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Great Tasmania

Extracts from a book published in 1978 titled

The Passage Makers

by Michael Stammers        

The Great Tasmania was purchased while under construction. The designer and builder was Donald McKay and the owners Baines & Co. She was delivered in March 1855. Her cost being approximately £24,000 and was mortgaged to a Liverpool merchant called Robert Dixon for £12,000 at a rate of 5.0%.

  • Registered length - 203 feet
  • Breadth - 42.3 feet
  • Depth - 28.6 feet
  • Tonnage - 1964 tons

She was built as a cargo-carrier rather than as an extreme clipper. Unfortunately, her line plans and half-models have not survived, but her under-deck co­efficient of 0.80 indicates relative bluntness, as does her interior lines set down in the curve books of the Liverpool Registers of Shipping.

Her huge size and her speedy passages excited enormous admiration and attracted increasing numbers of fare-paying passengers.

Michael Stammers notes regarding the McKay ships:-
"They were also beautiful ships, but theirs was not the airy, graceful beauty of a yacht or of a tea clipper. They were very heavily sparred aloft and their deep black hulls and bold sheer, their flaring bows and their heavy counters, all conveyed an impression of power and strength."

A further extract from 'The Passage Makers' by Michael K Stammers. Page 340-341.

In November 1856, she was routed to Hobart
NOTE:- See details of the Hobart section of this voyage and Sydney and, in 1860, she called at Melbourne and then continued her voyage to Hobart. On that occasion she made the passage from Liverpool in 102 days.

Between her voyages on the Australian trade, she sailed for India and, on April 26th, 1858, arrived back in the Mersey from Bombay with a mixed cargo of cotton, wool, rape, mustard and sursee seeds, and saltpeter.

In 1859, her Indian voyage became notorious on account of the deaths of sixty of the soldiers she was transporting to England. The troops, who had been sent out to quell the Indian Mutiny, were transported home in the Great Tasmania with insufficient food, insufficient hammocks and with insufficient clothing.

Epidemics of both cholera and dysentery broke out on board, while scurvy also took its toll. It was a disastrous voyage and created a great scandal, though the causes of the tragedy lay with the poor Government food supplies rather than with the Company.

In 1862, she was advertised for the December sailing to Melbourne, and there is no further reference to her until October 1864, when she was condemned as unseaworthy in Calcutta. Whether this was the result of an accident or of decay is not stated. The Great Tasmania is, therefore, somewhat more mysterious in her movements than some of her stable-mates, and her end is equally unknown.

Migrant Ship "Great Tasmania"

We obtained from the Tasmanian Archives in 1988, a copy of a page of the "Descriptive List of Immigrants" for the voyage of the vessel "Great Tasmania" which arrived in Hobart on the 27 January 1857, this service should still be available. A page from this book was where Max obtained his information for the arrival of Thomas and Sarah Wills.

This is a copy of the "Descriptive List of Immigrants" for a voyage of the vessel "Great Tasmania".

Since commencing this page people have contacted me
and I have recorded the messages below:-

1989 From Max
On November 14, 1856, the migrant ship "Great Tasmania" sailed from Liverpool for warmer climes under the command of Edmond Brewer. On board were Thomas and Sarah Wills.

The "Descriptive List of Immigrants" discloses that Thomas and Sarah were married, both aged 22 both could read and write and of Church of England religion. They paid £16.00 each for the voyage and travelled under ticket No.310. Thomas' trade or calling was "groom and house servant", Sarah was a "good (?) servant". (The writing is a little difficult to read.)

The ship's surgeon, John Henry Patrick Oldminder, described the young marrieds as follows - Thomas Wills, "Well looking, fair complexion, oval face, brown hair." Sarah (Davis) Wills, "Oval face, very light hair, red lips, well looking, lost upper tooth on right side of mouth".

The "Great Tasmania" arrived at Hobart Town on January 27, 1857, the ship may have been one of the new steamers operating at that time for 74 days was a speedy trip.

