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The Ship Royal Dane

ca 1872

This is the ship Royal Dane, on which Charles William and his wife Emma (nee Fuller) came out to Australia. The photo seems to have a short exposure, as several figures may be seen on board, not blurred in the slightest. Probably copied from a postcard photo taken at Harmer Street, Gravesend in 1872. The photographer was F.C. Gould. William Henry was born on the ship on the 24th July 1865 while the ship was anchored in Keppel Bay. The account of the voyage from Madge was somewhat colourful compared with historical records.

Note that Keppel Bay was the harbour for Rockhampton, and passengers and goods were rowed up the Fitzroy River in rowboats at first, and later in small steamships (from at least 1865) since the river was not deep enough nor wide enough to accommodate sailing ships the size of the "Royal Dane" (1616 tons when built) with a draft according to Charles French's diary of 21 feet. The depth of water at the Upper Flats, Fitzroy River was 11.40 feet at high tide, a spot about an hour by steamer downstream of Rockhampton. Even Brisbane bar in 1874 could not admit ships drawing more than 15 feet.

John Oxley Library of Queensland - a photograph of the Royal Dane, used by permission (8'' X 10'' Cost $13.00 1997 Negative No 13741).

Summary of Arrivals in Queensland for the ship "Royal Dane":

25 July 1865 Keppel Bay after an excellent passage of 93 days, with 540 passengers. Sailed from London on 23rd April 1865. Captain Lewis Davies. Left Keppel Bay 15 Aug, arrived 22 Aug 1865 Brisbane.
12 Apr 1867 Moreton Bay. 17 Apr 1867 Brisbane.Captain Lewis Davies
25 Sep 1869 Moreton Bay. 28 Sep 1869 Brisbane.Captain Lewis Davies
Under Capt Bolt, with 497 passengers she sailed from Gravesend, London 30 July 1870 for Rockhampton, arriving 19th November - a slow voyage at 112 days.
19 Nov 1870 Keppel Bay
13 Dec 1870 Brisbane Captain Daniel R. Bolt.
2 Dec 1871 Moreton Bay 4 Dec 1871 Brisbane Captain Daniel R. Bolt
16 Jan 1873 Moreton Bay 18 Jan 1873 Brisbane Captain James Cooper
4 May 1874 Moreton Bay 5 May 1874 Brisbane Captain James Cooper
From the Brisbane Courier April 29 1874 : At Cape Moreton by Electric Telegraph:
April 29 - Royal Dane, immigrant ship, 1632 tons, Captain Cooper from London. at 9 a.m, departure from England on January 30, which would give her an excellent passage of eighty eight days. Reports tolerably healthy,thereby leading to the impression that there must have been some sickness on board. Messrs. J. and G. Harris, agents. Sailed January 30, with 550 immigrants.
From the Brisbane Courier 5 May 1874: - Passengers were taken into Brisbane via the steamship "Settler", which left Brisbane in the early morning of 5 May 1874 and was expected back in Brisbane in the afternoon.

(The following paragraphs are taken from "Two Famous Clippers' Performances" written by A.G. Davies in the Courier Mail, Brisbane, March 10, 1934)
....Another ship whose name became familiar to thousands of Queenslanders was the Royal Dane, also an American-built ship, known to the mercantile world for the first few years of her life as the Sierra Nevada. Although the performances of the Flying Cloud were more astonishing than any credited to the Sierra Nevada, the latter, nevertheless, was in the first flight of the extreme clippers which made notable passages between New York and San Francisco in the 1850 - 60 decade.....

Royal Dane's Career.

