An Introduction

Perhaps we overlook the massive amount of shipping traffic from Britain and coast to coast around Australia in the 19th century going into the 20th century. The perilous nature of sailing small ships in rough oceans – round the Cape and through the Bight. Redcoat traffic was as heavy and constant as any other, in and out of King Georges Sound and Fremantle.

There are many traps awaiting those who research their Redcoat’s ship and date of arrival or departure to and from the Colony. For example, the assumption:

  • that when the main body of troops arrived in the Colony, then he would be with them;
  • that husband, wife and family travelled together on the same ship;
  • that a newspaper report of a detachment’s impending arrival or departure actually happened;
  • that your Redcoat was with his original detachment when he discharged in Western Australia;
  • that he was with the main detachment leaving Western Australia – he may have been discharged, transported to another penal colony, gaoled for desertion or civil crime;
  • that if your Redcoat discharged in the Colony it was from the regiment in which he was serving when he arrived in the Colony.

Finally, the arrivals of Redcoat officers are easily identified from a variety of sources, but NCOs and ‘other ranks’ are difficult to pinpoint unless an analysis of the musters and paylists is undertaken.

Sources for arrivals and departures may be gleaned from Western Australians’ Dictionaries (Statham and Erickson); other authors Blackburn, Dennison, Sweetman, Whiteley; newspaper shipping intelligence (TROVE); passenger lists (especially for wives and children); but primarily analysis of the musters and paylists (WO12).

These arrivals and departures are not exhaustive, but may help.