The Bounty Migrants


Spencer Barden married Sophia Harriet Kinsela on the 20th July 1857 in St Peter's Church, Cooks River.

Spencer Barden had arrived in the Colony at the age of eight years, with his parents, Levi and Mary Barden. He was accompanied by seven brothers whose ages ranged from fifteen years to six months. The family whose native place had been Icklesham, Sussex, departed London on the ship, 'Earl of Durham', on 17th February, 1842 and arrived in Sydney on 11th July 1842.

According to the shipping records they were sponsored by a Mr Forsyth. The bounty for their assisted passage was ninety eight pounds.

The government plan to sell land to pay for the bounty of immigrants was to be a success as shown in Governor Gipp's dispatch to London. From 1831 to 1842 more than 87% of gross proceeds of land sales equalled nine hundred and fifty one thousand, two hundred and forty one pounds, seventeen shillings and fourpence halfpenny. This was all expended on immigration. Certain criteria had to be met to enable emigrants to be eligible for government assistance. These were determined according to the demands and requirements of the developing colony.

With the expansion of the pastoral industry such occupations as farm labourers, shepherds and mechanics were in demand. Levi Barden would have had the required qualifications to be accepted as a sponsored immigrant as he was a carpenter and wheelwright.

Attempts were made to determine the property of Mr Forsyth who had sponsored the family. My research was unrewarding. However, a story unravelled to challenge the authenticity of the 'Earl of Durham' to be termed a 'Bounty Ship'.

Many letters concerning this ship were to pass between Governor Gipps, members of the British Parliament, civil servants and the owners of the 'Earl of Durham'. The first of these letters was written on 5th May 1840 and the last on 6th May 1843.

Mr William Forsyth, a native of Scotland and settler in New South Wales had taken a trip back to Scotland in 1841. He had obtained permission from the Governor to bring Scottish emigrants to the colony under the government sponsorship scheme.

Whilst in Scotland he had arranged with his brother David Forsyth to find twenty Scottish families who might be interested in emigrating to New South Wales.

On 31st June 1841 notice was given that this form of emigration was to cease as funds for the purpose had expired for the year. This directive came from the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners which was under the authorisation of the Secretary of State in London. In order that his families might be covered by 1842 funds Mr Forsyth had requested that they depart London at the beginning of 1842.

The shipping agents Messrs. Carter and Bonus arranged for the ship 'The Earl of Durham' to carry the passengers from London to New South Wales.

David Forsyth and friend Mr Urquhart set out to find the twenty families. However, by December 1842 only six to eight families had been found. This was blamed on the season of the year. It was winter. The families were reluctant to pay the cost of transport from the north of Scotland to London. By 15th January 1842 the number of families had been reduced to two and on 26th January there were no families desiring to emigrate.

The agents Carter and Bonus were worried that they would not fill their ship and had commenced engaging their own passengers on the 4th January 1842. They had complied with the regulations of the Land and Emigration Commission and had sent to them the certificates of these passengers embarked under the inspection of Agent Lieutenant, Lean.

A full complement of passengers embarked in February 1842 and after a journey of five months the 'Earl of Durham' arrived in Sydney in July 1842. Twelve months later George Willis and James Stephens, the owners of the ship wrote to the Colonial Land and Emigration Office pleading payment for the transportation of the emigrants.

Willis explained of how they had to fill the ship and that they had fulfilled all obligations. The amount requested was eight hundred and sixty one pounds which included sixty one pounds interest. According to a letter written 4th March 1843 to Lord Stanley from the Colonial Secretary the ship owners were to be refused payment of the bounties. The arguments given were that on arrival these passengers had been left to their own devices and had found their own employment. Mr Forsyth had deceived the Colonial Secretary as he had not employed the services of the immigrants. They had been sent out by special permission of Lord Russell under false pretenses. One passenger was also 'too high a class'. It was also stated that it would be impossible to find them to retrieve their passage money as 'they are dispursed over the country'.

Eventually payment of eight hundred and sixty one pounds was made to the ship's owners in May 1843.

Most probably the Barden family were unaware that they were the innocent party in this unprecedented incident.

Map showing Boro south of GoulburnMary and Levi Barden and family were the sixth Barden family to emigrate as bounty passengers from 1838. All families originated from Icklesham in Sussex.

After disembarking in Sydney Levi Barden and family of eight children stayed in Sydney. Levi was accepted as a voter in the Phillip Ward of Sydney in 1843.

Mary and Levi Barden were to have another son Joseph George who was baptised on 1st October 1843 in St Laurence Church, Sydney. Levi was noted as a wheelwright. The family address was Parramatta Street [sic. Parramatta Road].

It is not known how long the family stayed in Sydney, but in 1847 a son Henry was born and by this date the family had moved to the Lake Bathurst district, south of Goulburn. Levi was now a shepherd on the property of Little Boro. The homestead of this old property was situated on Boro Creek south of Lake Bathurst, in the County of Argyle.

Another branch of the Barden family who had arrived ion 1838 was also residing in this area. Perhaps Levi had been enticed to join his relatives Sophia and Benjamin Barden who had arrived on the ship 'Westminster' in 1838 to try his hand at farming.

The country life and the exposure to animal husbandry was to influence the future directions of some of Levi Barden's children.

Acknowledgements | Origins of the Barden Surname | The Earliest Bardens | The Reasons for Migration
The First (Barden) Arrivals | The Bounty Migrants | Down to the Beautiful Valley
Publicans, Butchers, Produce Merchants and Landholders | A Family Business | The Barden Hotels
Items from Newspapers | Australian Men of Mark | Sidney Barden | Joseph Thomas Barden
Cooks River - A History

©2007 Peter Noone