JAMES MATTHEWS (Voltigeur) 1837 -1841

A Royal Navy Snow or Snow Brig, similar to the James Matthews.

Description:

Snow Brig (Brigantine)

Owner:

1st Owner De Souza Felix, Henry and Robert de Burgh

Construction:

Wood

Sunk:

23 July 1841

Size:

107 tons length 24.50m. breath 6.50m depth 3.50m

Underwater:

The wreck lies in 2-3m of water, 100m from shore. The site was excavated by WA Museum over the course of the mid-1970s. After each field season the site was backfilled with surrounding sediment, and remained buried until the late 1990s, when researchers noted exposed timbers from the shipwreck were heavily degraded. In 2013 a large project saw 36 road crash barriers deployed on-site in a semi-elliptical arrangement and the site recovered with sand. This site is not only historically and archaeologically significant for Western Australians, but to date, remains one of the world’s best-preserved examples of a nineteenth-century illegal slaving ship.

Built:

1837, France

Location:

100m from shore near Woodmans Point, Cockburn Sound

Sinking:

The James Matthews left London for Fremantle on 28 March 1841 with a cargo of 7,000 slates, farming implements, general cargo, 3 passengers and a crew of 15. The vessel struck rocks after parting its anchor warp, and sank on 23July 1841. One of the passengers, Henry de Burgh, left a comprehensive diary covering the voyage to Australia and his later experiences on the land. Much of the cargo belonged to de Burgh, who had been involved in the organization of the enterprise in England and had an interest in the vessel.

Longitude:

115.743822

Latitude:

-32.13193

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