Tasmanian Seafarers' Memorial

HMCS Victoria (1877)

The plaque reads ...

HMCS VictoriaLoss of boat crew
1877 HMCS 'Victoria' was on surveying
cruise, Banks Strait off Goose Is.
when men sent ashore in gig to collect
mails expected there, failed to return.
Presumed drowned 21/22 April 1877
Coxswain John Norgate, William Gogdon
Thomas King, Ed Price, George Leggatt

Victoria was separated from the mother colony of New South Wales in 1851, and was quick to realise that her very existence could stand in jeopardy without a navy. Gold discoveries drew thousands of people from all over the world to Victoria by mid 1852. There was no way for local authorities to enforce control over port waters so an appeal was made to the Imperial Government for an armed vessel to be stationed in Port Phillip. HMS Electra arrived in 1853, but proved inadequate.

Victoria thus ordered a screw sloop of war to be constructed. Her Majesty's Colonial Ship Victoria arrived in 1856. Her principal employment was in rendering assistance to shipwrecked mariners, carrying out coastal surveys, storing lighthouses and as a water police ship.

In 1877, HMCS Victoria was on a surveying voyage in Banks Strait off Goose Island, Tasmania , under command of Captain J. S. Stanley R.N. The Commissioner of Trades and Customs, Victoria received a letter by the S.S. Tamar from Captain Stanley dated 25 th April 1877, giving particulars of the loss of five of his men who had been sent ashore to Goose Island in Banks Strait to bring off the mails, which were expected to be sent there .

John Norgate, who was rated as coxswain in charge of stores, was in charge of the survey gig, having with him as crew William Gogdon, Thomas King, George Leggatt and Edward Price.

No bad weather had been expected, however late on Saturday night the weather changed from nearly calm with rain to moderate squalls from the SW which continued, the wind increasing all day on Sunday. Captain Stanley expected that Norgate would not leave the island until the weather was fair, however he left at 10am on Sunday, and nothing was seen of Norgate or any of the crew again. The boat was later found capsized.