David Clark


Attached here is the Surgeon's journal of the voyage. This has been transcribed by Irene Kearsey.


The following notes were written as a family memoir by John Burton Grierson in 1938.

May 1839.
It was in the month of May 1839 that there was unwonted excitement in the old town of Dumfries in Scotland; the occasion being the departure of the emigrant ship "David Clark(e)" from Scotland to the new land of sunshine down in the Antipodes. Things were very bad in the old country after the Napoleonic Wars, especially in Scotland, and folk were only too ready to start out in a new land offering such possibilities, wonderful tales of which had been brought back by the members of the 73rd Highlanders who were in garrison there in 1809. So it came about that the Clans were gathered to bid bon voyage to their relatives about to embark on the great adventure. There were about sixty families aboard.

Included amongst whom was John Grierson and family and others who had previously been out in 1809 with the 73rd Regt. After a protracted voyage of some months they arrived at Hobson's Bay. As the Yarra at that time was unnavigable for a ship the size of the "David Clark", the passengers were landed in boats at Sandridge (now Port Melb), the women being carried ashore by the sailors and men. Then came a long walk across the ti tree flats and sandhills over what is now known as Fishermans Bend, Emerald Hill, (now Sth. Melb.) to the Queens Falls where they crossed the Yarra.

(One can only imagine their thoughts as they trudged through the sandhills and ti-tree to their new home on the Yarra. They were probably very glad to be on terra firma again, and no doubt their thoughts would often go back to their dear homeland. However, when they arrived at Melbourne, how lovely it must have looked in its primeval beauty. If they could only have visualised the stately Melbourne of 1938 from the same spot!)

Their chattels were brought on by dray and bullock wagon. At that time there were only about 500 people in Melbourne, mostly people who had come over from Van Diemen's Land, and others who had come overland from Sydney. Among them was a Mr. Glover who came overland from Sydney with cattle etc. and built a house on the hill overlooking the Yarra opposite the old quarries in South Richmond. The house is still standing. John Grierson senior lived for many years in Collingwood and Wellington Pde. and died in 1855.


The following information was copied from paper cuttings loaned by Mabel Graff of Mernda.

To celebrate the centenary of the arrival in Melbourne of the Scottish sailing ship 'David Clark', descendants of the original passengers will meet at a Dinner at the Hotel Federal, Collins St this evening.

On Sunday morning they will attend a special service at Scots Church, October 29th 1939.

The ship David Clark left Greenock for Melbourne on June 15th 1839 having 229 Government emigrants on board.

The vessel put into Rio De Janeiro on August 15th, and took in fresh water and provisions.

After remaining about 10 days she resumed her voyage and arrived at Port Phillip Bay on October 27th.

The authorities reported that the new arrivals (men and women) appeared to be a respectable body of people, and well suited to the work of this colony. They disembarked on October 29th and 30th.

When the David Clark drew away from Greenock pier, 100 years ago, John Arthur who afterwards became first curator of Melbourne Botanic Gardens played "Lockaber No More". On Saturday evening a piper will use the same
pipes and use the same lament. Several relics of the voyage will be on view at the dinner tonight including Gaelic Bibles, and a robe made and used for Christening of the only child born during the voyage.


The following note is from Nancy Symons of Leongatha.

"There was a long association with some families: for instance William and Agnes Bell, ancestors of Frank & Roger Bell of Stony Creek, came to Melbourne, Australia on the ship 'David Clark' in 1839 with our ancestors John 1st and Mary Grierson of Dumfries Scotland. The Bell family established 'Gulf Station' Yarra Glen, where we celebrated 'The Gathering of the Clans' in 1989."


Lance Pymble, who had five ancestors aboard the David Clark in 1839 (Arthur & Barr) has kindly provided a web site link with a picture and information about her various voyages.


Link added Jan 2009


Last modified 17 Mar 2016