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Eglinton

Inquirer, Wednesday 8 September 1852, page 2:
LOSS OF THE BARQUE EGLINTON
On Monday, after the appearance of the Fremantle post, an express arrived from that town, bearing the intelligence of the wreck of the Eglinton, bound from London and the Cape of this port. The news was brought onto Fremantle by Mr. Henderson a brother of the Controller General and passenger by the Eglinton, who walked in from the wreck, which he supposed to be about 25 or 30 miles to the northward of Perth. Immediately on the receipt of the intelligence, the William Pope, Typo, and two other coasters, got under weigh, and proceeded to the scene of the disaster. The Water Police boat, and Harbour Master's boat were also despatched by the Fremantle authorities, who, on this occasion, displayed a degree of promptitude and energy which did them much credit. Mr. Henderson, although suffering severely from the effects of fatigue and want of food and water, returned in the Water Police Boat. Captain Henderson forwarded the diving apparatus, under charge of a sapper, together with two prisoners, who understood its use, for the purpose of recovering the treasure, to the amount of £15,000, which was on board the vessel. Food, raiment, and blankets, of which the party were destitute, were also forwarded, the report from the Fremantle stated that the water covered the lower deck of the vessel, which was lying a mile and more off shore. Her back was broken, but it was conjectured that she might last a week if it did not come on to blow. The boatswain was drowned in an attempt to save the captain's chronometer, which had fallen overboard. It appears that this unfortunate vessel was driven onto shore during the night of Friday, when it will be recollected it blew very strongly. Upon the news arriving at Perth, a party of the 99th Regt., consisting of twelve men under the command of Lieut. Elliot, were despatched to the wreck, as well as some policemen, to protect the treasure and other property. D.A.O.G. Bell also proceeded thither on the part of the Commissariat. The Hon. the Surveyor General, His Excellency's Private Secretary, and many of the inhabitants of Perth, proceeded to the scene of the disaster. We have since received intelligence direct from the wreck. It appears that the Eglinton (35 days from the Cape) was driven on shore at 10 p.m. on Friday, about 30 miles to the northward of Perth, where she now lies, a perfect wreck, dismasted, and jammed up on a rock about one mile from shore. She has thirty passengers, eleven of whom are in the cabin. We regret to report the loss of another life, that of Mrs. Bartram, sister to our respected fellow-colonists, the Messrs. Carter. She was drowned by the capsizing in the surf of the ship's cutter. Among the other passengers, are Mr. and Mrs. Walcot, Mr. Henderson, Messrs. Fontlerey (2), Mrs. Glaskin, and a relation of Mr. Barker's, Guildford, (name not given). Eight sailors left the wreck without permission on Saturday, and before they left, observed our informant, broke open some of the passengers' boxes, stealing a silver cup and other plate, besides money and jewellery. We presume these worthies are ere this in the tender care of the police. A number of Fremantle people were at the wreck. The Typo and three other vessels arrived during the afternoon of Monday. It is supposed that part of the upper cargo will be saved. The only package that seemed to be landed, was a case of books. The mail was still on board.
LATER PARTICULARS.—We learn from parties who left the wreck yesterday morning that the seamen who left the vessel, had returned. A lady passenger had been obliged to give five pounds to one of the sailors to redeem some trinkets of her's which he had in his possession. The Louisa, which was reported to have started for the wreck on Monday evening, had not arrived. A survey was to be held yesterday at eleven o'clock. The mail had not been landed, but it was supposed there would not be much difficulty in obtaining it; but with reference to the cargo, it was generally imagined that none of it would be saved, as the wreck was so situated as to prevent its transhipment. The soldiers had not arrived.
No attempt had been made, at the early hour our informants left, to land the treasure. The passengers, who had suffered severely from exposure, etc; would most probably arrive in Fremantle last night. We have not heard from what mischance the Eglinton happened to be in the place she is, but doubtless, for the satisfaction of all parties, an inquiry will take place.

Inquirer, Wednesday 3 November 1852, page 2:
Special Quarter Sessions.
The case of the Captain of the "Eglinton" came off yesterday, and as it was one of much interest, the Court was at times very fully attended. His Honor in his charge to the Grand Jury observed, that the complaint laid against the Master of the "Eglinton," was that of violating the provisions of the Maritime Act, which enacted that any negligence on the part of the Master of a vessel whereby the surety of the ship, passengers, or crew, might be endangered, would render him guilty of a misdemenour, and make him liable to he tried for such offence at the next port of arrival. The Grand Jury, after some delay, having found a true bill, the trial of defendant commenced. The indictment set forth, that, upon the arrival of the vessel off Tristan d'Achuna, the dead reckoning and the chronometer were found to differ by nearly 1½ degrees, that no steps were taken at the Cape of Good Hope to rectify the error; neither was any allowance subsequently made for such error, and that on the day of the destruction of the vessel, when cautioned by the mate that the water was discoloured, no attempt was made to ascertain the soundings or to bring to.
The Advocate-General, on the part of the Crown, very clearly explained to the jury the bearings of the case; but our space will not allow us to attempt even a sketch of his address. The following witnesses were examined on the part of the Crown: Mr. Sutherland, who testified to the authenticity of the ship's register; the mate of the vessel (Mr. Carpin) who was in the witness-box for a considerable time, and gave evidence as to the difference which existed between his dead reckoning and the captain's chronometer's time; the Surveyor-General, Captain Scott and Harding, who gave evidence on technical points. For the defence Mr. Henderson was called. The accused was ably defended by Mr. G. Lenke. The jury gave at first a general verdict of guilty, but it appearing that the verdict was intended to apply only to the fifth count, (not attempting to sound or bring to on approaching land) they were recalled, and the amended verdict recorded. The judgment was, that defendant pay a fine of £30, or to be imprisoned until the fine be paid.

