THE STORY OF THE JAVA.
The British ship JAVA was built at Calcutta by Blackmore & Co, in 1811.
1175 tons; 159ft 2in. x 40ft 6in. (length x beam).
The "JAVA" sailed from London on 12 October 1839, and from Plymouth on October 29 and arrived in Adelaide on February 6th 1849.
That particular voyage from England to Australia, under command of Captain Alexander Duthie, was one of the worst of all that came to South Australia. Over-crowding caused much discontent amoungst the 426 to 500 passengers, some 30 to 50 of whom perished from disease, malnutrition and starvation on the voyage. The Medical Board inquiry, held by the Government of South Australia into the Java incident, found the captain and medical officer were guilty of treating the people on board very badly.
The 1840 arrival of the Java is fairly well documented at both Mortlock library and in the State Records office in Adelaide.
The display in Adelaide's Maritime Museum contains extracts from George Plymouth's voyage from Plymouth to Adelaide on that "horrid ship".
There have been some excellent accounts of the doings of this ship published, including Java - The Melancholy True Story of the East Indiaman JAVA by Stephen Barrett. In this account of the Java, Barrett writes of the infamous trip to Adelaide from London and Plymouth between October 1839 and February 1840 during which some 50 of the 500 passengers on board starved to death. These included cabin and intermediate passengers, as well as assisted emigrants. A Royal Commission into the affair was held, and her owners, Scott & Co. of London were ordered not to be paid.
Minutes of the medical board inquiry into the JAVA's voyage, in the Public Record Office of South Australia (PO Box 713, North Adelaide 5006, South Australia), 1839/312a 27.
Guide for genealogists and maritime historians,
Roebuck Society Publication No. 42 (Ridgehaven, SA: Gould Books/Aranda, ACT: Roebuck Society, 1990), pp. 63 (where the number of dead is incorrectly given as 3) and 225].
According to Ian Hawkins Nicholson, Log of logs; a catalogue of logs, journals,
shipboard diaries, letters, and all forms of voyage narratives, 1788 to 1988, for Australia and New Zealand and surrounding oceans, vol. 2, Roebuck Society Publication No. 47 (Yaroomba, Qld: The Author jointly with the Australian Association for Maritime History, 1993), p. 244.
Journal, 28 October 1839-6 February 1840, of William/George Richards, in the
Mortlock Library of South Australiana, State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, D4718(L).
An account of the voyage, based on the above sources, as well as a later history of the JAVA as a troopship in the 1840's and as a hulk from c.1865 to 1939, has been privately published by Stephen Barnett, JAVA: Being the Melancholy True Story of the Voyage of the East Indiaman Java with Emigrants to the Colony of South Australia ... (1990 and 1991). The work is available directly from the author at 42 Cooinda Avenue, Redwood Park 5097,
There is also an account of the voyage in the chapter "The Floating Coffin," in Colin Kerr, A exellent coliney; the practical idealists of 1836-1846 (Adelaide: Rigby, 1978).
There is also a good website with lots of stuff on it about the "Floating Coffin".
JAVA 1175 tons from London and Plymouth - CARGO:
98 pieces house framing, 62 casks bottled porter, 2 cart wheels, 1 axel,
1 plough, 1 pair harrows, 1 box wearing apparel, 20 casks corks, 20 boxes slates, 52 barrels flour, 1 portable house, 14 packages household furniture,
12 cases, 1 crate, 20 casks, 2 hhds, 5 packages, 48 bottles, 4 bales merchandise. South Australian Register 15/2/1840
Advertisements such as this were posted in the United Kingdom to entice immigrants to Australia:
"WANTED" - (published at Truro, August 19th, 1839)
"An opportunity now offers itself to all married persons of useful occupations particularly to agricultural labourers, carpenters, builders, stone masons, shepherds and blacksmiths of obtaining a free passage to Port Adelaide in South Australia (SA). A free colony where there are no convicts sent and where every person who immigrates is as free as he is in this country. Besides the classes of persons enumerated above bakers, blacksmiths, braziers and tin men, smiths, shipwrights, boat builders, wheel wrights, sawyers, cabinet makers, coopers, couriers, farriers, mill wrights, harness makers, boot and shoe makers, tailors, tanners, brick makers, lime burners and all persons engaged in the erection of buildings are always in great request. The applicants must able to obtain a good character reference as honest sober, industrious men. They must be real labourers going out to work in the colony of sound body not less than 15 and nor more than 30 years of age
and married. The rule as to age is occasionally departed from in favour of the parents of large families. As a general rule each child is considered as extended the age plus one year. Sisters of married applicants are allowed to go free if of good character.
The province of SA is a delightfully fertile and salubrious country, in every respect well adapted to the constitution of Englishmen and
is one of the most flourishing in all our colonies. It is well watered and there have never been any complaints from the colonists of a want of this valuable element. On the contrary, the letters from Cornishmen who have written home are very satisfactory on this point. It should be born in mind that complaints of a scarcity of water do not apply to Adelaide but to other settlements not connected to SA.
Immigrants wishing to obtain a free passage this year must now have that opportunity if they apply immediately to Mr I. Latimer, Truro,
who is employed by Her Majesty's colonisation commissioners to engage for that fine first class teak built ship the "Java" of 1200 tonnes.
The ship's accommodations are unusually spacious and lofty and are so arranged as to ensure the comfort of all passengers.
She will carry 2 surgeons and 2 school masters the latter of whom will be regularly employed in teaching the immigrants and their children. The vessel will call at Plymouth to take in Cornish passengers on or about the 16th of October but, in order to ensure a passage,
application should be made forthwith." Mr. I. LATIMER, Truro,
who is empowered by her Majesty’s Colonization Commisioners to engage for that fine first-class teak-built ship the JAVA, of 1200 Tons.
The JAVA departed on 5 March 1840, in ballast, for Batavia [R. T. Sexton, Shipping arrivals and departures, South Australia, 1627-1850;