CAPTAIN EDWARD GOLDSMITH merchant mariner
PARROCK HALL barque
DAVID BURN playwright
State library NSW
La Hogue, sailing ship, outside Sydney Heads ca.1860s
Watercolour by Frederick Garling 1806-1873 Call Number SV / 77
On Tuesday, November 5th, 1844, Captain Edward Goldsmith sailed into Sydney Harbour in command of the merchant barque the Parrock Hall, 425 tons, departing Portsmouth on July 22, 1844, bringing mail, cargo and passengers via the Cape of Good Hope. The voyage was exceptionally fast (105 days). According to The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List of Nov. 9th, “she had a fine passage” and on the way, “she did not speak any thing.” The ship may have acquired its name from the old manor of Robert de Parrock, where Parrock Avenue and Parrock Road are now located in Gravesend, Kent, UK. Parrock Hall was built by Peter Moulson, Lord of the Manor of Milton, in 1761, and by 1821 it was owned by Colonel Dalton. In 1991, Parrock Hall, a Grade II listed building, was said to be in a dilapidated state with calls for its preservation.
“A very fine day” was how journalist and playwright David Burn described Tuesday, November 5th 1844, in his diary (SLNSW Call No. B 190 / 2). He was watching the signals on Flagstaff Hill, Millers Point, for news of Captain Goldsmith’s arrival in Sydney Harbour. The Marryat flag for the Parrock Hall, No. 9376, signalled the barque as it sailed on towards Fotheringham’s Wharf “in the Cove” where it would remain until being cleared out for London on January 15th, 1845.
Code of Signals for the Colony of NSW
Marryat Signals, Colonial Signals
Sydney, Port Jackson, January 1st, 1834
State Library of NSW Ref:a7225190h
While loading and repairs to sails on the Parrock Hall continued at Sydney, Captain Goldsmith boarded the brig Louisa, Captain Tucker master, for Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) as a passenger on December 6th, 1844. As neither his wife, Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day nor their two sons Richard (b.1830) and Edward (b. 1837) were listed as passengers on the Parrock Hall, they may have stayed home at Gad’s Hill House, their new residence completed in 1842 on six acres in the village of Higham, Kent, and Captain Goldsmith would have stayed at his house in Hobart at 19 Davey Street. The Gad’s Hill property was situated at the top of Telegraph Hill: its beacon was the last in line before Chatham, signalling ships coming up the Thames.
Captain Goldsmith had two purposes in mind on his visit to Hobart while the Parrock Hall was delayed in Sydney. His primary task was to attend to his business dealings with the colonial administration and seek to secure future export charters with pastoralists and nurserymen. However, most important for David Burn, Captain Goldsmith would deliver news of the progress of Burn’s literary success and endeavours to Catherine Burn nee Fenton, his second wife. He would also deliver vital legal documents to solicitor Mr. Harrisson on Burn’s behalf to be presented at a CAVEAT hearing (Hobart, reported 21st February 1845. Launceston Examiner) concerning several serious matters: the insolvency of David Burn and his mother Jacobina Burn in 1844; the validity of his divorce in England from his marriage in Scotland to his first wife Frances Maria Eldred, and whether he had committed bigamy if Scottish law did not recognize his English divorce (1829); his mother’s large property (more than 4000 acres) at Ellangowan Tasmania which would only pass to his second wife Catherine Fenton if his second marriage was legitimate, and from which he wished to provide for his mother’s welfare until her death and for his child by his first marriage, Jemima Frances Irvine nee Burn who arrived with him in Tasmania in 1826. Jemima Irvine nee Burn achieved a reputation as an accomplished artist and conchologist. She found the Cypraea irvineanae which was named after her (Cox, 1889).
Business concluded, and letters safely placed in Catherine Burn’s hands, Captain Goldsmith returned to Sydney on the brig Louisa as a passenger three weeks later, arriving December 26th, 1844, and loading continued on the Parrock Hall.
State Library of NSW
From Blackwood’s panorama of Sydney & Harbour from Government House, 
Call Number PXA 426
The Parrock Hall with Captain Edward Goldsmith in command had departed London on July 15, 1844 and arrived at Sydney Cove via the Cape of Good Hope on November 5, 1844 bringing mail, cargo and passengers. The ship stayed “in the Cove” for weeks before reloading cargo and passengers for London at Fotheringham’s Wharf. In total, the barque was docked at Sydney for two months, the delay during the height of a Sydney summer no doubt most enjoyable to captain and crew alike. The Parrock Hall finally cleared out for London on January 15th, 1845.
