First Fleets Mystery.

The First Fleet entering Port Jackson (Sydney) January 26, 1788

What untold secrets did they take with them? They sailed from Portsmouth, England, between 1787 and 1791 to an unknown world with a cargo of mainly convicts to start an experiment in self sufficiency in a strange new land on the other side of the planet already inhabited for maybe 80,000 years by the Australian aborigine.

They had nothing except for what they brought with them on sailing ships which, in many cases, were not up to the trip. Nor were many of the passengers. They left behind families and loved ones, for good.

They set out on a long up to 11 month long voyage at sea into the unknown.

They were going for life.

Many died on the voyage.

Only now I have learned of the mystery.

Actually, more than one mystery.

One concerns an all female convict ship the ‘Lady Juliana’.

Another is the ‘Mary Ann’.

Yet another is the ‘Lady Nelson’, not part of the First Fleets arriving in Port Jackson (Sydney) 9 years later.

The biggest mystery of the lot involves the enigmatic Commander of the ‘Lady Nelson’ who took over in an emergency at the age of just 23 or 24.

Who was he, what was his mysterious past and what was his explosive secret?

Was he, I wonder, a legitimate son to Maria Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales, King George IV?

The evidence is all there in my fun and entertaining romantic historical mystery ‘Back to the Wall’.

To buy now CLICK HERE or on Amazon HERE

In the book, full of twists and turns, you can read how the mystery unfolded for me as I chased the clues across three countries as well as here in Australia and New Zealand.

You’ll read of Australia’s only military coup, of confrontations with the Maori Chief Ti-Pahi, of drama on the High Seas with equipment and men washed overboard, lost anchors and torn sails, of convicts who escaped from early settlements to live with the aborigines, of a secret royal wedding, of a King’s physician banished to the colonies for life because of what he knew, of another little-known mutiny against William Bligh of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ fame and of his return to England to face court marshal, and more.

Then there’s the ghost that started this all off. But that’s another story you’ll read in the book.

“You have discerned an amazing story”, said the Judge of the Reader’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards.

It’s a non-stop adventure with twists and turns from cover to cover.

To buy now CLICK HERE or on Amazon HERE

Best wishes

Neil

Living Drama In A 200 Year Old Ship’s Log

Lady Nelson replica

One hot November day just over two hundred years ago in the fledgling convict settlement at Port Jackson, New South Wales (as the east coast of Australia was known), a midshipman only recently arrived in the colony found himself, within the space of eight months, appointed Acting Lieutenant and Commander of HMSLady Nelson’.

The year was 1803, only 15 years after the first of three fleets had arrived from England with a cargo of mostly convicts to establish a new penal colony in New South Wales.

The ship’s previous commander, Lieutenant George Curtoys, had become so ill from unloading cargo in the extreme heat that a replacement was needed on the spot.

The man chosen was James Simmons, at first a midshipman on the governor’s own ship then mate on the ‘Lady Nelson’.

He would have been just twenty-four or twenty-five at the time.

Who was this man, to be singled out for such an important role at such a young age, who received such praise from Governor King?

Most of us have heard of Captain Cook but who has heard of Lieutenant James Simmons? Yet he was heavily involved in Australia’s first military coup, in nurturing harmonious relationships with the indigenous Maori of New Zealand, in establishing Hobart Town and Launceston in Tasmania, and was entrusted with the papers incriminating Governor William Bligh (of ‘Mutiny of the Bounty’ fame) and the return of Bligh himself to London for court marshal, and much more. Read the full story in my book ‘Back to the Wall’.

He was one of the unsung heroes in Australia’s history. You can read his story and his mysterious past in ‘Back to the Wall’ here.

We’re lucky to have a complete transcript of the original log by Ida Lee in her book called The Log of the Lady Nelson’.

Here are the first 2 dramatic months of his command of the ‘Lady Nelson’, unedited, which were already full of real daily life on board a sailing ship facing the unknown and the changing elements.*  (Bold face emphasis is mine.)

LOG OF THE LADY NELSON.

J. SYMONS, Acting Lieutenant and Commander,
Port Jackson, New South Wales.

Sydney to Norfolk Island.

“Monday, 30th April 1804. P.M. Left the Heads. Winds variable. At 4 North
Head of Port Jackson 4 leagues. At 8 the Francis in sight. At 1 A.M. light
breezes and clear. At noon the Francis in company.

