The Thomas Lyle Affair part 3
The Thomas Lyle Affair part 1
The Thomas Lyle Affair part 2
A sad gloom covered the faces of all the next morning at the news and to see the miserable plight we were all in, with the Berths and ourselves drenched and every other place Cold and wet added to the difficulty of getting any thing warm as the Cook could not get the fire to burn from the fierce wind and the sea continually making it out. We felt that we could have given any money for a little of something warm early in the morning, but it was nearly 11 o'clock before we could get any, and that not half boiling. But amidst all we were somewhat consoled that worse things happen at Sea. As the Captain told us that once before on those seas he had the whole of what was on deck swept clean away, the Cooks Galley, pots, pans, Boats, spars, not a vestige was left, and was obliged to go without any thing warm for 3 weeks. Which made us feel somewhat more satisfied after this relation.
The Day following we had a fine day but still very cold. We passed PAUL'S ISLAND which was not in sight on the Tuesday 28th being in Lat 38.14S Long 75.44. Thursday 30th it began to blow hard again and continued until Saturday eve with the sea again pouring down the Hatchway, and begin to feel it was only to be expected and became somewhat seasoned to it.
Sunday October 3rd we reach Long 99-11E Lat 40.31S. Wind and Sea much abated but very Cold with Hailstones, many complain of Chilblains Monday 4th we were in Long 103-12 Lat 40. Death and burial of the first Child born on board the Ship and named Neale Nepaul. A pig killed and sold for 1/- on board. A general looking forward and calculating when we reach Australia, Rain and Hail prevail for some days.
Friday the 8th. Long 121-21E. Saturday 9th. 125.22 and very much warmer. Monday 11th. 134. Tuesday 12th. 138.5, on the 13th. 142.35 - Lat 38.0. Land was seen from the Mast Head which acted like Magic on the passengers, many crowded the rigging but it was scarcely perceivable but the Green appearance of the Water and Sea Weed told us it could not be very far off. In the morning the Mate mounted the Rigging and saw the revolving Light at Cape Otway. All was in anxiety and every elevated place was crowded, there was a general feeling of joy in all. It was useless to think of going to Bed for merry tongues were going all the night.
An Irishman was continually pacing up and down before the Berths during the night crying like a Match Seller. Otway Lights. Otway Lights about 4 on the Thursday morning we had passed it. The Captain got up and from the very great Brilliancy of Venus he thought he was near the Lighthouse and became somewhat alarmed, but the Officer of the Watch soon put him right on the matter the sound of the Captain's voice soon brought all both old and young about half past 4 on the Poop and so before it was daylight was able to distinctly to behold the promised Land. We sailed along at some little distance from the shore and for the first time beheld the rising of an Australian Sun coming up in all its splendour dispelling the gloom that hung along the rocky sides; and at some little distance we could see large flocks of birds. I should think there must have been some millions in a flock. As the Sun rose higher and became warmer the Deck became covered with flies also a large quantity of Butterflies of the red description which we sometimes see in England. Sometime in the forenoon the Wind changed and blew against us, and having to beat we made but little progress, and we experienced some little disappointment when we saw the whereabouts to the entrance of PORT PHILIP BAY with little chance of reaching it that night. About 11 o'clock at night a squall came on which blew a perfect Hurricane which soon took away our Main topmast causing the greatest consternation by the confusion of the Ropes and being pitch dark and obliged to have lanterns to go up the rigging to lower down the Mast. The limited space we had to tack in and the impossibility of doing so before the Ropes were set right, the shouting of the Captain telling them what to do, which the winds prevented them hearing, the unwillingness of many of the Sailors to do nay thing as they wanted the Ship to go on shore that they might make their escape, and ashore we should have went had it not being that about a dozen of us turned to and done their work, the officers were looking in all directions for them and when they came, they would not half pull, for when the tackle was somewhat clear, on orders being given to boat ship it was with difficulty we could get her round, which made the Captain swear most awfully and why did they not pull such and such ropes and finding she did not come round he came down to see the cause, being so dark he could not see from the Poop. He found us minus the sailors, trying all we could, and some more of the passengers came up which enabled us to effect it and so rescued from a watery grave. For on one of the passengers going on the forecastle he could see the Land close upon us and the Man that ought to be on the look out laying on the deck. The Captain then, his position of probably being left without a sailor, he abraded them in the morning and told them that he owed the safety of his ship to the passengers. It was not long after we got her round that the wind abated and at daylight the next morning there was not a breath stirring and the water like a pond and we were also very near the shore and rather inclined towards it so that we obliged to be continually sounding which was about 10 fathoms; we had arrived at the mouth of the Bay and could see some ship a little way up. The wind rose a little which enabled us to keep farther off, but the tide was reversing out and seeing a wreck inside we were afraid to venture. About the middle of the Day some more vessels came up and the tide running in, a pilot came out and took us in a little distance and anchored.
