Thursday, January 21, 2016

Shipwreck survivors 6: the Fusilier wreck

Not all wrecks in the vicinity of Port Natal escaped loss of lives on  board.

The Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury reported on Saturday 22 July: 

Received on Monday from Natal it appears that the ship (Fusilier), while lying off that harbour on the 25th of last May in gale of wind, broke from her anchors, and was totally lost on the Bluff Rocks at the south side of the entrance of Natal, and 26 of her passengers were drowned.

The ship had previously lost 189 passengers during the voyage, due to fever. More detail is to be gleaned from the Australian press on this incident, under the heading Wreck of a Cooly ship at Natal. This is a reminder that from 1860 indentured labour began to be brought to the Colony primarily to work on the sugar fields. The report gives an indication of how these immigrant ships were crammed to bursting point.

Indentured Indians arriving at Natal

Note: coolie or cooly was not at that time considered an opprobrious term

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