Built at New York, [registered Portsmouth USA] in 1854, the Sierra Nevada (to use her original name) proved herself worthy of inclusion among the best of the clippers by her early passages on the Cape Horn route between New York and San Francisco. [The Royal Dane was a big three decked ship of 1616 tons] When acquired by James Baines and Coy. for the Black Ball fleet her name was changed to Royal Dane, as a compliment to the Danish princess, Alexandra, who had married the Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VII. On her first appearance in Queensland waters she was bound for Keppel Bay, with 540 immigrants, and she dropped anchor in that harbourage on July 25, 1865, after an excellent passage of 93 days. She was then commanded by Captain Lewis Davies, who afterwards brought her out to Moreton Bay in 1867 and 1869, each time with a large number of new settlers. In 1870 Captain Daniel R. Bolt and Mr. George Cater, who had been master and mate respectively in the Young Australia, transferred in like capacities to the Royal Dane. Both were well and favourably known in Queensland over a long course of years. Under Captain Bolt the Royal Dane voyaged to Keppel Bay in 1870 and to Moreton Bay in the following year. It was rather a coincidence that the next commander of the Royal Dane, Captain James Cooper, should also have been master of the Young Australia just before his appointment to the other ship. It was after the wreck of the Young Australia on Moreton Island, an unfortunate happening, for which Captain Cooper was not in any way blamed. Under Captain Cooper, the Royal Dane made two voyages to Moreton Bay - in 1873 and 1874. She was then withdrawn from the Queensland trade; and, with the same commander, made two or three voyages from Mobile, Alabama, to London or Liverpool, with cotton. She ended her career by foundering off the Chilean coast, near San Carlos, on June 15, 1878.[when homeward bound with guano.] Captain Cooper afterwards returned to and settled in Queensland, and was for some years in the service of the Harbours and Rivers Department. Captain Bolt was subsequently appointed by the Queensland Government as inspector of immigrant ships in London. He later went to sea again, and had command of the ship Harbinger, a well known passenger vessel on the London to Melbourne run.

The following is from the excellent Clipper Ship pages of Lars.Bruzelius, at

Sierra Nevada: A royal-yard rigged wooden clipper ship built in 1854 by Toby and Littlefield, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Her dimensions were 222'2"x44'4"x19'4" [note that her draft was given as 21 feet in 1874 by the passenger Charles French - D.H.] and tonnage: 1942 tons (old measurements), 1616 tons (British), 1061 under deck tonnage.
1854 May 25 - Launched at the shipyard of Toby and Littlefield, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for Glidden and Williams, Boston. The commander on the first voyage, which was Boston - Callao in 97 days, was Captain Penhallow. [Callao is the port for Lima in Peru. Guano from offshore islands was the return cargo usually. D.H.] [Howe and Matthews have September 29 as launch date]
1855 - Ran foul of the Jane Leach and lost her figurehead. 1855 - Stuck on the dock sill at Wellington Dock, Liverpool, which broke her back. Sold for $ 9000.
1856 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 128 days. After that San Francisco - Callao in 53 days and then Callao - Hampton Roads in 69 days. The last voyage for the year was Boston - San Francisco, 140 days.
1858 - Sailed from New York to Melbourne in 105 days under command of Captain Blaney. Melbourne - Hong Kong, 53 days. Anjer - New York, 79 days. Captain James G. Foster, Boston - San Francisco, 97 days. San Francisco - New York, 98 days.
1861 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 114 days. San Francisco - New York, 101 days. New York - San Francisco, 105 days, under command of Captain Horton. San Francisco - Callao, 52 days. Callao - London, 80 days.
1862 - April 29 - Missed stays while beating out of the Golden Gates, San Francisco, and went ashore at Fort Point. Repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard cost $22,000. When ready for sea she dragged her anchors and drifted on to the clipper ship Phantom and caused damages to the rigging of $3000.
1862 - October 12 - December 31 - Sailed from Callao to London in 80 days with a cargo of guano.
1863 March - Sold to Mackay and Baines, London, for £ 10,750 and was renamed Royal Dane.
1866 - August 18 - Sold to J.P. Foulkes, London.
1866-1870 - On charter to the Black Ball Line.
1875 - [?] - Sold to John Harris, London.
1877 -[June 15, 1878? D.H.] Wrecked on the coast of Chile on voyage from Callao to Liverpool with a cargo of guano.

Updated 1997-04-26 by
The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Ships | American clipper ships
Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.

When in 1858 she sailed from New York to Melbourne in 105 days under command of Captain Blaney, there are records of two people having landed as immigrants,

SOMERFIELD . . . Given name: WM . . . Age: 19 Arrival date: NOV 1858 . . . Ship: SIERRA NEVADA


MILES . . . Given name: WILLIAM . . . Age: 23 Arrival date: NOV 1858 . . . Ship: SIERRA NEVADA

A different sailing ship also called the Sierra Nevada was wrecked at the turn of the Century at Portsea Back Beach in Victoria.

