Castaways 1;
Major Lockyer's ...complete set of Pirates.

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Location: King George Sound, Western Australia, Australiamap
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Between the voyages of discovery that skirted the south-western corner of the Australian continent (Thijssen, Vancouver, D'Entrecasteaux, Flinders, Baudin, King) and the establishment of the first settlement at King George's Sound (King George Sound or, simply, the Sound) the southern coasts of New Holland were visited by men hunting seals for their skins and their oil.[1] The earliest of these latter visitors were American but their visits were few and of brief duration.[2] As the sealing grounds of Bass's Strait (Bass Strait) and then New Zealand became depleted, colonial sealers pushed further and further west, arriving on the southern coast of New Holland by the mid-1820s. Unlike the earlier visitors, these later arrivals stayed for longer periods; through circumstances outside their control they became castaways. They lived in a harsh environment and suffered great privation as they went about their brutal profession. They also lived beyond the reach of authority. Major Edmund Lockyer (1784-1860) arrived at King George's Sound in the Government brig Amity, on 25 December 1826, to establish the settlement that has become Albany. Soon after his arrival his early encounters with the sealers moved him to write in his journal "From the lawless manner in which these sealers are ranging about requires some immediate measures to control them as, from what we know as also from what I have learnt from themselves, they are a complete set of Pirates going from Island to Island along the southern coast from Rottnest Island to Bass's Strait in open whale boats, having their chief resort or Den at Kangaroo Island, making occasional descents on the mainland and carry off by force native women;…" These men were the first Europeans to live for an extended period of time along the southern coast of New Holland having lived there for 9-12 months prior to Lockyer's arrival. The ships in which they arrived were amongst the earliest known colonial ships, apart from those engaged in exploration, to venture this far west along the southern coast of the Australian continent. During their enforced stay they had ranged westward from Middle Island, had rounded Cape Leeuwin, and had coasted as far north as the Swan River. How did they get there? Where did they come from? Who were they? Some answers follow.

The Sound—Early Visitors

The prevailing westerly winds occurring over the southern oceans directed ships venturing in southern Australian waters from the west to the east. Most of these ships stayed well south of the relatively unknown coasts. Over the 4 decades following the First Fleet’s arrival at Port Jackson very few ships sailed along the coast in the opposite direction. The first ships known to have called at the Sound whilst sailing in the “reverse” direction were Géographe and the colonial built schooner Casuarina of the Baudin expedition, arriving there in February 1803. These visitors discovered the unexpected aid to east-west sailing of the continental offshore winds when sailing close to the coast. A boat from the French expedition encountered the American snow, Union, at the commemoratively named Bay of Two Peoples (Two People Bay, east of Albany). The next visitors seem to have arrived in 1804 in the Independence, the little schooner built at Kangaroo Island by the crew of the Union. Fourteen years had passed when, in January 1818, Captain Phillip Parker King, on his first survey voyage, visited the Sound in the Mermaid. An unintended visit occurred in April 1818 when the Frederick, sailing from Hobart to the Isle of France (Mauritius), was forced into the Sound before returning to Hobart.[3]

...then came the Colonials

Several years elapsed before the next known visitors arrived at the Sound. By 1824 sealing in Bass's Strait had peaked and declined. Similarly the sealing in New Zealand had passed its zenith. The sealers operating out of Sydney and Hobart were visiting Kangaroo Island in increasing numbers making forays further and further to the west in search of their quarry. The 160 ton English brig Belinda sailed from Sydney on 17 May 1824, having arrived there from London via Hobart nearly 3 months earlier. The Belinda was wrecked on Middle Island, Recherche Archipelago, 120 km east of present-day Esperance on 19 July 1824. The captain and crew survived the wreck and attempted to reach Kangaroo Island (about 1200 km eastward around the coast) in 2 of the ship’s boats. One of the boats was swamped after the survivors had covered more than 300 km. The survivors then began to walk back to Middle Island accompanied by the remaining boat. They were picked up by the 139 ton brig Nereus which had sailed from Sydney on 9 November 1824 bound for Port Dalrymple and Bass's Strait (and well beyond it seems) on a sealing expedition.[4] The Nereus stopped at Kangaroo Island before returning to Sydney with the crew of the Belinda on 11 March 1825.[5] Thus the Belinda and Nereus are the first colonial sealing ships which are known to have ventured as far west as Middle Island. Others were not far behind. Towards the end of 1824 at least 6 ships were using Kangaroo Island as a base for their sealing operations: Nereus, Samuel, Eclipse, Liberty, Governor Brisbane and Perseverance. Although masters sought to gain an advantage over their competitors by keeping the discovery of new sealing grounds secret it was only for a brief period before others would follow in their wake. Further, as we shall see, men left one ship and joined another taking the knowledge with them. Although the Belinda and Nereus each sailed as far as Middle Island, neither are known to have gone further nor to have left men behind. Of the foregoing list of ships working from Kangaroo Island, only the colonial schooner Governor Brisbane and, to a lesser extent, the brig Perseverance are of interest here.

There were 3 ships named Governor Brisbane which appear in Australian shipping records of the early 1820s; extant records around this time are bewildering! The Governor Brisbane of particular interest was launched on 23 April 1822 at Brown’s River, Kingston Beach, south of Hobart. Of 30 tons rating, it was described by the Hobart Town Gazette as the “handsomest vessel of her size yet built at this settlement ... This vessel is the property of three industrious young men, who built her, one a native of the Colonies, named Thomas Lucas”.[6] The Governor Brisbane made its maiden voyage to Sydney in May 1822. The schooner's subsequent voyages until it's arrival at Hobart ca. mid-July 1823 are not of interest here. The Governor Brisbane was cleared from Hobart on 2 August 1823 under the command of a new master the highly-experienced American-born Samuel Rodman Chase (abt.1780-1826).[7] The schooner was reported as having reached Port Dalrymple in 8 days.[8] From Port Dalrymple it seems that the Governor Brisbane sailed on a sealing voyage although no details of the course of the voyage are known, certainly amongst the islands of Bass's Strait and quite likely as far as, possibly beyond, Kangaroo Island. After first returning to Port Dalrymple in late September 1824, the schooner then sailed to Hobart where it arrived by mid-August 1824. If not earlier, the schooner was purchased by local merchant house, Kemp & Co.[9] The Governor Brisbane, Chase master, sailed from Hobart on 28 October 1824 bound for the “Fisheries” on a sealing voyage.[10] The Governor Brisbane was at Kangaroo Island around the time that the Nereus called on its return to Sydney with the crew of the Belinda. The Governor Brisbane, Chase master, returned to Hobart on 13 April 1825. Chase then appears to have left the schooner. Meanwhile, the report of the success of this latest voyage excited the interest of a young American George William Robinson (abt.1800-1839) who had arrived in Hobart Town on 2 November 1822 after a 4-year sealing voyage from Boston. Robinson quite likely sought out and spoke with his compatriot, Samuel Chase. The scant records suggest that Chase may not have been at sea during late 1822 through to his taking the command of the Governor Brisbane in July/August 1823 affording plenty of opportunity for the 2 American-born mariners to encounter one another [speculation].[11]

Six days after the return of the Governor Brisbane to Hobart, the colonial schooner Endeavour (of Norfolk Island), 61 tons, Captain Robert Brimer, supercargo Captain Ranulph Dacre, also dropped anchor in Sullivan's Cove. Three weeks later Robinson had impetuously purchased the Endeavour. He had mortgaged his farm at New Norfolk and his newly licensed Waterloo Inn to Kemp & Co. When amending the Certificate of Registry for his acquisition he dispensed with the illustrious name it bore and, rather prosaically, renamed it Hunter; it being his intention to undertake a voyage to hunt seals.

The newly renamed colonial schooner Hunter, Brimer master, Robinson owner, the latter accompanied by his wife and infant son, sailed from Hobart on 21 May 1825 to undertake a sealing voyage:[12]

Mr. G. W. Robinson, of the Waterloo Inn, and Family, leaving the Colony in the schooner Endeavour, request all Claims to be presented, and those Persons indebted to him to immediately come forward and liquidate their respective accounts…
…The schooner Endeavour has been purchased by Mr. Robinson, of the Waterloo Tavern, for £800. She is intended to be employed off our coast.