“Tuesday, 1st May. In company with the Francis at 5 lost sight of the Francis.

“Friday, 4th May. Fine clear weather: at 5 A.M. saw How’s Islands upon the
weather bow bearing north-north-east distant 5 leagues, bearing north-east 1/2 F. distant 6 leagues. At noon abreast of How’s Island east: distant 3 leagues.

“Saturday, 5th May. Tacked ship and stood in for How’s Island.

“Sunday, 6th May. P.M. Hard squalls of rain. How’s Island west by north 7
leagues.

“Monday, 7th May. P.M. Still blowing hard: at 6 took in the fore-top-sail: at 4
split the mainsail and fore-top-mast stay-sail. At 9 fine pleasant weather:
employed about a new mainsail and bending a fore-top-mast stay-sail.

“Tuesday, 8th May. P.M. Fresh breezes and fine clear weather: at 4 bent new
mainsail: at 10 bore away for New Zealand. Have but 2 casks on board and no
wood.

“Tuesday, 29th May P.M. Cloudy weather with squalls.

“Wednesday, 30th May. Small breezes and fine weather. At 8 A.M. tacked ship:
at 9 split the fore-top-gallant-sail and carried away the main-top-gallant-yard.

“Thursday, 31st May. Moderate winds and cloudy weather. At 7 set up the maintop-gallant yard and set the sail: at 4 A.M. set the lower and fore-top-mast studding sail. At 8 carried away the fore keel pendant and lost the keel, at 10 took in the studding sail.

“Friday, 1st June. Small breezes. At 3 calm, light breezes and fine weather.

“Saturday, 2nd June. Cloudy with squalls of wind and rain. At 5 took in the
main-top-gallant-sail.

“Sunday, 3rd June. P.M. Fresh gales with squalls and bad sea from east-southeast. At 2 saw the Three Kings being south-west by west 3 leagues.

“Monday, 4th June. P.M. Bore away to leeward of the Three Kings and in search of wood and water, sent boat ashore, lost 4 oars overboard. At 7 P.M. the boat came on board with wood.

“Tuesday, 5th June. At 1 made sail close under shore of New Zealand.

“Wednesday, 6th June. Land distant 2 leagues: came to anchor in bay on the east side of New Zealand: went ashore, got some wood and water: at 6 A.M. went on shore again and got some water: at 9 A.M. got under weigh and bore away for the River Thames.

“Thursday, 7th June. P.M. At 6 came to anchor in a small bay to the northward of River Thames. At 7 went on shore, found it a bad landing: could not get water: got some wood. At 9 got under weigh and stood round for the mouth of the River Thames.

“Friday, 8th June. P.M. At 3 came to anchor on the north-west side of River
Thames with the bower anchor in 11 fathoms water and sent boat ashore for
wood and water. At 11 weighed anchor and made sail out of the river on account of the natives being so numerous on board

“Saturday, 9th June. Cloudy weather: all sail set standing along the coast. At 12 A.M. Cavill’s Island bearing north-west distant 10 miles. At daylight made all sail into the bay bearing west: tacked occasionally: at 11 shortened sail and came to in 10 fathoms of water with best bower anchor.

“Sunday, 10th June. Moderate breezes: at 2 sent boat ashore: at 6 returned with wood and water.

“Monday, 11th June. Got some wood and water: at 10 wind north-north-west—
hard squalls of wind and rain.

“Tuesday, 12th June. At 6 the boat came on board with wood and an account that James Cavanagh a prisoner who was sent to cut wood had run into the Brush and that a party of men had been in pursuit of him and could not find him and he was left behind: at 1/4 past 9 a heavy squall: gave the vessel more cable: found her driving in shore very fast: the gale continuing and a heavy sea. Set the top-sail, mainsail and fore-top-stay sail and cut the cable, not being able to get anchor on account of vessel driving so fast: the anchor was lost, 120 fathoms of cable. 1/4 before 10 tacked ship, 10 past 10 began to run between Cavill’s Island and mainland, not being able to work out of the bay, up keel and fore-sail down jib and mainsail. At 11 being quite clear of land shortened sail and hove to.

