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2-122 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Broadside,un
Newspaper Article
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Newspapers & Broadsides
Ingleton, 1988
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Melancholy News of the Convict Ship, George the Third A Total Wreck, with the Loss of 133
Hobart Town, Thursday, 16 April 1835.
We have the melancholy task to detail one of the most awful and unforseen visitations of Providence that frail and mortal man is subject to. The convict ship George the Third, of 400 tons, Captain W. Moxey, sailed for this place from London on the 14th of December, with 220 convicts, and a guard commanded by Major Thos. Ryan, of the 50th Regiment, with Lieut. Minten, Assistant Surgeon M'Gregor, and 29 rank and file. The vessel made the land on Sunday last, about 11 in the morning, and later that day, in coming up D'Entrecasteaux's channel, the weather being fine, and the vessel going at an easy rate in the bright moonshine, after passing all the reefs, called the Actaeons, about 2 miles further on, struck on a sunken rock, hitherto unknown, and in a very few minutes was a total wreck, with the loss of 133 souls out of 294. Such indeed was the suddenness of the fatal occurrence that it is almost miraculous that every one on board did not perish.
As soon as the ship struck, the seas began to break over her. The ship was bilged and struck most violently so that no one could stand on the deck and many were washed off. In a very short time, after about 5 shocks, the main-mast went over on the starboard side and carried the mizzen-topmast with it, breaking the weather bulwarks down to the deck. At this time the boatswain and officers were preparing to get the long boat out. The main-mast being gone, they were obliged to cut away the lee bulwarks, after lowering the gig. But in consequence of the rolling of the ship, the tackle at the bow was entangled and the gig was swamped and lost. The jolly boat, which had been successfully lowered, picked up a few survivors from the gig, and the officer in her, Mr. Field, was desired to go off and find a landing place as he was dangerously overcrowded with 11 persons in her. The boat proceeded up the river to Hobart-town and brought the first sad intelligence of the disaster.
In the meantime the fore-mast went over on the lee side, while the crew were trying to launch the long boat to windward. But a heavy sea struck the ship and stopped them, and floated the long boat on the deck. All the main deck was under water at that that time and this was scarcely 15 minutes from the first striking of the ship shortly after 10 p.m. The long boat was full of people floating from one side of the ship to the other, and at any moment it was likely that she would be stove in, but after much exertion the captain succeeded in floating her out of the ship.
The long boat was quite full, having about 42 people in her, so she proceeded to the shore about a mile away. In the boat with Captain Moxey, were the Surgeon Superintendant, (Dr Wyse), the chief officer (Henry Matson), the second officer (John Poore, also a part owner of the ship). At last, at about 2 a.m. they reached a place where they could land, and 36 survivors were put on shore. The captain and five men proceeded back to the wreck, but did not reach it until about 6 o'clock.
They were received by the people on board the wreck, about 100 in number, with three cheers, as after the dreadful interval of 8 hours, these survivors had almost lost heart, and the sight of the boat greatly heartened them. The noble-hearted captain was in the bows and took in his arms every woman and child on board the wreck, and also assisted every other individual into the boat, including Major Ryan and some of the prisoners, as far as the boat could stow them. It landed this time between 40 and 50 people. The boat again returned to the wreck, and saw the schooner Louisa making towards it, which fortunate circumstance enabled all the survivors to be taken off as well as those that had been landed on shore. The commander of the schooner with utmost promptitude and humanity, distributed biscuits, tea and provisions to all on board, and thereby saved many from perish- ing from cold and exhaustion.
There were 220 prisoners embarked at Woolwich - 12 of them had died on board, besides 3 children and 1 woman. There were in all 308 persons embarked, including the crew and guard - 2 children were born.
There were 294 alive in the vessel at the time of the wreck. There were saved 81 prisoners, 29 soldiers, 3
officers, 6 women, 11 children, 31 crew, making in all 161 saved and 133 lost. Among the lost are 3 children, 1 woman (a sergeant's wife), 2 crew, and 127 prisoners.
Dr Wyse, the Surgeon Superintendant told of the agonising moments on the prison deck soon after the ship struck - when the sudden shocks caused wild alarm - the prisoners were screaming in a most violent and agitated manner to be let out - they put their hands through the grating and seized the surgeon by the hands, saying - "You promised to stand by us." 
"So I will, replied Dr Wyse I shall remain here with you."
Two of the open stanchions forming the barricade round the main hatchway had been broken down, and a few of the convicts were putting their heads and arms through the space. A considerable body of the military formed a compact guard round the hatchway with their muskets levelled in intimidation. It was at this period, that the Sentries over the main hatchway, in obedience to the positive orders they had received, to keep the men below, fired - and painful to relate, that, at such a distressing crisis, two or three shots were fired and at least one convict, Robert Luker was killed.
That man should add to the desolation of the scene, by firing upon his fellow creatures, can hardly be credited, but it was absolutely necessary that the prisoners should be kept down, for had they at that time got on deck, the long boat, upon which alone the survivors could look with any hope of rescue, would have been rendered useless, and a much greater loss of life would have ensued. By this action the prisoners remained subdued, but they kept crying out that the water was gaining on them, and the crashing of the rocks through the ship's bottom, was dreadful to hear.
The moment the long boat was launched, the guard were withdrawn and the prisoners allowed to come on deck. At the time the ship struck the surgeon had 60 patients, 50 of whom were totally unable to help themselves, being sick of scurvy in bed, and only 2 of these 60 have been saved. Many of the prisoners on deck were washed away by the seas that swept over the wreck; at least 30 perished in this way, or from cold during the night. There were 40 boys on board, of whom 20 were lost. The great sickness among the convicts made the captain and surgeon very anxious to reach the land, which was a strong inducement with the captain to go up the passage, expecting the schooner to get a supply of provisions, the general scantiness of which, the surgeon attributed the inveterate fatal illness then on board.
When the melancholy news was received in Hobart-town, the Government vessels Tamar, Isabella and Captain Wilson's steam vessel Governor Arthur, were instantly despatched with assistance, with the Port Officer (Captain Moriarty), the Colonial Secretary (John Montagu, Esq.), the Chief Police Magistrate (M. Forster, Esq.), the Colonial Surgeon (Dr Scott), and Mr Grant, the agent for Lloyd's. The steam vessel soon forged ahead and met the Louisa about 30 miles down the river, and after supplying her with provisions, it was determined to proceed on to the wreck, where the scene of desolation was appalling. The waves had made a complete passage through and through the vessel - the masts overboard - the sides and bottom gone - and the decks and other parts which still hung together floating up and down with the waves - while the anchors were resting on the rocks.
Everything was gone, there was nothing on either of the decks but the body of one of the convicts, an old man named John Roberts, (his third transportation), which was lashed to a ring-bolt in the surgeon's cabin. The poor creature, it appears, not being able to swim, had lashed himself in this way in the hope of being washed on shore with that part of the wreck.
The conduct of the convicts on this trying occasion, as well as throughout the whole passage, was of the most gratifying and creditable nature, shewing what can be done with human beings, when duly, humanely, and intelligently managed as in the present instance by Dr Wyse. On one occasion near the line, in drawing off some rum, the spirit caught fire, and was rapidly communicating itself to the other parts of the ship, especially to two cases of gunpowder, fortunately agreeable to the recent practice, packed in copper. Two of the convicts, Nelson and Jones, at the imminent risk of their lives, snatched them up, though so hot with the surrounding flames that the copper actually scorched them in carrying them along.
The captain also reported that these two men, together with a prisoner named Shaw, as well as a number of others whose names he did not know, were particularly useful in getting the boat away from the wreck.