There was another Royal Dane, too, an English ship, launched in the yard of L.Wheatley, Sunderland 1863

Clippings from the Rockhampton Bulletin:
27th July 1865
Shipping Intelligence.
July 23.- Royal Dane, ship, Lewis Davies, commander, from London, on the 23rd April, with 540 Government immigrants and passengers.
The ship Royal Dane, from London, with 540 Government immigrants and passengers, left London, by way of Plymouth, on the 23rd of April last, and arrived in Keppel Bay on Tuesday, the 23rd instant. Surgeon - Superintendent Mr. E.R. Hodgkinson reports thirty-two deaths during g the voyage, viz., four adults and twenty-eight children. The only contagious disease that appeared during the voyage was measles.
27th July 1865:
We have been informed that the "Leichhardt," steamer, which left Brisbane for this port, on Tuesday, will go alongside the "Royal Dane," immigrant ship, lying in Keppel Bay, and bring up the passengers on board. The "Leichhardt" consequently need not be expected to arrive at the wharves until Saturday morning.
29th July 1865:
Shipping Intelligence.
July 25.- Royal Dane, ship, from London: 450 cases stout, 50 cases stout (in pints), 190 cases ale (in quarts) 60 cases ale (in pints), 1 case show-cards, 50 hogsheads ale, 75 cases ale (in quarts), 10 barrels rum, 6 quarter-casks brandy, 2 quarter casks pale brandy, 8 quarter-casks port, 8 quarter-casks sherry, 50 cases sherry, 30 cases port, 4 cases hock, 4 cases drapery, 1 case stationery, 1 case quinine, 1 case filters, 25 1/2 cases of cement, Morgan and Allen.
The Royal Dane, ship, left Gravesend on the 23rd April, and on the 25th arrived off Plymouth. She passed over the equator within thirty days after sailing, and reached Cape Moreton eighty-six days after leaving Gravesend. The Royal Dane, when she sailed, had 481 souls on board, of which 389 are assisted immigrants for Rockhampton, the remainder are bound for Brisbane. Ten births occurred on the passage, and thirty-two deaths - nine, principally of children, were caused by measles, some were caused by diarrhoea, two from tapes mesenterica , [should be tabes or tabies mesenterica, probably peritonitis. D.H.] and one from puerperal fever [childbirth fever D.H.] The last death, that of a sailor, from measles, occurred on the 11th instant. This report was furnished to our reporter through the kindness of Mr. W.J. Brown, Sub-Commissioner for Immigration, who, with Mr. W. H. Wiseman, Health Officer, visited the vessel in Keppel Bay, on Thursday morning; and under the circumstance narrated, they ordered the vessel to be placed in quarantine, under Sea View Hill; telegraphed to Brisbane, and are awaiting further instructions from the authorities there.
29th July 1865:
MESSRS. W. H. WISEMAN and W. J. Brown, Sub-Commisioners for Immigration, returned to town on Thursday afternoon after visiting the Immigrant vessel "Royal Dane," lying in Keppel Bay. They left on Wednesday after-noon in one of the Customs boats, and arrived Keppel Bay at 4.30 a.m. on Thursday. They lay-to until 6.30, shortly after daylight, when they went alongside the "Royal Dane." The Surgeon Superintendent, Mr. E. R. Hodgkinson, reported that the vessel when leaving Plymouth, had four hundred and eighty-one souls on board; during the passage ten births had occurred, and thirty-two deaths, principally from measles and diarrhoea. The only contagious disease that had made its appearance was measles. There are on board three hundred and eighty-nine adults, assisted immigrants for Rockhampton, the remainder of the four hundred and eighty-one destined for Brisbane. Under this condition of things, the Sub-Commissioners directed the vessel to be placed in Quarantine, off Sea View Hill. The Sub- Commissioners left the vessel at seven a.m. on Thursday morning and arrived in town at half-past four o'clock. A telegram, stating the condition of the vessel, was dispatched to Brisbane, from whence an answer directing the further disposal of the ship is expected.
Tuesday, 1st August, 1865:
The following items of cargo were omitted in the publication of the manifest of the Royal Dane, appearing in last Saturday's issue: 5 bales tarpaulins, 5 packages crockery and glass, 7 cases drapery, 60 packages ironmongery, 12 cases medicines, 46 cases oil-stores, 36 packages turpentine and varnish, 37 packages of groceries, 6 trunks of boots, bottling machine, 3 bales wool-packs, 32 cases oilman's stores, 10 kegs lime juice, 1 bale flannel, 1 case saddlery, 1 case pills, 1 case shears, 3 cases boots, John Palmer; 99 cases drapery, Hemmant and Stewart.
High Water (spring tides) at full and change of moon:
At the Upper Flats, Fitzroy River .... 11.40
At Rockhampton ... ... ... ... ... 11.55
Average depth of water at the Upper Flats: At spring tides, 12 feet; neap tides, 8 feet

[with a draft of 21 feet, it is no wonder that the Royal Dane could not be towed up the Fitzroy. D.H.]

