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SS Fortitude and other Lang ships, Brisbane, 1849 p4

Here is an extract from a letter featured in the book commemorating the reunion of descendants of the Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima: three of John Dunmore Lang’s immigrant ships to Brisbane in 1849….

The letter was written by Captain John Wickham (appointed police magistrate in 1842) to the immigration agent Francis Merewether.  He writes regarding the arrival of the SS Fortitude in January, 1849:

I fancy myself in a pack of troubles. Dr Lang’s ship the “Fortitude” has just arrived with 270 immigrants on board – from what I hear, they are not a description of persons to engage as shepherds or hutkeepers – they appear to be under the delusion that land has been selected and laid out for them, that every arrangement has been made for their accommodation and it only remains for them to commence operations.

Poor people, I do not know what can be done for them. The ship is only to remain 10 days after arrival, therefore they must be landed as soon as possible and I must give them what accommodation the Govt. buildings afford – and I fancy that if they came with the means of procuring food, I cannot cause the Contractors to supply. I scarcely know anything of them yet, having only heard from the Harbour Master that the Ship is in the Bay, and that inquiries have been made by the Immigrants respecting respeting land. Of all wild schemes this seems to be one of the wildest, sending 270 people to a strange country without having made the slightest arrangements for their reception – indeed it was only through a newspaper report that we had any idea of such a ship being on her way to Moreton Bay…

Wickham goes on to ask if he might lend the tents, iron bedsteads and utensils, which the SS Fortitude immigrants used for their temporary home in York’s Hollow. It wasn’t much of a start to a new life. But they and the other migrants on the Lang ships went on to build a church, a school. a School of Arts and other amenities. Many settled in an area that became the current inner city suburb Fortitude Valley, named after the SS Fortitude. One writer in the book said they were democratically inclined, skilled artisans of good character, sober, worked hard and were members of the Protestant church. Maybe their faith led to their fortitude. 

-See The 150th Year Reunion of the Descendants of the Migrants who sailed into Moreton Bay on the ships SS Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima from England in 1849.