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Bromptonians in the New World

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

Part 1 - Journey to a New World

In 1827, a ship, the “Caroline”, a 330 ton brig, set sail from Hull docks on a remarkable and perilous journey. On board were a crew, at least 56 passengers and a “motley cargo of stock” including sheep.

Remarkably eight of the passengers were from Brompton-on-Swale and included George Barras (Blacksmith), Joseph Hind (Farm Servant), his wife Barbara and their two children, William Prest and brothers George and Henry Stevenson (all listed as Farm Servants).

There were others on board from local places such as Stockton, Thirsk, Bedale, Norton, Thornton Le Moor, Downholme and Skipton-on-Swale. There were Farmers, Shepherds, Bricklayers, Cartwrights, Sawyers, Joiners, Blacksmiths and two Bailiffs.

The “Caroline” was bound for a place called Van Diemen's Land.

If you have no idea where that is, it’s not too surprising because it’s no longer called “Van Diemen’s Land” - it’s now called Tasmania. If you are still not sure, Tasmania is the large island, which is actually half the size of England, off the southern coast of Australia.

Map: Australia (New Holland) and Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land)

A full list of the passengers that we know about is given below - 59 passengers (25 men, 13 women and 21 children under 16 years of age).

To travel from England to Australia is clearly a very long journey to undertake, even today. In 1828 it was an immense journey. A journey of high risk and almost certainly a one-way trip.

An illustration of typical conditions for passengers on ships in the 1820s

This begs some intriguing questions. What drove these Bromptonians and the others, to leave their small villages, towns and relatives and set out for the other side of the world? More to the point, how do we even know about this?

Well, earlier this year, was contacted by Sharon Burnell who lives in Brompton Adelaide in Australia (yes another Brompton - what a coincidence!).

Sharon has been researching her colonial ancestry and the settlement of Tasmania and South Australia, and one of those passengers aboard the Caroline, George Barras, the blacksmith from Brompton-on-Swale, is Sharon’s 3 x Great Grandfather!

It’s thanks to Sharon’s research that we can bring you the story of George Barras in particular and some of the others on board the Caroline. In future articles, we’ll look at why these people were making this perilous journey, what such a voyage may have been like and we’ll then look at what we know of how life was in Tasmania in the 1820s for the newly arrived Yorkshire folk and more about George’s life as a Blacksmith in Tasmania. It would be very different to those still living back in Brompton-on-Swale.

[Source: Original research by Sharon Burnell] [Source: “The First at Emu Bay” - special supplement to “The Advocate” - 1977]

[Source: “Passengers by the Caroline” - special supplement to “The Advocate” - 1981]

[Source: “Tasmanian Ancestry” - Vol 9. No. 4 - Dec 1988]

[Source: “Aboriginal Society in North West Tasmania - Dr Ian McFarlane - University of Tasmanian 2002]

[Source: The Skelton’s Voyage – Leith to Van Diemen’s Land 1820 Link]


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