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Carte-de-visite of David Ashworth

Date: 1870
102 x 63 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00042678

User Terms

    The wooden sailing ship GENERAL GRANT was wrecked in the Auckland Islands
    in the South Pacific Ocean, on 14 May 1866, a week after leaving Melbourne for London with a cargo of wool, skins, pelts and gold bullion. David Ashworth along with nine other passengers and crew lived on the Islands for nearly 18 months before being rescued in November 1868. Ashworth was drowned on the wreck site during salvage work in 1870.
    SignificanceCatering to the great public interest in the shipwreck of the GENERAL GRANT and the tribulations of the survivors a series of mementoes, including these carte-de-visites of David Ashworth, were produced. These items provide evocative reminders of shipwrecks and survivors in an age when sea transport was the only method of communication.
    HistoryThe 1,103 tons, wooden, three-masted, fully rigged sailing ship GENERAL GRANT, belonging to Messrs Boyes, Richardson and Co of Boston, United States, was wrecked on Disappointment Island, one of the Auckland group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, on 14 May 1866, a week after leaving Melbourne for London with a cargo of wool, skins, pelts and gold bullion.

    When the ship struck in the pitch darkness of the early morning of 14 May, the suddenness of the disaster caught everyone unawares and for some time no coherent or intelligible orders were given. The result was that the ship drifted astern and was blown into a large cave, the roof of which forced the masts through the hull. Two of the ship's boats managed to get away and at dawn attempted to rescue the remaining passengers and crew. (Illustrated London News, 1867)

    Tragically the ship's longboat capsized in the breakers and 68 of the passengers and crew were drowned. However ten of the crew and five passengers including David Ashworth managed to get ashore and eventually find sanctuary in several huts which had been built on the Islands by the whalers Samuel and Charles Enderby, who had established a colony at Port Ross, Auckland Islands.

    For the next seven months the 15 survivors, Peter McNevin, Andrew Morrison, David McClelland, Chief Officer Bartholomew Brown, William Newton Scott, Cornelius Drew, James Teer, David Ashworth, Joseph Jewell, Mary Ann Jewell, William Sanguily, Arron Hayman (Harpman), William Ferguson, F P Caughley and Nicholas Allen, managed to live in freezing conditions and endure the severest hardships on the Auckland Islands.

    Eventually giving up all hope of being rescued by a passing ship Chief Officer Brown and three of the fittest sailors repaired one of the ship's boats, built up the sides with timber and decked it over with sealskins. After provisioning the small boat with seal meat, bird eggs and water the four-man crew departed the Islands in January 1867 attempting to sail to the small town of Bluff on New Zealand's South Island. The boat and its crew were never seen again.

    For the next 10 months the survivors, now numbering ten, following the death of Caughley from exposure, subsisted on the islands until they were rescued by the Captain and crew of the brig AMHERST, from Invercargill, New Zealand, on 21 November 1867 whilst the vessel was on a sealing voyage to the Auckland Islands. After assisting the AMHERST crew during the sealing expedition, the survivors arrived at Bluff Harbour, Southland, New Zealand in early January 1868 where they were clothed, housed and supplied by the locals until arrangements could be made for their return to Melbourne and then London. (Jewell, July, 1868)

    Following the tragic loss of the GENERAL GRANT and several other vessels on the Auckland Islands and the miserable existence of the survivors, the Southland Colonial Government commissioned the brig AMHERST to carry out a complete search of the Islands for any other shipwreck survivors and to establish shipwreck refuges and store depots on the Auckland, Campbells, Bounty and Antipode Islands off the coast of New Zealand.

    Despite the hostile environment in which the GENERAL GRANT was wrecked the large quantity of gold on board attracted salvage attempts in 1868 and 1869. In 1870 the 48-ton schooner, DAPHNE, sailed from Bluff under Captain Wallace, but the expedition ended disastrously with the loss of six men who were drowned when their boat was swamped while attempting to reach the GENERAL GRANT's cave. The irony of this catastrophe lay in the fact that one of the crew drowned was David Ashworth, who three years earlier had been rescued with the rest of the survivors of the original wreck. (An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara - The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, updated 26-Sep-2006, URL:

    In 1907 the ship DUNDONALD took up the quest but disaster again occurred; the vessel ran into the cliffs of the western shore of Disappointment Island and 12 men were drowned. Another 16 managed to get ashore, but it was seven months before they were taken off by the Government steamer HINEMOA.

    Up until 1966 there have been nine official attempts to recover the gold and several more expeditions since. The wreck and its contents are now protected as historic relics and items under New Zealand Historic Places Legislation.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Carte-de-visite of David Ashworth

    Assigned title: Carte-de-visite of David Ashworth, 1870

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