Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia Day 2011 - The earliest documentation for my Australian ancestors

Graphic by Shelley at Twigs of Yore
Shelley from the Twigs of Yore blog recently made a suggestion for a special blogging task for Australia Day Suggestion: Genealogy blog topic for Australia Day (26 Jan 2011)

The task is as follows:
Find the earliest piece of documentation you have about an ancestor in Australia. If you don't have an Australian ancestor, then choose the earliest piece of documentation you have for a relative in Australia.
On Wednesday 26 January 2011 post your answers to these questions:
  1. What is the document?
  2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?
  3. Tell us the story(ies) of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

Here is my contribution...

The earliest of my ancestors to arrive in Australia were my 3rd great grandparents, William Fullerton and Mary Dunn/e. The Fullertons, who came from Clane, County Kildare, Ireland, embarked from Plymouth, England in June 1840 as bounty assisted immigrants on the barque Himalaya. They arrived in Melbourne, Port Phillip (then part of New South Wales) on 30 September 1840. 

1. What is the document?

The earliest documents that record the Fullertons in Australia are the nominal and disposal passenger lists for the 1840 voyage of the Himalaya. 

2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?

A short history book of the Fullerton family was compiled by a cousin in the 1970s for a family reunion. When I first started to research my family history in 2003, I used this existing family history book as a reference. 

Results from my search of the PROV
 Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871
The Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871 was available on the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) web site by that time. Searching the index for the name 'Full*rton' allowed me to confirm that William and Mary were indeed passengers on the 1840 voyage of the Himalaya, and the search results provided reference numbers (book and page) which I could then use to access the nominal and disposal passenger lists at the PROV public reading rooms in North Melbourne (For an explanation of the difference between the nominal and the disposal passenger lists see PROV Guide 50).

The Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871 is a index to the records available in VPRS 14 Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom (VPRS = Victorian Public Record Series). These registers are available in microfiche copy in the PROV public reading room (as VPRS 7310) to provide wider access and protect the original records from frequent handling.

State Records New South Wales
Online Microfilm Passenger Lists
On one of my (infrequent) research trips to Melbourne, I was able to visit the PROV reading rooms in North Melbourne and obtain prints of the passenger list of the Himalaya from the microfiche copies. 

A duplicate of the nominal passenger list of the Himalaya, which differs slightly from that available at the PROV, is available at State Records New South Wales. A digitised copy of the passenger list of the Himalaya is available on the NSW State Records web site among other online microfilm shipping lists available as part of a pilot project. 

3. Tell us the story of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

The passenger list of the Himalaya available at the PROV has two parts, the nominal list and the disposal list. 

The nominal list gives the immigrant's name, age, calling (occupation), religion, whether read or write, native place,  bounty paid per person or per family and the name of the person who imported the immigrant (the one who would be paid the bounty amount when the government found the immigrants to be acceptable). 

The disposal list gives the name, age, trade (occupation), native place, religion, name and address of the person who engaged the immigrant to work, amount of wages per annum, term engaged for and whether the work engagement came with or without rations. 

The nominal passenger list provided for the following information about the Fullertons:

Fullerton Wm, 25, Agriculturist, R Catholic, Reads, Co Kildare, 18 pound bounty, imported by Mr John Marshall. 

Fullerton Mary, 27, Dairy maid, R Catholic, Neither reads nor writes, Co Kildare, 18 pound bounty, imported by Mr John Marshall. 

William and Mary Fullerton on the Himalaya nominal passenger list,
PROV, VPRS 7310, Book 2, pp. 203-226.

The disposal passenger list provided the following information (the name was listed as Fullarton rather than Fullerton): 

William Fullarton, 25, General servant, Kildare, R C, John W Shaw, Melbourne (employer), 40 pound per annum, term of 12 months, with rations.

Mary Fullarton, 27,General servant, Kildare, R C, John W Shaw, Melbourne (employer), 20 pound per annum, term of 6 months, with rations. 

As part of a university assignment in 2008, I researched the systems of assisted immigration to Australia and the 1840 voyage of the Himalaya. My assignment included specific research about 14 passengers on the ship who came from County Kildare, Ireland. 

Here are some extracts from my assignment.

