HMS Buffalo (1813)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships of the same name, see Hindostan (East Indiaman) and HMS Buffalo.
HMS Buffalo 1813 model.jpg
1936 model of the Buffalo
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Buffalo
Builder: James Bonner & James Horsburgh, Calcutta
Launched: 4 January 1813 as the Hindostan
Acquired: 22 October 1813 by Royal Navy
Refit: 4 January 1814, as a storeship
19 April 1833, as a convict ship
1836, as an emigrant ship
Fate: Wrecked in Mercury Bay, 28 July 1840.
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: sixth-rate storeship
Tons burthen: 589 (bm)[2]
Length: 120 ft (37 m) (o/a)
98 ft 8 78 in (30.1 m) (keel)
Beam: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: Original: 3 officers and 55 crew
Later: 9 officers and 88 crew

As built:[3] 16 × 24-pounder carronades + 2 × 9-pounder guns

After 1833 convict ship refit:[3] 6 × 18-pounder carronades + 2 × 6-pounder long guns
Notes: Water buffalo figurehead

HMS Buffalo was a storeship of the Royal Navy, originally built Calcutta and launched in 1813 as the merchant vessel Hindostan. The Admiralty purchased her later that year after she arrived in Britain. She later served as a convict ship and as transport for immigrants to Australia before being wrecked in 1840.

Launch and purchase[edit]

Hindostan was built of teak by James Bonner and James Horsburgh, of Firth, in 1813 at Calcutta.[1][2] Upon the ship's launch, the Calcutta Gazette reported her as a merchantman built to carry grain rice.

On 13 October 1813, after a six month maiden voyage, the Hindostan arrived in Blackwall, London. She had left Bengal on 18 February, passed the Point de Galle on 13 March, stopped at St Helena on 9 June, and arrived at the Downs on 10 August.[4]

The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty purchased her on 22 October. David Webster (representing the builders), brokered the sale price of £18,000 for Hindostan.[1] The Navy Board renamed the ship HMS Buffalo, designated her a sixth rate, and employed her as a storeship.

The Admiralty also purchased the similar Severn, a 550 tons burthen (bm) ship (renamed HMS Camel) for the Royal Navy. Horsburgh part-financed the building of both Severn and Hindostan in the partnership of Horsburgh & Colman.

Royal Navy service[edit]

Buffalo was commissioned in November 1813 under Mr. Richard Anderson, Master,[5] and became a ship of many uses and refits. Anderson was still her master between 1814 and 1815 when she was stationed at the Army Depot at Bermuda.[6] Then in January 1816 Mr. W. Hudson became master.

Buffalo was at Deptford in 1822, 1827, and 1831.[6] She was fitted as a timber carrier to carry spars from New Zealand in 1831.[5] However, she apparently was in the Quarantine Service at Stangate in 1832.[6]

Then in January 1833 she was fitted as a convict ship,[5] and F.W.R. Sadler took command.[6] Buffalo sailed to Australia in May 1833 carrying 180 female convicts. She was an important ship in the maritime history of South Australia, serving at times as a quarantine, transport or colonisation ship, while also aiding the British expansion into New Zealand, New South Wales, Tasmania and Upper Canada. Sadler received gifts from the local Maori chief Titore in the Bay of Islands during one of HMS Buffalo's trips. They include a pin, a club and an ornate Hei-tiki, all now in the British Museum.[7]

Buffalo was paid-off and recommissioned in January 1835. Then James Wood took command in July 1836. Buffalo sailed from Portsmouth on 23 July 1836, arriving in South Australian waters in December of that year, carrying 176 colonists, including Captain John Hindmarsh, who was to become the first Governor of the new colony of South Australia following the proclamation of that colony on 28 December 1836. As a tribute, a replica of the Buffalo is moored in the Patawalonga River at Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide.

Only three deaths were ever recorded on the Buffalo,[8] a remarkable record considering the medical practices of that period and volumes of passengers she transported.

S. Hindmarsh may have been captain in 1837 but James Wood returned to command and would remain her captain until her loss.

