HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

10 March 2014

Lady Nelson – on this day

The fascinating story of this world famous ship and it’s association with Jervis Bay.

Captain – Lt. James Grant.
The Lady Nelson was an Armed Survey Vessel called a Brig.
52ft 6 in in length, Beam 17ft 6in and a draft of 12ft with the keels lowered.
She carried 17 crew.
Armament, 6 Brass carriage guns 3 and 4 pounders.

SLIDING KEELS LADY NELSONShe was small at 60 tons but served the colony well between
1800 –1825.
She was fitted with three Shank sliding or drop keels (actually removable centreboards). (The Shank keels were the invention of naval architect Captain John Schank.) The fore and aft centreboards were 3 feet long, and the centre one was 6 feet long. With them up the vessel drew only 6–7 feet instead of the 13 feet that would be more usual for vessels her size.
She had been designed to be hauled up into shallow water.


His_Majesty's_vessel_the_Lady_Nelson_-_17991801 Destination Jervis Bay.
The Lady Nelson left Port Jackson on March the 8th, with the intention of exploring Jervis Bay. At 4pm on the 10th she sighted the north head of Jervis Bay bearing west-south west about 8 or 9 miles distant.
At 7 o’clock on the following morning the first mate was sent in the boat to look for an anchorage, and returned at nine with one of the natives, bringing the information that there was good holding ground in the southernmost cove between an island and the main.

lady-nelson-paintingIan Hansen Painting. The Lady Nelson inside Jervis Bay.
This and many more amazing paintings depicting significant moments in the Jervis Bay maritime history are on display at the museum.

  Actual ships log entry: By 10.30 the Lady Nelson was at anchor in a cove in four fathoms of water, a fine sandy bottom, having run over a shallow some four cables' length, which was easily distinguished by the colour of the water.

lady-nelson-anchorage-1 Grant then gives his opinion of Jervis Bay.A place destined to be much more important in the future of the continent, as it will serve as port to Canberra, the seat of the Australian Government. "It is worthy of remark that Jarvis's Bay* (* i.e. Jervis Bay.) or sound is large, commodious and easy of access, affording shelter from all winds and having room for upwards of 200 sail of ships with plenty of wood and water.
When this bay comes to be more known, it will be found eligible for vessels bound to Port Jackson after a long passage from England...and will be the means of saving many lives."

She left the bay 2 days later to continue here exploration of the southern Australian coast.
Read more from the log books of the ship.

lady-nelson-painting-2Spanish caught in Jervis Bay.
Her association with Jervis Bay didn’t end there, on April 1805 NSW Governor Philip Gidley King received information that suggested a Spanish armed schooner was anchored in Jervis Bay, 90 miles to the south of Sydney. King sent the Lady Nelson, under the command of Acting-Lieutenant Symons to look for the Spanish vessel and, if found, bring it to Port Jackson.

Ian Hansen painting depicting the moment the Lady Nelson shot a warning shot across the bow of the Extremena.

The Spanish vessel was the Extremeña that had been seized on the coast of Chile by an armed merchant vessel owned by merchants in Madras. Britain and Spain were not at war at the time of the seizure, which was therefore illegal. On sighting the Lady Nelson, the Extremeña tried to escape but Symonds fired a shot across its bows, arrested the vessel and escorted it back to Port Jackson. She was eventually bought to the Colony and used for many years until wrecked on a sand bank while leaving Newcastle Harbour in 1816.
Read More

A grand Lady meets her end.
Lady Nelson1825 - Her Commander was warned to avoid an island called Baba, infested with Malay pirates.  It is supposed this warning went unheeded for it was there the Lady Nelson met her end.
The ship was burnt and the crew killed.
Around 1839 - A ship called the Faith called at Sydney with news that the hull of the Lady Nelson was still to be seen with her name on the stern of the island of Baba.
Read more

This amazing vessel had an amazing life and her story is well worth reading.
Read more.


Replica of the Lady Nelson based in Tasmania.
Find out more about this beautiful replica of the Lady Nelson.
and the Tasmanian Sail Training Association.
Id suggest a sail if your ever in Tasmania..


A depiction of the Lady Nelson entering Jervis Bay.

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