"Off our coast" rather understated Robinson's intentions because he was intending to return to remote Amsterdam Island (Île Amsterdam) in the Indian Ocean where he had spent 23 months during his voyage “out” from Boston. However, before he could follow through on his plan, he first had to visit Sydney. Accordingly, Brimer headed the Hunter northward from Storm Bay to the schooner's former 'home' port. There Brimer, who had no history of sealing voyages, left the ship. It is likely that the Mate, Joseph Peters, then introduced Robinson to James Craig who was promptly signed on to replace Brimer. The relationship between Peters & Craig extended back at least 3 or 4 years to when they first arrived in colonial waters. Craig was an experienced seaman and, as master of the re-built brig Perseverance, had made 2 return voyages to the "seal Fishery" [Bass's Strait & Kangaroo Island].[13] After sailing from Sydney on 5 June 1825, during an adverse encounter with wild weather likely to have been what is now termed an 'East Coast Low', the Hunter "got on shore" at Jervis's Bay (Jervis Bay). After repairs were made, the Hunter headed for the "sealing grounds". The Hunter called briefly at King's Island (King Island) on 5 August 1825 where Robinson recruited a sealing gang having them sign an agreement, a "true copy" of which, fortunately, has survived. The gang appears to have included: John E. Tyack, Thomas Taylor, John Taylor, John Tiveler, an Otaitan, i.e., a Tahitian and J. Froeber. The group also included 5 Aboriginal women and 3 children. (see Castaways 2; Certain Black Women, Natives of Van Diemen's Land) The schooner then sailed on to Kangaroo Island where Robinson, as he later stated in a memorial sent to the Van Diemen's Land Colonial Secretary, had been:[14]

“…twice at Kangaroo Island. … the second time I was there in my own vessel the Schooner Hunter six weeks. My wife was with me at the time”.

Later records reveal that Robinson recruited more men for another gang. Again the sealers had Aboriginal women as "companions"; some commentators have used the term slaves. The women undertook much of the work and were often treated very badly. Towards the end of September the Hunter resumed its westward voyage. Leaving Kangaroo Island behind, the Hunter is known to have next called at King George's Sound where Robinson left a gang of 3 men. The name King George's Sound is used loosely. It may have been anywhere from Middle Island, Recherche Archipelago, where the Belinda had been wrecked or as far west as the Sound that we identify with today. Sailing past Cape Leeuwin and out into the Indian Ocean the Hunter encountered bad weather and, due to a shortage of rope, canvas and provisions, Robinson had the schooner turn around and return to the Sound. There he left the gang he had recruited at King Island along with the schooner's first mate, Joseph Peters, while he returned to Port Dalrymple. Approaching the River Tamar his wife gave birth to twin daughters. Upon arrival in Launceston, on 11 November 1825, Robinson offloaded a disappointing 'catch' of seal skins, presumably purchased from the King's Island gang supplemented, perhaps, by some taken during his stay at Kangaroo Island. Two brief news reports only serve to confuse:[15][16]

The schooner Hunter, formerly the Endeavour, belonging to Mr. Robinson, arrived at Launceston, on the 11th instant, from the N. W. of New Zealand, with 500 fur and 500 hair skins. She is refitting for a six months cruize.
Arrived at Launceston on Wednesday week, the schooner Martha, belonging to Mr. Robinson, with 400 seal skins. This vessel will shortly sail for the Isle of France.

The Hunter had never sailed near the "N. W. of New Zealand." That statement may have been intended to misdirect other owners/masters as to the schooner's true destination. Onshore, Robinson soon found his financial affairs in disarray leaving him no option other than to sell the Hunter to local merchants. He then chartered the schooner to resume his voyage to Amsterdam Island and to continue from there to the Isle of France (undoubtedly at the new owners' behest). Leaving his wife and enlarged family behind in Hobart, Robinson sailed from Launceston on 14 December 1825, 7 months after purchasing the schooner. For reasons unknown, the Hunter did not reach the Sound until 9 March 1826. It can only be presumed that as the Hunter skirted the southern coast, perhaps calling at Coffin Bay, Middle Island, Cape Arid, Robinson by necessity scoured the coast and adjacent the islands looking for his gangs. The Hunter picked up the King's Island gang that had been left at the Sound mid-October. A cargo of skins was also loaded. The schooner then set sail for Amsterdam Island (at long last) and beyond, before returning to Hobart on 15 October 1826 when the next part of this story of castaways will be resumed.

During the rather unproductive 7 months that had passed since the Hunter had sailed from King's Island (early-August 1825 through to early-March 1826), Kemp & Co. had fitted out the Governor Brisbane for its next voyage:[17]

Governor Brisbane (belonging to the house of Kemp & Co.) fitting out for the skin trade.
To Shipwrights and Others.
WANTED, for the Schooner GOVERNOR BRISBANE, One five-oared Whale Boat, 25 feet long, and 5 feet 2 inches wide;—One small Dingey, 12 feet long, and 4 feet 6 inches wide.—Any Person wishing to Contract to build the same, or having such to dispose of, will please to apply to KEMP and Co., Macquarie-street.

A new master, Peter Davidson, had been hired to replace Samuel Chase. Davidson had previously been the mate on the ship Phoenix which had arrived at Hobart from England on 25 January 1825 during the absence of the Governor Brisbane. The Governor Brisbane, Davidson master, sailed from Hobart on 29 September 1825:[18]

Sailed yesterday morning the Colonial schooner Governor Brisbane, Captain Davidson, belonging to the house of Kemp and Co., having on board 16 able hands, on a sealing voyage to the Islands to the Eastward. She is fitted completely for a ten months' cruise.

Clearly, the direction was intended to be westward; perhaps a little misdirection for those who might follow. Whatever the circumstances, it is clear that Kemp & Co. had not adequately assessed their new captain. After calling into Spring Bay where whales were sighted, the Hobart Town Gazette subsequently reported that "Captain Welsh had been cruising with the brig Duke of York in Bass's Straits" and that he had taken on board a group of men who proved to be "runaways". These men had been at Preservation Island:[19]

...where they found the schooner Governor Brisbane. William Perrings, William Wigdale, and Joseph Leadenhall, alias Gossip had made their escape on board of that vessel and several others, they said were on board of her.

The "handsome" little schooner which had been built in the Derwent was never seen in colonial waters again. There was one further, rather vague, sighting however, a long way from where it should have been. The news was apparently brought to Hobart by the brig Cyprus which reached Hobart from the Isle of France on 5 June 1826, with a cargo of sugar:[20]

Mr. Kemp's schooner the Governor Brisbane, had been seen on the North-west coast of New Holland, with only two men and the master on board.

If it was the Cyprus which brought the news it would not have been sailing north of Cape Leeuwin so the sighting had occurred during early-mid May somewhere along the coast between Cape Leewin and the Sound. This suggests that Robinson’s Hunter was the first colonial schooner to visit the Sound, a full 7 months prior to next visitor. News of the fate of the Governor Brisbane came full circle even if the vessel did not. The ship John Bull, Captain Rowe, belonging to the house of Jones and Walker, from China and Batavia, 11 June 1826, reached Sydney with a cargo of sundries on 6 August 1826 bringing news from the latter port:[21]

The schooner Brisbane, belonging to Mr. Kemp, of Hobart Town, was, a short time ago taken away piratically from Van Diemen's Land. It is ascertained that she proceeded to Batavia, where she was seized by the Dutch Government, on suspicion of her being manned with runaway prisoners. The John Bull brings the intelligence of the seizure. The Brisbane had been despatched by her owner on a sealing voyage, when she was carried off. It is not known we believe as yet, who the pirates are, whether the crew or prisoners.

The news eventually reached the schooner's home port where it was reported in the Hobart Town Gazette:[22]

Our Readers will not confound Mr. Baxter's schooner Brisbane of Sydney, Thomas Smith master, with Messrs. Kemp and Company's, the Brisbane of this Colony, which was piratically carried off by the master Davidson (formerly mate of the ship Phoenix) from Bass's Strait to Batavia, where it was seized by the Dutch Government, and Davidson and his guilty crew placed in confinement.

What became of Davidson and his crew is not known. One suggestion is that the few crew left on board the ship died of fever at Batavia. Certainly, neither the Governor Brisbane nor Peter Davidson appeared in Australian records again.

As the colonial schooners Hunter and Governor Brisbane, headed towards their respective destinations, the gangs they left in their wakes, from Western Port, Bass's Strait, to the Sound, were soon to become castaways. They just didn't know it, yet.

...followed by the French

Late the following year a French expedition of scientific discovery under the command of Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville in the L'Astrolabe arrived at King George Sound. He had sailed from Toulon, France, on 22 April 1826, touching at the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. Sighting, but not landing at Trinidad Island, d'Urville crossed the southern ocean arriving at King George Sound on 8 October 1826. After 108 consecutive days at sea, half of which was spent in "appalling weather and colossal seas", little time was spent resting. Instead d'Urville and his crew were reconnoitring and establishing their observatory. On 12 October 1826 they were surprised by unexpected visitors:[23]

At 9 p.m. a boat appearing to us to be manned by Englishmen came alongside; one of them in reply to my questions said that he, as well as his companions, had belonged to the schooner Governor Brisbane, engaged in sealing along these coasts; that the captain abandoned six of his crew in Coffin Bay, had left eight of them at Middle Island and had then sailed for Timor, or so they thought. They were living from their fishing, and had settled on the tiny Breaksea Island. They had been leading a most miserable existence for seven months; they complained a great deal of hardships and privation they had endured while waiting for a boat to take them off. I proposed taking them on board as passengers as far as Port Jackson, but this offer was coldly received, whereupon I concluded that most of them must have been escaped convicts and hardly eager to put themselves once again within the reach of the law. However, after a few minutes reflection three of them decided to embark on Astrolabe.
They offered us a batch of brown petrels they had caught in crevices in the rocks. I ordered them to be issued with ship's biscuit and brandy and gave them permission to spend the night on board. I was willing to do this only because they could have made for our shore establishment and I was not very keen on them visiting it until I could form some judgement of them.
What an extraordinary fate for eight Europeans to be abandoned like this with a frail skiff on these deserted beaches and left entirely to their own resources and industry!