On September 28, 1839 she sailed from Quebec, Canada with 82 American patriots and 58 French prisoners from Lower Canada who were convicts and part of the Upper Canada Rebellion. The Americans were transported to Hobart, Tasmania and the French convicts were brought to Sydney, New South Wales.[9]

She was fitted as a timber carrier again in 1839.


Buffalo was anchored in Mercury Bay off Whitianga and loaded with Kauri spars when a storm on 28 July 1840 wrecked her. The gale parted her from her cables. When it became clear that her crew could not save her, Wood steered her onto the beach. All the crew except two were saved, but she herself was a total loss.[10]

The memorial for H.M.S. Buffalo located at Buffalo Beach, Whitianga.
The sign next to H.M.S. Buffalo Memorial
The Wreck of the H.M.S. Buffalo, by G. Jackson


A team of maritime archaeologists and volunteer divers led by the South Australian Government’s State Heritage Branch located the wreck site in April 1986.[11][12][13] The wreck of HMS Buffalo is still visible today at Buffalo Bay off Whitianga. The wreck is only visible from the air at low tide and in clear water conditions. The GPS co-ordinates for the location of the wreck are 36°49′36.20″S 175°42′20.0″E / 36.8267222°S 175.705556°E / -36.8267222; 175.705556Coordinates: 36°49′36.20″S 175°42′20.0″E / 36.8267222°S 175.705556°E / -36.8267222; 175.705556.
In 2009 the Deployable Hydrographic Survey Unit of the Royal New Zealand Navy located the wreck using Side-scan sonar and dived on the wreck using snorkels. Much of the wreck has been broken up by storms with the remaining timbers of the hull still in solid condition despite over 150 years in the ocean.[14]
The wreck has not yet been charted by Land Information New Zealand.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Sexton 1984, pp. 11–12
  2. ^ a b Stringer 1980, p. 6
  3. ^ a b Sexton 1984, p. 27
  4. ^ National Archives:Hindostan (3) [] - accessed 22 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Winfield (2008), p.398.
  6. ^ a b c d "NMM, vessel ID 381491". Warship Histories, vol v. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  7. ^ British Museum Collection [1]
  8. ^ Sexton 1984, p. 10
  9. ^ Convicts to Australia. Accesed March 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Hepper (1994), p.163.
  11. ^ (Adelaide) Advertiser, 9 April 1986, p.12.
  12. ^ (Adelaide) Advertiser, 17 April 1986, p.10.
  13. ^ Jeffery (1989), p.43-45.
  14. ^ SLT Lester, Michael (Dec 2009). "Mercury Bay Survey: Identifying HMS Buffalo". Navy Today p.29. Retrieved 16 Feb 2014. 
  15. ^ "NZ 5318 - Great Mercury Island". NZ Marine Chart. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 16 Feb 2004. 


  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Hepper, David J. (1994). British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot. ISBN 0-948864-30-3. 
  • Sexton, Robert (1984), H.M.S. Buffalo: An Account of His Majesty's Ship Buffalo, Naval Storeship and Timber Carrier, Quarantine Ship, Transport, and Emigrant Ship Bringing the First Governor to South Australia, Magill: Australasian Maritime Historical Society, ISBN 0-9591317-0-1 
  • Stringer, Myra (1980), Family history of John William and Susanna Adams, Adelaide: M. Stringer, ISBN 0-9594363-0-8 
  • Stringer, Myra (1986), Adams Family History 1774–1986, Adelaide: M. Stringer, ISBN 0-9594363-1-6 
  • Winfield, Rif (2007), British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates, Seaforth, ISBN 1-86176-246-1 
  • (Adelaide), Advertiser (9 April 1986), ‘SA team seek Buffalo wreck’ 
  • (Adelaide), Advertiser (17 April 1986), ‘Divers find parts of the Buffalo’ 
  • Jeffery, W. (1989), Report on survey of HMS Buffalo wrecksite (1813-1840): Bulletin of the Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology 

External links[edit]

This article includes data released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported UK: England & Wales License, by the National Maritime Museum, as part of the Warship Histories project