Stories about the migrants on the Lang Immigrant ships in 1849.

For a full story about the background to the arrival in 1849 in Moreton Bay of Dr Lang’s three immigrant ships, the Fortitude, Chasely and Lime see Rev John Dunmore Lang

These are stories about some of the passengers on the three ships, their voyage on the ship and their life in Moreton Bay.

Immigrant on HMS Fortitude: Edward Slaughter

Edward Slaughter

Edward Slaughter was born in London on 2 May 1838. According to family tradition, he was a “boundary rider”, one of the people who rode long distances to seek support for the separation of Queensland from New South Wales, which took place in 1859. On 31 August 1867 he married Sarah Eliza Slaughter, his first cousin once removed. At this stage he was farming on the family property “Uwempa” at Tingalpa. He was one of the founding trustees of the Hemmant Methodist Church. Sarah died on 4 October 1880 at the age of 34, leaving Edward with four children. A fifth child died eight days later.

He remarried in October 1881 at the age of 43. His new wife was Faith Dawe, the daughter of his father’s third wife, Ellen Mathews. a widow aged 30 with a four-year-old daughter. At that time he lived in Sandgate and owned property in the area.

By 1883 he had a well-established business, Edward Slaughter & Co, Draper and Outfitter, at 30-32 Queen Street, Brisbane. His wife had a Ladies Outfitter business at 112a Queen Street. Her late husband, George Odling Dawe, had also been a draper. The business was successful and won Exhibition prizes. However, an unfortunate incident led to the sale of the business. William Thomas de Fraine, who had married Sarah’s sister Elizabeth, allegedly forged Edward’s signature for a substantial amount of money. This action was dealt with in the normal course of events, but Edward never recovered the money. The business was sold to the young Pike Brothers.

By 1890 Edward was Clerk of the Bulimba Divisional Board, at Old Cleveland Road, Carina. This was one of the local government districts prior to the concept of Greater Brisbane. He was reputed to be ‘a no mean draftsman’ and is credidted with quite a number of civil engineering projects, developing roads and bridges in the area.
At this stage his second family was starting to arrive. In the early 1900s Edward and Faith moved to Pilton on the Darling Downs and Edward once again became a farmer. The only known description of the property is that it was ‘sizeable, and had a big hill on it.’ Faith established a boarding house at Clifton, known as Gladsmuir.

According to family tradition he was known as ‘Edward the Peacemaker’. He was well involved in the Methodist Church and was apparently a Lay Preacher. He also seems to have been gifted with some form of ‘extra-sensory perception’; people would go to him when they wanted to find missing stock, or to ease toothache. It is said that he had a way with animals, and by gentle persuasion was able to get bullock teams up hills.

At one stage of his career he is said to have had a salt farm at or near MacLeay Island, and used Kanakas to transport salt back to Wellington Point.

In 1916, apparently while welcoming a new minister, he suffered a heart attack. His son Ernest said that he appeared in visionary form; he felt that something was wrong, and hurried to his father’s bedside just in time to bid him farewell.

(adapted from: June Perkins in The 150th year reunion of the Descendants of the migrants who sailed into Moreton Bay on the Ships ss Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima from England in 1849.)

Immigrant on HMS Fortitude: John Slaughter

John was born in Ashford, Kent in 1825. He trained as a tinsmith and was 24 when he was accepted by Dr Lang to sail on the Fortitude. His presence on board was greatly appreciated by his uncle Alfred Slaughter, who set off from England with his wife, eight children, mother-in-law and another nephew. Alfred’s wife Caroline died after giving birth to a stillborn child, so John was able to help his uncle care for his motherless family.

After they arrived in Brisbane, after having survived the typhus scare on the ship and the rigours of the early days, John was in demand as a tinsmith. By 17 August he was already in business as ‘John Slaughter, tinsmith’ in Ipswich.

On 7 September 1853 he married Hannah Bale, who had come on the Chaseley with her family as a 15 year old. The Bales were closely linked with the Slaughters at this time; Hannah’s brother John married Eliza Slaughter in 1856, and her sister Matilda married Thomas Slaughter in 1861.