Advertisements for the Port Phillip voyage of the ‘Himalaya’ appeared in The Times and the Morning Chronicle in April, May and June of 1840 under the heading ‘Australian Packet Ships’. The advertisements stated that,

The new ship HIMALAYA, of 510 tons register, HEW BURN, commander, will sail from Gravesend on the 7th, and from Plymouth the 15th June, for PORT PHILIP and SYDNEY…These are first-class ships, have poops, and the highest order of accommodations for cabin, intermediate, and steerage passengers; are liberally fitted and supplied with provisions, &c. of the choicest quality; carry experienced surgeons; and never deviate, wind and weather permitting, from the day appointed for sailing. A regular succession of the finest and best equipped ships are despatched, on fixed days, with strict punctuality, every month during the year, proceeding alternately to Port Philip and Sydney, and Sydney direct. A free passage is granted by these ships to a limited number of agricultural labourers and mechanics, if in accordance with the colonial regulations. – All particulars may be known on application to Mr. John Marshall, 26, Birchin-lane, Cornhill. N.B. These ships load at the New Jetty, London Docks. 
(Source: ‘Australian Packet Ships’, The Times, Monday 2 April 1840, p. 1. Similar advertisements appeared in The Times, Saturday 9 May 1840, p.1, and in the Morning Chronicle, 8 April, 5 May, 9 May, 15 May, 28 May, 2 June and 6 June 1840.  The advertisements in The Times and Morning Chronicle are the only places I have seen the weight referred to as 510 tons.)

The Himalaya carried 170 steerage passengers, including 33 unmarried males, 57 unmarried females and 31 families. The families comprised a total of 80 people: 10 couples with children (including 9 girls, 8 boys and an infant born at sea) and 21 couples without children. Additionally, there were 12 cabin passengers and 29 intermediate passengers, as well as crew.The ship also carried cargo (Port Phillip Herald, Friday 2 October 1840, p. 2.). 

The 170 steerage passengers were assisted immigrants, introduced into Port Phillip under the ‘Bounty’ system by London shipowner John Marshall. He had been involved in Australian trade since the 1820s, and in Australian assisted immigration since the 1830s (Keith Pescod, Good food, bright fires & civility: British emigrant depots of the nineteenth century, Kew, 2001, p.15.). 

There were 102 Irish bounty assisted immigrants on the 1840 voyage of the ‘Himalaya’. They made up the majority (60 per cent) of the bounty assisted immigrants on board, followed by 44 English (26 per cent), 23 Scottish (14 per cent) and one Welsh immigrant.

Protestants made up 63 per cent of passengers on the 1840 voyage of the ‘Himalaya’; Catholics just 37 per cent. All the Catholics on the voyage were Irish, but all the Irish were not Catholics. However, Catholics did make up the majority of Irish immigrants (63 Irish Catholics to 39 Irish Protestants). At that time, all the immigrants from County Kildare were Catholics.

The majority of bounty assisted immigrants on the 1840 voyage of the ‘Himalaya’ could both read and write (99 immigrants, or 58 per cent). The Irish Catholics were the least literate. Of the 23 immigrants who could neither read nor write, 22 were Irish Catholics. Nineteen of those were Irish women.

The first Bounty system regulations were introduced in 1835, with subsequent alterations in September 1837, May 1838, March 1840 and later (Madgwick,  Immigration into Eastern Australia, pp. 151, 153-156.) The 1837 regulations increased the amounts of bounty (New South Wales Government Gazette, 25 September 1837, p. 685.)

The increased amounts were:-
Married man, Mechanic, Domestic, or Farm-servant, with his wife, both being aged less than 40 years.
Unmarried female, 15-30 years, under the protection of a married couple.
Unmarried male, mechanic, farm or domestic servant, 18-30 years.
Child, 1-7 years.
Child, 7-15 years.
Child, above 15 years.

Additionally, these regulations specified that bounty operators should bring an equal number of single females (accompanying families) as single males. The regulations also specified that the immigrants were required to:
…present themselves before a Board appointed by the Governor…to whom the adults are to exhibit testimonials of good character, signed by Clergymen and respectable inhabitants of note in the places of their former residence, with which testimonials it is necessary that every family and single person, for whom the bounty is claimed should be provided. If the board shall be satisfied with these testimonials, and that the Persons presenting themselves are within the ages set…to be established, where possible, by the production of copies or extracts of the registry of their baptism, duly certified by the Parish Minister, or other proper Officer, of good bodily health and strength, and in all other respects likely to be useful members of their class in society…(New South Wales Government Gazette, 25 September 1837, p. 685.)

On 30 April 1838, further regulations specified that bounties would not be paid if the importer could not ‘satisfy the Board…that the Emigrants [had] been supplied, during the voyage, with a sufficiency of good and wholesome provisions, and with reasonably comfortable accommodation’ (New South Wales Government Gazette, 9 May 1838, p. 355.) Later amendments in March 1840, only applied to immigrants leaving the United Kingdom after 1 July 1840, and did not affect the ‘Himalaya’ (Kerr’s Melbourne Almanac and Port Phillip Directory for 1841, p. 102.)

