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Sailing ship  VOYAGE OF THE PRIAM 1852

Extracts from A History of the SMITH Family : The descendants of George & Melinda SMITH arrived Australia 25th August 1852
Jennifer Burrell (1987) Published by the Smith Family Reunion Committee


BEGINNINGS IN SOMERSET
George and Melinda SMITH both came from the picturesque village of Pensford in Somerset just a few miles west of Bath. Publow St. Thomas Church in Pensford was where George SMITH was baptised on 4 Jan 1829, son of George and Mary SMITH.
On 21 Apr 1850 George married Melinda ANDREWS in the church of St Mary Redcliffe on the west bank of the Avon River at Bristol in Gloucestershire. At the time they were both living in Thomas Street, Bristol, he at Greave's. She was the daughter of William Nelson and Martha ANDREWS.
A daughter was born 9 months later in January. This was Caroline who as a toddler was to survive the sea voyage to Australia only to die of scarlet fever when she was 8 years old.
Early in 1852, tantalised by glowing reports from the Colony of Victoria, George and Melinda must have made the ultimate decision to emigrate and they went ahead with the shipping arrangements. From their home in northern Somerset, they would have travelled with their trunks of belonging by coach about 75 miles to the south west to seek board at one of the many lodging houses which catered especially for emigrants awaiting their ships at the busy south coast port.

OVER THE DEEP AND BLUE OCEAN
On 21 May 1852 George and Melinda with their infant daughter Caroline, sailed from Plymouth aboard the Priam. On their 3 month voyage they were accompanied by many of their friends from neighbouring Somerset villages in the total of 277 passengers. Priam Passenger List from PROV provided by Ross Rawson)
By the mid-1950s revolutions in agriculture and industrial practice had caused great changes in the lives of village folk and many landless farm workers flocked to the large towns and cities. Meanwhile in Australia, there was an acute shortage of labour caused by the gold rushes which began in 1851. The incentive of assisted passage was offered to emigrants of good character whose skills were needed in the colony. The stock numbers on pastoral properties in western Victoria had been increasing and men were needed to work the runs.

TO THE RICH WESTERN DISTRICT OF VICTORIA
George SMITH took the opportunity of an assisted passage and agreed to work for 12 months for William CORNEY at Wandon Station. For this he was to receive 50 pounds with rations provided. William CORNEY with his two brothers had arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1821 and had relocated to Portland in 1840. With John George ROBERTSON they were the first to take up land on the Wando Creek. This land had been discovered and named by Major MITCHELL in 1836 when he led an expedition party from Sydney to Portland. North of present day Casterton, the Major's party was elated by the sight of open grassy country extending as far as they eye could see. The rounded hills were as smooth as a carpet and gum trees fringed the banks of the winding river. Underfoot the turf was thickly matted with emerald green pasture, superior to anything they had previously seen.
Some of George's shipmates were engaged by Edward HENTY on the adjoining property of Muntham. Others were destined for other Western District sheep properties. This ship therefore was bound for Portland Bay from where the emigrants could make their way north to the fertile 'Australia Felix'.

Voyage of the Priam 1852 continued ...
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George SMITH m 1850 Melinda ANDREWS

Views of Old Pensford in Somerset

St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

Wando Vale & District Settlers

Map of Pastoral Runs, Casterton Area c1837-1880 showing Wando

© Created : 18 July 2001
© Last Modified : 13 April 2012
Email : jburrell@ncable.net.au
URL : http://users.ncable.net.au/~jburrell/gen/smith/priam.html