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 ancestor 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.
I have also tracked down other peoples stories on the net and have included links to their sites. I hope you enjoy the reading, in particular the Surgeons Report, which while lengthy, is fascinating in its detail. Click on any of the links on the left.
UPDATE 2 July 2016: Hard to believe after talking about it for a decade - that the 150th anniversary of the shipwreck is this month! Will be amazing to have descendants to gathering on King Island to commemorate the shipwreck and subsequent rescue.
UPDATE 25 July 2016: It was a most memorable week on King Island this month meeting everyone and sharing stories. I have started to add information to the 2016 150th Commemorations page here including some news articles about the event (if anyone locates others in local newspapers I would love a scan of them), and will be adding photos and videos asap.
Please visit the Discussion Forum and Facebook Group to share your stories and photos from the 150th commemorations. .
Thank you to artist Jason Roberts for the use of his stunning paintings of the Netherby below.