In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4(b)

This post is continued from Part 4 (a) previous:
John McKail and George Cheyne: Town, Sea or Land?

 

albany-to-cape-riche-von-summer-1848Above: John McKail arrived at Albany immediately prior to the 19th Century’s great off-shore whaling boom (1836-1842), a phenomena which should have resulted in much greater migration of moneyed settlers to the area despite world-wide economic recession. But King George’s Sound was already a hard-sell being neither farming country nor flush with Colonial resources and it’s chances were halved again as it was left to languish in the shadow of Sir James Stirling’s beloved but deeply troubled Swan River settlement, Perth. Image:  King Georges Sound to Cape Riche  Survey by F. Von-Summer, 1848.

 

At Albany, George Cheyne escaped the self-serving clutches of Richard Spencer’s local governance by removing himself eastwards up the coast in order to take advantage of the shipping traffic, but the ex-garrison’s tiny population still improved by way of labouring class and small-time investment level immigrants. After Cheyne, Spencer, Sherratt and Symers, only one other man was persuaded to take a big-time investment plunge at Albany. Captain John Hassell did so from 1839 with the most Machiavellian of land-based assaults, thereby commencing the highly competitive South Coast pastoralist era, subject of the In Search of Ngurabirding sub-series. In the meantime, McKail’s sea-based heritage, modest means and exploitative trader mentality, along with his sizable persona and penchant for social discourse (pub-going), kept him focused on the settlement’s immediate facilities and short to medium-term prospects, the result of which came to serve him well.

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In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4 (a)

John McKail and George Cheyne: From the Swan River to The Ship Inn, Cape Riche and Eticup

 

Flinders chart -cut

 

In the continuing search for Ngurabirding we complete the background to John Maher’s 1854 arrival at Albany with a look at the activities, enterprises and connections of the disputatious pair John McKail and George Cheyne. These two figures headed-up influential family groups which ran maritime related businesses in the town while seeking to exploit land-based potential outside it and through their stories we gain a deeper understanding of how things were at Albany during this time.

I’ve covered much of George Cheyne’s background already so will only include what’s relevant here. Go to George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery for information on the Cheyne family presence at Albany, including both George’s direct relatives as well as his wife Grizzel (Grace) Melville’s. For more on how the cash-starved Cheyne managed to claim Cape Riche from under the nose of the surveyor Henry Ommaney read George Cheyne and the Quest for Cape Riche.

In this post we also explore the working class elements of Albany society in the years leading up to the establishment of the Convict Hiring Depot in 1851. This element comprised sealers, whalers and town labourers, including a handful of well-known Menang men who interacted with the moneyed settlers by way of employment and by frequenting some of their more notorious drinking establishments. Continue reading