State Library of NSW
Blackwood’s panorama of Sydney & Harbour from Government House, 
Title Blackwood’s panorama of Sydney & Harbour from Government House, 
Creator Blackwood, W. (William), 1824-1897
Collection Date of Work
Call Number PXA 426
Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List
PARROCK HALL NOTICES
November 5, 1844:
November 5. Parrock Hall, barque, 425 tons, Captain Goldsmith, from London, the 15th, and Portsmouth the 22nd July, with a general cargo. Passengers – Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. R. Campbell, and four sons, Mrs. Fotheringham, Miss Jepherson, Miss How, Miss M. How, Miss Wright, Mr. W. L. Hay, Mr. T. L. Hay, Mr. Nowland, Dr. Morse, Mr. W.H. Morse, Mr. W. H. Hunt, Mr. T. Jones, Mr. T. W. Turner, Mrs. Sarah Trump, Mis E. Gray, Mr. H. Lynch, Mrs. E. Jusseauma, Mr. amd Mrs. Bartlett, son, and two daughters, and Mr. J. Anderson.
November 9, 1844:
The Parrock Hall has had a fine passage from Portsmouth of 105 days; her mail is not a very large one, and she did not speak any thing during the voyage. Immediately that her cargo is landed, she will be laid on the berth for London.
Parrock Hall, barque, 425 tons, Goldsmith, at Fotheringham’s Wharf. R. Towns, agent. Discharging, and advertised for London.
Captain Goldsmith’s agent Robert Towns
State Library NSW
Robert Towns, merchant and entrepreneur, 1873 / photographer Freeman, late Oswald Allen
Call Number P1 / 1797 Digital Order No. a4364097
November 16, 1844:
Parrock Hall, barque, 425 tons, Goldsmith; 12 casks tallow, on board.
On December 6th 1844, Captain Goldsmith departed Sydney for Hobart as a passenger on board the brig Louisa, and returned three weeks later, on Boxing Day, 26th December 1844.
Above: The brig Louisa: Captain Goldsmith’s departure from Sydney to Hobart on 6th December. Meanwhile, loading on the Parrock Hall in Sydney continued while repairs were made to the sails.
December 20th, 1844:
Parrock Hall, barque, 425 tons, Goldsmith; 401 casks tallow, 801 bales wool, 2 tons dyewood, 7 tons copper ore, 4 tons manganese, 10 tons horns and bones, 2 casks neats’-foot oil, and 200 salted hides on board.
January 4th, 1845
The Parrock Hall has bent sails, and will get away in the course of the ensuing fortnight.
Sydney Cove 1850s
SLNSW Ref: a128716h
January 15th, 1845:
January 15. Parrock, Hall, barque, Captain Goldsmith for London. Passengers – Mr. and Miss Mead, Mr. Wade, Dr. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs Gard, Misses Agnes, Elizabeth, and Emma Gard, Master William Gard, Mr. Ashford, Mr. Atkins, Mr. R. Bailey, Master Conolly, Mr. John Whaling, Mr. and Mrs. Donovan and son, mr. and Mrs. Curtis and five children, Mr. John Hazard, Mr. Henry Granhow, Mrs Luke, Mrs. Chapman, Mr. George West. Mr. Joseph Hoyle, Mr. Charles Swindels, Mr. W. Copeland, Mrs. Copeland, and Mr. W. Taylor.
EXPORTS January 11th, 1845
Exports: January 11th, 1845, the Parrock Hall and January 13th, the Louisa.
Captain Goldsmith and David Burn
Tasmanian photographer Thomas Nevin’s future uncle-in-law, Captain Edward Goldsmith, was a mariner of exceptional skill. Commander of great merchant ships trading between Europe, the Americas, South Africa and Australia from the 1830s to the 1850s, his services to the colonists and officials of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in the 1840s and 1850s, and especially to governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane, Lady Franklin, brought many rewards and enduring friendships, not least among them the affection of David Burn, journalist and playwright who had accompanied Sir John and Lady Franklin on their visit to the west coast of Tasmania in 1842. Burn described the visit in his Narrative of the Overland Journey … From Hobart Town to Macquarie Harbour, 1842 (Sydney 1955, G. Mackaness): read the full transcript here. David Burn also wrote about his trip to Port Arthur in the 1840s, which was republished by Beattie in 1898.
Although not a mariner himself, David Burn was conversant enough with the code of signals to determine shipping movements. He was on the lookout for Captain Goldsmith’s return into Sydney Harbour from London on the barque the Parrock Hall on November 5th, 1844 when he wrote in his diary:
Tuesday: 5: [November 1844] A very fine day the most of which I spent in writing up my book on the promising land of Australia – regaled the while by the delightful band of the 99th – exercising in the Barrack Square. The Barrack Hall [sic – Parrock Hall], Goldsmith, late of the Janet Izak [sic – the brig Janet Izatt], arrived from London, bringing news to the 22nd July. Goldsmith has only been 8 months and seven days since he sailed homewards from Hobart.
