Gloucestershire Archives has been granted funding by the Federation of Family History Societies to catalogue the papers of Yearly & Wadeson Solicitors of Mitcheldean. In the collection is the journal of George Eaton Stanger, a surgeon and chaplain employed by the South Australian Companies, which was set up to assist merchants colonising South Australia. Stanger served aboard the Sarah & Elizabeth, a ship sailing from Hull to South Australia under Captain Wakeling.
The ship sailed on 24th September 1836. “This day is the commencement of my sea life” Stanger states in the first entry into his journal; this entry paints the picture of a young man excited to travel and learn new things. Despite this anticipation, the tone quickly changes to recurring entries grumbling about the windy and miserable weather, and how seasick he is.
On Monday 10th October 1836 the weather was particularly bad and the ship nearly sustained huge damage. The Captain realised that the ship had been dragging her anchor, and ordered crew to release the second anchor. This was not enough to stop them from crashing onto a brig, causing the spanker boom (a boom to which the spanker sail is attached) to be carried away. No further injuries were sustained but the ship continued to drag as the anchor stock had been broken. A boat was dispatched to Deal for a spare (and anchor and cable) and the ship made an emergency call at Ramsgate where Wakeling and Stanger toasted their narrow escape with a cup of tea.
On 15th April 1837, Stanger celebrates his birthday aboard and writes “This, my friends is the 21st anniversary of my birthday”. Although he is happy to be celebrating, he is home sick, saying he cannot help but think about his family, despite Wakeling doing everything in his power to cheer him up. Since leaving Hull, Stanger has acquired many skills, including navigation; he writes that on his birthday his coordinates are 31°34’ 125°44’.
The Sarah & Elizabeth was at sea for nearly 7 months before landing at Kangaroo Island. When he goes ashore, Stanger describes the location as “very pretty, although they have not had much time to make improvements at present … it will be a desirable place to live”. On arrival there, he takes his ill patients ashore to set them up in tents for the rest of their time docked. During the following months, Stanger travels to different locations within South Australia.
On 20th May 1838, while docked at Hobart Town, Stanger leaves the Sarah and Elizabeth and joins the Seppings to sail to England on Wednesday 23rd May. Stanger writes that it is woeful to leave the gospel church he has been frequenting. The Seppings docked in Fleet (Kent) in mid-October 1838.
Stanger returns with his journal filled with a plethora of stories and entries from his travels not only to and from South Australia, but those he undertook during his time there.
If you want to find out more about these travels, the journal is available for study at Gloucestershire Archives (D543/94788/12).