MURRAY APPOINTED COMMANDER OF THE LADY NELSON: HIS VOYAGE TO NORFOLK
On Grant’s resigning the command
of the Lady Nelson, Governor King appointed John Murray
to succeed him. As has been told Murray had formerly
been Master’s mate of the Porpoise and had accompanied
Grant when he went for the second time to try and
explore Governor King’s Bay, and the Governor
apparently thought him a capable officer. His
appointment is dated September 3rd, 1801, so that he
seems to have taken over the new post about two months
before his predecessor finally left Sydney.
When, however, the Lady Nelson sailed
to the Hawkesbury in September to load the settlers’
grain and to bring it to Sydney, Grant appears to have
been still on board her, as he was enjoined to ensure
her safety at that place by Governor King. “You
are not to leave the vessel yourself or suffer any
other person to leave her while in the river nor let
any strangers or visitors go on board...Your board
netting is to be kept up while in the river.”
King evidently was determined to guard against the
capture of the brig by runaway convicts, a fate which
had overtaken the Norfolk. Murray succeeded to
the command of the brig on her return from this Hawkesbury
trip. His first voyage was to Norfolk Island,
when he carried orders and instructions from the Governor
of New South Wales to Major Foveaux, the Lieutenant-Governor.
Before leaving Sydney, Captain Abbott, Ensign Piper
and Mr. John Roberts [surgeon’s mate] were embarked
as passengers on board the Lady Nelson, and in the
afternoon of October 1st she set sail for her destination.
The following account of her voyage is extracted from
H.M.A. Surveying vessel Lady Nelson.
From Port Jackson to Norfolk Island.
“October 2nd, 1801. At
3 P.M. got under weigh and stood out of ye Heads.
Observed ye Porpoise to be in the offing. At 5
P.M. passed under the stern of the Porpoise and Mr.
Murray went on board and waited on ye Commander of
that vessel. At 6 Lieutenant Murray returned on
board, hoisted in our gig and gave the Porpoise three
cheers, which was returned made sail at
half-past 6 P.M. ye North Head of Port Jackson
bore to west by north distant 6 miles, the South Head
of Broken Bay bore north by west distance 6 leagues.
“Saturday, October 3rd.
Fresh winds and clear. About half-past 4 P.M.
the wind shifted to north-west with light rain and
thunder and lightning. At 8 A.M. the wind rather
took off and we had clear weather, but with a very
heavy sea on. At noon we had a strong gale with
a high sea on, our Latitude 33 degrees 55 minutes
“Sunday, October 4th. Strong
gale with heavy squalls at intervals with a very high
sea running. Very heavy squall attended with thunder
and lightning, large hail stones at ye same time.
At 10 A.M. Mustered ye Ship’s Company and
read the articles of war being the first Sunday of
“Monday, October 5th. Fresh
breezes and heavy squalls with flying showers of rain
and heavy sea running. At 4 P.M. saw Lord Howe
Island bearing north-east distant 16 or 17 leagues.
At 10 P.M. when it cleared saw Balls Pyramid bearing
north by west distant 6 or 9 miles: at 12 had
another sight of it on our larboard quarter at
daylight again saw the Pyramid distant 10 or 12 leagues...At
noon lost sight of Island.
“Tuesday, October 6th.
Fresh breezes and clear squally. At
noon light airs.
“Wednesday, October 7th.
Light airs and inclinable to calm.
“Thursday, 8th October.
Fresh wind and clear high sea. Keeping good look
out for Island of Norfolk. At 4 A.M. made sail at
6 A.M. saw Norfolk and Phillip Islands distant 12
leagues at noon, being 9 or 10 miles off
ye town, fired a gun and hoisted signal for pilot.
Friday, 9th October. Moderate weather at half-past 2 P.M.
fired a 2nd gun for pilot at half-past 3 seeing no boat and judging of the
appearance of the sea there was no landing at Sydney Bay,
bore on for Cascade, and by 5 got in sight of ye Storehouse fired
another gun at 7 P.M. John Drumond,
pilot, came on board, took charge as pilot sent
our boatswain’s mate on shore in pilot’s
boat with letter to Lieutenant Governor kept
standing off all night at daylight the
Storehouse distant 3 miles at 6 A.M. landed
Captain E. Abbott, Ensign Piper and Mr. John Roberts at
9 A.M. boat returned bringing with them ye pilot’s
assistant who told us ye landing was good at Sydney bore
up for Sydney. By 11 got round and a boat coming
off we discharged a number of articles into her belonging
to the different officers. At noon they went
“Saturday, 10th October.
