The View From Mount Clarence

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

Jimmy’s Harbour – Newhill or Newell? Part 2

Continued from Part 1

 

Whalemen, rebellion and Albany’s original newspaper;

Jimmy (Ned) Newhill and 1880’s Albany

 

Above: Edward August Newhill, known among his friends and family as Jimmy, was granted title to the harbour after camping, fishing and hiding deserting whalemen there during the 1880s, but Newhill also led one of the single largest labour revolts in the history of American whaling activity off the Australian coast when he walked off Bartholomew Gosnold at Albany in May, 1883. Image: Undated portrait c. 1920  Source: Lauren Rowe – Rowe family papers

 

To understand the story of the man who came to be known as Jimmy Newhill, we first have to understand the story of American whaling on and off Albany’s shores across the 1800s, particularly the latter half. This constitutes the bulk of the history, principally the relationship Albany had with the New Bedford whaling firm John Tucker & Co whose four ships, Bartholomew Gosnold, Platina, Canton II and Bertha were stationed off King George Sound between 1877 and 1887. Within this story, however, lies the overlapping one of Princess Royal Harbour becoming coaling depot for the arriving steam age which significantly impacted development of the town around the waterfront. Also, Albany’s first locally produced newspaper came into being toward the end of both the whaling and P&O eras playing an important role in documenting it, along with the drive for the railway, third essential element of the waterfront precinct. Of vital macro importance at this time too were pastoral interests and arrival of the telegraph service from 1877, the combination of which resulted in the settling of the so-called Eastern District which brought with it dire cross-cultural consequences; Albany’s judicial club, headquartered in the newly constructed government buildings looking directly down on the jetty, complicit in its violence. By 1883 the telegraph service allowed the innards of Jimmy Newhill’s story of arrival and remain to play out as it did. And as if that were not enough, the Newhill story ties with Irish poverty and convictism, the effects of which drew the father of Newhill’s locally born bride, Elizabeth Cullinane, from the fringes of West Cork during the aftermath of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Moreover, Elizabeth Cullinane’s registered maternal grandparents were William and Mary Sounness, an 1840’s settler couple rooted to early Albany’s highly influential Scotts fraternity. The Sounness legacy was built along aspiring European lines in the Mount Barker area but there remains the nagging suggestion the Cullinane children were not entirely European, bringing into the picture another cross-cultural relationship and as yet unidentified Menang mother.

Could there be a richer backdrop to local family history than this?

 

Part Two of this very important study is dedicated to the memory of Mrs Joan Rowe who spent most of her life in search of the truth behind the life and times of her grandfather Edward August Nuehuhl, familiarly known as Jimmy. Joan Rowe (nee Jackman) was born in 1936, daughter to Jimmy Newhill’s eighth child Martha, and Herbert Jackman. She never knew her maternal grandparents. Jimmy Newhill had passed away ten years earlier, aged 73, while her mother’s mother, Elizabeth Cullinane, died the year of her birth. Joan Newhill/Jackman/Rowe grew up listening over and over to the story of her grandfather’s arrival in old Albany and along with her mother fought against powerful odds to prevent the erosion of that understanding. Joan married Johnny Rowe at Albany in the 1950s and had three children. She passed away in January, 2019, just as The View was beginning to appreciate the value and importance of disentangling the Newell /Newhill nomenclature saga and telling the stories of these essential local historical identities. At time of writing old Johnny Rowe is in his nineties and still living in Albany.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Newhill, as he came to be known, is an identity just as difficult to determine as James Newell. His early life is shrouded in mystery; apart from a few key dates it is almost a blank. Some family documents survive indicating Newhill was born in Lichtenfels, Bavaria, on 25th January, 1853. His father’s given name was said to be George. When applying for an old-age pension in Albany as he edged into his mid-sixties, Newhill says he went to America when he was 15 and was naturalized in New York some seven years later, on 17th March, 1875. Records of Newhills arrival and naturalization in America have so far not been found. However, we do know when he left and exactly how and when he got to Albany. The year was 1883 and the ship was the somewhat dilapidated steam-assisted American whaler, Bartholomew Gosnold, upon which Newhill signed on as E. Nuehuhl; an archaic spelling of an old and much varied German surname from the original Nolle.

Above: Edward Newhill signed on to Bartholomew Gosnold using an antiquated spelling of his Germanic surname in April, 1881. He gave his age as 27 years, his place of residence as Germany, his height as 5 feet 9 inches, his hair colour as black and skin as light. Image: Cut from the handwritten crew list of Bartholomew Gosnold,  New Bedford, April, 1881. Source: Ciaran Lynch Private Collection:

 

Other than this next to nothing is known of Newhill’s early life. Exhaustive database searches revealed a solitary viable entry. A 27 year-old Edward Newhill, rubber factory worker, was boarding with the Haman family in East Brunswick, New Jersey, in June 1880, just ten months before Bartholomew Gosnold set sail.

Above: A German born Edward Newhill was boarding with the Haman family in East Brunswick, New Jersey, during June, 1880. The census entry says Newhill, like other men in the polling district, was working in a nearby rubber factory. Image: Cut from the digitised entry for East Brunswick, New Jersey, in the 1880 United States Census. Source: FamilySearch.Org, 1880 United States Census, Edward Newhill

 

Above: The rubber manufacturing industry was booming in 1880s New Jersey. At the time this factory was known as the New Jersey Rubber Shoe Co, New Brunswick. Located on the South River tributary of the Raritan, the company, owned by Onderdonk and Letson, was later merged into the enormous United States Rubber Co. Jimmy Newhill may have worked here while boarding with the Haman family at dwelling house No. 317, Polling District No. 1,  East Brunswick, New Jersey, during 1880. Image: Postcard with the colored photographic image of the U.S. Rubber factory in New Brunswick, adjacent to the Raritan River, c. 1906. Source:  The Rubber Industry In New Jersey. Universitat de Barcelona Digital Repository.

 

That Newhill used his Germanic surname to sign-on and appears to have acquired the nickname Jimmy at Albany, when the few official documents retained by the family show his christian names to be Edward August, perhaps makes it difficult to pin down his claim to the landmark, yet the association has been upheld for the best part of a century. Newhill wasn’t a British subject and the fact he escaped his ship at Albany via defiant means more than fifty years after the settlement commenced may have fuelled reluctance on the part of Robert Stephens to buy in to the idea. As we saw in Part One, Stephens had every opportunity to question Newhill’s friends and family, including his wife of almost 30 years, as to how the harbour might have come to bear his name, but despite that and powerful resistance from others within the town, for reasons we shall never fully understand, Stephens refused to accept the Newhilll story. At least, he chose to install an older (flawed) case ahead of it.

So let’s see what we can make out for ourselves.

Jimmy Newhill was one of a group of men aboard the barque Bartholomew Gosnold who had been eying-up Albany as a likely point of exit from a voyage two full years into its run. They had been cruisng the waters off the South West corner under the apparently affable Captain William Poole from March, 1882, hunting sperm whales in the deep. The ship was part of a squadron of four operating in the area, working directly under the Tucker & Co. banner which, through organisation achieved via telegraph, received provisions and transhipped their oil at Albany via specially despatched transport vessels.

Between March, 1882, and May, 1883, Bartholomew Gosnold spent fourteen months cruising deep water largely between West Cape Howe and Bald Island. By extention she forayed as far west as Cape Leeuwin and as far east as Cape Arid. During this period the ship came into port six times; thrice for reprovisioning, once to pick-up deserted crew and once to leave off its sick master who had fallen prey to an unnamed illness. This illness, or the causes behind it, apparently giving rise to a rift between the whaling hands and ship’s heirachy (its leading sailors). When Bartholomew Gosnold anchored at Albany in May, 1883, and after a spell a new captain was brought aboard, almost three quarters of the crew refused to return to work.

These refractory sailors, among them twenty-nine year-old greenhand Edward Newhill, will have known something of where they were in the world and that the Swan River Colony’s south coast was a known deserter location. After-all, not only would there have been abundant tavern and wharf-talk back home, they had half a century’s worth of story to draw from, including published works such as The Australian Captive  (The Adventures of William  Jackman) which came out in 1852, and Four Years Aboard the Whaleship, the 1864 published journals of William Whitecar aboard the Pacific, both of which featured King George Sound and the small town of Albany located there.

By 1883 Albany was 56 years in the making and jumpship sailors were a well established phenomena. So much so by 1873 the New Bedford whaling industry had successfully argued for the positioning of an American Consul in the town in order to deal with international relations, a generalisation mostly used to describe the management of deserting sailors and their legal obligations. At the time of our story 39 year-old local man William Jenkins Gillam had played the Consul’s role for a decade. Gillam was son of the shipwright Thomas Meadows Gillam and nephew to John McKail. He was a newspaper agent, part owner of the Albany based whaler ‘Islander‘ and a former whaleman himself.

As we learned in Part One of this story, it was an argument between the Albany Advertiser newspaper and much regarded local historian of the mid 20th century, Robert Stephens, which caused the nomenclature dilema and ever since no-one has been clear on which is the correct name; Jimmy Newell’s Harbour or Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour. During the stewardship of Noel Whitecar, the Albany Advertiser argued the case for Jimmy Newhill citing ‘long usage’ while Stephens, as we showed, wrongly attributed the name to James Newell who he thought was an original convict who arrived at Albany aboard the Amity and who stayed after the army garrison was turned over to officials of the new Swan River Colony in 1831. We bear in mind here too that Thomas Newell/Noel, the actual Amity convict, left no other record of his time at Albany or anywhere within the Swan River Colony, making it harder still to grant him the title, though it cannot be dismissed that it was he, in the immediate post garrison era, who fell in with the sealing fraternity and by way of some incident or other left his name attached to the cove. Though his name was Thomas, nickname’s like Jimmy were soon attached to foreign men (especially those with accented speech) whose associations ranged across the working-class and indigenous grouping. In any case, in this second part to the story it is essential to grasp that the very first newspaper printed and published on the South Coast was the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser and that its very first edition was dated January 1st, 1883, and that in that edition was a shipping report detailing the activities of the American whaler Bartholomew Gosnold, presently lying at anchor in Princess Royal Harbour, and that aboard that ship was a German origin greenhand by the name of Edward Nuehuhl, later to become known as Ned or Jimmy Newhill. So Jimmy Newhill and the Albany newspapers established relations with the town at exactly the same time.

Having said that, first Albany newspaper mention of the disputed landmark calls it Jimmy ‘Newell’s’ Harbour. This mention can be found in an edition of the Albany Mail dated 11th September, 1886; fifty-five years after Thomas Newell/Noel was allowed to go free from the abandoned Frederickstown garrison, thirty-one years after the labourer and limeburner James Newell died of an aneurysm at Little Grove, eleven years after his son Gem Newell died unmarried but with two Aboriginal children, three years after Edward Newhill was released from his twelve week hard labour sentence for helping lead an historic harbour-side mutiny, and just nine months after the passing of old Dolly Petit, aka Dorothy Newell, whose original partner was the pirate sealer Black Jack Anderson.

So you see, while the dilemma is fascinating it may yet prove insoluble.

When it comes to Newhill, it was the good fortune of he and his comrades to have succeeded in escaping their Tucker & Co. contracts, but the mutiny set a precedent which heightened Albany’s reputation as a place of escape, thus driving something of a desertion craze among the remaining sailors of the company’s ships. A year later desertion brought about a most divisive and influential series of court cases involving seven Azorean whalemen aboard Bertha, a case which resulted in Albany’s first popular protest and ran through the colony’s competing newspapers for weeks. And then there was the desertion from Platina of another essential south coast identity, that of Henry Dimer, so there is a great deal of great importance to tell in this story, but the first thing we need to understand here is that 1883 was tail end of a lengthy but rocky affair Western Australia had with the American whaling industry. As a matter of fact, from the mid-1870s only a handful of ships still operated in the area, those whaling under the agency of John Tucker & Co, and it was this handful, specifically Platina and Canton II, which brought the entire American whaling episode to conclusion five years later, in 1888.

 

Methods of 19th Century whaling near Albany

 

Before we dive in it’s important to understand the difference between the types of whaling activity which occurred during this era. Between 1836 and 1888, while the callow settlement of Albany wrestled with both its commercial survival and social right of passage, three kinds of operation were practised.

Deep sea or pelagic whaling involved fully-equipped factory ships which spent most of their time hunting sperm whales well offshore. Sperm whales were highly valued for the spermacetti oil found in their head cavity, up to three tons of it in a large specimen. Slaughtered mercilously and inefficently across the world’s oceans since the 1600s, in addition to candle lighting and soaps, demand was driven by the need for lubricants required by machinery, entire industries having either commenced or leapt forward as result of the industrial revolution. Demand for whale oil peaked in 1846 with the move toward gas lighting and, through the distillation of petroleum oil, the arrival of kerosene onto the world market. It seems somewhat timely to be discussing this during Covid-19 as the demand slump in petroleum oil products looks like it has set that peak behind us now, future energy focussing on electricty generation, mostly through alternate sources. In any case, as it will be with petroleum oil, demand for whale oil did not die overnight. The industry simply trimmed, modernised and kept at, refocussing upon the Antarticic when it became apparent the northen and tropical oceans had so reduced sperm whale numbers voyages there were no longer profitable. In Albany, whaling persevered on and off for well over a century, eventually drawing to a close in 1978. In the end, deep sea whaling was so profuse it exacted such a toll on sperm whale populations across the global seas the 20th Century industry turned its eye toward the much larger finbacks and sulphur bottoms. Herertofore considered too difficult to catch and process, motorised boats, onboard machinery and exploding harpoon-heads made it easier. Finbacks (aka rorqual, razorback or herring whales) and sulphur-bottoms (better known today as blue whales) are now rare, but during the early 1880s, as we shall see, the waters off Albany were home to a very healthy population.

Although practised by ships equipped for the deep sea, bay-whaling was different in that it targeted journeying right whales and humpbacks where in quiet bays pregnant mothers would break off from their pods to calve. Bay-whalers would lay up in some friendly anchorage they came to know, often returning over a series of years, where they might establish winter gardens ashore to supplement preserved food supplies. Releasing their small boats from anchor, they hunted in the same way they would at sea, also processing aboard. Combined pelagic and bay-whaling voyages extended from one to five years. Around Albany, anecdotal evidence suggests bay-whaling was much more common among the French fleet than the American.

In 1841, rising toward the peak of the foreign whaling boom off the South Coast, when around 150 French and American ships  (perhaps up to 200) were reckoned to have visited, Wylie and Edward John Eyre were toward the final stages of their epic overland journey from Streaky Bay, S.A., making their way west of Cape Arid trying to reach Albany. At Rossiter Bay, Cape Le Grande, they came across the ensconsed French whaler Mississippi laying peacefully at anchor. Wylie and Eyre were welcomed aboard where they spent two weeks recouperating, in part on freshly grown potatoes and peas, before setting off again. The Mississippi is an example of the state of global whaling at the time, how industry transcended politics. It was an American built ship operating under a French contractor with an Englishman as captain. Mississippi looks like she visited the South Coast four years running, being part of the so-called French Fleet interested in the Southern Fishery between Albany and New Zealand. Thanks to Edward John Eyre, Captain Thomas Rossiter had his name given to the bay. (See the end section of Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 2 for elaboration.)

The third kind of operation employed in the waters around Albany also targetted humpbacks and southern rights, and was called shore-based whaling. In an Australian context these outfits were mostly financed locally, or else in partnership with a specific ship’s captain  (usually American) who would acquire the barreled oil once the season was over. Shore whalers kept their equipment, amounting to not much more than a five oared whale-boat or two, ropes, irons (harpoons) and associated striking and retaining tools, flensing tools, as large a cauldron as could be procured, and the necessary tools to drain the oil and run it into as many wooden barrels as they hoped to fill.  This equipment was set up at a seasonal camp, also often supplemented by a winter garden, where the boats would be launched from the shore when whales were spotted at a reachable distance. The job required strength, endurance and skill, and was dangerous. Two Fremantle companies established in 1836 lost seven young men to accident and drowning in their first season. (Gibbs, 2010, The Shore whalers of Western Australia) Bearing in mind Western Australia was isolated and fully fifty years behind the eastern colonies in its development, open-boat shore whaling was only establishing itself in our waters as, due to declining prices and better options for employment of capital elsewhere, it was falling away altogether in other colonies. Shore-based whaling stations in Western Australia extended from Marmion/Sorrento just north of Perth all the way down to and around Geographe Bay as far as Castle Rock at Dunsborough, including one on Rottnest Island. They then took up along the South Coast in a string of bays extending from Torbay near Denmark all the way to Cape Arid. There were also two stations north of Gerladton, one at Point Gregory, the other at Malus Island in the Dampier Archipelago. In all, the industry totaled 22 known locations operating at different times, on differing (though mostly small to very small) scales and with differing levels of frequency, between 1836 and 1879. Additionally, the records show there were at least two more sites at unidentified locations. (Gibbs 2010) Though individual operations were small scale and some only fleeting in existence, open boat bay whaling collectively forged a significant history which, around Albany at least, was said by Professor Gibbs to have become ‘a maritime tradition’.

 

Above: Shore whaling was heavy, dangerous, thrilling but cruel work. Along a four hundred mile stretch of the South Coast winter parties based themselves between Torbay and Cape Arid, rowing out to harpoon right whales and humpbacks calving near to shore. Image: Detail of still from early documentary film, first shown publicly in 1912 (now lost). Shorewhalers from Twofold Bay, Victoria, under tow of a harpooned humpback. The headsman is armed with a lancing pole used to stab the whale once it was exhausted and forced to the surface for air. A documentary based around the extraordinary story of the Twofold Bay whalers, who continued in the same fashion shown above into the 1920s, can be found on Vimeo here. Source: Charles Eden Wellings (1881-1952) Original still thanks to Wikimedia Commons, details here.

 

 

American Whaling and its influence on the South Coast

 

The Americans had been interested in West Australian waters from as early as the 1790s when at least two of their whaling ships were known to have visited the North-West, but at the time the so-called British Southern Whale Fishery was under commercial agreement, a monopoly struck by the vice-like grip of the British East India Company, so strictly out of bounds to foreign trade. Ocean-going whaling was long established, having been in operation out of northern Europe and North America since the late 17th Century and as the 19th Century loomed geo-political dominance in that region underwent significant change. The American War of Independence and Napoleonic Wars bringing about most of it. American whaling had grown out of  Nantucket Island from the 1670s to a considerable global force operating largely in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, only to have it’s capacity reduced by around eighty percent as result of the independence struggle. During this hiatus it was recognised an island harbour was not conducive to market access and a shift in industry base from Nantucket to New Bedford, at the mouth of the Acushnet River on the Massachussets mainland, occured. In the meantime, having lost control of North America, it was also a time when the British angrily defended their trade agreements, especially in and around their strongholds. They could not control the Pacific, but the Indian Ocean and Western Australia they still had influence over. Until the 1820s, this prevented the Americans from rounding Cape Hope and exploring the Indian Ocean en-mass.

Back in  Britain, the American and Napoleonic wars had a nasty pecuniary effect on ordinary men and women living through the concentration of populations into towns and cities brought about by the industrial revolution. Costing them twenty percent of their income before other taxes, these charges generated hardships many already struggling working-class people might have thought better-off endured in the warmer climate of the Australian colony (if they had any idea of it), even if it meant being on a seven to ten year jail term. England’s quest for empire drew heavily on its poorer classes and social deprivation and unrest burbled steadily on the webbing streets of its nonetheless expanding industrial centres. The swell of prison hulks on the Thames River in London bearing testament. Their emptying being the free labour supplied to colonial Australia.

In any case, international politics (particularly the protectionist hold of the East India Company) took its time to ease up and even though Britain had established its Southern Whale Fishery in line with its occupation of Australia and New Zealand from around 1770, it had lost appetite for long-haul whaling in the face of competition and other opportunities/interests. It took almost until 1820 for London to relax Indian Ocean trade restrictions, thereby allowing American interest in those waters to regain. By then of course America’s whaling fleet (now refocussed at New Bedford) was rebuilt and raring to go. With Britain disinterested, or at least distracted, the Indian and Southern Oceans, albeit requiring exploration, presented untapped potential, so the Americans, with their commercial appetities more voracious than ever, began to search. And once word got out the whaling was good around the southern corner of what they still called New Holland, boy did they show up in numbers.

It may have been a full two centuries ago, but in the minds of European and American businessmen the world was already fully conquerable. There was not a place on earth they would not attempt to get to if it meant there was wealth to be extracted. American whaling was largely a Quaker business, run by members of the Religious Society of Friends  who were heavily based in New England where emancipation from slavery had been strongly supported, so their exploitation of workers aboard ship was notably uniform.

To build some more back-story here, the capitalist Quaker movement was deeply Christian and at work setting up relief measures in Ireland during the 1840s as potato crops began to fail and hundreds of thousands of people, dependent on it as their sole food supply, fell into hunger. Hunger and war were rapmant across Europe during this tempestuous decade, but Ireland was worst affected because of the monoculture established among its already large and still fast expanding peasantry. At this time in an area of West Cork two young men by the name of Patrick and Timothy Cullinane were in all likelihood availing of charity from the Skibereeen soup kitchen as their family and people all around fell sick, or else gave up their small plots of infertile land and went into the workhouses, a capitulation which only delayed their pitiful doom. Timothy Cullinane was 18 years old at the height of the famine, lucky to be at the peak of youthful resilience when it was first requisite to survival. The great starvation of the late-1840s had a devestating effect on the peasantry, halving their population either by death itself or by way of exodus. For decades afterwards Ireland’s poor built a painful tradition of emigration as basis to escape landlordism and a life of dire misery; conditions they had been driven into, particularly over the previous hundred years, by British colonial forces and their self-serving economic policies.

We will pick up the story of Jimmy Newhill’s bride’s father’s journey out of Ireland further on but for now its important to note that Quaker ship masters and businessmen did not discriminate between colour, creed or language, they treated everyone equally poorly. In fairness, they acknowledged application and didn’t get in the way of any man hard-working and capable enough to succeed. This attitude meant many American men of African origin made it aboard their ships, giving rise to the name Black Hands or Black Jacks. Albany’s infamous sealer Black Jack Anderson, who became comon-law husband to Dorothy Newell, is supposed to have been one one of them. In 1822 the Nantucket schooner Industry was the first to set sail with an all-black crew. By account, between 30 and 40 percent of men who ever went whaling out of America were black (therefore about 60,000 men), with at least 63 African-American or other mixed-race men graduating to Master rank and captaining their own voyages.

There were numerous men of African-American origin who jumped ship in locations centred around Georgraphe Bay and along the South Coast of Western Australia, some of whom married into the the Noongar world. The mother of Fred Mead who we discussed in Part 1 as possibly being linked to the Newells of Albany, was said to have been the daughter of an African American man.

To the industry which employed these men life may have been valued, but in the quest for profit it was expendible. Accidents happened, and out on the open ocean, spearing whales from a row boat, they were often serious. Seen as a cost of production, and not a heavy one at that, standards of protection and compensation do not compare with today. Ships logs abound with stories of lost and drowned men, of men falling from the rigging, from sickness, cuts and burns, shark attacks and deliberate stoving of manned whale boats by whales themselves. In a time when there was no welfare and being one of the lowest paid jobs going, greenhand whaling attracted many men from deprived and/or abusive backgrounds. Nasty, loveless types similar to those we encountered in our exploration of the sealing industry. Disputes and physical fights between the men aboard resulted in nasty injuries, murders and in the case of those who hadn’t the strength of will to survive, suicides. Whaling voyages were long and incredibly dull for lengthy periods, and then, in short burts, hugely demanding, highly exhilarating and extremely dangerous. The combination of these factors and the mixed personalities aboard often lead to volatile social situations. Not to make too small a point of it, the whaling captain’s pursuit of profit was paramount and their attitude toward the risk of losing control over their crew just as sharp. When they got a sense their workforce was roused the captains maintained discipline by means of heirarchical solidarity and the application of fear and violence. Whipping, beating, chaining, abandonment on isolated islands, even being thrown overboard to see if the crew would make rescue, were not unheard of measures of treatment. The last thing a captain wanted was to lose control of his crew. Demand for labour was high, but figures show close to ninety percent of all American greenhand whalemen signed on for the duration of a single voyage only. Desertion was rife. At virtually every port of call whether shore leave was permitted or not, ship’s officers could expect the need to hire replacement crew, accepting those new recruits would likely be jumspships themselves. During 1880’s Albany certainly, this is the way it was and anyone who met a whaleman on shore-leave, or a deserter on the run, would treat them with every caution.

Boredom and a sense of being held in captivity were prime motivations for desertion, even though running away was written into their contracts as punishable by law. Applicable due to reasoning that aboard ship the laws of the country who owned the ship held, the captain effectively acting as jurisdictional governor. Paid as little as one percent of the voyage’s end profit (after all costs and returns to investors), many greenhands spent what they earned on pre-departure advances, clothing and other items from the ship’s stores and on shore-leave, before they got home. Years of dangerous toil for next to no financial reward meant many looked upon a shot at a new life, in a new place, as fair incentive. Indeed, many joined with the direct intention of jumping just as soon as a suitable location or opportunity arose, even though they could bring just a few small personal items and the clothes on their backs with them, and even though they would be vigorously searched for by the captain and local authorities. But there were loopholes and at Albany one very significant loophole was exploited by two thirds of the crew of Jimmy Newhill’s vessel, Bartholomew Gosnold, and so significant was the effect of that the captains of all four Tucker ships subsequently came together to ensure it didn’t happen again, if by no other means that straight forward coercion.

Some jumpships took inordinate risks. Rather than steal away while on shore leave they snuck overboard late at night when anchored at a distance they thought they could navigate. Some never saw the land, never saw anything ever again.

