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Ships list update

February 18, 2011

Francis Malthouse and Mary Groves with granddaughters Kizzie, Jennie and Annie


Empress of the Seas is the ship that John Peck, Mary Ann Malthouse and their two year old son, John Malthouse Peck arrived aboard, at Keppel Bay, Queensland on 24 September 1865.  They had left Gravesend on 18 June 1865, leaving the eldest three girls, Keziah, Jennie and Annie with Mary Ann’s parents, Francis Malthouse and Mary Groves.  Mary Ann had another baby, Margaret ‘Mary’ Peck b. Nov/Dec 1865 in Queensland, so she must have been pregnant when they left England.

This account of the voyage indicates that although it was a fast voyage of  96 days, there was insufficient food, or nutrition aboard the ship and 32 people died without a record or evidence of an epidemic on board.  Not the best environment for an expectant mother.

Margaret ‘Mary’ Peck died in Middle River New South Wales on 22 April 1867 from Diptheria.  Perhaps she was never a really healthy baby.

This is the earliest record of an arrival in Australia I have found for this family.

The Commissary – Family stories and other records indicate that John and Mary Ann came out without the three girls, and returned and collected them later.  Other children were born in  Australia in between and after their return.  However the family stories relate that the Pecks made three trips all aboard the Commissary.  There is evidence that Mr and Mrs Peck and seven children arrived in New South Wales aboard the Commissary – either departing London or arriving in Sydney 1 June 1871.

This would be the return journey after collecting the girls.  The family by this time would have consisted of:

John Peck,  Mary Ann Peck and Keziah ‘Kizzie’, Mary Jane ‘Jennie’, Ann ‘Annie’ – the three girls in the photograph with their grandparents, taken just before they left Leeds for Australia; John Malthouse by this time aged about 8 years old, Emily Bertha Eliza (my great-great grandmother), and Alice Maud.

Francis George Peck was born on 22 August 1871 at the family’s home at 540 Bourke Street Surry Hills and died in Sydney NSW 21 September 1871 of ‘Convulsions’.  So the Commissary had certainly arrived by August 1871.

Thomas Groves Peck, the youngest of the total of nine children of John Peck and Mary Ann Malthouse was born in  Wellington NSW on 25 December 1872.  John Peck died near Wellington on 6 March 1873.

Although it appears that the family were assisted immigrants when they arrived aboard Empress of the Seas, this was not the case on the return trip in 1870.  Family stories (written by my great-great grandmother in her letters to my father – Letters to Frank) indicate that on arrival in England, John didn’t want to wait for the regular train and chartered/hired his own train to take the family home to Leeds – ‘money was no object’.  It must have been quite a homecoming.

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