“Wednesday, 13th June. P.M. At 9 more moderate. Latitude by observation 33
degrees 8 minutes.

“Thursday, 14th June. P.M. Fine clear weather: at 8 took one reef in the maintop-sail and set the stay-sail.

“Friday, 15th June. P.M. Light airs, clear weather: set the fore and main courses: at 9 fresh breezes: took in top-gallant sails: at 10 strong breezes and squally: at 12 A.M. tacked ship and close reefed top-sail, furled the jib and mainsail and sent down top-gallant yards.

“Saturday, 16th June. P.M. Fresh breezes and clear: at 1 got main-top-gallant
yard up and set the sail.

“Sunday, 17th June. Light airs from northward. Set the square mainsail: at 12
tacked ship.

“Monday, 18th June. P.M. Light wind and clear weather: at 8 wore ship.

“Tuesday, 19th June. P.M. At 12 saw Norfolk Island bearing south 1/2 east
distant 7 leagues.

“Wednesday, 20th June. P.M. At 5 Norfolk island distant 6 leagues. At 8 Norfolk Island distant 4 leagues.

“Thursday, 21st June. P.M. At 4 Norfolk Island distant 5 leagues: at sunset
Norfolk Island distant 5 leagues: at 8 Norfolk Island S.E.E. 3 leagues: at 9 fired
3 guns as signal for a boat.

“Friday, 22nd June. P.M. A boat from Cascade boarded us and took on board the officers of New South Wales Corps and baggage and left a pilot on board: at 10 A.M. a boat came and took on shore more baggage belonging to officers of New South Wales Corps.

“Saturday, 23rd June. P.M. Stretched off land to get round to Sydney (Norfolk
Island) but the wind and weather not permitting stretched off and on all night: at 6 close in with the land: at 8 A.M. tacked ship and stood off from the land: at 10A.M. lowered the boat and sent her with second mate and four men on shore.

“Sunday, 24th June. P.M. Stretching off and on the land to the windward. At 8
A.M. a boat arrived from the shore with a cask of pork and biscuits, the 2nd
mate and 2 men brought the account that the boat was lost and that 1 man
George Cockswain was drowned. At 10 loaded the boat with sundries for the
shore but not being able to make good her landing returned to the ship. We stood off for Governor King’s island with the boat towing astern.

PS. To order your copy to read more drama – of all kinds, from cover to cover – CLICK HERE for my Author Page with the publisher or CLICK HERE to order from Amazon.

*’The Log of the Lady Nelson’ by Ida Lee.

You Never Know What You’ll Find In A Ship’s Log

The Lady Nelson (1799)

When you’re a storyteller, you often find all kinds of fabulous human interest stories in sources like a ship’s log previously overlooked by official historians looking for only the bare facts. 

As I learned when I researched the original log books of the ‘Lady Nelson’.

“The logbooks of the Lady Nelson bear witness to the leading part played by one small British ship in the discovery of a great continent,” says author Ida Lee in the introduction to her book which preserves the ship’s original log books. “They show how closely, from the date of her first coming to Sydney in 1800 until her capture by pirates off the island of Baba in 1825, this little brig was identified with the colonisation and development of Australia.”

-Capture by pirates?

-The violent end to ‘The Lady Nelson’ and the discovery of her charred remains.

-The heartwarming story of a crew member falling in love with a New Zealand Maori Chief’s daughter, separated by a well-meaning ship’s captain and their eventual happy reunion.

-Confrontation with the hostile Maori Chief Ti-Pahi.

-Building of the first house to be constructed in New Zealand by the crew of ‘The Lady Nelson’.

-The rescue of an early settlement that failed to find the site where Melbourne was founded 30 years later.

-A vivid account of losses overboard during wild seas where, in 1998, six lives were lost from rather more sophisticated craft in the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

-A tense stand-off with the Spanish ship ‘Estramina’ and her subsequent surrender.

-How I uncovered an unsung hero from the days of sailing ships and adventures on the High seas who, at just 24 or 25, took command of ‘The Lady Nelson’.

-The part played by the ship in Australia’s only military coup involving William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty’  fame – another mutiny if you like.

These are just a few of the many dramatic stories I found in the logs books of the tiny brig HMS ‘Lady Nelson’.

They are only a small part of my bigger story, as Writer’s Digest said, “You have discerned an amazing story” and “the readers will truly love this material.”