Hapless “greenhands”–young crewmen hoping to win the lottery, find adventure or escape the law–were less fortunate. These naifs were typically issued a chest of shoddy, overpriced clothes and supplies, which was charged against them, with interest, for the voyage’s duration. Such expenses often took a huge bite out of pay, assuming a crewman wasn’t marooned on a desert island on the voyage home to cut costs, a practice that was all too common. Some sailors came home as debtors, owing their souls, as it were, to the company store. Conditions on board many ships got so bad that a U.S. consul in Chile wrote a letter of protest to the State Department in 1858. Others pointed out that while New Bedford was a hotbed of abolitionism–Frederick Douglass lived there for a while–whaling crewmen were sometimes treated worse than slaves. (Blubber Capitalism – Forbes on-line.)

 

So, from the establishment of the colony of New South Wales on the Pacific coast, American whalers began to visit eastern Australia and New Zealand, some among them graduating westwards, following the coast, though entirely content hunting spermicetti a distance off-shore. This was because sperm whale oil was valued above that of other whales and also in part because coastal charts, especially in more remote places (such as the deep south west), were old and poor, meaning ship’s captains were reluctant to negotiate unfamiliar shore lines. As the years rolled by and the Indian Ocean restrictions were lifted, American ships started drifting into the Southern and Indian oceans finding and ‘fishing’ the so-called Crozet Grounds in the sub-Antarctic waters around the Heard and McDonald Islands where a large population of sperm whales spent their summers feeding. The relative proximity of Heard Island led these whalers north-eastwards to the far south-western corner of the Australian continent from the opposite direction as those who had come through the Pacific, where upon they tentatively began to discover other sizable and as-yet unexploited multi-specie whale populations.

During the 1820s, the South Coast of Western Australia became known among the NSW, Van Diemen’s Land and British transport maritime masters as a viable source of seal fur, whale blubber and bone, and would have seen far greater exploitation but for its isolation. Prior to 1829 everything settler oriented at Australia occurred on the East Coast where there was much profitable whaling and sealing activity in the Pacific anyway, heading west against the prevailing winds simply didn’t make sense. Unless of course the isolation suited you, as it did the sealers of Bass Strait and Kangaroo Island, some of whom came to make Albany their home from as early as 1824. In 1842, after almost twenty years, and at the height of American interest in the South West, John Martin, crew member aboard the whaler Lucy Ann, commented in his journal that the community he found wasn’t very select as most were ‘old convicts emigrated to King George Sound from Botany Bay and other places’. This shows just how prevalent the criminal-fringe-dwelling maritime community at Albany was and if I can recommend reading on this subject it would be Jock Beer’s seminal exploration of the story of his ancestor, the dodgy mariner-come-sheepman John Bailey Pavey.  Beer’s is an essential gem of a work. The first of early Albany’s descendants who spent every effort researching men of less than high social standing, it can be found neatly tucked away in the Albany History Collection archive. Under the alias John Williams Andrews, Pavey was a sealer and boatowner who, amongst other things, found work salvaging waste from the whalers. Beer writes;

By as early as 1837 he became involved in shore-based whaling, His initial foray into this new enterprise involved the scavenging of carcases of whales killed by American pelagic whalers, the practice being called tonguing. Rowing a whaleboat out into the bays, the discarded carcases, usually being feasted on by sharks, would be attached to the boat and towed back to the shore where the lips, tongue, cheeks and eyes and anything else of value that could be, was rendered down to oil. Whalebone was also collected as an additional saleable resource. In the beginning Andrews employed fellow sealers, like Robert Gamble and Thomas South, to help him with the collection of carcases. They operated along a broad stretch of the south coast, headquartered at places like Doubtful Island Bay and Two Peoples Bay. Andrews used his boats the Fanny and the Lively (1838 and 1839 only) to tow the whale carcasses to shore. For such a minimal investment, tonguing provided a very good return. For example, during December 1842 and January 1843 Andrews’ tonguing operation in Two Peoples Bay produced 35 barrels of oil from three whale carcases.

 

John Bailey Pavey is also a key player in the incredible survival story of the Mount Barker Harris family. Pavey and his ilk formed the cohort of  ‘old convicts’ the American John Martin was talking about in his diary. Martin’s record gives insight into the familiarity more rounded American whalemen had with visiting remote corners of the globe and of the kind of people they were liable to meet. He also wryly commented, ‘I did not see a handsome woman while there (at Albany), although I was in most of their houses’, adding later that even Lady Spencer’s daughter Augusta was ‘as ugly as blue mud’.

Was Mr Martin turned away by her?   Lol…   (See Tim Blue’s entertaining “A history of sail driven whaling on the southern coastline” in  Vol 33 of Studies In Western Australian History.

Now, Major Lockyer also learned from the sealers he encountered at King George Sound early in April, 1827, that many were east coast convicts and jumpships. (see Historical Records of Australia –  Series 3). In reality it was the sealing industry which brought these men to Albany, but sealers and whalemen were grouped together by officials under the heading, ‘mariners’ by virtue of the sea being their means to survival, and therefore the two cannot and should not be disassociated. Pavey/Andrews is a prime example of the interchangable nature of the work. The sealing and whaling industries were closely related in terms of labour, or type of labour, and given the number of men involved their combined workforces surely overlapped. In all probablilty, Albany’s Black Jack Anderson was an American whaleman before he was a sealer.

For comprehensive coverage of early South Coast sealing search the category Sealers & Sealing, in particular the posts Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection; Parts 3a, 3b & 3c.

In any case, it wasn’t until the early 1830s and the availability of modern charts drawn by the likes of Matthew Flinders and Phillip Parker King, when the American whaling masters felt confident enough to negotiate the bays and harbours of lower Western Australia where they came to find plenty of sport. Blue whales, which they called sulphur bottoms, pilot whales, killer whales, southern rights and humpbacks, these last two especially enjoying the winter shelter provided by the endless run of serene bays between Augusta and Israelite Bay, indeed all the way to the Spencer Gulf in South Australia. These whale species were all in the company of the highly unusual, highly sought-after tooth-bearing sperm whale, the oil from its headcase source of the greatest profit in the business.

There is a lack of evidence to suggest the South West of Western Australia was exploited by the Americans prior to the middle part of the 1830s, but from as early as 1831 James Stirling was alert to the opportunity as he sought to appoint the visiting Hobart-based Captain Robert Ramsay of the brig Brittania as Deputy Harbour Master at Albany in the hopes he would establish a whaling depot there. This reflects the degree of activity in the whaling industry on the East Coast and Stirling’s knowledge of it. But Ramsay’s ship left the Swan River on a high sea and never even called in to King George Sound, so it didn’t happen and the toe-hold was never gained, thus demonstrating yet again the difficulty Western Australia endured in constituting itself in the face of contrary winds from the burgeoning East Coast along with stories of failure and fraud spread by its deserting early subscribers, not least the influential Henty family.

By the end of the decade the number of American whalers arriving via the Indian Ocean had grown steadily, their masters becoming familiar with a string of local shelters. From about the Swan River at Cockburn they came to establish contact at various points around Geographe Bay, at Augusta, Albany and other sheltered corners through to the Recherche Archipelago, Cape Arid and beyond.

From the mid 1830s (certainly the arrival of the James Pattison in 1834) the abundance of whales they could see in the water and the growing frequency of foreign ships appearing off the coast began to stir the already pressing frustrations of the settlers. Talk of the whaling opportunity gathered impetus and spread, along with it vexation and anger driven by their inability to understand, finance and acquire the necessary equipment to commence their own operations. Remember, it wasn’t until around 1834 when some kind of economic stability came to James Stirling’s entrepreneurial endeavour. Prior to then, its very existance hung by the determined threads of those who simply would not give up; Western Australia’s settlers of last resort, of which Albany had its precious few.

Between 1834 and 1837, those tense hardships began to ease when crops finally began to yield and supply ships were more regularly expected. This provided a little more liquidity to the market, which is to say there was more money or cash moving around. Because labour was in such short supply it was well paid, relative to elsewhere at least, but the cost of goods was also very high. In any case, farming, in particular sheep farming which the entirety of Australia had pretty much based its future upon, demanded most of the available work force. When whaling began to present itself as a potentially lucrative local industry some of that labour transferred, adding greater demand overall and thereby increasing rates. Whaling at a local level was not only expensive by way of set up, it was expensive by way of running. Returns had to be high to make it worth while. Still, by 1836, two Fremantle based companies decided to try their luck.

As did Thomas Brooker Sherratt, the prominent, well-capitalised Albany hotelier and businessman, who joined forces with one man from the eastern colonies who had heard the call, the equipped Tasmanian whaler John W. Lovitt (aka William Lovett) who seems to have arrived that self same year. The pair commenced a shore-based operation out at Doubtful Island Bay and Sherratt, needing someone to oversee the operation on his behalf, employed noneother than the newly arrived, young, errant and not-to-be-denied John McKail to do so.

Above: Initial assessment of the 1836 Doubtful Island Bay whaling operation carried-out by T.B. Sherrat of Albany and John Lovitt of Tasmania shows the venture was grossly inefficient. Taking less than half the whales they harpooned and then rendering only 15 tuns of oil all-up, the figures appear up to fifty percent lower than expected. Was some of the oil undeclared, or stolen?  Image: Cut from an 1836 newspaper article featuring Albany news. Source: The Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal 24th December, 1836.

 

Albany’s other profit-hungry capitalist of the time, George Cheyne, also fell into action. The town’s remaining big-hitter, Thomas Lyell Symers, would more than likely have joined the fray too only his ship, Caledonia, and personal attention was engaged with trading elsewhere. Motivated by that palpable sense of angst emanating from the Swan River and furthered by an 1835 expedition to Doubtful Island Bay in a last gasp attempt to convince the Henty brothers to commence a whaling (and/or sheep) station there, these men were compelled by what Mary Bussell described as a great mania.

“Whaling is now almost as great a mania as sheep. . .  Is this not tempting? A whaling station is talked of for Doubtful Island Bay which the Governor and party have just been down to explore beyond King George’s Sound.” (Marnie Bassett, The Hentys, pg 364)

 

For deeper exploration of what was happening along the coast at a political level at this time see ‘James Stirling’s Vision of the South Coast’ in Mokare’s Mob -Part 4b; also, ‘George Cheyne and the quest for Cape Riche‘ in Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 1 and the dedicated post George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery.

 

Cheyne joined the now obvious opportunity in 1837. His establishment was at Cape Riche, a locality outside Albany’s tax jurisdiction where, after wrestling for it with the surveyor Henry Ommaney, he decided to base his rural and maritime activities from 1835. Cheyne was the first to form an American alliance, appearing to have teamed up with Captain Francis Coffin out of New Bedford. Coffin looks to have arrived at Albany in his under-manned ship Samuel Wright  (likely affected by a group desertion) while Cheyne was running his merchant store in Albany. It seems Cheyne organised labour for Coffin who by mixed accounts lodged his ship at Doubtful Island Bay or else Two People Bay, or perhaps across the course of the season, both.  At Doubtful Island Bay Coffin pitched himself directly against Sherratt’s and Lovitt’s shore-based endeavour, which Sherratt complained about locally as well as some years later via letter to the Colonial Secretary. The result of his local upset was Coffin offering to buy his oil, after which the Sherrat/Lovett partnership quit, Lovett retrieving his equipment and trying his luck elsewhere.

“. . . a man must be a fay idiot to fish with a land party if foreignors are allowed to come into this port, take our men, proceed to the bay…and blockade the land party.” (CSR 55/14; 5/5/1842)

 

 

Now, records show that off-shore whaling along the North-West coast was far more prolific and therefore far more profitable than that which occurred off the South Coast, but because of the lack of physical touch-points there is no history to tell. Only recently was it discovered American whalers had left inscriptions on some of the islands of the Dampier Archipelago during the 1840s. Whaling off the North West appears to have continued the search for sperm whales during the winter months. We know it occurred on a generous scale because of the work carried out by Charles Haskins Townsend, an American fisheries expert who assembled whaling data based on the logbooks of the American fleet between 1760 and 1920.

 

Above: Data compiled by the American fisheries researcher Charles Townsend shows that so-called Yankee whaling was far more successful off the North-West coast than off the South Coast of Western Australia, but that due to a lack of physical touch points there is no social history attached. Image: Townsend’s visual representation of American sperm whale catches off the Australian coast between 1760 and 1920. More focused detail tells us the catches made off Western Australia were taken mostly between 1830 and 1890. Source: Original Research Article: Frontiers in Marine Science: 15 Sept, 2016 https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2016.00167

 

There is a virtual library of American whaler logs available for researching on-line, if anyone has the time and interest, but for now we must turn back to the influence on the at least partially populated south-western cormer where laconic female southern right whales lolled about close to shore during their pregnancies and birthing seasons. Though their oil fetched considerably lower prices, from the mid 1830s these easy catches were the enticement both ship and shore-based whalemen needed to spend their winters in select bays where they could slaughter mother and child pairs with maximum impunity and minimal effort.

 

Above: Bay whaling became a popular business along Western Australia’s beautiful southern coastline from the late 1830s as the mostly French industry recognised the value of ‘wintering’ there. The practise was barborous and wasteful, sometimes in the extreme, as whales, calving southern rights especially, were slaughtered wholesale. Image: More than a hundred years after the Americans left, a female southern right whale and her calf laze safely in the shallow waters off Norman Beach near Albany. Source: Drawn from ABC Great Southern Facebook page, submitted by Georgie Morgan (@by_a_long_shot/Instagram) 30 June 2020.

 

In the build-up, deep-water whaling and wintering among the South Coast’s idyllic bays sent waves of excitement not only back to New Bedford and other eastern American ports, but to France and England too. Interest spiked, despite the emergence of petroleum oil and global oversupply leading to a sudden and dramatic price slump. In 1837, just as things were getting going around Albany, so-called black oil (oil other than spermicetti) was trading in London at £45.00 per tun. The following year it collapsed to £20.00. (A tun equated to 252 gallons). It took six years for price to recover (Gibbs 2010), yet during this period, because of the time lag, because spermecetti was always the higher earner (and available), and because of the sheer number of black oil whales in the bays, instead of declining the number of ships appearing around Albany rose dramatically. Some reports estimate the 1842 fleet at between 150 and 200 vessels. Captain James Sale in later life recalled counting up to a dozen whalers anchored at one time between the inner and outter harbours. Shore-based whaling however, being expensive and focussed solely on black oil production, rapidly fell away. And then, just as quickly as the number of visiting whalers exploded, they fell away. Within a couple of years Albany’s officals were wondering what in the world had happened. The reality being the north west waters were higher yileding and that a new field was discovered off the west coast of North America which being closer provided the greater attraction.

When viewed this way the vexed cries of the Swan River settlers are easy to understand. The Americans were raiders. They brought little with them of real economic value and took away hundreds of thousands of barrels of whale oil, mostly out of sight but effectively from under the noses of the powerless colonists.

 

Above:  The number of foreign whale ships, overwhelmingly American, which visited the waters off Western Australia from 1835 rose exponentially in the first five years only to fall away equally as dramatically, before finding a slowly diminishing balance. Unbeknown to the settlers, the number of ships and sperm whale catches off the North-west Coast dwarfed what was going on outside their front doors. Image: Chart cut from Gibbs, UWA Press, 2010. Source: Gibbs, M, 2010; The Shorewhalers of Western Australia, Hitsorical Archeaology of a Martime Frontier

 

Now, getting back to the activity around Albany, Captain Coffin of the Samuel Wright spent another two seasons at Two People’s Bay and it is through this episode where we begain to see the effects of crowding. During 1838 the Samuel Wright  was in direct competition with Delphos (another American ship) as well as the French owned L’Harmonie. The story of vying between the three, along with details of the richness of the season and of the desertions of crew, were highlighted in a December newspaper article (below). The story summarises the intense interest in the colony in what was going on, demonstrating the annoyance of the Swan River business interests at the scale of the opportunity they were unable to cash-in on. By 1839, this frustration led to substantial increases in port fees at Fremantle and Albany. Such was the extent of the increase ships captains began to avoid ‘coming in’ altogether and the local economies quickly felt the pain. It was at this time George Cheyne began to profit signifcantly out at Cape Riche. Even though he registered no trade until officially granted his holding there in 1842, Cheyne had been busy at work at Cape Riche from as early as 1836.

 

Above: Albany was the point of excitement in 1838 as international whaling ships gathered in number and fought for safe space in the few known bays along the coast, raising the ire of frustrated local officials. It was also the year more adventurous sailors started to take a shine to the colony and the prospect of a new life there, as it was learned non-British whalemen if caught could not be forcibly returned to their ships. Charles Tondut, a cook aboard the French ship L’Harmonie mentioned in this article, was one such man. Tondut was from the Macon winemaking region of Burgundy. He and a fellow jumpship, Louis Langoulant, walked to the Swan River and settled in South Perth where Tondut became the colony’s very first vigneron. Image: Newspaper article on whaling at the Swan River Colony in 1838. Source: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal, 1st December, 1838. Article No. 639310

 

There are no records of shore whaling at Doubtful Island Bay or Cape Riche during 1838/39, reflective of the lack of necessary equipment along with the collapsed value of black oil at the time. However, an American whaler named Gratitude (also mentioned in the article above), Captain Fisher out of New Bedford, anchored at Cape Riche for a spell, probably on the strength of Cheyne’s earlier association with Coffin, and likely in order to avoid those harbour taxes at Albany. In fact, it was the Gratitude which took Cheyne’s nephew John and his wife Ann and their children away from Western Australia. John and Ann Cheyne had settled at the Lower King property George had bought from the Henty’s around 1834 but found too little to sustain them there. (see George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery)

The Samuel Wright returned to America in November 1839, unloaded her crew and cargo, then quickly re-organised. Coffin set sail in her again, arriving back at Albany in March, 1840. In July she touched at Koombanah Bay, Port Leschenault, where Henry Bull had lately been appointed Resident Magistrate. Unfortunately, on the night of  7th July Coffin’s ship was caught in a severe gale, snapped an anchor cable and was washed onto shore. No one was hurt but she never sailed again. The story of the Samuel Wright’s demise, one of three American whalers to be wrecked near Bunbury, can be read at the West Australian Museum’s Shipwreck Database. Salvage of these wrecks, and others (there were seven between 1840 and 1844)  helped ease demand and therefore the cost of equipment sought after by would-be West Australian shore-based whaling companies.

Now, like the sealers whaling crews which did come to Albany held reputation for being the dregs of society. Men of low character, law breakers who could not be trusted, or else sordid carriers of sexually transmitted disease. During this time syphilis was prevalent not just among them, but among commercial ship crews at large, heirarchy included, and Albany was to feel the full effects of this pestilence, particularly during the late 1830s and into the 1840s when visiting whalers were at their highest number. William Nairne Clarke, a notable journalist of the day who spent time at Albany during 1842, wrote to Governor Hutt the following year, saying;

My Lord, I stated to him the startling fact that King Georges Sound was a great resort for American Whalers and the crews on their days of liberty ashore had connection with the native women around the settlement, and with very young girls tempted by the sight of what they call “white money”. His Excellency admitted that he had heard of this before, and yet writes to your Lordship that a protector is not required! I can assure your Lordship that great debasement exists amongst the female native population around Albany owing to their intercourse with sealers and whalers frequenting the Port, and that the males are getting gradually initiated into the vices of drinking and smoking being the wages for the prostitution of their wives and daughters.

 

The venereal disease has likewise been prevalent there amongst the Aborigines, owing to their intercourse with the scum of ships, if it is not so now – and let me respectfully ask your Lordship what becomes of the Natives between King Georges Sound and Cape Leuwin. . .  (C.S.R. Vol. 116  Folio.224-229)

 

Resident Magistrate at Albany at the time, John Randal Phillips (who Nairne-Clarke refers to above as ‘His Excellency’), confirmed the presence of what he called ‘Venereal’ in a letter to the Colonial Secretary in October, 1844, in which he also mentions the prevalence of ship deserters while detailing the helpful character of the Minang. By 1844 American interest in the waters off the Swan River Colony had shifted to the nelwly discovered whaling grounds off western Canada, and though it persisted the number of visiting ships never rose above half of those reported in the peak years of 1841/42.  (C.S.R. Vol. 130  Folio.40) Just as quickly as they amassed, the Americans had found a new whaling ground, closer to home, and swarmed about there instead. So much so, in Phillips’s letter he describes the ‘non appearance’ of American whalers over that winter.

 

To the Honorable , the Colonial Secretary,                                                                Residents Office        Perth                                                                                                                          Albany, 15th April, 1844

 

Sir,

 

With regard to the Aborigines of this district, I am happy to have it in my power to report their having recovered nearly from the severe effects of venereal (disease) under which they laboured during last winter. It is extremely difficult to administer the necessary remedies to them which the complaint requires in such a very variable climate such as King George Sound is. At times the thermometer is 46  (7.8C) with cold rains and wind, and from their habits will not remain in a house unless under compulsion.

 

I have alloted a house for them under the superintendence of the policeman and those who remain there are attended by Doctor Harrison and are allowed one and one half pounds of flour which the policeman sees them make into gruel.

 

The Aborigines of this district have of late been much cried down for petty offences. That some of them have committed depredations of a very daring nature I cannot pretend to deny, by breaking into stores and taking there from flour etc, while on the other hand great allowances should be made for some of their petty thefts. They are made companions and associates of by a great many of the lower orders and sealers who reward them but badly for their services and it should also be remembered that at this season of the year the Aborigines come from remote districts and considerable distances to share and partake in the food furnished them by the whalers at this port and on the coast. Besides the refuse of the whale upon which they feed largely they obtain large supplies of biscuit and bread in barter for spears and firewood etc and thus this season this source has failed them by the non appearance of whalers on our coast. And therefore it cannot be wondered at their committing some depredations to alleviate their starving necessities.

 

And when it is considered the number of deserters from vessels who cross and recross this district at a distance of 100 miles and more all the time,  unarmed and scarcely with any provisions without being pursued or molested, but on the contrary aided and assisted on their peregrinations by these natives and who in many instances have been known to share their scanty meal with them, they cannot be said to be so bad a race as some would wish to make them out.

Etc, etc. etc . . .

 

I have the honour to be Sir,                                                                                                                                   your obediant servant,

 

J.R. Phillips,                                                                                                                                                        Government Resident

 

 

So here we catch a glimpse of what was going on behind the imaginary fascia of the moneyed settlers whose role it was to promote and develop a society in the model of well-to-do Britain, but which was returned by the image of a shabby disreputable waterfront populated by heavy drinking soldiers and mariners, foreign sailors running-off or else frolicking on shore-leave, and an otherwise supportive indigenous element sick and dying while embroiled in seedy prostitution. So what needs to be remembered here is that based on population statistics and social make-up, Albany as a micrcosm of coastal colonial Australia was one part church and office to nine parts boat and vice. There are so many stories of excess carried out by the whalers coming ashore between Geographe Bay and the South Coast over the 1840s in particular, author Tim Blue’s much needed Whale Hunters of the West carries 240 pages of startling insight.

And so to the story of Jimmy Newhill’s arrival at Albany.

 

The final voyage of the New Bedford barque Bartholomew Gosnold (1881-1885)

 

Above: Bartholomew Gosnold was one of four vessels contracted by John F. Tucker and Co of New Bedford, Massachussetts to station themselves in the waters around King George Sound. The last American whalers to operate off the coast of Western Australia, Tucker’s squadron brought to an end a fifty-year commercial dalliance with the Albany area. In May, 1883, after spending a fortnight on recreational leave at Albany, much of the crew of Batholomew Gosnold mutinied, refusing to man the ship. One of these men, Edward Newhall, was named as ringleader.  Image: Vintage postcard of a model of the bark (barque) Bartholomew Gosnold, named after the famous English colonial venturer most recognised for his endeavours in the area of Cape Cod and the vicinity of what became the powerhouse whaling capital of all America, New Bedford. Source: Commercial Vintage Postcard Seller, open internet. Unknown photographer, unknown locality, unkown year.

 

Digitiser’s Condensed Summary

Logbook of a whaling voyage to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Includes descriptions of types of whales seen or taken, accidents, ambergris, illnesses, deaths, injuries, a rescue, shipboard medicine, punishments, mutinous behavior, discovering a stowaway, fights, taking on provisions while in ports, and desertions. Also contains accounts, chronometer readings, and oil stowed. The keeper listed those who were sick in the logbook’s margin, and the most common listing was venereal disease. In multiple entries, the captain was described blacksmithing. The vessel began leaking in July 1881 and continued throughout the voyage. The crew encountered a hurricane and sustained some damage as a result on August 17, 1881. One man shot himself in the hand on 1 November 1881 and was taken to the hospital. One man, Jose Silva, was attacked and wounded by a shark on March 23, 1882. Whaleboats were stove by whales on 14 April 1882 and 11 August 1882. A stowaway who joined the vessel at Tenerife (Canary Islands) was found onboard on May 4, 1882. On 15 May 1882, Charles L. Sanford robbed another man and was put in irons as a result. Frank Taber was injured while cutting in a whale on June 24, 1882. The crew sighted a comet on 8 October 1882 and superstitiously attributed it to causing the bad weather. Capain Poole fell ill in February 1883 and decided to leave the vessel. Captain Hammond arrived in April 1883 to assume command of the vessel, and a few men (more than 2/3 of the crew) refused duty in April and May 1883 as a result and were arrested by the American Consu at Albany. The crew found a stowaway named John Martin of Hobart onboard in July 1883. There was a fight between Joseph Enos and John Smith on 26 February 1884, and John Smith was badly injured as a result. The crew took almost 3 pounds of ambergris from a whale on August 4, 1884. One man died of consumption on February 13, 1885. One man jumped overboard on 20 May 1885 but was saved before he drowned. A stowaway from Auckland was discovered onboard on May 26, 1885. Other places represented include Savage Island (Niue) and Frenchman Bay (New Zealand). Whaling grounds include the (south west) Coast of New Holland and Middle grounds.

