Sunday 25 March 2012

James Bentley Corbin's ship to Australia

As with the previous item, the information here was emailed out by Ruth with other updates in 2010. Relevant sections of The Story will be rewritten when time permits.


The biggest of the family mysteries which remained unsolved at the time of the reunion in 2008 was 'when did James arrive in Australia and what ship did he come in?'  It has long been thought that he came out sometime in 1861, name of ship unknown. The question has been answered thanks to persistent research by Ruth.
Shipping record for the arrival of 'James Corbin'
on the 'Aerolite', April 1864
(see first column, second last name)

A shipping record has been found which shows that James arrived in Sydney on the ship Aerolite on 26 April 1864.

The age, 19, is consistent with James' known birth date, and the position of Assistant Cook tends to support the family story that he worked his passage to Australia.

These revelations change the story somewhat, not just in the year of travel and the age of James when he emigrated, but also in the fact that when James' father (James senior) died in February 1863 James was still in England.

We speculated in the story pages that a factor driving him to leave England (assuming it was 1861 and therefore that his father was alive) could have been James not getting along with his stepmother. Now we have a different picture - his father had died, both parents were now gone, it was time to move on.

The Aerolite, English-built for 'the Australian and China trades' was promoted as 'the celebrated China clipper and favourite passenger ship ... one of the fastest ships afloat'.  The unusual name Aerolite has its origins in the science of astronomy - an aerolite is a type of meteorite.

If I had known at the time, the name of James' ship could have been added to the title of my 2008 booklet:
Alresford to Australia on the Aerolite !