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 2b

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

Anderson and the ‘second wave’ at the South Coast


Part 2 (a,b&c) of this challenging post is 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 criminal sailor and sealer 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, assumed 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 from London via Portsmouth and the Cape Colony to King George Sound and the Swan River, during 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 upon the men’s names appearing in the Spencer Albany Census of 1836 along with surrounding documentation relating to the men and 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, THEN the following occurred.

Continued from Part 2a

While official infant Albany was grappling with its James Pattison influx, so unofficial Albany must have spied off its opportunity.

On shore, settlers and their servants, aided by the ship’s crew, will have laboured to unload their chattels and set them down somewhere convenient. The settlers will have walked about, scratching their heads beneath the bleak and blustering sky – yet thinking, as the place was sold to them as being climatically akin to Italy, how mild in fact it was – as they searched the ground said to be York Street for surveyor’s pegs and tried to differentiate the scrub before them from the streets and buildings of their imagined future. Those who brought surviving livestock ashore will have found little grass so let the animals roam for whatever they could find, at risk of them uprooting or trampling unfenced gardens, such as they were. The existing community, which included a band of sealers headed by John Pavey/Williams/Andrews, will have been watching closely, perhaps even availing of work unloading the ship.

During winter Albany’s weather bandies between howling icy squalls and a seemingly impossible calm, between irregular barrages of stiff wind and grey driving rain, and admittedly Italianesque spells of warm sunshine bookended by sunrises and sunsets that graduate in gorgeous hues right across the sky. Once they acquired their land legs again, presumably on one of those clearer, calmer days, the settlers will have climbed the hills to gaze out over the water and then back to the inland ranges and agreed to a man the spectacle was bonafide; scenic indeed. Yet reality would have bit hard too as they pondered how they were to go about replicating the only way of life they knew in a place where they were the only ones who knew anything about it. Acknowledging the Aboriginal presence they were surrounded by, the settlers will have realised how few and isolated they were, and knowing the ship with their obvious leader aboard would soon set sail for the capital, how difficult the prospect of building that future by themselves was going to be. The only immediate remedy to that anxiety was work; the task of housing themselves first, and this, as Captain Bateman said, set them ‘very busy making shelter for their families’ the best way they could.

Back aboard, or else aiding the settlers go about their work, were the crew, now going on ten months from commencement of their contracts which would have bound them to the ship until the round voyage was complete. Out of the Swan River, the Pattison was destined for Madras, the Cape and London again where it arrived some twelve months later. But assuming as we are, Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne found a way to leave the ship, we have to ask how? Simply refusing to work or refusing to go back aboard would result in imprisonment and/or physical punishment.

The Pattison carried a history of troublesome sailors. The word used to describe them was ‘refractory‘, a common maritime term of the day applied to those who refused to work or obey orders. Refractory sailors frequently did not return to their jobs, running away to avoid being forcibly put back in situ. Often, this caused delays for ships captains who were forced to recruit at awkward times and in places where crew were hard to find.  A year-and-a-half previous the Colonial Times of Hobart carried a report of mutinous behaviour aboard the Pattison. The incident occurred during the English summer of 1832 while the ship was lying at Spithead. This was ahead of the vessel’s last voyage to Bengal before the refit as a passenger ship and the commission out to Western Australia. According to the newspaper, which looks to have received the knowledge via local shipping, thirteen men had been sentenced to a month’s hard labour for complaining of bad food and refusing to work. On this occasion, rather than risk a mass exodus while en-voyage, and because they were close to a substantial labour source (Portsmouth), the men were replaced. Jailed once ashore, the offenders were then said to have been put to the treadmill. In a show of outright support for the imperative of shipping of all forms, the Hobart press scorned the sailor’s insubordination while applauding the magistrates for their swiftness to condemn and the severity of the sentences they imposed.

Above: The James Pattison was no stranger to recalcitrant sailors having had thirteen crew removed from the ship prior to departure from England on the voyage preceding Governor Stirling’s. Image: Excerpt from the Colonial Times (Hobart) editorial supporting the notion of insistence of duty and severity of punishment for objection toward it by the authority of the law in colonial Australia. Tasmania being Australia’s convict isle in the throes of its tumultuous beginnings. Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas.) 1 January 1833.

This is not to say the refractory sailors at Albany in June 1834 emerged from the same group, only that troublesome sailors were not uncommon and far from unheard of by the ship’s own management, and to say that punishment by those contemplating protest was to be expected. Certainly, the attraction King George Sound as presented by the ladies, gentlemen and families of ‘society’ who had congregated daily on the poop deck over the previous six months will have rubbed off at least somewhat upon the crew, and that the idea of all that money settling in Albany, a town yet to be built, surely must have tempted some. This was a most hopeful voyage, the Governor was aboard and the chatter was full of what was going to be.

Nonetheless, for any would-be jumper there was a great deal to consider beforehand. The Swan River Colony being British meant local law applied to the crew’s contracts and the men would have had to have gone into hiding to avoid being forcibly put back aboard. Certainly, until the ship sailed, but even after that time they would risk being recognised by the passengers who included the newly appointed Harbour Master, Peter Belches, and Superintendent of Mounted Police, Alexander Cheyne. Clearly, jumping ship at Albany and staying there made no sense. At the time, Albany had its so-called ‘black hole’, its tiny holding cell mostly used for drunken soldiers, and the thought of inhabiting its stagnant lightless interior for a month would have been far from appealing.

The big questions facing any potential absconders were where to hide and how to provide for themselves once they jumped. Enter the sealing fraternity already established at Albany at the time. There is every likelihood interaction between the crew and the settlement’s criminal fringe would have occurred. It isn’t clear where, as the only legal drinking place was Geake’s Commercial Tavern. The rooms there will have been taken up by cabin passengers, perhaps Sherratt’s large family, or others willing and capable of paying the high price. Though the crew must have been given some form of shore leave, Geake’s public bar or lounge wasn’t exactly conducive to round table meetings on the business of running away. But between the likes of John Pavey/Williams/Andrews, John Harris, Bob Gamble and John Morgan Hughes, those discussions may well have been had. It isn’t too difficult to imagine these men seeking recruitment to their community, offering subsistence and secreting services on the islands in exchange for labour, in exchange for joining as crew.

IF aboard, THEN Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne will have fallen in with the sealers who were probably every bit as intrigued with the drama of the James Pattison’s arrival as anybody else. With the benefit of hindsight, we can readily make the assertion Gamble and Pavey at this time were set upon building their futures at Albany, their actions acting as incentive to the would-be’s. Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne, each of them maritime men, must have been effectively recruited by those already at Albany. Pavey/Williams/Andrews was or was in the process of becoming a town lot landowner, and Gamble lived an apparently untroubled life with his emerging family out on Bald Island.  Was this enough for the refractory Pattison sailors and they decided to take their chances?

The likelihood is they will have been taken from the shore out to the islands and from there eastwards to the Doubtful Islands or even further to Middle Island at Cape Arid. It was winter, let’s not forget, so cold going. In the course of that journey the runaway’s will have witnessed the lifestyles of Gamble, Morgan-Hughes, Pavey/Williams/Andrews and Harris, each of whom had boats of their own and lived agreeably with Aboriginal women forcibly acquired from the mainland, and each of whom were solid molded Southern Australian sealers; men of the islands and of the sea, as much resolved survivors as killers when deemed necessary. To become what he did, assuming he was not already, Anderson must have seen his future through the ways and means of these newfound characters, gained a surge of maleficence and rose to the challenge. All three will have seen the opportunity for freedom and, relative to their current existence, prosperity. They will also have understood they needed to work together to make it happen. But one above the others became infused with a monstrous villainy and took everything to a level even he was incapable of handling, and this was who the settler John Morley soon after referred to as ‘the boatman, Anderson’.

If they were going to make a future for themselves in this new corner of the world, the jumpships were going to have to go about it with the same single-minded savagery Pavey and Gamble had exhibited in previous years. And we know they were both killers. The timeline does allow for this, but Anderson could have wasted none of it in crossing the Bight and reaching the western side of the Spencer Gulf. If knowing nothing of this geography and associated industry beforehand, he must have made his decision to go there based on information received while associating with the likes of the existing Albany sealers. There are no known west-east sailings that correspond neatly with this time frame but that isn’t to say, for certain, that one didn’t occur.

You would think Anderson, Winterbourne and Brianson will have had to have inhabited Middle Island for a time, perhaps six weeks, for Anderson to familiarise himself with it and fully assert himself as undisputed leader there, regardless of who else may have been among them.  If it was Gamble and/or Pavey/Williams/Andrews he would have had trouble with this. Morgan Hughes was committed to Gamble’s collective and Harris to Pavey/Williams/Andrews’. Perhaps the inability to gain top status without a boat of his own was motivation enough for Anderson to set out for the Spencer Gulf where, he would have been advised, the number of men engaged with sealing and whaling was plentiful.

Anderson must then have caught a ride to the Spencer Gulf where, through supposition, we can reason that at Thistle Island (then known as Long Island) he came upon a group of sealers and/or whalers and through deal-making of some kind acquired a boat of his own, perhaps through gambling, perhaps through violence; perhaps through a combination of both.  Part of that deal making perhaps involved aiding the acquisition of native women for some of the men. Fulfilling his side of that dastardly bargain requiring Anderson to play a central role in the Boston Island murders and abductions some months later.