From the preceding record it is possible to vaguely plot the route of the Governor Brisbane, after it sailed from Hobart on 29 September 1825. The first known stop was at Preservation Island, in the Furneaux Group. From there across Bass's Strait to visit Western Port where 4 men were left then, apparently, bypassing Kangaroo Island to call at Coffin Bay, where 6 men were left. Sailing on, the Governor Brisbane then visited Middle Island where 8 men were left. It is evident that the Governor Brisbane also visited the Sound as one of the sealers left behind spoke of the ship being “anchored in the roads near Seal Island”. All in all, at least 18 men left behind to await the return of their ship.

On the day following his first encounter with the sealers, d'Urville wrote in his diary:[24]

I have summoned my Englishmen this morning and demanded their final decision. One of them is embarking as a seaman, two others as passengers as far as Port Jackson; the other five decide to stay here on the coast. Among the latter a young man with a very swarthy complexion, a broad face and a flat nose looked to me a completely different type from the English; I soon learned, on questioning him, that he was a New Zealander, a native of Kerikeri, attached for nearly eight years from a very early age to the miserable lot of these vagabonds. He speaks English and seems almost to have forgotten his homeland.
The Englishmen also have with them on Breaksea two native women they got either voluntarily or by force. Moreover they assure me that they have always found the natives very gentle and friendly. This winter they have endured wild gales and severe cold all along the coast.

Several days later on 17 October 1826 d'Urville sighted at noon:[25]

…two strange whalers being rowed between Observatory and Seal Island, and we reckoned that their occupants were more numerous than we first thought. At 3 o'clock their boats came alongside and they informed me that the second one was manned by five Englishmen and an Australian from Port Jackson, all from the schooner Hunter. I allowed three men from the first boat to remain on board, to wit; Hambilton, Brook and Cloney; and from the other boat I took only a coloured American named Richard Simons. This man claims to be originally from Canada and speaks quite good French. Then others requested the same favour, but I refused, because they had been too long making up their minds and because I wanted to husband our provisions. Nor did I want to let them sleep on board, for these people did not inspire me with any great confidence, and I was all too well aware what a dozen bold and determined men might dare by night; moreover I did not know their true number which could exceed their presumed number.

On 19 October:[26]

The two English whalers have returned with fish, petrels, oysters, a female seal, a small phalanger and some fairy penguins. All of this was acquired as food for the crew and for natural history in return for a bit of gunpowder and some rope-yarn. The Englishmen had with them five Australians, as follows: first two young women from Van Diemen's Land, near Port Dalrymple, both short, stocky and not bad looking, but with very coarse features, the front part of their faces being very prominent and their complexion very dark like the natives of Sydney. I cannot judge the texture of their hair because it was close cropped. One of these women who was quite intelligent, has given M. Gaimard a large number of words from her language. Two other individuals, one male, the other female, aged from eighteen to twenty, come from the continent opposite Kangaroo Island. These two, quite well proportioned, have a much darker complexion, regular features, rather beautiful eyes and very smooth black hair; they are far from being repulsive looking like most of the natives of Australia and seem to belong to a less degraded race. Finally a little girl of about eight or nine, who comes from the mainland opposite Middle Island and as far as features and build are concerned seemed to be a cross between those from Kangaroo Island and the ones from King George Sound. All these individuals have been living for several years with the Englishmen except for the little girl whom they have only had for about seven months.
I never tired of wondering at this strange gathering of these wretched mortals of such different origins and education that capricious chance had nonetheless gathered together in order to subject them to such a miserable and precarious existence!…their boats represented their entire fortune, and their whole existence relied on them, the loss of these poor craft would have made the lot of these unfortunates a hundred times worse even than that of the savages in these regions.
…One of the Englishmen has been retained on board with his dogs to accompany our hunters on a kangaroo hunt tomorrow, as our naturalists expressed a lively interest in getting at least one of these animals.

The next day, 20 October1826:[27]

MM. Gressien, Guilbert, Gaimard and Sainson, who also went ashore at first light with the Englishman and his dogs to hunt kangaroo, pushed on as far as the English River. They came back at 5 p.m. tired out without either killing or bringing a single one of these animals to bay although they flushed out five of them…

Trading between the expeditioners and the sealers continued. On 22 October:[28]

…The English boats have brought us fish and pretty doves with a metallic sheen in exchange for salt pork and biscuit.

The naturalist and doctor for the expeditionary party, Jean-Rene-Constant Quoy, provided an insight into the working relationship of the sealers and their companions:[29]

...The sealers had native women from New Holland and Van Diemen's Land with them. They appear to have abducted the former by force which made them feared along this coast. These women through their skill and industry were extremely useful to the Englishmen; it was they who did the fishing, went hunting with a gun, or after kangaroos with the dogs, and they went diving to bring us oysters and other shellfish, and procured a large number of big lizards for us that it would have been impossible to get without their help. Life could not have been too bad for them with men who provided well for them and cared more for them than their own menfolk.

During the afternoon of 25 October 1826 Dumont d'Urville sailed from King George Sound. On board the Astrolabe were Hambilton, Symons, Cloney and, possibly, Brook although no mention is made of him in the journals of d'Urville and his officers. The remaining members of the sealing gangs continued their predatory existence on the shores of King George Sound as the Astrolabe sailed away. The French corvette arrived at Sydney on 2 December 1826:[30]

Arrived on Saturday last, The King's of France's corvette Astrolabe, 82 men, 12 guns, Captain D'Urville; from Toulon 29th April; La Praja, St. Jago, 30th July; and lastly, King George's Sound, Western Port, and Jervis' Bay.

A report of the arrival of the Astrolabe published in the Sydney Gazette was rather more 'colorful', indeed may have outgunned the French corvette, certainly hardly welcoming:[31]

A GREAT sensation was created in town, on Saturday last, upon the annunciation of the arrival of His Most Christian Majesty's ship Astrolabe. It would appear that, on her way hither, she had called at King George's Sound, and also at Western Port. The latter, it was promulgated, had not been taken possession of by the French, because it happened to be within the limits of His Britannic Majesty's possessions ; but King George's Sound, the new Colony to which Major LOCKYER has recently been despatched by the Colonial Government, it was asserted, in the most positive manner, had been formally invested, and taken possession of, in the name of Charles the TENTH! Had such been the fact, or could it possibly have taken place, we should certainly have been considerably chagrined; inasmuch as we were never generous enough to indulge in the conception of permitting any foreign power to share an inch of this continental territory : we wanted it, and still do require it, for our own MONARCH. But, in order to relieve the public mind of that anxiety which pervaded all classes, on account of the late expeditions that have proceeded in quest of new settlements, we have much pleasure in stating, that there is not the least iota of truth in the report, which spread like wildfire. In the first place, the Astrolabe has put into this port for the purpose of refreshing and refitting—her main object being that of scientific research, in which the French nation, at present, seem to take the lead ; and, in the second place, were the French, or any other power, inclined to colonize in any part of Australia—that is, the island on which we are established—such a measure must be at the certain risk of an irruption between these Powers and Old England ; and, in this assertion, it will be acknowledged that we are fully borne out, when we state the fact, that the whole continent of Australia is the exclusive property of the British Crown ; and that there is not so much as an inch upon which either French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, or New Zealander, can dare legally to set a foot...

Much less bombastically, a report of the recovery of the members of the several sealing gangs, the castaways, appeared a few days later:[32]

The Astrolabe which touched at Western Port, has brought up sixteen seamen from thence. They report themselves to have been left a-shore there, by Captain Davidson, Master of the Governor Brisbane, for the purpose of collecting seal. This vessel left Hobart Town in the early part of the year on a speculative voyage. Eight of the crew were put on shore at King George's Sound, and as many more were landed on Middle Island, about 800 miles further on the coast. The Captain said he would take them in again in a day or two after. A vessel supposed by the crew to be the Governor Brisbane, was seen, in the offing three days after they were left. They had been on shore about eight months, when the Corvette hove in sight. On signals being made, the crew of the Astrolabe put off a boat and took them on board. When left they had only two days provisions.

