner based in Fremantle. He represented various commercial entities across the colony, including property sales at Albany. He was aware of much of what was occurring at King George Sound from as early as 1833, culminating in his lengthy visits and written submissions between 1838 and 1842.

We saw the name James Anderson was recorded in the 1836 Albany census as part of a group of six English mariners listed consecutively, but that nothing at all is known of the other five. Along with Isaac Winterbourne and Robert Brianson, this is the same James Anderson who the records tell us was aboard the James Pattison. To date, Anderson, Winterbourne and Brianson have been thought of as passengers, but the likelihood is they were in fact crew. In light of that we asked, is this the Anderson we are looking for and did the other five form his final crew? Were they the men who after doing away with Anderson, fled the colony?

The great 1835 survival story of Two English Lads, working-class youths James Newell and James Manning, constitutes the beginning of the Anderson historiography by being the significant event which established their notoriety. Accounts of the story were first recorded by officials and then taken up by outside newspaper coverage.  In the accounts we learned of the terrible events at Boston Island (Port Lincoln, South Australia) and of Anderson’s apparent leadership role. W. N. Clark was known to be in Albany in 1838, just seven years after free settlement commenced, and seized upon that and other associated tales involving Anderson, Pavey/Williams/Andrews and Bob Gamble, presented to him in oral form by a sailor who had arrived aboard Thomas Symers’ ship, Caledonia, in 1835. Like Symers, Soloman Aspinall remained at Albany, joining the sealing brigade and introducing Symers to them. Court documents show that Symers engaged to some extent with Anderson by way of business. Aspinall later turned general mariner and coastal guide employed by Clark. On account of the impression left upon him by those mariners he encountered at Albany, Clark opted to promote what he’d heard through the newspapers. Why? Because he was a writer and the drama behind it was his best shot at finding a wide audience.

The important point being Clark’s capture of what was orally active at the time. No one else who could write was bothered with the tale. Only for him, Albany’s second sealing fraternity will have remained largely unknown. Clark’s writing was the tool of his own avarice, his own quest for attention and status, and his re-telling of Anderson’s story proved to be the bait future chroniclers took, thereby cementing its place in our history.

After Clark’s expose there was no retelling of Anderson’s antics until 1929 (87 years later) when the stories were retold through the newspapers again, this time by Sir Paul Hasluc. Afterwards, they lapsed a third time, though not altogether. At intervals throughout the 20th Century, publications concerned with our history perpetuated what had become the legend of Anderson and the dodgy nature of sealing gangs at large. But it wasn’t until 2002 when the novel Skins appeared, and real detail was attached to the story through genuine research, that resolve to determine the complete story began to build.

This is clear example of the still nebulous nature of aspects of local history at Albany and along the South Coast today, and of the increasing number of voices claiming to know it. We are only scratching the surface. New and newly-recovered stories have to be told and retold, have to be questioned closely and picked apart. Finer details have to be teased from the greater knowledge and expanded upon so that familiarity can be built. Because definitive evidence is so hard to find, these kinds of stories may never be fully accurate, but with each discussion, each critique and each genuine revision, we get closer.

At Albany we are engaged with recreating the way of the place way back then. From scant information gathered and discussed by fellow researchers over many decades, and from the massive benefit of archival digitisation, we are searching for people, for their personalities and accompanying behaviours. We are looking at their origins, their experiences, their movements and their ends, all the while building the fascinating picture of a limpid-like harbourside town as it was very close to two-hundred years ago.

Slavery and enslavement at the time the South Coast sealers were at large


Ahead of this deep dive we need to say a word about the ancient practise of slavery and how it was playing out in our quarter at that time. The sealers took captives and used them as slaves, continuing the age-old pursuit of human domination over others. The practise was seen by the sealers as a legitimate means of acquiring and employing the necessary tools for survival and by regular account the sealers were nothing less than brutal in going about it. The practise wasn’t new, by the 1830s Australian sealing was into its fourth decade and those involved well understood the value of a capable woman, not only one that knew how to draw on natural resources for survival but was prepared to partner with her new commander for the purposes of making smoother the lives of both. With decades of experience the sealers understood how human behaviour under such extreme circumstances can work. Some women were refractory in nature and fought fiercely against captivity, being stronger and much more difficult to wrestle under control this sometimes led to their deaths. Bob Gamble, for example, is reported to have killed two Palawa women on the islands immediately north of Tasmania prior to coming to Western Australia. We don’t know the reasoning behind why but it’s hard to imagine doing such a thing to a person prepared to do everything they could in order to survive. In West Australian waters, with Eliza Nowen, who we can assume had more of a survivalist than recalcitrant mentality, Gamble was able to engage in a long lasting and apparently agreeable relationship which delivered seven children into our early community, the descendants of whom are only now beginning to understand the depth of their origins.

The taking of such women, as we saw through the Anderson led abductions at Boston Island during November 1834, was as raw as it gets. Through that particular occurrence we are exposed to the savagery of bringing coastal Aboriginal women into captivity. The kind of mindset required was extreme. Life as a sailor/seaman during those times was extremely difficult and we know there were many attacks by various indigenous islanders across the South Seas, upon them. So much so, there was a level of preparedness and acceptance that went with the territory, so to speak. That preparedness bares out the lengths the sealers would go to in order to bring skills, labour and sexual benefit into their own survival equation. The point being human subjugation has always been around and operated on different levels. In the case of the sealers, we are talking about base or abject application.

Turning to application on another level, it is important to note that many of the moneyed settlers in Western Australia were born into or related to families who had profited from variations of the same thing. Comfortably cushioned from the cold reality as they were by financing or trading rather than the physical process of capture and application to task. These families had participated in the so-called  Atlantic triangular trade between Britain, West Africa and the Americas during the 1700s. We learned much earlier that Patrick Taylor Esq, one of Albany’s best known historical characters, was the wealthy product of a wider family made rich by the Carribean Slave Trade. Ironically, the Slavery Abolition Act came to be passed in 1833, the same year Patrick decided to emigrate aboard the James Pattison, a ship under the management of F & C.E. Mangles, sons of James Mangles MP, whose own shipping business was involved in the Jamaican trade at the same time Taylor’s father was active; the 1790s.

The subject of slavery and its abolition was rife at the time but had been the subject of intense deliberation among the persuasive powers in England for something like fifty years. The timing of the act coincides neatly with our examination of this history, but the reality is British Society well knew how wrong it was and over decades had been taking steps to reduce the cruelty, or at least to lessen the look of it. Nonetheless, free enterprise had made fortunes through the supply and management of labour and wasn’t about to lie down and let go either. Ownership and the trading of slaves may have become frowned upon and ultimately outlawed, but demand for cheap labour still remained high. Particularly in the colonies. Given the shift, terms of employment or indentureship, though still highly exploitative by today’s standards, were considered liberal by 1833 as we will see through the story of Sir Richard Spencer and his arrival at Albany. Even Transportation, the business of shipping convicts to the colonies, had been tempered by the standardisation of seven-year sentences and introduction of tickets-of-leave as early as two or three years into an individual’s term. Though those belonging to the so-called under-classes, especially convicts, remained despised, they did have rights and these rights tended to be observed by the magistrates and clergy of the era.

The James Pattison is perhaps the most influential vessel ever to arrive at Albany and it may be that our Anderson was aboard. Over its career under Mangles management the ship transported convicts, single women, and children, all deposited on Australian shores as sources of free or indentured labour, in between East India Company trading voyages between London, Madras and Calcutta. Mangles & Co also imported consumables such as wine, spirits, spices and coffee, as well as china, silverware and glass, means by which those who took in their human cargo could enjoy luxuries more commonly consumed back in Mother Britain. (See Captain Charles Edward Mangles (1798-1873): Southampton MP that was not to be, held at the Southampton Local History Centre)

Indeed, references to Mangles & Co, run by the brothers of James Stirling’s wife, Ellen, appeared in various letters written by Richard Spencer when seeking to import goods from England during 1836 and 1837. Spencer is forthright in his wishes that the goods he ordered be cargoed aboard ‘one of the Mangles ships‘, which, in light of later criticism, seems to suggest there may have been some sort of cabal in operation among the elite settler group, which at that time remained a small but highly influential clique made up  (primarily) of Stirling, Roe, Habgood, Moore and Leake. Indeed, this group were accused by none other than William Nairn Clark, while editor at large of the Swan River Guardian in November, 1836, of seeking to monopolise the London/Swan River sea lanes.  The closer we look at the Stirling/Mangles relationship the more we see motivation for founding the colony through the business activities of this family and the clearer our understanding becomes of the long-pressed notion that the Swan River Colony was primarily established as a family business idea.

W. N. Clark’s dissident views did him no good in Western Australia. He was vocally anti-establishment and pro-Aboriginal, and probably someone Albany should lay greater claim to. It’s a shame he didn’t live at Albany for any time greater than a few months as then we could, but his business was law and newspapers, and Albany’s economy simply wasn’t large enough to support him. As we know, it was 1883 before anyone got up the courage to invest in an Albany newspaper, so Clark was in the region of fifty years ahead of his time with regard to that. Still, his work in exposing Albany, and what was happening at Albany, through his letters reveals a concern, if not passion, for the harbourside settlement held at bay by the business and political interests so heavily invested at Perth.

In any case, there is academic interest in the transition of British slavery out of the West Indies into the newer colonies, such as Western Australia, at the moment. (See, Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery) While the study is concerned with translocation, or direct movement of active individuals (their capital, goods and practises) it cannot be disassociated from the complimentary business of transport, as of course someone had to do that too. As legislation sought to leave behind the glaringly conspicuous trade of West African people into colonial plantations, the more disguised practise of Transportation took up the slack. Prison services, vagrancy elimination programs and, as in the case of the Irish, patriation schemes directed at single mothers and just plain poor young women despised by their own Church, all availed of the concept.

The James Pattison, which brought Sir James Stirling and his wife Ellen Mangles back to Western Australia after their vital administrative and public relations mission to Britain between 1832 and 1834, also brought 29 under-privileged children. The children’s passage was paid for by the Children’s Friend Society, (subject of Geoff Blackburn‘s first book, published in 1993, and still the only publication to include a substantive Pattison passenger list), one of whose founding members was none other than Ellen Mangles’ father, James. Upon arrival at the colony the young teenagers were distributed into the settler community as indentured apprentices. In many cases over-worked and poorly cared for, but at least only for a term of about three years. At Albany, Patrick Taylor, in exchange for the boy’s subsistence, acquired the labour of 15-year-old Joseph Warner. Two years later, Sir Richard himself wrote to the Society asking for three more boys and a girl to be sent to join his own individual household.


The Albany of Anderson’s time


Above: Over the summer of 1831/2, Ensign Robert Dale drew his much publicised Panoramic View of King George’s Sound’ in which he depicts the settlement at Albany as no more than a handful of houses located marginally to the west of what is now the main street. From it we can derive a clear idea of how small the village of Albany was, how it amounted to no more than a dozen buildings fronting an important garden, and how few people we are talking about. Image: Doctored cut from Dale’s Panorama. Source: This panel from Potter Museum of Art website.



In order to be clear about what was happening at Albany and along the coast during Anderson’s sway we need to know what developments took place once free settlement came into play in 1831.

We already know the Albany Aborigines and relations with them were the pre-occupation of the convict depot era (1826-1831) as much as it was of the initial post-convict era, that of the first Resident Magistrate at Albany, Alexander Collie (1831-1833). This says much about the nature of the town’s occupants, of whom there were more than we previously thought, but all the same still weren’t many. Because of this, arguably we know more about the Albany Aborigines of this time than we do of any other. For that contribution we can largely thank Drs Nind and Collie, and in between Captain Collet Barker.

To provide context, in this post we will reflect on the activities of the Albany Aborigines during the critical 1831-1834 period in relation to what was occurring both in Tasmania and at the Swan River. For an intimate examination of what was happening at Albany with specific regard to Aboriginal relations during this most formative time read the four-part series, Mokare’s Mob.


Sealers and muttonbirding at infant Albany


First, the immediate fate of Thomas Noel/Noal/Newell, one of the three N.S.W. convicts whose sentences had expired prior to the garrison packing up, is becoming clearer. Last week at the State Records Office reading room at the Battye Library, I found a document from none other than J.S. Roe of the Surveyor’s Office, advising Dr Collie that the Governor recognized Thomas Noal (the third spelling of his name: 1. Noel; 2. Newell; 3. Noal) as a legitimate member of the community and sanctioned his application for both a town lot and four acres in the suburbs. An application made by Collie sometime between April 1831, when Captain Barker and Lieutenant Carew permitted him to stay behind, and October 1832, when Roe confirmed the Governor’s agreement. This confirms Noel/Noal’s status as an original Albany resident though what became of him remains a mystery.

For full detail on the nomenclature debate read the three-part series Jimmy’s Harbour, Newell or Newhill?

Above: J.S. Roe’s letter to the then Government Resident at Albany, Alexander Collie, confirming the Governor’s acceptance of an application Collie made for a town allotment and four suburban acres on behalf of the N.S.W. convict expiree Thomas Noel/Newell/Noal. Image: Photograph of Roe’s actual letter, dated 4th October, 1832. Source: SRO S2528/01-04


Noel/Noal/Newell was a boatman from the West of Ireland who likely fashioned a similar livelihood at Albany from March 1831 when he was emancipated. However, because the ilk of the sealers was not important to Dr Collie, the three men who facilitated him on a sealing and muttonbirding excursion to Coffin Island in June 1831, were not named.

Despite Collie remarking they procured an abundance of muttonbirds, the reputation Coffin Island carried for being home to a seal colony disappointed. Winter being the season for whaling, summer for sealing, that is not surprising.

Spring and summer also comprise the nesting season for muttonbirds, while in autumn the last of the fledglings take to the air and migrate back to the far north Pacific. It was early winter when Collie got to Coffin Island, so beyond the end of the nesting season. Unless the Albany birds were far and away the last of their species to hatch, the vast majority will have taken to the air months earlier. Which begs the question, did Collie simply add that part, after hearing of it, rather than actually experience the muttonbirding himself?   (See June 4th, Collie to Coffin Island & Mt. Gardener – part of Project Gutenberg Explorers Journals).

In any case, the practice of harvesting young muttonbirds (short-tailed shearwaters) from their burrows and using them as stored food supply was brought to Albany from Bass Strait by the sealers who had learned the practice from the Palawa Aborigines. That the three sealers Collie hitched a ride to Coffin Island with took around 500 birds over three days (so he says) suggests it was a planned and profitable haul, confirming muttonbirding was an established practice at embryonic Albany.

Snatching the baby birds from their burrows, breaking their necks, boiling, plucking, butchering and then salting their carcasses was one means of survival for those whose immediate economy was governed by the sea. King George Sound had been visited by roaming sealing gangs from Bass Strait from at least 1824 and we know Lockyer’s Pirates were about the place during the first few months of the convict depot (from Dec 1826). Thus, it was probably during this time when the practice gained traction.

The nagging question is whether Dr Collie’s three sealers were recently from the Bass Strait themselves? Or had they been there some time? Were they part of a larger gang, or had at least one of them (Tommy Noel/Noal perchance) learned how to go about muttonbirding from other visiting sealers over the last four years while living at King George Sound as a prisoner? The old Albany historian Robert Stephens’s confused legend of the ex-Amity convict he mistakenly called Jimmy Newell, ‘a sealer and muttonbirder about Albany’, had to come from somewhere. Albany’s Muttonbird Island Beach, visited by W.N. Clarke in 1838, is at Torbay. It is accessible from the town, by boat, only by rounding Bald Head and making past Jimmy Newell’s Harbour.

We know, much to the relief of the garrison, the sealers who comprised Lockyer’s Pirates returned to N.S.W. and/or Tasmania during 1827, and the business of essential boating at King George Sound over the following four to five years became the responsibility of the soldiers and convicts stationed there. When the convicts and supporting soldiers of the 39th Regiment departed in March, 1831, they were replaced by a 17 strong contingent of the 63rd Regiment led by Lieutenant Carew. We don’t know much about the 63rd’s boating activity, or skills, other than the boatshed was located on the front lawn of where the Residency building is located now and that the boat they inherited was so rotten as to be unusable. This meant there was no government boat suitable for piloting and customs operations which forced the government into allowing private citizens to take up the appointment. The archives reveal various letters between Collie and the Colonial Secretary detailing the condition of the boat and the need to allow a private contractor, Alexander Robinson (Erickson Pg. 2647), to take up the work.

Because it was the sealers boat Collie chose to go out to Coffin Island in, it provides clear evidence Albany was occupied by free-sealers at that time. Collie’s intention was to get a fix on the area of Two People’s Bay, perhaps as far as Waychinicup and Bald Island, for the purpose of familiarising himself with surrounding boat havens and places of potential exploitation already identified by foreign commercial enterprises. From his remarks it is evident Collie had been briefed on that eastward coast by the three sealers he accompanied. That Collie took advantage of the opportunity to visit Coffin Island reflects the perceived value of sealing and muttonbirding then. That Collie referred to his hosts as sealers, rather than boatmen or mariners, reflects the primary means of their subsistence.

On June 4th. I took advantage of a boat going to Coffin Island to look for seals, mutton birds (sooty petrel, procellaria fuliginosa), to obtain a conveyance thither. It is an elliptical and rather low rocky island east of Mount Gardener; about a quarter of a mile in its longest diameter, and about five hundred yards from the mainland. . . The surface, a few yards removed from the cliffs, is composed of a thin covering of light loam and mould . . .  affording a warren for sooty petrel, penguin, lizards, &c., which have riddled the ground with their holes. That seals have come up and been killed in considerable numbers at one time, is confirmed, in addition to oral information, by the skeletons which still remain; The sealers were therefore so far disappointed, but the profusion of petrel amply compensated, as upwards of five hundred of these birds were caught by three persons in less than three days.