In the meantime, Anderson must have wanted to get back to Western Australia in order to participate in the summer sealing season. The trip to Kangaroo Island where Anderson met Manning could have been an attempt to find passage back. At Kangaroo Island, and this much is known, via meeting another mariner of colour, John Bathurst, who knew Manning from the sailing both made from Sydney with George Meredith, Anderson was introduced. We can theorise that Manning was known by Bathurst to have money and to want to get to the Swan River Colony.  In terms of that money, using a simple internet inflation calculator, Manning’s approximate 50 Pounds that he claimed himself to have would be worth upwards of AU$10 000 today. By way of a purely opportunistic move, Anderson very  probably sought to relieve him of it by promising him delivery to King George Sound.  We can also theorise Anderson, and others, anticipated the arrival of a westward bound supply ship, at some time likely to call at Long Island, and secured his passage back to Middle Island when the Mountaineer came through. Manning said he paid three Pounds for the fare to Middle Island, this amounts to around AU$750 in today’s value.

In Sealed Souls, Roberston tells us the Mountaineer had been built on the Tamar River, near Launceston, in 1832 and that it operated off the north coast of Tasmania, journeying as far as Kangaroo Island over the following year. Then, on 4th November 1834, she set out from Launceston bound for King George Sound with a cargo of rum, tobacco, gun powder, sugar, salt and flour. Her master’s name was printed as ‘Biormson’. Mountaineer was then seen riding at Portland Bay a month later, sailing for Kangaroo Island (presumably) a few days after that. (See The Hentys. Pg, 305). What’s interesting about that is the Henty family being familiar with a boat and master of such description, as much as the Mountaineer saw Portland Bay as a source of possible business for itself.  Though poles apart by way of social class each were important to the other by way of mutual needs. What Mountaineer did for the following month was likely tour other sealer occupied islands and localities in the Strait. After departing Portland Bay, her next known point of contact was Thistle Island but, in all likelihood, she called in at Kangaroo Island first.

Ownership of the boat is unclear, but it was skippered, according to the Launceston Advertiser, by Biormson, but by James Manning on his stage of the voyage by Evanson Jansen. Manning’s name for the skipper differs with two reports from Albany as well, however, as when James (Jem) Newell boarded for the return voyage some months later, he understood the captain’s name to be Briornson, while Richard Spencer wrote a letter to the master of the Mountaineer, dated 13th March 1835 while it was at Albany, naming him as John Johnston. Clearly, the skipper of this boat was not keen on being identified.

There is confusion over this, understandably, because of the similarity between Biormson/Briornson and Brianson.  And it only becomes more complicated. Evanson Janson/Jansen and John Johnson appear to be aliases of Briornson, master of the Mountaineer, who (according to Sealed Souls) also appears to have gone by the names of Robson and Roberston. In the weeks preceding the wrecking of the Mountaineer the boat was in Albany where Spencer understood its master to John Johnson and in the months following the Middle Island ordeal by Manning at the hands of Anderson and Winterbourne, when the sealers are living at Albany, Anderson is brought before the magistrates and grilled on what happened, as were other witnesses, including one          Winterbourne had charges of assault laid against him by a man called Charles Lambert Biornson, a Dane. The task ahead is to determine if this Biornson was the same who skippered the Mountaineer and if so, is he different to the man listed as Robert Brianson, a mariner, in Spencer’s 1836 Albany census.

One can certainly see the pattern of false names given by this character and the need for someone with such proclivity towards trouble to try and stay one step away from the law. The problem with all these names being attached to a likely single identity is that Albany was such a small place and Spencer was the leading lawman there. Because only a few hundred people were ever in town during this period the question has to be asked, how was this wayward character able to get away with so many name changes when the boat he skippered was always the Mountaineer and he kept coming up against the same authority?  The only possible answer is that Spencer couldn’t put two and two together, either because he only laid eyes on the man once or twice and that in any case he could never believe a word he uttered, or that there was some form of leniency allowed on the basis he and the other sealers brought economic value to the settlement.

Clearly, IF Robert Brianson, as listed in the 1836 Albany census and in Erickson’s Bicentennial Dictionary, is the same person as Jansen/Johnson/Biormson/Briornson/Biornson, skipper of the Mountaineer, THEN he COULD NOT have been aboard the James Pattison when it arrived in Albany in June 1834.

So, more doubt cast upon the likelihood Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne, were all together on the James Pattison, if they were on it at all. IF Anderson’s method of arrival and behaviour at the Spencer Gulf did not happen as described above, THEN Anderson is almost certainly a longer-term inhabitant of the Bass Strait whose details are bound in the bunched information researched by the earlier mentioned Robert Warneke in 2019 and contained in his valuable document on Anderson and Gamble held here at Libraries Tasmania.

There is no point in speculating upon the specifics of how Anderson’s Long/Thistle Island boat acquisition and criminal deal might have played out until we are entirely convinced Anderson arrived there in August/September 1834 from Albany. What we really need to do now is retrace our steps and pick up some eight to twelve months earlier, while the James Pattison was still loading at London and Portsmouth and look again at John Roberston’s ‘Second Wave’ as it made its way west from the Bass Strait toward King George Sound and the infant harbourside village of Albany, as it is the interaction between all those involved which fully tells the story.

Origins of the Second Wave

Robertson’s ‘Second Wave’ appears to have comprised two separate gangs escaping the east. This westward exodus, it may be argued, was generated by government involvement in Tasmania’s Black War and recognition, as early as 1828, extermination of the entire race of Palawa Aborigines was an approaching reality. Shepherds, stockmen and landowners were clearing out the farming areas while bushrangers wreaked havoc in less hospitable country and sealers left deep impressions along the north and east coasts. Soldiers and militia aiding in all areas. No where, not even the isolated mountain districts, was safe. (Read The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson.) Yet, contained somewhere within the maelstrom of extreme responses to Aboriginal resistance at Tasmania lay the irony of government’s belief in some kind of reconciliation before everything and everyone was lost. Thus came the 1829 appointment of George Augustus Robinson as Protector of Aborigines and the strategy of gathering as many of the Palawa as could be and transferring them to a place of safety. Bruny Island had come into operation from 1828 as a rationing station and the idea followed that a permanent place of dwelling could be similarly established. In 1834, that ‘haven’ was eventually determined to be Wybalena, on Flinders Island.

From 1830 Robinson realised the sealers active in Bass Strait had evolved a culture of bartering with the coastal tribes for Palawa women, or else straight up went ashore in raiding parties to capture them, and decided they were very much a point of focus for his friendly humanitarian mission. During 1831, Bob Gamble was employed as boat’s pilot by Robinson to assist in navigating between the islands as Robinson went about moving the sealers on while trying to gather up the Palawa women they had with them, which suggests a great deal about Gamble’s experience as Bass Strait boatman and sealer. On the surface of it, supporting Robinson in his roundup appears to have been an act of betrayal towards the sealers, or certain of them, suggesting Gamble had reasons for wanting to do so. What these reasons were is hard to determine. Robinson described him as ‘an ignorant man’, but did Gamble have enemies he wanted to see punished, or women he wanted to see rescued? Alternatively, was Gamble playing a counterintelligence role and working to steer Robinson away from certain people? Either way Robinson’s efforts took effect while Gamble trod a very fine line between freedom and his own personal safety.

G.A. Robinson’s focus drove the sealers and their women further west towards Kangaroo Island and caused something of a market for new, non-Palawa women to open. Hence, by the autumn of 1833 George Meredith Jnr became involved with mainland abduction parties such as that which he carried out at Point Napean (Port Phillip Bay) immediately prior to making for Sydney and then that fateful incomplete voyage to King George Sound.

In amongst all this were the amalgam of sealers themselves, some of whom had been working for up to 30 years in interchanging gangs, using various aliases and moving anywhere between Western Australia, the Spencer Gulf, Bass Strait, New Zealand and even as far south as McQuarrie Island. Genuine value can be found in Robertson’s Sealed Souls with regard to the Anderson/Gamble/PaveyWilliamsAndrews narrative he has formulated. Drawn from comprehensive searches and lengthy consideration his interpretation of this period is insightful, particularly in relation to the movements and activities of Bob Gamble. It incorporates the movements of many of the men involved and brings home the sort of seafaring, island-hopping living these characters practiced. As G.A. Robinson, in pursuit of his Friendly Mission, left a thorough written record, Robertson has been able to focus in on the essential characters of the ‘second wave’ story, and those who intertwine with it. Combined with his massing of detail on the histories of individual characters and the boats and islands they were attached to at different times, which are portrayed through the glossaries, the enormity of the body of knowledge contained in his pages is revealed.

In any case, by the 1830s there were next to no seals left on the eastward side of Australia and the sealers profession was effectively redundant. Gamble’s employment by Robinson reflects his need for subsistence and income of some kind. Sealers, it is clear, not uncommonly fought over possession of Aboriginal women to the extent they murdered each other. Some of the native women were more amenable to living under these conditions than others, though those more difficult could rouse a sealer’s temper to such a degree they met with life-ending violence themselves. Clubs, knives, tomahawks and guns were the weapons of use. It was a most wretched existence for all concerned and Gamble, by all accounts, was caught as much as any in the tumult.

