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Researching the life of a ship

Hundreds of folk emigrated across huge oceans in wooden ships with uncomfortable quarters and inadequate rations, with hope in their hearts for a new start. Not everyone was a convict, not everyone rushed to chase gold. Those labourers, farmhands and unskilled city piece-workers were very brave to leave all they knew behind to grab a chance of a better future. Suzanne Hirst has devoted herself to researching one such ship, the Coromandel, and those who sailed in her all those years ago


The Coromandel ship was commissioned by the South Australian Company to transport emigrants to the new colony of South Australia and its soon to be established capital city of Adelaide. Over time I have researched the vessel, and ascertained most of those who sailed in her, but I certainly may have missed and/or misspelled some names.

The early years

The Coromandel sailed from St Katherine’s Dock, London in August 1836, arriving and disembarking the majority of her passengers at Holdfast Bay, Glenelg on 17 January 1837. She also docked at Kangaroo Island. Her journey was longer than planned as Captain William Chesser, her Master, called in at Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa and rested his many sick passengers back to good health with fresh fruit, vegetables and good water. Upon his return to Britain later in the year, he was called to task for the extended journey and brought before the Colonial Office and the South Australian Company for interrogation.

I have not, with any positive proof satisfied myself as to our Coromandel’s final resting place, because the name was in popular use as a ship’s name, and others so named have confused many people of her true journeys and destiny. She was definitely 662 tons, built in 1834 in Quebec by George Black & Sons and she was a barque with sails set as ‘ship’, meaning all were squaremasted.

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There's something undeniably special about visiting our ancestors' final resting places. Read the guide in the latest issue of Family Tree about graveyards and we will help you step back in time. Graveyards and cemeteries are a very real reminder of earlier generations and visiting them will not only spark thought-provoking memories - they may also provide you with new clues and details... And speaking of 'new clues' - don't miss our brand new series 'Taken a DNA test? Now what?'. This is the advice you need if you want to get the most from your DNA test. Discover how to make sense of the results, find more details and grow that fabulous family tree of yours! Join in with the DNA adventure today! We also have a fabulous free guide for you in this bumper issue, Heritage Days Out, packed full of ideas for family and local history trips to take this summer. Enjoy your travels through time!