Amity (brig)

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Amity replica at Albany, Western Australia
Brig Amity replica from The Residency

The Amity was a 148-ton brig used in several notable voyages of exploration and settlement in Australia in the early nineteenth century.

She was built in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1816 and for several years was used as a merchant trading vessel between America and Britain.

Van Diemen's Land[edit]

In 1823 she was purchased by the Scottish Ralston Family to be fitted out for their emigration to Van Diemen's Land.[1] Under the command of Captain McMeckan she departed from Stranraer in southern Scotland on 15 November 1823, travelling via Dublin, across the Atlantic Ocean to Rio de Janeiro and arriving in Hobart exactly five months later on 15 April 1824. Twenty-one passengers made the journey, including Robert Ralston, his wife Elizabeth, two sons and six daughters, as well as cargo and livestock including two bulls and four cows from Scotland.

Ralston later sold the brig to the Government of New South Wales in Sydney where she was used for exploration and supply voyages.[2]

Moreton Bay[edit]

The brig carried the first European settlers to Queensland after Redcliffe had been recommended as a suitable location for a penal colony by John Oxley in 1823. Lieutenant Henry Miller led a group of about 70 people including soldiers of the 40th Foot Regiment, 29 convicts, explorers and their families to Moreton Bay on 14 September 1824.[3]

The locality of Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane, Queensland is named after the ship.[4] The locality includes a Brig Street.

King George Sound[edit]

Under instructions from Governor Darling the brig sailed to Western Australia in 1826 under the command of Major Edmund Lockyer, who established the first European settlement there with a military garrison at King George Sound, now Albany.[5] The settlement was initially called Frederick Town.[6][7][8] The expedition included Major Lockyer, two military officers, 18 rank and file soldiers, 23 convicts and surgeon Isaac Scott Nind, as well as livestock and supplies for an expected stay of six months.[9]

The group disembarked on Boxing Day, 1826.[10]

Swan River Colony[edit]

On 22 September 1829 the Amity arrived at Fremantle from Singapore with passengers and crew totalling 15 people.[11] She was the eighth shipping arrival in the fledgling Swan River Colony.

Ran aground on beach[edit]

Laden with a cargo of oil & cotton from Ceylon the Amity lost both anchors and hit a sand bank before running aground on the beach outside Dover harbour on 30 Nov 1841[12][13] and had to be recovered by salvagers the next day who refloated her and took her into Dover harbour.[14]


The Amity was wrecked after running aground on an uncharted sandbar now called Vansittart Shoals[1] (40°16′S 148°25′E / 40.267°S 148.417°E / -40.267; 148.417) near Vansittart Island, north of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) on 18 June 1845.[2]

Captain William Marr was sailing the Amity from Hobart for Port Albert in ballast on 14 June 1845, with a crew of nine, and one passenger. They encountered a gale while entering Bass Strait and ran aground on a sand-bank twelve miles off Shoaly Bay on the south-east coast of Flinders Island, presumably the Vansittart Shoals, 18 June 1845. As the ship broke up, she was abandoned, all making the island safely but in so doing, both boats were damaged. The castaways came across a party of sealers who loaned them another boat, and all except Captain Marr, who was later picked up by the schooner Letitia, headed for Cape Portland, Tasmania.


Discussions in Albany to construct a replica of the Amity commenced in Albany in 1972 with the view to completion for the town's 1976 sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) celebrations. After funding and research had been established, construction commenced in 1975, with local boat builder Stan Austin as project supervisor and Pieter van de Brugge as leading shipwright.

The full-sized, land-mounted replica (pictured above) is in the Stirling Historical Precinct on Princess Royal Drive, Albany, overlooking Princess Royal Harbour. It has been positioned to give an impression of it floating in the harbour. Guided tours are available daily.