 

 

 

Named after an influential 16th Century colonial entrepreneur (kind of an earlier American oriented James Stirling), Bartholomew Gosnold was one of a bevy of ships under the agency of  John F. Tucker and Co., a mid-scale New Bedford based operation specialising in the management of whaling voyages to the Capricorn expanses of the Pacific, Southern and Indian Oceans; what had become known in Anglo/Australian terms as the Southern Whale Fishery. Effectively, Tucker’s was among a cluster of dealmaking companies which contracted (leased) vessels, fitted them out as factory-ships (at least renovating to current standards), staffed and victualled them, and put them to work. It was capital intensive and risky, especially as the voyages were typically three to five years, but the rewards were often there. Bartholomew Gosnold was built in 1832, so coming upon fifty years service when she set out on her last long haul job. At around 360 tons she was built in Falmouth, Massachussetts, transferring to the port of New Bedford in 1844. She had not met with any disasters, though lives had been lost including four from a single chase in her first voyage out of New Bedford. In 1881, as we shall see, the vessel may have been ‘made ready’ prior to departure, but by then she was old and leaky; her main fittings and fixtures degraded over time.

John Tucker was the son of Charles R. Tucker who set-up the company in 1836, just as the resurgent American fleet began to identify the South Coast of Western Australia as fertile ground for both deep sea and bay whaling, and started to concentrate more of their winter periods around it. The life span of the Tucker father-and-son company corresponds neatly with the era of American whaling off the South Coast, though the company had only been working with Bartholomew Gosnold from 1863.

I say resurgent American industry because it had been decimated by the lengthy Revolutionary War of the the 1770s during which London had imposed an utterly destructive tax on imported whale oil in order to  weaken the American fleet and protect its own. The speed and scale with which the Americans resumed whaling operations (around 1815) to come to global dominace (1820-1860) is prime example of the competitive nature and commercial voracity the United Staes economic machine was birthed from. The Western European quest for racial, religious and global wealth dominance, powerfully influenced by Britain’s Quaker movement, was the seed which built the Unites States we know today, and whaling was a foundation industry of it.

The most impressive display of the American whalemen’s genius, however, was not technical but financial and organizational. Whaling was both capital intensive and highly risky. It took $20,000 to $30,000 to launch a venture, at a time when the average farm was worth $2,500 and the average manufacturing firm $5,000. A large sperm whale, yielding 85 barrels of oil plus other parts, could fetch $3,000 when rendered. Yet hazards were many–industrial accidents, hostile islanders, uncharted reefs, vicious storms–and disasters common. At least four mother ships were destroyed by enraged sperm whales, just as the Pequod is in Melville’s tale. Some boats came back empty of oil. (Blubber Capitalism, Forbes on-line)

 

So it was in the North American spring of 1881 John Tucker & Co, had Bartholomew Gosnold refitted, staffed and ready to go whaling for the 13th and last time. Her crew this voyage comprised 32 men. Having just celebrated his 36th birthday, Captain William H Poole was in command. He had been sailing for at least 17 years, his initial mastership being the whaler Morning Star. According to the New Bedford Whaling Museum archive Bartholomew Gosnold was his third voyage as captain. Poole’s chief officer was 33 year-old Silas Pope, an experienced sailor of at least 15 years. There were three teenagers aboard, 15 year-old Charles Sanford, 16 year-old Henry Carr (both residents of New Bedford), and 16 year-old Charles Brown of  London, England. The 28 other men were aged between  21 and 45, the average age of the crew being just over 24 years. The nationalities of the original embarking crew included 1 French, 1 Austrian,  1 Spanish, 1 from Brava (Cape Verde Islands), 2 from Fogo Island (Newfoundland, Canada), 3 German, 5 from the Azores, and 18 Americans drawn from towns within Massachussetts and surrounding states, includung New York and New Jersey.

 

Above: Bartholomew Gosnold left New Bedford in April, 1881, with an original complement of 32 men, including a 27 year-old German deckhand named as E. Neuhuhl. By the time the vessel returned home almost the entire crew, including her captain, had changed. Image: Original crew list of the Bartholomew Gosnold’s 13th and final voyage, hand-written at the offices of John F. Tucker & Co, April, 1881. Source: (digital) Ciaran Lynch private collection, courtesy New Bedford Port Society records, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

 

Ranks on a Whaleship

Depending on the size of a vessel, crews ranged in size from fifteen to forty men. Each man held a role with which came specific tasks. These ranks, arranged in a rigid hierarchy, determined the authority each crew member held.

Captain/Master: Perhaps the term Master was more applicable than captain. This individual had complete control and authority over the whaleship and its operations. As one whaling captain said to his timid crew while on the whaling grounds, “I am God.”

Mates/Officers: These numbered three or four men, descending from the First Mate to the Fourth Mate. Each commanded their own whaleboat, and acted as the captain’s direct supervisors of the rest of the crew.

Boatsteerers/Harpooneers: Three to five crew members rowed the whaleboat and one threw the harpoon, hoping to latch onto the whale. This began the process of the whale hunt. They enjoyed more liberties than the average crew member.

Mechanics: These craftsmen, ranging in jobs from blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, steward, and the cook, ranked higher than the average crewman. They performed specialized jobs onboard the vessel, and they stayed behind when the crew went out on a hunt to care for the ship.

Foremast Hands/Crewmen: The majority of the crew was made up of foremast hands. They performed daily duties of cleaning the vessel and taking turns on watch. During a hunt, these men rowed the whaleboats to their prospective prey.

Greenhands: These were first timers. Ranking the lowest of all the crew members they had a lot to learn. Most greenhands deserted their vessel before their voyage ended. People in New Bedford use the term “greenhorn” to this day.

Source: American National Park Service Website, New Bedford, History/Culture

 

 

Above: Whaleships were floating factories and warehouses. Batholomew Gosnold was configured similarly to this diagram. The top view of the deck plan shows the try works, a pair of big iron kettles where the whale blubber was boiled into oil. The lower view shows how the full barrels of whale oil were stowed below deck. Staves and shooks (barrel assembly kits) were stored in the bow. Usually there were four whale boats hoisted alongside, three on the port side and one to the starboard (right) .Image: Scheme of  the New Bedford Whaling Bark Alice Knowles, about 1878. Source: G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States, Section V, History and Methods of the Fisheries, 1887. Thanks to National Museum of American History for text and image shown here.

 

 

Bartholomew Gosnold 1881-1885
Sailed New Bedford  April 23rd, 1881 (3 portside whaleboats &1 starboard)

 

  • Captain; William H. Poole (36 yrs, Dartmouth/Massachussetts)
  • First Mate; Silas Pope (33 yrs, Acushnet/New Bedford)
  • Second Mate; Tristram Weeks Jnr (30 yrs, native Indian of Chilmark/Martha’s Vineyard)
  • Third Mates; William Kelleher (26 yrs, Lynn/Massachussetts) William G. Taber (employed at Tenerife)
  • Fourth Mate; Salvador Jacinto (25 yrs, Azores) Demoted to boatsteerer at Albany, 18th June, 1882.
  • Boatsteerers; Salvador Jacinto ( 25 yrs, Azores), Jose Silva  (22 yrs, Azores), Frank Taber (22 yrs, New Bedford), Joseph Mello (20 yrs, Azores – promoted at Tenerife) James Weaver (45 yrs, Baltimore/Maryland)
  • Coopers; Jose Vieira (27 yrs, Azores)
  • Blacksmith; Captain William H. Poole

 

On the first page of his journal, Poole writes on an otherwise blank page that scurvy is to be treated by administering 25 to 75 centigrammes of salicilic acid, a fairly new remedy for the time. It is applied in solution with citric acid, sodium bicarbonate and water. Sodium bicarbonate (mineral salt) reduces the acidic taste and also makes the solution efferfescent, as reaction with acid produces carbon dioxide. It is very effective in the cure of scurvy, but not as a preventative. Citric acid in the form of lime juice was still used when fresh vegetables weren’t available for long periods.

23rd April, 1881: The ship unties and heads north out of Cape Cod to the vicinity of  Sable Island, where they searched without luck until May 10th, then headed north over the fishing grounds of the Flemish Cap toward Cape Farewell at the tip of Greenland. First practise for the boat crews on 30th April. Subsequent practice 12th May. The men are employed overhauling the whaleboat blocks and tackle. The northern summer was fast approaching and conditions looked fine. The mood is expectant. On 25 May they met an English steamer, Olympia, carrying 500 ‘awfully dirty’ passengers from Dublin to New York. Post famine Ireland is still reeling and people continue to emigrate in startling numbers. By this time Timothy Cullinane, Jimmy Newhill’s later-to-be father-in-law, has been convicted of burglary, transported to the Swan River Colony, and is now established in Albany with a wife and four children, including 11 year-old Elizabeth. (May 9th; greenhand Antonio Lomber (22 yrs, Brava/Cape Verde) carries the venereal – is off-duty till end of June.)

4th June:  While laying to in a NW Gale off  Cape Farewell, Captain Poole falls down the steerage steps and cut a gash in his forehead. They stay close to the ice for two weeks, eyes peeled in rough or else foggy conditions. No sightings. The German greenhand Max Schmidt is off duty sick with ‘general disability.’ The weather stays heavy. Boatsteerers Taber, Silva & Jacinto are all off-duty for  some days with ‘mumps’. On June 17th Poole decides to move on and  they commence passage pretty much due south from Greenland toward what he calls the ‘Western Grounds’. The rigging is failing in certain quarters and requires maintenance.

 

3rd July, Sunday: Cruising the central Atlantic Ocean. ‘No whales yet.’ They are now on what Poole calls the Janus Ground in the wide expanse of the mid North Atlantic. The weather turns ‘pleasant’ after five weeks of the opposite. Despite this, the log speaks of a leak and one of the pumps not working. They ‘sound’ the pumps more regularly while continuing to graduate south. A week following they finally see humpbacks breaching. They are two full months out from New Bedford and now in the region of what Poole calls the Bugbee Whaling Grounds.

3rd August: A full month on from first sighting, cooper Jose Vieira raised (spotted) a large pod of sperm whales. They lower the four whale boats and chased all afternoon till dark. No luck. Four days later at 4.30a.m. seaman Joseph Mello raises whales right alongside. They lower the boats. Second Mate Tristram Weeks strikes at 11.10am. His whaleboat was turned over but undamaged (not stoved) and all hands (presumably) safe. Whale still harpooned and brought alongside at 3.30 that afternoon. They are ‘cutting in’ the next day when the pod reappears around 4.30 in the afternoon. All boats lowered and they chased again. Weather conditions deteriorated and though they chased till dark, no luck. Weather deteriorated into a heavy storm causing damage to sails (17th August). Poole supposes the weather to be the tail end of a hurricane. It is the wrost weather they encounter that year. They continue cruising in the general area, gamming ships (friendly exchanges), sending letters if going to favoured destinations, trading newspapers and provisions. Always seeking fresh fruit and vegetables.

25th August:  They sight a whale and lower four botas, but failed. Whales sighted again the next morning. Lowered two boats at 10.45. Mate (Silas Pope) struck at 3.00 p.m., the kill brought alongside at 5.20 p.m.  They got the boats up just before dark. Bad weather followed for a week and they were unable to begin boiling down the blubber till 2nd Sept. Early in September Third Mate, Mr Kelleher, complained of losing the use of his right arm. Stood watch but was unable to work.

16th September: After a string of squalls and rough weather they ‘raised‘ a pod of small sperm whales and lowered the four boats. Pope struck again but ‘a loose whale parted the line’ after the ‘boatsteerer killed it with the iron and it ‘sunk for ever‘. Weather turned sourer still and they hold up.

19th September:  They see a Sperm whale half mile from ship at dawn. Lowered two boats in light winds at 6.15 a.m. Second Mate Tristram Weeks struck at 12.55pm.  Poole calls it a 30 barrel bull which ‘ran’ for three hours with whale boat ‘fast’.  They get him alongside at 4.45 p.m

27th September: Seaman Otto Metz raised a very large pod at dawn (‘most whales I ever saw in one day, mostly small but some very large.’) The weather is very pleasant and remains like it all day. They lowered three boats at 9.15 a.m. Struck one at 2.55 p.m.. It turned up (died) at 3.40 p.m. and was brought alongside at 4.45 p.m. In the days following they process while coopering barrels, stowing rendered/barrelled oil to midships. The following day Edward Newhegl, greenhand, is off-duty sick. He returns to work on 6th October, after 8 days. The nature of the complaint is not described. The name is written into the margin on both dates, as customary for men off-duty sick, and the spelling is consistent, suggesting Silas Pope recognised pronunciation and therefore Newhill as foreign.

 

Above: On 29th September and again on 6th October, 1881, the name Edward Newhegl appears in the ship’s log as a greenhand off-duty sick. The spelling suggests Newhill was at this time recognised by First Mate Silas Pope as European/German. Later in the log, when they are about the waters off Albany, the name is more familiar to Pope and subsequently Americanised to Newhill. Image: Excerpt from margin of Bartholomew Gosnold ship’s log 29 September, 1881. Source: Ciaran Lynch Private Collection.

 

 

4th October: Tuesday, the work is done as Poole says they are repairing the damaged mainsail. It has gone quiet again. On Sunday 9th, he decides to steer for Corvo Island, about 1500 kms west of  Lisbon, Portugal. Poole is not happy with the magnetic readings and they can regulate the chronometer there. As it turns out, ‘it was 60 miles too far east‘.

11th October, Tuesday; Off the Azores. At 8.25 a.m. they are 7 or 8 miles north of  Corvo when a large pod is sighted and all boats lowered. Poole abbreviates the boats as LB, WB (Waist Boat), BB (Bow Boat) and SB (starboard boat), indicating where on the ship’s sides they are harnessed). They strike three times at 9.30 a.m. and make a fourth at 10.15 a.m. The first three are alongside by11.30 a.m., the fourth at 2.15 p.m. Two boats go back out to chase in the afternoon. WB strikes again and the fifth whale of the day is taken alongside 6.45 p.m. Poole notes there is another whaler at work nearby. He steers the ship away from land into the night. The following day they have pleasant weather and commence processing. Boiling blubber on 14th and 15th with the Azores (Pico Fayal) in sight. The blubber is very dry, Poole complains, they are ‘all bulls.’ They boil down 64 barrels of oil from the single day’s catch.

17th October: Lowered three boats but conditions are ‘very rugged’. 3rd Mate, William Talus, hay-hooked ‘slack bubber’ and the tail slightly stove the boat. They lose the whale but there is no mention of crew injury or loss. Poole decides they are long enough at sea and loaded sufficently to steer for Tenerife (Canary Islands).

22nd October; at the Canary Islands They sighted and anchored at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 22 fathoms of water after taking a lengthy pilot tow to harbour. Here they tranship 9450 gallons of sperm oil via the Brig E. Hatten which is bound for New York. They stay for three weeks. Fixed the damaged pump (sorely needed), painted the outside, took on 128 barrels of fresh water. Mr Kelleher was discharged and they promote (or hire, it isnt clear) William Talus/Taber (not named on original crew list, but cited by Cptn Poole on 17th Oct)  as replacement Third Mate. Salvadore Jacinto (accidentally) shoots himself in the hand and spends the time ashore trying to get the ‘ball’ extracted. At Tenerife the following men deserted;

Achille Gager (22 yrs, France),

George Miller (21 yrs, Brooklyn/New York),

Henry Haskell (33 yrs, Holden/Massachussetts),

John Russell (24 yrs, Providnce/Rhode Island),

Max Schmidt (24 yrs, Germany) and

Antonio Lomba (22 yrs, Brava/Cape Verde)

 

George Smith  (25 yrs, Concord/Massachussetts) attempted to jumpship but is discovered, while Richard Weltch (21 yrs, Somerville/Massachussetts) goes missing only to be recovered by Captain Poole while ashore.  Poole spent time recruiting new staff. He bought aboard;

P. Martens,

Antone Fialho,

John Barker,

John Dans,

Nicolas McDonald.

 

They have fine weather nearly all the time while in port, finally getting underweigh on November 14th. Poole notes soon after that they found three stow-aways aboard and in his final sentence remarks that he, ‘Took a boy in the cabbin.’  He promotes Joseph Mello to Boatsteerer and steers himself a course for Cape Verde, West Africa.

The three stowaways are named as;

Mr Cox,

George E. Laurence

Joseph Marshall.

 

In the end the layover at Tenerife sees the ship lose seven men, recruit six and find three, giving them a surplus of two after the substantial desertion.

 

30th November: into the South Atlantic. They cross the equator having sailed southwards in and out of the accomodating trade winds, catching sight of large schools of Blackfish. (A catch-all slang term for small, dark-colored toothed whales such as the pygmy sperm whale, the false killer whale, and the short-finned pilot whale. Later in the journal Poole uses the term Grampus to describe similar or the same types)

10th December: Ilha da Trindade is in sight. They are at  the Abrolhos Banks off the central Brazilian coast, but there are no whales to be found. Poole guides them south by east for the remainder of the month, sighting Finbacks but raising no whales. They repair sails as they go go. Poole does blacksmith work one day. Otherwise it is very quiet. Christmas and New Year pass without mention.

By the end of the year they are over eight months into the voyage, with just two weeks of succesful whaling activity off the Azores and three weeks rest at anchor at Tenerife. Poole’s log is mostly concerned with wind patterns, weather and sightings of every kind of porpoise, dolphin, whale and what he call’s ‘whale feed’ (squid?). Otherwise, notes are made of ‘speaking’ and ‘gamming’ certain ships and of sightings of many others. It is the cross-over era where most ships on the ocean appear to be wind-powered but yet steamers, though rare enough by comparison, hardly make exciting encounters. More specific ship’s maintenance is remarked upon, such as sail repairs, blacksmithing and coopering barrels, but the general humdrum of day to day activity is excluded; even reports on weather and location. There are single entries for multiple day periods and many days where there is no entry at all. They are in the doldrums. No-one aboard is mentioned by name. The feeling is that time is of least importance, and that the ship is mostly concerned with keeping safe while keeping an eye out for their sport. Engagements are far less common than anticipated and one wonders, apart from honing their scrimshaw skills, what the men did to keep occupied? Days chasing whales in the small boats would have been physically exhausting and surely the men must have engaged in training exercises, if not for practise then purely for strength and fitness, but these are not mentioned.

6th January, 1882: Rounding the Cape of Good Hope.  They enter a south-eastwards course in the 40 degree lattitudes, availing of those trade winds, toward what Poole spells unceratinly as the Crozet/Croszet/Cruzetts grounds located in the sub-Antartic, a scarily long way south of Madagascar.

 

Above: Nine and half months out from New Bedford the Bartholmew Gosnold was rounding the Cape of Good Hope at South Africa. They had voyaged first northwards to the tip of Greenland and whaled unsuccessfully there, then made south through the tropics to the region of the Azore Islands where they spent two months catching nine whales from which they rendered almost 10, 000 gallons of oil. They then set a course for the Canary Islands and Tenerife to tranship the oil back to New York, taking a three week break at anchor. By the end of November they were over the equator heading east toward the coast of central Brazil, turning south eastwards from there in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope, notorious for its doldrums and suddenly tempestuous seas. Image: Excerpt from Captain William H Poole’s journal recorded during the voyage of the whaling bark Bartholomew Gosnold to the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, 1881-1885. Source: Ciaran Lynch private collection.

 

17th January, 1882:  At last they arrive at ‘Crozets Grounds’ for month long cruise in search of right whales. For the first time Poole uses the term ‘Killers’. This may indicate a switch in language or else it is the first time they actually encounter Killer whales.  For weeks the air is cool but ‘very pleasant’. Then foggy/misty mornings descend into cold squally weather followed by gales. Captain Poole and First Mate Silas Pope become increasingly conscious of the ship and managing her sails. There are no right whales. Weather clears and one day becomes dead calm. the crows nest is ‘put up’. Porpoises and ‘nuisance’ finbacks abound, but no whales are raised until a single right is spotted on Sunday 29th. Four boats are lowered in pursuit with splendid weather all round, but no luck. Weather remains generally calm, though foggy at night. Come 7th of February, all boats chased a single right whale all day but again to no avail. Fog set in as dusk fell and some boats ‘had difficulty finding ship.’ They sight ‘grampus’ for the first time, another name given to the dolphin family (of which killers are a part). As Poole appears to use ‘Killers’ to describe Killer whales, Grampus must refer to other dolphins/small whales of the same genus/family. Either way, between all manner of others, there are no Rights, Humpbacks or Sperms. Bartholomew Gosnold cruises for the remainder of the week then heads east for ‘Desolation’, where they arive on 22nd February under ‘bad weather’. These are waters off the French and Australian Islands of the Kerguelen Plateau (including Heard Island), some of the most remote and barren islands on earth. Heading deeper into such dangerously isolated territory appears no different than any other oceanic location they have so far visited, except after battling strong winds one day, Captain Poole decides to get out, setting a course for the New Holland cruising grounds off King George’s Sound.

 

Above: Lack of whales, bad weather and the bleak surrounds of the Desolation Islands were enough for Captain Poole to set an 800 mile east-north-east course toward milder weather and the New Holland cruising grounds off King George’s Sound. Image: Excerpt form Captain Poole’s journal, 21st and 22nd February, 1883. Source: Ciaran Lynch personal collection.

 

As an interesting aside to the story of this voyage, another whaling related journey to the cold, dark waters of the sub-Antartic took place early in the Autumn of 1983 when the aging and mechanically unsound ex Albany steam-powered whaler, Cheynes II, sailed for Heard Island with a muster of 25 persons aboard. Cheynes II had been sold off by the Cheyne Beach Whaling Co. of Albany after it ceased operations in 1978. Despite national coverage and subscription, the expedition wasn’t well planned by way of fuel and was dangerous, especially for a crowded, barely seaworthy vessel. The outbound journey took much longer than anticipated and the ship ran out of fuel soon after the return leg commenced. Knowing they were bound to do so, the adventurers made improvised sails and rigging from expedition equipment and salvaged materials found on the island and employed the set-up almost from the start. Footage shows the precarious nature of the rigging and it is a blessing the weather they encountered did them no harm. The heavy metal ship whose bows sat low in the water sailed 850 miles back to Albany this way. There was a two man film crew aboard and the drama was captured and made into a documentary film for the ABC the following year. Fortuitously, three clips from the film are available for viewing and download at the Australian Screen website under the title, The Ship That Shouldn’t Have.  For convenience, I’ve embedded one below coutesrsy of Australian Screen and the ABC. The clips give decent insight as to what it would have been like for the whalemen aboard Bartholmew Gosnold and other seamen who visited the area during the sail-to-steam cross-over period of the mid 19th Century.

 

 

Above: In 1983 the outdated and unsafe ex-Albany and Norwegian whaler Cheynes II, undertook a scientific and amatuer radio expedition to Heard Island, running out of fuel on arrival. The crew and passengers made makeshift sails from expedition equipment and salvaged materials found ashore and luckily sailed the ship 850 miles back toward Albany. Videos: Clip from the ABC Documentary The Ship That Shouldn’t Have featuring Heard Island and the long sail home.  Source: Australian Screen website under the title The Ship That Shouldn’t Have. Camera and voice-over men unnamed.

 

 

13th March, 1882.; arrival in the waters off Albany, the first South Coast cruise: Three weeks out from Desolation they arrive at the continental shelf off the South Coast of Western Australia, just as ‘a very heavy gale’ blows in. They heave to and ride it out speaking the King George Sound brig ‘Islander, Captain Swift’, with ‘a very high sea running’ the next day.  Swift speaks of great success over the last 20 months and gives captain Poole some potatoes and onions, also some newspapers up to early December. Two days later in rainy, squally weather and Cape Howe in sight they raise sperm whales but conditions are too dangerous to chase. Ten days later, often with land in view, they speak the Islander again, after which she heads to anchor. They see the ‘light at Breaksea Island’ and next day raise sperm whales, Third Mate William Taber harpooning one. They turn him up and get him alongside at midday. The weather turns ‘very bad’ and they battle conditions, laying ‘by the head.’ The sea is so high they can’t process the whale. Meanwhile, Jose Silva, one of the boatsteerers, has his foot razored by an attempted shark bite while ‘overboard’ (on the whale) trying to get the body cut. They sew three stitches into Silva’s wound. All of this in sight of land beween ‘Head-off Rocks and Point Knob’. They boil down the blubber and ‘almost 65 barrels’ are ‘rolled away’. On 29th March they are ‘off Bald Island’.  Two ‘steamers’ pass them the following morning, one steering to the south-eastward, the other to the west. On Friday 31st March, still off Bald Island they chase a pod of seven or eight sperm whales in calm conditions well in to the night, and over the following day, but no luck. First Mate Silas Pope is off sick for two days. The weather turns rainy and squally again, with a heavy sea. On 6th and 7th April there is heavy thunder and sharp lightning. Captain Poole talks about ‘all kinds of weather’ in a single day. Often it is pleasant, then raining heavy, then squally, then a gale. He hasnt spoken about the weather in this way anywhere else over the last year at sea.