Ernest Ebenezer Slaughter, the son of John’s brother Thomas, was apprenticed to his uncle John to learn the trade of a tinsmith. He became a tinsmith with a pearling company on Thursday Island where his son, James Cameron Slaughter, was the first white child born on the island. James Cameron Slaughter was the Town Clerk of Brisbane from 1940 to 1967.

John and Hannah had ten children, but lost five in a scarlet fever epidemic. Their daughter Hannah married but had no children and lived to 30. Thomas lived to 93. He was a chemist in Roma and never married. Mary married and had four children. William married Mabel Gazzard in 1897 at his father’s residence in Sandgate. They had six children. Edith Matilda (Elsie) was born in 1872 but never married because she was expected to remain to look after her mother as was often the custom in those days.

John and Hannah were strong supporters of the Baptist Church. When John retired from his business his son William, who was a builder, gave him a 16 perch block and built a house on it for him. They lived in it with their daughter Elsie (Edith Matilda) Their son Tom also lived there after his retirement. The grandchildren loved John who was very gentle with them. Hannah was very strict in her observance of the Sabbath and the grandchildren found it hard to meet her standards when they visited her, which was usually on a Sunday. That was also normal for that era.

John and Hannah were represented in the Jubilee edition of the Queenslander on August 7, 1909. John was 83 and suffering from Paralysis Agitans. Hannah was 75 and she lived for another 17 years. John died in 1911.

(adapted from: June Perkins in The 150th year reunion of the Descendants of the migrants who sailed into Moreton Bay on the Ships ss Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima from England in 1849.)

Immigrant on HMS Fortitude: Thomas Childs

Thomas Childs and wife Mary (SLQ).

Thomas Childs was born on 1809 in Somerset in England, the son of a yeoman farmer (a farmer who farmed his own land). In 1829 he married Mary Wheddon and they had nine children. Thomas and Mary sailed to Moreton Bay on the Fortitude with seven children (one son had died in infancy), Thomas 16, Ann 12, James Raworth 8, Mary 6, David Joseph 4, and Flora Hephzibah 18 months old. It is not clear how the eldest son John arrived in Australia because he does not appear on the passenger list, and therefore probably worked his passage on the Fortitude. However, records show that the Rev. Dr. Lang married him to Mary Holder in Sydney in the Scotts Presbyterian Church on 20 March 1854.

Tragedy struck on the voyage when their 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth died of typhus fever. This may have been the reason for all the passengers being quarantined on Moreton Island after they arrived in Moreton Bay.

Land Grant certificate issued by Lang’s Cooksland Colonization Company

After arriving in the settlement of Brisbane they established an orchard and mixed farm known as ‘Beulah’ at Newstead where the gasometer (erected 1887) now stands. In 1864 Thomas bought about 69 acres of land in Nudgee and two years later, with the help of his youngest son David, started to plant grape vines. The property was commonly known as “Childs Farm” and later included a large variety of fruit trees such as mango, custard and loquat.

Vineyard with grape pickers with house in background at Nudgee ca. 1897. (SLQ 2206).
David Joseph Childs

After the death of his father in 1881 David Joseph carried on the business which had become known as the ‘ Toombul Vineyards’. He had married Lucy Jane Deagon on 25 March 1879 and they had nine children. The winery was very successful and won many medals in Australia and abroad. It has been reported that David could be considered to be the father of the Australian wine trade in Queensland.

The Childs family home at Nudgee.
David Joseph Childs, vigneron, and family at Toombul Winery, 68067 Nudgee, ca.1913. (SLQ No. 68067)
David in Masonic Regalia (SLQ).

As well as a successful vigneron David was an active community member holding positions such as President of the Winegrowers Association; a magistrate; a Worshipful Master of the North Australian Lodge of Freemasons and finally a Divisional Boardsman.

David died on 24 November 1918 aged 71; his wife Lucy died four months later on 4 March 1919. They are buried in Nundah Cemetery.

David’s eldest son William Lionel Childs took over the winery after his father’s death. He married Rachael Ann Fountain in 1906 and they had six children. As a keen golfer he agreed to the sale of about 200 acres of the property and to build a golf course and assisted with the laying out of a nine-hole course in the late 1920s. The family lived on the property until his death in 1935.