Saturday, 5th August, 1865:
The immigrants - four hundred and four souls - of which two hundred and sixty-eight are adults, were landed in town on Thursday evening. The "Leichhardt," steamer, with W.J. Brown, Esq., and Dr. Callaghan on board, left town about five o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, and arrived in Keppel Bay about eleven o'clock on Wednesday evening. She steamed round the Royal Dane, which was lying in quarantine, and then cast anchor for the night. Mr. Brown and Dr. Callaghan, then proceeded alongside, and learned that the vessel was in a condition to receive a pratique, or license, to leave quarantine. Both these gentlemen went on board, and Mr. Brown made arrangements for the transhipment of the immigrants and their luggage to the "Leichhardt." Accordingly, on the following morning, when the immigrants had breakfasted, the roll was called, and this proceeding occupied the persons engaged until dinner time. The luggage in the meantime had been transferred to the "Leichhardt." The immigrants were next served with dinner, and their transfer from the vessel to the steamer was completed about four o'clock in the afternoon. The steamship started for town shortly afterwards; crossed the Upper Flats about eight o'clock in the evening, and landed the passengers shortly before nine o'clock. They then proceeded to the Immigration Depôt, and the cartage of the luggage occupied several draymen until two o'clock yesterday morning. We were informed that the immigrants consisted of about eighty-five single women, one hundred single men, forty married couples, and the remainder of the children. The hiring of a portion of the immigrants took place yesterday. Eleven single women were hired at an average rate of £25 per annum; ten single men at an average rate of £46 per annum; and one married couple at the rate of £60 per annum. About one hundred and five, of which twenty are single women, left by the "Leichhardt" yesterday morning for Brisbane.
Saturday, 5th August, 1865:
Immigrants per "Royal Dane" from England, who have been Members or Attendants of Baptist Churches are cordially invited to attend the BAPTIST CHAPEL, Denison Street.
Services are held as under:-
Sunday, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday School, at 9.30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
A Prayer Meeting is held every Tuesday evening, in the Chapel, commencing at Eight o'Clock.
Members and Adherents of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, who have arrived per "Royal Dane" are cordially invited to attend the PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH, Fitzroy-street.
For list of Sabbath and Week-day Services see News of this date.
Send your Children to the Sabbath School.
Rockhampton, August 5, 1865.
Members and attendants on the Services of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, arriving by the "Royal Dane" from Great Britain, are respectfully informed that the Services of the Wesleyan Church, Kent-street, Rockhampton, are held as under:-
Sunday ... ... 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Wednesday... ... 7 1/2 p.m.
Monday ... ... 7 1/2 p.m.
Morning ... ... 9 1/2
Afternoon ... ... 2 1/2
Wesleyan Minister.
I.O.O.F.M.U. No. 35.
Notice.- Members per ship "Royal Dane," are invited to this Lodge, at SKARDON'S HOTEL, on MONDAY evening next, (Lecture night) at half-past 7 o'clock.
Regular Lodge night: THURSDAY, August 17th.
LANDING ex "ROYAL DANE," from London : -
Ewbank's patent nails
Horse nails
Sheet zinc
Corrugated iron, 6,7,8, and 9 feet
Galvanised tubs
Bullock bells
Bullock bows
Blacksmith's bellows
Sheet lead
Sinclair's hams and bacon
Quarter-casks "Champion's" vinegar
Preserved potatoes
1lb salmon
N.W. cheese
Morton's pint pickles
Colman's mustard
Copal varnish
Stockholm tar
Navy canvas
Crimean shirts
Mole trousers
Holloway's medicines, etc.
Tuesday, 8th August, 1865:
About noon yesterday, while the Court of Inquiry at the Immigration Depot was sitting, its proceedings were disturbed by the alarm of a child, aged about two years, belonging to a married couple of the immigrants, having fallen into the water. Several persons present rushed to the bank of the river, and saw the body of a child floating quickly up the river with a strong wind and tide, and at a distance of about a dozen yards from the bank. There were one or two men, who having probably heard the first alarm, had stripped themselves of a portion of their clothing, but seemingly hesitated about going into the water. A young gentleman, who had come with the others from the Court-room, quickly divested himself of his coat and his hat, and plunged in. He succeeded in reaching the child just as it was sinking, and raised it to the surface of the water. The strength of the current at the spot, and the encumbrance of his clothing, prevented his making more than a few strokes to shore before he became exhausted. Another young man jumped in to his assistance, took the child from his hold, and barely succeeded in accomplishing half-a-dozen strokes before he too became exhausted. The child by this time had reached within a few yards of the shore when Captain Davies, of the "Royal Dane," plunged in, and succeeded in bringing the child to the edge of the bank, and handing to the hold of the many hands that were on shore to receive it. Dr. Hodgkinson was ready to attend to the child, and for a considerable time exercised the most strenuous efforts for resuscitation. His exertions, after a considerable time, were happily successful, and yesterday afternoon the child showed gratifying symptoms of restored vitality.
Saturday, 5th August, 1865:
An inquiry, touching certain charges of neglect and misconduct preferred by several of the immigrants by the ship "Royal Dane," against Surgeon-Superintendent Hodgkinson, was commenced on Saturday and concluded yesterday. The proceedings were held at offices of the Immigration Depot, on Saturday, before Mr. W. J. Brown, of the Sub-Immigration Board, and his worship the Mayor; and yesterday before Mr. W. J. Brown, and Mr. A. F. Wood. Several witnesses were called and examined, and the Commissioner's report will be transmitted to the authorities at Brisbane. We understand that the evidence given does not substantiate the charges made.
Thursday, 10th August, 1865:
The Clarence, steamer, arrived at the wharf about noon yesterday, bringing up the remainder of the cargo, with the exception of a few cases of iron, from the ship Royal Dane, lying in Keppel Bay. The following items form the remainder of the entries appearing on the manifest of the Royal Dane, portions of which have been published in preceding issues: 4 cases merchandise, Shaw, Capper and Co.; 4 cases earthenware, 1 cask glassware, 1 case drapery, 2 rolls lead, 37 kegs hardware, 7 casks, 4 cases zinc, 12 cases iron, 1 case hardware, 4 pairs smith' bellows, 3 casks hardware, 12 casks medicines, 46 casks preserved provisions, 3 cases apparel, 10 drums turpentine, 1 case varnish, 20 drums tar, 5 casks raddle, 1 case linen, 2 bales tarpaulin, 2 bales canvas, 1 bale twine, 6 cases hams and bacon, 10 hogsheads vinegar, 4 cases potatoes, 6 cases salmon, 6 cases cheese, 5 bales hops, 1 case cotton, 1 case apparel, 2 cases haberdashery, 1 case machinery, Order: 6 trunks boots and shoes, Order; 1 case apparel, Ledingham.
The remainder of the cargo of the Royal Dane, left by the Clarence on board the ship, will be brought to town, by a lighter, in the course of to-day, or tomorrow. The Royal Dane will sail for Brisbane about Monday next.

