The 'Netherby' was a wooden-hulled, square-rigged 3-masted clipper ship built at Sunderland, United Kingdom, by Robert Thompson Jnr in 1858. It measured 176 feet long x 33 feet beam x 22 feet depth and was registered at 944 tons. The 'Netherby' made four voyages to Australia for the Black Ball Line between 1861 and 1866. It was wrecked on the west coast of King Island in the Bass Strait, on route to Port Phillip on 14 July 1866, fortunately with no loss of life amongst the 413 passengers and 38 crew.

My ancestor George Leak 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, along with the many other sources of information I have since found 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.

The 150th anniversary of the shipwreck is in July 2016 and there are plans underway for decendants to gather on King Island to commemorate the shipwreck and subsequent rescue. 

Please visit the Discussion Forum and Facebook Group to register your interest in the 150th Anniversary Commemorations. The links are on the left.
Left: George as a mature aged man.

Below: George's letter to his mother - 6 pages of foolscap front and back.

Artists sketch from the Illustrated Sydney News 16 August 1866