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Letter to his grandfather [24 February 1840, p. 1]
Title : Letter to his grandfather [24 February 1840, p. 1] Letter to his grandfather [24 February 1840, p. 1]
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Creator : Gemmell, Thomas
Source : Gemmell, Thomas, D 7730(L)
Date of creation : 1840
Format : Manuscript
Catalogue record
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Copyright : This item is reproduced courtesy of Michael Gemmell. It may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires written permission from Michael Gemmell and the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

Thomas Gemmell's letter to his grandfather William Barr in Scotland describes the voyage out to South Australia aboard the ship India in 1839-40. Thomas was full of hope for his fortunes in Australia but the ship encountered difficulties after sailing and called in at Cork in Ireland for repairs. India left Greenock on the River Clyde 5 October 1839, and was towed down stream by steamer to the 'Tail of the Bank', a local name for the area where the river widens and becomes the Firth of Clyde. At some point after leaving here the ship encountered difficulties which necessitated it calling into Cork for repairs. Thomas does not record the details of this as he expected his grandfather to be aware of these from other sources. India left Cork finally on 29 October. By now he is feeling a little despondent, but recalls some cheering verses his grandfather had told him, with immediate affect.

The India was built at Greenock on the Clyde river; a three-masted barque of 406 tons it was dismasted twice on this voyage to Australia. The ship arrived in Port Adelaide 23 February 1840 after a four month voyage.

Thomas Gemmell eventually settled in Strathalbyn, after a period at Mitcham and Morphett Vale, south of Adelaide. He made a reasonably successful foray to the Victorian goldfields in the early 1850s which enabled him to build a larger house. Initially he grew wheat, but after several years of heavy crops which depleted the soil he switched to raising sheep. He and his wife Elizabeth had two sons and six daughters and he died in 1897 a widely respected man.

Related names :

Barr, William

Coverage year : 1839-40
Further reading :

Gemmell, Nancy, Old Strathalbyn and its people, 1839-1939 Adelaide: National Trust of South Australia, 1995 page 31 Thomas Gemmell

The Adelaide observer 19 June 1897, page 24 The late Mr Thomas Gemmell

Haines, Robin Life and death in the age of sail: the passage to Australia Sydney, N.S.W.: University of New South Wales Press, 2003

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing exhibitions. Wooden Walls and Iron Sides August 2004-



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