THE MISSING SCHOONER
The subjoined information relative to the missing schooner Gem, 87 tons, of Sydney, is extracted from some papers in the Customs department.
It seems that the vessel, which used to belong to this port, left Sydney on a pearl fishing voyage in July 1877, her master being Henry Brown, and her owner, Captain Francis Cadell, being on board. She was cruising about the Malay Archipelago and Torres Straits until February of this year, when she left Amboyna, an island in the Archipelago, for Banda, another of the islands, and Australia. It will be seen from the epitome of the letter from the Commis- sioner of Customs to the Governor, that it is stated the schooner left Amboyna in June last. That statement is made on the basis of Ho Yung San's letter, but there can be no doubt that Ho Yung San
did not mean to state that the schooner left Amboyna in June, but that one of her crew returned to Amboyna in June. When she left Amboyna Captain Cadell had on board a large sum of money. She was subsequently seen at Banda, but no definite information regarding her has since been obtained. On the 27th inst. the collector of customs, Adelaide, telegraphed that Cadell was pearling in Torres Straits four months since, and that is the latest news of him. We understand that the com- modore of this station has been communi- cated with. It is to be hoped that the mystery will soon be cleared up, as there is some reason at present to fear that a terrible tragedy has occurred. The papers referred to begin with the following letter -
" Via Batavia, Amboyna, June 7, 1879.
Sir, – I beg to inform you that one British schooner called the Gem, Captain Francis Cadell, sailed from here en route to Banda and Australia. She is an iron-built schooner. On the 6th inst, one of her crew, native of Manilla, arrived here from an island called the Kay by an Arabian schooner, and told me that he was agreeably discharged by his captain at Banda and that the schooner Gem is already gone to her destination, and subse- quently the Arabian came and gave me the following information :- 'I went to Kay,' said the Arabian, ' where I met six men. They were crews for some English schooner. Their captain discharged them, and they have purchased one small vessel for £150 to go to Macassar, and their smnall vessel got wrecked on the way to Macassar, and the six men sought again then refuge to the said island. 'I arrived there', continued the
Arabian, when the six men were just escaped from destruction. One of these men (Manilla fellow) applied to me for a passage to Amboyna. I felt very pity on him, and took him on board as passenger. The Manilla man possesses plenty money, and has carried with him one small boat, which is now on board my schooner.' By hearing these it gave me strong suspicion aganist those men, that they might have committed mutiny, or done some unlawful act against their captain. Accordingly I went and reported to the harbour master. He and I and one other Chinese, who is also friend of Captain Cadell, went on board the Arabian schooner to examine and inquire into the matter. I and that Chinese recognised the small boat is the very one belonging to the schooner Gem, and we are now ready to take oath to identify it. The Manilla is already arrested, and five others that are now m the said island are the natives of Macassar, Binong, Koo, Timor, and other races. I believe His Excellency the Resident of Amboyna will soon send out frigate to take them to trial. On receipt of this letter I beg, sir, that you will be kind enough to inquire all round the ports of Australia, and learn if such schooner has ever reached those places.
– I am &c , HO YUNG SAN. "To the Harbour-master, Melbourne."
On the 20th August the chief harbour- master forwarded to the assistant commis- sioner of trade and customs the above letter, and stated that shortly after he received it James Lawson, late a seaman of the Gem, presented himself at his office, having been
brought here from Singapore, as a distressed seaman left behind at Amboyna.
James Lawson made a statement to the chief harbour master to the followmg effect :- I shipped at Sydney in the Gem on foreign going articles, on 13th July, 1877. Went from Sydney to Somerset, Torres Straits and to Tientsin, and thence to an island named Macella, where the captain took on board 11 natives for the purpose of pearl fishing. Afterwards went to Keppa Island, where the captain landed nine Keppa natives whom he had shipped on a previous voyage. Then went to Croker Island, where the captain took on board 11 Australian natives, includ- ing three women. These natives told me afterwards the master had promised to take them back in two months from the time of going on board. From Malay Bay the vessel returned to Somerset, where the 11 natives of Macella, and all the Australian natives, in-
cluding women, were put on board the
schooner, Tres Amis, a vessel of about 40 tons, belonging to Cadell, and registered at Fremantle. Captain Cadell then transferred about 30 Keppa men, and 28 Manilla men from the Tres Amis to the Gem. The vessel then steered for Banda, where the Keppa men were landed, then called at an island named Eluka, where 12 natives were taken on board – nine of them against their will.
