The Maritime Heritage Project

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Australia and New Zealand Mining Companies

News of the discovery of gold in California reached around the world. In addition to all other nations descending on the mines, several thousand Australian and New Zealander men, women and children responded to the lure. In 1849-1850, more than 200 hundred sailing vessels made the treacherous journey to California's Pacific Coast. Like all voyagers to the gold fields, they sailed in anything afloat: large ocean-going ships, barques, brigs, coastal cutters and schooners.

The first announcement of gold was published in Australia on December 23, 1848 in the Sydney Morning Herald. Coastal sailing vessels brought the news to Hobart, where it was published on January 9, 1849 and in Adelaide on January 27, 1849. It reached Auckland by December 2, Wellington on December 10, 1849, and Dunedin in the South on March 7, 1849.

By the end of January 1849, seven vessels — six from Sydney and one from Hobart — had sailed from Australia for San Francisco with 93 passengers, including six women and four children.

The sailing route and time from Australia to San Francisco depending on the wind and needs for replenishment of food and water. Ports usually included New Zealand, Tahiti, and/or the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).

Among the early ships sailing for San Francisco from Australia and New Zealand were: 

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L  
M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   

Columbine, 68 ton Schooner

Master: Sergeant tsg: 293 Rigging: schooner tsg: 293 Weight: 68 tsg: 293 
Cleared Sydney, Australia October 18, 1849 for San Francisco. Passengers departing Sydney:

Shaw, Mr William tsg: 292,293 
Grunton, Mr Thomas tsg: 292,293 
Smith, Mr S tsg: 292,293 
McKelliget, Mr R tsg: 292,293

Deborah, 121-ton schooner.
Master: Andrew Bliss.
Agent: R.T. Ford, shipping and customs agent. 
Sailed from Tahiti April 19, 1849 for San Francisco. 
All of the crew, bar one, deserted on arrival in San Francisco. The one person had a bad foot; he was made mate. The mate worked on her return voyage to Oahu with a crew of Sandwich Islanders who were returning from the mines due to sickness. Each were paid $100.00. The crew after leaving Oahu were Sandwich Islanders, except for the mate, who was receiving a very high rate of wages. Cargo was 100 lb. gold dust. She left for the Sandwich Islands April 26, 1849 and arrived May 21, 1849. 

(Source: Captain Barry Needham, tsg:282, 290, 292 Ref: e-77653)

Despatch, 139-ton schooner, built at Jersey in 1838. Owners: William Francis Plant and Andrew Bliss, Sydney master mariners. Loaded with cargo from Montefiore, Graham and Company: 200 iron pots, 245 casks of beer, 82 bundles and 10 packages of hardware goods; 13 packages of drugs, 50 bags of flour, 40 boxes of soap, 256 cases and 10 boxes of oilmen's stores, and tea, champagne, sherry, haberdashery, boots, shoes, hops and other articles. Sailed January 16, 1849, stopped at Tahiti, arrived Honolulu March 28, sailed March 31, arrived San Francisco April 25, 1849. 
Master: William Francis Plant
One passenger. 

Note: on July 30, 1850 a brig named Dispatch from Sydney, Captain Plant, is listed as arriving 85 days from Sydney with a cargo of 350 cheese, champagne, 40 cartons tea, 1 house, 2 beer engines, 1 galley, 6 safes, lime juice, 40 tons of coal, sugar, biscuits, herring and assorted merchandise. Passengers: Mr. Cowan and Mr. R.O. Reilly. 

Duke of Roxburgh, 498 ton barque built at Newcastle in 1828. Captain G.P. Collard. Left Sydney, N.S.W., October 15, 1849; arrived San Francisco January 14 (91 days at sea) with 165 passengers. 

Eagle, 23 ton schooner, (another report has her at 92 tons), built at Auckland in 1849. Sailed from Auckland. 182 days from Auckland to San Francisco. She may have encountered bad weather and blown off course as she called at the Mexican port of San Blas, from where she took 40 days to reach San Francisco. She sailed with sixteen passengers. 