Unfortunately the names of the additional castaways have not been recorded/found. It appears that the 4 sealers recovered from King George's Sound left the Astrolabe in Sydney. Hambilton later rejoined the Astrolabe after sailing from Sydney, in the whaler Harriet, to Tikopia in the eastern Solomon Islands. Hambilton died of fever and quinine induced gluttony at Guam on 19 May 1828.
Coincidentally, the schooner Hunter, James Craig master, arrived at Sydney on 16 December 1826. Nary a word was reported regarding the role of the ship leaving men along the remotest shores of the continent of New Holland ever so recently proclaimed to be solely for the benefit of the Monarch![33]

On Saturday last arrived, from Launceston, the schooner Hunter, James Craig, master, with 2000 bushels of wheat, 10 tons of flour, and a quantity of kangaroo and seal skins. ...Yesterday the French ship L'Astrolabe, Captain D'Urville, resumed her voyage of discovery.

Work in Progress, TBC

...followed, belatedly, by Major Lockyer

As Lockyer and members of his party set about establishing a camp on the shore of Princess Royal Harbour they were soon to be confronted with evidence of something untoward happening which soured the party’s early relationships with local Aboriginals. Investigating a fire seen on Michaelmas Is. they found 4 Aboriginal men abandoned there. Shortly after releasing the 4 men a retaliatory attack was made upon a watering party and a convict labourer was severely wounded. The following day a dead Aboriginal man was found on Green Island. Who had perpetrated these acts that had outraged the local Aboriginals? An answer was soon to emerge. On 10 January 1827 a boat pulled up to the Amity. The boat belonged to the Colonial schooner Hunter (not Governor Hunter as Lockyer wrote in his report—after having sailed from Sydney for Kangaroo Island in 1815, the Governor Hunter was found 3 years later, almost buried, in a lagoon behind present day Foster, N.S.W.). In the boat were men from the Hunter and another Colonial schooner Governor Brisbane.

The recovery of the sealing gangs at King George Sound is documented in the records of the expedition sent there to establish the settlement that is now Albany.

On 29 September 1825, several months prior to Hunter's departure from Launceston for the Isle of France, another schooner the Governor Brisbane had left Hobart on a sealing voyage. After visiting Western Port, Kangaroo Island and Coffin Bay at the eastern limit of the Great Australian Bight, where 6 men were 'abandoned' and then Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago where a sealing gang of 8 men was left, the Governor Brisbane was piratically seized by its master and sailed to Batavia. There it was seized, in turn, by the Dutch Government; the master and the two crew placed in confinement.[34] At about this time Hunter left her gang at the Recherche Archipelago. As sealing gangs were inclined to do, these gangs ranged along the coast and eventually joined together at King George Sound. Thus both the Governor Brisbane and the Hunter had left and, ultimately, abandoned their sealing gangs along the West Coast. The gang(s?) were supplied with 3 months provisions and it was agreed (?) that a vessel would be sent with supplies and to take the gangs off within eight months of their being left. The gangs, each of which had two boats, included the following:
Governor Brisbane: George Thomas, Boatsteerer, John Randall, Steersman, John Hobson, Seaman, Thomas Tasmein, a Black Man, William Hook, a New Zealander, Hambilton, Brook, Cloney, George Magennis or Machaness, John Sigsworth, Samuel Bailey, Sally, a native woman of the mainland opposite Kangaroo Island., Dinah, a native woman of Van Diemen's Land.
Hunter: William Bundy, Boatsteerer, James Everett, Steersman, Thomas Toolen, Seaman, Robert Williams, a Black man, Pidgeon, a Sydney Black, Richard Symonds, coloured American, from Canada, James Leadenhall, John Smidmore, Edward Edwards Native boy, Harry, belonging to mainland opposite Kangaroo Island., Mooney, a native woman of Van Diemen's Land.

Six weeks prior to d'Urville's arrival in Sydney, H.M. Colonial brig Amity had sailed for Westernport and King George Sound under the command of Lieutenant William Festing. On board the Amity was Major Lockyer of the 57th Regiment, with a detachment of the 39th Regiment, to form a new settlement at King George Sound. The Government expedition to King George Sound followed several attempts to settle the northern coast(s) of Australia. Brief settlements had occurred at Port Essington, Melville Island where Fort Dundas was built, and after an initial investigation of the Swan River at Raffles Bay. The motivation for establishing these northern settlements was the promotion of trade with, particularly, the Macassans who visited the coast regularly in search of trepang. The motivation for the settlement at King George Sound was to pre-empt the French establishing a foothold on the, as yet, "unoccupied" west coast.
The Amity sailed from Sydney on 9 November 1826 at the same time as HMS Fly, Captain Wetherall, "who was to proceed in company as far as Western Port with the hired transport Brig Dragon, there to form a settlement under the command of Captain Wright of the Buffs".

After calling at George Town, where George Robinson became appraised of the intention of the expedition, contrary weather forced the Amity to the east and, on 29 November, she reached Hobart Town, whence she sailed on 6 December for King George Sound reaching there on Christmas Day. As they entered the Sound a large fire was seen burning on Michaelmas Island. As the fire was kept burning and as at night a light was visible on the west end of the island facing the harbour, Major Lockyer became "extremely anxious to ascertain what persons were on Michaelmas Island". On the 27th a boat was despatched at daylight. Four natives were found, under a rock. On being pointed to they got up, and one was seen to have four or five deep scars in his neck, as if from a sword or cutlass. Being without arms in the boat Mr. Wheeler did not like to approach the shore but the natives, on seeing the boat about to pull off, fell on their knees and made sad lamentations. Mr. Wheeler then ran the boat in and took them off. They were landed on the mainland, where they were met by other natives who, after hearing what the four men had to say, attacked a watering party, one member of which, Dennis Dineen, a prisoner, received three spear wounds, which Major Lockyer considered were inflicted by one of the four men. Next day, on Green Island, a small island in Oyster Harbour, Major Lockyer:

...found the dead body of a native; from its appearance I should have considered it to have been dead about two months. It struck me there must have been some bad work going on there; the natives have no boats; they never venture above knee deep in the water; near about four yards I should think lay a miserable attempt at a raft from some dead wood tied together with grass.

Being without a spade they were unable to bury the body on this visit. This was done on 4 February. Construction of the buildings of Frederick's Town now began in unsettled weather. On 10 January the weather cleared and became fine:

…in the afternoon a boat was perceived pulling into the harbour; proved to be a sealing gang, the boat belonging to a Mr. Robinson of the schooner Governor Hunter, with some of the crew of the schooner Brisbane, the master having gone off and left these men on the islands here; it appears this latter vessel belonged to Mr. Kemp, of Hobart Town; this boat contained the following persons:—William Bundy, Boatsteerer; Thomas Toolen, Seaman; Robert Williams, a Black Man; Pidgeon, a Sydney Black; of the Hunter; and George Thomas, Boatsteerer; John Hobson, Seaman; Thomas Tasmein, a Black Man; William Hook, a New Zealander; of the Brisbane.

The men pulled up to the Amity where they told Lieutenant Festing that they were destitute of provisions. He referred them to Major Lockyer to whom the boatsteerer produced a letter from his owner that he would be answerable for what would be furnished. Major Lockyer "sanctioned their being victualled on board the Brig for the present, as I considered it my duty to investigate and find out if possible the perpetrator of the villainous act of placing the four natives on Michaelmas Island".::::::

Thursday, 11th. Sent for the sealers from the Brig, and, on questioning them, ascertained that the native we found dead on Green Island, had been murdered by a party of the sealers, and that the four men we had taken off Michaelmas Island had been placed there after the murder had been perpetrated and that they had also forcibly seized and carried off two female natives. One of them was now on Eclipse Island with one Samuel Bailey… Pidgeon, the Sydney native conceiving that I might find him extremely useful in bringing about a communication and reconciliation with the Natives, and as he appeared an intelligent fellow and was willing to be employed, I have ordered him to be rationed whilst so employed, as he was never here before cannot know nor possibly be in any way concerned in the affair above stated… requested Lieutenant Festing to detain the boat and sealers for the present, until Samuel Bailey who is at Eclipse Island is apprehended, and the others concerned who are daily expected to arrive here from the eastward on their way to Chatham Island.

From William Hook, Major Lockyer obtained an affidavit, from which the following details are taken:
On arrival at King George's Sound the sealers built huts, where they were freqently visited by natives, who were friendly, accompanying the sealers fishing in their boats, although the native women were never seen or came to where the sealers had their huts. In October the French Man-o-war L'Astrolabe, anchored in the Sound and remained from the 8th to the 25th.
One day, after L'Astrolabe had left, five native men came to where the boats were and asked to be taken to Green Island to catch birds. Randall and Everitt, the Boatsteerers, instructed William Hook and Ned Edwards to take them there, land them, and come off, leaving them there, which they did. The natives, seeing the boat going away called out to them to return, "making all signs possible for that purpose; but, having been ordered to leave them" Hook was afraid to act otherwise.
Next day Randall, accompanied by Kirby, Magennis and Bailey, of his boat's crew, armed with guns and cutlasses, set out soon???????

after five o'clock in the morning, and returned about four or five in the evening bringing with them four native women… ??????during the night two of the women made their escape though the sealers had tied them two together by the arms; next morning both boat's crews again went off armed, leaving informant and another to watch the boats; in the evening they returned saying they had not seen any of the natives or the two women that had made their escape, but had found hanging to the trees at their encampment a pocket compass and a knife that had been given to the natives by the Captain of the French ship.