A few weeks later, when Captain Goldsmith and the Parrock Hall were “still in the Cove” at Sydney, David Burn visited Captain Goldsmith with an important request – to deliver letters and gifts to Catherine Burn. David Burn wrote in his diary:
Saturday: 16 [November 1844] Occupied throughout the morning inditing a voluminous epistle to my darling wife. A smoking morning. Bought a p. of scissors. Called upon Mr. Murphy. Came on a wet evening. Melville left us. Saw Captain Goldsmith. No one at home. Killed the weary hours at the play.
With the delay to the Parrock Hall‘s departure at Sydney, Captain Goldsmith left for Hobart on 6th December as a passenger on board the Louisa. and returned to Sydney within the fortnight with news and letters. On 19th December 1844, David Burn left for Norfolk Island on the ‘Agincourt‘ under Captain Neatby, returning to Sydney on 29th December 1844.
A fortnight later. David Burn noted in his diary that the weather in Sydney was “blistering and lowering” when he watched the signals for the departure of Captain Goldsmith on the Parrock Hall for London, and for the Louisa to Hobart which was carrying more letters to his wife:
Wednesday: 15: [January 1845] Another blistering and lowering morning. Duval honourably acquitted of all participation in Warne’s murder. Writing my Norfolk Island notes for transmission to Frasers Mag. Called at the Australian Office. Parrock Hall, Goldsmith, sailed – Louisa not gone. John Inches and Mr. Pringle dined with us, and Inches and I eased them of 2/6 at whist.
State Library of NSW
David Burn – journal of a voyage from London to Hobart in the barque Calcutta, 31 July-22 Nov. 1841, and journal, 1 Aug. 1844-19 Feb. 1845
Creator Burn, David, 1798-1875
Collection Date of Work 1841-1845
Type of Material Textual Records
Call Number B 190 / 2 Issue Copy Microfilm – CY 846, frames 1-144 (B 190/2)
Source: images and transcript
State Library of NSW
David Burn mentions Captain Goldsmith on three occasions in this journal:
1.TRANSCRIPT OF A1502180
[November] Monday: 4: A foggy morning which a horrid Brickfielder blew away. Called upon Mr. McIntosh and heard of Sir E. Forbes’ estate. Waiting all day.
[November] Tuesday: 5: A very fine day the most of which I spent in writing up my book on the promising land of Australia – regaled the while by the delightful band of the 99th – exercising in the Barrack Square. The Barrack Hall [sic – should be the barque Parrock Hall], Goldsmith, late of the Janet Izak [sic – should be the brig Janet Izatt], arrived from London, bringing news to the 22nd July. Goldsmith has only been 8 months and seven days since he sailed homewards from Hobart.
[November] Wednesday: 6: This day twelve years I was made blest with the coveted possession of my Catharine’s hand. Many are the vicissitudes we have, both, since encountered – many the lands wherein we have sojourned, and sore and sad the trials and tribulations we have experienced. But when each gave the other their hand, the altar witnessed an equal exchange of hearts. Time and trial have but proved each other’s truth – and, unworthy as I may be of the inestimable treasure of her love, she could have conferred it on none more sensible of its value or more devoted to its regard. Oh that on this day we should be so widely sundered. God grant us a speedy reunion no more to dream life away in divided misery.
The day passed heavily and gloomily by, the 19th part of Tom Burke sufficing to kill a portion and a perusal of the progress of the French aggression upon Morrocco getting over another. Three years and a half since I returned to pronounced war with France a mere question of time which, when she dreamt herself prepared, she would provoke – “Coming events cast their shadows before”. The shadow is darkening. The note of preparation sounds louder and, ere long, De Ivinville, in the plenitude of his presumption will, in all human probability, prove the worthless instrument of a bloody, but not doubtful contest. If they do force us again, I trust the pen may never more relinquish the solid triumphs that the sword may acquire. H.M.S. Nestal, 26, arrived from Hobart also the Waterlily, so I shall have a dear letter in the morning I hope. Mr. Watson kindly called, and we had a long chat about farms and else.
2. TRANSCRIPT OF A1502183
[November] Friday: 15: Went to the Theatre to arrange the cast, and day of performance of “Our First Lieutenant”. From thence to the ibrary to read the British and Foreign (as I already had the Foreign) Review on the Ivinville pamphlet which I rejoice to observe has aroused Englishmen “to do their duty”. From the Reading Room to the Circular Wharf where with Inches and Mrs. Atkinson I crossed to Watsons. The day proved a smoking one. We had a nice lunch, finding Mr. Blankenberg there. For the first time I eat the passion fruit which is not unlike to the Pomegranate. There was a good deal of thunder overhead, and Melville and I were caught in the rain in the domain. Dropped a card at Govt. House. Had a note of acknowledgment from Mr. Barker thanking me for my book, and giving me a general invite. A rainy evening, a portion of which I beguiled to the Theatre.
