Thomas Arbuthnot (ship)

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Thomas Arbuthnot
Launched: 1841
General characteristics
Tonnage: 523 tons (old Imperial), 621 tons (new Imperial)

The ship Thomas Arbuthnot was a fast sailing ship, weighing 523 tons (old Imperial), 621 tons (new Imperial). She carried the first Australian gold from Australia to England 1851. The vessel was one of the largest of the immigrant ships regularly arriving at Australian ports during the 1840s and 50s. It was noted for transporting many orphans during the potato famine.


  • Owners: Arbuthnot (sic).
  • Port of Registry: Peterhead.
  • Constructed 1841 in Aberdeen.[1]
  • She departed Greenock 17 June 1841 and arrived Port Phillip, Melbourne 2 October 1841 (the master was Brown). One of the emigrants disembarking was William Lauder Guild (1814-1863), a grandson of Dr. Colin Lauder, FRCS (Edinburgh).
  • She cleared from Melbourne 9 November 1841 for Calcutta (master was Brown).
  • Some repairs in 1842.
  • New keel and further repairs 1844.
  • In 1845 the ship was sheathed in yellow metal.
  • In 1847 she was surveyed in London; the master was Captain J Smith. She sailed for Madras.
  • She sailed from Portland 10 January 1847 to Victoria 4 May 1847 (the master was John Thomson). At the Isle of Wight she took on 89 Parkhurst apprentices who were among the 288 male convicts/exiles who were sentenced to transportation and were discharged in Williamstown, Port Phillip [Victoria from 1851] on the day they arrived.[2]
  • She arrived Botany Bay, Sydney 17 January 1849
  • She sailed from Plymouth 28 October 1849 to Botany Bay, Sydney 3 February 1850 (master was G H Heaton). Surgeon-Superintendent, Charles Edward Strutt, and Sir Arthur Hodgson both kept diaries. Many of the girls, who had been brought to Australia under the Earl Grey scheme for the emigration of female adolescents from Irish workhouses, married and settled at Yass and Gundagai, New South Wales.[3][4][5][6]
  • She sailed Sydney (24 Sept 1850) to Gravesend.
  • Letter in "The Times" 10 Sept 1851 describing the problems bringing the first gold to England (Captain G H Heaton).
  • She sailed in ballast Sydney (1 July 1852) to Guam (the master was Banatyne, weight 621 tons).
  • She sailed from Plymouth (9 June 1855) to Port Adelaide, South Australia, arriving 12 September 1855 (Captain R Martin), surgeon J O'Donnell. 2 births 0 death, 252 emigrants.


  1. ^ MacGregor, David R. Fast Sailing Ships: Their Design and Construction, 1775-1875.
  2. ^ "Parkhurst Boys - Thomas Arbuthnot 1847". Convicts to Australia. Perth Dead Persons' Society. 2003. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
  3. ^ "Famine Orphan Girl Ships to Australia". Irish Famine Memorial. Archived from the original on 2011-08-18.
  4. ^ McClaughlin, Trevor (2001). Barefoot & Pregnant?. Irish Famine Orphans Genealogical Society of Victoria.
  5. ^ This ship is also the subject of Richard Reid & Cheryl Mongan's book A decent set of girls: The Irish Famine Orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, 1849-1850.
  6. ^ Geason, Susan. "The Irish 'Orphan' Girls". Non-Fiction. Retrieved 2006-12-18.