The “Duke of Richmond”

On 20 October 1852, the barque Duke of Richmond sailed from Birkenhead, England bound for Portland Bay, Victoria, Australia.  Among the 236 passengers on board were two couples, each from different parts of England and one with small children.  They were my great, great, great grandparents James and Susan Harman and William and Margaret Diwell.  William and Margaret, from Kent, and two daughters under five.  Another daughter had passed away before the journey.  James and Susan were from Cambridgeshire and been married only two months.

One of the passengers, Ann Maria Taylor wrote in a letter home,

The weather was then so hot that people could not sleep on their berths. They were lying on the open deck…the captain who has been such for thirteen years, said he never experienced such weather.  Indeed I never expected to see land again.  Two nights were awful…lamps smashed…barrels of water capsized. (State Library of Victoria, Letter, Taylor, Ann Maria, 7 March 1853, MS 13313, )

After around 140 days, Captain Thomas Barclay sailed the Duke of Richmond into Portland Bay on 4 March 1853.


PORTLAND BAY, 1856. Illustration by S.T.Gill, courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

The Portland Herald reported on 11 March 1853, that Captain Barclay and Dr Webbers, the Surgeon Superintendent, had attempted to make sure all immigrants were comfortable and happy in an almost competitive way.  However, the voyage was also reported as arduous with much illness and over twenty deaths.  Measles claimed many of those that died.

The Diwell family disembarked and stayed in Portland for another five years before moving to the Casterton area.  William was a bricklayer and left the ship on his own account.  James Harman was engaged by  Mr Robertson at Boodcarra near Port Fairy for six months with wages of £50.

It is doubtful the two families came together again until 1945 when my grandparents, William Gamble and Linda Hadden were married in Hamilton.

I have done some extra research on the other passengers aboard the Duke of Richmond.  A number moved to the Byaduk area.  Some of the family names include Clarke, Everett, Gibbons, Looker, McIntyre, Merry, Patman and Spong.  There were several families from Cambridgeshire.  If anyone had family on the Duke of Richmond, it would be great to hear from you.


8 thoughts on “The “Duke of Richmond”

  1. I am directly related to the Cornford’s that sailed on the same ship. They were born in Warbleton Sussex. I just wonder how they travelled to Birkenhead near Liverpool to sail on this vessel?


  2. HiI am descended from the Diwell family from Sussex on my mother’s side and the Spong family from Surry on my father’s side. Guess we are related,I come from Harriett Diwell and Francis Coulson


  3. Hi Merron, I am a descendant from John Dodkin Everett and his wife Sarah (who unfortunately died on the voyage…I believe it was childbirth). They had children John, Mary, William, James, Susan, Isaac, Alfred and Arthur. The youngest two died (Alfred and Arthur) after they had docked and the family travelled by foot looking for work. Both were buried by the roadside!!


  4. Hi Merron Found your blog while “Googling” the Duke of Richmond. I am also descended from passengers who arrived in Portland in 1853 on this vessel. Alexander & Cecilia Miller were my Great Great Grandparents. After labouring for several years on a farm near Portland, Alexander and his family eventually settled on their own land at Burnt Creek near Horsham. Cheers David Miller


  5. Hello, i am a descendant of James and Elizabeth Day (They are my gggg grandparents), i am trying to locate as much information about them or in particular James parents from Cambridgeshire, England. I know James and Elizabeth ended up in Pompino and were a well respected family with a far amount of land until he passed.

    Warmest regards,


  6. Hi Marian
    I was looking at your article Ship Mates William and Margaret Diwell being my ancestors on my mother’s side. I hadn’t realised that some ancestors of my father were on the same ship. William and Alice Spong
    Thank you for your deep research into the Western District Pioneers


  7. Hi Merron
    I was looking at your article Ship Mates The Diwells being my ancestors on my mother’s side. I hadn’t realised that some ancestors of my father were on the same ship. William and Alice Spong
    Thank you for your deep research into the Western District Pioneers


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.