From an  account of various excursions in the region of King George’s Sound, between April, and June, 1831, by Alexander Collie, Surgeon.


Incoming & outgoing personnel, and physical change


Sealer’s aside, transition from military establishment to free settlement from the autumn of 1831 was slow and trying. It may have been a progressive period by way of overland exploration from and towards Perth, and by way of continuing positive cross-cultural relations, but inroads were minimal. Exploration provided energy for the future but all the future amounted to at that time was hope. And as far as the Swan River was concerned, hope was badly needed. Emerging senses of status and growth were palpable at Albany as economic and social conditions at Perth continued to sour. Via the newspapers, this optimistic atmosphere led to the growing impression, particularly in Tasmania, that King George Sound was to be the future lead settlement out West. Talk of sealing and fishing for whales, along with a road to the Swan River and agricultural exploitation along it (through Thomas Bannister‘s park-like fields in the region of Kojonup) were enough to invite interest and, albeit in dribs and drabs, investment did come.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Nothing had been built to last by the soldiers and over their five years at the Frederickstown barracks next to no groundwork had been carried out. Even at the all-important second garden, what was called The Farm, no buildings of longevity were constructed. Though there was a town plan set out on paper and perhaps (by 1832) even pegged out down at the waterfront by Raphael Clint, there was no discernable lay out. Paths and tracks simply wound from the military buildings toward the shore, toward Mount Clarence, or else west along the harbour or north around Mount Melville, or towards Middleton Bay. Paths the Aborigines had worn and the settlers now followed. Everything came and went via the shallows at the harbour’s edge, either directly in front of the flagpole, or else near to where a fresh-water spring came trickling out of the foot of Mount Clarence at the other end of Hanover Bay, a thousand yards closer to the harbour’s entrance.

Apart from the vegetable gardens set to the west of the garrison buildings (which Cheyne paid for the right to occupy for 12 months from May 1832), neither sustenance nor structural development gained momentum over the entire convict era, and little occurred again during Collie’s unremarkable tenure, save the emergence of a soldier-built cart track running sixteen miles toward Mount Barker. This highlighted the hope of connection with the Swan River, but also what must have become the almost inconceivable task of seeing it through. There was also a new wattle and daub style building put up at The Farm. First settler John Morley and his wife lived at Strawberry Hill Farm during Collie’s era, while Collie lived at the Parade Street buildings, dilapidated as they already were, and it was there where Mokare died on 9th August 1831, approximately 30 years of age.


Above: Mokare’s death at the military buildings in 1831 occurred four and a half years after the Amity first sailed in. During that time the soldiers built basic accommodation for themselves but without a town plan, and no incentive to do so anyway, put little work into developing the site for free settlement. As result, from March 1831, when free settlers slowly started arriving, Albany became a scatter of rudimentary constructions set over scrubby ground sloping down to the water’s edge. Image: An 1834 sketch of Albany from around the locality of Cheyne’s cottage at Spencer Street, looking west back toward the military buildings at Parade Street. Artist unknown. Source: This copy from Donald Garden’s Albany, A Panorama of the Sound.


It was the September 1833 arrival of Sir Richard Spencer, the three ships which conveyed his investments and retinue, along with the colossal importance of the immigration vessel, James Pattison, on June 19th the following year, which changed the dynamic.

Only a handful of settlers had been attracted during Collie’s twenty-month tenure, which made his time at the village essentially vapid. While Collie was there the tracks perhaps hardened, maybe widened to a degree, and three or four buildings were put up. That was all. The Farm buildings two miles away on Middleton Road were added to and improved by the soldiers at the behest of the Governor, as was the so-called Perth Road, but Collie himself was so bored and so conscious of his health he begged to leave. Finally allowed upon a sailing back to Perth in November 1832, he left Lieutenant McLeod of the 63rd in charge until Spencer took over on October 1st, 1833. Thus, Lieutenant McLeod became responsible for settler security and Aboriginal relations for ten full months, a period of perfect harmony as far as the Menang were concerned but during which the settlement neglected to anticipate new arrivals by failing to increase the availability of home-grown food. Cheyne had bought the summer produce of 1831/2, presumably for sale to residents and incoming ships, but appears to have failed dismally with regard to replanting despite running the four male servants he had indentured to him into the ground. It may have been the domesticated animals which destroyed what had been planted.

When Spencer did arrive and the population did double (from about 30 to about 60), the place was still grossly reliant upon imported produce, quite the opposite to what provision seeking ships expected when they pulled in. Neither Lieutenant McLeod nor the three small settler families, especially Cheyne’s, who had been in place more than two years, were popular with Sir Richard when he arrived and found the cupboards bare.

None of the 1831 settlers came to Albany directly, they were positioned there after turning up at the Swan River in expectation of the promised riches at that place. John Morley & wife (with their Indian born servant boy William Field (Erickson Pg. 1043) and Digory Geake & wife came down with Collie from Fremantle, probably with the pilot Robinson and his family. The trip to Albany was aboard the Colony’s supporting military ship, HMS Sulphur, upon which Dr Collie had served as Surgeon on the voyage out from England.

Geake was a tooled Millwright (a kind of mechanic for grinding machines) and a carpenter. The couple had a daughter, Jane, who stayed behind in Fremantle (a sad story, as is that of her parents too). By reckoning, Geake set about building the original Albany Hotel (Commercial Tavern) on the east side of where the old gaol is now, while Morley was an ex East India Company man, almost certainly known to Stirling and the Mangles family. Morley had means enough to be interested in government positions and small property ownership. He still had property in Bengal and eventually returned to sell. Raphael Clint, the engraver/surveyor sent by J. S. Roe’s department, also arrived on the Sulphur. As did two labourers, Alex Rowe (Sulphur log) and (probably) William Waddell/Wardel (see Erickson online pg 3172), likely employed by the government or else indentured to either Geake or Morley.

In May, Richard and Mary Ann Earl arrived. It’s not clear how, except to say they were part of the failed Peel emigration scheme. Late in May they wrote to Collie from Albany appealing for Lot 9. The couple feature later in the Anderson story after Robert Gamble assaulted Mrs Earl at the Ship Inn during November 1836, just a month or so before Anderson’s murder in which Gamble was implicated.

In September, two men by the names of John Frederickson and Harry Ham applied to Collie, also from Albany, for lot 4 on which they wanted to build, saying ‘they could have a good house on it for we intend to remain in this place’.

Thirty-five-year-old George Cheyne and his wife came a little later in the year, bringing with them their adopted daughter Emily Trimmer, along with who looks to have been her nanny, 25-year-old Petronella (Nelly) Stromberg (Erickson Pg. 2973) from Sweden. Cheyne was a ruthless taskmaster, a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Late in 1829, he chartered the Sterling with 30-year-old Marshall McDermott (Erickson Pg. 1956) and brought it to the Swan River out of Portsmouth, but not before sending the ship up to Sweden to collect at least two prefabricated houses, along with the labour necessary to construct them. (Stirling’s original house at the Swan River, Woodbridge, was also a Swedish flat pack.)

Cheyne left Perth for Albany a few months after arriving at the Swan River (around mid-year) bringing down four indentured labourers. These were Bjorn Anderson (Erickson Pg.39), Arthur Sandstrom (Erickson Pg. 2729), Andrew Nordbury (Erickson Pg. 2328), who appears on Spencer’s 1836 census, and P Nilson (Erickson Pg. 2323). Apart from Nordbury and Nelly Stromberg, the others, after attempting to sue Cheyne for excessive demands upon their time, left in September 1832 seeking to walk back to Perth following westward along the coast, but perished in the process. (PG&WAJ 19.10.1833). Such were the options and risks facing the working class at Albany back then.

Now, as a partial aside, Petronella Stromberg married James Annice in 1839 (Erickson Pg. 57). Annice looks to have come to Albany from Tasmania, possibly aboard the Caledonia, Thomas Symer’s barque, which also brought Soloman Aspinall.  Symers was a Scot, also an ex East India Company man, and not unlike Cheyne by way of character. Sadly, Petronella died in childbirth at Albany during 1841. She was 35 years old. Albany Library’s vertical files suggest Annice explored the coast looking for land opportunities, which he very likely did with Symers, who spent the second half of 1835 at Albany investigating the coast and putting a team of sealers together, led in fact by John Anderson (which we will address in greater detail in due course). It may have been in conjunction with Symers and Annice that Cheyne noted the viability of Cape Riche as he imposed himself there very soon after, but not before fighting off Albany based Colonial Surveyor Henry Ommaney (Clint’s replacement) for the holding.

Close coastal inspection between Albany and Doubtful Island Bay occurred during the latter months of 1835.

Annice soon re-married, taking up with the daughter of one of Albany’s early policemen, Irishman Lawrence Mooney, who was once part of the 21st Regiment. Such were the vicissitudes of life in Albany back then, after losing his first wife and child on birth one, Annice and Ann Mooney went on without interruption to deliver and raise twelve.

There is some suggestion George & Grizel Cheyne originally made their way to Albany from Perth aboard the Colonial Schooner Ellen late in 1831 with the Stirling family. This may have been the case but the six others in their group will have been aboard the Sulphur’s second sailing to Albany that year.

In December 1831, 18-year-old John Henty came with his older brother Stephen, two passengers and small crew, aboard their newly acquired boat, Thistle, which was bound for Launceston. John and at least one co-worker were put to work as caretakers of a 300-acre property and its livestock at Lower King (Point Henty) acquired by another brother, Edward. They stayed about a year, during which time John had to seek credit from the government stores in order to feed himself and his servants while waiting for funds to arrive from Tasmania. The four Henty brothers, James, Edward, Stephen and John, were the most active inter-colonial settlers along Australia’s southern coastline during the 1830s and were instrumental in that coastal inspection as far as Doubtful Island Bay in 1835.

Approaching the end of 1831 Albany’s population amounted to a total of 17 settlers/officials, at least 10 transient labourers, and three sealers, bringing the tally significantly above the dubious number of fourteen Richard Spencer said he found when he stepped off the Buffalo in September 1833, some twenty months later.


Settlers & servants known to be at Albany in 1831/32


  • Dr Alexander Collie – Govt Resident
  • Raphael Clint – Assistant Surveyor
  • Alexander Robinson – Pilot (with wife Ann and daughter Margaret -3 yrs- and infant son Alex)
  • Richard and Mary Ann Earl – Ex Peel settlers – No children or servants
  • John & Catherine Morley – Settlers – with servant boy William Field (possibly also Indian servants Chan and Moosan)
  • John Faulkner – Employed by Morley – Applied for allotment – March 1832
  • Digory & Elizabeth Geake – Settlers
  • John Frederickson and Harry Ham – Settlers – Applied for allotment Sept 1831 – Otherwise unknown.
  • George & Grizel Cheyne and adopted daughter Emily Trimmer – Settlers
  • Petronella Stromberg – Governess to Emily Trimmer
  • Bjorn Anderson, Arthur Sandstrom, Andrew Nordbury & P. Nilson – Indentured labourers to George Cheyne
  • John Henty – Temporary Settler, plus at least one servant/labourer.
  • Alexander Rowe – Labourer
  • James Wardell – Labourer
  • Thomas Noel/Noal/Newell – ex NSW convict – Boatman
  • Unknown sealers x 2 – potentially William Thacker & (the other) Matthew/Michael Gill – ex NSW convicts


Albany as saviour to the colony – 1831/32


Above: Ensign Robert Dale‘s famous Panoramic View of King George’s Sound, sketched over the summer of 1831/2 while at Albany and filled out over the following two years, helped market the settlement as saviour to the failing Swan River Colony. Image: Southerly panel of Dale’s epic panorama, looking from Mount Clarence out over Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound to Vancouver Peninsula and Bald Head. Source:


As we have discussed previously, James Stirling based himself at Albany for the summer that year, along with his expecting wife, two children and entourage who came by the Ellen. From their first experience, the Stirling’s had found the Perth summer intolerably hot and long, and Albany seemed a more than decent antidote to that. Others aboard Ellen were the Colonial Surveyor J.S. Roe, his attendant assistant Henry Ommanney, and Ensign Dale of the 63rd. Colonel Hanson, a holidaying East India Company family friend, lately out of Madras, was also aboard. Hanson had arrived at the colony on HMS Sulphur from that port as that is where Sulphur had just returned from. Stirling almost certainly conjuring that sailing expressly to bring Hanson down, such were the Mangles family connections with both The Navy and East India Company. This once again bears out the notion the Swan River Colony was a Mangles family business venture. Indeed, HMS Sulphur was mastered by Lieutenant William Preston, who married Hamilla Mangles, sister to James Stirling’s wife, Ellen.  At the time, Ellen’s cousin, the naval officer and botanist, James Mangles, was also in the colony. Georgiana Kennedy Molloy, famous South Coast botanist and wife of Captain John Molloy, Resident Magistrate at Augusta from 1830, corresponded with and forwarded to James Mangles two valuable collections of native plants and seeds between 1837 and 1842. These collections form part of the invaluable Kew Gardens repository.

Incidentally, Georgiana Molloy’s life and works are now the subject of two books by the British/West Australian writer Bernice Barry.)

The Swan River Colony was not a folly as Stirling dedicated himself wholly to it, but without the Mangles family wealth, enterprise and connections it was an endeavour the Governor would probably not have been able to pull off. Colonel Hanson stayed with the Stirlings at Guildford before they all left together to go south for the summer. Hanson found the Albany settlement situated ideally, but very poorly built. (Those soldiers and convict quarters really were in poor condition.)

As far as Albany’s population was concerned, these three vessels (Sulphur, Ellen and Thistle), their passengers and supporting staff substituted 1830’s returned convicts with 1831’s free settlement protagonists. From this summer, Albany became the darling of the colony and plans for a grand settler idyl were set in place.

Stirling’s pressing of Morley, Geake and Cheyne into the formation of Albany was strategic. The economic premise for his South Coast vision, allied to the mild climate, was genteel living; more specifically, convalescence for the ailing British based in India. An idea promulgated by his father-in-law’s extensive business interests. Secondary to that came the provision of timber, shipyards and dockside services, sealing and whaling. All this and more, including the quest for quality farmland, comprised the governor’s summer agenda. See “James Stirling’s Vision of the South Coast” in Mokare’s Mob Part 4b for extended coverage.

In the face of impending doom at Perth, the Albany soiree was a productive and energising exercise. Stirling prepared a successful marketing plan for his upcoming return visit to Britain where he was to be knighted and where he was to seek additional financial support, from government as much as existing business interests, and to attempt to recruit more. All of which he achieved. On his list of potential recruits was Sir Richard Spencer, who he sought to install in an official capacity. If Albany was to succeed it had to attract big money settlers. The likes of Morley and Geake were welcome, and while Cheyne had a bit about him, Spencer could really change things. And once he was in place would likely make Albany more attractive to others of matching assets and capital. That was the trick, recruiting old money to the new economy.  The difficulty with Spencer, as it turned out, was his attitude and his health.

By February 1832 both the Stirling and Henty parties had left, Roe and various others remaining for a spell to complete their work. The village, including its 17 soldiers, still amounting to around 50 persons all up. Stephen Henty’s boat, Thistle, was to return again and again over the following years, bringing with it in late 1833, probably from the region of Port Lincoln, a couple of sealing gangs which likely contained elements of what became the Anderson gang.

The arrival of these gangs represents the starting point of our knowledge of Black Anderson. Or at least, it coincides with it. Gamble, Pavey/Williams/Andrews, John Morgan-Hughs and a number of others also start to come into focus at this time. Bearing in mind the Hentys were in the process of giving up their Western Australian grants and relocating to Launceston, whereupon they found all the best land also gone and with that a cultural war of low and ghastly proportions. In the end they decided to move on from there too, this time across the Bass Strait to the south-western reaches of what was to become the state of Victoria and an otherwise unsettled whaling locality known as Portland Bay.

The Henty family quickly built contacts and degrees of familiarity along Australia’s southern coastline, knowledge attractive to the Bass Strait and Spencer Gulf whalers and sealers. Especially if they were looking westward for somewhere to go. Tasmania, as it failed to impress the Henty family enough to want to stay, also lost its appeal to the likes of the sealers whose abducted Palawa women were being actively sought by the Van Diemen’s Land Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, for repatriation to Flinders Island. On the whole, a new settlement at the far end of the colony where an abundance of unpatrolled islands also existed, held appeal. Especially as it was part of a convict-free colony where the number of soldiers and settlers was minimal.

During and after Governor Stirling’s 1831/32 summer holiday think-tank, Roe and his surveyors agreed upon the future layout of the greater town, setting land aside at various locations north and south of Princess Royal Harbour, including a place named Wyndham on the Kalgan River. Subsequently, Colonel Hanson prepared his famous pamphlet and on receipt of a handsome land grant in the region of Miramar Hill, sold the idea to his fellow officers and East India Company men back in their strongholds of Madras and Calcutta. The consequences of this ambitious promotion are tragic.

Hanson’s pamphlet worked a treat and quite quickly, especially for those days. The suggestion being that Hanson already had some kind of plan up his sleeve when first setting out for W.A. Indeed, Sir John Waters Kirwan, in a newspaper article detailing Sir James Stirling’s Family History published by The West Australian in June 1936, openly admits Mangles family interests at Calcutta were desirous of establishing a retirement village for aging East India men and their families somewhere at the Swan River. In any case, by October 1833, less than 18 months after Hanson returned to India, he had a ship full of people and goods and equipment packed and ready to sail to Albany for the purposes of establishing a settlement at the above-mentioned Wyndham site. This ship was the MV Mercury which, under Captain C. Cowles, looks like it left Madras for Calcutta then literally sailed out of the Hooghly River into the Northern Indian Ocean and disappeared. The indications are they got as far as the West Australian coast and hit rocks close to shore. There were 80 people aboard, 70 of them said to be ‘natives of India destined to provide cheap labour’. A number of ships were sent to search between Geraldton and a little north of Shark Bay (Dirk Hartog Island), from where talk of a wreck had emerged, but nothing definitive was ever discovered. The privately funded Wyndham venture collapsed as a result and Albany sat forever unaltered in the wake of it.