[November]Saturday: 16: Occupied throughout the morning inditing a voluminous epistle to my darling wife. A smoking morning. Bought a p. of scissors. Called upon Mr. Murphy. Came on a wet evening. Melville left us. Saw Captain Goldsmith. No one at home. Killed the weary hours at the play.
[November] Sunday: 17: It rained hard during the night and morning dawned upon a day of damp and gloom. there were no church goers among us. I passed the day in a review of the Ivinville pamphlet, except a brief space occupied in a stroll with Inches in the domain where we were caught in a heavy thunder shower.
[November] Monday: 18: Went to the Theatre to arrange about my farce & found the engagt. of Mr. & Mrs. Coppin [see note and photos below] likely to interfere with its production. Mrs. C. is, I find, the runaway wife of Watkins Burroughs of Surrey celebrity. Thence to the Australian Office with my review of De Ivinville. Accompanied Dr. Gannon in a stroll through the domain and on board the Dublin. Met my old shipmate Barry Cotter. Went to the Theatre in the evening with Mr. Semple, a very full house to see the Lady of Lyons and Turnpike Gate. Mrs. Coppin evidently a scientific actress. Mr. Griffiths, a man who might “go ahead” in a better school.
3.TRANSCRIPT OF A1502238
[January] Monday: 13: From 9 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. I was in Court listening to the trial of Lucius O’Brien for the sanguinary assassination of Dr. Joseph Meyrick. The murder was clearly established, and the plea of insanity gone into proof when I left. The aspect of the prisoner betrayed no indications of insanity and all the evidence I heard went the other way, but there were 28 witnesses to the then ex. It is a shocking case, whatever the verdict may be. Met O’Reilly and Mends on my way back. Found they had dined at 5 and the house tossed up for a fete given by Gannon. A signal for a ship flying – a Nova Scotia whaler – Mathew McAlister in town. Called at the Australian Office. Gannons party kept it up in great style, until the long hours grew short, Dr. Munro, R.N. acting fiddler with great good will.
[January] Tuesday: 14: At 2 this morning O’Brien declared to be insane – Fudge! Who is safe now against the assassins’ aim. Wrote a few lines to Kate, my beloved, per Louisa. Wrote a Catch Notice for the Burlesque – a scorching day. In the afternoon we had heavy thunder and lightning with every appearance of a torrent of rain which wore away after the discharge of a few hot drops. Capt. Turner, Mr. Downes and [indecipherable] talking of their own parts of Auld Ireland. Went to the Theatre where I met Walsh, O’Reilly and Mends – Walsh does not go per Agincourt – Louisa not yet sailed.
[January] Wednesday: 15: Another blistering and lowering morning. Duval honourably acquitted of all participation in Warne’s murder. Writing my Norfolk Island notes for transmission to Frasers Mag. Called at the Australian Office. Parrock Hall, Goldsmith, sailed – Louisa not gone. John Inches and Mr. Pringle dined with us, and Inches and I eased them of 2/6 at whist.
etc etc …
NOTE on GEORGE COPPIN and “Mrs C”
In his journal entry for November 18th, 1844, David Burn not only expressed a fear that the engagement of George Seith Coppin’s theatre company and the actor’s tendency toward vulgarity would interfere with the production of his play, his reservation was compounded by Coppin’s adulterous status with the American “runaway” wife of a theatrical agent and actor, Maria Watkins Burroughs, whom George Coppin met in Dublin at the Abbey Theatre while he was still in his teens. She was nine years his senior. They eloped to Sydney in 1843, and lived together until Maria Watkins Burroughs’ sudden death from illness in 1848. Burn also seemed unconvinced by her methods of role interpretation: – “evidently a scientific actress” was his conclusion on watching her perform in the Lady of Lyons, a five act romantic melodrama written in 1838 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
George Coppin in costume as Jem Bags the Wandering Minstrel.
Edmund Cosworth Waddington & Co, photographer. 1888
In collection: George Selth Coppin, Papers, MS 8827
State Library of Victoria
E.C. Waddington & Co. (Melbourne, Vic.).
[Portrait of George Selth Coppin in Milky White], [between 1885 and 1900]
National Library of Australia
NSW Public Record Office
Ref: 45/35940 Photographs of Sydney taken between 1860 and 1880