We had not been inside above an hour, before it blew again. Passed away the evening and we had a good view of the Country around, also the Lighthouse which is a handsome one with beautiful walks and Garden, seeing the great difference between the Cultivated and the not. The boat at the Lighthouse which is also in connection with the Pilot came off to us and brought large and beautiful nosegays and gave to us, and the Captain (a sprat to catch a Herring) and begged some flour which he gave them it being a dear article at Melbourne. He then went ashore and got some more and brought to us, and as you might expect entirely surrounded with all manner of questions put to them, and answers given quite in accordance with the wish of the party asking. It was a fine night and we stopped up late discussing all the news we had heard.
The next morning we hoped to have had the pilot to take us up, the Boatman came off with a Leg of Mutton for the Captain and said there was no Pilot down but expected one about the middle of the Day bringing down some vessels, but none came. The next Day Sunday 17th of October a most beautiful Day but no Pilot. We begin to feel impatient. In the evening comes on to blow a Gale and being at anchor made a most fearful noise. The next morning we were alarmed at finding the vessel was drifting towards the shore, the Captain order 60 fathoms more chain to be let out but she still dragged and the Gale more fierce we then let go another anchor which put a check on her. One of the Men belonging to the Boat came off to us with the dangerous condition we were in and stayed on Board and took charge of the Ship and ordering the Yards to be put in certain positions to take the strain of the Cable as much as possible. The Gale still blowing with all its fury across the Bay. Had the wind blown outward I think the Captain would have went to Sea again for he seemed very much alarmed about the Ship at the time we were drifting.
Thursday morning, still blowing and found that the vessel had shifted her position by the tides and that the Cables had crossed and become twisted in each other. Between 9 and 10 o'clock in an instant as quick as thought the wind chopped right round blowing as hard as ever and then gradually went down. We then saw some vessels coming down which had been obliged to anchor during this gale. We then proceeded to clear the Cables by cutting one away and drawing in the other till we came to the twist and managed to get all in safe by the time of the pilot from the other vessel came on Board.
The chief part of all this was done by the passengers. The crew being sulky he gave them a regular broadside with a promise that he would have then all Ironed and sent ashore if they did not mind themselves. They then saw that is that was the case their chance of running away would be entirely cut off, stood somewhat better to their work.
The breeze gradually rising we went up in Gallant stile (sic) the other ships that came in with and after us were ordered to follow in our track, the Bay widening as we went up the forty miles and about 50 miles wide. As we neared Melbourne we began to see the fleet of ships that lay off Williams Town, a place about 9 miles from Melbourne. We lay about a Mile and a half from the shore so as to give the sailors a good swim if they went off. We had not been long at anchor before the Medical Officer came on Board and finding we had a clean Bill of Health gave us permission to go on shore when we liked. While the Officer was on Board, the Boats' crew was surrounded to gain information, besides what they had drawn from the pilot coming up the Bay, who was not very communicative, convinced a great many that the eggs they had been sucking down by the Lighthouse were all raddled. As they had been expecting that Captain CHISHOLM would do a great deal for them but were told to their dismay there were Hundreds of CHISHOLM protégées breaking stones on the Road, a general gloom pervaded the whole ship and I must confess that we had some unpleasant feelings come over us about the matter notwithstanding of my intention willingly to do that if I could get nothing better.
The sight which we had of the City of Melbourne had lost half its charm and became a sorry sight for all, the Captain went on shore at Williamstown and some of the passengers to get some fresh Beef for all, both crew and passengers. They bought a loaf or two with them at half a crown a loaf and from the enquiries they made there was too confirmatory of what we had heard before, not a Lodging to be had for any money. A very few who had tents, soon brought the Aristocratic notions of some of the fine gentlemen to a perfect stand who had plenty of show but little money and when they came to hear the charge of two Pounds per ton of 40 ft exclusion of wharf fees, which is about half as much, were terror stricken.
The next Day almost every one were trying to dispose of many things. The next Day the Captain went on shore to see Captain CHISHOLM in the ships boat. The steamer came along side in the morning to see if any wanted to go on shore, those that had friends or relatives went the fare, being 4/-. Some took their Carpet Bags and one his Mattress. Those who had the C. Bags had to pay 2/6 extra with 1/- Wharfage; the Man with the Mattress 4/- and 2/6 Wharfage, the Article only cost him 4/- in London. When some of them came off in the evening they had to walk to Williamstown 9 miles before they could get a boat, and then would not take them there being about 7 of 8 of them for less than 10/- each. Another smaller party had to pay a Sovereign each. A Carpenter went on shore (who was considered a fool on board and made the laughing (stock) of all, with his basket having a White Cap similar to what I wore in my work on his head. No sooner had he Landed than there was 2 or 3 after him to know if he wanted work and made an engagement for 20/- per Day and his Board and went right off to work.
