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2 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections


An Old Book.

By A. T. Saunders

In the West Terrace Cemetery, on the south side of the main road,is one of the most strik   ing tombs, and it holds the remains of Capt. John Finnis, of the merchant service, a not very well educated but forceful man, who -was

known as 'The Pirate.' He was a companion of Capt. Sturt in the 'journey.' -with cattle' in 1838 from New South Wales to ? South Aus tralia, being, in fact, the- principal partner, or one of the pricipal partners, in that venture, He had an interesting career, -which I hope to' retell and amplify in your columns from day. Thanks to Mr. Ernest Whitington, of The Register literary staff, I have .a book in -which are copies of letters written for' and -signed by this Capt. John Finnis, which- letters, no doubt, were written from his dictation, and are not only interesting, but also are ot historic value, but -which I shall not now deal with. In the life of Capt. Sturt, by Mrs. Napier George Sturt, on page 136, Sirs. Sturt. writes that the 1838 overland party comprised Capt. Sturt, Giles Strangways, brother of T. Bewes Strang- ways, then temporary Colonial Secretary of South Australia, Mr. McLeod (who copied, and, no doubt- wrote. Capt. -Finnis letters — Mc- Leod was a friend of Capt. Sturt, they were together on Norfolk Isand), and Capt. B. T. Finniss, of the merchant service. Mrs. Sturt mixes up the army Capt. Boyle Travels Finniss, the Survever and subsequently .Acting Gover nor ot this State, whose name ended with double 's.' and John Finnis, the master

mariner, whose name ended with one "S' and it is the latter otfwhom I write — Capt. Finnis,     who had married the widow of Col. Cameron, and who -was therefore stepfather, and whose I wife : was mother of Mrs. G. S. Kingston, the mother of Charles Cameron Kingston, brought his wife to Adelaide per the John Pirie (13/11/1838), and settled in North Adelaide, after having resided at West, terrace, possibly in the house of Mr. C. S. Kingston. On Decem ber 20, 1841, the brigantine King Henry, 160 tons, Capt. A. Drysdale, arrived here from Greenock, and was evidently in financial trouble, for The Register (8/10/1842) has an announcement of an auction of her, consequent on a bottomry bond for £1,000. She was, on arrival from Greenock, consigned to the Messrs. Frew, after whom Frewville is' named, and evi dently the captain of her (Drysdale) was re moved by the firm of Frew, and Capt. John Finnis put in charge of her. She was appa rently chartered by Gorton & Andrews'- (was the latter E. W. Andrews of The Register; I think so, and also that he. was connected with the Frew family) to take cargo and passengers to New Zealand, and some long delay occurred, as- the 'date of the following letter shows, for she did not sail till 14/3/1842, and then under the command of Capt. John Finnis: — A Troubled Litttr-writar. Copy of -letter found on board the brig King Henry, addressed to the passengers by Gorton and Andrews, the charterers of the King Henry: ? ^February 23; 1842. To the passengers per King Henry. Gentlemen— W« have just re ceived your letter ot the 21st, and lose not »ny time in replying to it You must be' well aware that the detention of the vessel cannot be ascribed to any fault of ours, but arose from »trrnmstinc« over which we had no control.