What if it had succeeded?

Colonel Hanson never returned to Albany and his land grant was eventually resumed. Fate had dealt the Mangles family interests a nasty blow.

Left: Wyndham, a tragically unrealised townsite designation adjacent to today’s Upper Kalgan Bridge, represents the failure of bold ambition and good fortune at old Albany. Image: Cut from the map Discoveries in Western Australia: from documents furnished to the Colonial Office by J.S Roe, Esqre, Surveyor General, published in London by John Arrowsmith on May 31st, 1833. Source: Trove, the National Library of Australia

That event aside, the mood at King George Sound, so limited in scope as it was during 1832, remained bouyant. Good feeling had spread, and reports began to circulate in the national newspapers that, due to the problems at Perth, the South Coast settlement was likely to take lead role in the future of the colony. This may have been pure dreamscape in the eyes of the Swan River elite, given there was virtually zero physical investment in Albany to date, but concern was genuine as they knew Stirling had no option but to promote King George Sound in the face of overwhelming negativity issuing from their domain. This promotion took place via word of mouth and thru the colonial press, inviting interest from the eastern colonies. Expecting a great deal to occur Geake built his hotel, Morley built Patrick Taylor’s Cottage, and Cheyne bought up town and country lots off-plan like they were genuine hotcakes, building his own cottage off what is now Spencer Street. The three of them all buying in to the lower Kalgan lots (adjacent to Wyndham), which somehow acquired the name Candyup. Cheyne also bought a license and went into the retail business selling liquor to whoever it was that came ashore.

When you look at Albany this way, from this far forward in time, it’s almost comical to think a settlement of that size and description could carry the hopes and ambitions of the entire colony. Yet this is exactly what happened. And not just the hopes of the West, but those of Tasmanian and N.S.W.’s businessmen interested in exploiting new opportunities. Between Dale’s Panorama, Hanson’s pamphlet and the burgeoning reputation of positive Aboriginal relations at Albany, along with Stirling’s ability to convey faith in all matters relating to future economic development, he was able to sail to London that year (1832) and manufacture enough momentum to keep the show afloat.  Even while he was away the colony’s mouth pieces saw settlement at King George Sound as a means of maintaining and driving interest.  Albany’s reward for this was Stirling returning aboard the James Pattison, chartered by his wife’s brothers (F. & C.E. Mangles), which he was able to fill with settlers and direct, in the first instance, to King George Sound where it arrived in June 1834. Upon arrival Stirling found investment had only marginally increased at Albany, mostly through small scale maritime ventures, but it was enough for him to keep the push going.

Right: There was no stopping the marketers of Albany while Perth was sinking beneath the mire of Aboriginal objection and deserting colonists. King George Sound as ‘the Italy of Australia‘ was the cry of The Perth Gazette in October 1833 as the quest for settler replenishment continued. The arrival of Sir Richard Spencer as lead official at Albany had added genuine grist to the mill. Source: Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 19 October 1833.


Soldiers and the soldiers’ curse


The role of the Redcoats across the new colony was fundamental to salving settler anxiety as their job, primarily, was to provide security. At Albany, however, security wasn’t a problem. Not like it was at the Peel Settlement at Mandurah and at York. At Albany all was well with the Aborigines, as it had been all along, so boredom became a problem. Mostly because it was dealt with by whiling away the hours drinking. Indeed, Albany’s most famous pub not to survive was the notorious Ship Inn, originally owned by Sergeant Philip Baker of the 21st Regiment, who was granted a Public House licence for lot B15 (waterfront) in 1835. The Ship Inn then fell into the ownership of none other than John McKail (officially in 1840).

Baker was an abject alcoholic, ruined and out of the army, he died from dropsy in Perth during June 1843.  The soldiers drinking stories begin in 1831 with the arrival of the 63rd Regiment’s contingent who celebrated their inward transfer with Collet Barker’s outgoing 39th. Barker commented that his own men had become ‘unhinged’ during the party. Early in 1834, the visiting Austrian botanist, Baron Von Hugel, complained about the soldiers of the 21st Regiment and their open drunkenness.

Avoiding observation of the hard drinking culture of the soldiers is difficult. The archives show heavy spirits consumption was not only common but often problematic. So much so, the soldiers at Albany had their own lock-up affectionately known as the Black Hole, where-in during January 1834, Private George Jones of the 21st Regiment died, said to be from suffocation (likely vomit-blocked airways). The story goes that after a session at Geake’s Public House, five men were thrown in the lock-up. Jones, one of them. The soldier’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Stewart, addressed the men in the wake of what happened, saying he was unable to control them and would be seeking application to be relieved. (The Military Establishment in Western Australia 1829-1863’, E S and C G S Whiteley, 2010, Pg. 19, Redcoat Settlers in Western Australia, the impressively detailed website maintained by Diane Oldman.)

A portion of the 63rd Regiment had been stationed at the Swan River under Captain Irwin since inception (1829), but the detachment sent to Albany to replace Barker’s command in 1831 had lately been shipped out of Hobart. Van Diemen’s Land was in the midst of its darkest days, the tail end of the Black War. It was a territory teeming with convicts, ex-convicts and escapees, officials, soldiers and civilians, all at war with the remaining resistance put up by the Palawa, the Aboriginal Tasmanians. If the soldiers were not stationed at the main barracks in Hobart and Launceston, they were divided into smaller parcels and sent to remote settlements where their job was to protect free citizens from attack by the Aborigines. A ghastly commission where alcohol served to blur the reality of ever-present terror.

To progress the links between what was happening at Tasmania and the Bass Strait and how it influenced Albany, the Palawa fought down to their last, eventually giving in to a place of final living at Flinders Island in 1832. Almost incomprehensible, but true, the last of this unique indigenous group saw out their lives as ‘guests’ of the new colony and by 1876, with the passing of Truganini, the Aboriginal Tasmanian’s were no more. (Read Shayne Breen’s, Extermination, Extinction, Genocide: British Colonialism and Tasmanian Aborigines)

In the lead up to the final phase, G.A. Robinson was out searching the Strait for captive Palawa women he could place at Wybalena (Flinders Island) and earn five pounds a head while at it. To be plain, these were harsh, harsh times. Stop to think that the Aboriginal Tasmanians, who originally numbered around 3000 and called the entire island home, were reduced to a dying collective at a deliberately constructed mission on a windswept rock out in Bass Strait so that settlers didn’t have to bargain with them over the land they’d just moved onto without so much as a how-do-you-do. In the end, even that was too much of a cost for the colonists and even more derisory housing was reluctantly granted at Oyster Cove, outside Hobart, in 1847. The war cost the settlers some of their own lives, and by chilling means, but that was the price of colonialism. The great Western European economic paradigm at its most audacious and cruel.

At Albany there was no such sense of conquest, just yet. At Albany there was no mass settler influx and as result only friendly Aborigines. Being convict-free too, the future was brimming with all kinds of promise. The legacy of the military presence at Albany was an unwritten agreement between the settler and Menang leaderships. This was Collie’s pre-occupation at Albany. How to keep the Aborigines on side while the settlers built familiarity with the surrounding land. While they divvied it up between them and sought to make their fortunes. Collie’s legacy is continuation of the resources-for-guidance-and-co-operation policy. Less to do with his initial burial being alongside Mokare, more to do with taking weather readings, collecting botanical specimens and Aboriginal artefacts while setting out his proposal to Stirling regarding the continuation of amicable conduct between the Albany Aborigines and local settlers. (Scroll to page 129.)


Kinjarling’s Menang and the Whadjuk war at Derbarl Yerrigan


While not directly relevant to the story of Anderson, the subject of Albany’s mostly amicable Aborigines needs a few paragraphs here. No where in Australia had circumstances conspired to produce such an apparently harmonious co-habitation as at King George Sound (Kinjarling), and the Colonists saw there was milage to be got from that. Early in January 1833, at the behest of Ensign Dale and Dr Collie, Manyat and Gyallipert agreed to go to the Swan River (Derbarl Yerrigan) in order to meet with the Whadjuk objector, Yagan. Collie had left Albany just a few months earlier and was now resident back in the capital. The Menang emissaries went aboard the Henty boat Thistle, lately returned from Launceston. The request came because Aboriginal relations at Perth were dire. Yagan obligingly met the pair at Lake Monger at what was one of two all-time pre-eminent W.A. Settler/Aborigine rendezvous to occur that year. Soon after, Manyat and Gyallipert returned to Albany by the Ellen, leaving Fremantle on 14th February. Manyat was regarded as something of a celebrity by the editors of The Perth Gazette, said by them to have been carrying a walking stick and about him exuding ‘a stately air’. The Menang were pleased to be accepted and regarded as of importance in country outside their own and the Perth press, keen to find a solution to their Aboriginal relations dilemma, looked toward them for resolution. But it wasn’t to come. Indeed, despite encouraging signs, due to continuing agitation by Perth’s unofficial militia (Velvick led thugs) things were to worsen drastically. In the meantime, the Albany Aborigines went home.

But no sooner had Manyat and Gyallipert set foot in Kinjarling again when they wanted to go back, which they did in the Ellen on its return voyage a couple of weeks later. There had been general joy and relief shown by the Menang when the two got home as they represented the very first official cross-cultural delegation from Albany, and by reckoning it had proved not only safe but invigorating. Subsequent conversations among the Menang alerted the group as to what the mood was like at Derbarl Yerrigan. So much so, others wanted to make the visit too.

Had the pair been invited back specifically by Yagan and the Whadjuk, or simply sensed the history which was unfolding there and wanted to participate?

The ship anchored off Fremantle on 4th March, this time having conveyed Mopey, Waiter and one other as well, probably Ionen. The Perth Gazzette called Waiter ‘Wayton Walter, King of the King George Sound tribe’, as he was own-brother to Mokare and Nakinah – and sadly, by that time the last surviving male member of that famous family. Gyallipert, however, had decided to get off at Augusta, home to his father’s people. Did Gyallipert want to spread news of what was happening at the foot of Wardandi country?

A week or so after arrival Yagan acted as Master of Ceremonies at a corobbery staged at the house of the settler Mr Purkis in Perth. The second red-letter rendezvous. The night supported an ‘overflowing audience’ of Noongars and settlers, including Major Irwin, stand-in Governor at Perth (who was also at Lake Monger). The Menang  were said to have conducted themselves well but that the Whadjuk were by far the more athletic. Yagan was said to have ‘acquitted himself with infinite dignity and grace’. Then there is silence. Rather, nothing was spoken of the King George Sound Aborigines until after both Yagan and his father Midgegooroo had been put to death. It was a period of extremely high tension and, it seems, the Menang were there throughout. Execution of the Velvick brothers by Yagan and Midgegooroo at Cannington occurred in the wake of their brother Domjum being shot dead at Fremantle a few days after the Perth corobbery. Midgegooroo was captured and Major Irwin had him summarily shot, the action a critical and decisive point in Swan River cross-cultural history. Yagan was then betrayed and cruelly murdered at Guildford and the drive toward Pinjarra and the mass put-down there was inexorably set in motion.

We regain knowledge of the Albany men on 19th August when Manyat, Ionen, Tatan and Gyallipert are reported as still being at Perth and, in the eyes of the press, still acting for the good of cross-cultural relations. This means Gyallipert had made it up from Augusta either by sea or on foot. All appear to have remained at the Swan River through the spring though there is no further mention. However, two unnamed Menang arrived from Albany early in December, also taking advantage of the government schooner Ellen’s busy Fremantle-Albany schedule that year.  Ellen left for King George Sound for the final time in 1833 on 19th December, with Manyat, Gyallipert, Ionen and Mopey reportedly aboard. HMS Alligator, bound for Launceston, sailed to Albany in tandem and through the diary of the lead passenger, botanist and adventurer Baron Carl Von Hugel, we discover the two earlier unidentified Menang are aboard too. Von Hugel gives their names as the man Nair, who we are only vaguely aware of, and the boy Lindolf, who we have come to know very well and are pleased to be able to add to his story through Von Hugel’s experiences with him. Nair may have been Nairn, who (if it was the same person) was still about Albany 30 years later when he was implicated in the spearing of Quatcul at Oyster Harbour. We dont know how Tatan got home, only that he did as it was recorded in a letter by Spencer’s son Hugh, dated January 1837, that he was fatally speared and died within 30 minutes at or near The Farm. We don’t know how Waiter (Wayton Walter) got home either, or indeed if he did, as his name does not appear in the literature again. Upsetting for all concerned for him to pass off country.


Above: In late October or early November 1834, the Menang boy Tatan, who had gone to Perth during the worst of times for the family of Yagan, was speared at home by Winewar. It is a sad story that deserves greater elaboration. Image: Excerpt cut from the Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal; 8th November 1834.



All in all this reflects a strong degree of willingness on the part of the Albany Aborigines to trust in the wadjela transport system, something Mokare couldn’t bring himself to do, and go to the Swan River while settler relations with the Whadjuk were at their worst. Was it a show of solidarity, or a mission of peace? Was it the Albany Aborigines really had built a high level of trust in the new wadjela presence and were buying in to the future? I think so. Certainly, their language was beginning to incorporate English terms and since Manyat had emerged as lead communicator in the wake of Mokare and Nakinah’s passing, there appears to have been an even more trusting and hopeful energy in play.

We have come across Lindol a good deal in these pages, alongside Manyat he was the most active and adventurous of the Albany Aborigines of the post-Mokare era. As an 18- or 19-year-old, Lindol also sailed to Adelaide with Wylie and Edward John Eyre aboard Minerva. This was May 1840. Much deeper investigation into Lindol’s identity, life and times is more than warranted. Though different, he certainly ranks with Mokare, Manyat, Wylie and Tommy King (Norngern) by way of presence and influence.

For the full story on Albany’s Aborigines and the Swan River Colony’s great summer recess, which took place during Collie’s tenure at Albany, read Mokare’s Mob Parts 4a and 4b. For full detail on Aboriginal relations at Perth read Apical Argument, a short history of Aboriginal relations at the Swan River through the story of John Henry Monger and his closest associates.


Above: Gyallipert and Manyat at the Lake Monger rendezvous with Perth settlers and the Whadjuk leader Yagan, in January 1833. This painting of untold importance is set at the beginning of the most critical year in the history of Perth’s relationship with its home Aborigines. Historically accurate and brilliantly depicted, it is intensely evocative of the tensions of the time. Image: ‘Yagan’ by the outstanding Indigenous artist Julie Dowling. Source: This version courtesy Art Gallery of Western Australia.


Candyup and other land transactions


Meanwhile, back in 1832 again, Cheyne eyed the commercial future in ships supplies, anything that came in and went out over the water, clearly noticing the importance of the Lawley Park spring to every ship that dared make it through the channel. Building his cottage on the other side of the town plan (what is now Spencer Street) was a bold move at that time as it set him well away from the others who were all living in the area of the military buildings at Parade Street. Already, the Cheynes were putting themselves at a distance.

Cheyne ended up acquiring twelve blocks off the new town plan. Not only that but two visiting nephews, George-McCartney Cheyne and John Cheyne, also bought. Morley, Geake and Cheyne all realised they were ideally positioned to take advantage of the set-to-boom locality. But Albany developed much more slowly than any of them imagined and for Cheyne it meant his cash became tied-up. We gain particular insight into the nature of land transactions in the colony during this time through the complex process of Cheyne finally having his Cape Riche property surveyed fifteen years after claiming it. An outcome arrived at via arrangements with J.S. Roe and one time master of the colonial schooner Champion, Henry Bull.   For greater detail on George and Grizel Cheyne and their exploitative assault on the region read George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery and “George Cheyne and the quest for Cape Riche” in Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection Part 1

There were a few other buildings down on the waterfront from 1832, as Ensign Dale’s Panorama shows. Not much, but for reasons likely to do with the ability to bring things ashore it was looking more like where the action was going to be than the parade ground, evidenced by the erection of a couple of huts that constituted (likely) a supply store and perhaps a sealer’s ramshackle shelter.

After Roe and Stirling went up the Kalgan River as far as today’s upper bridge in Dec 1831, and decided the waterway was a visual delight from its banks and a source of decent fertility behind, resulting in their creation of the designated Wyndham townsite, both Geake and Cheyne either bought or assumed grants adjacent to it.  Figuring, one imagines, it was to become the elite country retreat for well to do townsfolk. Morley acquired there too, but in a lesser way. As mentioned, this land somehow gained the name Candyup, likely from the English language name Glen Candy, given to it, it seems, by either Cheyne or Patrick Taylor, who appears to have bought from Cheyne. Candyup became prime domain of the Geake, Taylor (1834) and Symers (1835) families. It’s an interesting story, once again involving William Nairn Clarke, who from his Fremantle offices advertised the sale of a significant plot on the opposite side of the river to Candyup during September 1833. We don’t know exactly whose plot that was, or whether it sold during 1833, but Cheyne did sell to the Taylor and Symers families when they came in over the next few years, while Morley in some complicated deal bounced land and buildings ownership between town, Candyup and Kendenup, as he was, it would appear, indebted to Cheyne.  Patrick Taylor’s purchase of Morley’s Duke Street cottage probably constituting part of the deal.

This is how it was at that very early time in the colony’s economy. Liquidity was hard to come by and much was achieved by way of handshake agreements and promissory notes. A lot of the capital belonging to the colonists was tied up with British financial institutions and transfers, being ordered (for example) in Albany could only be enacted when those written orders made it back to England and were delivered to the appropriate persons. An entire year could easily go by before a settler got confirmation of a transaction he had enacted.