Over the years, certain dominant sealers cultivated the settled Straitsman lifestyle and remained more-or-less fixed on their chosen islands. As landowners, Lords of their self-claimed acreages. James Munroe and Preservation Island being prime example. In doing so, however, they became targets of G. A. Robinson as they continued to harbour and trade in the business of abducted Aboriginal women and children. As Robinson’s quest intensified not only were the women targets of the round-up but so too were men who came with criminal records. As we discovered earlier, Bob Gamble had been found out by Robinson and accused of two murders, both shootings of women. Robinson eventually had him arrested and sent to Hobart where the case failed due to lack of evidence. Gamble had good reason for wanting to get well away from the Bass Strait and Bald Island, just outside of Albany, was soon to become his Straitsman-style home.

Come the spring of 1833, with options limited, two coastal cutters out of Tasmania set sail for what were thought to be the last viable Australian sealing grounds, those of the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia, and in so doing brought with them persons looking for both work and relief. One of those sailings, either by design or luck, came upon a group of recently abducted Victorian Aborigines and their new masters somewhere in Bass Strait, while the other sought two ready assembled gangs, probably out of the Spencer Gulf (environs of Port Lincoln) which they would leave-off and return to after addressing further business elsewhere.

Rounding out to this supposition has been aided significantly by Robertson’s work. In Sealed Souls, his western-centric narrative could not help but focus on the activities of the same men we are interested in here and by way of that he reveals what now appears to be an obvious truth. That the 1833/34 arrival into the waters around Albany of perhaps some 30 men, women and children (the Second Wave) was, at least in part, driven by the lead protagonists desire to flee the Bass Strait (including the Spencer Gulf) for want of further removal from the scenes of earlier crimes, for the decreased likelihood of being pursued for them, and in the interests of finding a less crowded, less hostile environment in which they could at last find some form of peace.

Alas, this was not to come about just yet.

Prior to the departure of those vessels, the activities of George Meredith Jnr (see Part 1) show that he and his trusted skipper West abducted eight Aboriginal women as well as at least one young boy, from the region of Port Phillip Bay in the autumn of 1833. These captives were sold to sealers in Bass Strait, likely involving James Munroe at Preservation Island, before Meredith made for Sydney, provisioned, and taking on a single paying passenger set out again, this time on that ill-fated voyage to King George Sound. This sailing, in which Defiance was wrecked at Cape Howe, was that in which the young James Manning, via his stint at Kangaroo Island and Spencer Gulf, fell into the clutches of Black Anderson.

Who was James Manning?

Much in keeping with this Anderson investigation, the true identity of James Manning has been difficult to establish. Manning disappears from Albany very soon after he loses the case brought against Anderson and Winterbourne for robbing him at Middle Island. The assumption is that he either makes for the Swan River or returns to the East Coast.  Newspaper and archive searches in both places reveal nothing of him, lending greater weight to the idea he was operating under an alias.  Robertson, in Sealed Souls (pg 367), contends that James Manning was actually George Manning, one of two brothers convicted at Surrey, England, during March 1829 and shipped out to N.S.W. on the Norfolk, arriving later that same year. This George Manning’s age profile checks out (he would have been 22 in 1833), as does the accusation of being a convict thrown at him by Anderson during the Albany hearings in September 1835. However, if George alias James Manning was a Ticket of Leave man in 1833 when he set sail aboard the Defiance with Meredith, it would have been in breach of his conditions which demanded he stay in a specified area and report to the authorities regularly. That he was outside N.S.W. for more than two years, at least, means his Ticket should have been revoked upon return. There does not appear to be any record of a TOL being issued to a George Manning, but there is a Grant of Freedom issued to him in May 1836. Seven years since his conviction. Considering Manning was in Albany during September 1835, it seems unlikely they are the same person. To be granted his freedom upon completion of his seven-year sentence, Manning will have had to have complied with all the conditions set.

George Manning, the Norfolk shipped convict, was apparently assigned as a labourer to Mr L. Treasener of Wilberforce, where he more than likely fulfilled his conditions of labour. Wilberforce is located on and near the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, where a Captain George Manning seems to have lived out the entirety of his convict and post-convict life as a riverman.  How he could have gained complete freedom after being out of the colony for more than two years is hard to explain.

A heretofore unexplored but equally viable option is James Manning b. 8/2/1811, son of the convict John Manning who arrived by the Royal Admiral in 1800 and convict Margaret Beynon/Llewellyn, who arrived per the Nile in 1801. 1n 1833, this James Manning will have been twenty-two years old. The same age bracket. This James Manning was the son of convict parents but not a convict himself. In May 1831 he married Jane Pike, who was the same age as himself and also the product of convict parents. In her case, John (Pack) Pike and Jane Ferriday. John Pike was granted 50 acres during 1821 at Prospect, Sydney, as part of the MacQuarrie grants, but it took ten years to be formally acknowledged. It may have been that the Mannings got similar at Seven Hills, where they appear to have resided, but that record is harder to find. In any case, the relationship between James and Jane was feisty. The young couple married due to Jane falling pregnant and delivering their son, James (b. April 1831), ahead of their marriage. Jane Pike was no meek morsel either. The Sydney emancipists were empowered not only by their newly gained land holdings but by the swing away from McCarthy era aristocracy politics toward McQuarrie’s progressive democratic thinking. More so, even, by the marriage of Sarah Cox to William Wentworth after Cox exercised an early form of Australian suffrage and stood up for female rights in the face of being ditched by a wealthy fiancé on the basis she was from convict stock. The argument which caused Jane to walk out was publicly advertised in The Sydney Gazette, one against the other.  It’s almost comical, especially Jane’s retort placed five days after James’s initial advertisement in which he lays claim to her unreasonably leaving him. Jane admits walking out and asserts herself unwaveringly by warning her (ex) husband to stay well away or else beware the action she will take. The clear message being that Manning was not a responsible husband and father, and that whatever he had been up to had caused her considerable difficulty and would cause him a great deal more were it to become public knowledge.

Perhaps James was paid off by the Pike family? It’s hard to know, but the Manning’s, with or without James (one of seven siblings) appear to have resided at Seven Hills for many years. Indeed, the son of James and Jane was to die in the same locality some twenty years after his parents split. Not so for the James we are interested in though. He was to travel and live out his days in the newly founded State of Victoria.

Mid 1833, the jilted young husband, estranged and irresponsible father of a newborn son, perhaps found himself at the beginning of a chain of monumental and calamitous events culminating in his ultimate return to the East Coast an exhausted and somewhat changed man going on three years later. James Manning could have left Albany aboard Pavey/William’s/Andrews boat Fanny, which arrived at Fremantle on 26th September, two weeks after the failed court case at Albany.  During this period, Thomas Symers ship Caledonia was active at Albany for the first time too, heading to the Swan River first, and then east back to Hobart. Another vessel, Charles Pratt’s Eagle (possibly under the command of James McLean Dempster), was lying at Gage’s Roads too, primed for an eastward sailing.

Family researchers of this James Manning’s life find a ten-year hole in his whereabouts between 1831 and 1841. We can fill the first two years with the knowledge he was married and farming at Seven Hills, outside Sydney, until at least May 1833, but between then and 1841 when he shows up in the Port Phillip (Melbourne) census of that year nothing useful can be found.

According to one credible Manning Family Tree, this James Manning married a second time, to Cecilia Elizabeth Pullen (b.1820-26) of Colchester, Essex, and then Port Philip, with whom he went on to father nine children. The first (dns) and second were born in Melbourne in 1842 and 1844. These were pre Goldrush days so the reason for their being there was probably pastoral or other work related. Manning was described variously as a mechanic, carpenter and artisan. However, subsequent children were born in Peru and California during the mid to late 1840s and early 1850s, suggesting there was some connection to South America and then the California goldrush. Talk about timing, or lack of it. While they were in California the Victorian goldrush took off and by 1854 the family were back in Melbourne again, and by the end of the decade in the vicinity of Ballarat.

This James Manning died May 7th, 1889, aged 77 years, at Talbot, another goldrush settlement where it looks like the family finally settled. Cecilia also died in Talbot, her death being recorded on November 16th, 1900.

Jane Pike, Manning’s first wife, died in her early 40s in N.S.W. during 1853. She had remarried to William Brooke Adams but there was no further issue. Her son, James Manning Jnr, died at Seven Hills, Greater Western Sydney, the following year, without issue. He was just 22 years old. I wonder if his father ever got to know him.

Above: James Manning and his first wife, Jane (nee Pike), fell out after marrying in 1831 when Jane delivered their son, James Jnr. This James Manning may have been in some kind of trouble, or by way of his wife leaving him got into trouble and fled the colony with a sum of money gained by some means or other. The behaviour of James Manning, as met by Meredith, Anderson, Winterbourne, Brianson and Newell, is in keeping with a young man with honesty and perhaps anger and or alcohol issues, something his wife was aware of and seemed to suggest she would use against him if he troubled her any further. Images: Cut from the Sydney Gazette and N.S.W.’s Advertiser, Tuesday the 14th and Saturday the 18th of May 1833. Source: Trove.

The Anderson/Manning Timeline.