4 Mar 2001 From: Wendy, Brisbane
My family travelled to Hobart on the Great Tasmania in 1857 too - Thomas Hogarth and family. We have some information on them and their descendants. Our ancestors probably met on board!
Do you have any information on the Great Tasmania? I look forward to hearing from you.
6 Nov 2001 From: Peter, Tasmania
I have just realised something quite uncanny. I was just reading how your ancestors arrived in Hobart on "The Great Tasmania" on 27.1.1857. The ship name rang a bell with me so I checked our family history. Would you believe that my Great, Great Grandparents, William and Isabella WYLIE were on the ship with your family members. What a coincidence!
12 Feb 2004 From: Mike, Lansing, MI USA
I see from your web page that you have a ancestor (Thomas Wills) who came to Tasmania on the "Great Tasmania" on 27 Jan 1857. I have recently discovered that my 2nd great grandfather James Smart also arrived on this ship at the same time. Would you happen to know if there is a copy of the passenger list, and if so, how I might obtain a copy? Any help would be appreciated.
9 Apr 2004 From: Mary, New Zealand
I am currently researching my family history, and I was amazed to find that when I clicked onto your family history web site, I found that one of your ancestors came to Tasmania ( Hobart) on the ship 'Great Tasmania' in 1857. This was the ship that bought my Great, Great Grandmother, and her brother, on also. Her name was Sarah Holmes, and she was only 16 years old. I have no details about her brother. I was hoping that you may have knowledge of how to obtain a passenger list.
1 Nov 2007 From: Nola
I found your email address on the site 'Ships That Carried Wills Families to Australia'.
This note was on the page:- "6 Nov 2001 From: Peter, Tasmania I have just realised something quite uncanny. etc. etc....."
My Great, Great Grandparents, were also William and Isabella WYLIE. I have no idea at all who Peter is and wondered if you had an email address for him. I know it is a very 'long shot', but genealogists are renowned for trying 'long shots'!!!
Our relatives possibly had met on the 'Great Tasmania'.
16 Jun 2009 From: Graham, NSW
Tom, It is a small world, I am researching an ancestor of mine who, I believe, arrived on the Great Tasmania in 1857 they are Robert and Louisa Young. At this stage I cannot find any passenger list, perhaps you have one. I await your response.
My response was simple. I met Graham at our local coffee shop and discussed what we should do. We both live in a small town (4,000 population) in NSW and although we speak frequently, this is our first contact regarding family history.
We think we may have to compile a passenger list for this particular voyage of the Great Tasmania.
1 Feb 2012 From: Jan
I also had ancestors who arived on the "Great Tasmania" in January 1857. They were John and Caroline LORING and their children Caroline, James and Amelia. John and Caroline were my Great, Great Grandparents.
John Clemments was a Gasfitter according to the passenger list, but he had been a policeman in England and became a Sergeant of Police in Hobart for many years. His headstone was erected by the members of Hobart Police force and features a policeman's helmet on it.
Jan then managed to find an image of "Great Tasmania".
July 2013 - From: Trenna
Alfred Federick Anderson, was a barrister in Hobart Town before moving to Sydney. His name is listed as the child of Edward Anderson and Franny Anderson, who came out on the Great Tasmania in 1857 from Liverpool
I would love to find out more about this family, as this is the first information we have about our clan, who originally came from Scotland.
If anybody can help I would certainly appreciate it. Email me at Trenna

21 Aug 2013 - From: Carol, TAS
I have some info for you on one of my ancestors who travelled on the Great Tasmania and arrived in Hobart 27 Jan 1857.
Her name was Elizabeth Kennell b. about 1838, as age on arrival was given as 19, she came as a single person, her occupation is Gen Servant and she could read only. She originated from County Norfolk. I think her sponsor was a William Dean?.
On the 28 Sept 2018 an email from Margareta referenceing John Dean. It reads :- You may wish to add the name of John Dean and family. An obituary from the Mercury of the death of William Dean on July 5 1938 mentions that he came out on the Great Tasmania with his father and mother. "He arrived from England in 1857 with his parents. Mr. and Mrs. John Dean, in the sailing ship Great Tasmania. Then he was aged four years, and he spent his childhood and early man-hood at Glen Huon."

