ABERDEEN BUILT SHIPS


Name
SCHOMBERG
Construction
WOOD
Type
SHIP
Date
1855
Description
Rig: 3 masted SHIP
Yard Number: 195
Launched 3rd July 1855
Owners Messrs. James Baines & Co. Liverpool, the Black Ball Line.

Constructed of oak and Scotch larch.

Aberdeen Journal 4th July 1855:
Grounded in harbour during launch and refloated. Regular clipper build with three decks and will carry 1000 passengers. Built as an Australian mail packet ship. Built at a cost of approximately £43,103.

Captain James Nicol Forbes (former captain of the ships MARCO POLO & LIGHTNING) with his crew and 430 passengers left Liverpool on 6th October 1855 carrying cargo for the Geelong Railway.

Wrecked 25th December 1855, 40 miles off Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia on maiden voyage. Stranded on a sand bank at Peterborough, Australia. All passengers rescued and taken aboard a passing steamer QUEEN. Passenger's luggage and some cargo was rescued, however, this was abandoned as the weather worsened. The wreck was sold to local merchants for salvage and two were drowned attempting to reach the wreck.

Courier (Hobart, Tas.), Monday 31st December 1855:
WRECK of the Royal Mail Clipper Ship "SCHOMBERG":
An expectant crowd of citizens congregated last evening at the Post Office awaiting the arrival of the Launceston coach, which it was hoped would bring in the Hobart Town portion of the "Schomberg" mails, and a feeling of deep disappointment and sympathy was excited to find that the noble vessel had been wrecked within a few hours sail of her destination.
The details of the melancholy disaster did not arrive, the only particulars which transpired being as follows:-
The Black Swan steamer arrived on Saturday, and Captain Woods obtained the intelligence of the wreck, 5 miles from Cape Otway, from the steamer Queen from port Fairy, which was met near the Port Phillip Heads with a number of the passengers of the Schomberg on board. It was anticipated, however, that the Maid of the Yarrs would reach Launceston today with the mail, if saved, and full particulars may be received.
FURTHER PARTCULARS:
By the arrival of the steamer Ant, Captain Thompson, which left Geelong on the 28th instant, we learn that the Schomberg ran ashore about forty miles west of Cape Otway. It appears that while the captain of the vessel was attempting to wear her round, she missed stays, and drifted ashore upon Curtis's Inlet.
At about thee o'clock on Thursday morning, the Captain of the Queen steamer answering the signals of distress fired from the Schomberg, bore down to her, took all the passengers and mails on board, and brought them safely to Port Phillip; without one loss of life.

The inquiry into the wreck and the trial of Captain Forbes acquitted him of neglect of duty.

The SCHOMBERG is protected as an Historic Shipwreck. It is popular with wreck divers and many relics from the wreck are now on display at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, Victoria, Australia. See the 'Useful Links' page for a complete account of the wreck.

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 8th February 1856:
THE SCHOMBERG.
At a meeting of passengers by the Schomberg, held at Melbourne on the 3rd instant, at the Mechanics' Institute, the following resolutions were unanimously carried:
1st. That the conduct of the captain, the surgeon and some of the officers of the Schomberg was ungentlemanly, discourteous and grossly immoral.
2nd. That it was not only the general impression of the passengers of the Schomberg, but to the certain knowledge of many of those here assembled, that the loss of that fine ship can only be attributed to the gross negligence of the captain.
3rd. That we are of opinion that the contracts entered into between Messrs. James Haines & Co., of Liverpool, and the passengers of the Schomberg have not been fulfilled.
4th. That a deputation be appointed to wait upon His Excellency the Office Administering the Government, praying that an investigation be held into the circumstances of the loss of the Schomberg, and the property of the passengers.