Eleanor Lancaster, 438-ton barque, built at Maryport in 1839, owned by London shipowner Robert Brooks. Left Sydney January 21, 1849. Arrived in San Francisco on April 2 (71 day passage), and the first of seven vessels to arrive in San Francisco from Sydney.

Agent: Robert Towns, master mariner.

Captain: Francis W. Lodge. 
A few tons of cargo. 
Cabin passage from Sydney to San Francisco in January cost 30 pounds and a steerage passage 10 pounds. Freight was taken on at 5 pounds per ton on weight or measurement. Upon arrival in San Francisco, her crew deserted, as was common then, and her captain used her along the Sacramento River as a grog shop and "hospital." She was moved to San Francisco and rented as a bonded storeship until March 1, 1850 for $700 per month. The captain complained that he had to pay his laborers "six dollars per day and three men do the work of one man."

52 passengers, including: 
J.C. Catton, Clerk, Rowand, McNab and Company
Dr. Silver 
Mr. Catten 
Mr. John Longfield
Mr. & Mrs. Cronon
Mr. & Mrs. Lovell
Messrs.:

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Stormy Weather
Helmut Glassl

Egnell
Parker
Waddell
Yates 
McKay
J. Mahood
R. Johnson
M. Josephson
W. Butterford
J. McKee 
J. Wardell
C. McMillan
John Weir
John Shannon
E. Finch
J. Harrison
Joseph Holt, Jr.
W. Harding
W. Ward
G. Childs
Joseph Davies
John Davies
G. Adams
Simeon Raphael
James Fitzherbert
H. Priest
S. Barley
G. West
J. Jones
J. Bourke
W.Cleveland
A. Murray
A. McDonall
J. Wolfe
Philips
B. Slater

and

 

M. Barry
J. Realy
T. Coleman
G. Gurner
P. Murphy
Mr & Mrs Taylor and child

Eliza. Schooner, built in Australia, constructed by convicts at Port Arthur for the Government in 1834, purchased by a private merchant. Freight. No passengers.

Elizabeth, 22-ton schooner. Length 38'; beam 13'; depth 6'. Sailed from Auckland. Owned and commanded by William Talbot. 100 days from Auckland to San Francisco. 

Elizabeth Archer, 338 ton barque built at Maryport in 1846. Master Charles Cobb. Left Sydney July 17, 1849; arrived October 6, (81 days) with 124 passengers.

Fame, 203 ton barque built 1815 in Quebec. Sailed from Sydney October 23, 1849, Master Joseph Bradley. Arrived San Francisco March 19 (147 days at sea), 15 passengers.

Flinders, 15-ton schooner. 1850 departure. 90 days to San Francisco. Flinders was the smallest vessel to leave Australia in 1850.

Georgiana, 25-ton cutter built in Sydney. Length: 40'; beam 13'; depth 7'4". Sailed from Sydney September 28, 1849. Arrived San Francisco 138 days later on February 13, 1849. 
Captain Lawrence Johnson
One passenger: Harry Palmer, part-owner.

Harmony, 520 ship built at Whitby in 1809 sailed from Sydney on February 7, 1849. Captain John Smith Papps. Arrived San Francisco July 2, 1850 (145 days at sea) with 217 passengers.

Inchinnan, 565 ton barque built at Sunderland in 1844. Sailed from Sydney September 12, 1849, Master Henry Pearse. Arrived San Francisco December 1 (81 days) with 219 passengers.

Inez, 356 ton American ship, sailed for San Francisco February 18th 1849 
Captain Jackson 
Passengers:

Dr. Mayberley
Mr. J. A. Campbell
Mr. W. Harding
Mr. & Mrs. Turner
Mr. T. Smith
Mr. A. Remwick
Mr. C.S. Deacon
Mr. T. Lloyd
Mr. and Mrs. C A Morgan and two children
Mr. and Mrs. G. Appleton
Mr. H. Macpherson
Mr. A. Monegan
Mr. T. Foot 
Messrs W & G Evans

John Munn, 638 ton barque. 1850 departure. 106 days from Sydney to San Francisco.