14th April, 1882; continuation of the first South Coast cruise: They raise sperm whales at 7.30 a.m. and lower three boats. They strike but one whale comes up under the starboard boat and breaks the keel in three places. The ‘bow boat’ picks up the line and the waist boat rescues the stricken crew. Bow boat turns the whale up. At 10.30 pm, after a very long day, both ‘stove boat’ and whale are alongside. No injuries reported. The weather deteriorates again but they are able to cut up and boil down, rolling away 58 barrels by end of the day following. On Tuesday 18th April they raise more sperm whales and commence chasing, the boats stay out all night, returning with no lines fixed in the morning. They rest and commence repair of the damaged ‘starboard boat.’ A couple of days later, after his close encounter with a shark, Jose Silva is back on duty. For the remainder of the month they battle stormy gales and terrible squalls between pleasant spells while ‘laying to’. 28th April is the worst weather they have seen since the mid-Atlantic hurricane back in August. On April 30th they chase whales again and this time the bow boast meets one ‘head and head’. The whale struck the boat and ‘knocked down the boatsteerer’s shaft’. Poole annotates in his journal – ‘Second Mate gouged (Tristram Weekes Jnr) – bad bad mistake’, but yet there is no talk of injury or loss. They are almost always in sight of land, sometimes within the Sound, but generally between Two Peoples Bay and West Cape Howe.

 

1st May, 1882; at anchor in Princess Royal Harbour. Poole sights Mnt Many Peaks and notes ‘Killers chasing Sulphur Bottoms.’ Blue Whales were called Sulphur Bottoms. On 4th May they take the pilot and are guided into Princess Royal Harbour at five o’clock in the evening. ‘A merchantman from Melbourne’ enters with them. Poole goes ashore for the mail, his next entry is 24th May where he says they take up anchor at 9.30 a.m. eleven men short of when they arrived. The fourth mate, three boatsteerers and four saliors have deserted while the three stowaways, Cox, Laurence and Marshall presumably have been left ashore. According to the ships log, kept by First Mate Silas Pope, the stowaways went on shore on May 1st but after being offered paid work aboard returned to the ship the same day. While at anchor they take on fresh water, potatoes, pumpkins and wood. They employ the schooner Agnes to get wood from Frenchman’s Bay. 15th May is a very pleasant day, Silas Pope writes, but the next is marred by six men going missing. They are;

Salvador Jacinto, Fourth Mate and Boatsteerer (25 yrs, Azores)

Joseph Mello, Boatsteerer (20 yrs, Azores,)

Perley Brewer (21 yrs, New York)

Francesco Tobago (sic, Tobares) (1 yrs, Azores),

Nicholas McDonald (came aboard at Tenerife)

Antone Fialho (came aboard at Tenerife)

Two days later three other men are missing. The trusted Azorian boatsteerers

Jose Silva  (25 yrs) and

Manuel De Avilla (22 yrs) have not returned but

Charles Sanford (15 yrs, New Bedford) was found the following day ‘guilty it is said of robbing a man of £8.00.

Pope’s entries in the log don’t correspond with Captain Poole’s claim they are eleven men down, but unless the three stowaways did remain ashore in the end (which Pope makes no note of) they are eight men down instead. Pope also made an incomplete entry on 18th May saying the captain discovered (someone unamed – a blank space) ashore bound for the hills with loaves of bread under his arm and an extra suit over his clothes. The man was sent back aboard and put in chains ‘for safety’.

 

Above: The American steam-assisted bark Bartholomew Gosnold, with 28 year-old greenhand Edward Neuhuhl/Newhegl aboard, cruised the waters of King George Sound from mid-March to early May 1882 before coming in to port. After one third of the crew had deserted at Tenerife, their last landing point, Captain Poole was alert to the certainty more would jump at Albany; which is exactly what happened. However, Edward Nuehuhl/Newhegl was not among them. Image: The South Coast around Albany between West Cape Howe and Two People Bay proved rich ground for American pelagic whalers for more than fifty years. Source: Cut from John Sewptimus Roe map of Western Australia published in 1833 by John Arrowsmith. Available online at David Rumsey Map Collection.

 

 

24th May, 1882; The second South Coast cruise:. Poole gets the bark underweigh and sails out into the Sound, resuming their whaling operations in the waters off Two People’s Bay, marking their position by daylight recognition of Mt Gardiner and Bald Island while at night keeping abreast of the Breaksea lighthouse. Just two days out they land a whale and begin processing under deteriorating conditions. Being undermanned must have made it more difficult as keeping the ship safe in heavy seas while cutting-up and boiling-down takes a lot of man power. The work is slow and after five days they have 39 barrels rolled away with more still waiting to cool. The weather eases as June arrives. They raise more sperm whales on the 2nd but dont give chase. Instead they build a pen to house and air the potatos they bought at Albany. On the 5th they sight ‘Doubtful Bay.’ Captain Poole appreciates the fine weather and notes a ‘splendid’ sunset, where as 9th June was ‘miserable’. On Sunday 11th June they sight more whales and set the ship after them, the next day they are close enough to lower the boats. They strike one and get him alongside. The weather is kind but the processing work is taking much longer. Tools and equipment are failing and they almost lose the ‘head’. Spermacetti oil, taken from the head cavity of the sperm whale, is the most valuable portion and losing the head would make the entire effort close to futile. But the weather is fine and they are able to recover. They sight the Doubtful Islands again. Pope’s log is succinct but frustration is evident. Four days later they had another 50 barrels rolled away and more still to be stored. On 16th June they are 25 miles east of Bald Island and making clear for Albany. They engage the pilot the following day and anchor in Princess Royal Harbour. All but one of the deserters are in gaol, having been rounded up in and around town, much to the efforts of the local consul William Jenkins Gillam and the police who are all rewarded by the ship. Jose Silva is still at large. The men are transfered back to the ship clasped in irons and set to duty. The next day they haul anchor and make back out to sea. Captain Poole notes ‘Took the seven deserters from jail in irons and after passing through the passage took all irons off and all returned to duty and all glad to be back again. No trouble‘.  Salvador Jacinto is relieved of his Fourth Mate status but they are just one man down.

 

19th June 1882; continuation of the second South Coast Cruise: First Mate Silas Pope makes notes in the margin of the ship’s log regarding the approach to the inner harbour and how to successfully negotiate it, even though they ‘take the pilot’ both in and out.  On the Thursday they lower boats and take a sperm whale. The weather deteriorates and it takes much effort to process as they lose much of the carcass to sharks and spills. On the Saturday they start the try works. Pope notes they sight ‘Cape Knob’ and that one boatsteerer (Frank Taber) sprained his knee while astride the whale during ‘clearing away’.  Poole’s journal says he was using the ‘head needle’. The next week they cruise eastward of Bald Island (Cheynes Beach area), the wind rising and falling. Sulphur-bottoms mentioned several times (as they are throughout this cruise). Into the first week of July the weather worsens as they graduate eastwards and stand-off toward ‘Termination Island’ (well out to sea off Esperance).  Persistent heavy gales and ‘a terrible sea’ They see ‘a large iron bark heading by the wind.’ On 11th July they are nearing ‘Pollock Reef’, an outer whaling ground off Israelite Bay. The weather comes and goes, at times pleasant, at times very heavy. They strike again on 13th July, Pope noting there are ‘considerable squid and cuttlefish’. By 18th July all barrels are stowed down. They sight ‘The Eastern Group’ (east end of the Recherche Archipelago) and gam the bark Asia, Captain Foldes of Hobart. ‘Six weeks out with nothing.’ The next week passes with varying weather but at times a ‘bad sea.’ The Asia is not far away, whaling herself. On 29 July it is ‘the coldest weather yet’ The warmest place aboard is Poole’s cabin which sits at 58 degrees (14.5 C.)  3rd August, ‘great quantities of small squid, one foot in length’. On 7th August they steer west, back toward  the ‘Eastern Group, Bald Island and K.G.S., sighting Many Peaks on the 9th. On Thursday, 10th August, they sight sperm whales and lower three boats, the Captain striking but in doing so the whale capsizes the boat, the captain’s leg ‘foul in the line’ but he managed to get clear. Captain Poole’s journal makes no mention of his leg being caught, only that they are toppled, but there appears to be a sense of escape about these entries. It took 45 mins for  the Second Mate’s boat (Mr Weekes) to make the rescue as the wrecked crew presumably clung to the upturned boast. Senses of danger and luck resonate in the writing. Eventually the bow and waist boats chase down and ‘turn up’ the struck whale and bring it alongside. It is ‘a monster’. The largest (head) case Pope says, ‘I ever saw’.  The next week they are between Bald Head and Bald Island cruising. Sulphur-bottoms are sighted again.  On the 23rd Mr Weekes was declared winner of the Gold Watch, a prize for raising most whales up to and including the sixteenth month at sea (a kind of mid or third-voyage marking point). They do not lower the boats again until the last day of the month and even then there is no result. The very next day however their luck is in and they strike two and have them fluked by lunchtime. One boat stove-in but able to remain afloat. They process till two in the morning. They start boiling down as the weather turns ‘terrible’. Pope says they had to carry the oil ‘from the coooler to the casks in tubs.’ It sounds as if they lost a lot to spillage. The heaviest gale since they arrived on the coast. Nonetheless, after the weather clears they find they have 104 barrels. They strike again on Sunday, 10th September. The weather is calm and they process quickly. The next day they turn toward Princess Royal Harbour and ‘float her in’. It is the 12th. They finish the boiling at anchor, rolling away another 55 barrels. They have done very well.

13th – 22nd September: at anchor in Princess Royal Harbour:  On entry Silas Pope notes ‘Saw a large comet in the East.’ After almost three months at sea in some very heavy weather, the running repairs kept them going but there is much to be done strengthening the rigging, repairing sails and boats and cleaning the decks while at anchor. They take on fresh water and a load of potatoes. The notes are lean, no recreation ashore is spoken of. Pope notes on 19th September two new recuits arrive on board, John English and Laves Matha (?). The next day at 12.00 another cabin boy, John Johnson, comes aboard while the 17 year-old English seaman Charles Brown finds a way to desert. The Captain says he was ashore with Silas Pope when he absconded.  Captain Poole’s unnnamed cabin boy brought aboard at Tenerife has not been spoken of at all and there is no mention of John Johnson in his journal. Meanwhile Richard Welsh and George Jackeman (21 yrs, Plymouth, Massachussetts) are off duty sick, as for one day is boatsteerer Manuel de Avilla (apparently restored to his former position).  The next day Joseph Silva is brought back aboard having been absent since 17th May, while John Barker who was recruited at Tenerife was discharged. Frank Taber is promoted from boatsteerer to fourth mate and now entitled to a lay of one seventieth (1/70). Joseph Silva, the returned deserter, is to steer for Second Mate Tristram Weekes. While ashore either the captain or first mate meet with the local consul William Jenkins Gillam, advising him they have decided to remain in the waters off Albany due to their success. This is not reported in the journals but Gillam writes to his colleague in Hobart with the news and it is reported in an October edition of the newspaper there. They get underweigh in squally weather at 4.00 p.m. on  Friday, 22nd September after an uneventful rest.

 

Above: While in port during the winter of 1882 Captain Poole decided not to proceed to Hobart as initially intended due to the continuing success of their cruises off Albany: Image: Excerpt from ‘Intercolonial Shipping’, page 2 of  The Mercury (Hobart) 9th Oct, 1882. Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954)   Mon 9 Oct, 1882:  Page 2  SHIPPING.

 

 

23rd September 1882; the third South Coast cruise. After three days off sick Jackeman and Welsh are back on duty again. They are cruising off Bald Head.  On Thursday 29th September the newly promoted fourth mate Frank Taber is badly hurt just above the hips while overboard trying to save the bow boat which had come loose after the davitts (supporting cranes) broke during yet another gale. The bulwarks is also damaged and they ‘ship a heavy sea’. The idea this boat is an old tub is growing again. Taber has just two days off sick, so not as badly hurt as first thought. The new hand John English is off sick for a few days. They do not sight until 13th October, amid a spell of  ‘very pleasant’ weather, when Poole notes they ‘saw a large number and all large, some very large’, within the Sound. They lower all boats and chase over two days but due to some bad management and the whales acting badly too, only one was struck, but not turned up. They strike again early morning on the 17th, the bow boat being alone six miles from the ship when the harpoon fixes. It goes well however and they have the whale alongside by midday and the cutting up is complete by eight oclock that night. It takes four easy days to compete the boiling down. 80 barrels rolled away. The next day, 20 miles south-south east of Bald Head, they lower and strike again around lunchtime The boat stays fast but the whale runs all afternoon. The boatmen stay out all night, the animal not tumed up until 2.00pm next day, over 24 hours later.  Alongside at 3.00 p.m. They start the try works the next afternoon. Before they finish they lower the boats and chase again, making another kill. It takes hours and two boats are again out overnight. They are close enough to shore and edge toward Frenchman Bay where they anchor in 12 fathoms and begin the cutting in again. William Rodemer (23 yrs, New Jersey) has been off sick ten days. It is Friday 27th October when he returns to duty.  While at Frenchman’s the wind got up and they parted an anchor. There is a flurry of activity as they drag for the cable and manouvre to prevent being driven ashore. The wind calms and all is well as they recover the anchor while boiling down. John English goes off sick again on the 29th as ‘about 75 barrels are rolled away’.  That day Antone Fialho, who was recruited at Tenerife, fell from under the fore top onto the windlass (winching mechanism) hurting himself badly. Poole says he landed on his stomach and side. Pope notes they ‘will probably have to take him to the hospital’. Poole rows him in on the 31st and next day, 1st November, they return with the teenage deserter Charles Brown captured. They put to sea quickly, meeting the S.S. Otway ‘between the Heads’.

The very next morning in sight of Bald Head they strike again and have the whale fluked by 11.15 a.m. The weather is ‘splendid’ as they cut in and start up the try works. Pope notes 197 barrels from the last three whales with this one to add. It is going very well. Another 72 barrels rolled away by 5th November.  On the 7th Jospeh Silva goes off sick. Rudder repairs the next day requiring the captain to employ his blacksmithing skills. On the 12th the captain notes, ‘saw several sulphur bottom whales at 4.oo p.m.’ They are far from uncommon in these waters. Silva returns to duty next morning when they raise whales, lower three boats and strike one each, turning them up within a couple of hours. An easy haul. They start the works on the 15th in pleasant weather and begin stewing. There is shipping traffic in and out of Albany. All land in sight from Bald Head to Bald Island, sulphur bottoms and blackfish aplenty. Two days later in the evening they raise sperm whales and lower three boats. Popes starboard boat strikes a large bull, it stoves their boat and it fills, the whale going off with both tubs of line. At 7.00pm they got the stoved boat up, blowing a moderate gale with a very heavy sea running. Next day they start the repairs. They chased again on the 24th but without success. Almost daily sighting of blue whales now but no sperm whales until Monday December 4th. when the day comes in calm and Pope’s starboard boat strikes again. Poole’s journal notes for the firs time use of ‘darting guns’. Whale turned up at midday. 35 barrels rolled away by the evening of the 7th, 105 by the end of the next day. They are getting rich. ‘Main hatch chocked-off, full of oil’. On the 12th they lance for Blackfish (pilot whales, like Killers they are part of the dolphin family) and get one. Pope’s luck continues as his starboard boat strikes again on Wednesday, the 13th. The waist boat also strikes and both sperm whales are alongside by 5.00 p.m. the next day. They work all night bar a one-hour break between 4.30 and 5.30 a.m. Strong breeze and a heavy sea running. The weather worsens and sea gets very high. They work to keep boiling and saving the cut blubber from being washed away. By Thursday, 19th December, 30 miles south by south-west of Cape Howe, another 132 barrels are rolled away. The sea stays high, Poole and Pope referring to it as ‘bad’, ‘heavy’, and ‘high’, making stowing down the barrels ‘impossible’ work. Then, over the next days the weather is ‘splendid’ but the sea remains ‘bad’. They stow 152 more barrels. On Christmas Day they ‘fetched in and came to anchor outside the inner harbour at 3.15 p.m.’ The next day they enter Princess Royal Harbour and lay up till January 4th, 1883.

 

26th December, 1882. At anchor in  Princess Royal Harbour:  The injured, now recoveed, Antone Fiahlo is returned aboard, Pope noting that he had been at Breaksea Island trying to catch the ship. The men set about washing their clothes, ‘having had little chance the last several weeks’. Henry Carr ( 16 yrs, New Bedford, Massachussetts) went ashore and failed to return. Time is spent setting up shooks and staves, coopering barrels and repairing sails and rigging. They make up casks ashore and fill them with fresh water. On January 1st the Islander arrives into port after a six month cruise with just 170 barrels. The next day the greenhand Nicholas McDonald goes off-duty sick. Before the end of the month the missing youngster Henry Carr is returned. On January 4th they got underweigh at 11.30 a.m. No incidents or additional runaways were reported, Captain Poole penning a relieved message to himself in his journal. ‘Had no trouble with the men this time for the first time this voyage. 21 men before the mast.’ Either Poole or Pope spent time ashore with someone from the newly established Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser  (probably Christopher Ashwell, its founding editor) which was preparing for its very first edition on January 1st, and in which an accurate and concise summary of the ship’s voyage to date was published. While seeking passage out of the harbour they ran high on a sand spit, which kept them overnight. The tide freed them soon after. Then, within 24 hours, they were becalmed off Michaelmas Island and began to drift dangerously toward Point Gardner. All hands were called on deck at 4.00 a.m., the boats lowered and an attempt to tow the ship from danger commenced. Silas Pope noted in the ship’s log, ‘fortunately it breezed up a little and worked (us) offshore.’

Above: The Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertsier, the South Coast’s first locally printed newspaper, came into being with its first edition published January 1st, 1883. As the Bartholomew Gosnold had been lying at anchor in Princess Royal Harbour since Boxing Day, an interview was conducted with its officers and a concise summary of its voyage to date was published.  Note the heading, ‘Telegraphic Shipping’. Image: Shipping article isolated from page 2 of The Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser, 1.1.1883. Source: Trove

 

6th January, 1883; The fourth South Coast cruise. Amid fine weather their ‘greasy luck’ continued and on day one they rose whales and both the bow and starboard boats struck around 10.00 a.m. At midday they were still ‘fast’ but being towed out to sea. In the end both lines parted and it took the remainder of the day to get two of the boats back to the ship. The other two stayed out overnight and were not lifted aboard until the end of the following day. No catch.  They lowered the boats again on 11th January without luck. Once again the boats are out on the sea all night. Much time is spent repairing the main sail and ‘in the rigging’.  It is mild to calm or as Captain Poole puts it, ‘splendid whaling weather’ for almost two weeks. They saw a large steamer and a bark heading to the westward, ‘plenty of killers’ and an exciting breach but no further sight afterward. At different times Cape Howe and Mnt Many Peaks are in view. On 18th January, around ten miles off Eclipse Island, they gammed the Islander from 4.00 till 9.30 p.m. The Islander had on board two tons of potatoes for them and ‘a man, deserter.’ No mention is made of his name, age, origin or circumstances, and he does not appear to be from their crew. Possibly he is from one of the other Tucker ships which had been or was presently in the area. On 23rd January they lowered and again chased ‘8 to 10 large whales, going very quick’. Between the Islander and themselves it is the 6th time this pod has been sighted but moving too quick for capture. The same pod raised and chased unsuccessfully once again on 27th January. As they are often in sight of land all day they make frequent shipping sightings. Albany harbour comes across as busy and practised.  On 4th February, 25 miles south of Wilsons Inlet, they chase unsuccessfully yet again. Two days later they gam the Islander a second time and Captain Swift comes aboard for a few hours. On 8th February, at last they chase, strike and turn one up. Silas Pope notes ‘the Captain is very sick. Has been unwell for sometime but did not give up till Wednesday morning, Feb 7th.’

What could it be that’s ailing the venerable captain? The illness seems newly acquired as they have been at sea over 18 months and there has been no mention of any debiliting condition, nor of any recent accident. Did he pick up a flu while last in port, or something else; something worse?  Perhaps the new cabin boy (his second) was contageous in some way? Pope writes the captain had been unwell ‘for some time’. It has been a full calendar month since they left Albany. How long is some time? A week, three weeks, a couple of months, a year?  If contracted at Albany over the Christmas, whatever it is has taken almost five weeks to bring him down.

On Friday, 9th February, 1883, Silas Pope writes; ‘ Edward Newhill, green hand, is off duty having jammed his leg between a cask and blanket piece yesterday while cutting‘. A blanket piece is a large, heavy tranche of blubber peeled from the whale’s side.  This is first spelling of Newhill, rather than Newhegl, penned into the margin some 15 months earlier. Pope writes, ‘Edward Newhill’, making no effort to differentiate from the previous German spelling. To Pope, it is as if  Edward Nuehuhl/Newhegl is now American.  It takes one full week before Newhill is well enough to return to work.

On 11th February Cape Leeuwin is bearing North, 40 miles distant and Captain Poole is still in bed; ‘my health no better.’  Pope says he is ‘quite comfortable lying still, but unable to move about much’. The whale Newhill injured himself cutting up has yielded 52 barrels. As time goes by Pope is daily concerned with his captain’s condition. On 18th Feb they gam the Islander and once again Captain Swift comes aboard. They are in the vicinity of Cape Chatham. There is clear concern for Poole’s health. Pope writes, ‘he is not able to talk any, has to write on a slate’. A decision is taken and they make eastwards for King George Sound so to bring him in. At 3.00 p.m. on Tuesday 19th February they come to anchor in six fathoms near the passage to Princess Royal Harbour. The doctor comes aboard to see the captain, as does the consul Mr Gillam. The indication is that Pope sent crew ashore as soon as possible to fetch both men. On the 21st, two weeks after having been confined to his bed, Captain Poole makes an entry. ‘Came on shore to stay, being sick and unable to go any further at present.’  Three days later he writes, ‘The Gosnold has sailed today on a cruise in charge of Mr Pope, to be back again April 15th.’

So Captain Poole has been taken into care at Albany, presumably at the hospital. The Albany Mail is searching for news to fill its pages and the story of the ship’s captain’s illness does find mention, though it is not said what it is that ails him. Silas Pope gives a few clues, noting in the ship’s log that Poole cannot walk about, that he must lay still and that he can’t speak. Has he a strep throat? Toothache? An ulcer? Surely these would have resolved within a relatively short period, or else progressed much more rapidly into a deadly general infection. Maybe it was something more epidemic. Has he come down with scarlet fever? The scarlatina epidemic which broke from Albany in 1860 was devestating, among the previously unexposed Menang it may have taken the most lives in the shortest period across the entire 19th Century era at Albany. Certainly the symptoms match Poole’s, but scarlet fever resolves, one way or another, within a few weeks. Also it is highly contageous and, to that point, no one else aboard had been described as sick. If cholera, why was there not an outbreak? Cholera is caused by contaminated water. Was it the mumps or measles? No, these resolve within weeks too and why would Pope not declare it when he had declared it among the crew 20 odd months earlier. Typhus is spread by lice and typically occurs in outbreaks, while typhoid does not affect the mouth or throat. So, diptheria then? Like scarletina the symptoms certainly match except onset of diptheria is quick, within days of infection. The patient rapidly becomes very ill, then the condition resolves or the toxins invade the body at a deeper level causing lasting sickness and eventual organ breakdown. But diptheria is also highly transmissable and there was no mention of precautions. The captain had his own cabin of course and there is no mention of either of the cabin boys becoming ill. Indeed there is no mention of them at all. Without Dr Rogers assessment it’s impossible to know for sure what it was that brought Poole to his knees and so we shall never for certain know, yet there remains an undiscussed option, perhaps a more viable one than all the others.

Poole continues to write (on a slate and in his journal) so it is clear he is not completely disabled. In keeping the log, Silas Pope to this point had been generally specific when crew went off duty ‘sick with the venereal’ or ‘general disability’ or ‘mumps’ or the nature of some injury or other. On this occasion however he is reserved in his commentary, relating the captain as not sick with something, only that he is ‘sick’. Symptoms of verneal disease, otherwise known as syphilis, include genital sores, rash on the hands and/or feet, ulcers (often in the mouth), and deep painful body or bone aches. It proceeds in four stages, the first two (described above) reaching their fullness of extent between six and sixteen weeks after infection. The third stage is latent and the disease may never surface again. The fourth, or so-called tertiary phase, affects between 15% to 40% of untreated carriers, and typically does not materialise until at least three years after infection. Treatment at the time was by way of mercury ointments or pills, which also caused sores as a side-effect. Was Captain Poole suffering from onset of the venereal picked up at Albany on one of their two most recent port visits?

It’s certainly possible.

 

“The contagion which gives rise to it comes particularly from coitus: that is, sexual commerce of a healthy man with a sick woman or to the contrary. … The first symptoms of this malady appear almost invariably upon the genital organs, that is, upon the penis or the vulva.  They consist of small ulcerated pimples of a colour especially brownish and livid, sometimes black, sometimes slightly pale.  These pimples are circumscribed by a ridge of callous like hardness. … Then there appear a series of new ulcerations on the genitalia … Then the skin becomes covered with scabby pimples or with elevated papules resembling warts. … A month and a half, about, after the appearance of the first symptoms, the patients are afflicted with pains sufficiently to draw from them cries of anguish. … Still very much later (a year or even longer after the above complication) there appear certain tumours of scirrhus hardness, which provoke terrible suffering.” [Source; John Frith, Journal of Military and Veteran’s Health, University of Pittsburgh]

 

 

Above: Being so ill, the moment the ship anchored off Point King at the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour, First Mate Silas Pope sent a boats crew ashore to fetch help. The crew returned with William Jenkins Gillam, a stakeholder in the whaling bark Islander, and local businessman who also acted as American Consul, and 45 year-old Dr Cecil Rogers who had been at Albany (from Britain) 15 years (married to George Egerton Warburton’s and Augusta Spencer’s second daughter, Mary). Dr Rogers decided Poole was so sick he was not to be moved for a day or two. What was it wrong with him?  Image: Excerpt from the shipping notices in  the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser. Source: The Albany Mail and King George’s Sound Advertiser (WA : 1883 – 1889) , Wed 21 Feb 1883, Page 2, Shipping.

