Launch of the Colonial vessel Francis





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The frame of a small vessel arrived in the Pitt in 1792


When completed in 1793 she was 41 tons and was launched as the schooner Francis.


Lieut.-Governor Grose to the Right Hon. Henry Dundas {Extract}......

The vessel sent in frame by the Pitt has at length been put into the water. I have placed in her as the master the late boatswain of the Discovery. He had been sent here by Capt. Vancouver, for the purpose of returning to England as an invalid, but having recovered from his complaint, and being willing to take the command of the sloop for forty pounds a year, I thought it expedient to employ him, having manned the vessel with some seamen left here by other ships. She will sail for Dusky Bay in New Zealand immediately, in order to ascertain how far that place, which, I understand, possesses all the advantages of Norfolk Island, with the addition of a safe harbour and seal fishery, may tend to the benefit of his Majesty's service, as connected with these settlements....(1)

Over the next few years the Francis made many voyages up and down the coast and to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. In 1795 Charles Grimes sailed on her on his expedition to Port Stephens

The Francis was at Norfolk Island in 1797 when desperate convicts seized the Government boat the Cumberland. No other government boats being available at that time Lieutenant John Shortland was sent in pursuit of the pirates in rowing boats. It was on this occasion that Lieutenant Shortland first entered the Hunter River. Read more here.


In June 1801 the Francis accompanied the rather famous expedition to the Coal River (Hunter River) and returned to Sydney with a cargo of coal which was exchanged for nails and iron and shipped out on the Earl Cornwallis. This is believed to be the first shipment of coal exported from Newcastle.

In March 1805, having just a short time before disembarked the new Commandant Charles Throsby at Newcastle, the Francis was wrecked on the shore opposite Coal Island (Nobbys).

It was a bad day all round for Charles Throsby.

Select here to read about the wreck of the Francis and Charles Throsby's further trials when he arrived at the penal settlement at Newcastle.




(1) Historical Records of Australia Series 1 Governors' Despatches to and from England Volume 1 1788 - 1796. p 447




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