Lindsays, 219-ton barque. Sailed January 21, 1849. Arrived Honolulu April 23, sailed May 18, arrived San Francisco June 18, 1849 (148 days). Loaded with spirits, tobacco, rice, tea, coffee, suet, soups, split peas, lard, pork, tongues, grindstones, castor oil, corks, pipes, paint brushes, looking-glasses, boots, shoes, windowglass, nails, guns, paint, rope, copper, camp ovens, iron pots and candles. Three passengers. Upon arrival, she was condemned as unseaworthy and was beached to serve as a storeship. 
Captain W. Mackenzie

Louisa, 307 ton barque, launched at Calcutta in 1834, recorded 68 days to San Francisco.

Louisa, 182-ton brig, built in Southtown, Suffolk, 1834. owned by John MacNamara. Captain W. N. Millton.
Sailed January 21, 1849 (another report indicates January 31, 1849). Arrived Honolulu April 14, sailed April 17. Arrived San Francisco May 7, 1849. Crew deserted upon reaching San Francisco. The captain had to pay wages of $150 per month to get enough men to sail her to Mazatlan to pick up passengers awaiting transport to San Francisco.
34 passengers:

Mr. J.H. Eccleston 
Mr. S. Folk
Mr. J. Solomon
Mr. H. Jacobs
Mr. J. Lazarus
Mr. J. M’Eachern
Mr. R. M’Eachern
Mr. M. M’Laughlan
Mr. & Mrs. Caldwell and three children
Mr. Hogan
Mr. Downes
Mr. E. Byrnes
Mr. O. Murray
Mr. W. Butterfield
Mr. M. Gaunton
Messrs Stephens, Lindberg, Bocking, O’Neill, Fairy, Bingham, Wilson, Crawford, Frazer, H.J. Murray, J. Allman, Pergon, Sutton, and Cruickshank

Maria, 460 ton barque built at Yarmouth in 1846. Master Fred W. Plant. Sailed from Sydney, october 12, 1849, stopped at Honolulu December 17-December 22, arrived San Francisco January 15 (95 days at sea). 193 passengers

Phantom, 13-ton, single deck Cutter. Length 34'6", beam; 11'6"; depth 5'. Built at Sydney by Andrew William Reynolds in 1848 and owned by a Sydney landholder, George Pike. Sailed from Sydney Since she carried neither passengers nor cargo, she may have been sent to be sold once in port; however in June, it was reported in Sydney, Australia, that she had been seized by customs at San Francisco for a breach of port regulations. The outcome of the seizure has not been discovered, but she was sold shortly afterwards.

Plymouth, 86- ton schooner. First vessel to sail in a fleet of seven from Sydney. Left January 8, 1849, stopped at Tahiti, arrived in Honolulu on March 21. Remained in Honolulu for 21 days and sailed April 10, arrived San Francisco May 5, 1849 (117 days). Called at Tahiti and Honolulu enroute to San Francisco. 
Captain George H. Gould; succeeded in command by First Officer J.F. Church. 
No passengers reported.

Sabine, 175-ton American brig. Part-owner E. Kingsbury. 
Sailed March 31, 1849 (another report indicates that the sailing was April 4, 1849). Arrived San Francisco in 88 days: July 1, 1849. On her return trip to Port Jackson, she was 61 days out from San Francisco. Her master, George W. Town, found it difficult to find five men in San Francisco to navigate her to Hawaii and had to pay $80 each for the run. At Honolulu, he was able to pick up a crew. 
Master: George W. Town.
24 passengers.