Alexandra Hasluck 1973:
It was not too long after he had dispatched his letter of 5th July to his mother that Lieutenant DuCane received the mail he so much wanted. He sat down and wrote at once:
Dear Mother—
Sept. 12th, 1852
I got your letter sent by the steamer on the 28th August. She arrived at King George’s Sound, I believe, on the 19th August so you see it takes a week or 10 days to get letters up here ...
Then he turned to the news of the moment in the colony, news of some excitement: a shipwreck of note, for the vessel happened to be carrying pay for Government personnel, almost a treasure, in fact:
The Eglinton was wrecked about 30 miles up the coast on the 3rd September—I think the Captain must be ignorant, for he acknowledged he knew he was within 50 miles of the coast—& it was blowing almost a gale of wind—& yet he stood on—intending to heave to at 12—but she struck at 9 1/2—I cant think how they missed seeing Rottnest light which is only 30 or 40 miles off—The news arrived per Henderson [John Henderson, brother of Captain E. Y. W. Henderson. Mr Henderson walked from the scene of the wreck to Fremantle, and was the first to give news of it.This part of the coastline of Western Australia had been the scene of shipwrecks since the early seventeenth century.] who trudged down on the 5th—I believe not knowing whether he was going anywhere or not (except by the latitude they got on Friday & that might as well have been wrong as the longitude) & happened to meet a native on the beach—who told him he was right—took 2 days to get down—2 or 3 lives were lost in landing—the surf was awful—but luckily they had 4 or 5 days beautiful calm weather—& managed to get some grub from the wreck & beer too was washed ashore—There was £15,000 belonging to Govt, on board & a lot of tools &c &c—and all the storekeepers in the colony, I think—had something in her—whereby things will be dearer than ever I think—for they had sold nearly all their goods—
The money was recovered by a diver—They did not find water near the place they came ashore until Tuesday night the 7th—but I suppose they managed to get a little from the wreck—
I rode up with another cove on Tuesday and by the blessings of our Saints—we took up a loaf of bread and a bit of pork—for there were several Govt. officers up there totally devoid of grub—a friend lent me a blanket & we all slept with the recovered tin [a slang term for money]—in a tent sent up with the officer commanding the Detail & sent to bring it down ...
The barque Eglinton, 464 tons, from London, had left the Cape of Good Hope on 29th July. Nearly five weeks later, the Captain announced that land would be sighted next morning. There was a birthday party that evening on board for a young lady passenger. All was gaiety and jolliness. But it was interrupted by a cry from the crow’s nest of “Breakers ahead”, and almost immediately the ship struck reefs, and carried over them onto other reefs closer to shore. Then there was panic.
Most of the passengers escaped, for the water was not deep. But after the ship struck many of the crew took advantage of the panic and broke open passengers’ baggage. The ship also had on board specie to the amount of £15,000 for the Commissariat, which went down in about ten feet of water. After Mr Henderson’s arrival at Fremantle with his information about the disaster, diving apparatus and a diver named Rodriguez were sent from Fremantle under the direction of Lieutenant Wray. The treasure was recovered and sent to Perth overland. The passengers, however, had to wait for a while, as they could not proceed by boat owing to contrary winds.
Lieutenant DuCane’s first interest in this occasion was to paint what struck him as an amusing study—a top-hatted gentleman leaving Fremantle on horseback, cluttered with billycans, blanket rolls and other impedimenta—which he called “The Memorable Progress of the Buffer to the Eglinton Wreck”. Unfortunately no amount of research has revealed who “The Buffer” was, or why it should be so obviously humorous that he went to the wreck. It was something essentially topical, and merely goes to prove, as is shown by other DuCane paintings and writings, that that young man had a lively sense of humour, rather boyish, noticing the ridiculous, sometimes a little broad (though mild by present-day standards), but always, and still, amusing and appreciative.
DuCane went on, in his letter, to narrate the experiences of himself and his brother officers who had gone to assist Lieutenant Wray at the wreck. About sleeping the night on the desolate beach, he said: “I send sketches of our appearance, as it wd. have been if our blankets had been raised—at 2 periods we unanimously all woke up & turned round—so if you hold the picture up to the light you’ll see how we looked then
His pen sketch shows a tent with six men who appear to be sitting, but are meant to be lying with their knees drawn up. They are DuCane himself; Gervaise Clifton, Superintendent of Water Police (noted as having lent DuCane a blanket); Deputy Assistant Commissary, Lieutenant Fagan; Commissary Clerk Parry; Lieutenant Wray and D. A. C. G. Bell. Above these gentlemen, floating as it were by levitation, but probably meant merely to be beyond them in the tent, denoting DuCane’s non-mastery of perspective, was Lieutenant Elliott of the 99th Regiment, labelled by DuCane “selfish & sulky with lots of blankets”, and lying over two boxes labelled “Treasure”—in other words, the recovered £15,000.
This occasion was, after all, a jolly adventure for DuCane. What concerned him most deeply was that he received a letter from his brother Richard sent per Eglinton and recovered from the beach all wet. Some surveying instruments he had requested had also been sent by this ship, but he gave them up as “gone to perdition; probably floating about in salt water in the hold”. A camera sent to him was recovered safely, but a barometer and an aneroid were smashed to nothing. No books were saved. All a sad loss, for such things were not to be bought in the colony.

References and Links

A long account of the inquiry into the wreck was published in the Inquirer, Wednesday 6 October 1852.

Hasluck, Alexandra 1973, Royal Engineer: A Life of Sir Edmund DuCane, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

The Eglinton Adventures - a genealogical page.


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