On arrival in Port Phillip, the bounty immigrants stayed on board the ‘Himalaya’ until they were examined by the Immigration Board, which included Dr. John Patterson, Edward Lionel Lee and C.M. Lewis, the Harbour Master. (Kerr’s Melbourne Almanac and Port Phillip Directory for 1841, p. 179.) They went on board the ‘Himalaya’ on the 2 October to determine the eligibility of the 170 bounty assisted immigrants. In a report dated 9 October 1840, the Board certified that all the immigrants had produced the required certificates of character. From these and personal observation, the Board had ‘reason to believe’ that the immigrants were ‘of the trades, ages &c.’ specified. The immigrants were ‘in a very healthy state’ and ‘perfectly satisfied with the treatment they experienced during the voyage.’(Letter from Patterson and Lee to Latrobe re immigrants per Himalaya, 9 October 1840, PROV, VPRS 7310, Book 2, pp. 216-217.) Of the steerage passengers, 167 were eligible for bounty assistance. Two children under one year old were not eligible. Additionally, one unmarried man, 59-year-old William Ames, was considered ‘too aged’.(Nominal list of the Himalaya, arrived Port Phillip 30 September 1840, PROV, VPRS 7310, Book 2, pp. 203-206, 208, 210.) Following the Board’s recommendation, the New South Wales Governor authorised the payment of a total bounty of £2812 to ‘Messrs William Walker & Co.’, John Marshall’s agents in Sydney.(Letter from Harrington to Latrobe, 4 November 1840, PROV, VPRS 19, Unit 8, 40/1165; Nominal list of the Himalaya, arrived Port Phillip 30 September 1840, PROV, VPRS 7310 , Book 2, pp. 213, 214.)

Members of the public were allowed to board the ship to interview prospective employees after the immigrants were examined. The Port Phillip Herald of 2 October 1840 included an ‘abstract of Immigrants per Himalaya’, advertising their trades and advising potential employers to ‘apply on board’ to obtain their services. (Port Phillip Herald, Friday 2 October 1840, p. 3.)

Document Reference:
Nominal and Disposal lists of the Himalaya, arrived Port Phillip 30 September 1840, PROV, VPRS 7310 Register of Assisted Immigrants from UK (1839-71), Book 2, pp. 203-226.

Elizabeth Janson's Came to Port Phillip by 1849
The names of passengers on the Himalaya's 1840 voyage are listed on Elizabeth Janson's excellent web site Came to Port Phillip by 1849. This web site is a great resource which I highly recommend to anyone researching ancestors in the early years of the Port Phillip settlement. Thank you for all your efforts Elizabeth! I also recommend the web site of the Port Phillip Pioneers Group.

Further Reading:
Happy Australia Day everyone! 

Copyright © 2011 Australian Genealogy Journeys.


  1. Wow! What a comprehensive and impressive post. Thanks for the info on Bounty Immigrants that I am going to read more slowly a little bit later.
    I think we are all going to learn so much from each others contribution to this Australia Dau event.
    I am off to check out Port Phillip Pioneers Group right now.

  2. A great article! I wish I could remember my research process as clearly as you do. My earliest document is an immigration record, and I have a letter showing that I ordered it from State Records NSW (as they are called now) in 1977. I cannot recall how (in that pre-Internet era) I identified the ship and date when the records were in Sydney and I was in Brisbane!

  3. Great post Aillin. It's interesting to see how similar the Victorian records are to the NSW bounty schemes, and how much more information there is.

  4. Thanks for a great post. You have encouraged me to take a closer look at my own immigration arrivals (not Victoria) to see if I can flesh them out a bit more.

  5. Hallo Aillin,

    What a wonderful post, so much work you have done and so very interesting (and I'm not Australian).

    I also want to thank you so much for the wonderful Ancestor Approved Award you gave me, I'm so honoured, delighted, surprised and more ...

    I have posted ten surprising, enlightening and humbling aspects of my research and passed the award to ten other researchers - hope you get a chance to visit them.

    Happy Australia Day to you.

    Thanks again and very kind regards,

    Christine (rootsresearcher)
    So That's Where I Get It From

  6. Hi Aillin, thanks so much for your contribution. Fantastic work in putting the information together, and a fantastic post. I hope you got top marks on your assignment! I'm bookmarking this page for future reference.


Your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

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