It was while the original Candyup land acquisitions were going on that Geake’s health gave out and he took a stroke. Not a great outcome in a one horse, two boat town, too far from anywhere for help. In a sad story, the Geakes slowly sold up around town as they went into decline out at Candyup. Diggory was invalided for the remaining 35 years of his life, eventually being described as the town cowhand. (Erickson Pg. 1166)

Right: William Nairn Clark was involved with Albany, from a transactional point of view at least, from 1833 when he advertised land for sale at Johnston Creek (Great Southern Grammar), Kalgan River, opposite grants issued to Morley, Cheyne and Geake in the wake of Stirling’s and Roe’s Albany development drive over the summer of 1831/32. Image: Newspaper advertisement for a waterfront house at Albany and 600 acres of land at Kalgan River, issued by W. N. Clark, during September 1833. Source: Trove; PGWAJ  21 Sept 1833

Dr Collie probably administered to Geake at the time of his breakdown but was gone from Albany soon after, anxious that his own health was failing, and he needed to make hay while the sun still shone. Taking his place was Doctor John Prendergast Lyttleton, who had come out to the colony aboard the Gilmore as part of the failed Peel group-settlement scheme. Lyttleton came with his family and was lucky to be appointed to Albany as assistant government surgeon. Upon arrival Dr Lyttleton, his wife Sarah, son and daughter acquired six lots about town and began to build. Sarah became Post Mistress from 1834 when she opened the town’s first post office in the house under her name at lot S32 but was forced to give it up the following year when her husband suddenly died.

Left: J.P.  Lyttleton (cause of death unknown) was buried in May, 1835, at the same location as Mokare. Image: Cut from the online version of Erickson’s Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australian’s. Source: Friends of Battye Library website

It was probably Doctor Lyttleton who pronounced the death by drowning of the 32-year-old sailor/seaman William Rogers at Albany in July 1833 (Erickson Pg. 2671). Yet another forgotten early Albany dweller whose only known record is a melancholy entry buried deep in the archives.

In a kind of strange morbid symmetry, less than six months ahead of the death and burial right next to Dr Lyttleton, Dr Alexander Collie, whose chest complaint had worsened to a critical level at the Swan River, made a dash for Scotland aboard the Zebra, but decided it was better to come ashore at Albany and die there. Collie passed away at Cheyne’s cleverly positioned cottage on 8th November 1835. See; Mokare’s Mob Part 4b for full coverage.


The Spencer Retinue


So, some commercial jostling had already taken place by the time Sir Richard Spencer and his family arrived on 13th September, 1833.  Despite a whole book on Spencer and multiple theses on he and his family’s habitation of The Old Farm; Strawberry Hill, very little has been done about looking into how many settlers Spencer managed to bring to Albany with him and how he went about it.

The old story goes that the Spencers doubled the town’s population from 10 to 20, but evidence indicates the number more than doubled from something like 35 to something like 80. The reason for this long hidden discrepancy is, as we have found through this investigation in particular, that persons who were not regarded as important tended to be disregarded altogether. Earlier researchers and writers, I suppose bound by search-related constraints heretofore in place, were unable or unwilling to dig deeper and so simply reiterated existing assertions, despite obvious inconsistencies.

One Tasmanian newspaper said there were just 14 people at Albany when the Buffalo arrived. Spencer himself wrote that just three civil officers, six private individuals, plus military, (36 souls in all, he said) were at Albany when he got there (Spencer to C.S. 23.10.1833). Kimberley – History of Western Australia Ch. 10 says there were 17 plus soldiers. The first point to make here is that the Buffalo arrived a few days (maybe a week) ahead of the Governor Stirling and a few months ahead of the Brilliant. From that we can take it the Buffalo contingent probably was no more than 22 strong and in Spencer’s eyes his worthy (honorable) citizens probably did double from something like 10 to something like 20.

In a letter written by Spencer to Peter Broune, the Colonial Secretary, on 27th November 1833, Spencer confirms that in addition to the Jenkins family of five, he brought with him aboard the Buffalo Isabel Bussel, James Stoodley, Maurice Brown, George Rogers and Matthew Gill. Quite why he omitted Matthew’s brother Tom, along perhaps with others, is a matter of conjecture. Spencer was constantly looking for hand backs from the government with regard to his new position at Albany and it may have suited him at the time to state the names of ten persons only. A couple of years later, in a letter to George Elliot of the Admiralty, Spencer said he paid for the freight and passage of another six servants but stopped short of naming them.

Spencer had every reason not only to downplay the numbers but to ignore the supporting personnel. He will have disregarded who he considered transient individuals. Those who were not likely to bring much to the community and therefore weren’t committed to staying. These people didn’t pay taxes and therefore weren’t seen as contributors, but they did live and work at Albany, and they did contribute to the town’s growth, in however small a way. These lesser individuals did not live in houses, because there were none. They camped. Which is why in 1833 and 1834 Albany was not just made up of a handful of complete and under-construction houses, but of canvas tents and shelters, and crude makeshift huts.

As far as Spencer was concerned, perhaps the fewer recognised settlers there appeared to be, the more likely it was to exaggerate his predicament. The more the task before him looked difficult, the greater his effectiveness would later appear.  But as we have come to realise, the situation really was dire. He and the others had no idea how hard it was going to be to make things work. They will have imagined a future of rapid growth and prosperity, not without difficulty, but with positive signs continuously occurring along the way. The most obvious being the arrival of new settlers and the effects of their investment. Soldiers aside, the population at Albany will have been thirty plus when the Buffalo arrived. Maybe thirty-five. By my reckoning, Spencer’s supporting party, across all three ships, amounted to at least the same again. And that doesn’t include the eleven strong Spencer family itself. Spencer’s effort to bring to Albany the kind of growth he anticipated others to bring is beyond commendable. In the end, except through Stirling’s effort with the James Pattison, no one brought what Spencer did and as a result Spencer’s family never realised his vision. Indeed, almost the opposite was to occur.

Spencer encouraged as big a band of settlers as he could to make the journey with him. Not just the journey, but the leap of faith. There were plenty of good stories coming out of NSW by the 1830s, especially wool related, as they were more than fifty years into their colonial development, but Albany faced emerging competition from touted settlements around the Spencer Gulf and at bays and harbours along the Bass Strait mainland. The new colonies of Victoria and South Australia were coming and The Swan River had fighting to do. If Albany ever really was to usurp Perth’s place as lead settlement out West, it not only needed undeniable attributes (rather than marketing speak) but a healthy slice of luck. Neither of which came with sufficient magnitude to make the difference.

As far as the East was concerned, the distance between Tasmania and Albany was simply too great. Once settlements at Melbourne (1835) and Adelaide (1836) began to take hold, the West only faced diminishing opportunity from that direction. Beauty aside, for all the strategic value of King George Sound, there was just too much competition in the way and without another string to its bow, without some kind of other outstanding natural asset, Albany was left to grapple with Perth and itself.

From inception, the Swan River was in deep trouble and only for Stirling and his tricks of strategy, things might have been worse. But they weren’t.  By June 1834 (ahead of the arrival of the James Pattison), Spencer quoted Albany as comprising ’91 residents, besides 21 military’. Not far off the 80 odd we calculated here. Stirling was a wizz in England. He had his Mangles family connections and those who had bought into the Swan River as settlers of last resort were not to lie down and roll over. Spencer bought the King George Sound story as told by Stirling, and as supported by the compelling machinery of his aids, the (self-serving) Perth press, which willingly acted as the colony’s creative marketing department. The veiled image of Albany as ‘The Italy of the Southern Hemisphere’ had been cast about and with Yagan now dead, there was no more trouble at the River itself either. Spencer took the bait and swallowed it whole. Hook, line and sinker, as they say. Not only did he pack up his family and their immediate indentured servants but financially facilitated, probably to a greater degree than he ever admitted, as many persons near to where he lived or who were related in some way to his family and friends. This, I believe, included the Newell family, who despite being illiterate farmers living in Elstead, Surrey, must have had some bind with the Spencers and gained their passage through them. Either through Sir Richard himself, or his wife Ann’s side of the family.

In the end, those who followed, or allowed Spencer to pay their way, amounted in number to somewhere between 35 and 40. Most of these were not indentured servants. They seem to have been free to do whatever they could when they got there, including the entire Newell family. Though it looks as if Spencer incentivised them to stay once they got there too. The Newells gained a four-acre grant, as did the Jenkins family. Enough land to build a more than decent sized house upon. These revised figures and the notion of sponsored free-settlers contrasts with what Donald Garden thought when he wrote Albany’s history almost fifty years ago.


Until 1834 there was little change or development at Albany. In the first three years the population fluctuated between forty and sixty, about thirty of whom were made up of the troops who garrisoned the Sound and their dependents. A few sealers, and possibly a few of whalers, came and went, and there were the periodic visits of inspection of officials and prospective settlers.


(Donald Garden, Albany; A Panorama of the Sound from 1827. Pg. 39)


In fairness, Garden says 1834 but is talking about the pre James Pattison period. Including women and children, that ship disembarked sixty settlers into Albany on June 19th, 1834, just three days after Spencer had written to the colonial secretary saying Albany now comprised 91 residents, besides the soldiers. That’s pretty close to the figure we got when factoring in who we reckon was aboard the three Spencer sailings. Garden still concluded the population was about half what it now appears to have been. By various accounts the Buffalo party bound for King George Sound totaled 21, including 10 Spencer family members, plus one born at sea. So likely 22. By this reckoning, 11 came with the family and the others must have arrived either by the Governor Stirling (aka Sterling) or Brilliant.

To give an indication of James Stirling’s celebrity status at the time, or at least the faith put in him by those who had invested so much, the ship Sterling was renamed Governor Stirling. The Sterling was the ship chartered by Cheyne and Marshall McDermott in 1830 to bring themselves and their investments out. When chartered for the Swan River a second time in 1833 it was hailed as the Governor Stirling, an act intended to capitalise on the Public Relations work Stirling was in the middle of carrying out in London and surrounding counties during his year there, no doubt supported by the Mangles family connections.

Buffalo, which was ultimately bound for New Zealand to cut and ship a cargo of timber peculiarly applicable for the topmasts of the navy’s largest warships, but was transporting 179 female convicts and 25 of their children to Sydney as she went, was already full when the Spencers booked their passage. Spencer couldn’t fit all he wanted to bring with him on that sailing and so it was split between the Buffalo, Governor Stirling and Brilliant.  Various (relayed) newspaper reports say there were fifteen emigrants aboard the Governor Stirling while records relating to the Brilliant are not only far fewer in number but reveal next to nothing regarding passengers bound for King George Sound. Moreover, none of the handful of passengers known to have been aboard Brilliant appear to have disembarked at Albany. So, was it the Governor Stirling which brought the bulk of the Spencer retinue? It certainly looks like it.


Above: There are no known advertisements for passengers to board HMS Buffalo or Brilliant when they were bound for King George Sound, but there was at least one for the Governor Stirling and it appeared in the Sherbourne Mercury on 25th March, 1833, just as the Spencers and immediate entourage were getting ready to leave. Indeed, immediately below the advertised Governor Stirling sailing, Sir Richard advertised his six-bedroom Lyme Regis cottage for sale or let. The suggestion here being Spencer paid for the Governor Stirling add hoping to improve the numbers he might be able to bring out to Albany. Is this how the arrivees outside the Buffalo 11 got to King George Sound? Image: Advertisement cut from the Sherbourne Mercury, 25th March 1833. Source: The British Newspaper Archive (Subscription required).


There is no official passenger list relating to the King George Sound emigrants for any of the three ships, or the James Pattison, so the task of sorting this out is onerous. According to Erickson’s Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians, more than 20 individuals outside the Spencer family are reckoned to have come by the Buffalo, but this contrasts with newspaper reports and the accepted wisdom the total number of persons leaving England as the Spencer party, including the Spencers themselves, amounted to 21.

It’s unlikely, because the Buffalo was full of female convicts and supporting personnel, but could the reports of 21 persons all up have been mistaken for the support group only? Perhaps there were the Spencers plus 21 servants and agricultural labourers? Despite strong indications to the contrary, Erickson reckons so. Only a handful of credible references to support individual cases are known to exist, however, so it might always be a matter of conjecture as to who exactly came with the Spencers aboard Buffalo. According to the West Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) website, Family History W.A. the number reckoned to have arrived per Buffalo, excluding the Spencer family, totals 24.

Including Governor Stirling and Brilliant, my estimation of those who comprised the greater Spencer retinue totals 38. Spencer family aside. Those in red, below, I discount as part of the retinue. Those marked as arriving per Buffalo are reckoned to have done so by Erickson and I find hard to completely disagree with.


  1. Maurice/Morris Brown/Broun b. 1816 (Erickson Pg. 353) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  2. William Brown (Erickson Pg. 359) per Buffalo
  3. Lydia Bussel (Erickson, Pg. 414) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  4. James Daniells (Erickson Pg. 755) (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  5. Mary Daniells (Erickson Pg. 755) (Spencer, 1836) servants to Henry Townsend. per Governor Stirling
  6. Matthew Gill b. 1812 (Erickson Pg. 1199) married Mary Newell, per Buffalo
  7. Thomas Gill b. 1816 (Spencer, 1836) probably per Buffalo
  8. Daniel Gray, b. 1791 labourer, Scotland (Spencer 1836) (arrival unknown)
  9. John Howson b. 1818 (Erickson Pg. 1555) (Spencer, 1836) married Agnes Young 1846 (Buffalo or James Pattison)
  10. William Jenkins b. 1799 (Erickson Pg. 1630) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  11. Mary Emma Jenkins b. 1799 (Erickson Pg. 1630) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  12. Henrietta Jenkins b. 1823 (Erickson Pg. 1630) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  13. Elizabeth Selina Jenkins b. 1824 (Erickson Pg. 1630) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  14. Emma Keturah Jenkins b. 1829 (Erickson Pg. 1630) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  15. James Newell Snr (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  16. Hannah Newell (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  17. Mary Newell (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  18. Dorothea/Dorothy Newell (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  19. James/Jem Newell Jnr (Spencer, 1836) per James Pattison
  20. Charles Newell (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  21. Caroline Newell (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  22. William Newell (Spencer, 1836) per per Governor Stirling
  23. George Rogers b.? (Erickson Pg. 2668) per Buffalo
  24. William Shafter/Shapter b.? (Erickson Pg. 2776) per Buffalo
  25. James Stoodley/Studley b. 1819 (Erickson Pg. 2963) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  26. James Thatcher b.1796 (Erickson Pg. 3033) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  27. William Thomas b. 1812 (Erickson Pg. 3043) (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  28. Mary Woodrow-Thomas b. 1813 Erickson Pg. 3043) (Spencer, 1836) per Governor Stirling
  29. Betsy Thomas b. 1833 (Erickson Pg. 3043) (Spencer, 1836) born at sea per Governor Stirling
  30. Henry Townsend (Erickson Pg. 3089) (Spencer, 1836), per Governor Stirling, friend to Spencer family.
  31. Henry Tully b. 1796 (Erickson Pg. 3119) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  32. Thomas Warrington – Family History W.A. (WAGS website) – (arrival unknown)
  33. James Watson b.1796, India (Erickson Pg. 3225) (Spencer, 1836) Probably brought by John Morley in 1835
  34. Mary Watson b. 1806, India (Erickson Pg. 3227) (Spencer, 1836) Probably brought by John Morley in 1835
  35. John White b.1806 (Erickson Pg. 3283) (Spencer, 1836-labourer)
  36. John Williams b. 1797 {aka John Pavey/Williams/Andrews} (Erickson Pg. 3327) Arrived independently, see below.
  37. John Samuel Young b. 1796 (Erickson Pg. 3415) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  38. Mary/Margaret (Drysdale) Young b. 1796 (Erickson Pg. 3413 & 3415) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  39. David Young b. 1825 (Erickson Pg. 3413) (Spencer, 1836) per Buffalo
  40. Agnes Young b.1827 (Erickson Pg. 3412) (Spencer, 1836) married John Howson 1846 per Buffalo 
  41. Richard O’Connor (Erickson Pg.2353) (Spencer, 1836) (arrival unknown)
  42. George White (Erickson Pg. 3279) (Spencer, 1836) (arrival unknown)


Among the new arrivals were the Newell family from Surrey. (No relation to Tommy Noel/Newell)  This point needs to be firmly stamped. The Newells were so much in place at Albany by mid 1834, they had a four-acre grant waiting to be signed off by Stirling when he arrived on the James Pattison in June that year (with James Jnr (Jem), last arriving of the Newell family, also aboard).  Sir Richard Spencer had drawn up the grant request personally, well ahead of time (it’s dated 15th March 1834) and had it ready for Stirling to sanction. The Jenkins family, who also arrived with the Spencers (aboard Buffalo) were granted four acres too, and that block neighbours the Newell one. Read Jimmy’s Harbour; Newell or Newhill Part 1.


Above: News circulated between the eastern colonies and Swan River in October 1833, that the tiny settlement at King George Sound had witnessed the arrival of the Spencer family and entourage in two vessels, Buffalo and Governor Stirling. The Governor Stirling quoted as depositing 15 emigrants at King George Sound. There was also the Brilliant, which arrived later in the year again.  Ahead of declaration of the new Melbourne and Adelaide settlements, this news solidified in the minds of many Tasmanian and NSW colonists the idea King George Sound was indeed to become the new focal point of the Swan River Colony resolving among persons interested in exploiting that new economy the need to move quickly. Image: Excerpt from the Tasmanian press advising of the arrival of Sir Richard Spencer at King George Sound and the supposed state of destitution the settlement was in at the time. Source: The Colonist and Van Diemen’s Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser. 29th October 1833.




