To Australia,with hope – March 1841

Five years after my previous visit I was delighted to be able to shown this exhibition to one of my granddaughters in Fremantle yesterday.


On March 28th 1841, brothers Henry and Robert de Burgh, aged 24 and 18 respectively, sons of Thomas de Burgh, Dean of Cloyne, Oldtown, County Kildare set sail for the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. Although well-educated, their father had not been able to set them up in business, so they decided to try their luck in the new colony where land was freely available. With the help of their mother who had independent means, they purchased  equipment and goods to enable them to begin farming in the new world.

Taking a mortgage on the brig the ‘James Matthews’, they filled the cargo hold with all manner of  goods that could be sold on arrival in Fremantle on the Western Coast of Australia. Their cargo included 7,000 slates as well as farming implements. They departed from London – on board were three passengers, including the 2 de Burgh brothers, plus a crew of fifteen.

The ‘James Matthews’ under sail. Image Museum of Western…

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Filed under Ireland

5 responses to “To Australia,with hope – March 1841

  1. I often wonder if I would have had the fortitude to forge new territory. I doubt it. Though maybe in the time, it was the way of life. It’s now, with 20/20 hindsight, that we realize how overwhelming and treacherous it all was.

    • It was quite an undertaking, wasn’t it? The change of climate must have been something…not to mention all the disturbing fauna of Australia – snakes, deadly spiders etc. They and indeed the tens of thousands who went into the west of the USA in their covered wagons were pioneers indeed. Thank you for dropping by!

  2. An extraordinary story. Thank you for sharing.

  3. It is wonderful when we can share things that we love with our grandchildren. Hopefully the exhibition will stay a for more years yet. I was sorry we didn’t get to visit this museum when I was over there last year.

    • It is indeed…and they love anything with an Irish connection! I think this will be one of the long term exhibits at the Shipwreck Museum as they have so many artifacts to show. Our Museum of WA is closed for renovation for four years and we miss going there for an outing as the grandchildren loved it! Thanks for dropping by!

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