Thence sailed to lsland of Sourengana, where the Manilla men were left. From Sourengana back to Macella, and took on board 11 natives. Thence sailed to Torres Straits, where
both vessels lay for about three months, the Tres Amis always being anchored in the Strait. The captain asked me to go on board the Tres Amis, taking five or six natives with me, to clean the vessel up. While I was working in the Tres Amis the natives on board her were trans- ferred to the Gem. Was afterwards told that nine Australian natives and three women, with Mr. Price, a passenger, and two sea-
men, went from the Gem in a boat to the island of Bardo, for the purpose of bringing back wood and water, leaving the nine natives and three women on the island. About nine days after Captain Cadell came to me and said that as the boat had not returned to the ship, he was afraid something serious had happened, and that he would go to the island to see. He came back in about a week, and said that Mr. Price, the two sea- men, and a Chimese gardener had been killed, and their bodies found in a heap behind a rock. I have heard since, when in Torres Straits, coming through in the s.s. Somerset, that the natives had got back to Croker Island. The mate of the Gem told me some- time afterwards, on Thursday Island, that the remaining natives in the Gem, a few days after hearing what their mates had done on Bardo Island, had watched their opportu- nity to kill him (the mate). One day when in the act of coming up from the cabin, one of the natives made a cut at his head, with a large bush knife (blade about 2ft. longl, inflicting a deep gash on back of his head. He fell down the stairs, but afterwards came up with a revolver, and shot four of the natives, and being the only European on board, threw himself overboard, and was picked up by the Macella men, who were in a boat pearl fishing. After the mate left the vessel the natives on board ransacked the cabin, taking blankets, bread, tobacco, pearls, &c., and then left in the ship's boat, taking the wounded natives with them. About five or six weeks after the above had hap- pened, I went with Captain Cadell in the Gem to Banda, thence to a Portuguese island called Timberdaly, and from there to Macassar, and took in a cargo of rice and salt for Amboyna. Went back to Banda and took in another cargo of rice for Amboyna. On arriving at Amboyna the second time, went to captain of the port to see if I could be discharged. He told me I could, but the next day he said I must go back to the vessel and continue the voyage. The captain would not give a reason for altering his decision. Owing a storekeeper £1 17s., I asked Captain Cadell for money. Understood him to say he would give me money in the morning. Could not see the boat for the purpose of returning to the ship that night. That was about 17th or 18th February, 1879. At daybreak next morning found the schooner had gone. Had no idea where she had gone to, but the captain of the steamer Bromo, the vessel I went to Sourabaya in, told me he saw the Gem lying at Banda two days before he ar- rived at Amboyna. Have not heard anything of her since.
On the 23rd August, 1879, the Commissioner of Trade and Customs forwarded copies of the above documents to the Governor, stating that suspicions had been aroused that some- thing had happened to the schooner, and that either murder or robbery or both, had been committed. The Gem was alleged, the Commissioner's letter stated, to have left Amboyna in June last, and to have reached Banda. Lawson's statement only related to occurrences up to February, but Lawson sub- sequently mentioned that while passing through Torres Straits in the Somerset,
two weeks since, it was acertained
that Captain Cadell had been for some time expected at Mabbicott Reef, where another schooner of his, the Tres Amis, of Fremantle, was at anchor, with three large boats and 30 men engaged in pearl-shell collecting. Law- son also added that the pilot had informed him a warrant was out against Cadell from the Queensland Government for kidnapping Australian natives, but it was unknown whether or not Cadell was aware of that. Lawson likewise stated there were two bags of dollars taken on board the Gem at Ma- cassar, two at Amboyna, and some at Banda, in all upwards of £500 worth , and that Cadell had only a native crew with him, who were not well disposed towards him, and one of
whom was a great scoundrel. The Commis- sioner suggested that the commodore should
be communicated with.