Von Hugel’s Albany – January 1834


The lone Austrian gentleman botanist Baron Carl Von Hugel arrived at Princess Royal Harbour on New Years Day, 1834, and through his diary we gain further insight as to the way of things in Albany at that time. It might have been energetic, given the recent influx, but things were definitely not great. There was very little there and for a man like Von Hugel, a highly educated middle European Catholic with a broken heart and bent for botany who essentially disliked the English for their arrogance and assumption ‘the whole of the earth was the inherited birthright of Europe’, he was not so quick to applaud the risks taken by the early settlers, nor their resilience in the face of the hardships they were presented with. More, he appears to have been mildly amused by the lengths they would go to in order to extract the ‘filthy lucre’ he perceived them to be so drawn towards. In any case, Von Hugel was in his late 30s when he arrived at Albany and still harbouring the pain of rejection when his fiancé of five or six years broke it off with him two years earlier. His loneliness is evident throughout the text.

Von Hugel says the whole of the Albany district (he calls it Plantagenet Province) consisted of 60 persons, twenty of whom were soldiers, but this isn’t correct either. By that time there were more like 80 settlers and another twenty soldiers. The tally was always in flux, especially then, but between just the Spencer household (including servants), the Newell family, Dr Lyttleton and family, Cheynes, Geakes and Morleys, there were 45.

The biggest concern of the Alligator’s was gaining sufficient provisions to allow the trip to Hobart. They had taken on supplies at Perth, but it took nearly two weeks to get offboard at Albany, so the need was more pressing again. Von Hugel says they eventually managed to get what they needed, half from the local stores and half from the 196-ton merchant brig Brilliant which was also in harbour delivering the last of the Spencer group cargo. It’s clear Albany wasn’t able to manage the off-and-on-again demand challenges put up by visiting ships, even though reports of the settlement (motivated by promotional benefits) more than suggested the opposite.

Von Hugel had arrived in Perth from Madras aboard the 28-gun frigate HMS Alligator, Captain Lambert, on 27th November 1833, while Stirling was away in Britain and Major Irwin was in charge. The Alligator was on its way to N.S.W., Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand for service while acting as transport for the presumably paying Von Hugel. It’s worth noting that Von Hugel’s notes and diary were written in his native Austrian language but that he spoke English so well it wasn’t uncommon for those who didn’t know him to mistake him for British. While at Perth he appears to have stayed at the home of J.S. Roe at Caversham. The Alligator was directed to King George Sound just before Christmas because of the need for the Colonial schooner Ellen‘s hull to be coppered (refitted) and Captain Lambert agreeing that his men would do it, but not at Perth where there was no accommodating harbour. Thus, both the Alligator and Ellen left for Albany at the same time. Ellen bringing back the Menang men Ionen, Mopey, Gyallipert and Manyat, while aboard the Alligator came ‘old Nair’ and Lindol(f). Captain Toby of the Ellen suggesting to Von Hugel making friends with the Menang pair might provide him with good guidance when at Albany where Von Hugel intended to go in search of Australian flora.

Aboard, Von Hugel distinguishes between the boy (12-13 years) Lindolf and the man Old Nair. One night at sea, Nair said he would organise a corobbery at Albany and that all the King George Sound people would be there. Meaning the King George tribe, which Von Hugel understood to be what the Menang called themselves when speaking to the settlers. So there that is. By 1832 Albany’s Aborigines were calling themselves King George men, a name which we know Lindol used as a collective right up until his death sometime in the 1850s.

When at Albany Von Hugel describes meeting Cheyne and wife and Cheyne’s two nephews, one of whom he said had a beautiful wife. One of these nephews will have been George McCartney Cheyne, the other was named John. Records show that late in 1833 John and George M. Cheyne bought (or were granted) Stirling Terrace lots S25 and S26 respectively.  As George Cheyne was one of 10 surviving children (there were 16 in all) it is very hard to know which nephew John it might have been. (Note: it isn’t the John who arrived the following year aboard James Pattison with wife Ann.)

Von Hugel does not appear to have liked Cheyne. At least he sided with his official host Richard Spencer when it came to the pair’s obvious differences. In a moment of cynicism Von Hugel describes being taken to Cheyne’s ‘little house, to give it a grand name’.  He describes walking the upper track, past Cheyne’s cottage, to the Old Farm. The upper track ran above Aberdeen Street to the north side of Mnt. Clarence, and along which (Von Hugel says) he enjoyed observing species of Albany Banksia, Hovea (Purple Pea Bush) and Cephalotus (Albany Pitcher Plant).

From the Old Farm Von Hugel says there was a splendid view of the Sound, which there was from above the house, and at which there was an obvious display of animals and about a dozen acres of garden and (grain) fields under cultivation. Despite what he said about the British at large, Von Hugel seems to have looked upon Spencer with admiration, having forsaken the relative comforts of old England in exchange for opportunity to give all his family a shot at wealth, rather than just his eldest. He seems to suggest Spencer had a beautiful wife and handsome array of children but that Spencer himself was not aging well. By way of looks anyway.

Von Hugel liked the way the granite outcrops landscaped the place but was troubled by the lack of tree height which he attributed, as Darwin did, to the poor soil. He describes coming across an Aboriginal camp where the men were startled by him and initially not happy with his intrusion. Then he speaks of a spearing game they played using harmless trimmed rushes, the aim being for each man to evade the spears being thrown for as long as possible.

Von Hugel says Lindol and Nair had left the ship dressed in European clothes, Lindol in a Marines jacket, and freshly shaven, but when he met them again some days later were completely naked once more. Evidence, as it appears in various other texts, that once back from their adventures with the settlers, the home Aborigines didn’t like to see their men conforming to the imposed alternative languages and dress. The Baron is impressed with the Menang language, homing in on the idea they had names for every landmark and also for the settlers, their main items of use and the sexes, inferring the complexity and adaptability of the language was far greater than what was being assumed. He says there were ‘several families’ of Menang camped at or near The Farm and that one old woman kept lighting small cooking or comfort fires which Spencer kept putting out on account of it being summer and the threat of fire taking hold and burning down the store shed. Von Hugel shudders at the threat of fire upon the settlement. He then speaks of having dinner at the Spencers, with a Lieutenant of the 31st (McLeod) and with Dr Lyttleton and his wife, and of the next day going for a walk to Middleton Beach with Spencer’s eldest daughter Mary Ann (who later married Arthur Trimmer) who he also described as physically delightful – a thing he was want to do with every good-looking woman he met.

Von Hugel complains of the easterly wind. It was summer of course and the easterly breeze was relentless. The inner harbour acted like a trap under those conditions, making it a simple exercise (for ships) to sail straight in, but a depressingly frustrating wait to get back out, the channel being too narrow to tack through. There was a straight up conflict evident between Cheyne and Spencer which Von Hugel noted, deciding it was Cheyne’s obstinacy which prevented any kind of agreement. Another of the Baron’s complaints was the apparent boredom of the twenty odd soldiers in situ and their penchant for drunkenness.


Above: Baron Carl/Charles Von Hugel, the Austrian gentleman botanist, complained of the soldiers stationed in Albany during 1834 as being unemployed by way of local tasks and therefore bored to the extent their favourite pastime was getting drunk. This observation continues the many previous which highlight the nature of army life in the Australian colonies at that time. Image: Excerpt cut from Von Hugel’s Australian travels translated and edited by Dymphna Clark. Source:


Von Hugel questions the wisdom of the settlers, acknowledging the sacrifices they have made, but shakes his head at the effort required. He admires the strength of the women but doesn’t like what they are forced to contend with in order to appease the men and their ambitions.  He has dinner with the Cheynes after which there is the corobbery Nair had earlier promised, and at which he was generally impressed, especially the mimicry of animals, which he said was perfect to a ‘t’.

He goes with a team of others on a two-day excursion to Oyster Harbour and up the Kalgan River which he is delighted with both by appearance and the abundance of birdlife which they shoot away at with abandon. He is elated, saying the Kalgan is much like the Swan River, just a miniature of it. He thinks Oyster Harbour is prettier than Princess Royal but on account of the shallows obviously no use to shipping. On the way back the wind rises and they can barely make way, eventually they do and stay the night at Lower King, where Cheyne had bought the land from young John Henty who had built a hut there during his yearlong stay. The next day persistent showers arrive after lunch and the wind comes up again. After more fun shooting they decide to split up; the sailors to bring the boat back, the others to walk. Von Hugel notes the beauty of the flora but absence of landmarks making it very difficult to know where they were going, rendering the need for a guide essential.

The stay at Albany draws to a close and Von Hugel invites the Spencer family aboard the Alligator for dinner on his last night. He goes to meet them at The Farm so he might accompany them, and here-in resides the abiding image of King George Sound at the end of 1833, the tiny settlement into which John William Anderson was about to insert himself. By the time the James Pattison arrived six months later and deposited almost 60 men, women and teenage boys, very little had changed. Von Hugel describes his walk with the Spencers toward the foreshore as a procession. I have re-worded and expanded upon it as follows.

There are a few complete and under construction houses on the rise not far from the harbour shore, focus of the entire settlement, otherwise there are tents and other canvas heavy temporary dwellings scattered across the lower reaches of the valley. Two tracks extend upwards from opposite ends of the waterfront to meet in the middle a mile on, beyond the divide of the two hills, heading in the direction of the Old Farm, at which a single bidi worn a little more by recent traffic wends onwards round the northern foot of Mount Clarence to what they call the bay: Middleton Beach. There is a boatshed under construction not far from the southern end, Ellen Cove, named after the Governor’s wife. The tracks are sandy and rough and bushy at their sides, but the ground cover is little more than scrub, low bushes huddling between less frequent more grandfatherly Peppermint gums. There are Aborigines in the bush, somewhere, but without a still day when the smoke rises visibly in neat lines, it’s hard to know where. Here and there lie outsized granite deposits, miscellaneous and curious in shape, strewn in strange formations ranging from hillside sheets to random ensembles in otherwise vacant places.


Where the houses are it is quiet, except for the occasional hammering of nails and sawing of wood. Perhaps the barking of a dog. A few people lurk between half-hung washing lines and pocket-sized tillages obscured by the scrub. Two hatless men dressed in red coats with white sashes crossing their torsos stumble drunkenly along the waterfront toward the Sound passing a middle-aged man, half-paralysed down one side, tending to a cow, a calf and two shackled horses near a water trough assembled from the staves of an old salted-meat barrel.


The summer breeze fairly rushes from the outer harbour over the open ground, but can’t reach around behind Mount Clarence where it is warm. The sky is its usual anemic blue. There is moisture in the abundant grey-bottomed clouds but today they are too light and too high to spill. Out in the expanse of the harbour, lit from its closed end by the now lowering sun, there are three ships of progressive size. Their sails are furled, masts like young stalks reaching through their spars. From the channel, riding in on ballooning spinnakers, come two smaller boats. One is a cutter, the other a whaleboat. They surge effortlessly, nimble on the following wind.


On the upper town track comes an incongruous procession. George and Grizel Cheyne, two nephews and a wife, are standing on the porch of their west-facing house with their adopted toddling daughter and her mistress when they hear a garbled bugle call and turn to see Sir Richard approaching. He is astride a squat grey mule, in full uniform; navy blue tunic and trousers with gold embroidery, including black tricorn hat emblazoned with the same decorative stitching. The image is bizarre as Spencer appears twice the size of the mule. His face is scarred and twisted yet adorned with a look of regal satisfaction. On his chest are a spread of medals, on his shoulders the lavish lapels of a highly decorated officer, and about his waist a thick-buckled belt supporting an impressively fashioned steel sword clanking against the buckles of his boots which are so close to the ground as to almost scrape along it.


Behind Sir Richard his indentured servant William Jenkins guides two more mules harnessed one behind the other. They are towing a flatbed cart upon which are tied two wicker chairs and in which on one sits his wife, in the other his eldest daughter, both buried in an excess of flouncy coloured material. Inelegantly, and in-between the chairs, their youngest daughter Eliza Lucy clings on. Behind the cart walk four of Sir Richard’s sons, their third daughter (14-year-old Augusta, also expensively dressed), and with head slightly bowed though turning this way and that in bemused acquiescence, the upright, trim-bearded, immaculate Austrian botanist himself. Not yet forty years of age.


They march past the Cheyne cottage and down the hill to the waterfront where, on account of the tide being out, a small low-sided boat conveys them in multiple journeys to the pinnace which waits at the edge of the deeper water so that they can then reach the intermediate, though sharpest looking of the three ships. as the family climbs aboard the vessel fires its canons and the booms echo across the evening sky. It darkens, the breeze dies, and all goes still. The indentured labourer, Mr. Jenkins, stands with the mule and cart in silent waiting on the beach while dim light flickers in the framed windows of those few houses. Campfires burn small here and there. The air crispens, the summer night descends and the Cheyne ensemble, laughing and joking in mocking tones, retreat to the interior of their grand little premises and yank the ill-fitting door to a sudden noisy shut.



Above: This painting of Albany by Albert Henry Fullwood was made (probably) in 1886 but is based on a sketch by Major Edmund Lockyer drawn (probably) in early 1827. The sketch was interpretative of the garrison under construction and this painting interpretative of that. Nonetheless, from it we gain good semblance of how the settlement would have appeared very early in its life, this time looking east from behind the gardens, parade ground and buildings, along the shore toward the entrance of the harbour. By 1834 there were more buildings along the waterfront and to the left of the houses depicted here, but there was still no jetty and the tracks only marginally more defined. Image: Portion of King George Sound after Major Lockyer by A. B. Fullwood. Source: Drawn from an online print version promoted by Antiquarian Print Shop.


The emigration ship James Pattison


Between January and June 1834, certain activities took place on the waters in and around Albany which are critical to the development of this investigation, but as the ship James Pattison plays an equally critical role, and as it was advertised as sailing for King George Sound as early as June 1833, we should take a close look at it now.

In a 1963 article submitted to the Royal West Australian Historical Society’s Early Days Journal (Vol 6;Part 2), an online version of which is available here, the old Albany Historian Robert Stephens detailed the contribution of the pioneer Sherratt family to early Albany. In his opening paragraph Stephens describes their arrival on the James Pattison, saying the voyage pioneered the first regular shipping service between London and Fremantle.  This insight remains unelaborated upon throughout the entirety of what has been written about the ship, this voyage in particular, ever since. However, it resounds in the above-described passage as an unambiguous statement as to the intentions of the Mangles family to further capitalise upon the Swan River Colony business opportunity.

The James Pattison appears to have been built at Deptford (Greenwich), London, during 1827 by Adam Gordon (Gordon & Co.) for its principal managing owner, Thomas Ward Esq. Ward was a significant British ship owner involved in the business of the East India Company, of convict transporation to Australia and also with whaling in the so-called Southern Fishery. The ship appears to have been named after James Pattison MP (1786-1849) who also served as Governor of the Bank of England between 1834 and 1837

Most often, owners took shares in ships. It was rare for a single individual to own the entire entity. Ward was principal shareholder of the James Pattison, not its outright owner. Thomas Ward, James Mangles MP and James’s brother John Mangles, were known to each other as Ward had earlier bought the brothers Calcutta built ship, Mangles (also known as the Guildford & Surrey) from them. That the ship was built in India shows the extent of the Magles involvement with ‘The Company’. The Mangles brothers held part ownerships in a few vessels, including the Rio Nova, which engaged in the African/Carribean slave trade during 1791 and 1792.  Thomas Ward was also strongly associated with the East India Company through shipping. The following, regarding the Mangles brothers shipping interests is taken from Richard Preston’s paper on the Mangles family, Captain Charles Edward Mangles (1798-1873): Southampton MP that was not to be held at the Southampton Local History Centre.


Singly or jointly they were principal managing owners of nine East India ships between 1784 and 1827: Good Hope, Raymond, Travers, Friendship, Essex, Alexander, Guildford, Vansittart and the eponymous Mangles. These made epic transoceanic voyages, schedules variously including Madras, Bengal, Bombay, China, Rio de Janeiro, St Helena, the Cape of Good Hope and Madeira. The Mangles, constructed for John and James at Calcutta in 1803, was captured by the French privateer Robert Surcouf in 1807 whilst engaged in the Bengal rice trade to China. There was a natural symbiosis between the East India trade and the convict trade to New South Wales and Tasmania. Mangles and Company was the second-largest convict contractor to the British government. Friendship, Guildford (both East Indiamen) and Surry [Surrey] transported generations to a new life in Australia. The equally-prolific Mangles had passed out of the family’s hands by the time she began her convict career in 1820.


(Charles Hardy, A register of ships employed in the service of the Honourable the United East India Company from the year 1760 to 1810, published 1811; and Catalogue of the East India Company’s ships’ journals and logs 1600-1834, edited by Anthony Farrington, published 1999) & (Charles Bateson, The convict ships 1787-1868, published 1959).


The strategy for profit Thomas Ward seems to have employed, or at least allowed for the James Pattison (which only operated for 12 years before catching fire mid-Atlantic -near the Azores- in 1840) was service to India and Australia. Charles and Fred Mangles, acting as agents for the Pattison on her voyage to the Swan River, reflects the strong association which still existed between the Mangles family and Thomas Ward. We have talked about the Mangles family link with ship owning, their EIC operations, their link with transportation of slaves from West Africa to Jamaica in the early 1790s, along with the Transporation of convicts, indentured labour and luxury goods to the Australian colonies as the family’s succeeding generation took control. Ellen Mangles and her siblings were brought up enjoying the benefits of colonial expansion and of the most rapacious and destructive era of the East India Company’s (EIC) reign in Bengal (Northeast India).