23 September 2015 - From Carl
I can confirm that my ancestors, the Tracey family from Kilkenny, were immigrants on this voyage.
Ellen Tracey (arriving as 3 month old), married James Temple in 1875 in Tasmania (James had arrived as a 6-7 year old from England in 1857 with his widowed father and younger brother).
The family moved to Melbourne in the late 1880s though several branches connected to Elizabeth Tracey’s family (two of her sisters were convicts and transported to Tasmania in the 1840s) remained. Elizabeth Tracey, nee Whelan also appears to have had a total of 3 sisters in Tasmania though I cannot yet find the arrival for the third sister.
You might find it curious but the family were very odd with their use of surnames for example Elizabeth Tracey registers her maiden name as Dunn on her children’s birth certificates in Tasmania and is identified as Whelan by her daughter on her death.
Her daughters also seem to have adopted the name of McCarthy and this is used with most of Ellen Tracey’s childrens’ birth certificate, curiously, even for the child she calls Tracey James Temple. In one instance, her sister Mary Ann registers one of Ellen’s children and with this child she correctly identifies her maiden name as Tracey. Ellen even married as a McCarthy and her sisters used the name also (I have traced them all). Until I found the Whelan convict connection, I was at a loss to explain why this should be so but now I know they had this brush with the law, it is quite understandable.

18 August 2017 - From Margaret
How interesting to find you shipping list of Great Tasmania Passengers and details of the ship and shipping conditions for the trip.
My family connection is the Hogan Family from County Clare.
The trip from Liverpool to Hobart was sponsored by Catherine Hogan. I would if any one recognises the family in their research and can enlighten me about the sponsor Catherine Hogan and how she would have come to sponsor the family she could have been related.
Cost 16 pounds each for 6 people = 96 pounds.
The family were Mary Hogan, 45, Mother and her children, Mary 23, Michael 20, Ellen 18, Winifred 17, and Margaret 13 .
In my research I believe Margaret married or partnered at the age of 15 with Patrick Cahill/Hussey. He was a Convict transported for stealing 2 sheep from Clifden in Galway.
They had a daughter Bridget at Register at the Roman Catholic Church in Hobart in 1858 the baby only lived a few days. They had another baby in Westbury Tasmania in 1862 Patrick Hussey & Margaret Hussey.
They then went to Wallan Wallan in country Victoria and had another daughter Mary in 1864, Margaret in 1866, they had 11 children, a middle child was Patrick my late husband’s GGGrandFather, and Margaret his GGGrandmother.
I am hoping you or another interested party may be able to add some more detail.
I have more information about the family. Email me at Margaret .

28 Sept 2018 - From Margareta
You may wish to add the name of John Dean and family. An obituary from the Mercury of the death of William Dean on July 5 1938 mentions that he came out on the Great Tasmania with his father and mother. Mr. Dean, died in his 87th year. He arrived from England in 1857 with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Dean, in the sailing ship Great Tasmania. Then he was aged four years.

Newspaper cutting

Jan then located the above item in an issue of The Sydney Morning Herald, dated Tuesday 10 February 1857.

She also found the sketch of the "Great Tasmania". The inscription reads
we are unable to read the date in the top right-hand corner but ir appears to be March 11 1809.

Great Tasmania

List of Passengers who arrived in
Hobart on 10 Feb 1857 on the "Great Tasmania"