A summary of the known Anderson timeline, as it was described by his association with James Manning, runs thus;

  • August 1833: James Manning departs Sydney in George Meredith’s schooner Defiance laden with sealing supplies.
  • September 1833: Manning shipwrecked on Cape Howe (probably Gabo) Island.
  • January 1834: George Meredith, his Aboriginal wife Sal and a man of colour, understood to be John Bathurst, complete their five-month journey with Manning in an open whaleboat from Cape Howe through Bass Strait to Kangaroo Island.
  • August 1834: Manning leaves Kangaroo Island where he helped build Meredith a house and garden. He goes to Long (Thistle) Island with two ‘Black Men’ he names as Anderson and Bathurst, staying for three months with four other men.
  • October 1834: Meredith comes looking for Manning, finding him and the others on Bird Island, where upon Meredith accused Manning of robbing four Pounds and ten shillings from him which, by way of brandishing pistols, Meredith and Anderson forcibly took.
  • Manning says he had to work in Anderson’s whaleboat until March/April 1835, in exchange for food (provisions).
  • November, 1834: Manning tells of sailing to Boston Island, close to the shore at Port Lincoln, where he says Anderson and the men of the other boat conducted a murderous raid on the mainland Aborigines. He says three surviving women were taken by the men of the second boat who then sailed away with them.
  • January 1835: Manning says the cutter Mountaineer arrived at Thistle Island when he paid three Pounds for his passage to King George Sound, but only getting as far as Middle Island, off Cape Arid, on account of the master, Evanson Jansen, being always drunk. Manning says John Anderson sailed his boat in tandem with the cutter and also landed on Middle Island, (which was inhabited by other sealers, including Isaac Winterbourne and three Aboriginal women, two of whom appeared to be attached to Anderson. Manning declared the island was the base of John Anderson and says he was kept there against his will and robbed again by him.
  • April 1835: Manning says the crew of the Mountaineer returned to Middle Island (with passengers) in a crowded whaleboat after wrecking the cutter at a mainland beach. (Ironically named Thistle Cove)
  • June 1835: Manning says he and James (Jem) Newell, who came to Middle Island in the crowded whaleboat, were deposited on the mainland opposite Middle Island. There they commenced their near fatal westward trek to King George Sound, arriving skeletal by aid of local Aborigines on 9th August 1835.
Royal William, the Bunurong Aborigines bound for King George Sound, and the Henty effect

Now, the Meredith abductions of 1833 have been the subject of continuous and intense investigation by Victorian researchers, mostly descendants of the Bunurong Aboriginal women involved, for some years now. One such study is the 2017 Masters Thesis  ”A Most Dangerous Character’; The Remarkable Life of Yonki Yonka’  by Brian Wills-Johnson. Through these works, and the assembly of information contained there-in and around into the Sealed Souls narrative provided by Roberston, we discover that the October 1833 sealing expedition of a brand-new Hobart built cutter named Royal William, under the command of a Captain Patterson, plays a critical role. Crucially, one of Meredith’s abductees was a ten-year-old boy named Yonki Yonka (aka Yankee Yankee, the translation of which has been described as ‘Far Away’). Yonki Yonka, says himself that they found by way of the lies he and the others with him were told, they had been shipped from the Strait not home but to the south-western extreme of the entire Australian continent. Further away than any of them might ever have imagined.

Right: Shipping reports contained within the Tasmanian newspapers of the day announced the arrival and departure of dozens of ships into and out of Hobart and Launceston every week. Small innocuous insertions such as that of the Royal William often belied the insidious and much larger nature of what was actually going on. Image: Excerpt from The Hobart Town Courier dated 18 October 1833, quietly announcing departure of the cutter Royal William from Hobart Town. Source: Trove.

It took in the region of only four months to occur, but some kind of arrangement seems to have been made by the owners or operators of Royal William (Captain Patterson) to hire or acquire (at least a portion of) Meredith’s Bunurong captives and transport them to a less enquiry prone territory.

In October 1833, Yonki Yonka and at least three women and one other boy made their way aboard Royal William. These women were Bob Gamble’s long-term partner and future mother to his seven children, Eliza Nowen, and two others who came to be known as Julia Morgan and Mary. This information comes from two sources, Yonki Yonka himself and also testimonies given by one of J.S. Roe’s surveyors at the Swan River, (the dubious) George Douglas Smythe. After leaving Western Australia via Albany in December 1839 (six years later), Smythe met William Thomas, Protector of Aborigines at the Mornington Peninsula (Melbourne) and reported their presence at King George Sound. Yonki Yonka confirmed he had been there when he met Thomas himself a couple of years later, after he managed to get home, declaring the ship he went to Western Australia on was none other than Royal William. However, Yonki Yonka also says he was in the region of York for some years. These reports are cited and elaborated upon in Marie Fels’ 2011 work, I Succeeded Once. . . and brought up again by Wills-Johnson in A Most Dangerous Character. . .

We will return to the incredible story of Yonki Yonka and another indigenous boy, known at Albany as ‘Spring’, a little further on.

Thus, we reach another critical juncture in our exploration of this subject. Bob Gamble left a mixed-race family behind at Albany and their descendants are today piecing together their European/Aboriginal heritage. The suggestion is, therefore (though subject to further analysis), that Gamble joined the Royal William with Eliza Nowen and the others and came to live at or near King George Sound this way. Also, we know that there was a sealer at Albany in 1836 by the name of John Morgan, as he was listed at number 49 in the 1836 Spencer census at Albany as a 40-year-old seaman from London. According to Robertson’s summary biography on him in Sealed Souls (Pg.369), Morgan commenced sealing around 1820, was associated with John Williams (Pavey/Williams/Andrews) for many years, that he came to Albany aboard Royal William having ‘Julia’ as his ‘lubra’ and with whom he had several children, who worked for a spell as a labourer for the Spencer family, and who worked with Pavey/Williams/Andrews and Gamble at Doubtful Island Bay in 1837 before being ejected from the colony over charges associated with a dodgy bank warrant. The third woman, named by Smythe as ‘Mary’, was said to have two children, be about 20 years of age, and attached to Captain Williams. This would be John Williams/Andrews, aka John Bailey Pavey, also listed in Spencer’s 1836 census as a boat owner.  One of the children was likely his son John Jnr, aka Jackey Williams, who we will also discuss later on.

Thus, we can see the sealers who came to our South Coast at that time were already known to each other. As promised, in Part 3 we will look much deeper into the lives of the women who came to Albany with the sealers and who their children were and might have been.

Now, it doesn’t bring about a different outcome, but Wills-Johnson failed to spot that the cutter Royal William sailed ex Hobart and is not mentioned as having visited Launceston. He concludes Yonki Yonka went aboard Royal William at Launceston (probably due to James Dredge‘s diary account of meeting Yonki Yonka) when the more likely scenario is that the cutter sailed to Preservation Island (or there-abouts) and picked up its sealing teams there. John Robertson, who cites Wills-Johnson’s thesis in his narrative surrounding Yonki Yonka (Pg. 176) agrees the boy joined the ship at Launceston but then adjusts his own thesis in his ships glossary when discussing the activities of Royal William (Pg. 470), to say the cutter left Hobart and;

‘almost certainly sailed into the islands in Bass Strait where she took on board Robert Gamble, John Morgan Hughes and their illegal cargo of abducted Aborigines.’

Above: The three island groups immediately north of Tasmania were first the intense hunting ground for the voracious sealing industry which gained traction from the late 1790s, then home to aging participants after decades of harsh subsistence living among them. Preservation Island, reckoned to be the likely location Royal William collected its illegal cargo of abducted Aborigines in October 1833, lies between the Flinders and Cape Barren Islands, main constituents of the Furneaux group. Image: Doctored Google Earth screen shot. Source: Google Earth.

Now, coinciding with what was going on with the sealers and their captives in the Bass Strait at this time were the activities of the Henty family. From 1832 these brothers, primarily Edward and Stephen (there were eight siblings in all), brought real vigor to the newly created cross-Bight maritime industry. With purchase of the Fanny, Sally Anne & Thistle in particular, along with charters and passenger sailings, they moved between the Swan River and Launceston with impressive alacrity.

The Hentys were lawyers, farmers and financial services men from the fertile valleys of southern England who emigrated to the Swan River Colony aboard the Caroline in 1829. The initial landing party comprised three of the brothers, James, Stephen and John. Edward was to follow and would play his role in coastal exploration. The brothers’ father, Thomas, arrived at Hobart and then Launceston in the Forth during April 1832, bringing other members of the family, including Edward. The Henty’s had high expectations. Soon after arrival at the Swan their disappointment with the quality of farming land they’d been granted (Stoke Farm, Bassendean) tainted their opinion of the West and along with it their views on the colony’s chances of making it out of the economic hole into which it was rapidly sinking.  As result, they backed away. By late 1831 rumour across New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land was that the Swan River based settlements (Fremantle, Perth & Guildford) were failing and location not only for the administrative capital shifting to Albany, but for an alternative colony altogether, probably on the coast somewhere in the region of the Spencer Gulf, was preferred. The family became actively involved in early discussions on the formation of another Southern Australian colony but ultimately did not participate. This South-Eastern focus was genesis of the state of South Australia and Stirling et al, quite aware of the discussions going on around them, knew they had to act fast in order to stave off a complete breakdown. Attractive settlement options between Sydney and Perth, other than Albany, would likely redirect valuable investment opportunities away from the Swan River Colony altogether so there was no time to lose. Hence the summer thinktank down at Albany, the appointment of Richard Spencer and the subsequent unloading of 60 new settlers in June 1834. It wasn’t much in the scheme of things, but it was the best Stirling could bring about at the time and very much, in the end, a lifeline for little old Albany.

