Lady Nelson to and from Norfolk Island June 1804

Leaving Sydney via the Bay of Islands, 29 Apr arriving at 24 June 1804 with Lieut Laycock and Davis, 11 prisoners as well as stores, flour and other provisions.

This morning sailed His Majesty’s armed tender Lady Nelson, and the Francis Colonial schooner for Norfolk Island, with some Stores, Flour, and a quantity of Salt, Staves, and Hoops, for the purpose of curing and packing Pork. The Passengers by those Vessels are, Lieutenants DAVIES and LAYCOCK of the New South Wales Corps, two Free Settlers, and eleven Prisoners.[1]

Leaving Norfolk Island 24 June, arriving Sydney in 8 July 1804 with passengers including Ensigns Anderson and Piper

The voyage of the Lady Nelson to Norfolk Island in April and May, 1804, was one of the most tempestuous the brig ever experienced. She sailed with the Francis on April 30th, but the two ships soon parted company. Their cargo consisted of stores and a quantity of salt staves and hoops for the purpose of curing pork, a supply of which was greatly needed for the colony. For eighteen days continuous gales buffeted the ship and drove her so far northward that she could not make her port of destination. Besides bad weather, she had to contend with further misfortunes, for three casks of water in the hold–part of the supply for the voyage–were found to have leaked entirely away, and the allowance of fuel ran so short that her Commander was forced to cut up one of the top masts for firewood.

Situated thus, Lieutenant Symons decided to bear away for New Zealand and to return later to Norfolk Island, when it was hoped the weather would have moderated sufficiently to enable him to land his passengers. On the 3rd of June he made Three Kings Island, and two days afterwards North Cape. He then steered alongside as far as Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands. On coming to an anchorage in a small bay on the north-west side of the River Thames, nearly two hundred natives surrounded the brig and were welcomed on board. They brought with them potatoes, and other vegetables, as well as mats and native curios to barter for nails, buttons, etc. At sunset they left the vessel. On the following morning the Commander went on shore and the natives following him quickly found him a watering place. On being offered a pig by one of the Maoris in exchange for a new razor, he accepted it, but a chief afterwards requested him to return the animal (as it had been a present from Captain Rhodes)* (* Captain Rhodes of the Alexander South Sea Whaler, traded with New Zealand.) and it was immediately given back to its former owner. Next morning the New Zealanders flocked on board in such numbers that Lieutenant Symons decided to quit the bay.

On the 9th a strong breeze necessitated anchoring in Cavalli Bay* (* So named by Cook.) where the natives were no less friendly and came to trade with the crew. On the 12th a strong gale and heavy sea drove the Lady Nelson four lengths towards the shore. Her commander was forced to cut the cable after beating for two hours, weathered the land and bore up to run between Cavalli Island and the mainland. Eventually the Lady Nelson arrived at Norfolk Island on June 22nd, when it was found possible to land the officers of the New South Wales Corps and to embark others from the same regiment for Sydney, among them being Ensigns Piper and Anderson. The brig sailed on the 29th, and in passing the entrance of Hunter’s River, on the evening of July 8th, she sent a boat off to the settlement at Newcastle, where it was reported that all was well. She arrived in Port Jackson on July 9th. She was then overhauled, and on September 8th sailed for the Hawkesbury in order to fetch a cargo of wheat for Sydney. [2]








[1] Sydney Gazette, 29 April 1804, p. 4.
[2] Includes extract of the Logbooks of the Lady Nelson

Cite this article as: Cathy Dunn, 'Lady Nelson to and from Norfolk Island June 1804', Australian History Research,, accessed [insert current date]
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