Month: March 2018

Voyage Home – 1836-1839, Britomart to England & Return – The Question is, Why

No image of Captain William McDonald’s ship Britomart has yet been located – it had previously been a Royal Navy Brig-Sloop warship of similar lines to HMS Suffisante shown above – Britomart saw Royal Navy service between 1808 and 1819.   Suffisante was formerly of the French Navy 14 guns (so overall smaller than Britomart) – it had been captured by the British. The Pelorus shown here was another Royal Navy Brig Sloop 18 gun warship of the same class as Britomart and it was also launched in 1808. For a period it was stationed at Port Jackson. Captain McDonald sailed Britomart home to England in 1836 with his spouse Agnes Smith, and his daughter Agnes Eliza on board. They had been in Tasmania since arrival there on Britomart in 1834. Between then and 1836 William had been busily sailing the ship on local voyages between Hobart and the mainland, to Sydney but mainly to Two Fold Bay (Eden) carrying passengers, livestock and general merchandise. What was it that prompted a return to England so soon after having already suffered the risks and privations of a five month confinement in a small vessel on the high seas, and with his family once again aboard with him. It is unlikely, that as we might do today so easily, to have been motivated by a desire to take a vacation and perhaps...

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A Matter of Coincidence – Captain William McDonald, and Agnes

One of our links, to the seafaring McDonalds is one with a colorful and eventful background. The story of William McDonald and his spouse Agnes Smith is told under the ‘Stories 2′ Mainpage Section, with some further information from official records on his exploits in the ‘Honours’ section. More recently our research colleague and cousin Jenny Gould progressed some excellent research on the Cavell family link, and on Captain William McDonald, also his supposed spouse Agnes Smith and alleged daughter Agnes Eliza McDonald Smith. Agnes Eliza was born on Captain McDonald’s ship ‘Good Intent’ in Antwerp Harbour on December 3rd 1831 and the birth was recorded in the city’s archives by the Antwerp City authorities. Jenny’s research has discovered she was baptised just over five weeks later in St Mary Major Anglican church in Exeter, Dorset, England on January 11th, 1832 – with the surname Smith rather than McDonald, precisely as Captain McDonald refers to her in his Will. There has been frequent speculation as to whether Captain McDonald and Agnes were ever married, and whether or not Agnes Eliza was his biological daughter. The evidence which has emerged strongly suggests the answer to both questions is in the negative. See for example Captain McDonald’s Will appended below – this leaves little doubt whilst the even more recent evidence by way of discovery by Jenny of what seems likely...

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