Hunter River Tragedy
Lieutenant Thomas Thompson was Commandant at Newcastle throughout 1815......
The Sydney Gazette Saturday
29 July 1815.....
On Wednesday sennight four persons were drowned at Hunter’s River; namely, George Pell, settler, arrived per Hillsborough; Daniel Brown arrived per Fortune, a baker by profession; William Gudgeon; and Catherine Tucker, formerly Flynn arrived per Archduke Charles, having been but a few days married to the son of Mr. John Tucker, storekeeper.
The above unfortunate persons, with three others, had left the landing place at the Town about three o’clock in Pell’s boat, which contained a quantity of bricks, together with provisions etc. for himself and brother settlers at the first branch of the river, distant from the Town about fifty miles; but in passing a sand shoal upon which there happened to be a heavy swell, the boat went down by the head, and Mr. Tucker’s son gained the north shore; he made all the haste he could to a part of the river where the Lady Nelson lay at the time; and accompanied Mr. Harris, the mate, in the vessel’s boat, which in three hours from the time of the accident arrived at the place where it had occurred; and was still in time to save the life of William Thorpe, who had fortunately remained by the boat, which the others had either abandoned in terror or been driven away from by the force of the waves.
She had filled without going down, for the bricks being in her bow her head had sunk leaving her upper stern streak above the water’s edge. William Thorpe had thrust a finger through the eye of the iron that supports the rudder, and was thereby sustained long after he had lost the power of exertion, as the finger had swelled and kept him thus fastened to the boat until relieved from a situation in which he could not many minutes longer have survived. Gubbage, the other person saved, experienced as narrow an escape from death after more protracted sufferings. He had be the force of the current been driven upon a sand bank half a mile from shore, and was discovered by a boatman the night following by extraordinary accident, in a perishing state, which he could not much longer have survived, having then suffered exposure to the inclemency of the elements at the coldest season of the year for nearly 30 hours.
The body of the unfortunate woman was found the morning after; but we do not hear that any of the others had been recovered.
Notes and Links1). Catherine Flynn/Tucker arrived on the Archduke Charles in 1813.
The Archduke Charles had been hired by the East India Company to bring tea from China on the return voyage.
On departure from Port Jackson on 17th September 1813 eight stowaways, convicts escaping the colony, were also on board - H. Barnes, John Brennan, Luke Culverwell, John Connor, John Mahon, Nicholas Kearns, Catherine Flynn and Daniel Thurston. These eight were apprehended on the vessel's arrival in China and were returned to Sydney via VDL on the Frederick in April 1815.
2). Map below showing the location of John Tucker's Land on the Paterson River, lower centre.