Who Landed First?


WHO LANDED FIRST? by Editor Gil Daw

As we celebrate today the 175th birthday of the first landing of the first ‘official’ white settlers to the State of South Australia, the ongoing research by authors and other interested parties continues with unabated zeal. The editor read with great interest the chapter titled “Arrival at Kangaroo Island” in Dorothy Heinrich’s new book “The Man Who Hunted Whales”. It accords well with the version written in William Holmesby’s book “The First of the Many”.

But Samuel Stephens’ (Manager of the South Australian Company) journal claims that he was the first “official” white settler to set foot in the new colony.

Samuel Stephens’ Journal states

“July 27th. After a pleasant voyage from England in the S.A. Company’s barque ‘Duke of York’, we reached Nepean bay, Kangaroo Island and brought up in four fathoms water at half-past 10am. We lowered a boat and Captain Morgan, Mr Beare, myself and five hands went ashore. I was the first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A. ”

Ronda Edwards spoke to the editor at Dorothy Heinrich’s book launch regarding a copy of a letter, dated 30th December 1892, from one of the crew of the ‘Duke of York’, Israel Mazey found in the “Advertiser” on Saturday 31st December, 1892. This letter supports Dorothy Heinrich’s writings on the first landing.

The letter reads

“Sir, I wish to correct an error which occurred in your Wednesday’s issue, namely, the statement that Mr. Samuel Stephens was the first one to land in South Australia.Robert Russell (since deceased) was second mate of the ‘Duke of York’, and he landed first and carried a little girl named Beare. I was one of the pullers in the boat. We could not get the boat close enough in shore, so for that reason Russell had to carry the little girl. I think I am the oldest man left of those who arrived in the ‘Duke of York’, and think there are only two living at the present time, namely myself and Mr. Wm. Beare, and he was 12 years of age when he arrived in the colony. I never put myself prominently before the public, I have reared a large family, been successful and unsuccessful, and I am still living in my own cottage at Alberton, where I have resided, with the exception of a year or two at the old Port, for 50 years. If any who call themselves old colonists would like to see me I shall be very glad to see them at any time at my house. I am 80 years of age, and am still hale and hearty, but cannot walk very far. By inserting this letter in your valuable paper you will confer a favour on one of the last survivors of the ‘Duke of York’.— I am, &c, Israel Mazey”

Israel Mazey died on the 26th June 1894 and an article on his death in “The Advertiser” gives a good insight into his life.

Death of old colonist—Reminiscences of the early days

“ Mr Israel Mazey, one of the earliest of South Australian pioneers, died at his residence, King Street, Alberton, on Tuesday evening, aged about 80 years. He came to the colony as an ordinary seaman in the ‘Duke of York’, which was the first vessel to arrive in South Australia on behalf of the South Australian Company, which had then just been floated in England. The ‘Duke of York’ anchored in Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island, on July 27, 1836, and remained there about six weeks. She then sailed for Hobart. In Hobart, Mr Mazey ran away from his ship and found his way back to Kangaroo Island, where he remained for about three years, employed as a blacksmith under the South Australian Company.

In 1839, with the late pilot, Ben Germein, and three others, he left the island for the Old Port in an open boat, and under the pilot’s skilful management, the boat safely reached her destination. Mr Mazey remained at the Old Port for some years, where he found employment as a lighterman. Thence he removed to Bowden, but shortly afterwards left for Alberton. For a number of years he followed the occupation of fisherman. He became smitten with the gold fever which broke out in Victoria, and left the colony to try his luck at the diggings. Fortune, however, did not smile on him, and after a short stay, he returned to South Australia and for a short period followed farming at Blumberg. This he relinquished in order to resume the calling of a fisherman, which had a greater charm for him.

He continued in this employment until after the death of his wife, which occurred 16 years ago. Mr Mazey often related interesting reminiscences with which he personally connected of the early pioneering days. Amongst the ‘Duke of York’s’ passengers was Mr. W.L. Beare, of Glenelg, who is believed to be the only one now alive of those who came to South Australia in the vessel. The captain decided that this gentleman’s daughter should be the first to land [Ed: It was T.H. Beare’s daughter, Elizabeth Beare. W.L Beare was born in 1826 and was only a lad when he landed with his parents.] and Mr Mazey was fond of narrating the part he played in having this purpose carried out. The boat in which Mr Beare’s daughter was conveyed to the shore was in charge of the second mate, Mr Robert Russell, who died at Queenstown a few years back.

Mr Mazey often stated that it was he who passed the child out of the boat to Mr Russell, who took her in his arms and waded ashore, placing the little one’s feet on the dry land. During the vessel’s stay at Kangaroo Island, a party from her, of which Mr Mazey was one, got bushed in the dense scrub, and were three days before they found their way back to the ship.

For some time past the old gentleman had been ailing, but he was able to get about until within a week of his death. A family of 10 children survive him, all of whom are married with the exception of one son. The majority reside at Alberton. He also leaves 45 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. His remains will be interred in the Woodville cemetery this afternoon.”