The Hester and the Doelwyck

Two Dutch ships were wrecked on 21 April 1854 upon Kenn’s Reef. The crew of the 840 tonnes wooden vessel ‘Hester’ lost one man but the others were able to make it Port Curtis (Gladstone) and from there to Maryborough and eventually Sydney.

Kenn’s Reef, about 250 miles north of Port Curtis.

It is unknown whet happened to the crew of the other ship the Doelwyck but they are presumed to have traveled north to Rainers Island (Raine Island?). However, there are no records that they made it to that island or anywhere else for that matter. The Captain of this 740 tonnes wooden cargo vessel was Zeeman.

The wrecks are not listed in the Dutch MaSS database. The Maritime Stepping Stones (MaSS) is a database of stories about wrecks and sites underwater. Most likely these were not sovereign ships and as such not internationally registered. However the wrecks are listed on a website of shipwrecks in Queensland.

Below is a story from 1854 that refers to the wrecking of the ships.

I received this research, with thanks, from Jan Richardson, the Doctoral Candidate at Griffith University investigating histories of early ‘foreigners’ in Queensland.

There is also a mention in the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence with Moreton Bay relating to a number of Dutch seamen from the shipwreck of the Hester who requested permission to be discharged in 1854. It sounds like they were shipwrecked in Queensland but eventually received permission in (or from) Sydney. At this time Queensland was still part of NSW.

Gladstone, Port Curtis

M C O’Connell,

Government Resident

1854 05 09

Letter re 5 persons remaining from the shipwrecked crew of the Dutch Ship “Hester”

At top: “Shipping Master Sydney”

Reporting on enclosed letter of 30th June 1854 from Water Police Magistrate, & extract from Messrs L & S Spyers letter [not filmed here] re seamen of Dutch ship “Hester” (ref CS letter No 54/204 of this date)

[No 54/108] Para 2: On 26th June last Master of “Hester” Captain Victor came to office re discharging seamen, had been to Water Police Office for instructions & was informed by Inspector Mr Ross to write to Colonial Secretary for authority – pointed out to him this was improper “without seeing me first” as Shipping Master of Port Para 3: Informed Master of “Hester” he should have come to him first, discharges would have been sanctioned, men being shipwrecked seamen & he as Commander being present Para 4: On same day gave discharges to 7 of the men & on 4th July, discharged 2 others – know of no others having applied to this Office.

Notes in margin See 54/06686

Substance of this to be communicated to Messrs Spyer, in reply to letter


Messrs L & S Spyer

Further research from Jan Richardson provided some more information.

Colonial Secretary’s correspondence with Moreton Bay on the A2 Reels (microfilm) refers to the Hester. Of the three documents she looked at, two were very faded and virtually impossible to read (at least from the microfilmed version) but, in any event, simply noted that the shipwreck had occurred. The third letter dated 11 July 1854 is in better condition and contains more detailed information, though it doesn’t name any of the seamen. It just refers to Captain Victor and the discharge of seven men followed by another two on 4 July 1854.

There is a number ‘4’ to the immediate right of the start of the paragraph about the discharges on the second page, but it is the paragraph number, not a reference to the number of seamen. (You can see that the paragraph above is numbered ‘3’, and so on.) So the relevant sentence reads “On the same day I gave discharges to 7 of the men, and on the 4th of July instant discharged two others, who were not present on the first occasion and I know of no others having applied at this Office.”

The full citation for the letter is: State Library of Queensland, Colonial Secretary’s Letters Received Relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland, Reel A2.29 [microfilm], pp. 649-650, letter dated 11 July 1854, CS Ref No 54/6064. 

The indexes to this collection are online and anyone can download them and search for references to words like ‘Dutch’ or names of Dutch people in Queensland:

Dutch schooner Maria Sophia

There was a third accident around that same time, the weather must have been extremely rough. The Dutch schooner Maria Sophia collided with the French ship La Fleur de Sud and was cut in two, off the Queensland coast in July 1854. Six lives were los

The Oostpost of Sourabaya, under date August 9th, gives the following account of the loss of the Dutch schooner Maria Sophia whose loss in Torres Straits was announced in the Straits Times of August. The Oostpost says: —” On the 9th of last June, the Dutch barque Amstel, and the Dutch schooner Maria Sophia, sailed from Sydney bound to Java, agreed to keep company in passing through Torres Straits, but on the 4th July the Amstel lost sight of the schooner. On the following day when the Amstel was looking out for the schooner, she descried a large vessel which proved to be the French ship La Fleur de Sud, of St. Malo, having on board the whole crew of the Maria Sophia. It appears from the statements of both the French and Dutch crews, that on the night of the 4th July the two vessels had come in collision, and with such force that the French ship struck the schooner mid ships, and cut her in two, causing her to sink immediately; the crew, with the exception of the sailmaker Govan Glederen and five Japanese sailors, who sunk with the vessel, and were drowned, got on board of the La Fleur de Sud with the greatest difficulty. The French ship likewise suffered severely, having carried away her bowsprit, and damaged her masts and rigging.”

On arrival at Pondicherry the Captain of the French vessel stated that he had been run into by a Dutch schooner! — Straits Times.

The Emigration Commissioners have advertised for three vessels to carry emigrants to Australia, — one, for Melbourne, is to be ready on the 3rd of October, and a third for Moreton Bay, on the 6th of October.

Source Trove: The Age (Melbourne, Vic. Fri 10 Nov 1854

Dutch ship Magda – wrecked 1858

The 424 tons vessel struck a reef off Cape Van Diemen, Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria on 1 June 1858. and was eventually abandoned.

One boat, containing the captain, second mate, seven of the crew and two passengers was attacked by Aboriginals who speared and killed one of the crew. However, after a further fortnight of privations they were rescued by the brig Shamrock. The other boat with 12 on board was not seen again.

The Shamrock arrived yesterday from Timor, bringing with her a part of the crew of the Magda, wrecked In Torres Straits, who were picked op on the 18th June in nearly a dying state. She reports the Wild Wave (?), brig, as having left Suva on 13th May, with a cargo of horses, and bound for Mauritius.
Sydney Herald, 30th lastant
. Source Trove: The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas.) Sat 31 Jul 1858

See also:

Dutch ship Kyverheid offered rescue assistance to the Island Queen – 1854

In 1854, the Dutch vessel ‘Bato’ rescues survivors of the three shipwrecks along the Queensland coast.

Dutch Dugong fisherman killed by Aboriginal people in 1859