On the following day Hook was sent with Ned and four others in the boat... Green Island with a keg of water for the natives; and, on the boat approaching the shore, they made a rush to get into it; the people in the boat shoved off to prevent them, and returned to the party on shore, when four fresh hands got into the boat, taking with them two guns and two swords and again went to the Island, and one man got out to take the keg of water on shore; the natives making a rush to get into the boat, the Europeans resisted by striking them with their oars and swords; and finding that they persisted, a gun was fired with slugs over their heads to frighten them, which did not answer, when a second shot was fired the Informant saw one of them fall forward on his face in the water and the blood spouting out from both his sides. Kirby, who steered the boat, fired the first shot ...the boat was then shoved off and went to the shore morning Randall went again to the island, and at first the natives hid themselves; but, on seeing Randall who was a great favourite with them, they came out and kissed him; he then took the four into his boat, leaving the dead body on the island, and left Oyster Harbour and landed the four natives on Michaelmas Island, and left them making great lamentations; Randall then went to Breaksea Island where the other boat joined, bringing with them the two female natives that had been taken away from the mainland at Oyster Harbour. One of these females is now at Eclipse Island with Samuel Bailey, also a native girl, a child seven years old- the other female taken from this is with George Magennis with the boat to the eastward; …these men have other native women that they take about with them, two from Van Diemen's Land, taken in Bass' Strait, and one from the Main Land opposite Kangaroo Island.

Major Lockyer requested Lieutenant Festing "to detain the boat and sealers for the present, until Samuel Bailey who is at Eclipse Island is apprehended, and the others concerned who are daily expected to arrive here from the eastward on their way to Chatham Island".
Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands are at the entrance to King George's Sound. Michaelmas Island is about 2.5 km from the mainland and Breaksea Island is about 2 Km further south. The latter was a bare rock, the resort of sooty petrels and seals.
On 2 March ???????? Major Lockyer visited Breaksea Island. He found there a large spot of good soil suitable for a potato crop. On the south side were about a dozen seals. "The marks of sealers having been on it, the ground around a cave in a sand rock exhibited the feathers and pinions of the mutton bird as a proof great slaughter must be committed there occasionally".
On 13 January a boat which had been sent for him arrived with Samuel Bailey, a native woman and a little native girl, Fanny. The woman "was not at all improved by the treatment she appeared to have undergone; her right arm was much injured by a blow and on meeting her friends she cried very much. I never saw so miserable an object in the shape of Female, which was probably considerably worse for the ill-usage and hard living she had been compelled to undergo". She was given some biscuit and her arm was dressed. Bailey was handcuffed and placed in confinement. He protested that "he was not at the murder of the man, but admits he drew cuts, as he terms it, with the others his companions for the woman and is aware of the four men being placed on Michaelmas Island".
As Major Lockyer "should on the departure of the brig Amity, be considerably at a loss for two experienced seamen as boatkeepers, and who would be able to act as Pilots to bring vessels into the Harbour from the Sound, as well as to visit Oyster Harbour occasionally, as also to enable us to draw the seine and to preserve it in good order…", he engaged George Thomas and John Hobson, who volunteered to remain for rations and wages given to Government vessels, for this purpose.
On 17 January, Major Lockyer wrote in his Journal:

From the lawless manner in which these sealers are ranging about requires some immediate measures to control them as, from what we know as also from what I have learnt from themselves, they are a complete set of Pirates going from Island to Island along the southern coast from Rottenest Island to Bass's Strait in open whale boats, having their chief resort or Den at Kangaroo Island, making occasional descents on the main land and carry off by force native women, and when resisted make use of the firearms with which they are provided; amongst themselves they rob each other, the weak being obliged to give way to the stronger; at Kangaroo Island a great scene of villany is going on, where to use their own words there are a great many graves, a number of desperate characters, runaway prisoners from Sydney and Van Diemen's Land.

A Government vessel or small man of war to be kept for the purpose of cruising on this would check a great deal of the lawless proceedings now going on, as also restrictions should be made respecting the seal fishery, which from their destroying the cubs as well as old ones will cause them to become scarce. I should think it would prove both beneficial to Government and to the merchants and speculators if these islands were farmed out to those who offer a reasonable rent for them, for a certain extent of coast subject to such regulations as Government exact.
Immense quantities of salt can be collected on this coast at Middle Island particularly, as also in these harbours.
The Journal was taken to Sydney by the brig Amity, which sailed on Wednesday 24 January. The Amity took with her Samuel Bailey, in custody, William Hook, and the girl Fanny. Major Lockyer had ordered that the little girl "who was taken off the mainland to the eastward of this and having no means of restoring her to the tribe to which she belongs, to be taken to Sydney for the disposal of His Excellency". Lieutenant Festing was requested "if it does not take him out of his way, and cause him too great a delay, to call at the Islands to the eastward, and if possible secure the persons named in the Information and take them to Sydney". These were the boats' crews under John Randall and James Everitt.
In reporting the arrival of the Amity at Sydney, the Sydney Gazette of 19 February 1827 said: "The accounts from King George's Sound are very meagre". On 24 February (?) the Sydney Gazette followed with an expanded account:

A native black has been lately found murdered at Green Island, King George's Sound. Some depositions were taken before Major Lockyer and a man named Samuel Bailey was forwarded on suspicion to Sydney, together with William Hook, a New Zealander, who it is thought would have been able to identify him. An examination, however, was had before the Acting Superintendent of Police, the result of which was, that no identification took place. No light has yet been thrown on the transaction.

On Sunday, 28 January, Major Lockyer made an excursion to Seal Island and found there "the remains of the habitation of some sealers and probably on it is fresh water though we did not find it". There were no seals.
The schooner Isabella arrived on Monday, 12 February. Major Lockyer, who returned from a visit to the interior on 15 February found her at anchor and

also found here George Thomas, John Hobson, who had left this with Lieutenant Festing in the Amity brig to go to Middle Island for their things and had come back in a small whale boat with two seamen requiring a passage to Sydney, and to my surprise learnt that the whale boat with the sealers who were concerned in the murder of the native on Green Island in Oyster Harbour, had actually come into the harbour with the schooner …someone gave them the hint to be off, as they left the schooner before she anchored and went off again and are supposed to be gone to the westward.

Nothing more was heard of the sealers until 10 March when...

…about ten o'clock it commenced blowing a very severe gale from the East S. East, with heavy rain, thunder and lightning and continued without ceasing until six o'clock when two boats were reported to have just come in on the beach. Ordered the guard down, and ascertaining it was the two sealing boats in charge of John Randall and James Everitt, ordered them to surrender and deliver up their arms and found them to contain the following persons:—
James Everitt's boat:—James Leadenhall; John Smidmore; Edward Edwards; Native boy Harry, belonging to the mainland opposite Kangaroo Island; Mooney, a native woman of Van Diemen's Land.
John Randall's boat:—James Kirby; George McGinnis or Machaness; John Sigsworth; Sally, a native woman of the main opposite to Kangaroo Island; Dinah, a native woman of Van Diemen's Land.
Had them confined in the Store Hut in charge of a sentry and the boats secured with their equipments to prevent their going off.

Next day Major Lockyer "Sent for the boat's crews individually and informed them that they...

…were charged with murder and piracy and that they would be sent to Sydney to answer for the same; …they protested that most of them were not present at the death of the native, but John Smidmore acknowledged he shot the unfortunate man, but that it was in self-defence, which he would prove. I recommended him as well as the others to say nothing that would incriminate them; to which they replied they were anxious the matter should be fully investigated and that, learning that there was a settlement established here, they came to give themselves up. The taking away the women they admitted four in number, two made their escape, [one was] brought away and restored to her tribe from the Eclipse Islands, the other landed by boat upwards of two months ago on the main land in the Sound; also the landing of the four natives on Michaelmas Island stating that from the affray, which had taken place, the shores were lined with mobs of natives and they could not in safety land these men on the main, which was the cause of their leaving them on Michaelmas Island where there is plenty of small kangaroos, fish and some seal.
John Smidmore said he shot the native to save the lives of himself and those in the boat with him, that Edward Edwards was knocked down by a stone or stick and was bleeding in the water, to all appearances dead before he fired; they all admitted being at Oyster Harbour at the time and of taking the woman and placing the four natives on Michaelmas Island, with the exception of John Sigsworth, who was at Middle Island at this time.
…they said they should be glad to have the matter investigated and had come here for the purpose of giving themselves up, and also stated that they had been left here by their employers in a most shameful manner, having been here eighteen months on the Coast with three months' provision only, with a promise that a vessel would be sent with supplies and to take them off within eight months of the time of their being left, since which no vessel or supplies has ever reached them and consequently obliged to live on anything they could get, even a dog; they have with them one hundred fur seal skins and have about seven hundred on an island near Mondrain Island opposite the mainland by Thistle's Cove and Lucky Bay.
From these men's accounts of the Coast from Middle Island down round Cape Lewen [Leeuwin] to Rottenest Island off the Swan River, there are boat harbours all the way at convenient distances from 50 to 70 miles and some less, and [in] many of them a vessel of any size could find shelter in good anchorage, mostly islands along shore with deep water between them and the Main- they describe the weather on the Coast as fine in general with variable winds seldom blowing the same way longer than three or four days at any time of the year; that last winter the weather was particularly fine and mild.
About twenty-five miles to the southward of the Swan River one of the boats entered a bar river and went up about twenty or more miles and at six miles from the entrance it forms a large sheet or lake as large as Princess Royal Harbour or King George's Sound; on crossing it you again enter the river which runs eastward into the country. The natives on its bank were in great numbers and appeared extremely hostile as they stood on the banks and held their spears in a menacing attitude and were very clamorous, shouting and making a great noise.
At Rottenest Island, immense numbers of the small kangaroo called Wallaby are to be caught there, their skins make excellent fur jackets or rugs.

