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2-227 (Raw)

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author,male,Broadside,un addressee
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Ingleton, 1988
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2-227-raw.txt — 4 KB

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Where is the BRITOMART?
Are the People in the STRAITS PIRATES?
The first intimation of the Britomart's loss about Banks' Straits, was derived from Captain Gill, of the schooner Sir John Franklin, who was the bearer of a letter to Captain Moriarty, the Port Officer at Hobart Town, from a person called Munro, living on Preservation Island. He also brought the register of that vessel, together with some letters and books, among which was the log-book of the Ellen, and a private journal belonging to the missing master of the ill fated Britomart. The letter from Munro states that the above few things were probably washed ashore between the 22nd. and 26th. December, 1839.
Jimmy Munro has been living on Preservation for almost 35 years and raises a considerable quantity of vegetables, which he barters to sealers. He has several black women who labour for him and procure mutton-birds. He was appointed agent for the Government several years ago, although what his duties are in that capacity remains a mystery, but notwithstanding, he is known to all and sundry as King of the Eastern Straits.
From Captain Gill we learn, that when he visited Munro, he saw part of a ship's cabin affording cover to a pig-stye.
"There appears," Captain Gill observed to Munro, "to be indications of a wreck hereabouts!"
"Yes," Munro replied. "I think some vessel has been wrecked going from Sydney to Port Phillip."
"Ah!" said Gill. "Why, the Britomart is missing."
At that, Munro was silent.
Captain Gill then returned to his vessel, and reflecting on what had passed, he resolved again the next day to have some further conversation with Munro, when he elicited the fact of Munro having in his custody on shore the register of the Britomart, some books and letters, which he gave up to Captain Gill. Captain Gill also had shown to him by some of the black women, or Munro, there being only four persons on Preservation - part of two wrecked boats and some sheep's carcases.
Further enlightenment comes with the report from Captain M'Cole, of the Vansittart, which, however, is partly based only on his own opinion, "that the vessel struck on a rock near Preservation, and washed over into deep water." But Munro did inform him that a man named Drew had left the island with some cheques amounting to £460, besides gold and notes.
At the time of the above reports reaching Captain Moriarty, more letters were received by the post via Launceston, that had evidently been despatched in the Britomart from Port Phillip. Strange circumstances! perhaps Captain M'Cole put them into the Post Office at Launceston, or the man Drew, - a mysterious character - did so.
Shortly after this episode, some persons, apparently sealers, make their appearance at Launceston, very flush of money. One of them boasted of his knowing where to find the Britomart, should some one make it worth his while.
About a fortnight since, Captain Tregurtha, the owner of the brig Henry, expressed his surprise that the owner of the Britomart did not send to save something from the wreck, as the scalers of the Straits were flashing away plenty of sovereigns, and that they all knew where the Britomart was.
Captain Gill has since returned from his second trip to Preservation, Badger and Barren Islands, and has brought up the mizzen topmast, the rudder of a ship's long-boat, the part of a compass, and a snuff-box, identified as belonging to Mr Charles Gatehouse, one of the passengers of the Britomart. Captain Gill also saw thirty carcases of sheep, and a ham and leg of mutton cooked. But he can't account for Munro's mysterious behaviour; and will cooked meat float ashore?
If the people in the Straits are pirates, Munro's disinclination to reveal anything is natural enough. But, there is a dereliction of duty on the part of the Government, if immediate steps are not taken to unravel the mystery, which enshrouds the fate of above thirty individuals, including at least seven passengers, among whom were Messrs. Gatehouse, Ratcliffe, Glass and Watt known to have been on board the brig Britomart, a staunch vessel of 200 tons, burthen.
Is it a matter of no importance to know whether they were drowned or murdered? Whether they landed alive, or were plundered after being washed ashore? And where are the bodies of those that were drowned?