ABERDEEN BUILT SHIPS


Name
JOHN WILLIAMS
Construction
WOOD
Type
BARQUE
Date
1865
Description
Yard Number: 243
Date of Build/Launch: October 1865
Wrecked at Savage Island, Samoa January 1867

Rig: BARQUE
Type: Sailing

Owner: London Missionary Society

Lloyd's Register:
1866-67: Owners London Missionary Society. Port belonging to London. Master Williams. Destined voyage Australia.
1867-68: As 1866-7.
1868-69: No Ref.

Geelong Advertiser, 02/06/1866:
Continuous crowd of visitors boarded vessel on her arrival from London. Claimed building cost of £8000, although builders list shows contract price £7500. Aberdeen bow and elliptical stern. Frame + stanchions of Scotch oak. Planking teak. Iron beams + stringers and some strengthening iron plates. A very handsome model, painted green with gilt moulding, figurehead bust of John Williams in clerical robes as he appeared in prime of life. On each side of stem are carved open Bibles and on stern a dove with motto "Go ye unto all nations". Foremast , mainmast + bowsprit of iron, 2 former acting as ventilators. Mizzenmast + other spars of wood. Standing rigging of wire. Topsails can be reefed + fueled from deck. Crew of 18 under command of Capt. Williams, through British seaman with breeding of a gentleman + necessary experience in forwarding missionary enterprise. Has 2 boats, but third was carried away in gale in English Channel. The saloon is 8ft high, elegantly panelled with maple + teak with gilt mouldings. Furnished with a harmonium and an elegant case of choice books. On each side of saloon are 3 staterooms, officers quarters, including elegantly fitted up Captain's cabin, are below saloon. Forward of a mainmast are 4 berths on each side for itinerant teachers. Forecastle accommodation for seamen strikingly different from ordinary merchant vessels.

Australian News for Home Readers, 23/06/1866:
London Missionary Society's ship JOHN WILLIAMS arrived Hobson's Bay 19 May and was object of great interest (about 5000 visited on Queen's birthday holiday). She has been built expressly for conveying missionaries to the various stations in South Sea islands. Poop extends as far as the mainmast and after cabin is a beautiful apartment beneath it, with state rooms on each side, amply furnished with all comforts and conveniences which the missionaries may require either in course of their long voyage from Europe or in shorter voyages they sometimes make with native teachers from island to island. Five missionaries aboard on this occasion. After brief visit to Geeleong [Victoria] she proceeded to Hobart Town [Tasmania] and Sydney previous to her departure for the Polynesian Islands.

Daily News, 22/12/1866:
When the JOHN WILLIAMS was beating up to the harbour at Aneityum (New Hebrides) she ran upon a reef and speedily began to let in water. The natives on the island, especially those belonging to the Christian church there, at once came off to render what aid they could - several came aboard to work the pumps, deeming it a pleasure to render any aid to the gospel ship. The schooner DAYSPRING was also able to render assistance and in due course the JOHN WILLIAMS was able to get off the reef. The DAYSPRING accompanied her to Sydney, where she is now on the slip and will soon be as sound as ever and able to continue her glorious work.

South Australian Advertiser, 28/06/1867:
Barque JOHN WILLIAMS sailed from Sydney 16 Nov. 1866 for South Sea Islands. 22 Nov. arrived Amietenam?, took in part of cargo and missionaries, sailed 29 Nov. for Loyalty Islands. Anchored at Vea 1st Dec. 4 Dec. sailed towards Lifa, 6 Dec. anchored Wide Bay. Unloaded Missionary's goods on various islands. 13 Dec. sailed towards Savage Island in fine weather at first, but from 19 Dec. very unsetttled weather. 3 Jan. 1867 made Savage Island. Lay off reef, landed and loaded missionaries and goods. On evening of 9 Jan. ship was getting near the reef and we sent up rockets. One man, using a deep sea lead could find no bottom. 10.30 called the gig alongside and had ladies and children put in her. Shortly after called the other two boats alongside (which had been trying to tow ship off) and got crew into them. She was almost in the breakers when we left the ship. Soon after she struck reef with tremendous crash. We were 72 souls in the 3 boats. We pulled boats towards landing place and reached it about 3 in the morning. Capt. Williams and part of crew have now arrived Sydney from Tahiti (including R. Turpy Chief Officer, G. Geddes 2nd Officer, J. Bobem Carpenter, A. Bell Cook and two apprentices).

Daily News, 14/08/1867:
On 9th January, Capt. Williams reports, the JOHN WILLIAMS was off Savage Island (Samoa) 4 or 5 miles from the shore and the wind was getting light and then fell off altogether. As the ship was getting near the reef the boats were sent ahead to tow. At 10.30 at night the ladies and children and then the other passengers and crew were got into the boats. She was almost in the breakers when the boats quitted her and struck at 11 o'clock with a tremendous crash. The boats with 72 souls got to the shore and their passengers were taken through the surf, 2 or 3 at a time, in a canoe by the natives. The next morning the ship was seen lying on the reef with her back broken and the sea breaking right over her.

History of the London Missionary Society: Famous among those early missionaries was John Williams; when marooned on the island of Rarotonga he built in 15 weeks a 60 feet long and 18 feet wide vessel, The Messenger of Peace, with local materials and native help. A whole line of missionary ships was later named after John Williams and supported by children who collected "ship half-pennies" (half-pennies which had a sailing ship on one side). [CWM website]
Shipbuilder
A. HALL & Co.
Dimensions
length 132.6'
breadth 25.2'
depth 15.1'
gross tonnage 296 tons

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