Major Lockyer gave orders that the sealers should receive one pound and a half of flour each man and one pound to each woman until opportunity offered to send them to Sydney.
On 13 March, having no one able to make a sail for the Government boat, Major Lockyer employed two of the sealers to do so, and gave them four pounds of tobacco for their trouble. A week later two of the sealers were ordered to go with the pilot to bring a load of shells. They refused to go saying...

that as their ration was small, one pound and a half of flour for five days in the week and the remaining two one pound of flour and one pound of beef each day and giving them meat at all with our small stock I considered an indulgence. In consequence of their refusal to work, I deemed it my duty to withdraw the order for the issue of meat to these men and to give them nothing but flour and fish which it is to be hoped will bring them to their senses, and shall be glad when an opportunity offers to send them to Sydney that they may be got rid of.

On 2 April 1827, on her return to Sydney from the Swan River, HMS Success called at King George's Sound. Captain Stirling declined receiving the six sealers on board for conveyance to Sydney, so Major Lockyer...

...not deeming it prudent to have to feed those individuals from the stores and from the peculiar nature attending the transactions, as also being doubtful as to the law extending to these individuals for a crime committed at this particular place and before it had been occupied, I set them at large with the understanding that, whenever they appeared at Sydney, they would surrender themselves to the Civil Power to answer to this transaction; two of them, John Randall and James Kirby have entered and are now serving on board His Majesty's Ship Success.

Major Lockyer returned to Sydney by HMS Success, leaving King George's Sound on 3 April 1827. In a report made at Sydney on 18 April he said:

I should recommend the attention of Government to a most important and valuable branch of Trade, which, if some measures are not almost immediately resorted to, must be irreparably injured if not altogether destroyed. The Islands along the Southern Coast of this immense one are more or less frequented by Black or Fur Seal, which if protected would not only afford a good revenue to the Government but would also prove a nursery for seamen; I would suggest that a prohibition should be immediately issued to prevent any Individuals taking the seals or going at all to the islands on pain of seizure, if found without a license.
Once in three years the Government should farm the islands out for the season from November to the end of April following, or such other months as would be found not to interfere with their breeding or the time they shed their fur, and a severe penalty to be attached for killing pups.
The coast between Middle Island and King George's Sound abound with Sperm Whale, and, I am informed, have not as yet been molested from the whale ships not approaching so near the land from the dread of the coast, but as far as I can learn from those persons who have been living down there going in open boats actually from Kangaroo Island round Cape Leuwin to Swan River that there is not the least danger approaching, and there are several places where ships of any size can anchor in security.

On 21 May 1827 Captain Wakefield, who had replaced Major Lockyer as Commandant on his departure in HMS. Success, reported that the brig Ann, John Grimes master, from Melville Island via Timor, with horses, had anchored in the Sound the previous Thursday, 17 May. He continued:

…the twelve sealers and three black women (one a native of Kangaroo Island and the other two of Port Dalrymple, Van Diemen's Land) who remained here when Major Lockyer, and five others who arrived on the 4th April in distress, have engaged themselves on board the Ann (Grimes master) and left the Settlement. They have been receiving rations at the rate of one pound of flour per day each, but were struck off the stores on the 19th inst. I have, however, been obliged to issue one month's rations of flour for the women during the passage.

The Ann, 160 tons, reached Sydney on 12 June 1827. The Sydney Gazette of 13 June 1827 reported:[35]

On Monday last arrived the brig Ann, Captain Grimes. She left Timor the 2d of March, Melville Island the 14th of April, and King George's Sound the 22d of May.
...A quantity of seal skins and bees' wax, together with twelve sealers and three females, that were taken off King George's Sound, where they had been deposited for two years and upwards, constitute the residue of the cargo. The sealers and the women we hear, belonged to the Hunter and Brisbane out of these parts...

The Amity, which had carried Major Lockyer to King George’s Sound, had returned to Sydney on 15 February 1827. The first reports of the new colonial outpost soon began to appear, first at Sydney, where the news was decidedly mixed then, after HMS Fly carried the newspapers south, at Hobart Town, where the first report sounded positive:[36]

One of the harbours discovered at King George's Sound, is not only safe, but also capacious and highly picturesque. This is called Princess Royal Harbour—the appellation given it by the famed VANCOUVER.—The town of this new British Colony, has been designated by the first Commandant, Major Lockyer, "Frederick's Town," in honour of the Duke of York

A month passed before a much more detailed report of Lockyer’s new settlement at King George’s Sound appeared in the Hobart Town Gazette of 7 April 1827. Excerpts of this report may have given Robinson cause for concern, particularly the reference to the “Hunter schooner”. In describing the depredations of the sealing gangs belonging to the Hunter, and another schooner, the Governor Brisbane, Lockyer referred to the men as a “…complete set of Pirates” :[37]

…On entering the harbour, Major Lockyer had observed a fire in Michaelmas island, as if from persons in distress. A boat was accordingly despatched to the place, and four natives were found upon the island in a miserable situation, having been left there some time before by a party of sealers. On the same day, (the 27th of December), a watering party from the brig on the main were surprised by a number of natives lying in ambush, and one man, Dennis Dinneen, had three spears struck in him, inflicting very severe wounds so as to endanger his life. Fortunately one of the party having gone to bathe, discovered the approach of the natives, and gave the rest timely warning, else probably every one would have been murdered. This attack was evidently made in consequence of the injuries the natives had received from the sealing gangs who visit these parts…
…The formation of this settlement, if it were to be attended with no other good results than affording a check to the horrid barbarities committed by the unprincipled men infesting these coasts, both against the natives and against each other, as well at the destruction of the fishing itself, will be most desirable. All the enormities recorded in our columns, for so many months back, are confirmed by Major Lockyer, and we remark, that the same means of removing them are recommended as by ourselves. He describes them as a regular set of pirates traversing from island to island in open boats along the coast from Rottnest island to Bass’s strait, having their chief resort or den at Kangaroo island, making occasional descents on the main land, and carrying off by force, the native women. They rob and murder each other. At Kangaroo island a dreadful scene of villainy is going on, where to use their own words, “there are a great many graves.” Their numbers consist in a great measure of runaway prisoners from Sydney and Van Diemen’s land…
…On landing on a small island called Green island, Major Lockyer found the body of a native lying exposed on the ground, which, to appearance, had been dead about two months. Some bad work had evidently been going on. The natives there have no boats, and never venture above knee deep into the water. A miserable attempt at a raft made of some dead wood tied together with grass was found on the beach. These mysterious appearances were cleared up by the arrival of a boat belonging to the Hunter schooner on the 10th of January with a gang of 8 sealers, consisting of Willam Bundy, Thomas Coolen, Robert Williams, a black man, and Pigeon a black native of Sydney, and 4 others who had belonged to the Mr. Kemp’s schooner Brisbane, namely, George Thomas, John Hobson, Thomas Cassmeir, a black man, and William Hook, a native of New Zealand. From them it was ascertained that the native found dead on Green island, had been murdered by a party of sealers, and that the 4 men, which had been rescued from Michaelmas island had been placed there after the murder, and that two female natives had been carried off by them, one of whom with her child, was at that time on Eclipse island, kept by a man named Samuel Bailey, who had taken part in the murder. A boat was accordingly sent for these persons, and the impatience of the natives who had assembled to wait the return of the woman, while the boat approached the shore from its first appearance on the horizon, is feelingly described by Major Lockyer. The return of the woman, though in a most deplorable condition, and the appearance of Bailey in handcuffs very much soothed the other natives, and it is not likely that any future violence will be committed by them. Bailey is sent prisoner to Sydney, and Lieutenant Festing, on his return, was to call at the usual haunts of the sealers, in hopes of apprehending his accomplices.

More was to come. Shortly after Major Lockyer returned to Sydney per HMS Success on 15 April 1827 another news report spelt out in no uncertain terms the character of the men with whom Robinson associated and had recruited for his gangs:[38]

MAJOR LOCKYER, it appears, formed a Settlement at King George's Sound, which it is hoped will be productive of one good at least, namely; put an end to the piratical practices and other violences of the run-a-ways from Hobart Town, who infest Bass's Straits, and who commit on the natives, particularly the women, and on each other, when they quarrel, murder and all kinds of atrocities...

