Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

James (1830/05/21)

James Rocks

James was an American-built vessel owned by Chapman and Company. The vessel was sheathed in copper (1828), carried two chain and one hempen cable, and was armed with three cannon. It had a single deck with beams, a raised new deck and new upperworks in 1828. The vessel was involved in the passenger trade from Europe. Captain Ellis met the vessel at Kingstown, Ireland, on 18 December 1829 and described the conditions aboard:
I found her crowded with passengers [of] the class of labourers, men, women and children, whom with passengers taken in at Kingstown, made the ship's crew 84 persons, and a quantity of sheep, pigs and geese... There was no place for goods, provisions etc. part of our accommodation was filled up with stores and luggage belonging to the ship. .There was scarcely enough room for 24 persons to eat and sleep... We therefore suffered great inconvenience and want of air particularly as the height between the decks in the greater part of our cabins is but 4'6" between the beams and 4' to the beams instead of 5'6" as required by Act of Parliament (Particulars of the Voyage from Kingstown Ireland (to Swan River in 1828 [sic] per brig James) of Capt. Ellis et al., quoted in Henderson 1980:101-2).
The journey was very difficult for all on board the vessel and Ellis demanded that a survey be made of the vessel once they had reached Bahia (Salvador). The captain of James, Edward Goldsmith, refused the request, and conditions continued to deteriorate. Five people died before 4 March 1830. James finally reached Swan River on 8 May, with twelve crew and 74 passengers and moored at Owen Anchorage.

The wreck event
On 21 May James was blown ashore along with the brig Emily Taylor. Captain Goldsmith refused to deliver passengers their goods until ordered to do so by the colonial secretary. Several incidents occurred involving injury to a man using explosives on the vessel, and another drowned during the transfer of goods by boat from the wreck to Fremantle.
Plans were made for the wreckage of the vessel to be incorporated into the building of a jetty but this never eventuated. There are no records to indicate James was ever refloated.
Site location
The site is adjacent to the South Fremantle Power Station, close to James Rocks, about 50 metres from shore. It is 81 metres south-east of the cooling water outlet pipe and the shore end is about 3.1 metres from the rocky sea-wall in front of the power station.
Site description
The wreckage once lay on a sandy and rock bottom in 4 metres of water. It is significantly affected by sand movement in the area and is now completely covered. Various artefacts have been removed from the vicinity of the site.
Guns recovered
In 1976, a carronade was found about 600 metres from the James wreck site. This heavily concreted iron gun was removed from the site by Museum staff and after conservation treatment an excellently preserved 6­pounder trunnion carronade was revealed (Green et al., 1981:101). A gun carriage was later built for its display at the Museum.
A second gun, this time a small iron signal cannon which had been spiked, was found by in the grounds of the abattoir some 20 kilometres from the wreck site. Research revealed it had been removed from the vicinity of the wreck and was probably the second of the three guns known to have been aboard. A third gun remains on the site.
Statement of significance
Technical and scientific
Analysis of the design of the carronade from the James wreck site may help in understanding the manufacturing process of these ordinances. Conservation of James's carronade has resulted in new methods of treating salt impregnated iron artefacts. The in situ analysis of the third remaining gun can also provide useful information.

Ship Built

Owner Chapman and Company

Master Captain Edward Goldsmith

Country Built USA

When Built 1812

Ship Lost

Gouped Region Metro

Crew 12

When Lost 1830/05/21

Where Lost James Rocks

Latitude -32.09576

Longitude 115.75861

Position Information GPS 2005

Port From Liverpool

Port To Fremantle

Cargo Passengers, cargo

Minimum Depth of site 1.00

Ship Details

Engine N

TONA 195.00

Draft 3.60

Museum Reference

Unique Number 1281

Sunk Code Wrecked and sunk

File Number 2009/0134/SG _MA-133/76

Chart Number AUS 117, 1058

Protected Protected Federal

Found Y

Inspected Y

Date Inspected 1994

Confidential NO