John Henry Parnell

Male 1839 -


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  • Name John Henry Parnell  [1
    • John Henry Parnell was born at Richmond 12/9/1839. John was Dux of "The King's School" in 1856 where he received the very first Broughton Prize (Co-incidentally donated by a Mr. Charles Kemp - brother-in-law).
      John never married and is not the John Henry married to Sarah Ganderton of the Shoalhaven district of NSW.
      He died after the wreck of the Maria. It was claimed he was one of the parties killed by the natives mentioned in the following accounts.

      John Henry in his will dated the 21/5/1866 while living at Osterley, named his brother Charles and sister-in-law Sarah as executors. He included among other assets distributed, one hundred and fifty pound to be invested and the interest to be used to maintain the joint grave of his mother and father at Morpeth. He also left one thousand pound for the education of his niece Edith.


      A fellow student from "The Kings School" named Haydon was also part of the crew of the ill-fated Maria.

      News Report.

      Maria wrecked-39 killed SATURDAY, 30 MARCH 1872 Reports from Queensland have confirmed 39 people from the New Guinea gold expedition were killed when their 156-ton brig Maria became wrecked on Bramble Reef, off Cardwell in Queensland. In a chilling account, the expedition's storekeeper, Mr. Goble, told of the disastrous voyage of murder and mayhem when the ship sprung a leak 270 miles from New Guinea and the captain turned the boat around to head for the nearest Queensland port. The course was altered and five days afterwards on the 26th of February at 2 o'clock in the morning, a cry of "breakers under the lee bow" startled us and the skipper (who would not turn out until thus aroused).
      To our legs and the deck... Three quarters of an hour passed when she began to break up astern and the water rushed in. No steps were taken to secure life.

      Rafts of a shaky description were constructed under the supervision of chief mate who was crazy with excitement. Not so the members who remained cool throughout. Mr. Goble continued, "I asked what (the captain) meant to do-if he would adopt proper measures to secure as much life as possible, and stick to the wreck". He replied "that he would stick to the last"... but I had not been engaged more than 30 minutes when I was informed that the captain had left the ship with six men, taking the only boat we possessed, saying that he was going to procure assistance... this boat would have held 25 men. The two remaining boats were then lowered, and I placed a small quantity of provisions with water in each; dropped them astern ready to use and mounted guard on the taffrail with a revolver in my pocket to prevent any similar mishap occurring. Many begged me to let them into the boats, but the majority of the men behaved nobly and there were individual instances of courage and magnanimity which I shall never forget. Mr. Goble said he then loaded as many as he could on the boats with the intention of staying on the wreck with the second mate, however a strong wind pushed one boat, with only two men on board, away from the sinking ship before it could be fully loaded. He got in the other boat and chased the smaller boat, caught it and helped the two men row back to the wreck.

      As they approached it, the Maria sank. 'There was no outcry, only a slight wail from those who were suddenly submerged," reported Mr. Goble. The second mate clung to the top rigging and helped those in the water to the rigging. He refused to jump in Mr. Goble's boat and save himself although many pleaded with him to think of his wife and child, but he could not be induced to leave his post, but made the others go". When the boats were filled with remaining survivors both drifted to Hinchinbrook Island and as the weather was too dangerous to travel, stayed on the island and survived on periwinkles for seven days.

      When the weather had improved, they rowed to Cardwell and safety. Mr. Goble organised a steamer to survey the wreck but found nothing from the cargo could be saved. Two crewmembers of the captain's boat arrived, injured, at Cardwell. They reported their companions had landed on Hinchinbrook Island near an Aboriginal camp they said although the natives seemed friendly, they were ambushed while walking and the captain and three other crewmembers were killed.

      Another survivor story.

      The wreck of the Maria or Adventures of the NG Prospecting Association. They boarded the Maria on 25th January 1872. First there was an objection by the Customs to clearing the ship on account of the number of passengers. This obstacle was overcome, by pointing out that there were only 75 of them plus 3 officers, a doctor, 4 sailors and the storeman. It was just as well they took the storeman, as he turned out better than all the officers put together. The next setback occurred when departure time came and the captain didn't show, but the adventure continued.

