Estramina (1803 ship)

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Name: Extremeña
Builder: Guayaquil, Viceroyalty of Peru
Launched: 13 October 1803
Captured: by British ship, 1 October 1804
New South Wales
Name: Estramina
Acquired: by purchase, 12 June 1806
Fate: Wrecked, 19 January 1816
General characteristics (in Spanish service)
Type: Schooner
Tons burthen: 102 tons bm
Sail plan: Fore-and-aft rig
Complement: 18
Armament: 4 × 4-pounder guns

Estramina, originally called Extremeña, a two-masted schooner of 102 tons, was built at Guayaquil, in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, now in modern-day Ecuador, and launched on 13 October 1803.[1] A Spanish Naval vessel, it was pierced for 12 guns but was armed with only four 4-pounders and carried a crew of 18. It was commanded by Lieutenant Mariano Isasbiribil, and engaged in hydrographical surveys.[2]

On 1 October 1804 it was seized from port of Caldera in Copiapo Bay, Chile, by the armed merchant brig Harrington, Captain William Campbell, and sailed across the Pacific into Australian waters. Campbell probably believed that war between Britain and Spain, if not commenced already, was very imminent. He instructed his prize crew to hide Extremeña in Jervis Bay, which is 90 miles to the south of Sydney, New South Wales whilst he sailed to Sydney in Harrington to check on the state of relations between the two countries.

When Campbell arrived in Sydney there were no reports that Britain and Spain had been at war when he had seized Extremeña. The Governor of New South Wales, Captain Philip Gidley King RN (1800–06), hearing the Spanish vessel was hiding in Jervis Bay, ordered it to be escorted to Sydney where it was detained pending instructions from the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in London.[3] King also wrote to the Governor of Chile to explain that Extremeña and a Spanish merchant brig St Francisco & St Paulo had been recovered. The diplomatic correspondence was dispatched on His Majesty's Colonial Cutter Integrity on 23 June 1805, but never arrived as Integrity was lost with all hands and without trace.[4]

The Governor also reported the event to William Marsden, First Secretary to the Admiralty (1804-1807), stating that Extremeña had been under the command of Don Antonio José del Campo, which was not correct. The position of del Campo would, in the twentieth century, be called Extremeña’s executive officer.[5] His signature would have appeared on documents on board and been misinterpreted by Governor King and his advisors who had a limited knowledge of Spanish. Several authors have since copied this error.

Meanwhile, based on legal opinion, it was decided to sell Extremeña at public auction and hold the proceeds in trust until a final adjudication could be made. At the time the colonial government was in desperate need of vessels and decided to bid for the vessel itself. The auction took place on 12 June 1806 and the schooner went to the government for £2,100. It was renamed Estramina and gave excellent service for many years under government ownership. Its last commander was Joseph Ross.

The fate of Estramina was reported by the Commandant at Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, on Friday 19 January 1816, as the vessel was beating out of the harbour with a strong north-east wind and ebb tide, she was obliged to come to anchor, which unfortunately parted, and she drifted onto a sand bank, then broke up.[6][7]


  1. ^ For place and date of launching see Jose de la Aruelas ‘History of His Majesty’s Schooner Estremena’, Callao July 30th 1803, a translation, in King Family Correspondence and memoranda, volume 8, 1775-1806, Mitchell Library, Sydney, New South Wales, A 1980/2, Microfilm CY 906, frame 290.
  2. ^ Mariano Isasbiribil is recorded as being the commander of Extremeña in Gabriel Moreno, Almanaque peruano y guia de forasteros para el año de 1805, Lima.
  3. ^ For further details see Philip Gidley King to John Jeffreys Pratt, 2nd Earl Camden, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (13 May 1804 to 10 Jul. 1805), 30 Apr. 1805 (to which there were 50 enclosures), in Historical Records of Australia, Series I, Volume V, pages 334-405; and The National Archives of the United Kingdom, CO 201/36. For the enclosures themselves also see State Records Authority of New South Wales, Sydney, Reel 6020, 4/1093.1, pp.1-118.
  4. ^ Rusden, George William (1883). History of Australia, Volume 1 (PDF). London: Chapman & Hall. pp. 410–411. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  5. ^ King to Marsden, 30 Apr. 1805, in Historical Records of Australia, Series I, Volume V, pages 459-62; and The National Archives of the United Kingdom, ADM 1/2021.
  6. ^ Lieut. Thomas Thompson, Commandant at Newcastle, to Secretary T. Campbell, 25 Jan. 1816, State Records Authority of New South Wales, Sydney, Reel 6066, 4/1806, pp.5-6.
  7. ^ "The "Estramina" and "Elizabeth & Mary"". Sydney Gazette. 27 January 1816. Retrieved 6 August 2012.