Elgar and Frances Clayson (nee Marsh) decided to emigrate to Australia. The ship that was to take them on a 3½ month journey to Queensland via Tasmania was the migrant ship the Southern Belle, an 1128 ton ship that could hold nearly 500 crew and passengers. On board with Elgar and Frances were their children Ann, Sophia, Mary Elizabeth, Isaac Alfred, Amelia, Agnes, Elgar’s sister Ann, her husband John Pattison and their children John, Anne and Frederick. They were probably assisted migrants. Also travelling with them were Charles and Eliza Lawrence and their son William form Southfleet. William was later to marry Ann. The Claysons did have another daughter, Clara, but she had died aged 5 in 1866. The Pattisons had also suffered the loss of a child, Emily, who died at just 3 months in 1871.
They set sail from the East India Docks, London on 16th November 1873 and all was going well, dropping off the Pattisons in NSW before proceeding to Rockhampton in Queensland. Then on the 25th February, just nine days from their destination, disaster struck. While300 miles east of Moreton Island, black clouds appeared to the south. The wind varied to all points of the compass with heavy squalls and calms alternating sometimes with great rapidity. At midnight of that day she lost her maintop-gallant mast. Two hours later (2 a.m., Thursday) the mainmast snapped off within a few feet of the deck, carrying with it the mizen-topmast. At 5 a.m. the foretop-gallant mast went overboard. The foresail and fore topsail blow away, but were soon replaced. Of seven boats on board, two washed away, two were smashed by falling spars and one of the remaining was only a dingy. The pumps were also broken below the decks and rendered temporarily useless.
Captain Carpenter allowed her to drift northward, keeping outside reefs and shoals, until reaching a point within three miles of the bluff northward of Waterpark Creek, where he dropped anchor in six fathoms of water, paying out sixty fathoms of chain. By that evening the weather had moderated and the greater part of the wreckage had been cleared away. Sails were jury rigged the next day, Thursday, and the ship attempted to enter Curtis Channel, but owing to the crippled state of the ship, this had to be abandoned and she then ran for Capricorn Channel. On Saturday 28th, an attempt to enter Keppel Bay was also abandoned and the ship finally anchored off Waterpark Creek.
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