Osmanli Shipwreck

Osmanli; 563 tons; 55x7.2x4.1 m.; Owned by Wianna, Jones & Chapple; Built at William Denny & Bros. in 1846. Registered at Liverpool. On 25 November 1853, Osmanli with 40 passengers and a crew of 5, was lost.

See WRECK OF THE OSMANLI STEAMER IN D'ESTREES BAY, KANGAROO, ISLAND. (1853, November 30). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48550316

See also http://www.communitywebs.org/capeganth/stop3.php

See also https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:The_Wreck_of_the_Osmanli



Robberies of bars of gold would seem to be more in keeping with Victoria's gold rush days than with the fifties of last century in this State, but there is a riddle of one such robbery, which has never been solved.

Just before the Osmanli left Melbourne for Adelaide in December, 1853, a passenger named Marks deposited two bars of gold, and about 100 ounces of loose gold in the captain's safe.

Three days later, a few minutes before midnight, the vessel ran ashore at D'Estrees Bay, Kangaroo Island; but the passengers were all landed safely, although several of them had practically nothing but their night-clothes to wear.

When the captain decided to abandon the vessel, he ordered a steward, Nathaniel Gray, to take the valuables, including Marks's gold, from the safe in his cabin, and take them ashore with him. He then left the cabin and went on deck, having instructed Gray to lock the safe and return the key.

A few minutes later Gray appeared on deck with a carpet bag, which he said contained Marks's gold. It was closed and apparently locked.

The captain, hesitating to abandon the ship, was eventually forced into the last boat by the cook, and, with the valuable carpet bag on board, he and the rest of the crew reached the shore safely.

When Gray saw Marks on shore he told him his gold was safely within the bag, and Marks entrusted it to his care.

In the afternoon, while the men went along the coast in search of water, the bag was given to Mrs. Helen Tinline, who returned it, apparently, in the same condition as she had received it, to Marks on the evening when he returned.

Later, when the gold bars were reported missing, she said that the only happening connected with the bag was that a cabin boy had carried it from one encampment to another, but that he was accompanied by her and her husband, so that he could not have taken anything from it. It was very heavy, she said, and appeared to contain something which rattled against a tin box.

That evening Marks slept with the bag as a pillow. He did not have a key, and he believed it was in Gray's possession.

The bag was handed over to Gray again the next day, but presently he called Marks into his tent, and said he had forgotten to place the bars of gold in the carpet bag, and handed him the loose gold. On being told that Marks would charge him with robbery when he arrived in Adelaide, Gray replied, 'Look after the second mate and the second steward.'

In the afternoon the Osmanli was boarded, and food and clothing were obtained by the passengers and crew, who proceeded to make merry with beer, spirits, port and sherry. Most of them became more or less drunk.

The salvaging of passengers' luggage went on, too, and carpet bags, portmanteaus and boxes were brought ashore, though most of them had been opened and plundered to a certain extent.

The vessel had run aground at five minutes to midnight on the Friday, and on Sunday, after water had been obtained for the stranded passengers and crew, the chief officer, Gooch, set out in a boat with a volunteer crew for Port Adelaide. Before they left the wreck, each person was thoroughly searched for the missing gold.

They partly sailed, partly rowed, until they came in touch with the Tamar, making for Port Adelaide. This vessel took them in tow, and they arrived in port on Tuesday. The Yatala was sent immediately to pick up the Osmanli's complement.

As soon as he arrived in Adelaide, Nathaniel Gray was charged with having stolen 79 ounces of gold valued at £300, belonging to Marks. This he stoutly denied, but was committed for trial at the Criminal Sessions in the ensuing February.

The most interesting evidence at the police court enquiry was given by the captain, who refused to believe that Gray had stolen the money. 'I would have trusted him with £5,000,' he said. 'He came from England with us as second steward, and was promoted to first. He has had property worth £60,000 entrusted to him, and we have not noticed a penny shortage.'

The ship's carpenter, Robert Davidson, said that he saw a carpet bag lying near the companion skylight before leaving the wreck, and threw it into the boat. It would have weighed about 70 or 80 lb. He said he remembered Gray's saying something about his having forgotten to put some gold into the bag.

The captain stated, further, that much plundering had taken place after the wreck, and that papers and banknotes which had been left in the safe were missing.

Gray said he remembered having taken the bars from the safe, but did not know whether he put them in the captain's bag or in his own, which was in the cabin at the time. He thought he had put the gold in the captain's bag.

When the trial came on in the Criminal Court, most of the witnesses, including Mrs. Tinline, had left the State. Corporal Dyke, of the metropolitan police, went so far as to say that he had reason to believe the gold had arrived by the Yatala when the crew and passengers were brought from the wreck. He was severely admonished by the judge for making that statement. No new evidence was advanced, and the defence was able to bring out several discrepancies when cross-examining witnesses for the prosecution.

The judge pointed out to the jury that when a third party was admitted to be in possession of the stolen property (as Mrs. Tinline had been), it was usual to produce that third party. The prosecutor's statements, he added, varied on different examinations.

The Jury acquitted Gray, and so ended the riddle of the Osmanli's gold. In the end, apparently, the authorities were no nearer a solution of the problem than they were at the beginning.

— C.V.H.

12 September 1935

Real Life Stories Of South Australia (1935, September 12). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 14. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92326239