Through the leadership of Robert Clive and then Richard Wellesly, the second half of the 1700s saw EIC wealth explode out of India through the use of their private Sepoy army to gain control of and then exercise punishing exploitation over the farming peasantry, during which estimates of up to ten million Indians were starved out of existence. This was the time when British colonial cupidity was at its height. Built in tandem with the slave and sugar trade into and out of the West Indies, the East Indies real business opportunity emerged from India (rather than Indonesia). As part of that, Britain eventually went to war with the Chinese (twice) in order to maintain the market for Indian grown opium (heroin) they had built there in order to get back the silver they were forced to pay for their tea. These were the Opium Wars fought across the middle decades of the 1800s.

This was the world of colonial trade the children of James Mangles MP had been born into and, the sons at least, grew up to understand. James Stirling as a bachelor on half-pay leave was travelling through Europe when he met James Mangles’ brother. James Stirling was more a contemporary of theirs than his future bride. Trade, supported by use of military superiority (or by underhanded means) was the order of the day, and both of them supported by Van Hugel’s bemused notion of the British interpretation of Europe’s divine right; the conclusion they had come to that the world’s inheritance was theirs. All it took was ambition, coupled with hard work and determination. A determination that included writing into law and religion all and any justifications required. After the fact, when necessary.

By 1833, exactly the time frame we are interested in at Albany, the British had become fully conscious of what they were really doing and through the checks and balances provided by their -albeit late to act- parliament, began rounding on themselves. That year they introduced both the Government of India Act and the Slavery Abolition Act, both designed to end the cruelty associated with their pursuits, but the practices and desires were deeply ingrained and evident in Australia no more clearly than through the genocide of the Aboriginal Tasmanian’s playing out at the very same time. Through the background of British Colonialism and the growth of rampant private enterprise as means of driving wealth, we see how one man, allied to the business interests of his wife’s family, thought the idea of a semi-state-run colony on the south-western coasts of Australia was not only desirable, but eminently do-able.

This is not to downplay the commitment required to pull such a stunt off. Criticism is not of the belief and work ethic carried by such men. The well-meaning conscientiousness displayed through the actions of such characters as Albany era George Grey and Reverend John Ramsden Wollaston, for example, is not in dispute. The mismatch between their intentions and the consequences of their actions, however, is. The outcome of these men’s desire to separate Aboriginal children from their mothers and the promulgation of such a policy, was not what they intended. Today, it’s very hard to imagine not being sensitive to that outcome, in almost any situation, yet it was exactly these kinds of insensitivities which caused such wholesale destruction to indigenous populations wherever the colonists went. Thus, James Stirling, through his commercially inspired project, brought to the Swan River, and then to Albany, not only diseases, but the imbedding of social mechanisms which resulted in the destruction of the Traditional Bibbulmun Aborigine and introduction of the struggle put before the ill-considered and generally deprived new Noongar families which resulted.

The ship James Pattison plays a crucial role in the South Coast’s cross-cultural history as one of its passengers was James Dunn of Woodburn, Kent, whose sons went on to claim a portion of Wudjari Country called Cocanarup, at the top end of the Phillips River, near Ravensthorpe, and by way of inability to cope with the consequences of their own actions instigated the worst atrocity we have known. For the abbreviated 100-year history of Albany and the South Coast read; A short history of Aboriginal relations along the South Coast through the story of the Albany Aborigine Norngern and his King George Town contemporaries.

To that and our own intended end here, the relevant voyages of the James Pattison run thus;

  • The 513 ton merchant ship first went into service in 1828 under Captain Joseph Grote when chartered by the East India Company for a voyage to Madras and Bengal from which it returned on 16th June, 1829.
  • At the end of October the same year, also under Capt. Grote, she sailed from Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), Dublin, reportedly carrying 200 convicts to Sydney.  The number of known or estimated landed convicts, however, does not come near that number. Following, she set out from Sydney 1st April 1830, carrying officers and soldiers of various army regiments, via Hobart, to Madras and Calcutta, then returned to London.
  • In May 1831, James Pattison sailed from London for Madras and Bengal/Calcutta setting out on the return leg early in January 1832, arriving in Portsmouth early May.
  • She sets out for Calcutta again in August 1832, returning the first part of 1833 where upon she is refitted and pressed into service as a 700-ton luxury passenger vessel.
  • Advertising for the sailing to King George Sound and the Swan River, calling at The Cape, commences in June 1833, but she does not sail London until November, arriving at Portsmouth November 26th. Still captained by Joseph Grote, she is laid up at Portsmouth until 9th February when she finally puts to sea. Arriving Albany, 18th June 1834.


Above: This advertisement, published 30th June 1833, in the London newspaper, The Weekly Despatch, isn’t the clearest reproduction but it best describes the Mangles family call for passengers to the Swan River Colony. The listing appears on a page of general advertisements including discount fish, dentistry products and horses. There is also an accompanying advertisement for the newly printed 300-page publication Journals of Several Expeditions made in Western Australia, almost certainly placed by the same agent. Principal agents for this James Pattison sailing are Frederick and Charles Edward Mangles, brothers to the newly knighted Sir James Stirling’s wife, Ellen. Image: Excerpt from the general advertisement page of the Weekly Despatch (later the Sunday Despatch, then Sunday Express). Source: The British Newspaper Archive


Researching the identities of those aboard the James Pattison and particularly where they disembarked is not an easy task. No definitive passenger or muster list for this sailing has so far been found, so there is no first point of reference. This means the list is likely to be incomplete and/or contains errors. For example, we do not know for sure all those who got off at Albany. I have based my assumptions on dates passengers are said to have disembarked. Those dated June, presumably, got off at Albany. Those dated August, Fremantle.  Also, there are other questions too. For example, we don’t know how many children Tabitha Jones had with her. It is unlikely the number is seven as Blackburn concluded in his analysis. Additionally, mistakes are always found in secondary sources. Erickson is invaluable but must always be cross-checked. For example, Erickson says Agnes Young was aboard the Pattison when she arrived per Buffalo. It may be that John Howson, who she later married, was aboard however, as it is not certain he was aboard Buffalo, Brilliant or Governor Stirling. More so; Erickson’s primary sources, on a person-by-person basis, are not given, so it’s very hard to know where exactly the information was drawn from without scouring every identifiable source. Erickson claims John Howson and Thomas Gill arrived per James Pattison but these appear to be assumptions based upon their names appearing in the 1836 Albany census (which I have cross-referenced below).

The names I have included below, in the first instance come from research conducted by Geoff Blackburn, then by searches of Erickson, Trove and the British Newspaper Archive. Blackburn himself cites newspaper searches, Erickson and Pamela Statham-Drew (Sir James Stirling). Drew does nor provide her source, though it is likely Erickson. Blackburn’s book, The Children’s Friend Society, is the only publication I can find which carries a compilation of all known passengers.

There are 99 names below, of these 61 appear to have disembarked at Albany. Another 5 cannot be confirmed as arriving (though the over-all numbers appear to tally with newspaper reports of numbers landed), as no other records of them have been located. The indication therefore is that some 62 men, women and children got off at Albany when the existing population was very close to 90.

At this time general accommodation at Albany was simply not available. So, where did the emigrants go? Who fed and housed them? What work did they do?

As an example, in 1834 we know George and Grizel Cheyne lived in their small cottage on the lower east side of the valley and that with them were their adopted daughter, Emily Trimmer, and her nanny, Petronella Stromberg. At that time, they may still have been housing Cheyne’s two other nephews George-McCartney and John, along with John’s wife. Aboard the Pattison were Alexander Cheyne, the other John Cheyne, his wife Ann and their infant son. Presumably, all four moved in. That makes between eight and eleven people in a one-bedroom cottage. There were only a handful of buildings in Albany at the time. The Geake’s hotel (two or three rooms?), Dr & Mrs. Lyttleton’s family house, which also served as the post office, John and Catherine Morley’s cottage and the second house they built which Patrick Taylor quickly acquired and moved in to, presumably with Joseph Warner, the ‘apprentice’ he took on, and mrs and Mrs Robertson (Robinson), his servant couple Mary Taylor mentions in her shipboard diary.  There is also the house belonging to the widow Mrs McLeod, whom the Sherratt’s rented from upon or soon after their arrival. Then there was The Farm at Strawberry Hill where the Spencer family and staff lived, and that was it. The rundown barracks must have served as rough accommodation but let’s not forget there was a soldier’s contingent already at Albany too, helping make up the pre-existing 90-person population.

A good number of the orphaned children were apprenticed to the men aboard, so presumably fell under their remit as far as subsistence was concerned, but for virtually all steerage passengers it was probably a matter of tents and makeshift shelters, if they did not stay aboard the ship itself. Bearing in mind the James Pattison did not arrive at Fremantle for another three months, it’s not unlikely the holdup at Albany was because there was nowhere else for the passengers to stay.

Of the steerage men, what work were they able to gain?

James Stirling’s description of King George Sound as the Italy of Australia must have rung pretty hollow in a whole lot of ears, not least those of James Anderson, Isaac Winterbourne and Robert Brianson, three men in their mid to late thirties with no capital who desperately needed to find a means of existence. These three, it would appear, soon realised the only work they were going to get would come through all the talk about seal skins, blubber and oil.

According to extant sources aboard the James Pattison were the following passengers:

Cabin Passengers

  1. Sir James Stirling
  2. Lady Ellen Stirling (nee Mangles) and three young children 
  3. Mr Andrew Stirling (nephew to Sir James) (b. 1818)
  4. Mr George Attwood (Albany)
  5. Mr Peter Belches (3rd Lieutenant R.N. Retired) (Albany)
  6. Mrs Frances Louisa Bussell (nee Yates) (Frem)
  7. Miss Mary Yates Bussell (b. 1805, m. Patrick Taylor Esq) (Frem.)
  8. Captain Alexander Cheyne (J.P.) (b.1785) (Albany)
  9. Mr Humphrey Donaldson (b.1780 d. 1835) (Frem)
  10. Mrs ? Donaldson (Frem)
  11. Mr George Eliot (b. 1816) (Frem) (connected to Stirling family)
  12. Mr Charles Lee (Albany)
  13. Mrs Mary Ann Lee (Albany)
  14. Mr Frederick Lee (b.1834 at sea or Albany)
  15. Mr John Conningham Mackie (cousin to W.H, Mackie) (Frem)
  16. Mr Thomas W. Mellersh (Frem)
  17. Mr Robert Moodie (Albany)
  18. Mr Thomas Brooker Sherratt (b. 1789) (Albany)
  19. Mrs Amelia Sherratt (b. 1800) (Albany)
  20. Mstr Thomas Sherratt (b. 1829) (Albany)
  21. Mstr William Sherratt (b. 1828) (Albany)
  22. Ms Emma Sherratt (b. 1826) (Albany)
  23. Mstr John Sherratt (b. 1824) (Albany)
  24. Ms Elizabeth (Betsy) Sherratt (b. 1820) (Albany)
  25. Ms Mary Sherratt (b. 1819) (Albany)
  26. Mr James Stokes (b. 1810) (Frem)
  27. Mr Patrick Taylor Esq (b.1807) (Albany)
  28. Mr Henry Watt (Albany)


Steerage Passengers (possibly also crew)

  1. Mr James Anderson (b. 1801) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  2. Mr George Ansild  (Albany) (Left for N.S.W. the following year)
  3. Mr Duncan Arcott (b. 1796) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  4. Mr William Atkin (Albany) (Left for N.S.W. the following year)
  5. Mr James Balchives/Balchin (Albany)
  6. Mr William Birch (b. 1811) (not found)
  7. Mr Robert Black (b.1806) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  8. Mr William Blackman (not found)
  9. Mr Thomas Boston (Albany)
  10. Mr Robert Brianson (b.1796) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  11. Mr Thomas Brick (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  12. Ms Rachel Burrows (Frem) (maid to Ellen Stirling)
  13. Mr William Brown (Frem)
  14. Mr Thomas Clare (Albany)
  15. Mr Anthony Cornish (b. 1821?) (Frem) (Originally arrived 1830)
  16. Mr John Craigie (b.1803) (Albany)
  17. Mr John Cheyne (b. 1806) (Albany)
  18. Mrs Ann Livinia Forrester/Cheyne (b. 1816) & infant son (Albany)
  19. Mr Thomas Clare (Albany)
  20. Mr Bate Cook (Albany)
  21. Mr Anthony Cornish (b. 1821) (Frem)
  22. Mr John Craigie (b. 1803) (Albany)
  23. Mr Henry Cullen (Albany)
  24. Mr James Dunn (b. 1813) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  25. Ms Ann Caroline Jackson (Albany)
  26. Mrs Harriett Jackson (Albany)
  27. Mr Michael Jackson (Albany) (d. 1846, Perth)
  28. Mr Nathaniel Jackson (Albany – took family to Perth in 1840)
  29. Mrs Tabitha Jones (perhaps with other unidentified children -Frem)
  30. Mstr Thomas Jones (b. 1818 d. 1880) (son of Tabitha – Frem)
  31. Mr John Mayhan (not found)
  32. Mrs ? Mayhan (not found)
  33. Mr William Morrison (plant collector – d. 1846 Perth) (Albany)
  34. Mr James Newell Jnr (aka Jem b. 1819) (Albany)
  35.  Mr Albert J. Nicholas (Albany)
  36. Mr John Acustus Oxley (b. 1800 d. 1867) (Albany)
  37. Mrs Elizabeth Oxley (b. 18o7 d. 1838) (Albany)
  38. Ms Charlotte Elizabeth Oxley (b. 1832) (Albany) (potentially with brothers John & Benjamin)
  39. John Robertson (Robinson) (Albany) (servant to Patrick Taylor)
  40. Mrs Robertson (Robinson) (Albany) (1836 census) (servant to Patrick Taylor)
  41. Mr William Thacker (b. 1803) (Frem)
  42. Mr John Thirlleen (b. 1804) (Frem)
  43. Mr F.A. Warde (to Tas. 1835) (Albany)
  44. Mr Isaac Winterbourne (b. 1796) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)

Childrens Friend Society ‘Apprentices’

  1. Mstr James (Thomas) Broun (b. 1819) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  2. Ms Ann Bryan? (b. 1818-1824) (Albany) (Statham-Drew & Erickson)
  3. Ms Jane Eliza Coates (b. 1821) (Frem)
  4. Mstr William Coates (b. 1824) (Frem)
  5. Mstr Richard Cullyer (b. 1823) (Frem)
  6. Mstr Owen Crawley (b. 1819) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Peter/Henry(?) Watt at Albany – Erickson)
  7. Mstr Robert Larkham/Larkin (b. 1818) (Frem) (Apprenticed to Bussell family)
  8. Mstr Frederick March (b. 1818) (Frem)
  9. Mstr William McGarth (b. 1820) (Frem)
  10. Mstr William McGrath (b. 1818) (Albany) (Apprenticed to Sir Richard Spencer) (1836 Albany census)
  11. Mstr Thomas McMahon (b. 1818) (Albany) Apprenticed first to Peter Belches) (1836 Albany census)
  12. Mstr John McMaster (b. 1819) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Capt. Alexander Cheyne)
  13. Ms Diannah Moreton (b. 1820) (Frem) (married notorious policeman James Hunt)
  14. Mstr Josiah Pack (b. 1817) (Frem)
  15. Mstr John Paine (b. 1818) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Sir Richard Spencer) (1836 Albany census)
  16. Mstr Thomas Pearce (b. 1817) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Peter Belches) (1836 Albany census)
  17. Mstr William Pitt (b. 1818) (Frem)
  18. Mstr Robert Setter (b. 1819) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Robert Moodie)
  19. Mstr Samuel Smallhorn (b. 1818) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)
  20. Mstr John Wallis/Wallace (b. 1821) (Albany) (Apprenticed first to Charles Lee, then Henry Townsend) (1836 Albany census as Charles Wallace?)
  21. Mstr Joseph Warner (b.1819) (Albany) (Apprenticed to Patrick Taylor Esq) (1836 Albany census)
  22. Mstr George Watt (b. 1825?) (Frem)
  23. Ms Mary Ann Watt (b. 1825) (Frem)
  24. Mstr Robert Welch (Frem) (Apprenticed first to Captain Toby)
  25. Ms Hannah Williams (b. 1821) (Frem) (Sister to Francis?)
  26. Mstr Francis Williams (b. 1818) (Frem)
  27. Mstr Robert Wilson?  (b. 1820) (Albany) (1836 Albany census)


Above: No definitive passenger list for this sailing of the James Pattison has so far been found, resulting in an assembly of names based on unreliable newspaper reports and other relating documentation. According to this report there were 71 steerage passengers, but I can only account for 69, and 32 so-called apprentices of which I can identify only 27.  Image: Leading article cut from the Perth Gazette newspaper issued four days after Stirling’s return to Fremantle on 19th August 1833: Source: The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 23.8.1834.


Mary Yates Bussell’s Shipboard Diary


Mary Taylor, (nee Bussell) kept a diary of her voyage aboard the Pattison, the surviving part edited and published by the West Australian Historical Society in their Early Days Journal. It was prepared by her grandson Dr R.C. Fairbairn and read to the Society back in August 1946. The diary starts a few days into the voyage and concludes when they reach the Cape Colony at South Africa, a period of just over three months. The rest of the diary is lost but there is enough to catch reasonable glimpse of how things were. Known as Pretty Polly within the family, Mary Bussell was twenty-nine years-old, single, and by interpretation very much on the lookout for a male member of society she might attach herself to. She and her mother were the last of the Bussell family to leave Portsmouth, in the south of England, where they all grew up. Mary and her mother didn’t know, but by the time they arrived the family had graduated northwards from Augusta to establish their property ‘Cattle Chosen‘ on the northern coast of Wardandi Country, near the mouth of the Vasse River, later to become known as Busselton.