From the remaining papers it appears that on the 23rd inst. the collector of customs., Brisbane, informed our Customs department, by telegram, that nothing had been heard of Cadell or his schooner since he was in Am- boyna, and that on the same date the collec- tor of customs at Fremantle telegraphed to the same effect. On the 25th inst., the col- lector of customs, Sydney, telegraphed that the "schooner Gem, Cadell owner, Hy. Brown, master, sailed from Sydney 18th July, 1877, bound to Somerset, with four in crew, and eight passengers. She has not since been heard of here." On the 27th inst. the collector of customs, Adelaide, sent the fol- lowing telegram -"Government Resident, Port Darwin, wires relative Gem schooner. Latest news, Cadell was pearling in Torres Straits four months since. A schooner leaves for Kissei in a few days, and master will be re- quested to make inquiries.
CAPTAIN CADELL'S LATEST LETTERS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS.
Sir, – The paragraph in to-day's paper of tea uncertainty attending Captain Francis Cadell's movements has induced me to send copies of his last letters, probably the latest in the city. Captain Cadell left Torres Straits for the archipelago, for labour, on the 29th Sep- tember, 1878, and since then nothing has been heard of him here. He intended returning with a crew to prosecute mother-of-pearl diving, and then, after setting the party to work, was coming on to the southern colo- nies to continue a movement instituted here by some friends to get these Governments to acknowledge, in some tangible shape, the benefits he had been the means of conferring, and thus render honour to whom honour is due, in bringing about the complete utilisa- tion of the waters of the Murray, Murrum- bidgee, and the Darling for carrying purposes, making, indeed, what otherwise would have been comparatively valueless places of great commercial importance – Yours, &c.,
JOHN LAVINGTON EVANS. Aug. 29.
" Torres Straits, Aug. 1, 1878.
"My dear Evans, – Many thanks for your letter of —, which was full of interesting information as an egg is full of meat. The papers you kindly sent to me afforded me a great deal of reading, and have helped to keep me posted up in affairs of the great world. I had my misgivings about your being able to get men of the particular sort required (South Sea Islanders); I am better without any others. The telegrams will tell you of a fracas I have had in the shape of a boat having being run away with by N.T. natives, and their murder, together with that of three other men. These are the men on whom there was a magisterial inquiry sometime ago, which quite exonerated me from the charge of having got them in any but a fair way. Say this publicly if necessary, as I will be absent in the archipelago. The South Australian Government also have no suspicion of dishonourable conduct on my part. The crew consisted of 11 men, four of whom were married, and had their wives with them. In fact, I thought that a run ashore would do them good, and behold the end. I have no cause to upbraid myself with ill-treatment of them. Quite the reverse. It has made a big hole in my muster- roll, and knocked everything out of gear. I will not be back until November, when I shall be happy to hear from you. The steamer is just in a day before her time, and so conclude a hasty letter,
"(Signed) "F. CADELL"
" Thursday Island, 30th August, 1878.
" My dear Evans, – What a terrible thinning of my muster-roll has lately taken place You will see it all in the papers .The mate's story is substantially correct. He behaved most gallantly, and I think I will be able to get for him the Albert medal. At all events I will try. He is a Devonian. I have nothing much to say to you. I am off again to the Eastern Archipelago directly to recruit. It is uncertain when I will be back. I have written to R. H. Co. about divers, having told them that I thought you would be unable to get any. We are getting terribly bad weather, and no shell is being obtained in conse- quence. – I remain, very truly yours,
"(Signed) " F. CADELL. "
"Steamer Gem, 29th September, 1878,
" I am just off for the archipelago.
"(Signed) "F. CADELL."
"Jno. L. Evans."