 

 

24th February 1883; continuation of the fourth South Coast cruise.  Captain Poole’s journal comes to a close at this time except for a brief summation of affairs and account of his journey back to New Bedford. By 1883 Albany had been connected to the world by telegraph for fully five years. By this means, via an untold number of relay stations running from Albany to Port Augusta, Darwin, through South East Asia, the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East, mainland Europe, Britain and Ireland, across the entirety of the North-Atlantic Ocean to New York, and thence northwards again to Massachussetts and New Bedford, news of Poole’s predicament spread. And it seems the directors at John F. Tucker & Co were quick to respond.

Also at this time there was a story about Perth that a Swan River based business venture was in search of a vessel, and this news reached Albany and the ailing Captain. But with a six percent share in the ship and his health, at least as far as he himself was concerned, far from irretrievable, Poole set upon his aging ship so high a price it scuppered any potential deal. Obviously, he had no intention of selling. However, the manner of his conveying that intent was received in Perth as an insult and dealt with by the Inquirer who subsequently referenced the Gosnold as ‘an old fashioned old tub’. In turn this was picked up and dealt with by the (overly) defensive Albany Mail. From what we have seen through the pages of both Poole’s captain’s journal and the ship’s log largely kept by the First Mate, ‘old tub’ hardly seems inappropriate.

In the meantime, First Mate Silas Pope took the Gosnold and crew back out to sea and once again the motley whalemen set about their daily tasks.

 

 

 

Above: Bartholomew Gosnold had served its owners well over many voyages and by 1883 was described as ‘an old fasioned old tub’. Image: Exceprt from the Albany Mail defending the Bartholomew Gosnold in the presence of its ailing Captain who, presumably, had no intetion of selling his ship. Source: Albany Mail & King George Sound Advertiser, Wednesday, 2nd May, 1883.

 

 

On Thursday the 1st of March, 1883Bartholomew Gosnold speaks the Albany whaler Islander once again, it has (presumably) taken one whale and filled 50 barrels since last report. Reflecting friendship and co-operation, Pope decides to let them have an old whaleboat he believes Poole had previosuly written-off. On Saturday the 3rd, they raise whales, lower the three port boats and strike. They are 25 miles south of Bald Head. By the 7th the work is done and they have another 50 barrels rolled away. Two days later they sight the Bark Platina, a fellow of their Tucker & Co. stable, the first they have met in close to two years at sea. Aboard Platina is the soon-to-be Nullabor settler Henry Dimer. On Saturday 10th March they pull alongside and speak with Captain Gilbert. Platina has 240 barrels ‘taken from this coast’. On the 13th Pope notes that the (heretofore unmentioned) steerer James Weaver (45 years, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.) has been off-duty sick since February 17th. That’s four weeks. Does he have what the captain does? On 16th March they speak the Platina again, sighting whales eight miles off and going quick later in the day. The two ships are cruising the same stretch and often in sight of each other.  As is the Islander, which they spoke once again on the 23rd. The weather turns and for the remainder of the month they battle gales. On 2nd April in heavy weather they lower two boats and chase without success. They also spoke the Platina again this day. On Thursday 5th April they sight whales, lower the three port-side boats and strike two. Five days later, after delays caused by gales and very heavy seas, they have 82 more barrels stored. On 11th April they spoke the unlucky Islander again and the next day, together, the two boats made for port. ‘Five miles from Bald Head at sundown’. On the 13th they anchor in the Sound in five fathoms and signal for the pilot, the next day they enter Princess Royal Harbour.

15th April, 1883; at anchor in Princess Royal Harbour. Pope mentions the bark Moro Castle entering the harbour. She too is part of the Tucker & Co. ensemble. Moro Castle is carrying provisions for them and once transferred is to take on the oil and transport it back to New Bedford. A Captain Hammond is mentioned too, as if he has been commissioned to take over as master of Bartholomew Gosnold. (Pope later mentions Captain Smith of the Moro Castle falling and hurting himself, so Hammond is not master of that vessel). Pope allows the starboard watch to go onshore for the day. There is no mention of this or any other shore leave. The next few days they help tranship provisions for another of the Tucker ships, Bertha. Edward Lee is off-duty sick. This man is previously unmentioned and not one of the original crew. Perhaps he is the deserter transferred from the Islander while they were at sea? On Saturday 21st April they haul alongside the Moro Castle and tie-up with her. This after selling 20 gallons of sperm oil to ‘a ponderous looking steamer of a modern build’ just arrived from London, SS Glengoil. The Glengoil was coaling at Albany, bound for Adelaide and the eastern colonies with passengers and cargo. On 23rd April they commenced to discharge their oil onto the Moro Castle. Then, on Friday, 27th, the big story at last begins to unfold.

 

Above: After realising their ship was to be mastered by a new captain, someone they had only just met, large portion of the crew suddenly baulked, demanding they meet the American Consul at Albany before they did another day’s work. One of the three men picked to represent the crew when meeting the consul was Edward Newhill. Image: 27th April, 1883. Excerpt from Bartholmew Gosnold ship’s log, 1881-1885. Source: Ciaran Lynch private collection.

 

Friday 27 April, 1883; the rebellion at Princess Royal  Harbour. At 4.00 p.m. the men refuse duty. They have met Captain Hammond and suddenly decided to down tools until they have seen the American Consul. The rejection of authority is so determined and uniform it seems it must have been planned. Later that day William Gillam refuses to meet all the men so three are drawn to represent the crew. Two are the greenhands George Smith and Edward Newhill, the third is the determined-to-get-clear boatsteerer Manuel de Avilla. After meeting the consul it appears the men go back to work.

There is no further mention of the dispute for a week when, after1400 barrels have been transhipped to Moro Castle, on 4th May the men turn mulish once more. Captains Poole and Hammond came aboard and, in the face of that authority, the men refused to turn too. The next day the same occured and once again Consul William Gillam came aboard to address the matter, but to no avail. The stand-off appears well subscribed to and committed. Pope notes they then signalled the police boat which came and took the following men to the lock-up; Salvador Jacinto, Manuel De Avilla, George Smith, Edward Lee, Perley Brewer, Edward Newhill and Richard Weltch. A penalty of $2.50 per man was imposed by way of cost to the consul. The following day Pope mustered all hands at daylight only to find the majority refusing duty once more.

At 10.00 a.m. Pope attended Albany Court House as ship’s representative in the absence of the still clearly unwell Captain Poole, respecting the case of those already taken ashore. All men refused the court order to return to duty, and as consequence were sentenced to twelve weeks imprisonment with hard labour.

On Sunday morning the Moro Castle sailed.

Captain Poole, who looks to have stayed aboard overnight, left the ship once more. In the afternoon William Gillam came aboard to address the 16 additional men who refused to work. After once more stating their defiance Gillam issued a fine of $5.00 per man and had them brought ashore.

The total  number of men refusing to work stood at 23. There were 32 men who departed New Bedford just over two years prior. Now, not even enough to man the sails remain. The following day the defiant 16 found themselves in court and were also sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment. Silas Pope was forced to recruit six men from shore as an immediate detail in order to retrieve the empty water casks still sitting on the beach. One man demanded higher wages and on being refused dropped out the following day.

On 9th and 10th of May Mr Pope notes Platina is anchored in the Sound. Captain Hammond takes up offical duties and on Monday 14th May, Captain William Henry Poole boarded the steamer SS Rosetta, bound for London, and left the colony. According to the final notes in Poole’s journal he arrived London on 24th June. Four days later he was in Liverpool boarding another vessel, SS Britannic, bound for New York where he says he arrived 6th July. On 8th July, five full months after sickness forced him to ‘give up’ aboard Bartholomew Gosnold he was back in New Bedford regaining his health.

How Captain Hammond got to Albany so quickly isnt clear. It only took Poole nine weeks to get home, so perhaps Hammond arrived from New Bedford with similar speed. The Albany Mail says he arrived directly from New Bedford but no other details are given. It was 21st February when Poole came ashore, presumably telegraphing his employers on arrival to say he had ‘given up’. If Tucker & Co had acted quickly and Hammond shipped out forthwith, its likely he boarded Moro Castle and come in directly with her.

In any case, Captain Poole’s tenure as master aboard the 13th and final whaling voyage of Bartholomew Gosnold was well and truly over.

Above: Captain William H. Poole went on to master other ships and whaling voyages before retiring to his farm. He married three times and had two families, finally passing away in his hometown of Dartmouth, in the county of Bristol, Massachussetts, aged 83. Whatever illness he suffered in 1883 it was not sufficient to shorten either his appetite or his life. Image: (Reckoned to be) Captain William Henry Poole, long retired and on his farm outside New Bedford, Massachussets. His brother, Isaac Barker Poole, (one year younger) is seated in the middle. The man on the left is unknown. Source: Unknown origin, taken from public family tree of Captain William Henry Poole 1845-1928 at Ancestry.com.

 

The ability of Captain Hammond to connect with his new command reflects the value of telegraphic communications at the time. It may have been pre-planned as much as three years earlier that Bartholomew Gosnold and Platina were to be re-fitted and victualled by supply ship at Albany in or around April, 1883, but the coinciding of all three vessels at Princess Royal Harbour and relative efficiency of their exchanges will have been managed via telegram communications in the preceeding months. Telegraphic communication wasn’t available in Western Australia before completion of the Albany to Port Augusta line in 1877, just six years earlier. Rather than seem impressive, Captain Hammond’s relatively swift arrival illustrates how difficult it would have been for companies like Tucker & Co. to track their vessels and cater quickly to such incidents at locations around the world which remained isolated.

Western Australia was late in attaching itself to the national telegraphic grid, a web of lines which had been growing out of the eastern colonies since 1854. The big step was going international, a huge undertaking first proposed in 1858 and eventually completed in 1872 with the linking of Darwin to Java which completed a line all the way to London and thence across the Atlantic. To get to Darwin the eastern colonial lines either met at Adelaide or ran directly to Port Augusta where they turned north and ran right through central Australia all the way to the top.

What is disappointing from Western Australia’s point of view and once again symptomatic of the tension which existed between Perth’s and Albany’s competition relative to their geography, is another missed developmental opportunity. An opportunity shrewdly noticed and pointed out by Donald Garden (pg 157/8).  As far back as 1854 Perth had been engaged in conversation and speculation regarding the landing of an international submarine cable from Asia. Of the four options to bridge the international divide, two saw Perth and two the Darwin area as viable landing points. In order to have a chance at winning the deal, Perth had to think about connecting itself with the rest of Australia, but they failed to do so in a confidence inspiring manner. Why, I don’t know. Perhaps they thought the option of a  submarine cable from Ceylon to Perth never stood a chance and if that meant it came aground in the northwest the cost of running the line down to Perth and then to the east was just too much to cope with. It wasn’t as if a Perth Albany Eucla Port-Augusta line was pre-requisite to any deal though, it seems it was more a matter of showing genuine intent. By contrast, in order to try and win the contract both Queensland and South Australia forged ahead individually, investing heavily in routes directed at connecting themselves with Darwin and these responses were enough make the link from Indonesia to Darwin winner. In 1870, when this was officially determined, South Australia held jurisdiction over the Northern Territory and Adelaide took the bit between their teeth. Assuming enormous risk, they went ahead with their North-South project to cut a path and this clinched them the deal. Thus, from 1872 all of Australia, except the West, was connected.

The commercial retardation caused by Western Australia’s inability to invest in an east-west link until after the north-south line had been completed is hard to determine. If the ability to build the line was there when it first became apparent Adelaide was to connect eastwards to Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, and Sydney, it would have given around fifteen years of unique, competition-free service to Albany as first provider of information from Britain. This is because from appointment of coaling rights from 1850 Albany was first landing point in Australia. As Adelaide was connected eastwards from 1858, information could have been telegraphed that way, arriving weeks ahead of the physical copies. Something of an inter-colonial telegraphic hub would have evolved in the town. Also, Albany’s position as a port would have been strengthened considerably as ships captains could communicate, as Poole and Tucker & Co. did, in ways that made their businesses more efficient, thus drawing in more traffic.

But Albany having this capacity was conducive neither to the needs nor wants of the Swan River capital at Perth, whose own development was naturally sacrosanct. The point here once again being that Albany’s natural harbour was a significant commercial drawcard during this time, but unlike abundant quality farmland and significant coal or gold deposits, for example, it wasnt sufficient on its own to win large-scale intercolonial or international investment.

So, finding the cost of investing in the east-west telegraph prohibitive until South Australia agreed to extend its Port Augusta line to Eucla in 1875, Albany remained as it was; telegraph-less and at least fifty hours distant from Perth by way of horse-drawn carriage. In the meantime though, just as construction of the north-south line was getting underway, it was considered useful to at least run a line from Perth down to Albany so that all important detail off the steamers could get to the capital a couple of days ahead of the coach. Thus, the Albany Perth link was completed just one year after the very first section of W.A. line (between Fremantle and Perth) came into being in 1869. The link between Albany and Eucla, though ecstatically celebrated, only came to completion in 1877, five full years after the inter-colonial submarine cable had been laid, and, more detrimentally, as spermicetti oil was ever diminishing as servicer to machinery, and as steam driven power was progressing to that of liquid fuel and the internal combustion engine. Soon, coal fed steam ships would give way to diesel driven engines that held no need for an Albany depot.

So we return to our story of the mass desertion at Albany in May, 1883.

On 15th May as the steamer Franklin arrived into the harbour, Silas Pope is concerned with taking on fresh water. On 25th May Tucker & Co. sister ship Platina is noted to be off Breaksea Island. The next day she comes in and reports she has seen whales five times but taken none. From Sunday the 25th what crew remain aboard Bartholomew Gosnold are ’employed in washing the ship, inside and out’. Then they commence painting. On Saturday 2nd June Pope discharges the local labour and sells five gallons of sperm oil to Hassell & Co. On Sunday 3rd June Captain Hammond visted the men in jail whereupon they ‘refused one and all to go in’.  The following day Pope notes that Captain Hammond is attempting to recruit enough men to get the ship to Hobart Town where they can find more labour as they ‘can get no men here for a cruise’. On Tuesday they sign on Joseph Enos for a term of three months. During the coming week Pope gets a scare when the Third Mate, Mr Taber, goes missing. He returns three days after his leave is up. Also, they sign on a few more men. On Monday 12th June they begin unloading the chests and belongings of the jailed crew as they now have an additional six hands and are preparing ‘for the run to Hobart Town.’  On 12th June they get underweigh and make to the eastward, amid gales and high seas running their 15 month South Coast episode closes behind. Nine days later, on Tuesday 21st June they sight South West Tasmania.

Of course news of the contumacious whalemen was all about town and the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser was full of it, availing of every opportunity to syndicate the story across the colonies. From the coverage we see that it was noneother than Rowley Loftie, former Master of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, who presided over the case. Loftie was very much still in situ after the embarrassment of the failed John Dunn/Yandawalla murder trial eighteen months previous and was currently engaged in the silent approval of settlers east of Cape Riche taking matters relating to Aboriginal difficulties into their own hands. An act of complicit murder in its own right. But of course being a sight to behold and rigid example of the Christian nature of British law, he was regarded an upstanding and untouchable member of the Swan River elite, at least for the time being. As to be expected, Loftie pointed to the contracts produced by the ship’s officers and determined the recalcitrant rabble in breach of them. Loftie knew Albany had been dealing with abusive sailors and runaways for the best part of fifty years and having built a profitable relationship with New Bedford over the interim was not about to support a clutch of unruly, untrained, unhealthy and unmonied labourers who were bound only to bring more difficulty to his jurisdiction. And besides, he didn’t likne common people anyway.

Above: Albany town’s commercial and civil interests were quick to respond to the whaler’s dessertion predicament, unanimously supporting their endevour to get the men back aboard and back to work. Image: Item cut from Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser, 9th May, 1883. Source: Trove.

 

Through the newspaper reports it emerges the American George Smith along with the subject of this entire piece, Edward Newhill (the paper on this occasion records him as Newhall, probably reflecting Pope’s pronunciation in court), are regarded ‘ringleaders’, fomenters of the insurrection, and that the sailors thought the ship dangerous, that it was ‘unseaworthy,’ which it appears it was close enough to being.

What is far less obvious are the underlying reasons for the mutiny.  On the surface of things the men are using the law as a lever for their discharge, citing breach of contract on their employers part by installing a second captain when the first fell ill. The mutineers claimed their contracts were for three years, not five, clearly fearing they would be at sea for a period far extending their original expectation. But this is likely an excuse as five years was the norm. The crew also stated they would certainly go back aboard if only Captain Poole would, suggesting they knew very well he would not. This begs the question, was Poole’s ‘giving up’ based entirely upon his ill health, or was something else at play?

Did the crew have something over Poole?  What was it that gave them such confidence to stand up, such determination to refuse the command of a new master? Was it sheer brazen opportunism, the stirring defiance of the ringleaders, a sniff that Albany couldn’t hold them for long and they’d be free men soon enough anyway? Group desertions weren’t uncommon but this is no batch runaway. This is a case of wholesale revolt.

What was it that was so wrong aboard ship?

The refractory seamen were organised enough ahead of time to stand up, one and all, the moment it became clear Poole was no longer in charge. The point of rebellion was the point at which Poole came aboard with the mysterious Captain James Hammond. Did Hammond come with a reputation? Did he present a resounding persona, the stony, cruel face of an uncompromising, dictatorial head? Did the men see Hammond and realise their hopes of getting home sooner were now dashed? Is that what it was? Did they get it into their heads Poole’s illness meant their voyage would be cut short, that surely Pope would have to sail them all home?

With Hammond’s sudden and surprising arrival did they then realise it was a case of carpe diem, that their shot at getting clear was upon them. That with a new captain unless they stood firm, and as one, they’d be confined to their leaky tub and its drudgery for another three years? Having given themselves a chance of legitimately landing in the lower quarters of the Swan River colony, a known port where a new life might be found or at least a place where other vessels could bring them toward pretty much anywhere in the world they wanted to get to, and knowing any wages they might have been entitled to on return to New Bedford would now likely be reduced to nil anyway, what did they have to lose?

What was 12 weeks hard labour ashore compared to 36 months languishing aboard an old and increasingly leaky whaler?

 

 

Above: Coverage of the trials (there were two) surrounding the refractory seamen at Albany during May, 1883, can be found in archived copies of the Albany Mail and King George’s Sound Advertiser. Image:  Isolated article dedicated to the first case cut from the archive copy of the newspaper. Source: Trove: Albany Mail and Kind George’s Sound Advertiser, 9th May, 1883, Pg. 3.

 

On the Monday folllowing the trial of the first seven dissenters, the remaining 16 landed in Albany courthouse where they asserted their difiance and were subsequently also sentenced to 12 weeks hard labour. ‘Several of  the men saying ‘they would rather die in irons than serve under Captain Hammond.’

 

 

Above: By Monday afternoon, 7th May, 1883, 23 of Bartholomew Gosnold’s 32 man crew were in Albany gaol on 12 week hard labour sentences, by one account set to work on Middleton Road. The ship remained in harbour until 5th June seeking enough recruits to safely man her sails and get her to Hobart Town where the market for labour was thought to be more bouyant. Image: Isolated article from 9th May edition of the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser referring to the trial of the second, much larger tranche of refracrtory seamen. Source: Trove;

 

On 17th July the Hobart Mercury carried an item saying Bartholomew Gosnold cleared from there the day before bound for Norfolk Island having failed to recruit a full complement.  Under just 13 men she was forced to go further in order to find enough whalemen to allow her to go back to work.

On 31st July, 1883, the English transport barque Eastern Chief, bound from London to the Swan River Colony with a shipment of musical equipment (including a dozen pianos) pulled into King George Sound from Fremantle on its last leg. Captain Young, master, had four men aboard who were refusing to work. Like the Americans these men were taken to court in Albany where they too asserted their refusal, this time on account of ‘poor food’, only to be given given three week hard labour sentences and committed to reboard when the ship was ready to sail. The apparent difference here being the jurisdiction of the Swan River as a British colony allowing the law to compel the men by force to return to their contracted employment.

By December, 1883, Bartholomew Gosnold  was back whaling off the South Coast with her sister ship Platina also still in situ. Bartholomew Gosnold had it made to Norfolk Island and then Savage Island (Niue) and picked up enough Pacific Islanders to form an operable crew. Pacific Island workers were referred to during this era as Kanaks, or Kanakas, a catchall phrase used to simplify the many island nations of the vast South Pacific Ocean.  The two Tucker ships were joined by others in the squadron, Canton and Bertha, all of whom were due to tranship their oil at Albany via the Greyhound, a supply vessel similarly despatched as the Moro Castle back in February. Greyhound was due at Albany anytime soon and came to arrive on 12th May. 1884

During June. 1884, court appearances by Salvador Jacinto and John Edward (Portuguese translator) and later, on 19th August, a case involving John English who was trying to get £10.00 back which he said he lent to an earlier jumpship, Vincent de Souza, shows at least some of the Bartholomew Gosnold men had found work in and around Albany and had stayed. But of Edward Newhill nothing more comes from the newspaper records.

We can see here that the Tucker company’s operating plan was centred around the waters off King George Sound, where it was determined the whaling ground was both fertile and unoccupied enough to give them more-or-less free range. In reports across the period, the unnnamed local correspondent for the West Australian newspaper referred to the Tucker ships as ‘a squadron’ that were ‘stationed’ off the coast at Albany. Clearly, this grouping allowed the company to plan for supply and transhipment vessels to meet them at Princess Royal Harbour, a friendly and supportive anchorage where the ships and their officers were treated with importance.

Having returned from the Pacific with a viable crew by the end of 1883 Bartholomew Gosnold joined its sister ships in a combined operation that lasted through till June the following year when, following a landmark series of court cases relating to seven Azorean (Portuguese) sailors attempting to quit their employment upon Bertha, and another nine month cruise, she came in for a last time to take aboard whatever she could from her sister ships and thence make for home. A summary of her sister ship’s cruises and activities at Albany follows;

Platina

Platina, 214 tons, sailed New Bedford 30th August, 1882, under Captain Marshall Gilbert. She was also rigged as a barque and carried an original sign-on crew of 26, comprising a fairly typical spread of seamen, including seven of German origin.

Platina first arrived into Albany on 10th April, 1883 in what looks to have been an orchestarted rendevous with Bartholomew Gosnold. She tied up in the harbour for a month, leaving on 11th May. One man deserted. On 30th May, Captain Gilbert came into town in one of his boats to pick the man up but he seems to have spotted the ship and run off, despite being gaoled at the time. An incompetence which did not go unnoticed. (AMKGSA 30.5.1883).  The ship then made off for the North West coast, returning five months later. On Saturday, 6th October, she anchored off Breaksea Island and 1st Mate John Riley came into town in one of the whale boats to collect ‘letters’ (AMKGSA 09.10.1883).  These mails probably prompted her to soon after come into port where she layed too on 2nd November before heading back out to sea. Platina returned to Albany on Monday, 28th January, 1884, for ‘necessaries’ (AMKGSA 29.1.1884) On Thursday 27th March, 1884, Platina once again anchored in the Sound (AMKGSA 01.04.1884).  On Tuesday 20th May, the Albany Mail reported Captain Gilbert giving good account of a sailor from his ship charged by the court for being absent without leave. The unnamed man was returned aboard (AMKGSA 20.5.1884)  On 18th June, two weeks after appearing in court with his fellow fleet officers in a galvanised attempt to stop more men deserting, Captain Gilbert sailed for Madagascar returning to anchor off Breaksea Island on Tuesday 11th November. What is not reported in the newspaper is the desertion of four men, noted in the ships log dated Wednesday 11th June, 1884, before she set sail for Madagascar. On that date the log notes the ship is lying at anchor, all ready for sea, with four men of the port watch who had been allowed to go on liberty two days earlier ‘decerded’ (sic). The men are named as Germans Frank Henke and Henry Dimer, along with John (Joas) Perez of Brava (Cape Verde), and Jose Antone of the Azores. It isn’t known if the men failed to return from liberty or if they slipped overboard while in the harbour after returning. To make up the difference, at Madagascar the ship took on five local workers. Sadly, one of these men died ‘from consumption’ about two months into the cruise (AMKGSA 18.11.1884).  On Thursday 26th February, 1885, Platina came into Princess Royal Harbour where she was to discharge some 1050 barrels onto Bartholomew Gosnold before setting sail for another cruise off the coast (AMKGSA 03.03.1885). Platina completed her voyage the following year without returning to Albany.