Observed the flag for indifferent landing hove
up, put ye vessel under snug sail and stood off and
on during night at 4 P.M. Phillip’s
Island bore north distant 6 miles. A boat came
along, into which we delivered a part of the officers’
“Sunday, 11th October.
Moderate winds and weather a confused sea.
P.M. A boat came off sent in her ye
officers’ baggage at 6 P.M. the weather
looking rather unfavourable ran the vessel into Hunsons
Bay stood off and on during night at
daylight went round to Sydney Harbour.
“Monday, 12th October.
Variable winds, fine weather. P.M. a 2nd boat
came with Ensign Baillie’s baggage. Stood
off and on during night in the morning
went into Sydney Bay a boat came off with
Mr. Baillie’s baggage, also received for boat
4 rough spars for sweeps.
“Tuesday, 13th October.
Standing off and on Cascade Bay at 4 the
vessel’s signal for a boat was made from ye shore lowered
down our gig and sent the boatswain on shore in her.
In a little time he returned and informed me it was
the Lieutenant-Governor’s orders that I should
stand to sea and await boat made all sail
and stood to sea till sundown, when seeing no signs
of a boat made sail for ye island. Saw a large
ship in the offing, she proved to be the Earl Cornwallis
“Wednesday, 14th October.
A.M. Seeing no signs of a boat went around to
Sydney Bay and observed Cornwallis lying to off Northern
“Thursday, 15th October.
At 5 P.M. Ensign Bayley embarked on boat and the
boat brought remainder of his baggage all
the other passengers came on board discharged
the pilot. At 6 made sail at 7 P.M.
Mount Pitt bore north-east by east distant 4 leagues at
sundown ye Earl Cornwallis out of sight.
“Friday, 16th October.
Fresh gales cloudy and rain a
high sea running strong gales. The
vessel laboured a great deal.
“Tuesday, 27th October.
Fresh winds and hazy at 2 A.M. saw land
north-west 10 or 11 miles at 8 A.M. south
head of Broken Bay bore to north-west 6 miles at
noon fine got within Heads and made all
On his return to Sydney on the completion
of the voyage Murray was ordered by Governor King
to proceed in the Lady Nelson and finish the exploration
of the south coast, which Grant had not been able to
complete. The instructions issued by Governor
King were very precise.
“You will proceed without loss
of time to Basses Straights and observe the following
directions for prosecuting discoveries in those straights
on the south-west coast of this country...When you
are between Ram Head and Western Port you will proceed
to Kent’s Group and ascertain the size of those
islands [particularly the easternmost]...From Kent’s
Group you will run on a straight course to Wilson’s
Promontory noticing the course and distance, soundings
and quality of the bottom...From Wilson’s Promontory
you will trace the coast between Point Schanck and
Cape Albany Otway...From thence you will run to Harbinger
Rock lying off the north-west point of King’s
Island...You will make the circuit of that island
or islands in addition to the King’s instructions
respecting new discoveries...You will carefully examine...all
within 6 miles round the island to ascertain whether
a vessel may anchor. Having completed the survey...you
will ascertain the time of bearing...between the south
westernmost point and Albatross Islands, the northernmost
of Hunter’s Islands and the Pyramid. Having
completed...your survey thus far you will ascertain
to what distance soundings may be got to the westward
of the Norfolk’s and Lady Nelson’s passages
taking care to traverse across to the latitude of
42 degrees on the south side and within sight of land
on the north side or coast of New Holland [Van Dieman’s
Land] until between 38 and 42 degrees...As you stand
in on the New Holland side you will examine the coast
between Cape Albany Otway and Cape Solicitor which
Lieutenant Grant named Portland Bay the bottom of which
he did not see. Should you have time I would
wish you to run due south from Cape Solicitor as far
as 40 degrees and work back again to Cape Bridgewater...you
will employ another month...in tracing the coast from
Cape Banks...In returning to this port you will deliver
all such journals and charts as may have been completed...during
your intended voyage.
“Should you fall in with H.M.S.
Investigator you will communicate these instructions
to the Commander...and put yourself under his command.
And in case you fall in and are come up with by the
Naturaliste and Géographe, French vessels
on discovery, you will produce your passport from
His Grace the Duke of Portland to the Commander of
“Philip Gidley King.
“Sydney, October 31st, 1801.”