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The Skeleton Closet


I have several references to ships of this name in my database. In some instances, I am unsure and yet to determine the complete details of the ship concerned. The following are all the details I have on ships of this name. I apologise for the confusion.

[sailing ships]

schooners lost]

steam ship]



This ship first arrived in South Australia in 1839 and made three visits during that year. There is some confusion with this ship, as she was listed as a 258 ton barque on her first two visits in 1839, and only 192 tons later that same year - Is this is the same ship? There is a fourth visit by a ship of this name in 1852, but I am unsure if it is the same one.

Port Phillip - 19 February 1839 - 258 ton - carrying sheep

Launceston - 21 April 1839 - 258 ton

New Zealand - 11 December 1839 - 192 ton

London - 1852 - passengers [List] *note:- I do not know if this is the same "Adelaide" as the other ones.

Schooners and Ketches

There are two references to schooners or ketches that were lost in South Australia bearing this name. Both of these ships met tragic ends:-

A wooden 2 masted ketch that was previously paddle steamer that had its engine removed and was rebuilt into a ketch and re-registered as a ketch in 1861. She was built at Woolwich Dockyard, UK in 1849 as a 62 ton 72' x 15' 8" x 8' 3" schooner with one deck. She had been built on Government contract for use as a tug at Port Adelaide but was sold out of Government service in 1859 to Coleman & Wells. In 1861 she was still owned by Joseph Coleman. She was driven onto rocks at Wallaroo on 30 October 1873 and the wreck was sold by auction. She was salvaged and re-registered at Port Adelaide by John M Sinclair and Alfred Jones in March of 1874 at Port Adelaide. The Adelaide was lost when it capsized off the off Murray Beach, about 30 miles from Lacapede Bay at the Coorong on 24 August 1874. One crew member lost his life.

A wooden 78 ton schooner lost when it broke its mast Port MacDonnell on 17 or 18 April 1861. It is possible that this was the Victorian owned "Adelaide" (ON31603. The "Advertiser" of 19 April 1861 says "Our Shipping Reporter has telegraphed that the ADELAIDE, schooner hence, was driven ashore at MacDonnell Bay, on Thursday 18th inst., during a gale; position, three miles S.E. of the township. The crew were getting ashore when the private telegram was despatched. The Adelaide was bound to MacDonnell Bay and Sydney, and sailed from Port Adelaide on 27th ult." In the same newspaper, but another article, it states "The Adelaide, schooner, went ashore ... dragging three anchors. Had the Government provided moorings this would not have happened. The vessel is not damaged and lying on a sandy beach". On the 20th April, the paper reports "....Adelaide broke her back last night, full of water....".

Steam ships

I have also found a reference to a single screw steamship of this name belonging to the Adelaide Steamship Company, which was built in Glasgow and weighing 1,711 tons and used in the Australian coastal trade in the late 19th century. She had an interesting life - she was laid up in 1899 and sold to Russian interests in 1911 and was finally wrecked in 1931. At one time she was won on a bet in a horse race.

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Dimensions of three "Adelaide's" in my database

1. Snow - built in Dundee, County Forfar, Ireland in 1831.

** I think this is the one that visited in 1839 - she is the correct weight and dimensions; and a snow is not that different from a barque, to the untrained, so I suppose it is possible that the clerk who recorded her arrival thought she looked a bit big for a barque and called her a snow in his records? I don't know, it is possible.

258 ton

length - 90 feet 6 inches

beam - 25 feet 11 inches

draft - 16 feet 8 inches

2. Brig - built in Macquarie Harbor, Van Diemans Land in 1831

65 ton

length - 65 feet

beam - 18 feet 7 inches

draft - 10 feet 3 inches

3. Government Steam Tug - built in Woolwich Dockyard, 1849

**I believe that this is the one mentioned in schooners and ketches above, which was lost at Pt MacDonnell. She is the only one that could have been steam driven at the time. The other steam ship was around much later than this one.

60 ton

length - 71 feet 7 inches

beam - 15 feet 6 inches

draft - 8 feet 9 inches




Passengers travelling on the ship Adelaide from London in 1852

Charles Stevens

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