Britannia (1783 whaler)

United Kingdom
Name: Britannia
Owner: Samuel Enderby & Sons
Launched: 1783, Bridport, England
Fate: Wrecked off the New South Wales Coast, 1806
General characteristics
Class and type: Full rigged whaler
Tons burthen: 301 (bm)
For other ships with the same name, see Britannia (ship).

The Britannia was a 301 burthen ton full rigged whaler built in 1783 in Bridport, England, and owned by the whaling firm Samuel Enderby & Sons. She also performed two voyages transporting convicts to Port Jackson. She was wrecked off the New South Wales Coast in 1806.


Under the command of Thomas Melvill, Britannia was one of 11 ships that departed from the United Kingdom in early 1791 as part of the Third Fleet, bound for the Sydney penal settlement. Britannia departed Plymouth, England on 27 March 1791, and arrived in Sydney Cove on 14 October 1791. She embarked 150 prisoners, of whom 21 died during the course of the voyage. She afterwards went whaling in the South Seas.[1]

She returned to Australia in 1792 under the command of William Raven, then dropped a sealing gang in Dusky Sound, New Zealand. She returned to England in 1797.[2]

Britannia, under command of Robert Turnbull, departed England in early 1798, carrying 96 female convicts. She arrived in Port Jackson on 18 July 1798; two convicts died during the voyage. She afterwards went whaling in the South Seas.


Britannia was under the command of Nathaniel Goodspeed when she was wrecked at 0200 on the morning of 25 August 1806. The wrecking occurred on either Middleton Reef or Elizabeth Reef, some 297 miles east of the Clarence River Heads in New South Wales. She struck the reef several times before waves lifted her onto the reef where her back was broken. When the crew lowered the lifeboats, one was immediately smashed but the two others, with nineteen men in all aboard, got away. Five men stayed aboard Britannia. Two were rescued the next day while the other three found another boat, put water and biscuits on board, and launched it. The three boats with their 24 men aboard headed for Newcastle. On 29 August one of the boats, with eight men on board, separated from the other two in a gale and was never seen again. The survivors reached Newcastle on 8 September and Port Jackson on 13 September 1806.[3][4][5][6]


  1. Letter from Thomas Melville to Messrs. Samuel Enderby and Sons, 29 Nov 1791, in Lang, John Dunmore (1834), An historical and statistical account of New South Wales both as a penal settlement and as a British colony, London Cochrane and M'Crone, OL 7032670M, retrieved 18 May 2016, p459
  2. Parsons, Vivienne (1967). "Raven, William (1756–1814)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University.
  3. Bateson, Charles (1972), Australian Shipwrecks - Vol 1 1622-1850, Sydney: AH and AW Reed, p. 43, ISBN 0-589-07112-2
  4. "Ship News". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. NSW. 14 September 1806. p. 3. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  5. "Interesting Nautical Information.". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. NSW. 26 October 1806. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  6. Historical records of Australia. Series 1. Governors Despatches to and from England. Volume 6. August 1806December 1808, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Commonwealth of Australia, 1916, pp. 3536

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