I would have gladly done the same if I could, had all my tool being in the Hold the Captain would not allow any one to go down for fear of injury the Boxes of others. While the Captain was on shore, Captain CHISHOLM came on board and said the tents were ready for us and that when he got on shore he would arrange for a lighter to come off the next day for our luggage. Nature has been somewhat singular towards he and his wife, for he is as much like an old woman as you ever saw a Man, whilst she appears the bold daring of a Yorkshireman.
The Captain went on shore the next day after the C was landed. One of the crew with a pipe in his hand said to the officer in the Boat he just wanted to light it, he would not be a minute instantly, jumped on shore goes off as fast as he could and got clear off. That wetted the appetite of those left in the ship. Those in the Boat being apprentices except the one gone whom the Captain had a better opinion of. But while the Captain was on shore, he called on Cpt. CHISHOLM to know when the Lighter would be alongside of the ship as he wanted to clear out and be off again. Oh he was not going to engage any Lighter he, the Captain, or as had better do it, which promise he made to me and others outside our Cabin. The Captain went and engaged one at once which came off the next day. On the Captain coming on board he caused all the Boats to be chained and Locked. I went up on deck between 12 and 1 at night and seemed somewhat surprised at so many Sailors being up at that time. What I had not seen before during the voyage, for I have walked the decks all Hours of the night and my suspicions were somewhat aroused, but could not see what chance they had of escape.
I went down and turned in when about an hour afterward, I heard the Captain having a Row on Deck telling them that if they did not turn in he would arouse the passengers and have them all Ironed. One of them had a long dagger Knife and threatened to stick the Captain is he attempted to touch him. The Doctor who was with the Captain at the time went to the Cabin and brought out a Loaded Pistol and presented to the Head of the Man and threatened him that if he did not instantly give him the Knife by the Handle, he would blow his brains out. The Man, daunted, gave up the Knife.
The Captain and Officers keeping themselves well armed during the night, early the next morning a flag went to the Mast Head for the Water Police to come on board, who took away a half dozen Men, but the Man that had the knife could not be found and it was supposed that fearing the consequences he jumped overboard as he was not seen or heard of after.
After the other men were gone the Captain calls the rest on the forecastle and told them he would give them Eight Pounds per month if they would stop. The Captain of a vessel that lay next to us, shot one of his men dead that was making his escape in the Steamer that went alongside of her.
Friday 22nd the Lighter having come, were busy getting up the Luggage and worked until 3 the next morning, lay down in my clothes for 3 hours and went at it again until 6 at night. A great many went on shore and never lent a hand whilst some of them had a great deal of luggage. Others who loudly complained of such Conduct schemed it that each should get their own together as much as possible and when they had managed to get theirs up, acted the same as others and left us in the lurch.
On Sunday 24th. blew very hard, obliged to give her more cable.
Monday 25th October we came on shore in the Steamer, but blowing so hard, the Lighter could not get alongside the ship to get what few things were left. It is a pleasant ride up the Yarra Yarra which is very narrow and some places room for 2 vessels to pass. On arriving at Melbourne we went up to CHISHOLM'S tents, we beheld those who had so shamefully left the Ship complaining of Rheumatism and that the place was swarmed with Lice, and not having my own tent on shore and not knowing when I should get it; and if I had it I should hesitate about fixing of it as the ground was very damp and another important reason was that the Bushrangers were continually coming in and pull(ing) the inmates out of them to some distance in a state of nudity while others would remain and Rob you of all that was worth having; so it became the usual thing for those who had tents to shop up half of the night with loaded guns keeping watch and continually firing them off all night; when another set would take your place and do the same and it was really alarming to hear guns going off almost every minute with the expectation of a chance shot about your head.
I left the tents in disgust and came out to Collingwood about 2 miles from Melbourne in search of a place to put our Heads in and found a place called a two roomed House, weather boarded, with no ceiling and plenty of crevices for Lights by Day and the cold wind by night, a fireplace, but no stove.
The Carpenters were working on it, on asking the rent was 25/- per week, but on asking if it would be less if I took it for a term, they could not let it that way as it was likely to be much higher in a week or two, and I must pay a week in advance. I took it and hastened back for my Wife and family and then 5 o'clock I got one or two to help me out with the bedding and before we got there I did not know the name of the place or the name of the landlord. We pitched our things on the Common while I went to look for the place, every thing had such an altered appearance that I became quite confounded and perspiring with fear we should be obliged to go to a Police House for the night; but luckily I was Close to it and recognised it. I hastened back and found them shivering with the cold and almost given me up for lost.
I begged some sticks and a Kettle, lit fire, made tea and lay down in our shed to sleep but could not for the incessant firing of Guns. I loaded my own pistol ready for a shot if any one that came, went to the woods and got (some) firing for the next two Days.
Thursday the luggage came on shore and (we) brought it Home. Friday went to town and got down to work and went to it on the next Monday morning where I am still working for 20/- per Day
This ends the romantic History of a Voyage to Australia of Thomas S. Lyle and family.
REF: email to GENANZ@rootsweb by Dione Dover, Kent, England on 26 November 1998