Frederick Garling View from Mount Eliza 1827






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The 'first fleet' was hardly an inspiring sight as it sailed, one at a time, into the waters of Cockburn Sound and Gage Roads off what would become the port of Fremantle.


The first ship to arrive was the HMS Challenger captained by Charles Fremantle. He was sent on ahead of the ships carrying passengers to ensure that no-one else (especially those French!) was about to land and colonise the west coast. The Challenger carried a detachment of marines but did not carry any permanent settlers. (HMS Challenger was not the first choice to arrive off W.A. and stand guard. Originally HMS Tweed was ordered to proceed to Swan River but this was later changed. If Tweed had been the ship to arrive first, the port town of Fremantle would have probably been named Churchill after the Captain of HMS Tweed.)


Like HMS Success, Challenger was a 6th rated warship with 28 guns. She was launched on November 14th 1826 and was finally lost at sea off Chile in May 1835.


First sight of the W.A. coastline was made off Cape Leschenault on April 24th 1829 and the following day the ship anchored off Rottnest Island. On April 27th the ship sailed in to Cockburn Sound and a party of men and officers first stepped ashore on Garden Island on April 28th. On May 2nd Captain Fremantle finally set foot on the mainland and a proclamation was read claiming the whole west coast of New Holland for the British crown.


The next ship to arrive was the Parmelia (Captain J. H. Luscombe) on the 31st of May, carrying Governor Stirling and the first intrepid settlers. This ship almost came to grief when she was stranded on a shoal overnight until she was re-floated the following day. It was not an auspicious beginning.


During the grounding of the Parmelia, a number of women and children were off loaded. Some were taken aboard HMS Challenger and others were landed on Carnac Island where they spent 5 wet, cold and miserable days with little food and practically no shelter.


Following the Parmelia was the HMS Sulphur (Commander William Townsend Dance) on June 8th (some sources quote the arrival as Arriving on June 6th). This ship carried mainly troops from the 63rd Regiment for the protection of the settlers. HMS Sulphur was originally a 'bomb' - a ship carrying mortars used to coastal bombardment, but she was converted to a sloop and carried an armament of 6 x 24 pounder and 2 x 6 pounder guns. (She was originally launched on January 26th 1826.)


The Sulphur carried 57 (1) crew and 69 troops with 22 wives and 12 children. Sulphur was placed at the disposal of the colony and was to provide very useful service in all sorts of ways for the next 3 years.


With just three ships, the initial settlement of Western Australia was a very small affair compared to the settlement of the east coast when between January 18th-20th 1788 no less than 11 ships sailed into Botany Bay.


On June 9th, Stirling re-named Bauche Island calling it Garden Island. On June 16th a party landed at Arthur's Head and on the 18th, Lt. Governor Stirling read a proclamation declaring the founding of the new colony.


The ships that followed came in 'dribs and drabs' over the next few months and included:


Calista, St. Leonard, Marquis of Anglesea (that was wrecked on the beach after a storm), Thomson, Amity, Georgia, Lotus, Tranby, Warrior, Protector, Britania, Wanstead, Hooghly, Atwick, Governor Phillip, Euphemia, Aurelia, Orelia, Cumberland, Caroline, Admirad Gifford, Lion (or Lyon), Dragon, Gilmour (sometimes spelled Gilmore) carrying Thomas Peel and his settlers, Norfolk, Nancy, Leda and Skerne.


The letters sent back to England by the first immigrants were initially full of hope. They spoke of the beauty of the site of Perth and of how the climate seemed to improve their health. Some of the first letters contained some reservations about the time of year they had arrived (the start of winter):


'During the winter months, I think this coast is liable to much rain, with strong winds from the NNW, which may do well enough when the inhabitants are either in the interior, or under good houses - but not under canvas on the sea coast!'


The most pessimistic of the early letters sent back to England seemed to come from merchants who arrived with cargoes for sale in the first few months and found either no money available for their purchase or the settlers already well provisioned with 12 to 18 months stores set aside.


As more people arrived it became obvious that the authorities were swamped. Land could not be surveyed and allocated quickly enough, too few experienced builders and farm hands were available and many people simply gave up and went to the eastern states. Those that chose to stay were in for a tough time for many years to come.


Foundation Day


Although the Challenger arrived in late April and the Parmelia arrived at the end of May, June 1st has always been regarded as Foundation Day for Western Australia. (Perth was founded on August 12th.)


The Parmelia


The barque Parmelia was constructed in Quebec Canada in 1825 and was hired to transport the first settlers to Swan River Colony. She was later destroyed by fire while sitting in a dockyard in England.


(1) One of the crew was a 'widows man'. This was a fictitious crewman whose pay was put into a fund for seaman\'s widows.


