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Arrival and Wreck
of the Lady Kennaway

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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As soon as the Lady Kennaway anchored in the East London roadstead on 20 November, the work of landing the immigrants began.

This task took four days to complete, the last person being brought ashore on the afternoon of the 23rd. The immigrants waited until the last of the party had disembarked before they set out upon the next leg of their journey.

In the meantime, four of the women were immediately offered employment at East London and a further two found husbands and were married at once. One of these was a German girl who was swept off by a German settler. This was probably Fredericka Schulle, the only German girl in the party, who had been enlisted from Middlesex and not from Ireland.

The other was married to a local police constable. None of the artisans chose to remain at East London, although some would return later.

On the Tuesday, all the immigrants having landed, 12 bullock wagons set out for King William's Town, bearing the married people and all the baggage.

The following day, Wednesday 25 November, disaster struck. The Lady Kennaway was driven ashore in a heavy gale and was wrecked within the mouth of the Buffalo River.

The next day, with the excitement and dismay of the wreck still on everyone's lips, the single women departed on 13 mule wagons.

They halted at Fort Pato for breakfast. Soldiers of the 73rd Regiment had prepared two large rooms for them and provided a "Grand Breakfast .... which cheered up the spirits of the Immigrants". They then continued on their journey and arrived at King William's Town that same evening.

The hiring commenced the very next morning, and continued for a week. During that time about 79 people were employed in King William's Town at an average wage of thirty shillings per month, including board and lodging.

A further 22 were employed or married at Line Drift, Peddie, Alice or Wooldridge, while about 61 artisans and labourers, including their families, also found work in these places.

On 12 December the hiring closed in King William's Town. Of the remaining immigrants, 15 women who had not found employment were kept in the Committee depot in the expectation that those who were not yet engaged to be married would soon find employment.

The remaining immigrants set out that day for Grahamstown aboard 12 bullock wagons, to arrive at their destination after two days on the road.

In the meantime, four women returned to the depot at King William's Town because of misunderstandings about their employment. On 4 January 1858 another seven were sent onto Grahamstown. The depot at King William's Town was then closed.

The exact figure of immigrants who found employment in British Kaffraria and of those who journeyed to Grahamstown is impossible to ascertain as the statistics given in the various documents contradict one other.

It is clear, however, that six women eventually settled at East London (two were immediately married), between 78 and 93 found employment in King William's Town (five immediately married). Between 70 and 84 were forwarded to Grahamstown.

Of the artisans and their families, none remained at East London, between 46 and 68 settled in King William's Town and about 16 journey to Grahamstown.

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