Friday, February 22, 2013


During my recent visit to NSW State Records I found a book Ships' Deserters 1852-1900 by Jim Melton.
Therein I discovered that a Charles Page, an able-bodied seaman, had jumped ship from the Harriet in Sydney.
The official notice was dated 1 September 1853.
If this was the same Charles Page who was Ethel Governor's father, he would have been aged 14 at the time.
The village he grew up in, Wrangle, was a shipping port, so it was highly likely that he would have gone to sea.
The Harriet, a three-masted sailing ship, had left London on its maiden voyage to Sydney in February 1853, arriving at its destination on 30 May that year.
The crew had been fractious and mutinous throughout the journey and five had jumped ship in Sydney.
Because one of the children on board had come down with measles, an infectious disease, the ship was placed in quarantine at the Sydney Quarantine Station on North Head.
Passengers and crew had to remain there until given the all clear on 11 June 1854.
They did not disembark at Farm Cove until 16 June.
A descendant of Charles Page has told me that his great grandfather is said to have jumped ship in New Zealand and lived with the Maoris for three years.
The story goes that he then returned to New South Wales, jumped ship again, and then lived with the Aborigines.
Having jumped ship, being a deserter, he would have been constantly on the run from the law.
This suggests that his trips to NZ and back to NSW were as an anonymous stowaway.
Maybe it was not a mistake that his name on his marriage certificate was spelt 'Paye' instead of 'Page'.
He did not marry until he was aged 42, in 1881.
This suggests he may have been previous relationships in NZ and NSW, and that these may have produced children.