 

Bertha

Bertha sailed New Bedford on 1st May, 1883 under Captain Benjamin  D. Cleveland.  She had a sign-on crew of  24, the usual mix of  American, German, Portuguese (Azores) and sundry locals wordwide. There were five men of German origin on this cruise. She made for the Western Grounds of the mid-Atlantic where at Fayal (Azores) she readily took aboard upwards of eight local crewmen who, for reasons later explained, did not ‘officially’ sign-on. Most of the men were young and could not speak English, being ushered aboard by an ‘Agent’ who seems to have been paid for their subscription. The Fayal men later argued they never understood the terms of their engagement lasted beyond six months, where-as the ship’s heirarchy asserted men ‘shipped’ at Fayal were invariably signed-on for the duration of the voyage, usually between four and five years, and that this would have been made clear to them. Bertha then made for the South Atlantic before rounding The Cape bound for the waters off King George Sound, anchoring at Frenchman’s Bay, Albany,  on Monday 14th April, 1884. From the time Bertha arrived in Albany waters a number of the Fayal contingent sought to leave the ship. Captain Cleveland sent a small boat into town for supplies only to find four of the Azores men who he intended to sign contracts at the Consul’s office refused to do so, and even more refused to leave the town. The men were arrested and charged and brought to court the next day. Salvador Jacinto, ex-crew member of Bartholomew Gosnold now employed about the town, acted as interpreter. The case was dealt with in short order and the men escorted back aboard. Immediately, the ship went out to sea with the intention of returning on May 10th to tranship her oil into the Greyhound which was expected around the same time. (AMKGSA 22.4.1884)

Bertha came back into harbour at Albany on 16th May. On the 19th May, a newspaper report states eight Portuguese sailors from Bertha who had come aboard at the Azores on account of otherwise being conscripted into some force or other at Lisbon, refused to work for Captain Cleveland and were brought into court. Clearly, the original protest had been carried on out at sea, likely fuelled by the knowledge the Bartholomew Gosnold men were now free and, at least some of them, gainfully employed. The men, who it becomes clear were actually youths, appear to have been cajoled aboard by their parents/friends/relatives in order to escape some imminent danger or threat, argued they had agreed to work for six months only. However, Captain Cleveland said they had been brought aboard on the basis they worked until they got to Albany where upon they would then be obliged to sign legally binding ‘articles’ (contracts), in the presence of the Consul, committing them to the ship for the term of the voyage. Again the case was short lived, the men summarily sentenced to four weeks hard labour and, contrary to what happened to the Barthomew Gosnold men and in full knowledge their contracts had never been signed, were committed to be returned to the ship when required by the captain. (AMKGSA 20.5.1884)

Reverend Lawrence, who defended the men, was appalled and petioned Governor Broome in Perth via telegram (or perhaps letter, or even direct representation, it isn’t clear.). Eleven days after their conviction Broome, sympathising with the men, presumably by telegraph agreed to their being set free. The men were released on Saturday 30th May but chose to stay in prison overnight. On Sunday they were welcomed at the Catholic Church in Albany, mass hosted by Father Matiu, and a collection was held for them. A portion of Albany’s community, at least, reached out to the boys and offered them support. But their freedom was not to be, the sailors were quickly re-arrested on separate, or newly issued (concocted) charges, and placed back in gaol pending a further court sitting on Tuesday 3rd June.

At this sitting, which extended over two days, we learn that the defence, once again led by Rev Lawrence, was silenced by Magistrate Loftie after Laurence’s assertion the men had been freed by the Governor and the case set against them now was both unjust and invalid. Loftie agressively upheld the new charges and we begin to appreciate the gravity of what was taking place. Ship’s Officers from Bertha, Platina, Greyhound and Batholomew Gosnold all attended in support of the prosecution and it is very clear the case of the deserting sailors at Albany had escalated, gaining drastically in importance in as much as the Americans were determined to avoid a repeat of what happened to Bartholomew Gosnold. The captains wanted to establish a precedent at Albany whereby dissenting men claiming some or other form of assylum were physically compelled to return aboard, despite the law heretofore not permitting it. Equally, the Albany judiciary headed by Loftie were acting contrary to the direction of Governor Broome and their conduct was certain to be scrutinised. As such the case was given full reign and The Albany Mail being in attendence accorded with due coverage. (AMKGSA 10.6.1884)

Predictably, the case ended with Loftie sending the youths back aboard while the fuming defending council, Reverend Lawrence, said he would take the matter up with the Porturguese Government. The young sailors were removed to the ship by police and the ship immediately brought outside the harbour. Captain Cleveland came back into town on Friday 13th June and, according to the newspaper, was momentarily in danger of being mobbed by angry citizens. Albany, or part of it, had come to learn of the ruthless and cruel nature of the American system of  ‘shipping’ recruits. (AMKGSA 10.6.1884) The story remained bouyant in the Albany and Perth newspapers for some time, the West Australian claiming the Albany court had acted illegally and the Daily News reporting the case was to be debated by the Legislative Council, which it was (in part and to no avail) on 23rd July. (The West Australian 26.7.1884). The question of legality surrounding the Captain’s case against his recruits was then raised with Attorney General  Alfred Hensman who said it was a matter for the country whose ship the men had joined and was case specific. Bertha not being a British ship allowed Mr Hensman to wash his hands of the affair.

Above: The case of The Bertha Seven caught the sympathy of readers and technical ire of correspondents who came to learn of what happened at Albany between April and June 1884. The story occupied newspaper columns for weeks afterward. Image: Cut from page three of  The West Australian newspaper, 21st June, 1884. Source: Trove.

 

The case of The Bertha Seven is clear example of offical Albany’s willingness to support their American commercial allies regardless of the circumstances. Did the men have to be sentenced to hard labour while in gaol? Wasn’t four years aboard an American whaler hard labour and sentence enough? And heretorfore it appears to have been clearly understood, at least since the 1830s, non-British seamen could not be forcibly returned aboard their ships.

What happened to the upheld precedent of the Bartholomew Gosnold protest, whose men had signed contract, and where was the court’s sympathy for these young men?

Presiding over the case was, once again, Resident Magistrate Rowley Crozier Loftie. Loftie’s denial of the men’s claim and decision to gaol them found him scalded in a letter sent by local man Wes Maley to the Perth newspapers. Maley chose to inform the Perth papers because he knew The Albany Mail couldn’t (and wouldn’t) support him. The letter decried Loftie’s treatment of the young sailors, raising in their defence the imposition of slavery in the face of their apparent need to escape their circumstances at Fayal. Maley also organised a petition for the sailors and had it sent to the colonial governor, Frederick Broome. The story was taken up by the Victorian Express (Gerladton) and Daily News which on 20th June reported  ‘a mass meeting’  had been held at Albany in protest. As Maley guessed, the story was not only pooh-poohed by the Albany Mail which took up in support of its advertisers and influential citizens, but in a clear case of poetic licence had reversed the Daily News account of what had happened; a detailed account provided by George Uglow of Albany. (AMKGSA 17.6.1884) Chris Ashwell, proprietor of the Albany Mail used his own paper to say the ‘Portugese’ decided they wanted to stay in Albany only after they had met other Portuguese who were working about the town, these men being former members of the Bartholomew Gosnold crew, though Ashwell can’t quite remember which ship was which, confusing himself with both Bartholomew Gosnold and Platina. As we saw above, Salvador Jacinto of the Bartholomew Gosnold was in court assisting the original four men who could not speak English, so it seems fair enough to think Jacinto told them of his own escape. However, when read in chronological order it is clear the original four protested from the moment they arrived in Albany and the notion of leaving the boat had been on their minds for some time. What the popular protest at Albany shows, regardless of any embellishments, is that Loftie’s peremptory dealing of the case was bereft of sympathy and typical of his behaviour, and that he was both known and disliked, at least by certain of the citizens, for it.

In the opinion of these pages R.C. Loftie, an Ascendancy Class Irishman and former Master of the Spreme Court at Perth, presents as a cold and aloof careerist, one of a kind who the more recent barrister, judge and politician Lionel Keith Murphy would have described as the part of the institutional brigade repsonsible for the upholding of lack of equal opportunity, discrimination and social injustic in evolving Australia. Being Dublin educated (Trinity College) at a time when Dublin’s previous grand houses of the Liberties were turned to slums, Loftie was well acquainted with dirty displaced famine affected  peasants seeking to circumvent the law and held as derisory those he considered beneath his station, going so far as to stigmatise the common Irishman as ‘sunk in barbarism’, as ‘rebellious and lazy’ in a lecture he delivered to the Mechanics Institute at Albany on 28 June, 1883.  Considering himself  Roman rather than Celt and as such at the pinnacle of the colony’s social heirarchy, Loftie did what he needed in order to maintain the support of his peers, a behaviour which allowed him to turn away from the prolonged killing of non-conforming Aborigines east of Albany in the wake of John Dunn’s death and his brother’s retributive actions at Cocanarup. (See the entire Interlude series for full coverage.) Death dealing toward troublesome non-conformists had been part of Irish history for centuries, most notably during the Cromwellian conquest of 1649-1653  the spoils of which the Lofties and other Anglo Irish families shared among themselves.

In any case, we begin to build a picture of the type of character fronting Albany’s judiciary at this time.

Above: Quick and dismissive, as a local historical figure Rowley Crozier Loftie (1840-1915)  presents as an arrogant eletist fundmentally concerned with upholding the wishes of his paymasters. Social justice does not appear to have formed part of his thinking. Image: Unverified portrait of Loftie believed to have been taken shortly before his death in 1915 in Switzerland. Source: Unknown. (Unfortunately I can’t remember where I sourced this image and cannot find it elsewhere on the internet. All and any help appreciated.)

 

Canton II

Canton sailed New Bedford 15th May 1883 under Captain George Howland. She had a crew of 25, nine of whom were American, five of German origin and the rest made up from regular Pacific and Atlantic island points such as the Azores, Cape Verde, Norfolk Island and the Philipines.  She arrived into Albany 25th March, 1844, after ten months at sea making her way via the Azores and Tristan da Cunha in the central south Atlantic. (WA 1.4.1884).  She returned to port at Albany on 10th May where she transhipped up to 800 barrels into Greyhound while her sister ships Bertha, Platina and Bartholomew Gosnold were also in port. At this time, the issue of the Bertha Seven was mounting and the captains were driving hard for support from the judiciary. The four Tucker barques had done well, sending their transporter Greyhound home fully loaded. The success of the whalers gave the captains the spur they needed to compel Resident Magistrate Loftie to do all he could to prevent mass desertions at Albany by way of legal challenge. The experiece of Bartholomew Gosnold not wanting to be repeated. On 30th May two sailors on leave hired horses and ‘galloped about the town’. Both were pitched at various points and one broke an arm (AMKGSA 3.6.1884).  Canton was back in harbour briefly on 15th September with another 425 barrels. Two runaway seamen who had been arrested and held in custody since her previous visit were returned aboard (perhaps the hilarious horsemen). (AMKGSA 16.9.1884Canton next makes into Albany on 28th February, 1885, same day as Bartholomew Gosnold anchored for the last time. She too had been as far as Norfolk Island looking to recruit more hands. The plan was to discharge her oil into Bartholomew Gosnold, who was to head back to New Bedford completing her five year term, while Canton was to resume her work soon afterwards. (AMKGSA 3.3.1885).  Canton returns once more to Albany on 18th September, 1885. One man is sick and sent to hospital. Sadly he dies on Saturday, 3rd October, the newspaper says from heart disease. Canton sails again on 6th October (AMKGSA 06.10.1885). She is not reported again at Albany during this voyage.

Greyhound 

American Consul William J. Gillam reported to the Albany Mail that the supply ship Greyound left New Bedford 30th January, 1884, and was expected to arrive 10th May. (AMKGSA 01.04.1884)  According to Geraldton’s Victorian Express she arrived at Albany 11.00 a.m. Sunday, 11th May, dropping anchor two hours after Bartholomew Gosnold dropped hers.  Almost exuberant news from Albany on 26th May confirms her arrival in the West Australian 31.5.1884.  Knowledge the four Tucker whalers are also in port plus the Hobart whaler Derent Hunter along with two coal supply ships males for a bouyant picture of Princess Royal Harbour. Greyhound sailed 5th June after her captain’s appearance at court on the 3rd and 4th supporting the company’s stance on defiant crew.

 

And Here Ends The Written Record

 

At this point, after all we have been through in search of the identity, origin and verifiable story of Jimmy Newhill and his association with Albany we are washed upon the shore and left to find our own way. The trail has led us from the Kingdom of Bavaria to New Jersey to Massachussetts to the Swan River Colony, via the Southern Indian and entire Atlantic oceans with an undulating spread of information, only to leave us at land’s edge with the same vaguery as the story commenced. From here on, apart from the registrations of his marriage to Elizabeth Cullinane, the birth of his children and certain information relating to his protracted applications for citizenship dating from 1917, the story of Edward (aka Jimmy) Nuehuhl/Newhegl/Newhall/Newhill resides in the folklore. That is, with the memory of him carried forward by the family he had and by attachment of his name to the disputed Torndirrup landmark.

To that end we will first fall back to The Albany Advertiser as, after many years of trying to shake-off the Robert Stephens induced confusion, the paper employed the interest of a young history-minded journalist by the name of Peter Hancock in an attempt to settle the matter once-and-for-all. Almost forty years ago now Hancock authored a feature article titled, “Jimmy Newhill’s fate revealed” which, as the headline suggests, sidesteps an out-and-out declaration.

Above: Almost forty years ago now, Albany journalist Peter Hancock set out on behalf of The Albany Advertiser to set the record straight on the naming issue over Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour, yet the saga continues. Despite claims made by the paper, Landgate, Western Australia’s land information authority, has done no more than remain ambivalent, possibly because they can find no reason as to why Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour should be attached to a man named Edward. Image: Photograph of a clipping featuring Peter Hancock’s 1981 article, “Jimmy Newhill’s fate revealed”, published by The Albany Advertsier, 21st July, 1981. Source: Gavin Jackman family papers.

 

Peter Hancock, who was approaching 30 years of age at the time, grew up in Albany after his family emigrated from England in 1963, so was quite familiar with the problem surrounding the confused spellings. With a bent for history himself  Hancock set out to find the truth by interviewing local amateur historians along with Newhill descendants. To his delight and surprise Martha Jackman, Edward August Newhill’s eighth child, was 81 years of age and still living in town, so Hancock went to meet her. This is the closest the newspaper got to the original Newhill family since the argument began and from it, combined with what we have learned ourselves so far, we can draw enough to set us down an exploratory path.

The reason the headline featured Newhill’s fate rather than an assertion the harbour’s name belonged to him, is because Hancock wasn’t able to fully substantiate it. Hancock spends the first part of the expose doing his best to explain that no one can agree as to how or when the inlet got its name. He does his best to cover the background but given the need for brevity in a twice-weekly could only give a fraction of the time and space we can afford here. Suffice to say there is acknowledgement of the James Newell limeburner story we dismissed in Part 1. Another local lore version Hancock cited is that of a rescue at the inlet in which Newhill participated, either as rescuer of a wrecked crew or as skipper of the distressed vessel itself, but this story can almost as readily be dismissed as it would have been dramatic news about town and most certainly covered by The Albany Mail, The Australian Advetiser or, from February 1897, The Albany Advertiser.

Unless one or all of those stories happened way, way before.

There are other stories too. One tells of Jimmy Newhill dragging a flat-bottomed boat overland to the harbour by horse, where he spent time fishing.

Now, there is a story of a horse being ‘stuck’ on the steep slope leading down to the harbour which made it into the paper, during 1941. This was long after the argument began, but the story is told in legend form, not as if it happened the previous day. It seems a stretch too far to think anyone would drag a boat to the heights above the harbour, then go to the lengths required to lower it safely to the boulder-strewn shore below, then use it to fish when the fish caught then had to be brought back up the hill and all the way around into town. But someone camping at the site, for some reason, may have used the horse for transport and the boat to fish for sustenace rather than profit.  Even considering the salmon run and attempts to gain from that once a year, a commercial endeavour seems too much to hold on to when other points along the coast were more accessible. For the same reasons we dismissed the tale of James Newell cutting limestone from the harbour floor and either carting or sailing it all the way around to Little Grove, we can let this story of fishing and/or ship wrecks go too, if for no other reason they are just not strong enough to hang on to. Another story claims Newhill was the first white man to explore the Torndirrup area, but as the settlement was more than 55 years in existence before Newhill even arrived it is the least difficult of all to send on its way. Which leaves the last and most plausible story, that of a man who quite simply camped in the area.

Hancock admits, after talking to the family, “the reason for the naming of the picturesque spot has become confused and blurred by the passing of time.”  Indeed it has and so too the story of how Ned Newell acquired his second nickname, Jimmy.  With such vague and inessential associations, when Robert Stephens hit upon the (false) idea James Newell was an original convict and that his family had a small-boat history, is it any wonder he turned away from the Newhill claim? Stephens was a man of history, an authority, and knowing your history carried status, and place names, especially along Albany’s famous South Coast Tourist Route, surely had to be acquired by more substantial, more deserving origins. At least older origins, older than Newhill’s dubious ones anyway.

Yet here we are at the close of the covid year 2020 and the name Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour still appears in print more often than Jimmy Newell’s. Which means Jimmy Newhill laid sufficient claim to the locality for it to come to bear his name, at least for a time, at least until Stephens stepped in. It’s not as if Jimmy Newhill had nothing to do with the place at all, how would it have come to bear his name if he hadn’t brought some notoriety to it? Why would his family three generations following still be holding up the papers, shouting, ‘it belongs to Jimmy Newhill!’ and still be crying foul play relative to Robert Stephen’s 1934 counter claim?

One thing is for sure, Edward Jimmy Newell played suffient role out there to either win the naming rights off an earlier entity not bothered with defending it, or it was only ever named after him; spelling mistakes and all.

 

Above: Apart from the inhospitable rocky shore and dangers of meeting heavy wind and swells head-on, the slopes leading down to Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour are simply too precipitous to imagine anyone using it as a regular small-boat fishing spot, especially during the pre-motor era at Albany, when other local access points, such as Salmon Pools, were far more favourable. Image: View of Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour taken from the look out set off the main Frenchman Bay Road. Source: This photo copied from an April, 2017, post in the 50 Shades of Age travel blog hosted by Kathy, titled Tremendous Torndirrup.

 

The question now arises as to what it takes for a place to derive a name. A great deal has been written on that subject but there isn’t too much beyond the obvious for us to discuss here. Apart from the dispute as to whose name belongs to the landmark we need to pause for a moment and consider use of the first name ‘Jimmy’.

Having searched the archives over and over it turns out that during the entire life-span of the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser, a period of about six or seven years, the entirety of which Edward Jimmy Newhill was somewhere about the coast, either on it or off it, there were no more than 18 ocassions when the name ‘Jimmy’ appeared in its pages. If the search is expanded to include the era of the Australian Advertiser, which takes us up to 1897, the number increases only by about a dozen. It’s greatest frequency was in naming Aboriginal men, either local or referencing other reports from other newspapers. It was then the name of two horses, one belonging to John McKenzie the other to the recently deceased Dorothy Newell’s husband, George Pettit. Jimmy was the name of a Malay charged with the murder of an old settler and also an abbreviation for James Watson, known around Kojonup as ‘Jimmy the Pigman’, who was murdered himself on 1st May, 1883.  Another was ‘Jimmy the Dismal’ a fictional character in a serialised novel called  ‘A Woman’s Story.‘ Another refers to the satire magazine Melbourne Punch and a cartoon featuring ministers ‘Jimmy and Jerry’ shaking hands over the question of Federation. Another to a wandering Aberdonian, Jimmy the Scot, who spoke only in the vernacular. The picture is clear, Jimmy was not a name attached to anyone in the presiding European community of high social standing. At least it wasn’t used when addressing them in that context. Jimmy, so it seems, was a term of affection reserved for roguish individuals and applied only by those familar enough to get away with it, otherwise it was a derisory label delivered as an accusational long shot; a name you got from somebody else who held you in some form of contempt. James Newell left behind the reputation of a hopeless alcoholic while his son was the eternally single but known father of an Aboriginal son and daughter who he appears not to have given too much mind. Did Edward Newhill attract the sobriquet Jimmy because he reserved a degree of affection for the lowly workers and strugglers of the town? Perhaps he had a drink habit, or a gambling one, or anger issues of some kind. Perhaps he wasn’t the most pleasant character going. If so there’s no surpise in it. Someone who leaves a whaling ship alone and never returns to or corresponds with the family from which he sprang, or was ejected from, isn’t likely to treat the first person he meets with the charm of a spoon-fed aristocrat. The kind of men who joined whaling ships and never wrote home, let alone returned to visit, were not likely to have left homes and families they felt particularly attached to, or could rely on. Or if they could, like poor John Bruce, some fate or other intervened causing them to leave and go away for good. Unlike presiding magistrate R.C. Loftie, the job of these pages is not to bring judgement upon ordinary people simply on the basis of social grading. Newpsaper references through the 1890s along with Newhill’s 1926 obituary supports the status of a man well known and respected around town. Far from a reknown cavorter, criminal or drunk.

So maybe he acquired the monicker because, like Henry Dimer, he wasn’t put off by the good looks of an Indigenous woman? Albany was still a very small town in the 1880s and the difficulty we saw Jem Newell experience in attracting a partner of compatible or aspiring social standing still applied. Newhill had turned 31 when he left his American contractors. Regardless of any capability, good looks or charm, he will have been penniless. For sure. Something he will have had to work hard on to address, and so it was it took seven years for him to find someone to marry, and even then he needed prompting. Perhaps Edward Newhill accepted the name Jimmy in order to give himself a Joe Soap’s chance of being accepted in a town dominated by a Scots/English Protestant ruling class. A foreigner disarming himself in order garner the confidence of others. Or perhaps he got it because Jimmy was a tag applied to men who were of, or associated with, people of colour. The name Jimmy is also a derivative of the term Jim Crow, a fictional Negro character of the American stage used as an entertainment tool to delight the supremacist inclinations of the Southern states. The Jim Crow character, created in the 1930s, birthed Minstrelsy,  a variety show lampooning people of African origin, while going on to lend its name to the Jim Crow Laws, a series of state and local enforcements which wedged segregation into the daily practices of the southern United States. By the 1850s the name Jim Crow was appearing in the correspondence of George Cheyne when referring to the troublesome natives he was encountering at Cape Riche and the Pallinup River, and it also expressly applied to one native individual of that time known to the settlers and authorities as a troublemaker. The sobriquet Jimmy, when applied to men of European heritage, was a generic tag given for a multitude of reasons. Aboriginal associations at Albany during this time being fair cause.

And yet again, to cover all angles, perhaps Jimmy was an alias he employed because he didn’t want to give away his true identity. We know he wasn’t a wanted man because there is nothing to say he didn’t serve out his twelve-week hard-labour sentence, but perhaps he was content being someone else for a period, just while he camped out of town carting limestone down to the pits on the harbour shore. Just while he made a name for himself and gained some credibility.

Importantly however, and to resurrect that jack-in-the-box line of discord, final mention of the name Jimmy in the Albany Mail across its lifespan referred to none other than Jimmy Newell’s Harbour. Long missed by search engines because of blurring of the surname, it is the earliest mention of the harbour so far found in print. The date is 11th September, 1886, and the spelling is clearly N-e-w-e-l-l.

A mistake?  Yes. No. Who knows? You’d think not. Thomas Noal/Newell/Noel, the Galway boatman we discussed in Part 1 had not been heard of (in the records) since 1831; James Newell, the Surrey farm labourer, was dead since 1855 and his son Jem since 1874. Daughter Dorothea died in the January of that very year 1886; while Jimmy Newhill was going on three and a half years off his ship trying to make a living. The writer of this piece isn’t identified but the reference is quite clear and quite specific and quite familiar, as if Jimmy Newell’s Harbour was as well-known at that time as any along the coast.

 

Above: First recorded mention of the disputed cove appeared in the Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser as Jimmy Newell’s Harbour. Previous searches under Newell and Newhill had failed to turn up the find due to blurring and the search function’s inability to distinguish the double-l in both names. Image: Excerpt from ‘A True History of the Siege of Albany‘, a satirical piece featured in the Albany Mail on 11th September, 1886. Source: Trove.

 

The article itself is a humorous fictional piece called A True History of the Siege of Albany, in which the author speaks from the future, 1930 in fact, telling of the arrival in 1890 of two war ships off the coast, one Russian, the other French, which begin to loosely bombard the town. The populace is saved, temporarily, by sending out an emissary in a small boat loaded with local brew. The piece is entertaining, quite modern actually, and very well written. A commanding slice of satire, it advocates for the erection of war defences around Albany and was probably the work of the paper’s chief contributor, Chris Ashwell. Bearing in mind Ashwell arrived in town and founded the paper at the same time as Newhill first stepped off his ship, it is a significant piece of prose for reasons other than intended.

Nevertheless, because there is still no commanding explanation for either of the two Newells to have been awarded the title, or why it should remain with one or other given Newhill took the title for so long, and given the distance we have come thus far, we will return to our line of thought and continue all the way to the bleak and bitter end. Not least because the Newhill story is every bit absorbing as any we’ve tackled in these pages.

The key word in the toponymic discussion on Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour is the word ‘harbour’, and (as if we need more obfuscation) that leads us down the foggy road of semantics. In the English language a harbour is one of two things. Either in nautical terms a sheltered port, or else more generally a place of refuge or shelter. The location looks like a harbour but it never was, not in a maritime sense anyway. While the inlet offers a less obstructive escape from the sea than a sheer rock-face and might under heavy weather from an agreeable direction deliver salvation to a distressed small craft, for multiple obvious topographic reasons it has only ever acted as a haven by way of oral recount, or lore. Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour has never been recognised as an actual marine harbour. The same tacit acceptance of usage can be expressed through it’s general meaning. If James Newell or Jimmy Newhill camped there and looked down upon the cove and saw it as shelter or escape from the ocean, some avenue of respite in an otherwise inaccessible environment, then it makes a harbour. And so too would it have been if one or other of the three men was camping there for reasons of imposed isolation, for reasons of work or perhaps escape of some kind.

Why would a man whose christian names stayed with him all his life acquire a label, or alias, and have that identity somehow attached to an out of the way location, unless he accepted that tag and spent some amount of time there on the basis he had little choice. Either he was earning a hard living or for some reason didn’t want to be troubled. Under these circumstances the name Jimmy Newhill’s Harbour begins to take on an alternate hue. Was the flat-bottomed boat used to fish for daily sustenance? Was the horse Newhill’s means of transport?

In his feature article Peter Hancock necessarily gives short space to the various tales surrounding the naming of the harbour because there is nothing more he can bring to them. Even in the company of Newhill’s daughter, who had lived in the town all 81 years of her life, there is nothing solid, nothing concrete he can slap down on the table in support of any of them. Except one, the story of a man who camped there.