William’s eldest son Lionel Falshaw Childs, who also had interests in theatres, including the Odeon in Brisbane, took over the winery and later sold it to his younger brother Stephen Fountain Childs. In 1963 Stephen was forced to close the business when the Queensland Government cancelled the State’s wine saloon licences as part of changes to the Liquor Act. The Nudgee Golf Links is now where Brisbane’s early wine industry used to be.

Thomas Childs established a strong pioneering dynasty and thereby made a major major contribution to the early development of Brisbane and Queensland.
(Lang’s Ships 150th reunion / SLQ / Trove/ Mary Irene Ormiston.doc).

Immigrant on HMS Chaseley: James William Thompson

Kevin Dickson, a fourth generation descendant now aged 93 tells the story of his migrating ancestor, James W. Thompson.

Oldest descendant 93-year-old Kevin Dickson reminiscing at the 170th reunion on 4 May 2019.
James William Thompson and his wife Millicent.

Our migrating ancestor, James W. Thompson aged 33 and his wife Millicent aged 29, plus four children aged between 12 and 2 showed immense courage. They left a reasonable life in London to face a dangerous four-month voyage I a small sailing ship in order to start a new life in a strange undeveloped land o the other side of the world – and we do not know why.

It is known that, before migrating, they lived in a comfortable family home in Park Road, Queens Park, London. James was a skilled artisan – a carpenter, upholsterer and bed manufacturer. He was granted “Her Majesty’s (Victoria) Royal Letters Patent” for the construction of bedsteads which were especially used for hospitals.

This business was started by his father, John, a furniture broker in Drury Lane, London. By 1849 when his eldest son migrated he was a skilled tradesman in his father’s business – just the sort of migrant that Dr. Lang was looking for.

Portrait of John Dunmore Lang (NLA).

Lang himself had migrated to Sydney in 1823 to establish a Presbyterian church and became convinced that fare paying skilled migrants were better for the development of the colony than the boatloads of convicts being sent out as slave labour. He was on a mission back in England in 1847 to attract industrious, sober, “god-fearing Protestants” (he hated Catholics) of good character and seems to have convinced our ancestor that for 100 pounds he would get a passage to Moreton Bay for his family plus 80 acres of land on arrival and he would also be a shareholder in Lang’s “Cooksland Colonisation Association” that he had set up. This turned out to be a fraudulent claim because none of the Fortitude or Chaseley migrants received their land. However, most of the migrants blamed the English and Sydney authorities and not Dr. Lang.

So our James and his family were among the 214 passengers plus the crew under Captain Aldrich and a Mr. Hobbs as a doctor to care for their health for the four months (120 days) non-stop voyage. (see previous story, Part 7, about the voyage and arrival of the Chaseley).

ss Chaseley

There seemed to be some controversy about the voyage because within 11 days of arriving some 73 passengers, including our group, signed a petition praising the Captain, whereas 27 said he was harsh and tyrannical. Some didn’t like the Captain or the Doctor and several sailors refused to work on the ship in port.

Tragedy struck our ancestor when he lost his wife Millicent, aged 37, in 1856, apparently from gastric disease from unhygienic conditions, just two years after giving birth to a daughter Henrietta in 1854. James did not marry again and his eldest daughter Millicent, unmarried at 19, seems to have taken on the role of raising the family and running the household.

James succeeded as a building contractor and architect and was for a time in partnership with Joshua Jeays who became Lord Mayor and whose descendants still have a store in Sandgate, to build many of Brisbane’s early buildings. He owned many blocks of land, one in Vulture Street, South Brisbane which had a beautiful view of the river. He was a Councillor in the Brisbane Municipal Council in 1866, 1868 and 1869 and served on many sub committees. He is listed as an apology for the first reunion in 1899 due to his advanced age of 84.

James died in 1901 at the age of 86 and is buried with his wife Millicent (37) and eldest daughter Millicent (85) in one plot at the Dutton Park Cemetery in South Brisbane. The paper at the time listed his death as that of ‘an old Colonialist’. At a family reunion held in 1994 in Brisbane we located 240 of his descendants.