Despite the preceding there appears to have been no repercussions for Robinson.


Pirates—Colonial Schooner Governor Brisbane

Hambilton (Hambleton, Hamilton?), Origins unclear, possibly Thomas Hambleton who arrived at Port Jackson on 20 August 1791 as a convict on the Atlantic. In 1802 he was at Norfolk Island. The 1805 muster at Norfolk Island described him as a member of the boat's crew. When Norfolk Island was evacuated he left on the schooner Estramina, arriving at Hobart on 5 June 1808. He was in the crew of the Elizabeth and Mary in 1818. He may have been the Thomas Hamilton who shipped in the Queen Charlotte from Sydney for Port Dalrymple on 5 January 1821 and again in March 1821 and in the brig Wellington which left Sydney on 1 April 1823 for N.Z. and Macquarie Island, returning on 23 September 1823.] Hambilton was a member of the boat crew which was encountered by d'Urville 12 October 1826. He left the Sound on the Astrolabe on 25 October 1826. En-route to Sydney the Astrolabe called at Western Port where Hambilton provided valuable assistance to d'Urville because of his prior experience there. After the Astrolabe arrived in Sydney on 2 December 1826 Hambilton is thought to have joined the whaler Harriet (which does not appear in Sydney shipping records for that time!). He deserted that ship at Tikopia (eastern Solomon Islands) and, after a stay of 9 months, rejoined Astrolabe which arrived there on 10 February 1828. After visiting Vanikoro, Hambilton and most of the crew went down with fever. Hambilton died at Guam on 19 May 1828 of quinine induced gluttony by "wolfing down a whole haunch of venison washed down with a pint of spirits". d'Urville commented that "Hambilton had always behaved well on the ship; on Vanikoro he had shown a great deal of zeal and willingness; either as guide or interpreter this Englishman had been of real service to the mission".
Brook, left the Sound on Astrolabe on 25 October 1826. After arriving in Sydney on 2 December 1826 no further record has been found.
Cloney, left the Sound on Astrolabe on 25 October 1826. After arriving in Sydney on 2 December 1826 no further record has been found.
John Randall, steersman, may have joined the brig Nereus at Georgetown in February 1824 before the brig left for the "Islands" sealing. In May 1824, after a voyage to the Great Australian Bight, Randall deserted the Nereus at Kangaroo Island with George "Fireball" Bates who lived on the island for the remainder of his long life. There are conflicting accounts as to the identity of Bates' fellow deserter; Nat Thomas, another long-time Kangaroo Island resident was said to be involved rather than Randall. The desertion may have followed an incident in which Bates' mate broke the arm of a fellow crew member and was punished by being chained, placed in a boat and tied astern of the brig whilst it was sheltering in Western Cove, Kangaroo Island. Bates joined his mate during the night and effected their escape by rowing to American River and burning the boat. After avoiding being found Randall and Bates soon encountered James Kirby, James Everett and Henry Wallen, the latter having lived on Kangaroo Island since late 1818 or early 1819. At the Sound Randall was a member of a raiding party which kidnapped 4 Aboriginal women. Randall signed on HMS Success as a seaman, leaving the Sound on 3 April 1827 and arriving at Sydney on 16 April 1827.
James Kirby, seaman?; Kirby had crossed from Van Diemen's Land to Kangaroo Island before May 1824 when encountered by Randall (and George "Fireball" Bates). At the Sound Kirby was a member of a raiding party which kidnapped 4 Aboriginal women. Kirby also signed on HMS Success as a seaman on leaving the Sound on 3 April 1827.
John Hobson, seaman; Hobson was in William Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. He was subsequently employed by Lockyer to work as a pilot at the Sound. He and George Thomas made a brief visit to Middle Is. on the Amity to recover stores and equipment left there; he returned by boat. Hobson was well regarded by Captain Joseph Wakefield, Lockyer's successor, who commented "Hobson is always ready, willing and perfectly sufficient, for any duty which may be required of him". Hobson sailed as a relief crewman on the Mermaid, whose crew were all sick, on 15 January 1828. He was expected to return.
George Thomas, boat-steerer; Thomas was in William Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. He was employed by Lockyer to work as a pilot at the Sound. He sailed on 22 August 1827 on the Amity for Sydney, where he arrived on 23 September 1827. Wakefield was moved to report adversely on Thomas "his ideas are that he should not be required to do any duty except that of pilot which would be a life of perfect idleness and render him a nuisance in the Settlement. He has frequently conducted himself not at all to my satisfaction".
Thomas Tasmein, "a Black Man"; Tasmein was in William Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. No further record has been found.
George Magennis or Machaness; Magennis was a member of the raiding party which kidnapped the 4 Aboriginal women. He was in Randall's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827.
John Sigsworth (Sedgeworth?); Sigsworth was mustered for the Belinda when she sailed from Sydney on 17 May 1824. He had previously run from the Albion, a transport which had disembarked 200 convicts at Hobart before arriving at Sydney on 15 November 1823. He was on the Belinda when she was wrecked at Middle Island. Sigsworth was at Middle Is. when the shooting of the Aboriginal man at Green Is. and the placing of the Aboriginal men on Michaelmas Is. occurred. He was in Randall's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827.
Samuel Bailey; Bailey was definitely a nasty character. He was a member of the raiding party which kidnapped the 4 Aboriginal women. His treatment of an Aboriginal woman whilst they were on Eclipse Is. before being taken into custody shocked Lockyer. Lockyer sent Bailey to Sydney, with William Hook and Fanny, a young Aboriginal girl, on suspicion of the murder of the Aboriginal man on Green Is. He sailed from the Sound on 24 January 1827 on the Amity, arriving at Sydney on 15 February 1827. Presumably as he was not positively identified as the culprit he was released.
William Hook, "a New Zealander"; Hook was amongst the sealers who had approached d'Urville on 12 October 1826. Hook was questioned by d'Urville who discovered that he was a native of Kerikeri (Bay of Islands) and that had been "attached for nearly eight years from a very early age to the miserable lot of these vagabonds. He speaks English and seems almost to have completely forgotten his homeland" He was in William Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. Lockyer sent Hook to Sydney with Samuel Bailey to give evidence against Bailey. The Sydney Gazette (24/2/1827) reported "an examination, however, was had before the Acting Superintendent of Police, the result of which was, that no identification took place. No light has yet been thrown on the transaction".
Sally, "a native woman of the mainland opposite Kangaroo Island"; Sally was in John Randall's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827. She was amongst the 3 Aboriginal women who left the Sound on the Ann on 20 May 1827. Sally (was) returned to the vicinity of her home country by unknown means, presumably on a sealing vessel. In April 1830 she provided assistance in searching for Captain Collett Barker who had recently been commandant of the settlement at the Sound and was returning to Sydney in the Isabella. Whilst conducting a survey to ascertain the location of mouth of the Murray River Barker had been killed by Aboriginals.
Dinah, "a native woman of Van Diemen's Land"; Dinah may have travelled to Kangaroo Island with the previously mentioned Nat Thomas. She seems to have accompanied John Randall on the Governor Brisbane. Dinah was in John Randall's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827.
Fanny, an Aboriginal girl about 8-9 years of age; Fanny had been taken from her home country on the mainland opposite Middle Island. After meeting several of the Aboriginals from the sealers' boats on 19 October 1826, d'Urville noted that whilst the others had been with the sealers for several years the exception amongst the sealers' Aboriginal companions was "the small girl who they have only had seven months", i.e., since March 1826. Lockyer, "having no means to restore her to the tribe to which she belongs" sent Fanny to Sydney in the Amity (with Bailey and Hook) for the "disposal of His Excellency" Governor Darling.