Mary and her mother shared a cabin along with her glossy, black-coated puppy, Teddy, and a hive of bees she was hoping would survive the voyage but unsurprisingly didn’t. This was a prestigious sailing as leading the emigration party were the newly knighted Governor Sir James Stirling, his young wife Ellen (also in her late twenties), who was by Mary’s account shy and reserved, and three of the Stirling’s young children, Fred 5-yrs, Mary 2-yrs, and the baby, Charles, who had been born in Portsmouth while the ship was waiting to sail. The Pattison left London docks in November after lengthy delays apparently caused by ever-increasing passenger demands on cargo space but couldn’t get away from Portsmouth until mid-February. Through her writing it appears Mary fails to bond with Mrs Stirling in any meaningful way. Though preoccupied by her newborn and young children as well as high-level professional duties aboard, Mary intimates she was disappointed not to have received a closer show of confidence than Ellen offered. The two women are the same age but Mary worries, perhaps, that her unmarried status and obvious though well-conducted fraternizing amounted to a barrier. Bear in mind here that Ellen had no choice in her relationship, having been married off to thirty-year old James before or just as she turned sixteen, Stirling having sealed the deal with old Mr. Mangles years beforehand. Mary, on the other, had gained thirteen years of ‘experience’ in the meantime and certainly seemed to enjoy spreading her deck time among any of the men aboard who would walk it with her.

There were about thirty cabin passengers in all, roughly one third of the passenger list. Some thirty-odd men, women and children travelled steerage along with another thirty boys and girls (mostly boys) comprising the so-called orphaned apprentices. Mary’s entries are solely concerned with her interactions with the other premium class passengers. She writes as if the journal will be published, speaking as if she were telling the story to an already gathered audience. She reads a lot, for herself and to her mother, and her writing reflects it. Parts of the prose are very good, commanding even.

No one from steerage class is named except Patrick Taylor’s ‘man’ (Robertson) who tends the livestock below. Emphasising the aspirations of the settlers, Taylor himself brings a family of cashmere goats, three of which died around the same time as the bees. Mary laments the loss by saying they’d cost him ‘many hundreds’. Voyaging with the same sense of aristocracy was James Stirling, who apart from wife and kids was accompanied by six thoroughbred mares and two colts he’d picked up while back on familiar soil. However aspirational that may seem, these two months at sea in fact tell the story of animal sickness and death.  Apart from the fanciful bees and goats, Mary’s puppy Teddy gets a fierce knock from somewhere and then goes mad, having to be put down. Peter Belches’ dog gets distemper and dies. Rabbits breed but also fall sick and die. Some ferrets get loose and wreak carnage among the fowls. The failure of animal security and health aboard makes for a sense of dark foreboding as the passage progresses while Mary’s palpable senses of excitement and adventure cast such optimism the losses seem no more than par for the course.

Mary is generally upbeat, especially the first two weeks when the weather is fine and the voyage plain sailing. She speaks of walking the poop deck with her companions, naming many of the men. One night, near the misty island of Madeira they watch a bright full moon emerge from the stilly sea until ‘finally in triumph it rode through the high clear sky’. Mostly she is interested in Peter Belches who she plays chess with and describes as her chief favourite. She says he is ‘fonder of male society than female’, ‘is strangely incomprehensible’ and ‘disappointed about something’.  Belches is 37 or 38 years old. She says he has mixed in all society, ‘from the tent of the gypsy to the palace of royalty’ and tells herself, ‘I will try harder to understand him’. We know Mary marries Patrick Taylor about three years later, but in the early part of the voyage, at least, she seems to have fallen for whatever charms Belches had to offer.

Nonetheless, Patrick Taylor regales her with the witchery of Scottish poetry and rapturous descriptions of the Scotch scenery and her mother appears to think highly of him, or so she says. She talks a lot about religious and church matters with him. Taylor is younger than her, just 27 years old. He is emigrating on his own and naive to the financial challenges ahead, at one point ordering daily milk for Mary’s sick puppy and later saying he would rather pay the salary of a clergyman than live without one at either Augusta or the Sound. Taylor, at that point, seems to be suggesting he’d go wherever she was if only he could win her heart, but otherwise would take up at Albany.

He does take up at Albany which probably speaks of Mary’s infatuation with Belches.

Of Alexander Cheyne, who is older again (about fifty) and who she calls ‘Captain’, she says he is ‘educated’ and ‘abreast of the work of mechanics and engineers’. A little further on, after they meet in company on deck, she describes him as ‘a superior man’. Alexander Cheyne’s post-Albany career in Tasmania, though significantly troubled, does bear this out.

Mary mentions a Mr Lawson, who I cannot identify as an early settler, which suggests she disguises people with pseudonyms or else he got off at the Cape where the ship laid up for ten days. On the subject of The Cape and slavery, where the practice had become highly refined, when Mary got there on 12th May1834, it had been a year since the law was officially changed. In my reading around this I came across a blog post by the above-mentioned Bernice Barry where she reflects upon slave keeping at Cape Colony while considering the journey out to Western Australia Georgiana Kennedy Molloy took aboard the Warrior four years earlier. Bernice reads a copy of the local Government Gazette in print at the time and in it among the advertisements she finds a list of domestic slaves for sale. There are 37 belonging to a single colonial family, individually itemised as part of a job lot for the estate being offered; house, land, fixtures, furnishings, carts, buggies and carriages included. I add this to bring context to the surrounding slavery conversation here and its relevance at the time, and also because Mary later becomes well acquainted with Georgiana, the two being very close in age as well. You can read Bernice Barry’s deeply contemplative post ‘And Lastly‘, here.

Back aboard the Pattison, Mary speaks about Mr Taylor’s remarkably dedicated animal attendant Robertson, about whom nothing else is known other than soon after arrival at Albany a town lot is registered in the name of Bedjamin Taylor and that in Spencer’s 1836 census there appears the name ‘Benjamin’, an 18-year-old servant from India. There may be a link but there is nothing known of Taylor’s shipboard attendant at Albany. Once again this highlights the incomplete passenger list we have collectively arrived at for the James Pattison. It remains imperfect and probably also incorporates some crew. Captain Mellish, master of the ship on the way out, did not Captain her past Fremantle and there is no further mention of him.

The quest to locate a definitive James Pattison passenger/muster list is as much a burning desire as hitting upon the identity and story of Black Anderson himself.

The overall gist of Mary’s entries reveals her romantic vision of the colony and the life waiting for her. In one passage she talks of the young apprentices as they move in and out of the Stirling’s cabin with bibles in hand, saying they were daily schooled in religious studies by Lady Stirling. Ellen’s father’s role with the Society of course explains the commitment. The image of safe Anglican England is in Mary’s mind, while in Ellen Mangles-Stirling’s mind, perhaps, lay preparation for the hardships she much better knew were to come. Surely Mary is aware of the deprivations the infant colony is beset with, but her concerns aren’t apparent. She doesn’t come across as worried in the slightest. Rather, she appears preoccupied with her heartfelt and hopeful version of this voyage than anything as ghastly as suffering and privation. She jokes about the rats, the mop they need daily to dry their soaking cabin floor, and even the sickly stink of disturbed bilge water one day revolting the entire ship.

The closest we get to fear and upset comes when they near the equator, which she calls the line, and they come to be shadowed by an unfamiliar vessel long enough to think they are to be pirated. They prepare for it, appoint leaders and rehearse defensive moves but it is just another ship out of Plymouth making its way southward through the Atlantic. Perhaps another notion of what the future holds for the lesser passengers comes from a description she gives of the entire ship turning out for service one balmy Sunday morning, the steerage passengers in their best clothes and the apprentices in their blue frocks and brilliant white trousers which would ‘never be so white again’, she says, as if even she can’t imagine them being granted new clothes another time. There is no mention of any of the men or women in steerage, nor of the crew, except Captain Mellish and the ship’s surgeon (she calls) Dr Williams. Despite this, James Anderson, Robert Brianson and Isaac Winterbourne are right there among them. (Note: There is no known captain’s, mate’s or surgeons log extant either).

Through her limited and considered, though at times quite captivating entries, we catch view of an educated but still young Mary Bussell on a 19th Century Atlantic cruise bristling with exhilaration, expressing her intelligence, joy, hopes and determination. Clearly influenced by the novelists of the day, she imagines a bright and rich future among the Ladies and Gentlemen of Swan River society. Mary Bussell-Taylor may have been romantic and naive to the blunt reality, but hardly dishonest. History shows she sought resolutely to bring her own family up the same way when the time came. Despite falling considerably short financially (as far as her expectations were concerned) and enduring the emotional hardships of isolation and her husband becoming a mealy-mouthed crank, belief in and commitment to her social standing and vision of life was exercised across the whole of her long and trying colonial experience.

Albany upon and after arrival of the James Pattison


The first point of interest here is that the ship remained in Princess Royal Harbour for over seven weeks. They rode in on Thursday, 19th June, but didn’t arrive at Gages Roads, Fremantle until 19th August; 61 days later. The date the ship appears to have departed Albany was Tuesday 12th August. Why this happened, what happened during that time, and what happened after the ship left are vital to the story of Albany’s subsequent development.

Pamela Statham-Drew gives a few paragraphs to this period in her very thorough though class-bound study, James Stirling- Admiral and Founding Governor of Western Australia. Rather than consider the task Stirling is really addressing, she puts the delay down to bad weather and the need for Stirling’s horses to be protected. There may be some small truth in that, but the journey was already four long months at sea, in addition to the almost two months at Spithead waiting to get away. The Stirlings had been ready to leave England since October. They ended up boarding mid-December, though the ship didn’t sail till 9th February. By the time they got to Albany surely all they wanted was to get back to the Swan River, not hang about for another two months. The captain’s apparent willingness to delay on account of weather is evident in their laying to at Spithead, and Stirling’s prize colt, Grey Leg, might have had something to do with it, however both these reasons are discredited by Captain Bateman of the Colonial Brig Tamar who was at Albany when the Pattison arrived. (Colonial Times (Hobart) 19.8.1834). Other factors, including a disturbingly unchanged Albany since Stirling was last there and a tranche of increasingly nervous new settlers wondering why in fact everything was taking so long, are much more likely causes. Add to this ‘the refractory state of the crew’ perhaps frustrated by peevish passenger demands upon what had been ‘a most unprecedented and tedious passage’. (PGWAJ 23.8.1834)

While at Albany Stirling, clearly anxious about how much time had already gone by, sent a letter back to the Colonial Office in London aboard the Tamar (via Hobart), acknowledging the delays, explaining the causes and the likelihood of further hindrance; saying he needed to stay in Albany to review matters in this quarter due to the number of new settlers taking up. He notes that the settlement had barely changed since he was last there but was currently reveling in a positive mood. There certainly would have been a positive mood when Stirling waded ashore and told Spencer, Cheyne, Morley and Geake who and what was aboard. Spencer will not only have been relieved but his confidence in Stirling – and sense of Stirling’s confidence in him – will have been bolstered, while the others will have thought back on the summer of 1831/32 and seen all that creative and explorative activity as the source.

Below follows selected excerpts from Captain J.R. Bateman’s letter to the Colonial Times (Hobart), an account of his 48-day return voyage to King George Sound between May and July 1834, published 19th August the same year.


The Sound is very easy of access, and provides good anchorage, the land remarkable. The harbour is a perfect basin, with a very narrow entrance, with about four fathoms, the tide’ rises about four feet once every twenty-four hours. Fish are plentiful but small in the harbour, in the Sound snappers are abundant, and most excellent.
The land round the harbour is of a very sandy nature, and nothing pre-possessing in appearance, though it produces three crops of potatoes annually. Very little wood to be seen near the township. The township of Albany is well situated as to water, and capable of being ultimately a fine town. . .
The allotments in town are half an acre each with a facade attached to them, which will be a plan of building for the proprietor. The chief and best allotments are taken but must be improved before a second can be applied for by the proprietor.
I spent several days with Sir Richard and Lady Spencer, when he shewed me the capabilities of his estate. They gave me a hearty welcome. . . During breakfast one day Lady Spencer told me she dreamt she saw Sir James Sterling (sic) and Lady Sterling (sic) on the shore. About an hour after breakfast, I discovered a ship in the offing which the following day proved to be the James Pattison, out eight months from London, with Governor Sterling and Lady Sterling (sic) onboard, with about seventy passengers for the Sound and the Swan, many of whom are very respectable, besides a quantity of cattle.
The horses were well deserving attention, I never saw them better in a gentleman’s stud, though eight months on board. Sir James pointed out one of Lord Egremont’s breed, which he refused £600 for at the Cape.
Some of the settlers have families of four and six children. Captain Cheyne is appointed from home in charge of the Horse Police, and Lieutenant Hilliard (he means Belches) the Harbour Master. Sir James gave me a number of letters (which were waiting at the Cape) from Colonel Hanson and a number of Indian officers to Governor Sterling (sic), saying their intentions were decided to settle at King George’s Sound, besides several mercantile men with their vessels for the Whale Fishery.
Before the arrival of the Governor, everything was of a gloomy aspect, there being no money and no exertions to improve property, excepting Sir Richard, whose residence is about a mile from the town, named Strawberry Hill, a most beautiful property. . .
Since Governor Sterling’s arrival, all allotments are to be sold. The settlers are very busy making shelter for their families the best way they can.
The Governor detained me until Tuesday, and wished me to remain longer, on account of Mr. Hoy going about twenty miles in the interior to look at some good timber   I think the qualifications of the country are quite capable of improvements, but the settler will have his task. (Mr Hoy, was a passenger in the Tamar. Both Bateman and Hoy sought to acquire town lots by leaving instructions with the builder, John Sinclair. See Spencer correspondence) . . .
On Wednesday, the 25th June, got under weigh, and proceeded towards Van Diemen’s Land, wind N. by E.



The mood on his arrival will of course have been celebratory, but behind the smiling hand-shaking spontaneity Stirling would have been disappointed with the lack of progress and noticed the fractious relationship between Spencer and Cheyne, then realised the difference between it and the relationship he enjoyed between himself and his own lead settlers in Perth. The social dynamic at the Swan River had been through very tough beginnings and Stirling had (and still) faced not only massive criticism but the visual reality of settlers turning their backs, reloading the ships and sailing away. However, his core supporters, his own settlers of last resort (Roe, Leake, Mackie, Irwin, Moore, et al) showed faith, as did the press who of course relied upon the success of the colony, so if Stirling was going down, he wasn’t going down alone. This, combined with his own impressive resolve, will have enabled him to see beyond the conflicts between individual settlers. The arrival of Peter Belches and Alexander Cheyne, who Stirling from the moment they agreed to come would have earmarked as key appointments to the Albany jurisdiction, would broaden the power and scope of local authority and ease pressure on Spencer. Stirling was fully occupied as the leading official at the colony so couldn’t play businessman as well, though he took full advantage of the land grab they were all there to exploit. Spencer’s position was different, however. Too late to avail of the original generous land grant scheme, he had no choice but to be in business at the same time, and it was this conflict of interest which infuriated Cheyne, giving rise to consternation among the new arrivals.

In any case, the injection of officials and financially endowed passengers was enough to positively influence the local dynamic, but it was essential the settlers stayed. If they did the trajectory and velocity of this vital component of the colony was bound to increase, so the seven and a half weeks layover may be seen as Stirling’s personal and governmental investment in the town and its surrounds.

During the layover, Stirling and Spencer (and likely others) rode out to Moorilup (Kendenup) to look at the Kalgan top end Collie had three years earlier sung about. Maybe this was an opportunity to help the horses recover, to strengthen and freshen them before arrival at the Swan River where they’d be on show, but it was very much about bringing confidence to both the existing and new settlers whose agricultural promise needed to be made real. The finer details of this expedition are sketchy as no new settler names are mentioned, but the fact the journey is made at all is telling.

There is mention in the archives of a Mr Hoy who was aboard Captain Bateman’s ship Tamar. Hoy and Batemen both left town lot purchase instructions with Andrew Gordon and John Sinclair, builders who it appears were brought to Albany from Perth early in 1834 in order to build for Spencer. Both arrived into the Swan River aboard the Gem early in February the same year.) In any case, Hoy went in search of timbered land in the company of Stirling which suggests he was on the Moorilup ride which more than likely followed the Kalgan River via the Porongurups where the closest Karri timber stood.

It appears no one had been to Moorilup since Collie, Manyat and young John Henty in May 1832, just a month before the Stirlings had left for England. Collie had been there twice, first with Mokare during April/May 1831, and then Henty and Manyat a little over twelve months later. Stirling had also gone there in December 1831, with Roe and Nakina, and it had left an impression. (See In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 3 and Mokare’s Mob – Part 4a for elaboration.)

Stirling took it upon himself to make a firsthand inspection of the grant he had earlier given himself there, along with the 12000-acre grant he had approved for Cheyne based upon the value of Cheyne’s pre-1832 arriving investment, and upon which Cheyne, along with all other grantees, was supposed to have made improvements. Stirling had recommended the area to more of his cronies too, three of whom took out grants under their wives’ names (Currie, Brown and Roe). Through this we see again how Stirling habitually manufactured personal and political gain at every opportunity. What is noticeable here is that Cheyne, who had been issued his entire due in one fell sweep, had taken no steps to use it, while Spencer, though not entitled to grants on anything like the same basis (changes to the rule occurred in 1832), failed to show interest at all. The question why has to be asked.

Cheyne and Spencer were the only two in an apparent position to raise sheep out there but neither did. It could be argued that Cheyne, having spent most of his available cash on a dozen town lots, was trapped with an abundance of assets and no market to utilise them, so not in a position to buy livestock. Spencer, on the other hand, had already brought in an expensive shipment of Tasmanian merinos and put them to roam about Strawberry Hill, deciding land anywhere beyond a few hours walk away represented too great a risk. The point here being that Moorilup was just too far away and nobody wanted to be the first to go out there.