Note: We have found conflicting dates for the arrival of the first two ships with April 25th being quoted for the Challenger and June 1st for Parmelia but we believe the information given above to be the correct version.


Passengers on the Parmelia:


The following were some of the passengers aboard the Parmelia.


Captain STIRLING, Lt. Governor
Andrew STIRLING 3 yrs
Frederick Henry Stirling, Son, born at sea on 16 April 1829.
George MANGLES Cousin of Ellen Stirling.
George ELLIOT Clerk to Captain Stirling.
Thomas BLAKEY Servant
Sarah BLAKEY Servant
John KELLY Servant
Elizabeth KELLY
Peter BROWN, Colonial Secretary
Caroline BROWN
Macbride BROWN Child
Richard EVANS Servant
Margaret McLEOD Servant
Mary Ann SMITH Servant
John MORGAN, Storekeeper
Rebecca MORGAN
Rebecca MORGAN Child
Ann SKIPSEY Servant
Commander MJ CURRIE RN, Harbour Master
Frederick LUDLOW Servant
Mildred Kitty LUDLOW Servant
Jane FRUIN Servant
John Septimus S ROE, Surveyor
Matilda ROE
Charles D WRIGHT Servant
Henryy SUTHERLAND, Asst Surveyor
William SHELDON, Clerk to the Colonial Secretary
James DRUMMOND, Horticulturalist
Thomas DRUMMOND Child 18 yrs
Jane DRUMMOND Child 16 yrs
James DRUMMOND Child 15 yrs
John DRUMMOND Child 13 yrs
Johnson DRUMMOND Child 9 yrs
Eufi DRUMMOND Child 3 yrs
Elizabeth GAMBLE Servant
Charles SIMMONS, Surgeon
Tully DALY Ass Surgeon (drowned at Cape Town)
Jessie Jane DALY Child 8 yrs (drowned at Cape Town)
Joseph R DALY Child 6 yrs
Henry Jno DALY Child 4 yrs
Edward N DALY Child 2 yrs
Emily Rose DALY Child 2 mths
Jamess ELLIOTT Servant
Patrick MURPHY Servant
Alex FANDAM, Cooper
William HOKING, Bricklayer
William HOKING Child 14 yrs
Jno HOKING Child 12 yrs
Mary HOKING Child 10 yrs
Thos HOKING Child 8 yrs
David HOKING Child 5 yrs
Chas HOKING Child 2 yrs
Thomas DAVIS, Smith
Catherine DAVIS
John DAVIS Child 3 yrs
Charlotte DAVIS 2 yrs
John DAVIS Nephew 13 yrs
James C SMITH, Boatbuilder


Sulphur - Ship's company.


William T DANCE, Commander
William PRESTON, Snr.Lieutenant
John C SICKLEMORE, Lieutenant
John PERRIAM, Master
Alexander COLLIE, Surgeon
Jas.W JOHNSTON, Asst. Surgeon
Richard SHOLL, Purser
Joseph HOYTON, Carpenter
James PARSON, Boatswain
Richard DAWSON, Admt Mate
Frederick A CUDLIP, Midshipman
John B MADDEN, Midshipsman
Disney C DISNEY, Midshipsman
Thomas R SKOTTOWE, Fcl Class
William ALDRIDGE, Crs Crew
William SIMMONS, Seaman
William MONK, Gun Room Steward
Thomas DEVITT, Seaman
William SEYMOUR, Crs crew
Samual DURANT, Seaman
James TAYLOR, Capr F Castle
Edward SHOULDER, Gunners Mate
John ROBERTS, Bosuns Mate
John THOMPSON, Carpenters Mate
John CHALMERS, Seaman
George GILL, Seaman
John O'BRYAN, Seaman
Frederick PRESTON, Seaman
George SCOVELL, Capr Main Top
Thos McDOWELL, Seaman Sailmaker
James CAMBEY, Seaman Sailmaker
Daniel SELWAY, Seaman, Sailmaker
Joseph COX, Seaman Sailmaker
Thomas SMITH, Seaman Sailmaker
William PIKE, Seaman Sailmaker
Robert WITTS, Seaman Sailmaker
David ADAMSON, Capr F Top
John REDDINGTON, Armourer
Michael CONNELLAN, Seaman
John DOUGLAS, Seaman-Caprs Cox
Peter FISHER, Seaman
Peter LAWRENCE, Gun Room Cook
Thomas KENTISH, Seaman
William CROMER, Seaman
Sal WILLIAMS, Seaman Quartermaster
Thomas LEE, Seaman
Thomas WILSON, Ships Cook
John BURNS, Boatswains Mate
Owen JONES, Seaman Quartermaster
John POPE, Caprs Steward
Edward BARNEY, Boy
Henry TONG, Boy
Samuel BARBER, Boy
George LEACH, Boy
Isaac BURROWS, Boy
Henry T BRYAN, Boy


Members of the 63rd Regiment.