Pirates—Colonial Schooner Hunter

Richard Symonds (Simons), "coloured American, from Canada"; D'Urville reported that he spoke good French. Symonds left the Sound on the Astrolabe on 25 October 1826 and arriving in Sydney on 2 December 1826. No further record has been found.
James Everett, steersman; Everett was born in England. He sailed from England on the English whaler Echo on 18 October 1819 bound for New Zealand. The Echo was wrecked on Cato Bank (part of the Capricorn Group, off the coast from Rockhampton) on 21 April 1820. The survivors arrived at Port Jackson in June and August 1820. Everett shipped, as James Everest, on the brig Queen Charlotte for Port Dalrymple on 8 Sept. 1820. He shipped on the brig Active for New Zealand on 31 December 1821 returning to Sydney in July 1822. It seems that Everett spent the next several years sealing in Bass Strait and at Kangaroo Island before joining the Hunter. Several years after he left the Sound he was back amongst the group of sealers ranging the islands of Bass Strait. Regarded as being of "infamous" character by George Augustus Robinson, particularly after an armed confrontation on 30 August 1831, there was strong evidence that he had murdered an Aboriginal woman on Woody Island (East Anderson Island) in Bass Straight. Reported to the authorities in Hobart by Robinson, warrants were issued for his arrest which appears not to have happened. After spending some time at Port Phillip, Everett later settled on Cape Barren Island, establishing a large family there. He died c. 1876 at 82 years of age.
William Bundy (Bunday, Bundey), boat-steerer; Bunday shipped in the brig Active with James Everett when it left Sydney for New Zealand on 31 December 1821 returning to Sydney in July 1822. He was mustered on the Minerva which sailed for Basses Straits on 14 June 1823. Bunday had been discharged from the brig Queen Charlotte prior to transferring to the Minerva. Bunday was boat-steerer of the boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827.
Thomas Toolen, seaman; Toolen was in William Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. No other record has been found. Robert Williams, "a Black man"; Williams was in Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. No other record has been found.
Pidgeon, "a Sydney Black"; Pidgeon was in Bundy's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 January 1827. Pidgeon was employed by Lockyer as a tracker and interpreter. The latter role would have been limited by the difference between his language and the language of the the Sound Aboriginals.
James Leadenhall; Leadenhall was in James Everett's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827. No other record has been found.
John Smidmore (Smitmore, Smedmore, Migmore); Shipped as John "Smitmore" in Governor Macquarie from Sydney for Port Dalrymple on 14 July 1820. He was in Everett's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827. Questioned by Lockyer, Smidmore admitted that he had shot the Aboriginal man on Green Is. defending himself and Ned Edwards.
Edward (Ned) Edwards, 'Native boy'; also involved in the confrontation at Green Island had been knocked down by a stone or stick and was bleeding "to all appearances dead" when shooting occurred. Ned Edwards was in Everett's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827.
Harry, "belonging to mainland opposite Kangaroo Island"; no further record has been found.
Mooney, "a native woman of Van Diemen's Land"; Mooney was in Everett's boat which arrived at the Sound on 10 March 1827. No further record has been found.

The preceding list may not have captured the names of all of Lockyer's "Pirates". The names of 5 sealers who "arrived in distress" on 4 April 1827 were not recorded. On 21 May 1827 the Ann, John Grimes master, sailed from the Sound with 12 sealers (possibly: Randall, Tasmein, Magennis, Sigsworth, Everett, Bunday, Toolen, Williams, Leadenhall, Smidmore, Edwards, and Harry) and 3 "black women, one from Kangaroo Island (Sally) and the others of Port Dalrymple, Van Diemen's Land (Dinah, Mooney)".

In concluding this account of Lockyer's "complete set of Pirates", it is apparent that whilst some of these men were of utterly disreputable character, others appear to have been somewhat less so. No evidence has been found that any were escaped convicts. Lockyer's description should be regarded as hyperbole. These men and their Aboriginal "companions" had routinely gone in small boats where few people had gone before in ships. They had suffered great privations living under harsh conditions and had survived. However, the intention of this account has not been to exonerate them because their behaviour, particularly their abduction and ill treatment of their Aboriginal "companions", was as unacceptable then as it is now.

Visit the stories of Robinson's other castaways:
Castaways 2; Certain Black Women, Natives of Van Diemen's Land
Castaways 3; Robinson's Crusoes


  • Ver. 1: 29 October 2002, Daniel K. 'Dan' Cerchi, personal research document prepared for South Indian Ocean Expedition in Akademik Shokalskiy, departed Port Louis, Mauritius, 14 November 2002, arrived Albany, Western Australia, 14 December 2002.
  • Ver. 2: ca. 2009, last updated 1 July 2012, Daniel K. 'Dan' Cerchi, Infamy & Industry; Abandonment and Rescue: Pirates and Castaways, personal website (defunct since 4 November 2012).
  • Ian Hawkins Nicholson, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Tasmania, 1803-1833, Roebuck Society, Canberra, 1983.
  1. New Holland: The name New Holland was first applied to the western and northern coast of Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, best known for his "discovery" in 1842 of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania since 1 January 1856). The name was applied to the western part of the continent now known as Australia with the arbitrary boundary at 135° east longitude, taken from a map published in 1663 Wikipedia. This became the western boundary of New South Wales in Governor Phillip's commision to establish a colony on the east coast explored by Lt. James Cook in 1770. The western boundary of New South Wales was redefined as being 129° east longitude in 1825 Wikipedia. This is now the eastern border of Western Australia.
  2. Bonnie Hicks, History of Americans in Albany, W. A. Hicks, in developing her American theme, speculated on the possibility of the members of the (later) sealing gangs being American, concluding that it could not said to be so with any certainty. Hicks' caution was well founded as, in fact, few were American. In examining how the men mentioned here arrived at the Sound it will become apparent, however, that there was an American connection, one that was to result, possibly, in the extended association Americans had with Albany beginning a decade after Lockyer’s arrival.
  3. The Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter, 16/5/1818, p. 2 (Trove); "...returned after an unsuccessful attempt to make the western passage; having had constant heavy weather since her departure. Three persons, who had been carried away from this Settlement, have been landed from her."
  4. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 11/2/1824, p. 2 (Trove); The Australian (Sydney, NSW), 11/11/1824, p. 2 (Trove)
  5. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 17/3/1825, p. 2 (Trove).
  6. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 22/4/1822, p. 2 (Trove).
  7. TAHO; CSO63/1/1 p. 10 . Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 26/7/1823, p. 1 (Trove) provides a list of the crew of 8 among whom were his son George and Benjamin Vardon.
  8. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 16/8/1823, p. 2 (Trove).
  9. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 20/8/1824, p. 4 (Trove) ; 8/10/1824, p. 2 (Trove).
  10. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 29/10/1824, p. 2 (Trove). The crew which had previously been advertised as about to depart were Mr. John Smiles, Mate; Robert Brown, John Haywood, Samuel Lauder, James Williams, Thomas Penfold, John Simpson, Samuel Stephenson, Wm. Chamberlin, Joseph Brooks, John Watson, James Drury, and John Meruon.
  11. During early-mid 1822, Chase had made several return voyages to Macquarie Harbour, located on the south-west coast of Van Diemen's Land, as master of His Majesty's Colonial Brig Duke of York. Chase may have then spent nearly 12 months ashore (family time?) as no records have been found of him sailing out of Hobart until 2 August 1823.
  12. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, 13/5/1825, pp. 1, 2.
  13. James Craig: ??????
  14. TAHO; CSO 1/320/7578, pp. 433-40.
  15. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 24/11/1825, p. 2 (Trove) The fur seal skins were likely the Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus). The Hair seal skins were from the Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea).
  16. Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 25/11/1825, p. 2 (Trove) After Cook’s Endeavour, the first of several colonial ships bearing the name Endeavour was a 31 ton schooner first registered on 12 May 1801. This may have been the former schooner Martha alluded to. This Endeavour (of Sydney) spent much of its life sailing in Bass Strait or New Zealand waters. It was wrecked at Shoal Haven on 2 March 1813.
  17. Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 19/8/1825, p. 2 (Trove); 26/8/1825, p. 2 (Trove).
  18. Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 30/9/1825, p. 2 (Trove).
  19. Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 14/10/1825, p. 3 (Trove); Hobart Town Gazette, 24/12/1825, p. 2 (Trove).
  20. Hobart Town Gazette, 10/6/1826, p. 2 (Trove). The Cyprus had been 10 weeks on the passage, "having sailed the 23d March, and experienced very tempestuous weather; many of the persons on board suffered greatly from the want of provisions."
  21. The Australian (Sydney, NSW), 12/8/1826, p. 3 (Trove).
  22. Hobart Town Gazette, 7/10/1826, p. 2 (Trove).
  23. Dumont D'Urville, Captain Jules S-C. Trans. Helen Rosenman); An Account in Two Volumes of Two Voyages to the South Seas, Melbourne University Press, 1987, Vol. 1, p. 31.
  24. Ibid. p. 32.
  25. ibid. p. 33.
  26. ibid. p. 34.
  27. ibid. p. 35.
  28. ibid. p. 35.
  29. ibid. p. 49.
  30. The Australian (Sydney, NSW), 6/12/1826, p. 3 (Trove).
  31. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 6/12/1826, p. 2 (Trove). Phew! What a serve for the visitors!
  32. The Australian (Sydney, NSW), 9/12/1826, p. 3 {Trove)
  33. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 20/12/1826, p. 2 (Trove).
  34.  ?????
  35. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW), 13/6/1827, p. 2 (Trove).
  36. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 16/2/1827, p. 2; 24/2/1827, p. 2. Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 9/3/1827, p. 3.
  37. Hobart Town Gazette, 7/4/1827, p. 3. The source of this report is unknown, possibly from those aboard the Amity after its return to Sydney on 15 February 1827 then brought to Hobart per HMS Fly on 3 March 1827. Rather strangely, an abridged version of this report appeared in the Sydney Gazette, 20/4/1827.
  38. The Monitor (Sydney), 27/4/1827, p. 5.

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