Welcome to my website dedicated to the Netherby shipwreck and its passengers.

The 'Netherby' was a wooden-hulled, square-rigged 3-masted clipper ship built at Sunderland, United Kingdom, by Robert Thompson Jnr of Sutherland in 1858 and launched on 14 January 1858. It measured 176 feet long x 33 feet beam x 22 feet depth and was registered at 944 tons. originally built for Edmund Graham, a shipowner of Newcastle. Graham was from the family which owns the country estate Netherby Hall, hence the ship's name.

Its first voyage was to Calcutta under Capt. Bradshaw. Graham sold the ship to James Baines in 1860 to become part of Baines' Black Ball Line. She made three voyages to Australia before the ill-fated one, in 1861, 1862 (both to Melbourne) and 1863, the latter arriving from London in Sydney on 14 Oct 1863. All were under Capt EM Halman. On its return voyage to England in 1864 Netherby was attacked by pirates off the coast of China while briefly aground.

It set forth on its fourth voyage to Australia, under Capt Owen Owens, filled with people travelling as part of the Queensland Land Assisted Package. Immigrants on assisted tickets to help populate the growing state of Queenland. The Netherby set sail from London docks on 1 April 1866. After calling in at Plymouth to collect more passengers the voyage to Australia commenced on 13 April 1866.
It was wrecked on the west coast of King Island in the Bass Strait, on 14 July 1866 at 7.30pm in a thick fog. There was no loss of life among the 413 passengers and 38 crew.

My name is Karina Taylor. My great great grand uncle George Leake Massingham, was onboard travelling alone, aged just 16. He wrote an extremely descriptive letter home to his mother in England and I would like to share the contents of that letter (in the First Hand Accounts link), along with the many other sources of information I have since found and been given regarding the shipwreck.

George was my great great grand-uncle and it always fascinated me that someone so young would be so brave as to travel across the world to a new country on his own. George went on to be a well known portrait and landscape photographer in Queensland and Victoria, with much of his work retained in the National Library of Australia.

I have been collecting information on the Netherby shipwreck since the 1980s and where possible, have listed my sources. I apologise that some sources name have been forgotten over time, but everything has been most appreciated. My goal has been to make this website a complete history of the ship, the wreck and its passengers. 

As I work on the many passenger histories from our shipwreck it occurs to me that so many stories and events in Australian history would not have actually occurred - if none of our relatives had survived that wreck in 1866 !! So many went on to live long lives and leave many descendants across this country (and the world). Thank you - ongoing - to everyone who has contributed stories about these plucky passengers. I am happy to build a page for your ancestor - contact me on the Discussion Forum, Facebook Group or Twitter (all links on the left) and do please join any of those sites to join in the discussions about the wreck, the passengers, and the 150th commemorations.

** The Index on the left contains every page currently built for this website and several that are still under construction and awaiting content.

** Check the Site History & Updates page first to see what I have added since your last visit. Rebuilds are happening regularly.

This website is best viewed on a desktop computer or laptop. I do not have the resources to make it viewable on phones or ipads.

There are no known pictures of the Netherby herself. Instead we rely on artists imaginings and impressions that I have included below, along with King Island model ship builder Christian Robertson's stunning model he made to share with descendants for the 150th event and is now housed in the Netherby Room, an annex building near the King Island Museum. Hover over the scroller to pause on a picture.
The content, structure and design of this website is ©Karina Taylor 2005 > now
  • Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
  • Photos of the crew and passengers remain the property of the descendants who have given me express permission to display on this website and may not be copied or downloaded for use on any other website including any family tree type websites. 
  • Photo’s from the 150th commemorations and any other descendant gatherings remain the property of the individual photographers (including myself) and I have been given express permission to display them on this website.
  • Images sourced from the National Library of Australia (Trove) are identified and noted where copyright has expired.
  • Newsletters remain the property of Ann Rutte and may be downloaded to share with fellow descendants.
  • You are permitted to link this website’s URL on third party websites of a similar nature, genealogy blogs and forums, in articles about the shipwreck, and descendants websites or blogs.
  • You are permitted to deep link the URL of a specific passenger’s page to their respective entries on family tree websites including Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com.au, and GenesReunited.com.au, and to the websites or blogs of the passenger’s descendants.

July 2020: Descendant Rob Swain came across this You Tube video and passed it on to me. Its a lovely ditty about the Black Ball Line. 
Details from the You Tube information screen are:
The Black Ball Line · Ewan MacColl
Blow the Man Down
℗ Topic
Released on: 1993-01-01
Composer: Mac-coll Ewan