The thing about Albany, as far as leadership of the Swan River Colony was concerned, was that it was only ever a second thought. Despite this, during the early 1830s those second thoughts were almost all the colony had left.

In the meantime, the Henty brothers both bought and hired boats to explore the coastline between the Swan River and Tasmania while they grappled and bargained with Stirling in an effort to maximise whatever return they could get on their initial outlays. The brothers combined their search for a home with maritime trade and industry in order to keep afloat financially, in the process hiring and transporting seamen who knew the ins-and-outs of the coast, particularly in the region of Bass Strait and the Spencer Gulf. The movement of the Henty family effected outcomes at Albany and Doubtful Island Bay between 1831 and 1835 while simultaneously influencing settlement at Launceston and across the Strait at Portland Bay. By way of this, and to an unknown degree, the Henty family also contributed to the trafficking of both legitimate and runaway sealers and seamen to and from Portland Bay, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, Flinders Island (S.A.) and the south coast of Western Australia.

While in 1832 John Henty was discovering Albany in its infancy was harder to turn a buck in than just about anywhere else, his older brother Stephen was visiting various coastal locations looking into potential agricultural opportunities but with one eye on the whaling and sealing industries too. It was imperative the Henty’s used their resources to generate income and they did this largely by trading goods between Tasmania and Perth, which included visiting the whaling and sealing stations between and engaging with them, either by way of direct investment and/or trading and transport services. One of the locations that featured in 1833 was Memory Cove, an established bay whaling locality near well regarded Port Lincoln, at the western head of the Spencer Gulf. Within the general environs of Memory Cove were Spalding Cove, Thistle Island, Boston Island and Port Lincoln itself.

Right: One of the great studies of early Australian family settlement was compiled and penned by the Australian historian and travel writer, Marnie Basset. Published in 1955 The Hentys tells the story of that southern English family’s search for the right home in the Australian colonies. Having originally subscribed to James Stirling’s vision of Western Australia they eventually took root at Portland, Victoria. The brother’s proclivity for sailing allowed them to scour Australia’s southern littoral across the 1830s, taking them from Fremantle to Bunbury, Augusta, Albany and eastwards via various other localities (most notably Port Lincoln) to Launceston and then Portland Bay. Bassett’s handling of their many letters and communications is ‘dilligent, intelligent, clear and harmonious‘ and has helped these pages a very great deal. Image: Cover of  the 2nd edition of The Henty’s published in 1962. Source: This version from Terra Australias Books, on sale for about $40.00. 

What follows below is a timeline of smaller scale cross-Bight sailings made by the Hentys and other related voyages detailing the kind of movement sealers were able to take advantage of, at the places and during the period we are concerned with. The arrival of Bob Gamble, John Morgan Hughes, Pavey/Williams/Andrews and John Harris at King George Sound is wrapped up in these voyages but as we know the officials and moneyed colonists of the day rarely discussed the less savoury aspects of their business and by way of not wanting to be seen to be associating in anything but a strictly contractual way, were not inclined to identify the persons they employed or subcontracted work out to. Indeed, it’s highly likely they didn’t want to know much about them at all, only that they had their own boats, knew how to use them, knew how to slaughter, and knew how to salt and safely preserve their skins. IF not aboard the James Pattison, THEN in all likelihood Anderson and Winterbourne were also party to these sailings.

Other trading, transport and passenger-oriented vessels, including Eagle, Merope and Gem, advertised for cargo out of Tasmania bound for King George Sound over the same period, but due to a lack of bookings these sailings were often delayed or never took place. These more reputable ships sought passengers and cargo for direct passage and tended not to be concerned with the sealing and whaling localities, making it far less likely the men and women we are concerned with used them.

The indented entries highlighted in blue below are of most interest to our investigation.

1829Britannia, seaman James Hart first visits King George Sound.

1829: Socrates, Henry Reed owner, commences shore-based whaling at Spalding Cove, Port Lincoln.

Apr 1829: Henry, Mr John Griffiths of Launceston, visits ‘western’ sealing grounds and Kangaroo Island.

Apr 1829: Rob Roy, 200-ton American sealer visits King George Sound.

May 1829: Prince of Denmark, Hobart sealer, visits King George Sound.

Jul 1829: Henry, John Griffiths, leaves William Dutton sealing at Portland Bay.

  • Oct 1829: Caroline, The Henty’s with Henry Camfield arrive at Swan River from Sussex County.

Jan 1831: Captain Collet Barker reports in his journal there are sealers with small boats at Palerongup, (Pallinup River, Doubtful Island Bay area).

Jul 1831: Elizabeth, Captain Hart, picks up sealers from Portland Bay area for return to Tasmania.

  • Oct 1831: Thistle, 57-ton brigantine bought by James Henty at Swan River.
  • Nov 1831: Thistle, T. Young, master, sails from Swan River to King George Sound, where John Henty takes up land at King River.
  • Dec 1831: Thistle. T. Young, master, sails from King George Sound to Launceston with Stephen Henty and six servants.

Dec 1831: Elizabeth, Captain Hart, sealing between Kangaroo Island and Portland Bay.

Jan 1832: Cornwallis sails from Swan River to King George Sound and Launceston with James Henty and wife.

Apr 1832:  Arrival of the Forth from England. Henty family gathers to establish new headquarters at Cormiston, near Launceston.

Nov 1832: Elizabeth, Captain Hart, establishes whaling venture at Portland Bay, led by the sealer William Dutton, then voyages as far west as Doubtful Island Bay.

  • Nov 1832: Thistle, 30th Nov, Captain Liddle, sails from Launceston for King George Sound, Augusta and Swan River. Brings Manyat and Gyallipert to meet Yagan.
  • Feb 1833: Thistle, Captain Liddle, sails from Swan River to Launceston with passengers John Henty, Henry Camfield & three others (incl, Surveyor Henry Smythe.)
  • Apr 1833: Caernavon sails from Launceston to the South Australian Southwest Coast (Spencer Gulf, Port Lincoln, Memory Cove) on whaling venture with Edward Henty.
  • Apr 1833: Thistle, Captain Liddle, sails from Launceston to Swan River, arrives with two casks of seal oil acquired somewhere along the way. Is instructed to pick up Edward Henty at Spencer Gulf (Port Lincoln area) on the return voyage. Does so, also visits Portland Bay.
  • May 1833: Defiance, Captain West, arrives at Sydney from a sealing voyage, with seal and kangaroo skins.
  • June 1833: Thistle, 21st Jun, Captain Liddle, departs Swan River for Launceston

Jul 1833: Elizabeth, Captain Hart, facilitates expansion of shore-whaling enterprise at Portland Bay. William Dutton commands 24 employees.

  • Sept 1833: Defiance, 27th September, Captain Meredith, departs Sydney on a sealing voyage to the Western Coast. Is wrecked at Cape Howe. Meredith, James Manning and two others make for Kangaroo Island in the whaleboat.

Oct 1833: Elizabeth, Captain Hart, brings Edward Henty to Portland Bay for further investigation.

  • Oct 1833: Royal William, Captain Patterson, cutter, departs Hobart on a sealing voyage to King George Sound.

Nov 1833: Cumberland sails from Swan River to Launceston, passenger Stephen Henty

  • Dec 1833: 9th December, Thistle, Captain Little, departs Launceston for Swan River, Captain Liddle, with Thomas Henty as passenger. 
  • Dec/Jan 1834: Thistle recruits sealers and leaves two boats ‘well manned some distance to the eastward of King George Sound, to collect seal skins’. Arrives Fremantle 26th January. (Mr E. Henty reported as super cargo)

Jan 1834: Fanny (cutter, 36 tons), Stephen Henty, sails from Launceston to King George Sound (arr. 13 Feb) and Swan River.

  • Mar 1834: 9th March, Thistle departs Fremantle for King George Sound and Launceston.
  • Apr 1834: 30th April, Thistle, Captain Liddle, returns from Swan River to Launceston via King George Sound where it picks up 300 seal skins and 40 tons of salt. No sealing boats nor passengers listed, other than Thomas and Edward Henty.
  • Jun 1834:  19th June, James Pattison arrives at King George Sound from England carrying influential passengers, including Patrick Taylor, Mary Bussell, James Dunn, Jem Newell, and upon assumption Robert Brianson, Isaac Winterbourne and James Anderson (Erickson Pg. 47).

Jun 1834: Thistle sails to Bay of Plenty NZ to rescue seamen from schooner John Dunscombe.

  • Oct 1834: Thistle ferries Edward Henty with equipment and stock from Launceston to Portland Bay to commence settlement there. Henry Camfield aboard.

Dec 1834:  6th Dec, Hyacinth, sails from Swan River bound for King George Sound, misses due to contrary winds and delivers Patrick Taylor to end destination Hobart instead.

Dec 1834:  Barque Adams, chartered by Stephen Henty, departs Swan River 17th Dec for Launceston.