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 8th February 1856:
WRECK OF THE SCHOMBERG
To the editor of the S. A. Register.
Dear Sir, - You will no doubt, have heard of the royal mail ship Schomberg being on shore about 80 miles to the westward of Cape Otway. As she lay directly in my course to Adelaide, I thought it my duty to pay her a visit, if peradventure; I could render any assistance in saving lives or property. In the course of the afternoon of Friday we arrived within a short distance, the weather being then fine. I proceeded on board, and found her lying in a perilous position. The following account of the disaster is given me by Captain Forbes, who poor fellow, feels his position a sad one: -
About midnight on Wednesday, the 26th instant, fine weather, light easterly wind. Sighted the land about three miles eastward of his present position. Put the ship off on the shore tack. When the sails had scarcely been filled, it fell quite calm; and from the prevalence of easterly winds, the current was running strong to the westward, with a swell heaving in shore. In this perilous position the sails caught aback, and before they got her in a position to be manageable, the vessel struck aft, and heeled round, with her head in shore, where she now lies, with about 18 feet at the stern, and 12 feet forward. The passengers and some of the luggage have been sent on to Melbourne per steamers Queen and Champion, wither Captain Forbes has sent for assistance for everything available in the shape of steam to save his noble ship; and, unless this is promptly attended to, the weather prove fine, nothing can save her from being a total wreck. Very little of the cargo will be saved in a sound condition. She has on board a quantity of the Geelong, Melbourne, and Hobson's Bay Railway plan, carriages, etc.
The vessel, with the provisions for the voyage out and home, cost £60,000, and, I understand is not fully insured. The freight list amounts to £35,000. She is without exception the noblest piece of naval architecture I ever looked upon.
You will find a description of her in the sheet published for her on the morning of her departure from Liverpool. She left Liverpool on the 6th October, and passed Queenstown on the 9th; from that to the equator, 28 days; light baffling winds from lat. 8 deg. N. to the line; she only made 40 miles per day. The south-east trades, unusual at this time of the year, hung so far to the southward that at one time they thought they would be obliged to tack to clear the coast of Brazil. In latitude 24 degrees S., becalmed 14 days; then comes a run which shows what the Schomberg can do under favourable circumstances.
From the meridian of Greenwich up to 135 deg. E. long. only occupied 19 days - or sailing at an average of 423 miles per day, but from the last mentioned long. they experienced light easterly winds and calms up to the time she struck. Messrs, Fenn, Hawker, and families, were passengers for Adelaide.
I remained by the vessel until dark, and finding I could be of no service single-handed, proceeded on our passage. A fresh breeze at west sprang up at midnight, and having continued unfavourable, has retarded our passage. Enclosed I hand you the latest news I could procure.
I am, Sir, &c.,
James Lawrence.

Courier (Hobart, Tas.), Friday 29th February, 1856:
LOSS OF THE SCHOMBERG, THE ACQUITTAL OF CAPTAIN FORBES.
A collection of letters has been published in the Melbourne Morning Herald, addressed to Captain Forbes, the late commander of the Schomberg, in answer to what he and his friends denounce as the calumnious charges and insinuations made against him, in public and in private. One of these letters which we subjoin, in from John Walker, Esq. who with a portion of his family were passengers by the ill-fated ship. Our readers will not be insensible to the weight which, from Mr. Walker's well known integrity of character, attaches to his evidence.
Hobart Town, 9th Jan. 1856.
Dear Sir, - I fully intend to address you before I left Melbourne, but was too much hurried to do so, and I take the earliest opportunity, after my arrival here, to express my sympathy under your present unfortunate circumstances.
I regret to say the unfortunate loss of the noble ship Schomberg appeared to be a cause of rejoicing to several parties in Melbourne, for as soon as the steamer which took all the passengers arrived at the Wharf, at Sandridge, our captain called out to a well-dressed person, who was standing on the Wharf, "The Schombeg is a wreck", and the wretch clapped his hands and danced for joy, and ran on board the steamer bound for Sydney to tell the news. I saw too much of the same spirit manifested by parties from whom better things might have been expected, which led me to conclude that you had become an object of envy, on account of the successful voyages you had made to and from the colony. It is stated in an ancient work, 'Anger is cruel, and wrath is outrageous, but who can stand before envy!'.
I was thoroughly disgusted when I heard the malicious and unfounded statements which were industriously circulated in Melbourne, they must have come from some polluted source, and I do not believe that any of the first saloon passengers had any concern in hatching such statements.
I can only say that all appeared highly gratified with your attention to the ship, as you were constantly at your post; and, although you were anxious to make a quick passage, there was no recklessness, as when we had wind, the ship was made all snug before night, and we all had the greatest confidence in the skill and ability of yourself and your officers.
The manner in which you behaved to the passengers was highly gratifying; you were kind and attentive to all, and did everything in your power to relieve the tedium of the voyage, by promoting amusements, and making all as happy as circumstances would allow.
I can bear testimony to your kindness to the second and third class passengers, having frequently seen you send wine to those who were old, infirm, and weak, as well as soups and meat from your own table to the sick; you were accessible to all, and frequently visited every part of the ship where passengers were.
With reference to my own family, I can only saw each one feels grateful for your kindness and attention, and will ever remember you, and trust that the cloud which now lowers over you may soon be dispelled, and that the sun of prosperity will ere long shine upon you, and that you may live down the calumny of your enemies.
I remain, dear Sir,
Yours very truly,
John Walker.
Shipbuilder
A. HALL & Co., Aberdeen
Owner
Schomberg
Dimensions
length 288' x breadth 45' x depth 29' 2"
tonnage 2284 tons
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