We append a complete list of the passengers by the "Royal Dane." 1st cabin: Miss M. Persee, Messrs. G. Burton, W. Gibb, G. R. Jopp, J. Lockwood, J. W. McCausland, R. Spencer, A. Smith, T. Williams, A. Wilbraham.

2nd cabin: Miss E. Gowan, Mrs. T. Luff and child, Miss Lammond, Miss Leakey, Miss Suter, Mrs. Sharp, Miss Sharp, Misses Thompson (4) Miss Wallace, Messrs. Crane, Fellingham, Green, Gowan, Jones, Lammond (3), Mackney, Menzies(3), Rodgers, Suter, Sharp (2), Thompson, Wallace. Nearly the whole of the above-named are for Brisbane.
Thursday, 10th August, 1865:
The hiring of the single immigrants by the "Royal Dane" has gone on pretty briskly. Since Friday last, twenty-six single women have made engagements at wages ranging from six shillings to twelve shillings per week. There are still forty-nine at the depot. 106 men have engaged at an average of £40 per annum. Some are to receive £35, and a few carpenters were hired at the rate of £50 per annum. Sixteen are as yet unemployed, and are principally mechanics. Ten married couples have made engagements at wages ranging from £50 to £60 per annum. The majority of the unemployed married couples have but one child each couple.
Tuesday, 15th August, 1865:
The ship Royal Dane sailed for Brisbane yesterday. She was passed, while standing out of Keppel Bay, by the steamer Leichhardt.

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