Edward Newhill went to less trouble impressing upon his family how the landmark acquired his name, than he did telling them of his escape from an American whaler, his sheltering by Campbell Taylor, of his hiding out at Bald Island, of his return to Albany and of his gaoling and time on a road gang. All of which Hancock took down from Newhill’s aging, perhaps faltering, eighth child during his conversations with her going on 95 years after the fact.

So let’s look at what Martha Jackman (nee Newhill) said about her father’s story.

“He was born in Germany and emigrated to America with his parents when he was around three years old.” This allows for Newhill’s declared American naturalisation in 1875 (aged about 20) but goes against his own declaration he was 15 at the time. If he had been in America that long, and being an American citizen for six years prior to departure, chosing to sign on under his German spelling raises the question why? Was he running from something, or did all German Americans of the time sign on as German? There was certainly no shortage of them aboard the Tucker ships. If Newhill was three when he arrived then in all likelihood he spoke with an American accent, yet aboard his first mentions in the log print his name in the German vernacular; Newhegl. If Newhill was 15 when he arrived in New York and lived and worked among Germans while he learned the language it is more likely he kept his original inflection.

“His boyhood is lost in the mists of time.” That it is. Exhaustive searches have turned up next to nothing on the family at Lichtenfels, on his immigration, living places and work stations, except perhaps his stint at the New Jersey rubber shoe factory and his signing on at New Bedford the following year. Whatever old Jimmy Newhill had to say about his boyhood it was not impressed sufficiently on his daughter’s consciousness for her to remember. Martha Newhill was born in Albany in the year 1900. She was 26 years old when her father passed away, but she was an elderly woman at the time of the interview too, so the possibility she was not as focussed as she once was needs also to be considered.

“He joined a whaling ship and, along with two other men named as Dimer and Henrickson, objected to the captain’s beating of a cabin boy which resulted in a savage fight, after which the men deserted their ship at Albany.  Here, Martha Newell says her father jumped ship with two other men who she is able to name. Importantly, we now know that Dimer refers to Henry Dimer who was aboard Platina and Hendrickson refers to Little Peter Hendrickson, another South Coast settler of indeterminate origin who was well known to Henry Dimer and who made good as a builder, mostly in the Kalgoorlie area (more to follow). We also know Hendrickon was not a deserter from the same ship as Dimer and nor was Newhill. One of two big questions here is how did these stories become crossed?  The second question relates to the cabin boy being beaten. There is no mention of a fight between Newhill, or any of the crew and Captain Poole either in Bartholomew Gosnold’s log or Poole’s Captain’s journal, which surely there would have been, especially if it resulted in Poole having to give up his command because of injuries sustained. But there is something in this part of the story that does ring true.  Poole took a second cabin boy at Albany (the first he brought aboard at Tenerife), then soon after took ill. Had the boy given the captain his illness (venereal?), either directly or indirectly, and had the Captain taken to beating him because of it? Was this the reason the crew were so confident Poole would not return as captain and thereby, almost to a man, took full measure of their disapproval and walked off the job when Captain Hammond surprised them with his arrival?

“For three days they crounched in the scrub on the foreshore until they saw their ship sail out into the Sound.” This is a key possibility for the naming of the harbour. Hiding was part and parcel of the desertion business, especially in a place like Albany at the height of the Tucker ship’s activity. They could have hid anywhere, more likely the south side of the harbour, including the highpoint above Jimmy Newhill’s where they could view proceedings. The important thing here is that the men were required to hide. We also know that rather than three days, Dimer’s ship waited a week from the time the four deserters slipped overboard until the captain gave up and sailed away. To that end the men were far more likely to hide on the south side of the harbour than the populated north shore.

“They treked along the shoreline and made for the Kalgan River where they were taken under the wing of local resident Campbell Taylor.” This part of the story tallies with that of Henry Dimer’s desertion as detailed by his son Karl over one hundred years later. Mary Taylor, Campbell’s aging mother, wrote in her Candyup diary during January, 1874,  her son had brought home ‘a runaway sailor’, so Campbell’s track record is there. However, why Edward Newhill, who left Bartholomew Gosnold a year earlier, was ‘running away’ with Dimer and Hendrickson is far from clear. More likely Hendrickson and Newhill were assisting Dimer in his escape. More likely. Newhill had met Dimer while Dimer was on shore leave and together they hatched a plan for Dimer’s escape.

“They worked for Taylor for a while at Candyup but then found the law closing in on them. Taylor took them to Bald Island and hid them there, leaving them a rowing boat in case of emergency.” This partly ties in with Karl Dimer’s version of his father’s story, but if Taylor brought them to the island in a small boat how did he get off himself? Boats were not loaned or given lightly and Taylor was a regular commuter between Cape Arid and Albany via use of his own. Of course, it’s possible he left them a small boat but it is more likely he left them on the island for collection at a near date. What is clear is that this part of the story relates to Dimer’s escape which Newhill appears to have participated in.

“After their food supplies ran out the three men took the boat to the coast and split up. Dimer went east, Hendrickson north and Newhill west, back to Albany.” History shows that Dimer went east and worked for Campbell Taylor at his Thomas River station, Lynburn, after which he worked around the place, with Henrickson, building sheds, before eventually leasing land himself and becoming proprietor of Nanambinia Station. Hendrickson became a well known builder in Kalgoorlie, his advertisements are easily found in archived copies of the Albany Advertiser. This part of the story describes the separation of Newhill from Dimer and of Newhill’s return to Albany.  Once again, it is more likely Newhill and Hendrickson were assisting Dimer in his escape, and/or simply in the business of being hired by Taylor as labour for Lynburn Station themselves. Martha Newhill suggests the men made their own way east along the coast, but it is almost certain they travelled with Campbell Taylor in his craft. According to Martha Newhill’s account, when the time came to leave Bald Island Newhill, for one reason or another, was deposited along the coast in order to make his way back to Albany. The question being where and when; a day, a week or a year later? There are no records, except for one small comment made by Newhill on his statuary declaration stating for the first three years he worked ‘out in country’, showing Newhill being categorically somewhere until his marriage at Albany in 1890.

“Somehow the authorities got word he (Newhill) was hiding on the Torndirrup Peninsula and the law caught up with him in the cove which now bears his name.” According to the Newhills this is how the harbour/inlet/cove got its name and by association implies Newhill was living under the alias Jim, or Jimmy, at the time. But why was Newhill running from the authorities when he and the 22 others he breached contract with were free to go after serving their twelve-week term?  Was Newhill wanted for some other crime? If so, there is no record of it in the local newspaper which reported on everything from drunkenness and petty theft to wife desertion and murder. And remember, by September 1886, the cove was well known as Jimmy Newell’s (or possibly Newhills) Harbour.  This means Newhill must have been camped there for some time between the latter months of 1883 and the time the article went to print, bringing forward the likelihood it is where he harboured Dimer and Dimer’s fellow Platina jumpships, perhaps while he was working out of town picking limestone for the burners.

“Charged with desertion Newhill was sentenced to nine months gaol. He joined a chaingang which was detailed to construct the town’s main throroughfare, York Street.” This part of the story echoes Newhill’s three-month sentence for breach of contract aboard Bartholomew Gosnold and the subsequent news report the men were sent to work on Middleton Road during July 1883. It does not preclude York Street from being worked on, it’s just that there is evidence to say they worked on Middleton Road while none exists to prove or support the York Street claim. Once again however, the work detail was almost one year before Henry Dimer jumped from Platina with Franke Henke, Jose Antone and Joas Pires. Searches of the newspaper archive reveal no reports of desertion cases relating to anyone who might have been Edward Newhill between the time Platina left the harbour (18 June 1884) and the end of the year. Thus, we can see here how the finer details of occurrences become warped over time. Fact becomes story, story becomes lore, lore becomes legend and legend eventually becomes myth. There can be little doubt Newhill was associated with Dimer’s escape, but his own story looks to have become subsumed by it.

Edward Newhill never wrote down his story so the accuracy of daughter Martha’s recounting can’t be checked against it. Apart from measuring the family story against the facts we’ve been able to determine here using today’s phenomenal internet resource, what she said is all there is to go on. Before we can progress we must therefore look closely at the relationship between Newhill, Dimer and Hendrickson.

 

Newhill, Dimer & Hendrickson and their Cape Arid Connection

The Erickson Dictionary of Biography which got the details of James Newell so wrong and also got the details of Edward August (Jimmy) Newhill wrong, nonetheless remains our starting place for the good reason it tells us what people believed in the 1970s. We saw from our deep-dive into the providence of the Newell family, the information Erickson and her researchers used to compile the work took oral historical accounts from family sources in conjunction with and/or in the absence of any officially recorded material, but by the 1970s the accuracy of those oral histories had corroded.

Erickson’s entry for Edward Newhill says he arrived in Albany aboard Platina and that he jumped ship in the company of Henry Dimer and another man named as Peter Henrickson who, the Dictionary says, also deserted from Platina.

We know for 100% certain Henry Dimer was aboard Platina as his name is on the original sign-on list, along with six other Germans including Franke Hanke, but there is no Peter Henrickson, nor Newhill; And we know now too for 100% certain that Newhill had been aboard Bartholomew Gosnold. What’s curious is how Newhill’s story became crossed with Dimer’s, and both with Peter Hen(d)rickson.

 

Above: The Erickson entries for Jimmy Newhill, Henry Di(e)mer and Peter Hen(d)rickson cross reference each other indicating some kind of path crossing between them which was retained in the memory of the respective families. What we can draw from this is that Jimmy Newhill was associated with Henry Dimer, fellow German deserter from the Tucker ships stationed at Albany during the early to mid-1880s.  Image: Excerpts cut from the on-line version of Rica Erickson’s highly influential but flawed assessment of Western Australia’s early settlers. Sources: Friends of Battye Library, online version of  Rica Erickson’s Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians featuring entries for Edward (Jimmy) Newhill (pg, 2311), Henry Di(e)mer (pg. 837) and Peter Hen(d)rickson (pg. 1446)

 

It is possible Hendrickson was picked up by Platina en-route to Albany and jumped at an earlier interval but without scouring Platina’s log too we won’t know for sure, suffice to say other sources, including that of Karl Dimer, speaks of Hendriskson being a fellow jumpship. We also know from the ships log that Henry Dimer jumped on Wednesday 11th June, 1884, while Platina was laying at anchor in princess Royal Harbour, facing a headwind, but otherwise ready and waiting to go to sea. Dimer, Hanke (aka Haukey), Perez and Antone were all Port watch crew who had been allowed to go on liberty on the Monday and it appears they either did not return or did return only to slip overboard during the night. In any case, after being ‘all ready for sea’ Platina did not set sail for another week, possibly because of the persistent headwind preventing exit from the harbour or else the command giving themselves time to try and recover their runaway men. We also know from the records that Platina recruited five men at Madagascar to make up their short fall, one of whom died aboard within a couple of months.

Henry Dimer’s story was written up by his son to Topsy Ponton/Whitehand, who we have come to know in these pages through our account of what happened at Cocanarup (Interlude series). Karl Dimer was born at Namimbinia station in 1913. He tells the story of his father’s escape from Platina in 1884 but it too may be incorrect, or at least warped by time and circumstance. Karl’s book, an important account of early Nullabor settlement called Elsewhere Fine, was published in 1989, more than a hundred years after his father arrived. Though supported by clear evidence of Dimer’s German origin and time in New York as a butcher before going whaling, the facts behind his desertion may have become obscured. The reason I say this is that Karl Dimer asserts his father jumped with Peter Hendrickson when there is no known record of this man other than by Karl’s account. The story was drawn from Karl’s memory of his father’s recounting, and it is that story, that memory, which formed the basis of Erickson’s entry. What we know for sure is that Dimer jumped with fellow German Franke Hanke/Henke/Haukey and two others. We don’t know what happened to the other two, but we do know neither Dimer nor Hanke were returned aboard.

Karl Dimer says his father and Henrickson were spirited away by 42-year-old and recently married Campbell Taylor, who by this time was running both the Candyup and Lynburn properties. Candyup, the Taylor family home at Lower Kalgan, was occupied by his sister Catherine and mother, Mary Yates Bussell, who was in her Twighlight years; old Patrick having passed away in 1877. Taylor had been working Lynburn station at Cape Arid from around 1870 and was known to have harboured and employed useful jumpships over those years. Karl Dimer’s account of his father’s arrival tells us he was hidden in a cave on Bald Island by Taylor and eventually brought to work out at Taylor’s sheep station, more than 300 miles to the east, by small boat. This may well be true, in that Henrickson could have been a Tucker jumpship looking to get out of town and away from the clutches of the law, it’s just we know for certain he wasn’t one of the Platina four.

We also know that Henrickson wasn’t an alias employed by Franke Henke as Henke became known at Albany during this time as an account of his unfortunate death was published by the Albany Mail in December 1885, some 18 months after jumping. Henke drowned trying to cross the lower Kalgan River at Oyster Harbour, the same location which caught John Septimus Roe by surprise and came within a whisker of taking his life way back in 1818 when he was understudy to the hydrographer Philip Parker King. In any case, the inquiry revealed Henke had previously worked for Richard Hindson on the Kalgan and was also known to Robert Arbuckle who lived on the King River at that time. Both men described Henke as German and said they knew he belonged to Platina, which had not been seen at Albany since February that year and was by that time on her way back to New Bedford. That Henke had been around Albany indicates he did not go to the Thomas River with Dimer, or that if he did, he made his way back soon enough. The enquiry also said Henke tried to cross the river in an attempt to get to Bald Island, where it seems deserting sailors may have been known to locate when looking either to pick up work on other ships or as shepherds and farmhands along the coast, or as sealers and sandalwooders in local gangs still working the islands and rivers. By this time, however, local whaling outfits had disbanded due to the low price of so-called black oil.

The truth will probably never be known but the suggestion is that Edward/Jimmy Newhill teamed up with Henry Dimer around this time and, as Dimer’s history is entirely located east of Albany, the pair lived and work, for a time, in the region of the Rechearche Archipelago. We know Dimer worked for Campbell Taylor but there is no known record of Newhill working for any of the settlers who made their way out there. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it just makes it’s harder to say it did.

After assisting Dimer, Newhill at some point arrived back in Albany. The question now is why the pair’s association grew so strong? Is it because it makes a better story than leading a shipboard revolt resulting in two thirds of an entire crew deserting at a single place and point in time? Had matters come to a head at sea, Captain Poole and Silas Pope would have been facing a full-scale mutiny, so the answer to that is not at all. Most would think recognition of Newhill as ringleader in the rebellion as heroic, an altogether bigger story than merely slipping overboard in the middle of the night.

So did the Dimer part of the story stick because Newhill placed emphasis on attaching himself to him, as if they held some kind of bond, even though the association between the two men is short. Or did time adjust focus and Martha and Joan Newhill centred their own concentration on it? Both men were young German Americans. Both left their home country for New York at the same age, 15 years, so as to avoid military service. It’s unlikely they were known to each other beforehand as Dimer was only seven when Newhill left, but maybe in some way their families were connected? They weren’t on the same level by way of life trajectory either, in January 1884, Newhill turned a year into his thirties while Dimer a month later, somewhere off the South Coast, celebrated just his 23rd birthday.

Less than four months later though, both were holed up in a cave on Bald Island waiting for Campbell Taylor to come pick them up.

 

Above: Bald Island was well known to Albany’s 19th Century whalemen as a place of refuge and rescue. A pivotal coastal landmark separating the greater waters around Albany from those stretching eastwards to the Recherche Archipelago, whalers such as Platina and Bartholomew Gosnold  typically measured their positions from it and the lighthouse at Breaksea Island while cruising for Sperm whales further out. Image: Bald Island as seen from Cheyne Beach Caravan Park. Source: Courtesy Trip Advisor: Cheyne Beach Caravan Park

 

Above: Campbell Taylor had been commuting between Albany and Cape Arid since 1871. By 1883 when this news item made the Albany Mail (co-incidentally just days prior to Jimmy Newhill helping lead rebellion against the officers of Bartholomew Gosnold) he was a very experienced small-craft sailor. Why Taylor spent more than two weeks laid up on Bald Island during this sailing isn’t known but it goes to show the location was well acquainted with hardy seamen and probably rendered comfortable enough to their like for short periods of time. Image: Excerpt cut from The Albany Mail and King George Sound Advertiser, 09 May, 1883, Pg. 2. Source: Trove.

 

 

Henry Dimer and his 1884 leap from the New Bedford whaler, Platina.

 

The first thing noteworthy about Karl Dimer’s family history (when reading it in the context of the Newhill one) is that he knows where in Germany his ancestry lies, where and when his father was born, when his father emigrated to America and what his occupation was. Even though Henry Dimer chose to desert at Albany in 1884, and then go on to marry into the Aboriginal world east of Cape Arid where he spent the rest of his life, Dimer maintained dialogue with certain members of his family thus providing the platform from which his son could eventually construct the wider picture. This contrasts starkly with the Newhill family’s experience which draws soley on the memory of his arrival at Albany during the 1880s. If Newhill corresponded with his family back in America or Germany it was not discussed, and the letters were not kept or made known to his children. In the case of the Newhills there is no memory of any family prior to the arrival of their patriarch at Albany as a 31-year-old refractory seaman, and it is probably this which keeps his descendants hankering after more.

A great many Germans emigrated to America in the 1700s and many again over the 1800s following religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, as well as economically derived social disruption. Newhill gave his place of origin as ‘ the Kingdom of Bavaria’ a catholic designation within the wider German states which did not follow the Lutheran separation from Rome. Almost entirely, the German migration settled between the states of Virginia and Maine, especially Pennsylvania and New York. Both Dimer and Newhill came into the world in the wake of the 1848/9 European revolutions, the working-class uprisings resulting from industrialisation and the breakdown of Absolutism as a form of monarchy. Many liberal Germans of middle-class status found their lifestyles under threat from angry starving peasants along with more punitive taxes from their masters, viewing emigration to the United States as a means of religious freedom as well as wealth protection and potential. Both families is likely to have come from this background.

By the 1880s the whaling port of New Bedford had developed cross-cultural relationships with whalemen from various oceanic locations, most notably the Portuguese Azorean Islands and Cape Verde Islands off North-West Africa. New England, the collection of liberal eastern states north of New York, had become home to many German Americans during the 1700s and 1800s and New Bedford, along with other cities, was to benefit from the sons of these families who were forced out of remote farming into industrialised centres largely on account of raids by native Americans. Times were difficult and frightening. But for our enquiry, the question still remains as to where Jimmy Newhill made his way from. As with Dimer, the leanings are New York and New Jersey, suggesting he may have come from a more urban or industrialised German background. We can say this because of  Newhill’s 1880 census reference but also because Newhill left an official document behind which declared him a naturalized American citizen. This naturalisation will have involved an official process which he said took place on 17th March (St Patrick’s Day), 1875, in New York, but there is no record of that occurrence so far found.

Henry Dimer’s story is much clearer. He was born in Weisloch, an old silver mining settlement in the upper Rhinelands of South Western Germany, once part of the Kingdom of Wurtemburg, once part of the Holy Roman Empire (Catholic) and neighbouring kingdom to Newhill’s Bavaria. Dimer had three sisters and two brothers and came from a line of master butchers, a trade which he learned himself. His father died when he was fourteen and he soon after left for America, being excused military duty on account of damaged fingers sustained via his trade. He left for New York in 1879 and was followed soon after by a brother and two sisters. In New York among other butchering related jobs he worked in a large abattoir siding beef. He does not appear to have been settled and in 1882, aged 21, answered an advertisement for whaling crew in New Bedford by signing on Platina which sailed 22nd of August that year. Karl Dimer is adamant his father signed on for a five-year term and deliberately deserted at Albany, just about two years into that term, knowing full-well what he was doing. The story of his desertion is best told by Karl Dimer in the following extract from his hard-to-find family biography book, Elsewhere Fine.

 

 

 

Above: Karl Dimer’s memory of his father’s jumping from the bark Platina at Albany during June, 1884, closely resembles that of Martha Newhill’s account of her father’s story. Image: Excerpt copied from chapter two of Elsewhere Fine by Karl Dimer, published in Kalgoorlie in 1989. Source: Ciaran Lynch private collection.

 

So, we can see here that Karl Dimer remembers his father speaking of a man named Peter Hendrickson and another, presumably Newhill, whose name he can’t recall. From this it is fairly safe to assume Newhill and Dimer had met at Albany prior to Dimer (and the other men) jumping ship. The story goes they were fortunate to meet Campbell Taylor, who harboured them, gave them work, then took them east, but given we know Newhill was already a year at Albany and a free man it would seem more likely Newhill was engaged in helping Dimer elude capture. That is, Newhill and Dimer likely planned Dimer’s jumping ahead of time, or at least they both came together, one way or another, very soon afterwards as both were at Taylors Candyup property and then waiting out on Bald Island together while Taylor prepared to sail them another 300 miles to the east.

The Newhill and Dimer stories diverge at this point, the Newhill’s saying there were three men hiding in the cave on Bald Island while Dimer’s account is that there are only two. Also, Dimer’s account implies the man his father hid with in the cave also went east with him to the Thomas River, while Newhill’s account says he left Dimer somewhere along the coast and returned to Albany alone. As Newhill was a free man at this time it makes complete sense he was the one who returned to town. The big question is where abouts did the split occur?  The Newhill account says it was somewhere along the coast sometime after leaving Bald Island, while the Dimer account seems to suggest the split occured at Cape Arid. The Newhill account then talks of the three-way division.  Dimer going east, which he did, toward Israelite Bay; Henrickson going north, which he did to Kalgoorlie, and Newhill west, which he did back to Albany.

At this point we are drawn back to a slice of honesty Newhill revealed in his 1922 declaration stating he spent his entire time residing in Albany except for the first 2 or 3 years when he was ‘out in country’.  What did ‘out in country’ mean in the 1880s?  Torndirrup was in sight of the town, Candyup was 12 miles to the north on the lower Kalgan, while Thomas River was over 350 miles to the east. Of course, Taylor’s Cape Arid property qualifies, but would Candyup if Newhill was working there? Would Torndirrup? Torndirrup was hardly a distance away, but it wasn’t Albany town either.

It seems not unrealistic that Henrickson was met along the coast, possibly already at Cape Arid, and that for a time the three men were together at Taylor’s by then smooth-running Thomas River sheep station, Lynburn, a 100 000 acre lease which had been in operation for going-on fifteen years. As mentioned above, Newhill did not marry back in Albany until 1890, so there is plenty of time for him to have worked a spell at Cape Arid, thereby building the bond with Henry Dimer; a bond, in the lead-up to Karl Dimer publishing Elsewhere Fine and Joan Rowe continuing to press for more information following the death of her mother Martha in 1984, which led to members of the Dimer family presenting themselves at the door of Johnny and Joan Rowe’s house on Lockyer Avenue. Johnny doesn’t remember exactly who it was but correspondence between the Dimers and Joan Rowe point directly to Karl and his brother Tom.

In the end Karl Dimer chose not to mention Edward Newhill by name in Elsewhere Fine. This can only be because he was uncertain of the connection. He knows his father hid with someone from Albany and the Newhill’s assert it was Jimmy, whom in all probability it was. But unlike Peter Hendrickson there is no memory of a lasting friendship between Henry Dimer and Jimmy Newhill among the Dimers, otherwise it would have been described.

So maybe Jimmy Newhill wasn’t with Dimer for long. Maybe Newhill turned west sooner than a couple of years and worked elsewhere? What is important at this juncture is that we are nearing the end of the investigation. There isn’t much more we can add to the discussion as to whose harbour it is. What Jimmy Newhill did after 1886 isn’t important in that context because we know that by that time the harbour had its name. But in the interests of staying true to Newhill’s legacy we cannot simply pull up the drawbridge here.

In another of the surviving documents from his efforts to gain citizenship and some form of pension, Newhill implies he had taken out citizenship papers much earlier and that they had been in the safe-keeping of Gus Heinzmann (b. 1833, Florence, Italy), fellow Bavarian religio-economic refugee and proprietor of The Great Southern Brewery, also an Albany investor in gold explorations east of Esperance during the mid-1870s. Newhill says the papers were lost when Heinzmann died while Newhill was ‘working up and down the east coast.’  It is clear this is an error and Newhill means ‘south coast’, likely thinking ‘eastwards up and down the coast’ when he was writing. This period of coastal work may refer to Newhill’s pre-marriage years, or perhaps a later period when he remained based at Albany but worked the coast, possibly in some capacity for Henizmann when Heinzmann was a brewer. In any case, it seems to suggest Newhill became quite familiar with negotiating the South Coast.

 

Above: As he aged into his sixties Edward Newhill made determined attempts to avail of the old-age pension, but as he had never been registered as a by then federated Australian citizen wasn’t immediately eligible. Like just about anyone else in that situation he pleaded his case, bending the truth a little here and there to try and ease the process. In this 1918 letter to the Department of External Affairs Newhill says he had made attempts at gaining citizenship from as early as the 1880s, but the papers were lost when his sponsor, owner of Albany’s Great Southern Brewery, Gus Heinzmann, unexpectedly died. Newhill doesn’t state that Heinzmann passed-away in 1906, aged 73, only that his application was incomplete when it happened and that he was not able to address the matter because he, Jimmy Newhill, was working up and down the coast at the time. What we can draw from this is not the accuracy of the time frames but the idea Newhill worked the coast, possibly on behalf of Heinzmann and his brewing business. Image: Excerpt from Edward Newhill’s letter to the Department of External Affairs, written from his Perth Road home in Albany; dated June 1918. Source: Rowe Family Papers, courtesy Lauren Rowe.

