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Reproduced courtesy of Val Gaskell

William Lockerby's account of life aboard the American ship JENNY in the South Pacific

Date: 1810 - 1820
Overall: 204 ×167 × 15 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, leather covered boards
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Copyright: © Val Gaskell
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Manuscript
Object No: 00009359
Place Manufactured:England
Related Place:Macau, Zhonghua, Guangzhou, Gough Island, Liverpool, Botany Bay, Australia, Fiji, Melaka, Boston, Tristan da Cunha,

User Terms

    A manuscript account by William Lockerby of his adventures in the South Pacific 1807 - 1809. The account, addressed to his mother and father, begins with his departure from Boston on board the JENNY as first officer on 2 June 1807 and ends with his return to his family in Liverpool three years and seven months later. The author was on an American trading voyage to the Pacific Ocean and China. The author gives an account of his visit to Sydney in 1807 and seizure of the vessel for attemped rum smuggling. He then recounts his adventures while marooned on Fiji, including the current warfare between Islands and his return to America via China on the GENERAL WELLESLEY.
    SignificanceAn important original account of an American trading voyage to Australia and the Pacific, especially conditions in Fiji, at the beginning of the nineteenth century by an English sailor, William Lockerby. The manuscript narrative is of particular significance for a controversial period of Australian history and recounts the arrest of Governor Bligh in Sydney.
    HistoryWilliam Lockerby was born at Ashbridge near the town of Lockerby in the county of Dumfries on the 6 January 1782. Moving from Scotland to England Lockerby made Liverpool his home and became a successful merchant and shipowner up on his return from Fiji. He died on 29 June 1853.
    The manuscript is an invaluable first hand account of an American trading voyage to Australia in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Lockerby, from Liverpool, was first officer on the American merchant vessel, the JENNY.

    Family lore suggests that Lockerby was the victim of an American press gang in Liverpool and signed on the JENNY at Boston. The principal part of the narrative relates Lockerby's 'adventures while marooned in the Fiji Islands. The JENNY, a 205 ton ship, was owned by John Dorr & Co. of Boston and captained by William Dorr Jnr. It voyaged to the Pacific in 1807 searching for goods to trade with China, specifically seals and sandalwood. Sydney was a convenient port of call for American ships bound for Canton. Under the Navigation Acts American vessels had no legal authority to trade with British colonies and could only do so when colonial governors ignored the law.

    The JENNY arrived in Sydney in November 1807 carrying 5,000 gallons of rum. Ordered to leave port for attempted smuggling ,the JENNY returned four days later to Broken Bay where it was seized in the act of smuggling spirits. Despite strong evidence, the vessel was not condemned for the act prompting Major Johnston to comment: 'the condemnation of a ship for smuggling will not easily be accomplished in NSW."
    While in Sydney, Lockerby sold some tobacco for $3 a pound to a corrupt marine. He was also taken to the bench and fined when upon seeing some local soldiers stealing his cargo he shouted 'damn you and the Governor too".

    The JENNY was still in port when Bligh was put under arrest by the Lieutenant Governor. Lockerby records his jubilation: "I felt myself more than rewarded for the loss of my twenty pounds in witnessing the downfall of the tyrant.
    It was a fine, calm evening, and I expended a whole box of candles in lighting the ship, fore and aft, as she lay directly opposite the Governor's door."
    The bulk of Lockerby's narrative concerns the time he spent in Fiji after he was left behind by the JENNY (he provides two divergent accounts of this incident). The first European and American vessels (MARCIA of Port Jackson and FAIR AMERICA) called at the islands in 1804, for sandalwood. Four years later Lockerby provides fascinating detail of relations between Europeans and Fijians, inter tribal conflict, cannibalism, the strangling of widows, Fijian society, and his personal experience of a war. Lockerby left Fiji for Canton on the GENERAL WELLESLEY on 2nd June 1809.

    American merchant vessels were some of the earliest visitors to the young colony of NSW. The Alliance, the first American vessel to sight Australia, passed the Tasmanian coast enroute to Canton in 1787, three months
    before the arrival of the First Fleet. The remote settlement of Sydney became a convenient port of call for vessels sailing to China and for sealing vessels to refit and refresh. Some of these vessels carried speculative cargoes which were sold to the struggling colony. Between 1792 and 1813 approximately 60 American vessels called at Sydney.

    Lockerby seems to have made attempts to have the manuscript published in the early 1850s. No record exists of such a publication. However the journal was published by a descendent of Lockerby's in 1925.
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