Mr. E Kingsbury (Supercargo), 
Mr. R. Sherman 
Mr. M. Duchene 
Mr. J. Donaldson
Captain Courtney 
P. Gould 
C. Sparke
A. Bicknell
J. Chapman 
J. Simmons 
A. Cameron 
W. Shum 
J. Mounton 
J. Wright 
J. Smith 
J. Taylor 
J. Morris 
J. Hely 
A. Gulland
G. Jones
W. Davis 
H. Mark

Sea Gull, 62-ton schooner built by William and Samuel Charles, launched at Ultimo, Sydney, September 19, 1849. 66 feet long, 16.4 beam, 7 foot depth. She was coppered and copper-fastened with a spacious after cabin. Shares were held by Thomas Smith of Western Lea, Pyrmont. Sailed from Sydney on December 17, 1849 arrived San Francisco 105 days out from Sydney on April 1, 1850. 
Captain R.H.A. Napper
Passengers numbered 21, including two aborigines.

Thomas Smith (with three sons)
George Smith.
G. Lumsdale
J. Lumsdale
A. Lumsdale
W. H. Howard

Seringapatam, 398 ton ship (another sources has her at 335 tons) built in Bombay in 1799, named after the 1798 victory by British troops over Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, which finally gave the East India Company control over the south-west Indian state. Prior to sailing to America, she was continuously employed in sealing and whaling for 46 years (from 1801 to 1847). Sailed from Sydney on December 23, 1849, Captain Lovett. Arrived San Francisco March 18, 1850 (85 days at sea) with 158 passengers.

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Brigantine Sailing Ship

Star of China. 101-ton brigantine, built at the Manning River in 1843 by a Sydney shipwright, Robert Howie. 101 tons, 63.8 feet, beam 20 feet, depth 10.6 feet.
65 passengers.

Victoria, 589 ton barque built in Nova Scotia in 1848. Sailed from Sydney, N.S.W. on November 14, 1849, Captain John Carphin. Arrived Honolulu January 21, sailed January 16, arrived San Francisco February 18, (96 days at sea) with 272 passengers.

William Hill , 119-ton brig, built at the Clarence River, N.S.W., by William Phillips in 1847 for a Sydney merchant, Edward Smith Hill. Loaded with spirits, beer, tobacco, mustard, spades, saddlery, oil, paint, pickles, beef, butter, pork, wine and other articles, mostly in small quantities. 81 days to San Francisco. Sailed January 20, 1849. Arrived San Francisco April 18, 1849 (88 days at sea). She was unable to sell her cargo in San Francisco and sailed back to Tahiti with much of it intact. 
Master: J. Macdonald.
52 passengers, including:

E.S. Hill
W. Hill

William Melville, 219 ton bark (British), built in Newport in 1844 left Tasmania March 30, 1849. Captain George Thomas. 116 days from Launceston, Tasmania. On May 13, 1850, sent a boat shore at Patersons' Group in search of water. The boat's crew were decoyed natives into the bushes on the pretense they would be shown water. They were attacked by a great number of natives. Two crewmen were killed: Francis Lacey of Hobart Town and Michael McSweeny of Ireland. Remainder of crew saved themselves by swimming off towards the ship and a boat sent to pick them up. Cargo: 110 opossum rugs, 1 horse (for Captain Thomas), 1 house for the Captain, flour, oats, rice, pickles, butter, bacon, medicine, tobacco, sugar, tea and onions. 
Passengers:

Mrs. Thomas and Child
J. M. C. Brown
J. Poolwer
D. Ritchie
Robert Towart
Mr. Hodges
Mr. and Mrs. J. Smith
W. Mariner
W. Shepperd
W. Curlew
W. Mannington
D. Wilkins
F. Martin
O. Palmer
E. J. Beecraft
Mr. Lucey
Mr. Lipscombe
J. Love
Mr. Leary
D. McWaney
E. Coorley
J. Burke
T. Jenkins
R. Swain
Mr. and Mrs. French
S. Garasfork
T. Sharp
J. Crandon
D. C. O'Meara
R. Wood
R. Roberts
W. Crask

William Watson. 480-ton barque built in Dumbarton. 
161 Passengers

Gold Rush shipo glicee print.
Gold Seekers En Route to the California Gold Rush
Clipper ship during fair weather. c. 1849

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