James Wiseman MARSHALL, shipwreck

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    • #6298

      Dear HEATGG,

      I’m one of many great-great-grandchildren of James Wiseman MARSHALL, and I’ve often been tantalised by that story in Donald Friend’s book Hillendiana about JWM and Black Nat being shipwrecked in the Cannibal Islands. Finally I’ve got to the bottom of it, by searching the New Zealand “Papers Past” website for shipwrecks under all the spellings of Fiji I could find—”Fegee” was the key. I thought I would let other Marshall and connected relations/researchers know what I’ve found.


      The ship was a Dutch brig called the Ceres. It struck a reef at the northeastern edge of the Fiji group in July 1852 and broke up. All 97 passengers and the crew survived by being ferried to the nearest island on the ship’s longboat. There they were marooned for two months. The captain, some crew and a Mr Charles Ring went off in the longboat, aiming for Moreton Bay (not wanting to land among the cannibals of the nearby islands) and after a week or so were lucky enough to cross the path of a whaling ship out from Sydney, which returned with them to pick up all the passengers. They spent a further month battling head winds to get to Auckland. A “J.W. Marshall” is listed as then being aboard the William Hyde with other Ceres passengers sailing across to Port Phillip—they were blown off course, however, and ended up in Sydney, and he probably disembarked there.

      If you’re interested in all the details, here’s a Word document on Dropbox.

      Click here to see the information I’ve compiled.

      (If you have difficulty accessing Dropbox, let me know here and I can email you the document.)

      The document contains:

        —accounts of the shipwrecks from the New Zealand and Australian papers
        —reminiscences of Charles Ring of Auckland (published in the New Zealand and Tasmanian papers), passenger on the Ceres and later discoverer of gold in New Zealand
        —an extract from a letter, describing some of the period on the island, published in the London Morning Post by R. Silcock, another passenger
        —some chapters of an adventure story by Captain Mayne Reid (writing as Charles Beach), Lost Lenore, containing an account of the shipwreck, details of which would indicate that he spoke to a survivor

      I’m so thrilled to have found all this—and I hope other Marshall/Hill End friends enjoy the story.

      Margaret Lanagan

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by mlan. Reason: Formatting
    • #6301

      Hi Margaret, Thanks for sharing all that work on James Wiseman Marshall. Makes great reading. His story is referred to when doing the tours of Craigmoor in Hill End but this puts it all in context. Are you aware of the story of the small crafted bird, hanging from one of the light fittings in the front room of Craigmoor, as a constant reminder of the birds that the shipwrecked passengers were forced to eat?

    • #6302

      I must have heard this story when I toured Craigmoor in 2002—but that was a long time ago. I do have vague memories of seeing that bird. It was another scrap of this tantalising story. I’m really pleased to have been able to flesh it out.

      The next challenge is to try and track down who “Black Nat” was—although the likelihood of his name being on the passenger lists associated with the Ceres is a lot less. I read on Trove that he was once in partnership with “Northumberland Jimmy”, James Brown, on a gold claim, so maybe there are records associated with that.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the reading.

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