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SS Fortitude and other Lang ships, Brisbane, 1849 p2

The first of Lang’s ships to arrive in Moreton Bay, at the mouth of the Brisbane River, was the SS Fortitude. The ship departed from Gravesend in Kent, England, and spent 128 days at sea. They sailed southwest to South America, then caught the trade winds eastward, past the southern tip of Africa, across the south of Australia, through Bass Strait, then north to Brisbane. The Fortitude arrived in January 1849. The Chaseley arrived in May, and the Lima in November.

The Fortitude sailed up the east coast of Australia and anchored in Moreton Bay in January, 1849. It was carrying 256 devout passengers from all over England. They included builders, bricklayers, carpenters, agriculturists, saddlers, harness makers, shoe makers, preachers, teachers and a bookseller. There were 82 males, 79 females and 97 children from 87 family names.

Captain John Wickham had been appointed Police magistrate for the Moreton Bay district in 1842. He was the representative of the Sydney government, the most senior bureaucrat, and was more or less the governor of Brisbane, in charge of law and order and immigration. Moreton Bay was still a part of the colony of New South Wales. Queensland didn’t become a colony until 1859, and a state until 1901 with the Federation of Australia.

Due to earlier reports of typhus, Captain Wickham quarantined the immigrants for two weeks on Moreton Island, across Moreton Bay from Brisbane.

The steamer Susan made several trips taking the Fortitude migrants up the Brisbane River to the Moreton Bay settlement.  But it was to be disappointing in one respect for the immigrants. They had been promised land grants by John Dunmore Lang, but apparently this hadn’t been approved by the Colonial Secretary. The immigrants of the SS Fortitude had nothing waiting for them in Brisbane. They were more or less homeless. One of the writers of this history said that the majority of the migrants blamed the English and colonial governments and not Dr Lang for the lack of this promised land.

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