While in Albany Stirling also spent a good deal of time addressing the matter of Building Regulations. There is significant correspondence between Stirling and Spencer as well as between Spencer, Stirling and J.S. Roe’s Survey Dept at Perth regarding this. Stirling

commissioned the building of a ‘vice-regal residence’ for himself. The site for this will have been upon his self-granted four-acre block overlooking the harbour east of Cheyne’s selection. This was Block 4a/E1 on the rise by the Balancing Rocks, now known as Mass Rock. (Where the Port Authority building behind CBH offices sits).

Above: J.S. Roe’s Survey Dept at Perth had received notice from Sir James Stirling, almost certainly when he had arrived back at the Swan River in August, that 16 lots had been purchased by the new settlers at Albany and that there was a requirement upon the new owners to construct their buildings with a common facade. Roe then wrote to Spencer at Albany with official instructions to issue the owners with their conditions of purchase and to oversee the construction of those buildings to that effect. Image: First page of Roe’s letter from the Survey Dept to Richard Spencer, dated 18th September 1834, instructing him to make sure new buildings followed the regulations set out by Stirling and subsequently published


The shortage of housing no doubt impressed itself firmly at that time and the stated 250 Pound investment will have added to the confidence in future Albany. This caused a decent cohort of the new arrivals to buy up town lots too. Because the beachfront and Stirling terrace lots had already been allocated, almost all of the new buys were along York Street or else the western continuation of Stirling Terrace beyond Point Frederick. Certainly, there was cause for optimism but perhaps Stirling didn’t realise the true nature of those he had coaxed aboard. Rather than Bonafide farmers, which Spencer already was, and Cheyne later forced himself to become, it appears these men were mostly in the business of speculation. The town lots made sense but large buys a long way out with no one actively occupying them and no road to get there, was a different proposition altogether.


Above: In September 1834, The Perth Gazette published a list of town allotments issued at Albany. The ‘S’ lots are mostly York Street and the higher ‘B’ numbers waterfront lots east of Parade Street. The list includes names which had already established at Albany, along with many who arrived aboard the James Pattison. Also, there are two persons listed in the 1836 census as mariners, these are the sealers John William Andrews and John Morgan Hughes. Note also the name Bedjamin Taylor (Benjamin), possibly Patrick’s Taylor’s servant aboard ship whom Mary Bussell in her diary calls Robertson. An 18-year-old Indian servant named only as Benjamin appears in Spencer’s 1836 Albany Census. Image: Cut from the Government Notice of town and suburban allotments most recently issued in the Swan River Colony – to end of July 1834. Source: The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal; 6th September 1834.


Now, the arrival of the James Pattison will have given rise to a great reception among those existing settlers, no doubt, but surviving documentation doesn’t offer much. The excitement and ensuing optimism resulting from queuing town lot purchasers will have been countered, at least temporarily, by immediate concerns. Consideration of what actually occurred requires some degree of interpretation. Thoughts to bear in mind include:

  • The number of known persons who eventually disembarked came to 59, overnight increasing the population from about 90 to about 150.
  • There will have been an accommodation and likely food crisis, probably forcing the ship to house and victual passengers until circumstances permitted an acceptable departure. This may have involved waiting until supplies arrived from another incoming vessel.
  • John Morley’s cottage on Duke Street (Patrick Taylor’s Cottage) along with perhaps one or two other foreshore houses look to have been the only available to rent/buy.  Taylor quickly acquired his at a high price but no other records have been found.
  • Some of the orphaned apprentices were assigned to existing settlers at Albany while others joined with the monied settlers disembarking, falling under their protection. A local committee was formed to ensure their safety.
  • Established settlers such as Spencer, Cheyne and Morley will have been highly excited by the opportunities brought by the influx and engaged in immediate commercial consultation with them. Belches, Taylor and Alexander Cheyne being quickly absorbed by the elite component.
  • There was a reported issue with refractory crew, various mariners unexpectedly and illegally jumping ship. This may have been caused by the protracted nature of the sailing, treatment of the crew by officers and passengers, or sheer opportunity on the part of certain men, such as Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne, who either long held the intention of absconding at the colony or took advantage of the opportunity during the lay-up.
  • James Stirling had administrative business to attend to with Sir Richard Spencer (including the issuing of the Newell and Jenkins families with four-acre suburban grants) but this would hardly account for a seven-and-a-half-week layover. The governor’s lingering presence will have played a significant part in easing apprehension as the new arrivals faced the reality of their colonial predicament.


Above: The delayed arrival of the James Pattison at Fremantle caused mounting concern among the Perth leadership, as reflected in the newspapers. From this report frustration is evident as explanations for the holdups were given, amongst them a report suggesting the crew, or certain of them, objected to continuing beyond Albany. Additionally, Captain Mellish was the reported incoming Captain, but a Captain Middleton guided the ship’s apparent disorderly departure from Fremantle on 27th August, after which various legal writs were set in motion. By account 150 tons of freight had been put off-ship ahead of departure from England, caused by the passengers demanding increased space for their goods, including livestock. Image: Cropped paragraph from one of the newspaper reports generated by the long-awaited return of Governor Sir James Stirling to the Swan River aboard the latently controversial F. & C.E. Mangles chartered ship, James Pattison. Source: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal, Saturday, 23 August 1834.


By the end of October, barely four months post-arrival, the mood at Albany was far from what Mary’s was aboard ship. There had been a town meeting at Cheyne’s grand little premises, attended by some of the more established residents, some of the men of the James Pattison and others who had arrived around the same time. A ship called the Jolly Rambler had arrived from Sydney via Hobart and Launceston just before the James Pattison and unloaded a few more settlers including Mr and Mrs John McLeod and family and 28 year-old Robert Henry Maddocks. Those at the meeting agreed to petition the government for renewal of a convict presence at Albany, a notion contrary to the central tenet of the Swan River Colony’s free citizen decree. Notable absentees for such a dissenting gathering were Resident Magistrate Sir Richard Spencer, Government Storekeeper John Morley, Superintendent of Mounted Police Captain Alexander Cheyne and Harbour Master Peter Belches. Each of these men depending on the government for their jobs.

Those at George Cheyne’s meeting felt their isolation was too great and the first priority for them all was the creation of roads. Donald Garden gives an excellent summary of this period in Albany: A Panorama. . .  Over just a handful of pages, using multiple sources, he not only manages an accurate and concise assessment, but an insightful one too. Cheyne had taken umbrage at Spencer’s usurping of his unofficial self-appointed position of chief citizen at Albany by clashing with him over duty payments on imported liquor. Since December 1833, he’d been building his opposition to Spencer, and this tactic will have bitten hard. Cheyne led the meeting, I believe, because he had ended up with grants at Moorilup and was unable to sell them on. Not so much as a fence post was placed upon Cheyne’s grant until he finally offloaded it six years later. But it wasn’t just the distance and roadless journey to get there, Albany was friendly with its home Aborigines and the stories of conflict in that area had not gone unnoticed. Without military protection and easy and direct access to town, Moorilup was deemed too far away and too scary to occupy alone.

Stirling had coaxed those aboard the Pattison with the promise of good agricultural land. ‘The Italy of Australia’, they called it. Implicit in the title was an abundance of fine agricultural land, but when questioned the comparison was hailed only on the basis of comparative temperature. The land around Albany was a long way from the Tuscan hills and it didn’t take long to realise that, hence the trip to Moorilup, forty miles out via the Porongurups and Vale of Kalgan. Outside of Moorilup, the only thing the newcomers had to go on were the accounts of expeditions advertised just before the ship left. No one, it seems, was alerted to the Hay River grasslands less than half the distance away at Narikup. Not even Stirling, who held a chunk of it in his ever-growing portfolio, thought to say anything.

At that time, the highly energised Spencer hadn’t yet discovered he needed to drive his livestock inland in order to escape the poisonous effect of coastal grasses. Even though occupying the only decent soil and freshwater pool anywhere near the town, he was blindly allowing his prize merino sheep to grow sicker by the day. Eventually he bought the heart of Stirling’s grant from him and established his Hay River Farm there, but in the meantime the new arrivals remained hesitant. Guided by Cheyne they realised their money would be quickly spent acquiring land and then building the necessary route to market. So much so, as they put it, their life in the colony could only amount to a sacrifice to future generations. So they baulked. The prescience of the James Pattison investors concluded it was safer to drive a quest for cheap or free labour as soon as possible. To them then it was better to wait for a response first so they could rebalance their opinions or else reformulate their plans. The Swan River Colony had suffered heavy reputational damage and skepticism was the order of the day.

The answer of course was no, but this meeting at Cheyne’s cottage pre-empted the colony’s subsequent call for convict labour by fourteen years.

That Cheyne led the dissident charge troubled Spencer no end as it undermined the authority he demanded. Since December the pair had been feuding. Government sinecures, punitive taxes and how best to set about the future were live arguments, but the ill feeling ran much deeper than just that. One of Cheyne’s untethered horses had nuisanced the place and subsequently disappeared, the suspicion being Spencer had one his servants, Charles Burns, dispose of it. The case was briefly presented to the court but before Belches and Taylor arrived Cheyne and Spencer were the only two magistrates anyway; hence the dismissal. Curiously though, Charles Burns, an indentured teenager to Spencer, had been granted a suburban allotment in April that year.

Both Spencer and Cheyne were the same ilk. Both understood the future would be determined by their own actions and both were big enough and strong enough and committed enough to back their own judgement and move accordingly. But they were only two and no one else, to that point, could match them for tenacity and the will to succeed. Spencer was all in, had staked everything, had brought his entire family and anyone else he could influence. There was no turning back. The same was true for Cheyne. The family circumstances were different, but he was all in too and woe betide any man who got in his way.

The likes of those newer arrivals who attended Cheyne’s meeting and subsequently signed the petition may have understood the logic of the convict argument but were not so willing to cast their lot all at once and in entirety. Certainly not as far away as Moorilup. Stirling’s message had not come across as he needed it to. The pitch didn’t allow for the idea of ‘little or no help’ to take hold.

To be fair, Thomas Brooker Sherratt (who brought his family aboard the Pattison) was a similar type to Spencer and Cheyne, as was Morley. This group, which must ultimately include Geake, Taylor, Symers and McKail too, came to comprise Albany’s settlers of last resort. Those who bought in, built and never gave up. It’s unfair to leave out Geake as most men disabled to the extent he appears to have been would not have survived at all, let alone maintain a presence in the records. Sherratt came to understand the severity of the settler situation and quickly realised, as each in this founding investor group did, there was no going home. The leap had been made. Sherratt was easily provoked and vociferous in his responses, but he fought tooth and nail trying to win the day for himself and his family despite being deliberately thwarted by the others, most notably Cheyne and McKail. It was a dog-eat-dog scenario in some respects and portion of those dogs were not quite equal to others.

We are slightly ahead of ourselves here as Symers, McKail didn’t arrive until the following year, and we have only spoken anecdotally of Sherratt in these pages so far. The Sherratt family certainly warrants greater attention. Unfortunately, T.B. Sherratt’s fate was decided in the same way Spencer’s eventually was, through irascibility and consequent ill-health. As the years went by and progress was met equally and more with failure, Sherratt’s mental health deteriorated while Spencer suffered the same collapse as Geake; a stroke. Only Spencer’s proved fatal (July 1839).  Morley took one risk to many and with Spencer’s eldest son, Hugh Seymor, drowned while at work in the harbour six years later (March 1840). Cheyne, on the other hand, ploughed through every option available to him, employing and destroying family and professional relationships as attempt after attempt was met with setback after setback, until he lived well away from the town, operated exclusively on his own social and commercial terms and used violence and coercion to overcome Aboriginal interference. Mary Bussell in her ship’s diary described Cheyne’s brother Alexander as ‘a superior man’. We know too that Cheyne’s eldest brother John had achieved the highest medical rank in colonial Ireland, Lord Lieutenant. These Cheyne brothers were formidable men, win at all costs, and not to be taken lightly.

Meanwhile, back at post-Pattison Albany, it’s clear those monied new arrivals at Cheyne’s meeting had neither the will nor capacity to bend the local environment to their favour in anywhere near the same way. The task these new arrivals perceived was too great, the risks too high. They thought the place should have been more developed and believed a switch from free colony to convict based was not only a good idea but something that needed to happen quickly. Headed by Cheyne they decided to petition the government through the Perth Gazette newspaper, seeking to allow Albany to become a convict depot once more so that they could put the prisoners to work building the roads they felt ought to have already been there. This on the basis they could then access a ready market at Albany for their produce.

Above: The Albany Petition of October1834 represents political fracture within the existing settler group but also between Albany and Perth. While Albany resolved its differences with itself through Cheyne’s self-imposed exile to Cape Riche, Albany-Perth relations became either combative or aloof and remained as such for many years. Source: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal 8th Nov, 1834:


The petition was published, criticised and roundly rejected, and soon after seven of the sixteen who signed it had left. The Perth Gazette newspaper complained that the Albany settlers needed to get up and get about the place, to exert themselves more. Time was of the essence. It was all about self-determination. But this uncertainty, or unwillingness, at Albany remained. The critical mass to shift it wasn’t there. The organisation wasn’t there. The sheer weight of wealth wasn’t there. There were people but not enough to spread demand and inspire growth. Stirling was far and away the key figure and their spirit was left divided as Cheyne and Spencer drew them in different directions. Because the real seat of power resided at the Swan River, the confidence and resulting political will at Albany wasn’t strong enough. The draw of the Swan River itself, and of other more populated, more advanced places, in addition to competing opportunities at (soon to be) Adelaide and Melbourne, was too strong. Development was going to take too long at Albany. Resources of all kinds were simply insufficient. As opinion formers and effectively blind supporters of Sir James Stirling anyway, the Perth newspapers couldn’t accept this reality and so adopted the notion that torpor had gained an unhealthy grip down on the South Coast. The tag was applied and used again and again over the years to brand Albany’s failure to grow.

The Perth opinion was that the settlers shouldn’t go in for agriculture anyway, but that they should invest in the businesses of sealing and whaling. There was hype about that, a lot of hype, but no one knew how to do it and the cost of financing a whaling ship was more than anyone, those at the Swan River included, were able to afford. The new arrivals at Albany had been sold an agricultural promise anyway, not a maritime one. Italy was hardly known for its sea-going prowess. Mary Bussell, who went with her mother to Fremantle and then to the wider family home at the Vasse River (Busselton), and eventually back to Albany after she married Patrick Taylor in 1837, wrote in a letter during December 1835 (a year later, while at the Vasse), “Nearly all the young men who came out with us and settled at the Sound have returned home, disgusted with the barren soil.” Mary would have gleaned this information from various sources, including Patrick Taylor who, between 1834 and 1837, was moving between Albany, Perth, The Vasse and Tasmania. Richard Spencer’s 1836 census shows that Mary Bussell was right. Most who got off the Pattison at Albany were no longer there. Indeed, arrival of the ship had done nothing for growth. Eighteen months later the population sat at just 160. An increase of ten.

Once back in Perth James Stirling realised there was a huge amount of work still to be done if his business enterprise wasn’t to fall apart. By the end of 1834, and he only got back in September, he had carried out the Pinjarra putdown and marched on to Albany to show his new investors the road to Perth was top priority. Plans for 1835 were set in place. He and Roe would put in another grueling year exploring uncharted country. This time between the Williams River southeastwards all the way to Doubtful Island Bay, a distance that in the end had to be finished by sea. The search for agricultural land could not be ignored, but neither could coastal exploitation. Those sealers could bring something, and the foreign whalers out there suggested so much more if only partnerships with local outfits could be formed. Albany was already attracting passing shipping, surely it could attract further commercial interest in that domain. And it did. Cheyne and Sherratt soon went whaling while Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne, quite probably those refractory mariners aboard the James Pattison, joined the newly rejuvenated sealing community headed by the recent arrival of John Williams Andrews, Bob Gamble and John Morgan Hughes.

Those in attendance at Cheyne’s meeting:
  1. Geo. Cheyne
  2. G. McCartney Cheyne (nephew)
  3. Patrick Taylor Esq
  4. Dr J.P. Lyttleton
  5. T.B. Sherratt
  6. R.S. Mudie
  7. H. Townsend
  8. J.W. Lee
  9. Mr. Sinclair
  10. D.S. Geake
  11. J.T. Dunn
  12. Mr. Lacy (Joseph?)
Those who signed the petition:
  1. Geo. Cheyne
  2. T. B. Sherratt
  3. R. S. Mudie (departed)
  4. Samuel Jackson (departed)
  5. J. W. Lee (departed)
  6. D. S. Geake
  7. Charles Lee (departed)
  8. H. D. Watt (departed)
  9. G. M. Cheyne
  10. Patrick Taylor
  11. J. P. Lyttleton (died)
  12. Joseph Sinclair (departed)
  13. Andrew Gordon
  14. R. H. Maddocks (arrived June 1834 from Sydney aboard Jolly Rambler, also aboard the McLeod family)
  15. Richard Earl (departed)
  16. H. Townsend



One response to “Black Anderson: A Story of the South Coast – Part 2a”

  1. Leanne Watmuff Avatar
    Leanne Watmuff

    Dear Ciaran,
    I am a descendant of Caroline Newell and William Weston. I am presently in England (live in Victoria) and have been on the trail of James and Hannah Newell. I like others got drawn into the myth of James being on board the “Sir William Bensley” back in the late 1970’s. I was always puzzled by the fact the Caroline was born in 1822 and James would have been in NSW by then. I have definably killed off any possibility of that James NEWELL being my ancestor and have revisited the shipping lists and immigration to WA. I have reread this article on Black Jack and feel the connection with the Richard Spencer is something I will look into next. I have copies of documents you refer to regarding Strawberry Farm and the NEWELL interaction with the Spencer’s. I’m in Cambridge at present and after a few days in Norwich I will be heading to KEW to the Archives.
    I will be in WA in August and September, I would love to make contact with family connections.
    Thanks again for all your interesting work on the region, it is well overdue.
    With kind regards,
    Leanne Watmuff

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