We have now- the pleasure of lniorming you inst arrangements are in the course of. completion which -will enable us to get her . off shortly, and in the meanwhile we' have to assure every passenger on board that, however great the loss may be to ourselves, we will take care that none shall be a loser, either in rations or com forts, by the delay whi* has unfortunately occurred. — Gorton and Andrews. Apparently Capt. Drysdalewas on board, and in a miserable plight, as appears in Capt Finnis's letter from Rapid Bay. Brig^King Henry Rapid Bay March 19 1842. JamesFrew, Esq!, Adelaide. . Dear Sir— After beating about till Thursday night against winds and heavy sea, I -was compelled to bring up at this place with the loss of the small boat from the stern and all the boats adrift on deck. I have put all to rights, filled up.tet casks with water, and only wait a change in the weather to start again. I find the ship is very short of sails, therefore I am compelled. to be cautious and- careful of them. The noble captain is on board, but as yet I have not seen him; he is living on the bounty of the steerage passen gers, and as long as he remains quiet I will not interfere with him. There is every appear ance of a change. In haste. — John Finnis. An Opinion of Auckland. Capt Finnis gives a decided opinion respect ing Auckland in the followinj letter. The Capt. Porter mentioned was evidently the owner ol the brigs Dorset and Porter, who had settled In Port Lincoln by 1840, and sunk his money, and who bulks largely in the early history of Port Lincoln. 'Bay^of Islands (NXZ, May 26, 1842. J. Frew, Esq., Adelaide. Dear Sir— I am happy to inform you the brig is safe in this port I sailed from that damned place Auckland on Sunday last, and I certainly must say of all the place* that a man could bring a shipvto that is the worst for landing cargo and the impositions of the different parties you have to deal with. Unless the goods were landed by the ship's boats and laid at the store for them they would not take them. ' The consequence is my'boat is pretty well knocked to. pieces, and the detention, of the ship is more than the freight is worth. In consequence of a letter given the passengers I brought to that place by Mr Andrews, I have had a benefit with them, and has been, the mains of detaining the.ship longer at that place than I otherwise should have stopped: But this will be explained on my arrival at Adelaide. There was not the least chance of selling the brig at that place or anything- else, for a very good reason— there is no cash-in the place. I made Capt Porter take three tons of salt at £6 per ton to pay a part of the ship's expenses, and. that not being enough, I was compelled to draw on the manager of the Bank 'of South Australia for £13 4/. You will oblige me by attending to this draft for fear- I. should not have funds in the bank to meet it— John Finnis. . ,. The King Henry and Capt. : Finnis arrived in Port Adelaide from, Hobart (2/9/1842 when Capt. Finnis gave up command of her, and she

made several voyages to and from. Port Lin-, coln under Capts. Long and Robertson.' The schooner Joseph Albino. Capt Hannah, arrived (25/6/1843) at Port Adelaid e from Great Britain, and in the papers of 14/7/1843 is advertised for sale. Capt. John Finnis bought her, and in 1849 she sailed. for Califor nia with gold seeking passengers, and was there seized by the U.S.A. customs.. and aban- doned by her crew. Capt. Thomas Allen was her master, and as he could do no better he left her at anchor in San - Francisco with no one on board, and returned to Port Adelaide in tbe Mazeppa. Curlout Entries.; On September 29, 1843, the /Joseph Albino,   commanded by Capt. John' Finnis, sailed from Port Adelaide for Hobart - Town and -New Zea land and Capt. Finnis had -with him his letter book the blank lmves of which he used to note in pencil his sights for latitude and longi tude the chronometer time, and usual nautical notes The first entry . is on Tues dav, I5/12/1843, which and for some time simply records the figures for navigation. The schooner arrived at Hobart (1/10/1843), and sailed for New Zea Snd(10/10/1843). On January 2, 1844, he write*:— 'Dam bad weather and no luck ' He was then, apparently bound to Port Adelaide from New Zealand, and arrivtd at Port Ade laide 27/1/44.- He notes -26/1/44)— 'Past the Pages 10 am.' I was asked why. these rocks off Kangaroo Island are called 'The Pages.' I do not actually- know, but the reason seems clear. The Antechamber Bay is in Kangaroo Island, and the 'Pages' were usually found in or near the antechambers of royalty

and the nobility, and hence Antecnimoer and Pages. The next voyage was again to Hobart and New Zealand, and the schooner sailed from Port Adelaide 4/4/44, the first entry being 4/4/44:— 'Mount Lofty east by south 18 miles.' Tasman Head was N N E. six miles (11/4/1844). and the. next entry is- 25/4/44. So the schooner had evidently arrived at and sailed from Hobart. May 6.1844:— 'King's Island N. by. E.. 20 miles,' he writes, meaning, evidently, the 'Tnree Kings' north of New Zealand/ as he'is 172 53 east, but 17/5/44 Cape Bret (Brett) is 'N W- by W. 10 miles,' and he. notes that his posi tion is correct by the chronometer within two miles. The entry 8/6/14 the schooner being bound for Port Adelaide, where she ar rived 27/8/44. Laden with wool, whalebone, copper ore Iran, the: Montacotc. Mine, and other goods, the Joseph Albino. Capt. John Finnis, sailed from Port Adelaide December 11, 1844, and the first entry is. I5/12/44: — 'Mount Lofty east.' The next day the schooner was off Port Marsden.' ' .On Wednes day. 26/12/44. he notes: — 'Strong west winds; heavy ses; plum pudding, plenty and be ? to tou all thou foul-wind.'~ On-1/2/1845,   he notes: — 'Blowing and the sun obscured first dav of the new year.' From 31/12/44 to 6/1/45- he had no ob servations. He notes on 6/1/45:— 'This day the sun observed, and this ? day at daylight got the S.E. trade and strong breezes and fine, light winds, all sail -set.' 26.33. SJ.S7 east. On Wednesday, 22/1/45, he writes: — 'AU sail, set, the current setting to the S.W. Dam good. Next day he 'writes: — light breezes and fine pleasant weither.all sails set and all hearts glad. I want a little more wind to make the passage to the Cape (Good Hope) in 50 days. 24/1/45 he writes: — 'Fine winds, all set. dam iood ran.' On 3/2/45

