PIONEERS AND SETTLERS BOUND FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

KATHERINE STEWART FORBES 1837



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KATHERINE STEWART FORBES sailed from Gravesend on July 27th 1837, just a month after King William IV died on June 20th 1837.
She arrived at Holdfast Bay on October 17th, 1837 under the command of Captain Alfred Fell. This 457 ton barque was built at Northfleet, Kent, in 1818.

BACKGROUND
She conveyed early settlers to New Zealand, and transported convicts to Australia in 1830 and 1832. It seems she stayed in Australian waters for a few years and was variously employed in the sea-going transport trade. An ill fated voyage to begin with as cholera broke out aboard her on the day she sailed from Woolwich in 1832, so she anchored in Plymouth Sound but was ordered to put to sea again after receiving medical supplies and the services of an assistant surgeon from the Royal Navy. She returned to the Thames Estuary and was laid up in Stangate Creek until almost the end of March before being allowed to resume her voyage. Of the 222 convicts aboard, 30 men developed cholera and 13 died before she finally set sail from Woolwich in February 1832 bound for Van Diemans Land (arriving on July 16, 1832) carrying 222 male convicts under the command of Captain James Berry.

According to statistics submitted to the House of Commons in 1840, the KATHERINE STEWART FORBES carried 177 passengers on its voyage to South Australia during 1837. The passengers came from all over England, and some from Ireland. There were six aged over thirty, of whom five paid their own way. There were 129 aged between fifteen and thirty, of whom only four were required to pay, and there were forty-two aged under fifteen, all of whom were granted free passage. The OBSERVER August 29, 1896 reports: John Watts said he was on board this vessel when it left London on July 27, 1837. Alfred Fell was master, William Donovan was Chief Officer, W B Willoughby was Second`Officer and Duncan Donovan was Third Officer.

When the KATHERINE STEWART FORBES reached Holdfast Bay the passengers and cargo were landed on to the beach. As well as using their own boats to unload passengers, a number of other people in boats came out to the ship to offer work to the passengers. Two days after the KATHERINE STEWART FORBES arrived in Adelaide, a public proclamation was made, on October 19th 1837, of the death of King William IV and the accession of Queen Victoria. This news was already three months old.

Notes about some of the passengers onboard the KATHERINE STEWART FORBES.

Four years later Captain Fells gave an account of his voyages to Adelaide at the hearings of the Select Committee on South Australia on March 26th 1841.
Refer to "House of Commons, Second Report from the Select Committee on South Australia, together with Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index, 10 June 1841".

Captain Fell regarded Holdfast Bay as being as safe as Spithead, being sheltered by Kangaroo Island at the mouth of the Gulf. On his later voyages he was able to take the ship up the River Torrens to the new Port of Adelaide. He regarded Holdfast Bay as being as safe as Spithead, being sheltered by Kangaroo Island at the mouth of the Gulf.




SOURCES
Passenger and crew details were extracted from the periodical Newsletter No. 15 "Before the Buffalo", The Story of South Australia 1800-1836 by H.J. Finnis, President, The Pioneers' Association of South Australia 1964. (Published by The Pioneers' Association of South Australia, Murray House, 77 Grenfell St, Adelaide, South Australia). "Compilation of a list of passengers carried on the vessels which arrived in South Australia in the early period of its history is fraught with difficulties. The absence of records is accounted for no doubt, by accidental destruction by fire of official papers. Figures given in the S.A. Commissioners' Reports do not accord with the number of names recorded in the lists of persons carried, when these are available. The South Australian Company's papers, deposited in the South Australian Archives have made it possible to compile an authentic list of persons who embarked for South Australia in the Company's vessels".