  • Nov 1834: 4th November, Mountaineer, departs Launceston bound for King George Sound, sighted riding at Portland Bay by Edward Henty early in December, she proceeds likely via Kangaroo Island to Thistle Island, bringing Anderson and Manning across the Bight to Middle Island where they arrive sometime in January 1835.

Dec 1834: 24th Dec, Cutter Isabella, navigated by Perth businessman Captain David Dring, departs Fremantle for (Port) Augusta on Sealing Cruise. Continues to Sydney, arriving 4th April with 260 seal skins and two passengers ostensibly from Albany; Samuel Jackson and (Robert) Henry Maddock.

Jan 1835: Thistle returns Henry Camfield to Launceston. Takes William Dutton’s ‘black woman’ (probably Sarah) to King Island.

Feb 1835: Jess, out of Sydney and Hobart Town arrives Fremantle 23rd Feb, having missed King George Sound due to heavy weather. Returns to the Sound with William Lovett, whaler, and equipment aboard.

Mar 1835:  John Adams (chartered by Stephen Henty) departs Launceston 3rd March with livestock, under the care of Barker & Sewell, bound for King George Sound and Swan River. Includes 1200 sheep for overlanding from Fremantle to York. Passengers include Patrick Taylor and Henry Camfield.

  • Mar 1835: Mountaineer commences return voyage from King George Sound, is wrecked at Thistle Cove, Cape Le Grande. Crew and passengers make 60 miles eastward to Middle Island in order to seek rescue.

Mar 1835: Jess, 27th, Captain Hay, departs Fremantle with William Lovett for KGS, then makes west for Mauritius.

May 1835: Caledonia arrives from Hobart at King George Sound, owner Thomas Lyell Symers with wife and family to commence living, captained by Alexander Symers (brother). Formerly out of Mauritius. Has crew of 13 (including Soloman Aspinall) plus 10 passengers, no one named. Bound for Swan River and Java as trading vessel. Thos Symers remains to set up home, investigates the coast east of Albany to Doubtful Island Bay, likely in company of sealers Gamble, Williams/Andrews and possibly Anderson). Under Alexander Symers, Caledonia returns to Albany via Swan River 10th November 1835.

Dec 1835: Sally Ann, with Stirling and Roe, brings King George Sound setters to Doubtful Island Bay to discuss fishery and settlement. Includes George Cheyne, Thomas Symers and Stephen Henty who declines offer to take up land there. (Bob Gamble possibly employed as pilot on this sailing.)

May 1836: Sally Ann sails for Launceston via Vasse River, Augusta and King George Sound. Captain Howe drowns at Princess Royal Harbour. Stephen Henty navigates, possibly employs Bob Gamble as pilot.

James Henty had purchased the 57-ton brig Thistle at the Swan River sometime toward the end of 1831, Stephen sailed it with servants and chattels, via King George Sound, to their proposed new living in Van Diemen’s Land, arriving in Launceston mid-January 1832.  Father Thomas and brother Edward were to arrive from England three months later. It is exactly this period when Albany started being marketed by Stirling et al as a distraction to the Swan River debacle, and when twenty-year-old Stephen left eighteen-year-old brother John at Albany to look after the reluctant 300-acre purchase at the mouth of the King River. This time frame represents the limited pre-Adelaide/Melbourne window of opportunity Albany had for genuine growth. Although small, the Henty movements contributed enormously to non-governmental trade between Tasmania and Western Australia and by doing so helped carry news for the Tasmanian papers. This brought about East Coast awareness of what was going on at the Swan River and in between, giving rise to opportunities among other sea faring entities (trading & transport) and among parties interested in sealing and land-based whaling enterprises. Thistle was refitted in Hobart and commenced her commercial sailings between Van Diemen’s Land and the Swan River from November 1832 under the captaincy of Mr Liddel/Little. (See, Robertson, Sealed Souls, Pg. 469)

Above: Following refit at Hobart, the Henty brig Thistle became active between Tasmania and Western Australia from December 1832 until the end of 1834 when it concentrated activities between Launceston and Portland Bay. In December 1833 she set off on her third cross Bite sailing, leaving two ‘well manned’ sealing boats ‘some distance to the eastward of King George Sound’ enroute to the Swan River where she arrived during the last week of January 1834. The Thistle had returned to Launceston by April, having collected 300 skins at the Sound on the way, but there was no mention of the sealing boats or passengers in the press reports, suggesting these men and boats may have found Albany to their liking and remained. Image: Perth Gazette excerpt reporting certain activities of the Henty family at the Swan River, 1st February 1834. Source: Trove.

The above voyage list clearly displays the familiarity with sealing and whaling localities along Australia’s southern coastline the Henty brothers came to acquire. It isn’t documented in the shipping columns but, after recruiting the two sealing boats somewhere between Launceston and the Spencer Gulf during December 1833 and January 1834, Thistle called at Albany and then Augusta. At Albany they will have found the government schooner Ellen being refitted at Princess Royal Harbour by the men of HMS Alligator which was also lying at anchor. Baron Von Hugel was there, out hiking, looking for plants of interest and soothing his aching heart, while Cheyne was taking increasing umbrage at Spencer’s demands for duty payments on imported alcohol. The Brilliant, having delivered additional cargo and personnel relative to the Spencer retinue, will have come in and out of the harbour during this time too. The Swan River settlement was in disarray and King George Sound was rumored at Van Diemen’s Land to be the future lead settlement out West, notions the Henty voyages were influencing with each return journey. There was hardly anyone at Albany, but the cradle of free settlement there was beginning to sway.

The Henty Port Lincoln connection

In April 1833 (almost two years before the Mountaineer arrived at Thistle/Long Island to collect Anderson and Manning), Edward Henty embarked on the Caernavon from Launceston to Memory Cove for the winter whaling season. He stayed until July when he was collected by Captain Liddel/Little in the Thistle. Under the financial guise of a shore-based whaling venture the expedition was also aimed at assessing the viability of Port Lincoln as a potential settlement, not just for the Henty family but as a private entity sanctioned by the British Government. Marney Bassett in The Hentys (pgs 255-262) discusses this relative to the exploratory movement of the brothers from the West toward what she calls The Opposite Coast.

Noted by both Flinders and Baudin, there are geographical similarities between Port Lincoln and King George Sound which extend to the natural availability of fresh water and suitability of the surrounding land to farming. In the end Edward Henty concluded Port Lincoln was no better than Albany and the idea of the family basing themselves there was abandoned. Probably, at this time, in favour of Portland Bay.

Awareness of Port Lincoln’s settlement potential, aided by its proximity to the East Coast, had unnerved the Swan River officials as it posed a threat to Albany’s development. Resident Magistrate at Albany Alexander Collie had been aware of the conversation surrounding Port Lincoln from as early as 1831, something which once again draws us back to the summer 1831/32 thinktank which proved so integral to Albany’s survival. The Henty brothers’ movements along the coast at this time were not only a form of intelligence gathering on the part of the new colony but a direct threat to it. If the Henty enterprise decided against Western Australia altogether it would be seen as yet another kiss-off for Stirling’s failing venture. Port Lincoln, by virtue of its proximity to the vastly greater economies of Tasmania and New South Wales, had already begun to attract East Coast shore-based whalers, something which drove the isolated, comparatively impoverished Swan River settlements into an extended and escalating bout of angst.

Close inspection of the evidence shows that Spalding Cove, very close to Memory Cove and Port Lincoln, had been an operating shore-based whaling station since 1829, though the names of those physically involved aren’t known. (See Land Based Whaling Activities On The West Coast Of South Australia 1829 – 1845 by Charles Parkinson.)  As mentioned, the 1833 Henty interest was more about settlement potential than whaling itself, as the brothers didn’t invest wholly in their own whaling station for another two years. Until then it was partnerships and service offerings. All-the-same, that four-month expedition exposed Edward Henty to the occupation of the western side of the Spencer Gulf by whalers, often doubling as sealers, who he will have come to know. At least to some extent. After fetching Edward, Thistle arrived into Launceston on August 6th 1833, having also called at Portland Bay where William Dutton had been a presence for some years already. It was at this time when Dutton decided to invest in his own shore-based whaling venture at Portland Bay. Thus, this period of close interaction with both localities lends strong support to the notion John Bailey Pavey was also active at one or other place and that he became interested in the Henty business activities further west during this time. By 8th December 1833, Thistle was once again on its way back to the Swan River, this time leaving off those two sealing boats to the east of King George Sound; one of them very likely going by the name Fanny.

Was the western head of Spencer Gulf where Pavey/Williams/Andrews and John Harris were living and working immediately prior to establishing in Western Australia? Indeed, if Anderson and Winterbourne were not aboard the Pattison, was it where they were  operating too? Likelihood of the Thistle calling into the region of Port Lincoln on the way to the Swan River, having previously arranged to collect two sealing gangs for the summer season in and around Albany, is high. By the time Thistle got to our portion of the South Coast, the Royal William sealing gangs, likely made up of Gamble, Morgan Hughes, their Aboriginal captives and crew, will have already been in operation around two months. Thistle dropped her gangs somewhere east of Albany (perhaps at the Doubtful Islands, though salt was a feature of Middle Island) with the plan of calling in to collect the skins on its return trip, which departed Fremantle 9th March 1834, three months ahead of the James Pattison and some weeks before the Jolly Rambler (whose movements are difficult to put precise timestamps upon). IF Anderson, Biornson and Winterbourne were not aboard the James Pattison, THEN given Anderson’s clear familiarity with the Spencer Gulf it is likely he too emerged from there at this time.

