Tasmanian Seafarers' Memorial

Walter Louis Begent

Walter BegentBorn on May 12, 1871 at Georgetown, Tasmania to Clarence and Ann Begent, Walter Louis Begent was the grandson of Eli Begent. His father was a pilot and master of several ships on the River Tamar and Walter adopted a seafaring life at a young age.

In 1891, Walter went to Scotland with his sister Jennie after she married an American sea captain. He enlisted in the British Army and was sent to India where he was twice wounded in squirmishes on the N. W. frontier.

Later, in 1899, again serving as a seaman, Walter came back to Australia in the barque 'Freelove', left her in Sydney, visited his parents in Tasmania before leaving for Melbourne in the three masted schooner 'Victoria'. Eventually arriving in Sydney, he discovered he had missed the 'Freelove' by 2 or 3 days, so he then took ship to Auckland, New Zealand and on to Fiji.

Walter or Louis as he was often known, met Captain John Voss in a bar in Suva in October 1901. Captain Voss was looking for a mate to replace Norman Loxton with whom he had fallen out. Voss and Loxton had sailed from Canada in a 38 ft. Nootkan Indian canoe, the 'Tilikum', in which they had hoped to sail around the world emulating the famous voyage of Joshua Slocum in the 'Spray'.

Captain Voss and Walter Begent left Suva in the 'Tilikum' bound for Sydney. During the voyage, Voss claimed that Walter was washed overboard in a storm.

Norman Luxton, later in a posthumously published biography, accused Voss of throwing Begent overboard in a drunken rage.

References: Launceston Examiner Nov. 25 1901; www.begent.org/voss.htm