fie , writes: — 'squally with nun. aam mo ior the ropes and rail.' On 4/2/45: — 'Dam Rood I see. but not for me.' 'On Sunday, 9/1/45: — 'Cape, west 27 miles,' he records. On Fri day. 21/2/45: — 'I was tno dam lazy to take the sights,' and 'Little due. (do) they think I am so far on my panage.' Saturday. 1/3/45: — 'Light winds and cloudy, all in sight; dam good. This night Paddy will be dim drank and no go.' On 6/3/45: — '20.00 west 7/3/45 south wind and cloudy, dam good leck, this day 1 will steer due north and 1 due (do) not want to make more than 30 west. H/S/45, fSqually. dam bad/' 1/4/45 'at mid night, fine, gave her the rafts.' S/4/45. 'Squally weather, much rain and cold ? at 8 p.m.. ? increasing gales, chipping a deal of water;~at 10 pjn. tremendous fea on. in trysail and fore-topmost sail, down mainsail. At midnight sea breaking over ship, in fore topsail, and stowed the milnsail, set the try sail... and at 1 set the fore topmast «tay sail; «hip labouring verv much. At 9.30 set the' storm mainsail, at 10 set the fore topmast staysail, and put ail to rights, making but little water. 6/3/45 — 'Dam- bad weather.' Friday is entered twice as. 11/3/45 and 12/3/45. Apparently this was - the -day the last sights -were taken during the voyage, a« no others are' recorded, and '4.12 west,' and 'dam good luck,' close the record. ? r . ; 'Brainy and Forceful.' - . ' Tbe Joseph Albino loaded.' ia London for Port Adelaide, where -he arrived on December 8, 1845, ctni' commanded by ? Capt John Finnis. July 8, 1815.— Of (off) Margate is the first entry. 17/8/45. — 'Ten. days getting 400 mile*, dam. bid.' 9/10/45.— 'Tabel (Table) Mountain S. 35 miles.' 27/10/45. — 'Capetown- S.W_-2 milev «R sail-.aet forsea.? JSttt si? -arrirei it Port Adelaide from'- Lon

don the Joseph Albino made three or four voyages to Port Lincoln and Spencer's Gulf from Port Adelaide under Capt Finnic The last navigational note is dated Saturday, Janu ary 31, 1846, and she ceenn to have been near Port Germein, 137.30 east and 33 south. Fdrt Spencer, which is mentioned, I do not recog nise. The note is as follows: — 'Port Spencer, west 10 miles. By tbe appearance of the en trance I should aj it is i sate harbour, and room for all the chip* in the world. The ranges much higher than Mount Lofty Ran;o. and. all the appearance ol a fine (cannot read two words), and grassy hills, with a gentle nlopf towards the coast; the shoal* run at least three miles from the shore. The entrance of the port is like that of Adelaide, but much wider, with a bar; not less than three fathoms in tbe channel. By information received, the country is well watered hear tbe landing place. Water in abundance; saw smoke in the range*. The entrance to this port appears from the bar when the ship Is anchored to be about N.X.E. till vou are abreast of a lowly point on the lar board hand, within one cable's length*- At high water then steer west, then . you will have « sandbank on the starboard hand about, one mile: from 'the ship from tht bar to the lowly point about one and 'a half miles, as appears froir the' masthead.' . Finnis- was. from his spelling, in tmedu cafed man, but he was brainy and forceful, and seems to have done well financially, beirr connected through his wife's relations with th Duttons, the Kincrtow, Dr. Bennett, of Sydney, and Dr. 8. W. Moore, of Adelaide. Perhap* Capt' P. Wdr, the Port Adelaide harbourmaster, can recognise -Tort- Spencer,' and . can a* wiU tell The Blister readers where it it.- ?