      On 1st February and for the following three days they were in the vicinity of Solitary Island. Then the wind freshened from the South and it rained, "We experienced some little annoyances during the first part of the Southerly wind, as the weather was squally. With occasionally a good deal of rain; and our decks not being the tightest in the world, we found it sometimes a little moist below; but it was a consolation to us that we could get plenty of water without the trouble of going for it, as it was only necessary to spread a water proof coat on some berth and a few gallons could be obtained in a very short time". The expedition almost reached their objective but was driven back in a gale. With the extra strain various weaknesses became apparent. The tiller and rotted sails carried away, the equally rotten rigging was in considerable need of repair.

      The Maria finally struck a reef. Forster boarded the larger raft and the smaller one carried Polin, O'malley, Hardy, Dalgleish, Hooker, Angel, Thomson, Heakman, Rowe, Parnell, Williams and Grant.

      The rescue.
      Captain Moresby RN. Quote: - "Reaching Cardwell on March 9 we learnt of a disastrous shipwreck. Seventy-five spirited, harebrained young men from Sydney had attempted a prospecting expedition to New Guinea. They clubbed together, bought a crazy old brig (Maria) of 167 tons, and the natural result followed. She was wrecked on the Bramble Reef, about thirty miles from Cardwell, and the master, whose incapacity had caused the disaster, deserted the vessel before daybreak, taking six men with him in the best boat. Two rafts were hurriedly constructed, and barely launched when the vessel slipped off the reef and sank in deep water. Thirteen men gained one raft, twelve the other. The remaining small boat, with four or five men, reached Cardwell two days later, and gave the intelligence. Of course, assistance was at once sent to the wreck but no traces of the rafts could be seen.

      However, I still entertained a hope, and determined to search in the "HMS Basilish". Calculating the effects of the winds and prevailing currents, I concluded that the rafts, unless stopped by some obstruction, would strike the mainland sixty or seventy miles north of Cardwell, and therefore I proceeded to Cooper's Point, and sent our boats north and south to examine the Coast. Our kindly paymaster, O'Neill, was the possessor of an excellent spyglass, and as a matter of personal pride allowed nothing to escape his notice. He was standing on the bridge looking about, when suddenly he cried out: " I see white men on the beach! " and our glasses, eagerly levelled confirmed the intelligence. I hurried into a boat, and taking food and wine, pulled rapidly in. As we neared, it was alarming to notice that the men seemed to have disappeared, and, a number of blacks were standing in their place, and seeing this our men gave way with a will that sent the boat flying through the water. But just as we landed they rose into sight again: they had fallen on their knees behind a rock to give thanks to the Almighty for their deliverance. Eight emaciated, half-naked creatures met us, and clasping our hands, told us that they were the only survivors of the thirteen on the larger raft. , There was no need to dwell on their sufferings; their wasted, ulcerated bodies, and the feeble voices with which they tried to raise a cheer, told that we had only reached them just in time. The wine revived them, and they were finally able to crawl along with us to the native camp, insisting that I must see how the black men had done their poor best to aid them.

      The tale of the rescued men was horrible. For four days they had drifted on the raft, without a particle of food or a drop of water beyond what the rain supplied. Two died raving mad, two were drowned, and the rest were almost lifeless, when their black friends found them. In the meantime our boats had discovered the remains of the smaller raft on the beach, not more than six miles from the larger, but separated from it by a good-sized navigable river, which had prevented (providentially, as it proved) any communication between the crews.
      This fine stream we named Gladys River. Further search showed that the survivors of the smaller raft had walked south. Hoping to reach Cardwell, but meeting hostile natives (probably exasperated by ill treatment) were all murdered. The master's boat landed south of Cardwell and its crew met the same fate".
    Born 12 Sep 1839  Richmond, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Person ID I9339  Tucker Family Tree
    Last Modified 28 Jan 2009 

    Father Thomas Parnell,   b. 1796, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Sep 1856, Osterley Park, Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years) 
    Mother E. Griffiths 
    Family ID F1978  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 12 Sep 1839 - Richmond, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
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  • Sources 
    1. [S33] Thomas Parnell & Elizabeth Griffiths, Norman Clarke (Reliability: 2).
      Author Norman Clarke

    2. [S4] NSW BDM, New South Wales Government (Reliability: 3), 1839.
      Surname Parnell, Given Name John H, Sex Male, Event Birth, Index Year 1839, Father Thomas, Mother Elizabeth, Denomination Church of England, Parish Richmond, Volume Reference V1839825 23A, Registration Year 1939,
      Also Registered under Volume Reference V18395 158

      New South Wales Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages obtained this record form early church records.


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