In any case, anyone showing up at Albany from late 1833 was entitled to feel like they’d arrived somewhere progressive, somewhere infused with vitality and optimism. A place on the up and going significantly further in the following months. IF ever there was a time to jump ship at Albany, THEN 1834 was it.

Now, the first and most visible sealer among the ‘Second Wave’ was John Pavey/Williams/Andrews who by account many years later sold a small amount of flour at the value of 27 Pounds per ton at Albany during March 1834. This was reported in a series of articles on early Albany published by the Albany Mail newspaper on inception during January 1883. Timewise, the report sufficiently coincides with the Henty presence to reinforce the likelihood of association. Indeed, association with the Henty brothers may have been Pavey’s means of acceptance at Albany. He will have presented himself to the community there, including to Sir Richard Spencer, as a boat owner, trader and sealer. That he had flour for sale suggests he was either sufficiently provisioned himself, or he bought what he could from the Thistle goods for sale and off-loaded some surplus on account of the high price it demanded.  The amount he sold at Albany wasn’t a lot, A newspaper report shows that on arrival at Fremantle the Thistle goods for sale did not include flour. This is because Thistle was at Albany on January 18th when Spencer bought goods to the value of 38 Pounds from Edward Henty, including three bags of flour for which he paid over 8 pounds, around $1600 in today’s value. In any case, Pavey presented at Albany under the long-term Williams/Andrews aliases an enthusiastic venturer apparently free from any fear of exposure and in charge of a whale boat named Fanny.

Above: Edward Henty was busy trading goods at Albany in January 1834 as this invoice shows. The cost of the goods is very high. Estimates of currency value 190 years ago in Australia are 200 times less than they are today. This makes Henty’s Pound Stirling invoice for 38.10.4 worth around AU$7500.00 in today’s currency. The three bags of flour alone (weight indistinguishable) were the equivalent of A$1600.00 Image: Digital copy of Edward Henty’s invoice to Richard Spencer dates 18th January 1834 and the settled the following day. Source: Spencer Files, State Archives, Battye Library, Western Australia.

Pavey Williams/Andrews and very probably John Harris, along with associated crews, are therefore likely to have been about Albany and its waters from late December 1833 and by the middle of the year and arrival of the James Pattison had become a welcome part of the growing new community. Just three days ahead of the arrival of the James Pattison, while Captain Bateman was in port, Spencer penned a quick note to the Undersecretary of the Colonies in London, Robert Hay to update him on his spirited early tenure at Albany, telling him;


As you desired that I would frequently write to inform you of the state of this district, I have the honor to acquaint you that our numbers have increased to 91 besides 21 military; several dwelling houses have been completed and several more are in progress. New men have established themselves here; have a whaleboat for the purpose of Sealing: have been very successful. They returned today with 190 sealskins, having left as many more on the coast for want of salt. . .

Etc. . .

I have the honor to be Sir, your obedient servant,

R. Spencer

We can’t say for sure the men Spencer was talking about were Pavey/Williams/Andrews and John Harris as it could have been Bob Gamble and John Morgan Hughes, but what we can say is that it was most likely Pavey as he was unafraid to make himself known. Indeed, Pavey/Williams/Andrews sought to establish himself at Albany very quickly, buying land and seeking leases before the year was out, where-as Gamble and Morgan-Hughes were reticent about establishing in the town. This, I think, is likely to stem from their relationships with the Aboriginal women as much as fear of suspicion being cast upon them over their origins and likely history. The obvious division between the two pairs being willingness to engage with the community and ability to buy into it. Pavey comes across as a man of consummate surety, the insatiable commercial rogue within him initially disguised, whereas Gamble looks to be reclusive by comparison and without so much as two pennies to rub together.

On 30th April 1834, upon arrival back at Launceston, Thistle was reported to have collected 300 seal skins at King George Sound, but there were no passengers and no sealing boats reported as being in tow. The terms of the deal between the Henty brothers and the sealing gangs they contracted isn’t known but it can be assumed as far as both parties were concerned the venture was a success. The trade in skins being only part of the Henty business transactions that voyage and Pavey/Williams/Andrews attachment to the town a clear sign of satisfaction.

After playing this crucial role and in alliance with their ever-increasing focus on the ‘opposite coast’, Thistle was dedicated to the Henty family’s Bass Strait operations (including a trip to New Zealand) and does not appear to ever have returned to Western Australia.

Thistle and Royal William combined

The other source of Robertson’s ‘Second Wave’, the cutter Royal William, was a confirmed departure to King George Sound from Hobart on 17th October 1833; little over a month after Buffalo landed the initial bevy of Spencer sponsored immigrants at Albany. This boat, stated to be on a sealing voyage, we have a much greater understanding of in terms of who was aboard due to the above discussed research of Marie Fells and Brian Wills-Johnson. There was no muster list or declared passengers, but as per Thistle, the likelihood of engaging working men along the way was high, and with this boat the suggestion of foreknowledge plays an even greater role. The timing and detail behind this sailing tallies neatly with the arrival of Bob Gamble and John Morgan-Hughes at King George Sound, and we know that by this vessel a group of Bunurong Aborigines arrived there at the same time. Royal William departed Albany 4th March 1834 with a cargo of salt and skins (no passengers), arriving Hobart 5th April.

Given everything we have found, Royal William and Thistle must be associated with the men we are looking for. At the very least, Royal William left crews at or around Albany during the summer of 1833/34 and at least some of the men of the two sealing boats left by the Thistle in January 1834 rendezvoused with the Thistle again, at Albany, sometime around March. This knowledge, as small and insignificant as it may appear, comprises what we now refer to as the ‘Second Wave.’

As we discovered, Pavey/Williams/Andrews was first recorded at Albany in March 1834, when he sold flour at 27 pounds per ton. In October 1834, under the name John Williams Andrews and citing his ownership of the whaleboat Fanny, he applied for lease of the treeless, indeed shelter less, Coffin Island off the northeastern head of King George Sound, near Two People’s Bay. This is the elliptical and rather low rocky island four hundred yards in diameter and five hundred from shore Alexander Collie claimed to have visited with the three sealers he found living in Albany when he arrived in March 1831. The same Coffin Island composed of an extensive Mutton-bird warren and littered with the bones of bludgeoned seals. A familiar sort of place for the likes of the Second Wave and their Palawa women in particular. By way of salt, the Bass Strait sealers had adapted the Palawa tradition of harvesting seasonal fledglings into a feather (down) and stored food supply and Pavey was thinking of the Albany market.

In the same year, under the name John Williams Andrews, Pavey became assignee of lot S28 on Stirling Terrace while records kept by Spencer also show he was linked to lots S18 and S43, though the dates on these are not clear. In 1835, as John Williams, grantee of Lot B24 on the waterfront while John Morgan Hughes was linked to Lot B93. (See JBP Pg18 also Lands & Survey Dept Location Register for Albany, 1832-34, at the State Archives.)

Pavey/Williams/Andrews was alive and well when he got to Albany; in buoyant mood and ready to take on all comers.

Jock Beer, in John Bailey Pavey, talks of Pavey/Williams/Andrews association with John Harris, the part Maori sealer who lived at Albany with his Palawa wife, Towser/Towzer/Touzer, aka Tinnermuck. We know that Towser was living at Kangaroo Island in 1830 as she is listed as being under the command of the sealer Little West, probably James West, the same skipper of Meredith’s Defiance when it raided the Bunurong camp at Point Napean in 1833. It is possible too that West skippered the Henty boat Thistle under the name Little/Littel/Liddel.  At some point, and under unknown circumstances, Towser left the company of Little West and joined Harris. A trade or sale of some sort? A bet?  Curiously, the American whaler Soloman Cook who jumped ship at Albany in 1837 later married a woman known as Elizabeth West, reputed to be the daughter of a sealer known as Bob West. The marriage was registered in 1848 at Albany and is something we will look closely at when we consider the sealers wives in Part 3. Though the only documents relating to the association of Harris, Pavey and Towzer are not dated until the 1850s, and the name Harris does not appear in the 1836 census, we accept the two men operated together for a significant time and, for now anyway, that the Harris/Towzer arrival at Albany probably occurred together with Pavey/William’s Andrews and whomever it was he brought with him in his whaleboat Fanny.

For clarity, we need to distinguish between Pavey’s whaleboat, and the other boat named Fanny which arrived at Albany the same year under the stewardship of Stephen Henty. Jock Beer has already done this for us, so we will quote him to save time.