Captain Frederick Chidley IRWIN
Lieutenant William PEDDER
Ensign Donald Hume McLEOD
Ensign Robert DALE
Colour Sgt. Edward BARRON
Sergeant John SMALLMAN
Sergeant H DAWSON
Hospital Assistant Horatio Nelson HOLDEN (equivalent rank to a Cornet (Ensign))
Corporal Robert PHEE
Corporal Joseph MADRILL
Drummer John MITCHELL
Private Andrew BARNETT
Private Andrew BENHOUSE
Private Richard BONSALL
Private Peter BROUGHTON
Private Walter BURKE
Private Patrick CLINTON
Private John W CONNOLLY
Private John DALEY
William Sulphur DALEY
Private James DOBBINS
Private William ELMORE
Elizabeth ELMORE
Private Patrick FARMER
Margaret FARMER
William FARMER
Private Thomas FARMER
William FARMER
Private Thomas FLACK
Private John GODFREY
Private Michael GRADY
Private Thomas GRIMES
Private Patrick HEFRON
Private Andrew HENNESSY
Private Henry HICKMAN
Private George HODGES
Private Jean HODGES
Private Joseph HONOR
Private James HUTCHINSON
Private John JENKINS
Private Jonathon JENKINS
Private Edward JEFFERS
Private William KERR
Private Joseph MADRILL
Private Edward MALONEY (1)
Private Edward MALONEY (2)
Private George MALONEY
Private George MASSELL
Private James McGOUGH
Private Michael McMAHON
Private John MITCHELL
Private Thomas MULLIGAN
Private Michael O'BRIEN
Margaret O'BRIEN
Private J RAHILL
Private Terence SHERIDAN
Private John REILLY
Margaret REILLY
Private John STANTON
Private William STEEL
Private Patrick SWIFT
Mary Ann SWIFT
Private Thomas TALLON
Private Samual WALLACE
Private Henry WHEATLEY
Private Thomas WIGGINS
Private William WRIGHT
Private Henry YOUNG

It has been brought to our attention that this list is not exhaustive. Royal Navy records show a Hammel Ingold Strutt is one name that is missing from the records. Thanks to Steven Hollis for bringing this to our attention. The question we can't answer is why was Hammel's name missing and are there other names that should be added to this list?

Hammell Ingold Strutt record

More information has come in from Carole Baxter about people missing from the historical record of the first fleet.

Pte. Charles Warner and John Warner are two more names that should have been added to the list of arrivals on the first fleet.

An article on Trove gives a list of names of the 'rank and file' aboard HM bomb Sulphur as:

Colour Sgt. Edward Barron, Sgt. H. Dawson, Sgt. Pat Smith, Cpl. Thos., Crawford, Cpl. Pat O'Hara, Cpl. John Smallman, Drummer John Mitchell, Privates Peter Broughton, Andrew Burke, Jas. Campbell, Wm. Canham, John Casserley, Jos. Cobine, Pat. Chester, John Daley, John Dargin, Thos. Darkins, Michl. Dowling, Wm. Elmore, Saml. Ennus, Pat Farmer, Thos. Farmer, Geo. Gamble, Tim. Gorman, Thos. Hall, Pat. Hefron (1), Pat. Hefron (2), Andrew Henesey, Jas. Higinbotham, Geo. Hodges, Thos. Hughes, Jas. Hughes, Richard Jacques, Edward Jeffers, Geo. Leghorn, Francis McCann, Jas. McClure, Hugh McGuire, Thos. McGoldrick, Jas. McKanna, John Mattison, John Milton, Thos. Mulligan, Michl. O'Brien, Nehemiah Ollis, Geo. Ponder. John Reilly (1), John Reilly (2), Jas. Rodgers, Alex. Rodgers, Pavid Ross, John Ross, Wm. Ricketts, Edward Roach, Wm. Seabrooke, John Stanton, Pat. Swift, Wm. Thomas, Thos. Fye, Chas. Warner, John Warner, Thos Wiggins and Jas. Wright; Mrs. Jane Barron (3 children), Jane Phee, Anne Smallman (1 child), Jane Mitchell, Mary Broughton, Mary Daley, Margt. Farmer (1 child), Mary Hodges (2 children), Anne Hefron, Margt. Henesey, Ann Farmer (2 children), Margt. Hughes, Mary Mulligan, Margt. O'Brien, Margt. Reilly (1 child), Esther Reilly (1 child), Elizabeth Swift, Mary Wiggins (1 child), Elizabeth Elmore, Elice Jeffers, Isabella Corrigan.




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