 

The next thing we know for certain about Newhill’s movements is that on 29th June 1890, he married Elizabeth Cullinane, daughter of Timothy Cullinane and Margaret Sounness, at Albany. At the time Elizabeth Cullinane was 21 years-old, while Newhill, who gave his birthday as 25th January 1853, had turned 37 that year. An exploration of how Newhill might have come to meet Elizabeth Cullinane and be agreeably betrothed to her by her own family, will shed further light on the Albany of the time, and help us bring this long story to a close.

 

Jimmy Newhill’s Cullinane and Sounness Connection

 

Margaret Sounness, born at Albany in July 1843, was the first daughter and eldest child of Scottish immigrant couple William Sounness and Mary Grey. According to Sounness family papers William and Mary were from Haddington, a small town just east of Edinburgh on the Tyne River, who were married in April 1841. By way of deduction, they left home immediately, travelling steerage-class aboard the Advocate (out of Bristol?) arriving into Fremantle the night of 27th August that self-same year (four months later), with the writer Edward Landor among his brothers as notable cabin passenger. It isn’t clear who William and Mary knew at the Swan River or whether they paid for their own passage but it seems they made their way directly to Albany where by arrangement or co-incidence they appear to have taken up a care-taking role at Candyup, perhaps at fellow Scot Patrick Taylor’s property recently vacated by he and wife Mary on account of Patrick being defrauded of his fortune and the couple taking respite at Mary’s sibling’s establishment, Cattle Chosen, on the Vasse River. In a letter dated October 1840, Taylor said he had let Candyup out at a rate of £60 per year (in improvements) for three years, dubiously suggesting an agreement with Willliam and Mary Sounness was pre-arranged. The couple wouldn’t have had to pay to live at Candyup, rather would’ve had the run of the place in exchange for clearing and fencing the 640-acre lot. Other Taylor correspondence suggests that work wasn’t done, or done well, as by the time the Taylors returned, in October 1843, Candyup was overgrown and in a state of disrepair, forcing the family to live at Taylor’s waterfront lot in town.

Clearly there was a Scots connection at Albany, it just isn’t obvious with whom. More likely it was with the Symers family, who also lived on the picturesque slopes of Mount Boyle alongside the lower Kalgan River twelve miles from town. Mary Symers was expecting her first child that year and her husband was constantly at sea aboard his trading vessell Caledonia. William and Mary Sounness are bound to stories of caretaking or property management arrangements with the Symers. One account says they managed Symers Candyup location and another (later) their Kojonup land and then, in 1848, were said to be managing Kendenup Estate on behalf of Captain John Hassell as he built his substantial holdings in that area (though Cleve Hassell makes no mention of them in The Hassells of Albany).

In any case, we can see the couple were not in the financial league of the so-called big-hitters, but rather like  smaller holding farmers  such as James & Beth Dunn or John and Mary Young. It took almost 20 years but in 1860 William and Mary Sounness were in a position to avail of one of the 40-acre incentivised holdings promoted by the Government at that time, taking up at Lot 78, Mount Barker, which they called Merryup. By this time the couple had brought three children into the world; Margaret in July 1843, son James in October 1846, and second son William two years later in November 1848. The boys followed their father into the farming business and that is a story for another time, suffice to say William Junior (Bill Sounness) went on to lead development of the property and other diversified interests at Mount Barker into an expansive and successful enterprise.  Our interest, however, lies with daughter Margaret; about whom not very much is known.

Margaret turned 17 the year her parents took command of Merryup but within twelve months was married and living in Albany with an Irish ticket-of-leave man thirteen years her senior. This man was convict number 2044, 31-year-old Timothy Cullinane from about the town of Bandon in the western reaches of County Cork. Cullinane had been convicted of multiple larceny offences, most notably burglary, during the worst years of Ireland’s terrible hunger and had been sentenced in 1850 to 10 years Transporation, arriving per Robert Small, 19th August 1853. According to his record he stood five feet, five- and three-quarter inches, had brown hair, dark grey eyes, was swarthy skinned, stout in shape and free from any tattoos or distinguishing marks. As it turns out Cullinane’s Ticket of Leave was issued less than 12 months after arrival and little more than two years later he had been granted a Conditional Pardon. Exactly the set of circumstances starving young men across Ireland were prepared to take a chance on. By 1866 Cullinane was able to buy five acres at Albany and at some point in the next 15 years acquired, established or otherwise became closely attached to one of Albany’s breweries of the era, possibly by means of having been employed in the industry back in Ireland. Newspaper records show Cullinane was associated with the local small-scale Oriental, Cambridge, Argent and City breweries across a number of years. From 1898 Timothy Cullinane was advertising to let a five roomed house in Frederick Street, his given address shown as Short Street, Albany.  He was therefore, by way of quick assessment, a somewhat capable individual.

The Sounness family were Protestant while Cullinane was Catholic, something which the lone Cullinane asserted in his marriage to Margaret Sounness, which took place in Albany’s Catholic church during October 1860. Going on two years later, according to the records, their first child Mary Joan was born. Baptised Church of England but then the following year baptised as Catholic, we perhaps begin to see where differences might have lain in this family. The children appear to have been sent to the St Joseph’s Catholic school.

The Western Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Index lists four children to Timothy and Margaret, these were Mary (1862), John (1864), William (1867) and Elizabeth (1869). However, Erickson’s Dictionary (pg. 732) indicates five children, including another daughter, Margaret, born 1866. We know from previous experience that Erickson is frequently mistaken, but generally there is no smoke without some form of fire either. Erickson’s mention of third daughter Margaret comes under the entry for Timothy Cullinane (there is no unique entry for her, whereas there is for the other children). The entry claims Margaret was born in 1866 but has no death date, and claims she was baptised into the Church of England. No other information about this child can be found.

In any case, interest in the true heritage of the Cullinane children has been piqued by notions that at least one, Elizabeth, may have been the daughter not of Margaret Sounness but of an as yet unknown Menang woman and that this child was brought up under the cloak of the family’s strictly ‘white’ line. We saw through the story of Jane Teanan and Jem Newell in Part 1, example of certain families of mixed heritage, particularly at this time of social expansion at Albany, choosing to distance themselves at all costs from their Indigenous origins. This may be another example. Apart from the religious divide, there is no obvious sign the Cullinane children held any cultural identity other than that of their apparent British/Irish origin, but that isn’t to say they were born entirely from those genes. The intimate details of Tim Cullinane’s and Margaret Sounness’s personal relationship are long lost, but they appear to have conformed to the rules of bearing children within wedlock and having lived within and among their general social classification. However, while social conformity may have applied to the family’s early years, the children’s adult lives were much tested. Eldest daughter Mary bore a child out of wedlock, was ostracised (or at least felt that way) and never married. Son John married an African/American lady by the name of Maggie McFarlane at Albany, struggling through an otherwise unremarkable working-class life with two ‘coloured’ sons.  John’s younger brother William found the going hardest of all only making it to age 31 where upon he looks to have taken his own life. Elizabeth Cullinane, who married Jimmy Newhill, perhaps appears to have experienced less hardship though her first child was born out of wedlock and four of her twelve offspring did not survive childhood. This synopsis of the Cullinane children, despite the apparent hard-working nature of their father, contains the many stories of an everyday working-class life in old Albany.

Mary Joan, b. 1862: School mistress at Kojonup for fifteen years from 1885 after delivering daughter Jane out of wedlock, c.1880, to an undeclared father. The name Jane appears in the family here for the first time and it is difficult not to make association with Jane Teanan. At times the Newhill children of her younger sister Elizabeth were said to spend time with her at the Kojonup school. Mary held prayers and hymn singing with the Catholic children after school in lieu of there being neither church nor priest. (Bignell, First The Spring).  Mary was schoolteacher at King River, August 1902. Daughter Jane married Percy Sullivan at Albany in 1903, they had three children. Mary Cullinane was listed as living on the Perth Road, Albany in 1912 and 1922. When her father died in 1905 he left a sum of £484 between her and the Albany solicitor Samuel Johnson Haynes. Mary died a spinster, 17th August 1933, aged 71 years.

In a period when immorality was condemned maliciously and hypocritically, Miss Cullinane reared her fatherless child Jane, and in so doing won the respect of those among whom she discreetly lived. Her courageous stand was not common in bigotted small-town communities and there is evidence that more than one young Kojonup girl committed suicide rather than face the hostile censorious standards of the day, as an unwed mother. (Bignell Pg. 148)

 

 

John, b. 1864:  Made rate payments to Plantagent Roads Board from 1897. Applied Gallon Licence Dec 1897. Marrried Margaret Maria McFarlane (b. 1864?) at Albany, 1898, aged 34 years. Margaret ‘Maggie’ is said to have been an African/American children’s mistress at Esperance, possibly indentured to William Yorke McFarlane, co-proprietor of the Esperance Times newspaper (1896-1898) or else another businessman or prospector caught up in the goldrush. John and Maggie had two sons, William and George, born 1899 and 1901 respectively. Applied for position of caretaker to Albany Town Hall, 1900 (not passed). Took over management of letting of his father’s Frederick Street house from 1901. Submitted potatoes to Albany Agricultural Society Show, Dec. 1902. Selected for jury duty in attempted assault case (rape) against Johnnie Cudgel, August 1904. Jury duty, May 1908.  Advertised woodcutter, Albany, Oct. 1911.  Jury duty, Nov. 1911. Submitted potatoes to Albany Agricultural Society Show, Nov. 1913. Occupation, carrier (courier), Albany railway station, for many years. Died 12th July, 1926, after illness of short duration, aged 62 years.

Above: Margaret ‘Maggie’ Maria McFarlane, mysterious American children’s mistress at Esperance, married John Cullinane (brother to Jimmy Newhill’s wife) at Albany in 1898. One unverified source gives Maggie’s birth date as 1864, making for an estimated age of 23 years at time of photograph. Image: Barroni & Co. photograph estimated 1887-1888, when at 109 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.. Source: Rowe family papers, courtesy Alan Rowe.

William, b. 1867:  Charged with driving a cart with no light, Feb, 1898. Charged with unpaid debt £5. 6d  to D. Robinson Co. April, 1898. Charged with disorderly conduct, 18 April, 1898.  Died at Albany, 10th Nov, 1898,  aged 31 years. Unmarried. No public inquiry, no newspaper report, no obituary. Possible suicide.

Above: Discreet notice from Pg. 2,  Albany Advertiser, 12 November 1898

 

Elizabeth Jane, b.1869. Married Edward Newhill, jumpship German/American at Albany, 29th June 1890, aged 21 years. Twelve children to husband born between 1890 and 1907, eight surviving. First child conceived out of wedlock. Died 4th October, 1936, aged 67 years.

Above: Elizabeth Cullinane’s effusive obituary boasts one of the longest lists of sympathisers printed in the Albany newspaper of the day. The mother of a large family it isn’t surprising, but notable is the absence of any association with the Sounness side of the family and of equal surprise, positive association with the heretofore invisible Fitzpatrick family. The Fitzpatricks being descendants of Jane Teanan, the suggestion persists that Elizabeth Cullinane was in some way connected to Albany’s Menang heritage. The warm maternal nature of this obituary also contrasts with her husband’s and seems to suggest solidarity with a particular code of behaviour practised by certain families of the era. Though included, the date relating to Tim Cullinane’s arrival in Albany is incorrect and appears rushed over. Image: Cropped cutting from Elizabeth Cullinane Obituary Source: Albany Advertsier, Thursday, 14th October, 1937

 

 

And so to wind up.

 

Jimmy Newhill was a German kid, an economic and religious migrant of the late 1860s who seems to have found himself alone in the maze of cultures and opportunity which was greater New York city of the same time. After twelve years, as he was passing through his twenties, the task of economic application gave way to the draw of adventure and risk and he bought his ticket to the future though an advertisment for ships labour aboard a New Bedford whaler, an attraction familiar to any young man of any era who has found himself loose and drifting and longing for something somewhere to grab hold. Aboard his ship, after two years of impeccable discipline something stuck in Newhill’s craw and he rose to seize his day, in so-doing helping galvanize the attitudes of most of the men who made up the crew, and after a period en-mass found themselves free men in the lower coastal reaches of the Swan River Colony. What happened to the rest of those men is the work of someone else but Edward Newhill became Jimmy Newhill as he bit into the place he found himself and ground out a passable existence. In the process of assisting a fellow countryman to escape the five year prosecution of a grenhand whaleman’s lot, a shallow cove at the foot of a steep cliff along a notable stretch of coast between Bald Head and Torbay, took on his name. A name perhaps unknowlingly wrested from a forgotten antecedent soldier of fortune, but granted his all-the-same and accepted, as his disparaging nickmane was, with disarming indifference. After seven years at Albany and thereabouts a woman he’d been seing, perhaps a protected woman whose indigenous origins were at best downplayed, let Newhill know she was expecting his baby, and they married. As the years wound on he worked without trade or qualification to build a home for his wife and the twelve children she bore him, four of whom fell along the way, in a town stretching and striving against massive odds to throw off its own enervations. Newhill never wrote home, never saved to go home, only made his own and stayed with it as best he could. When he passed away the memory of his arrival at Albany and the circumstances which brought it about were pushed aside as an historian of aspiring importance challenged the origins of the name of the harbour which had come to bear his name. Having seen something in the earliest papers of the town Newhill was not able to comment on the historian’s assertions. His wife of 36 years was not consulted and his family’s counter-claims were supressed. Even though the town’s newspaper, in operation since the day Newhill’s ship first dropped anchor in Princess Royal Harbour, upheld his name the historian’s voice was loud and had allies in the city. The historian published and republished his claims while the newspaper maintained its long usage and after a time, after the historian himself passed-away and the newspaper fifteen years afterwards again found both the town’s and Newhill’s descendants account of the story frayed, the identity was lost to both confusion and ambivalence. Both spellings continued to be employed and still are to this day. Jimmy Newhill was a German kid who went to America and by dint of fate stepped into the second half of his life at Albany where his descendants live today, still clinging to his name, the name of the harbour, and the intense memory of their great grand-mother, Jimmy’s wife, who by dint of her own uncertain origins, may be a daughter of the same family the historian threw his weight behind. As the old adage tells us, it isn’t the end point which matters, but the journey.

The journey is everything.

.

 

 

Further notes on the family of John Cullinane and Margaret Maggie McFarlane:

The 1890s was perhaps Esperance’s most bullish period, ever. It was gold that brought it on and it went from being the Dempster brothers sheep station with police and telegraph located alongside, to being gazetted first as a town and then a municipality, the latter providing for regional funding from Perth. But just as Albany had been held at bay, so too was Esperance, the state government wanting the revenue to flow through their coffers first, knowing the goldrush’s end point would be Kalgoorlie. That was the thing about the early colony, the money and power was centred in Perth and there it was to stay. The only means by which anywhere other than Perth was to prosper was by of its own generation. Albany had its harbour, enough to draw the mailship business, which was enough then to see it as the logical extention of the Perth York railway line, but that was all. The success of the railway would depend on Albany’s ability to make and keep it economically viable, which it wasn’t, and still isn’t able to do. In the minds of the businessmen of the time, as soon as Esperance became the logical port to the Goldfields, especially since the Norseman find, investment was guaranteed and the little seaside sheep station turned into a hive of interests, including two newspapers, The Esperance Chronicle and The Esperance Times, established in 1895 and 1896 respectively. But despite extensive vigorous lobbying government held off regional infrastructural spending. If Esperance was going to thrive as the goldfields port then it had to achieve it by means of much larger private funding which was not lying in wait. Instead of improved port facilities and a railway line connecting Esperance to Kalgoorlie, Perth built a railway and water pipeline from the west coast first, at far greater expense. The end of Esperance’s heyday came when the railway was denied in 1898. Just as the birth of the newspapers spelled BOOM, their closing signalled BUST. And it was into these heady times, presumably, that Maggie McFarlane, an Afican American woman in her mid

thirties, arrived into town as nanny ‘to a couple of American kids’. The questions are many because the knowledge is so slight. Who was Maggie McFarlane and where did she come from? And who were the parents of her charges? Was McFarlane Maggie’s real surname? Or was it the name of her employer/master? Had the family come directly from the USA or had they come from Adelaide or Melbourne; or perhaps farther afield? One clue lies in the photograph of Maggie. It is printed on a card stamped Barroni & Co, of 109 Elzabeth Street, Melbourne. Investigations indicate Barroni & Co had only been at that address a couple of years, 1887 and 1888, which means Maggie had been in Australia at least eight years before arriving in Esperance. This might suggest her employer had arrived with her and the children in tow, escaping the so-called Long Depression of 1873 to 1896, by trying their luck in Melbourne, then, as hype spread moved to the new find in the West. Whatever the case and for however long Maggie was in Esperance, it was 1898, the year things started shutting down, that she left her job and moved to Albany to become the wife of a locally born man whose father was a pardoned Irish convict who had made a little good in the brewing business and, as far as the records show, his mother being locally born Margaret Sounness, daughter of a Scots immigrant couple lately settled and prospering at Mount Barker. Eight years before John Cullinane found his way to Esperance and stumbled upon the attractive Negress, his younger sister Elizabeth had fallen pregnant to and quickly married a jumpship German-American named Edward Newhill. Rather than being a jumpship, infact Newhill helped lead a mass revolt among his deckhands aboard the American whaler Bartholomew Gosnold, lately stationed off the coast of Albany as part of a squadron of four such ships operated by John Tucker & Co. of New Bedford, Massachussetts. There had been dissent aboard ship, the worst fear of a captain, when the captain fell ill and a cabin boy appears to have become his point of blame. In any case, Newhill went ashore at Albany, gathered his shipmates and collectively bound them to an agreement they would not, under any circumstances, rejoin the ship. 23 of 32 sailors held with him, despite being fined and given 12 week hard labour sentences, and the ship was forced to sail grossly undermanned in search of new recruits. Newhill, the following year, aided the escape of another German American from another of the Tucker ships. This man was named Henry Dimer and the two made their way east of Albany to escape the clutches of the law, abetted by the much-loved Cape Arid stationowner Campbell Taylor, whose own fate is legend at Esperance following his sad demise at the hands of a buggy accident at Alexander River on the eve of 1900’s referendum on Federation. Dimer stayed on with Taylor then set out on his own at Namambinia Station, marrying Topsy Ponton Whitehand and setting in train evolution of today’s extended Nullabor and Goldfields Dimer family. Newhill, on the other hand returned to Albany and looks to have become associated with the brewing interests of Gus Heinzmann, yet another German economic refugee, who had conducted gold explorations in the Esperance area as early as the 1870s. In 1890 Newhill hastily but happily married Elizabeth Cullinane, whose father was also in the brewing game, and it may have been this association that brought John Cullinane to Esperance. It may have been John Cullinane was representing his father’s brewery at Esperance and supplying into the town when he met Maggie McFarlane. But that, even it it all holds true, still only tells part of the story. By 1898 Maggie’s young charges would not have been so young anymore and anyway, as the railway wasn’t coming Mr Watson and Mr MacFarlane’s joint ownership of the newspaper was closing down at Esperance and moving to Norseman where there was still promise. At Noresman the following year W. Y. McFarlane married Ethel Watson, perhaps, even probably, the daughter of his business partner, who may then have then been in a position to live with the teenage children from McFarlane’s first marriage, thus making it easier again for Maggie to be let go. Records show McFarlane had two daughters at Norseman, then left the State in 1907. His wife appears to have returned to her origins outside Adelaide, but McFarlane is harder to track down. In any case, this was 1890s Western Australia, a time when being a person of colour held only disadvantage, when the established codes of European conduct, especially Protestant British, were being resolutely, even hypocritally laid down by bigotted small-town politics. And Cullinane was Catholic too. His older sister the only single mother to hold down a public position by taking on the role of school teacher at Kojonup. His younger brother, 31 yr-old William in trouble with the law at home at Albany and very soon to die in unknown circumstances, an eerie silence surrounding the whole November 1898 affair. And his youngest sister, Elizabeth already six children deep with old Jimmy Newhill. John Cullinane was to take back to Albany a Negress who vanishes from the records after delivering her two sons and her husband becomes a local package courrier based between the bottom of the jetty and the railway station. While her husband’s death in 1926, same year as Jimmy Newhill bit-the-dust, was reported as a sad passing, as was Jimmy’s, and Jimmy’s wife’s eleven years later, Maggie’s was not so much as mentioned. And what became of her two coloured sons, William (Bill) Kewpie Cullinane (d. 1992) and George Timothy (d. 1978)?  It seems Kewpie married and that he had a son, William J T, born 1928. Kewpie’s wife looks to have been Alice Thornton. They were married in Fremantle in 1925. Kewpie was a prominent sportsman at Albany, playing football, cricket, rifle ranging and was a keen motor cyclist too. He was a bit naughty as well, being charged with possesion of a trafficable quantity of opium at Albany. He was a coal lumper for many years. His little brother George Timothy did alright at school and seems to have played footy with Kewpie for North Ward (Norths) at Albany, during their teens and early twenties, but he had a failed lease in 1927 and sadly in 1933 was admitted to Graylands Heathcote Asylum from Albany. Perhaps he developed an opium problem? George lived until the 1970s, but it doesnt look as if he married or fathered any children. People sent letters of condolence to Kewpie, wife and son in July, 1947, which year equates to the death of his mother Maggie. There was no notice of Maggie’s death in the newspaper and as things stand we still lnow nothing of her origins and early life.

 

 

 

Ciaran Lynch
Dublin, Ireland
Dec 31st. 2020

4 responses to “Jimmy’s Harbour – Newhill or Newell? Part 2”

  1. Leanne Watmuff Avatar
    Leanne Watmuff

    Thanks again for your resesrch into Newhill/Newell families in WA. I’m still digesting Part 1 but looking forward to reading Part 2.

    1. ciaran@theviewfrommountclarence.com Avatar

      The intention, in this case, isn’t to prove one theory over another. The stories of all three men involved, Thomas Noel/Newell, James Newell and Edward Jimmy Newhill, make significant contribution to the telling of Albany’s lengthy and engrossing social history. If you are a descendant on the Newell side you might feel as if the harbour’s name was, or is being stolen from you, but of the three names James Newell’s is probably the least likely to have given it in the first place. There is and never has been anyone to stand up for Tommy Noel/Newell’s case because he was around for little time and simply vanished without trace, but the chances he was the original boatman who dipped in and out of those tempestuous waters are as strong as anyone’s. Equally, if you are a supporter of the Newhill case, you may feel both aggrieved at having been stripped of the name and terrified it will never be given back, yet the cove was known as Jimmy Newhill’s for fully fifty years before it was challenged, and ever since defended. The question isn’t really whose harbour it is, because that will forever be in dispute, the question should be whose harbour do we want it to be? I have my own bias, which I’m happy to argue, but its a question for the town and everyone in it. Given the stories of all three men, who do they want the harbour to belong to?

  2. Jim Robertson Avatar
    Jim Robertson

    Ciaran Lynch thank you. You may have accidentally answered a question that has baffled me for many years. Not sure why, but I started reading, then decided to read part one first. 60% of way through I found a reference you made to a Jane Armstrong, my gg grandmother, and her possible father Lt Charles Armstrong. Do you possibly have a source reference for this? I have been trying to find Jane’s parents for some years now.

    1. ciaran@theviewfrommountclarence.com Avatar

      Jim, the story of Jane Armstrong and her children, including Mary Jane Spencer, is similar to that which I suspect (but may well be wrong) about Elizabeth Cullinane, in that the Aboriginality of children brought up by white families during this time was heavily supressed. It was never discussed and all association with the ‘free’ Menang community was cut-off. If you look at Elizabeth Cullinane’s obituary there is not a single mention of her mother’s family in the associated names list, yet there is an abundance of Fitzpatrick names and many more cloaked by their married names. The Albany Fitzpatricks are descended from Jane Teanan (who partnered Gem Newell) on their mother’s side. By virtue of this it seems to me Elizabeth Cullinane may have been related and living a similar life. That is, being of hidden/supressed Menang origin and living under the umbrella of sponsored European guidance. This is what prompted me to remember Jane Armstrong while discussing the descendants of James Newell Snr.

      “Armstrong, Charles (d.1838). Armstrong arrived in the colony with the
      21st Regiment as an Ensign. In 1834 he was given charge of the small
      detachment stationed at the Murray River. He was promoted to Second
      Lieutenant in 1836. In 1836 he established the military station at Kojonup
      and was later transferred to the Vasse, where he died of exposure in the
      bush in the winter of 1838. Lt Armstrong was not known to be a member of
      any exploration party but assisted a number of explorers including George
      Layman during his trip from Augusta in 1834.”

      Armstrong was based in Albany for a while during the mid 1830s, dying from
      exposure quite suddenly in 1838. Nonetheless, he established the initial
      Kojonup Barracks, subsequently abandoned before being re-established by
      George Egerton Warburton early in the 1840s.

      Armstrong was known to the Spencers while they were establishing
      properties along the Hay River at Chorkerup and Ongerup. He went to
      Ongerup with the Spencers and Governor Stirling late in 1836 according to
      Spencer Family records (Strawberry Hill Logbook) and was again mentioned
      in August 1837. I can only assume this was Lieutenant Armstrong and not
      someone else, but it makes sense; there was no one else by the name of
      Armstrong in Albany during thsi time, that I am aware of anyway.

      The Spencers were closely associated with the family of Mokare who lived
      all along the Hay River and who the Albany Officials maintained an
      important alliance with based on unwritten agreements which say the Kalgan
      and Hay River explorations facilitated by Mokare, Nakinah, Manyat and
      others.

      My suspicion would be that Armstrong fathered Jane himself or else helped in
      some memorable way during her very early years, perhaps adopting or
      supporting her for a time, while he was in the area.

      I can see a connection with the Rawson family, but this comes much later. It is
      important though as the Hay River appears to be her home country and there
      may have been a compelling economic or social reason for Rawson to team up
      with her. In any case, there would appear to be a viable connection here, though how
      much more can be found out now, I do not know.

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