We are compling the below list from many sources.
Did your ancestors arrive on this voyage. Email Tom with details
Passengers List of Migrants on the "Great Tasmania"
  which arrived in Hobart on 27th January 1857  
  • Edward Anderson, Franny Anderson, Edward Anderson, Alfred Anderson, Frederick Anderson
  • Edward Barrett, Mary Matilda Barrett
  • Charlotte Bass
  • Anne Batten
  • Henry Boyd
  • Martin Breen, Honora Breen, Dennis Breen, Mary Breen, John Breen, Patrick Breen
  • John Brewer
  • Daniel Cairy, Rose Anne Cairy, William Cairy, John Cairy
  • Thomas Castle
  • Martha Clarke, Wm Sam Clarke, Eliza Clarke, Frederick Clarke
  • Mary Cleaver
  • Garratt Darcey
  • John Dean, his wife Mrs Dean and William (aged 4)
  • Phillip Dickens
  • Edward Dillon, Anne Dillon, Patrick Dillon, Thomas Dillon
  • John Faulkner, Elizabeth Faulkner, Thomas Faulkner, Robert Faulkner, Daniel Faulkner, Mary Anne Faulkner, George Faulkner
  • Nancy Grimes, Patrick Grimes, Ellen Grimes
  • William Gruby
  • John Haddock
  • John Hartnett, Ellen Hartnett, James Hartnett, John Hartnett Jnr., Mary Hartnett, Dennis Hartnett
  • Judith Herlihy, Margaret Herlihy, William Herley
  • Julia Hill, Anna Hill
  • Patrick Hoase, Bridget Hoase, Thomas Hoase, John Hoase, Michael Hoase, James Hoase, Margaret Hoase, Mary Hoase
  • NOTE :- See the name above. Rosalie advised in 2015 that the spelling should be Hoare not Hoase. That is Patrick Hoare, Bridget Hoare and family.
  • Mary Hogan, Michael Hogan, Ellen Hogan, Winifred Hogan, Margaret Hogan
  • Thomas Hogarth, Marion Hogarth, Agnes Hogarth, William Hogarth, George Hogarth, Janet Hogarth
  • Sarah Holmes
  • Mathew Howard, Mary Howard, Margaret Howard, Susan Howard, Thomas Howard, Bridget Howard
  • Frances Jeffries, Jane Jeffries
  • Ellinor Johnstone
  • Mary Keayes
  • Mary Keily, Catherine Keily, John Keily, Patrick Keily
  • Mary Kelly
  • Elizabeth Kennell
  • James Landers, Bridget Landers
  • John Lewis
  • Levi Long
  • John Loring, Caroline Loring, Caroline Loring (child), James Loring, Amelia Loring
  • John Malony, Thomas Malony, Michael Malony, Catherine Malony, John Malony, Johanna Malony
  • Daniel Martin
  • James McBean, Ellen McBean, Jane McBean, Catherine McBean
  • Mary McCabe
  • Edward McCann
  • Mary McGee
  • John Meer
  • Margaret O'Keeffe, Daniel O'Keeffe, Johanna O'Keeffe
  • Mary Quinn, Patrick Quinn, John Quinn, Mary Quinn, Bridget Quinn
  • George Richmond
  • Charles Ridge, Jane Ridge
  • Michael Ryan
  • James Scott, Margaret Scott, Walter Scott, James Scott, Andrew Scott, George Scott
  • Job Senior, Sarah Senior, John Senior (aged 8), Grace Senior (aged 6), Mary Senior (aged 2), George Senior (aged 21) and John Senior (aged 24).
  • James Smart, Henry Smart
  • Hannah Smith, William Smith, Joseph Smith, James Smith, Amelia Smith, John Smith, Mary Anne Smith, Rosana Smith, Frederick Smith
  • Thomas Tracey, Elizabeth Tracey, Margaret Tracey, Ellen Tracey
  • William Turner, Mary Turner, Rosanna Turner, Elizabeth Turner
  • Benjamin Turner, Maud Turner, Rebecca Turner, John Turner
  • Richard Wain
  • Francis Walsh
  • William West, Fanny West, Ellen West
  • Thomas Wills, Sarah Wills
  • Daniel Woods, Ellen Woods, Lewando Woods
  • William Wylie, Isabella Wylie
  • Robert Young, Louisa Young
On the 21 August 2013 we completed a count of this list. 178 persons at that date. The newspaper clipping above states that she carried 538 passengers. We have recorded one third of that number. No a bad effort for 156 years after the event.

The below is part of a document signed by some of the passengers on the voyage which arrived in Hobart on the 27 January 1857.
The   ??   indicates that the remainder of the signature was not readable.
It is headed
Hobart Town - 29th Jan 1857
We the undersigned Immigrants from 'Great Tasmania' hereby declare that we have no complaints to make with regard to the treatment we experienced during the Voyage to Tasmania.

Jamey Scott

Nancy  ??

Thomas Castle

Mary Hogan for self and family

Henry Smart

John Haddock

Edward McCann

 Daniel ??

Mary ??

Mary McCabe

Mathew Howard for self & family

John  ??

John Malony for self & family

Daniell Martin

Mary McGee

Thomas Tracey

 Mary Kirby for self & family

John Lewin

Martin Breen

 ?? Senior

Henry Boyd

May  ?? for self & family

 ?? Walsh

Phillip ??

Daniel Woods

James McBean for self & Family

Mary K ??

 ?? Hoare for self & family

John Brewer

Richard Weir

Margaret O'Keeffe for self & family

Johousa Keeffe

Gery S ??

Thomas  ?? for self & family

Thomas Hogarth

Jane  ??

William Faulkner

John Senior

George Richmond

Robert Young

Edward Anderson

Ell ?? Johnston

John Hartnett for self & family

Wm West

Ann Batte ??

Anne Hill

Julia Hill

Mary Cleaver

Francis Jefferies

James L ??

Levi Long

Jane Jefferies

Bridget L ??

Wm  ??

Mary ??  ??

Michael Ryan

Edward ??

Charlotte B ??

To the main ship page.

Designed by Tom Wills