KI Sealers

The file has been accepted in good faith "as is" and has not been fact checked or verified. Accordingly K.I.P.A. cannot accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained therein.

To read the .pdf file, click here

Research by Geoffrey Chapman, received 18 Jan 2019

Martha’ and ‘Nelly’ may have actually been Mary Manato

[1] References Alas the Pelicans and reports of Captain William Cawthorne [first Lighthouse Keeper at Cape Willoughby]

Update received 9 July 2019

In the last month or so, I have been working on amendments to the file as someone recently wrote a book about the early settlers [ being the Sealers on KI] but had a large number of errors in his book and totally ignored George Robinson's of Flinders Island report of interviews with aboriginal women. He also stated that George Bates had discovered the Lakes system when it was reported in a ship logs, that it was actually William Walker, but later years George always claimed it was him! The writer also claimed that George's discovery lead to Stuart sailing down the Murray when in fact , the survey was already organised and under way before the ship's dispatch had arrived in Sydney from Launceston!

One of the big issues, i found was that a number of sealers had several names e.g.there were several Andersons, Williams and Smiths which other writers and researchers have confused and mixed up i.e. seems to have attributed stories to one man --when there were up to three sealers of the same name working from the Bass Straits to Albany in WA. There are no detailed written records of the times other than ship logs. For example, reports of piracy would have been reported by mouth by sealers and then the ship captains verbally back to authorities of "rumours" which needed to be addressed

In some cases, no one will be able to determine what is the truth as set out in the existing stories -as fact. I hope this updated version will be of some help. There are probably a number of errors still in my papers.

Geoffrey Chapman.

Update received 26 July 2019

Due to a couple of errors in my last file plus some updated information I have enclosed a new file on the history of the KI early sealers. I don't think I can ever be 100% sure that it's all correct as records are over 200 years old.

I am surprised in the research and books on the sealers by a number of recent researchers... They seem to all fall into the same trap of trying to interpret existing old papers, journals, dispatches etc- when its about 200 years ago -when records were simply Captains log books etc- all which generally were used to log the daily ship's position, weather conditions, passing ships, passing correspondence between boats, general running conditions of the boat and some minor observations. Most of the verbal reports and comments were back in major ports to harbour board masters and Government officers.

One of the later writers claims there is no records of escaped convicts sealers ever on KI and goes to great lengths to prove it, but after a close examination of the book, I have found some errors. So the concept of "no escaped convicts" is a matter of interpretation over a ticket of leave and whether they abided by the condition e.g.

A Ticket of Leave- a document granting concessions to a prisoner for good conduct who had served most of his sentence; this allowed convicts to work for themselves provided that they remained in a specified area, reported regularly to local authorities and attended divine worship every Sunday, [if possible]. They could not leave the colony. They were required to carry their Ticket of Leave at all times. Persons neglecting to produce their Ticket of Leave, or their Conditional or Absolute Pardon at time of muster, would be considered Prisoners of the Crown and returned to Government Service.

I have been researching the Aboriginal women on the Island, and again there is confusion. All due to the fact that most of the women were given a common names which changed every time they were swapped / traded with another sealer so there are about 7 or 8 different Sal's, about 3 to 5 Charlotte's, 3 or 4 Polecat's / Pols, then there is Bet, Old Bet, Bet-Bet, Black Betty and so on.

Geoffrey Chapman.