Tasmanian Seafarers' Memorial


BritomartThe plaque reads ...

Ex RN Barque lost 22-26 Dec. 1839
Port Philip to Hobart, Capt. Gluyas.
Cargo of sheep, compliment of 30 lost
including passengers Messrs Radciffe,
Gatehouse, Glass, Watt, plus steerage.
Wreckage found on Preservation Island
Rumour sealers lured on reef unproven


The spelling on the plaque should read Britomart. The committee regrets and apologises for the error.

The barque Britomart was 243 tons and built at the H.M. Dockyard in 1808. Britomark was owned by W. McDonald and registered at Hobart.

The Australian (Sydney, NSW   of Saturday 22 February 1840  reported:

BRITOMART: — By this morning's mail we are sorry to learn that the Vansittart Government cutter has returned to Launceston without having discovered anything of the wreck of the Britomart, or the passengers, or the crew. The Britomart had on board as passengers, Messrs. Ratcliffe, Gatehouse, Glass, Watt, and several in the steerage, all of whom, it is feared, are lost.

The Port Philip Gazette (Vic. : 1838 - 1845) reported in the edition of Wednesday 25 March 1840 the following:

The Britomart.— We have, more than once, expressed our suspicion of some unfair dealing, in reference to the wreck of the Britomart ; and from various circumstances which have since come to our knowledge, our suspicions are greatly increased.

When the captain of the Sir John Franklin brought the contents of a box, said to have gone on shore at Clarke's Island, viz. the Register, several letters, a journal, and a number of loose papers, with about a couple of pounds in gold and silver, he omitted to state, that while he was searching for the wreck, one of the Government brigs lay at anchor in the Straits, at no great distance, and could easily have communicated with her, for the necessary assistance: he also omitted to state that he landed, or assisted to land, a number of men on a neighbouring Island ; neither did he tell us that a cask of tainted meat had been seen on Clark's Island, or how it got there?

On his second voyage here, he brought some of the Britomart's spars, and states, that another box with a bacon ham, a leg of mutton cooked, the brass bearers of a transparent compass, and Mr. Gatehouse's snuff box were found by himself on Barren Island, which is very near Clark's Island.

It has been made known through the medium of the Launceston press, that some of the sealers were “shewing off," as it is called, their abundance of gold and riches. It may be proper to state the foundation of our early suspicion. It was this,— We examined the register, journal, and loose papers, brought by Captain Gill, by which we were at once convinced that the box referred to had not been driven on shore by the sea, nor indeed, been immersed in the water at all. The circumstance of the cask of tainted beef being on Clark's Island, the cooked ham, leg of mutton, and compass, brass frame, neither of which would swim, together with the matter of a second box being discovered, we think entitled to some consideration and enquiry, which we feel confident the proper authorities will take care to institute without further delay.

The whole of the circumstances connected with the unfortunate affair, convey impressions of a most alarming nature, and we hope and trust that the very utmost diligence will be used to discover the whole truth, and remove, perhaps, unjust suspicions — Correspondent.