Monday, November 11, 2013

Voyage to Australia: The ship 'Susan'

In 1852 Robert Leed was 22 years old and working at Kinneil Iron Works at Bo'ness on the Forth, Scotland. His father, deceased, had been a Master and part owner of a schooner operating out of Glasgow. His mother remarried in August 1852.

Gold had been discovered in Australia so that may have influenced Robert's decision to buy passage on a ship to Australia. He paid his own way on a brig called Susan, one of only nine passengers on board. A brig has two square-rigged masts and is quite small compared with some of the huge clippers that sailed to Australia in the 1800s. She weighed 175 tons. Brigs were fast and maneuverable but had a reputation for being difficult to sail into the wind.

A brig
The Susan, with R D Munro as Master, departed Liverpool 24 January 1853. On 2 March she was sighted off the west coast of Africa by another ship called the Lima, and on 8 May she was seen west of Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia by Uncle Tom.
South Australian Register, 16 May 1853
The Argus, 25 May 1853
Hobson's Bay, Williamstown, Victoria [Source unknown]
After a voyage of four months the Susan arrived Hobson's Bay (Williamstown), Melbourne on 24 May 1853. There was a notice in Melbourne's main paper, The Argus, detailing the cargo she and several other ships had carried and the Sydney paper also listed the cargo.

The Argus, 25 May 1853
Geelong Advertiser, 26 May 1853
The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 1853
The brig stayed for a year or so, plying back and forth between Victoria and Tasmania carrying passengers and cargo. In August 1854 is was advertising accommodation to Mauritius and England.

The Argus, 11 Aug 1854
Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencier, 26 Aug 1854
In 1856 and 1857 there were several newspaper notices of 'the brig Susan' returning to Sydney port with sperm oil from whales, but it may not be the same ship.

Robert Leed went to the goldfields at Castlemaine and Eaglehawk, married and raised a family and died at the age of 57 from phthisis, a lung disease common with goldminers. He was a very good engineer, and worked for many years on large quartz-crushing machinery, but that's a story for another day.

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