  1. ^ a b "The Ralston Family and the Brig Amity". Launceston Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Amity". SchoonerMan. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  3. ^ "Redcliffe Historical Society". Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  4. ^ Horton, Helen (1983). Islands of Moreton Bay. Spring Hill, Queensland: Boolarong Publications. p. 29. ISBN 0-908175-67-1. 
  5. ^ "The Amity". Albany Historical Society Inc. Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  6. ^ Nind, Isaac Scott (7 February 1828). "View of Frederick Town, King Georges Sound, at the expiration of the first year of its settlement" (pdf). Manuscripts, Oral History and Pictures. State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Nind, Isaac Scott (1832). "Description of the Natives of King George's Sound (Swan River Colony) and Adjoining Country". The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 1: 12. JSTOR 1797657. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Wilson, Thomas Braidwood (1835). "Formation of the Settlement at King George's Sound". Narrative of a Voyage Round the World. London: Sherwood Gilbert & Piper. p. 281. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Amity - list of settlers who arrived with Lockyer to King George Sound in 1826". The Sunday Times. 7 December 1986. p. 74. 
  10. ^ Battye, James Sykes (1924). Western Australia: A History from Its Discovery to the Inauguration of the Commonwealth. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 61. 
  11. ^ "Amity". Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  12. ^ "MIRACULOUS ESCAPE FROM SHIPWRECK", Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser, p. 4, Dec 18, 1841, MIRACULOUS ESCAPE FROM SHIPWRECK. The fine brig Amity, Newhaven, 252 tons register, John Scott, commander, sailed from Colombo, in the island of Ceylon, the 5th of June last, with valuable cargo, consisting of tons of cocoa-nut oil, in tanks and casks, large quantity of deer and buffalo horns, about coils coir rope, 5.000 packages coir junk, bundles of coir yam, and several bales of coir fibre, which, together with the value of the ship, was valued by Mr. Henuis, salvage agent, Mount-street, Whitechapel-road, at £15,611. The ship, in taking her course up the English Channel, owing to the dense fog, was obliged run into Dungeness Roads for pilot before day-break on the 30th ult., and there let go both anchors; but the wind and waves raging in most terrific manner, swept all before them, and the Amity struck sand bank, which carried away her rudder, and consequently she was obliged slip her cables, and run from her anchors. Her windlass, owing to the heavy beating the sea, was broken, bit gone, foremast sprung between decks, and nine feet water in the hold. this disabled state, with the prospect of her becoming total wreck, the Pandora, of Dover, Thomas Collins, master, with four men, while cruising off Dungeness, perceived the brig with a wolf in her main rigging, and signals of distress flying her masthead, made for and boarded her about nine, a.m., when John Adams and James Aldenbury Henderson (an old twenty-six year North Sea pilot), went board, and found her to be abreast of Brockman’s barn, off bearing N.N.W. in four fathoms water, and very leaky, and in the crippled stale before mentioned; upon which they made signals for more assistance, and the cutter, having made fast two hawsers, one each quarter, endeavoured to steer the brig for Dover harbour, and got sail upon her about ten, a.m. About this time the lugger Catherine, of Dover. William Davidson, master, with four men, hove tight, boarded her, and took the Amity in low. The leak increased, and great fear was entertained that the Amity would go down in deep water, and all hands were kept the pumps. The Amity made Dover bar, iu charge of the salvors, about one, p.m., of the same day, and was discovered that there was not sufficient depth to cross the bar. wind was then blowing tremendous gale and the sea running strong. On the Amity reaching within fifteen fathoms of the south pierhead heavy sea struck her, she pitched heavily, and was, in few minutes, forced about forty fathoms the eastwards of the north pierhead, and, beating round, stranded the beach. The boatmen were now compelled cut adrift, and, to save their own lives and property, make for the Downs. The pumps board were still kept at work, which so lightened the brig that she floated about an hour before high water, and about one a.m., on the 1st instant, she was brought into Dover Harbour by the boatmen, and her cargo is now being discharged there. During the time she lay stranded the beach great fears were entertained by least 800 spectators, who watched her with great anxiety, that she would become total wreck, especially as the wind that time was blowing very strong from the B.W. Not one life was lost in this dangerous enterprise, and great praise is duo to those courageous men, Collison, Davison, Adams, and Henderson, and the boatmen generally for their exertions. But for their nautical skill and perseverance, the Amity would have become total wreck, and every man board would have perished. Davison is known Dover “Old Jumper,” who has many times risked his life by taking foreign mail bags over sea when others would not put off. Monday Board of Commissioners was called by Messrs. Latham, Lloyd agents Dover, on behalf of the ship and cargo, ami Mr. T. J. Hennis, salvage agent, on account of the salvors and pilot, the King’s Head Hotel, Dover, before hos. Pain, Esq., K.N., Chairman, John Hyons, Esq., Harbour Master, Deputy; Captain Mudge, U.N., Captain Shy lock, U. Daniel Peake, Esq., and the Collector of her Majesty’s Customs for the port of Dover, when, after receiving evidence similar the above statement, and the valuation of Messrs. Latham and Mr. Henuis, £15,641., the Court unanimously awarded the salvors the sum of £503 which was instantly paid. 
  13. ^ "Brig Amity, of Whitehaven", Carlisle Journal, p. 1, Dec 4, 1841, BRIG AMITY, OF WHITEHAVEN. - On Tuesday morning the brig Amity, of Whitehaven, laden with cotton and oil, from Ceylon, struck on the beach to the eastward of the North Pier-head, in attempting to get into the harbour. The accident was principally caused by the vessel being in an unmanageable state when the attempt was made to get her into this harbour, she having before daylight that morning been on shore near Dungeness, and lost her rudder, and both anchors and chains. She was picked up off the Ness by a hovelling vessel belonging to this port. She is now high and dry, and it is, we understand, intended, when the tide is down, to lighten her, that she may with more facility be floated into the harbour when the water flows. There is a stiff breeze of south-westerly wind now blowing but we trust the weather may remain moderate, that this fine vessel and her valuable cargo may be saved - Dover paper. 
  14. ^ "Shipping Intelligence", Morning Advertiser, p. 1, Dec 3, 1841, DOVER Dec 1 - The Amity from Colombo to London, which was ashore, was got off to-day, after been lightened, and brought into port very leaky and in a dangerous state - cargo discharging 

Further reading[edit]

  • Johnson, Les (1977). She was the "Amity" Brig. Carroll's Ltd, Perth. For the Town of Albany. ISBN 978-0-909994-72-3. 

External links[edit]