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Voyage of the Emma to the South Australian Colony in 1836

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Date: 20 Apr 1836 to 5 Oct 1836
Location: Kangaroo Island, South Australiamap
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Voyage of the Emma to the South Australian Colony in 1836

Emma a 2 masted Brig, under Captain T. Nelson; anchored at Nepean Bay on the north east coast of Kangaroo Island on the 5th of October 1836; she carried 22 passengers.

The Voyage of the Emma
Little has been recorded on the journey of this emigrant ship to our shores and, accordingly, I reproduce a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of caring for animals at sea by one of its passengers, C.S. Hare, taken from a letter written to George Fife Angas in London, and dated 28 November 1836, at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island:

You will be glad to hear of the safe arrival of the Emma at this port with her passengers all safe, though it has been literally 'through a sea of troubles', such as I, with all the vicissitudes of my little life, have never before and trust never again to experience. I wrote an account of the heavy gales and their unpleasant consequences at the Cape. I sent you a sworn statement of circumstances in connection with them. Your agents there sent you a protest against Captain Nelson, and accounts of the affairs besides. After closing my melancholy business there, I put Mrs Hare on board at our lives' peril.

The gale increased, and a series of losses and disasters occurred in constant succession, until our arrival in this place. We lost after we had cleared out, but while in the bay, our best Vriesland cow. On the 8th our best grey mare died after a heavy squall. On the 16th the second cow died; I skinned her and tied the toughest pieces of her hide on the chafed and sore places of the stallion and two mares. On the 19th the little black mare died. On the 22nd our brown mare died. On the 27th our stallion, with three Cape, four English sheep, five goats and all our remaining poultry died, or were rather killed.

It was a perfect hurricane, in which we lost our foresail, our fore-topsail, main topsail and almost everything else. I had four men attend the cattle and I never suffered them night or day to be alone. While they were alive I made it a point of conscience to be up at least twice every night, mostly three times, and frequently all night to watch them. I had them slung all the time.

I have had as many as eight bags of hay round and about the mares, with sheepskins round their ropes, etc., to prevent them chafing. In the course of a single night, such was the rolling of the ship, etc., that it has frequently cut through a bag of hay and cut half an inch into their flesh.

By every means which my knowledge of medicine and cattle could suggest, did I do my best to keep them alive. If they had been my own I would have cut their throats and thrown them overboard, in mercy to them, long before they died. They were, without exception, before they died, the most miserable mass of wounds, bruises and sores, that I ever beheld. I landed one sheep here; one died in the boat. You will be glad to hear that the half-Merino rams are alive still.

The ship came in here in an almost wrecked condition... In as bad condition as the Emma came in here, I found the settlement in a perhaps worse condition. [1]


A Passenger List can be found here:

The Emma, 164 tons, Thomas Nelson.—Mr. C. Simeon Hare, Mrs. C. S. Hare; Mr. Henry Douglas ; Mr. William Wilkins, Mrs. Wilkins, and child ; Mr. W. S. Brisford, Mrs. Brisford, and daughter; Mr. J. Bennett; Mr. 0. Lines, Mrs. Lines. At Kangaroo Island, November 2nd, 1836 ; Holdfast Bay, November 8th, 1836

Passenger List etc.

  1. http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/manning/sa/immigra/shipmisc.htm
  • FIRST REPORT OF THE DIRECTORS OF THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMPANY from the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839) of Saturday 18 June 1836, Page 7. first accessed online on the 18th of February 2020 at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/31749629/2052332




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