Williams’ Fanny is not to be confused with another Fanny that sailed from the Tamar (Launceston) for King Georges Sound and the Swan River on 20 January 1834, with a cargo of rum, tobacco, sherry, slops (cloth off cuts), crockery, rope, tea and tea trays, porter (brown beer) and hair brooms. It was owned and sailed by another of Thomas Henty’s sons, Stephen George Henty, and arrived at King Georges Sound on February 13, 1834. The Henty’s Fanny was registered in Launceston Tasmania in 1834 but had been built at Cockle Bay Sydney (Darling Harbour today) in 1826/27. It was a 26-ton cutter24, 37’x12’8″x 5′ and probably much larger than Andrews’ boat. Toward the end of 1834 Henty sold the Fanny to Anthony Curtis. Curtis was a notable Western Australian mariner and trader in the years between 1830 and 1853. He used the Fanny as a coastal trader until 1836, when he replaced it with the Lady Stirling.  (JBP pg 13)

The deeper we look into the activities of the Henty brothers the clearer their association becomes with the off-the-record, wildcat cross-Bight traffic. Between them, they were by far the most active and, by way of their explorative nature, therefore the most informed coastal mariners of the day. Operating on a level above the likes of Meredith’s Defiance, Biornson’s Mountaineer and Pavey/Williams/Andrews Fanny in terms of capacity as well as legitimacy, Stephen Henty’s cargo in the above voyage suggests the customers he was looking for weren’t altogether dissimilar. The difference being criminality. In the Henty case, lack of it. The only business to be had on the islands between Launceston and King George Sound was with land-based whaling outfits funded by legitimate operators, albeit manned by the type who could do the job. William Dutton, a long associate, is prime example. These outfits were owned by men the likes of Henry Reed and William Young, well known to the Hentys and likely bulk of the reason behind the 1833 Port Lincoln whaling connection.  These men the Henty’s could rely upon financially (though Reed would later screw James Henty into bankruptcy), whereas the sealers worked differently. Sealers may have been contracted to operate in certain areas, the cost of delivery and return, maybe even initial provisioning, likely borne by the mother ship, and to sell what skins they could get back to the contractor, but the sealer’s boats were their own and their dealings with passing traders the same. A trading vessel would likely not engage with a sealing gang unless the trade was conducted on the spot, goods for goods, value for value. Anderson, Gamble and Pavey/Williams/Andrews will have been treated this way when operating out of their island bases.

Pavey/Williams/Andrews’ boat Fanny was sufficient for Richard Spencer to crow about, more likely for its purpose than size, but it was no more than a whaleboat with room for five, maybe six persons, a dog or two and whatever supplies they needed for their excursions. That there was someone active and seemingly capable enough as Pavey at Albany, was cause for optimism. The town needed workers as much as investors. It needed people to get up and do things, to bring about development, to encourage business. Albany was a tiny harbourside village lying adjacent to one of the world’s great natural anchorages and anyone able to bring that anchorage and its coast into greater repute was welcome. This was Pavey’s strength. He was a rogue, a bad man no doubt, but one who could sit face to face with the class-conscious administrators and hold his own. He made a more than decent contribution to Albany’s nascent economy of the time.

There were various men going by the name Anderson during the sealing era, but none known as a prominent inhabitant of Kangaroo Island. At least not prominent in the same way Whalley, Bates and Meredith were. In the context of this story, John William Anderson’s presence was first identified at Thistle Island a year and a half after Pavey/Williams/Andrews was first mentioned at Albany. By this time Anderson had his own whale boat and, as we have already established, appears to have been based there from at least as early as August 1834 because he arrived at Kangaroo Island from Thistle Island that month in order to collect Manning and bring him to the western head of the Gulf. It would appear the word was out Manning was intent on getting to the West and Anderson, determined to return there himself, thought he would take advantage of the money Manning was known to have had on him and, in part, was prepared to pay.

The story goes that Anderson and John Bathurst came looking for Manning at Kangaroo Island. Bathurst already knew Manning from Meredith’s disastrous sailing of the Defiance. They may have gone there on other business and then discovered Manning still there, but it would seem more likely Bathurst met Anderson first and they made the trip expressly to bring Manning into Anderson’s realm of influence. By all accounts both Anderson and Manning are intent on getting to Western Australia. That Anderson was not singularly well-known at Kangaroo Island, yet became such an anti-hero further west, may suggest he was either not liked or was persuaded by opportunities in the environs of Port Lincoln. IF Anderson was not aboard the James Pattison, THEN perhaps he was involved with the 1829-1834 Port Lincoln winter whaling ventures. During the time of the Manning case, Anderson looks to have been based at Thistle Island, though he was known and apparently in remote command of the Middle Island camp, on the far side of the Bite, at the same time.

All things considered, we can clearly see that IF Anderson did arrive into Australian waters aboard the James Pattison, THEN he would have had to have moved seamlessly and with great authority for the dots to connect.

Above: The activities of the busy Henty brothers enterprise between Launceston and the Swan River Colony brought them into close association with Bass Strait mariners west. These associations brought the second wave of sealers to the environs of Albany over the summer of 1833/34 where they established between Middle Island and Albany. If he arrived on the James Pattison, Anderson went to Thistle Island for the first time during the 1834 winter whaling season, after which he intended to get back to our South Coast. Desperation to gain his own boat and knowing he was not to stay at the Spencer Gulf could have motivated Anderson’s involvement in the horrific November 1834, Boston Island abductions and murders described by James Manning at Albany the following year. Image: Self-created Google Earth map. Source: Google Earth

Weighing up the likelihood

IF John Anderson, Robert Brianson and Isaac Winterbourne did not come to Albany aboard the James Pattison and jump ship there in June 1834, THEN they must have been part of the incoming second wave from the east.

Pavey/Williams/Andrews, Harris, Gamble and Morgan-Hughes constitute the main protagonists of the second wave, excluding Anderson, Brianson and Winterbourne, but of course there were others, about thirty men, women and children in total.

Pavey/Williams/Andrews, together with John Harris and their crews may have been dropped at a known location east of Albany, either Middle Island or the Doubtful Islands, but they were probably based much closer following the season. Perhaps at Albany itself or perhaps on Breaksea Island in the Sound. Coffin Island, though claimed by Pavey, is not habitable. Pavey applied to lease Coffin Island from the government late in 1834, but this will have been to secure it as a source of Muttonbird fledglings.  Gamble and Morgan-Hughes and associated persons appear to have taken up at Bald Island, off Cheyne Beach, about 40 miles east of King George Sound.

Arrival of the James Pattison in June 1834 means there was enough time for Anderson to get from Albany to Kangaroo Island as well as enough time to establish at Middle Island with Winterbourne and Brianson, along with others belonging to the Thistle and Royal William sealing ventures, but the sequence of events will have had to have occurred with terrific expediency.

Middle Island went through various periods of habitation between 1820 and 1840, either by stranded crews or sealers using it as a source of salt and base for excursions to other islands in the Recherche Archipelago. The years 1834 to 1836 look to be the most concentrated with regard to occupation and during this time it may even have been permanently inhabited.

For those who did come aboard Royal William, Middle Island could have served as their base from as early as November 1833, which would account for the established garden and apparent homeliness the camp was reported to have exhibited. Though Gamble was known to have taken up at bald island this may not have been during the summer of 1833/34. However, for Anderson to appear as master of that domain, as he did to James Manning on his arrival there, after being away so long (at least 20 weeks) means he will have had to have asserted outright authority from the very beginning and been able to maintain it during his absence. By reckoning, he could only have been at Middle Island for a maximum of six to eight weeks, including the time taken to jump at Albany and get there, before making hurriedly for the Spencer Gulf.

Was he really that capable? Gamble was not an agreeable person and it is hard to see him submit to anyone’s authority. The same with Pavey/Williams/Andrews. This would mean those two and their gangs did not take up at Middle Island and Anderson would have to have left the inexperienced Winterbourne and Brianson (if Brianson was ever one of them) along with other participants, including two Aboriginal women said to be committed to him, waiting for him while he was away.

The critical points to take from this are;

  1. There was a report of refractory sailors aboard the Pattison when it reached Albany.
  2. Albany was full of optimism and the idea of jumping ship would have been tempting.
  3. Jumping ship at Albany would have meant an immediate departure from the area due to the abundance of passengers and officials to whom the crew were known.
  4. The timeline allows for the necessary movement but is very tight.
  5. Anderson must have established his base at Middle Island within a month of arrival at Albany.
  6. Anderson must have been at large in the Spencer Gulf within a month of arriving at Middle Island despite there being no known eastwards sailings out of Fremantle or Albany at the time.
  7. Anderson must have acquired two Aboriginal women within two months of arriving at Albany, then left them loyal to him at Middle Island for the next five.
  8. Anderson must have come into possession of his own boat during this time.
  9. Charles Briornson, skipper of the Mountaineer, must be a different person to Robert Brianson, said by the Erickson Bicentennial Dictionary to have been aboard the James Pattison with Anderson and Winterbourne, for Brianson’s role in this part of the story to stand up.

Above: The coastal cutter Mountaineer made its final cross-bite voyage trading with the sealing and whaling localities enroute, in November 1834. Originating at Launceston, the boat was spotted at Portland Bay before arriving at Thistle Island, South Australia, in January 1835. Anderson’s known story begins August/September 1834, at Kangaroo Island and Thistle Island. It moves westwards with the Mountaineer to Middle Island off Cape Arid in Western Australia, then separately on to King George Sound/Albany before returning eastwards toward Middle Island where it ends with his murder over the Christmas period of 1836. Image: Key landmarks of the sealing/whaling route taken to Western Australia’s South Coast out of Launceston. Source: Self-doctored screen shot taken from Google Earth.

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