This is an easy to read, hard to put down non-fiction book that reads like fiction. Order your copy now and read for yourself these amazing stories within a bigger even more amazing story.

If you enjoy reading real short stories in a bigger true mystery CLICK HERE (publisher) or CLICK HERE (Amazon)

Happy reading

Neil

Reference:The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson’ by Ida Lee, published by Grafton & Co, London, 1915.

 

What was the extraordinary secret of the ‘Lady Nelson’?

The Lady Nelson (1799)

One hot November day just over two hundred years ago in the fledgling convict settlement at Port Jackson (Sydney), a midshipman only recently arrived in the colony found himself, within the space of eight months, appointed Acting Lieutenant and Commander of HMS ‘Lady Nelson’.

The ship’s previous commander, Lieutenant George Curtoys, had become so ill from unloading cargo in the extreme heat that a replacement was needed on the spot.

The man chosen was James Simmons, at first a midshipman on the governor’s own ship then mate on the ‘Lady Nelson’.

The year was 1803. He would have been just twenty-four or twenty-five at the time.

That he was selected in an emergency for an instant promotion to Acting Lieutenant and Commander of the ‘Lady Nelson’ is perhaps the first indication of the emerging qualities of a young man who seems to be one of the forgotten unsung heroes of Australian history.

He and the ‘Lady Nelson’ have an extraordinary story to tell, an adventure of which very few (as far as I know) even today have ever heard, of a man only briefly mentioned, if at all, in the history books.

But there’s more.

In my book ‘Man Steps Off Planet’ I reveal convincing evidence to show that he may have been a legitimate son of George IV.

Midshipman James Simmons had sailed for New South Wales on 20 June 1802 on the ‘Glatton’ as an able seaman midshipman under Captain Colnett.

The previous year the ‘Glatton’ had fought with Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Copenhagen under the command of William Bligh, of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ fame, with whom James would cross swords later in yet another infamous episode involving Captain Bligh.

William Bligh

The thrilling adventures of Lieutenant James Simmons and his ship, on and off the High Seas, makes fascinating reading. You can read it in my page-turning book.

My research into this little known man takes me from Regency England to the early convict settlement of Australia and a hostile New Zealand Maori Chief (and his beautiful daughter).

In the end I discover the secret of his past and possible royal connections.

It’s a fun and entertaining true story.

And that is at the heart of the mystery I’m chasing across 5 countries throughout the book.

To read more go to my book page HERE.

For amazing reviews of the book CLICK HERE

Lady Nelson replica

Best wishes.

Neil

PS. Today a replica of the ‘Lady Nelson’ sails the seven seas as one of the Tall Ships recently built.

Read about the sequel to the Mutiny on the Bounty – Australia’s only military coup.

 

You may have heard of the Mutiny on the Bounty lead by Fletcher Christian against Captain William Bligh.

And you may have even seen one of the numerous movies made of the event.

But have you heard of a later mutiny against Governor William Bligh, the very same, many years later?

In this case he had been appointed the sixth Governor of the new British colony of New South Wales, later to be called Australia, on the recommendation of Captain Cook’s botanist, Sir Joseph Banks.

Instead, since this happened on land and not at sea this time, it was a military coup, Australia’s only military coup.

He was escorted back to England to be court marshaled by the unsung hero of my story, Lieutenant James Simmons, Commander of the ‘Lady Nelson’.

As I reveal in ‘Back to the Wall’, Simmons was imprisoned at Cape of Good Hope and the papers incriminating Bligh taken from him.

The official documents were never seen again and Bligh got off with a rap over the knuckles.

Instead of receiving a court marshal he was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral.

The thrilling adventures of Lieutenant James Simmons and his ship, on and off the High Seas, makes fascinating reading.

My research into this little known man takes me from Regency England to the early convict settlement of Australia and the New Zealand maori.

In the end I discover the secret of his past and possible royal connections.

It’s a fun and entertaining page-turning read.

And that is at the heart of the mystery I’m chasing throughout the book.

To read more go to my book page HERE.

For amazing reviews of the book CLICK HERE

To order direct from the publisher with a 10% discount CLICK HERE.

To read my author’s story CLICK HERE.

Best wishes.

Neil
My Author Page