Capt James William Fish 1794 - 1830

Time line

Summary for Capt James William Fish

1794 15 December - Birth - Windsor Berkshire
1795 4th January - baptism - St John's Church New Windsor, Berkshire England
1814 22 February - leaves Portsmouth on the Asia for Madras with the HEIC Company
1820 19th August - arrives as chief officer (Captain) of the Ship Favorite (an american ship)
1820 19th August - Petition for permission to settle in the colony
1822 Captain of the Colonial Cutter "SNAPPER"
1825 4th December James father Robert Fish dies in Windsor England
1827 arrives in Culcutta from Penang on the ship SUNBURY
1830 4 March Dies in Old Windsor, Berkshire England
1830 16 March James William Fish buried at St Mary Winkfield Berkshire England  

Born 15 Dec 1794 and Baptised 4th Jan 1795 at St Johns Church New Windsor Berkshire England, son of Robert Fish and Sarah (nee Law).


James William Fish (aged 20) travelled as a Free Mariner from Portsmouth England 22 Feb 1814 on "The ASIA" to Madras (Now Chennai) in India. They arrived in Madras in 4 July 1814.  The master of “The ASIA” was Captain, The Honorable Henry Pendares Tremenheere. This can be confirmed on the FIBIS Website (Families in British India Society) 

Painting on canvas of “The ASIA” East Indiaman in waters off Hong Kong, China (of the Honourable East India Company) of London England, James William Fish travelled on this very ship in 1814, isn't that fantastic, just over 200 yrs ago.

High Definition copies of this print is available from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, 
Title: “ASIA 1836”  East Indiaman. 
QUOTE NEGATIVE REPRO ID No - BHC3209 if you want a print. 
Painting on Canvas: The East Indiaman 'Asia'  by William John Huggins

Date painted: 1836, Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 127 cm, Collection: National Maritime Museum
This oil painting of the East Indiaman 'Asia' belonged to Thomas Gardiner, who had been purser when she sailed to Madras, Bengal and China in 1831 to 1832. The ship was built in 1811 and is shown off Hong Kong between 1831 and 1832, towards the end of her career.

British Fort St George in Madras the destination port for HEIC ships in the early 1800's 


James William Fish leaves India on the American Ship Favorite as Captain and departs with Matilda Batho and her family to Sydney Australia.
JAMES aged 25 married Matilda Batho 1820 in Sydney City, Greater Sydney, New South Wales, Australia See the following website detailing the 1st inhabitants of Sydney Australia


Sydney 19th August 1822
Capt James William Fish (came free as Chief Officer of the ship Favorite, former master of the ship Snapper)

Capt J.W. Fish late master of His Majesty's Colonial Cutter Snapper, employed surveying the coast of New Holland, to the Southward of this Post as far as Cape Howe.

This is the only picture of the Snapper that we could find so far, If anyone finds more details like the plans or any pictures please send them to me at, thank you.

 This is a painting of the Colonial Cutter the "Mermaid" - We expect the Snapper to look very similar

1827 September

Arrival of James William Fish on the ship called Sunbury, in Calcutta from Penang, Malaysian ref “1827 - The quarterly Oriental Magazine - review & Register”


Captain James William Fish died aged 35 years old on 4th March 1830 in Old Windsor and was buried on 16th March 1830 at St Mary Winkfield Berkshire England.

The gravestone on the right is for Capt James William Fish who died on 4 March 1830.
His father's gravestone is on the left, Robert Fish died in 1825 in Winkfield Berkshire England.

Text on Grave Stone: Buried at St Mary's Churchyard Winkfield Berkshire England. 
THE 4th OF MARCH 1830

Please see the following document in the library of Ku-ring-gai in North Sydney  
1984, English, Unpublished edition:
A bibliography concerning Matilda Fish and her husband James William Fish - : early settlers in Lane Cove, in the Colony of New South Wales / Florence Battye. [manuscript] / 
REFERENCE Work citations
Edition identifier
APA citation

Battye, Florence (1984).  A bibliography concerning Matilda Fish and her husband James William Fish - : early settlers in Lane Cove, in the Colony of New South Wales.

REFERENCES for data on Capt James William Fish in Australian Libraries

Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825

"FAVORITE". American ship

1806 Mar 27

Proposal by Governor King to charter ship to bring rice to Sydney (Reel 6041; 4/1720 pp.52-3)

1820 Aug 19

James William Fish arrived as chief officer of (Reel 6050; 4/1747 pp.131-2)

1820 Sep

Bound for Penang and Calcutta. Re attested copy of muster roll of (Reel 6018; 4/3521 p.260)”

The document below has been RESEARCHED By Robin Walsh of the Macquarie Library in Sydney Australia 2015
Robin our family are most grateful for your excellent work and here is a BIG THANK YOU from our family.

FISH, James William (c.1794-1830) [?]
Born: 15 December 1794, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom.?
Served in HEIC?
There is an entry in the Madras Almanac in 1815 that states that ‘James W. Fish’ a ‘free mariner’ arrived in Bengal from England on 4 July 1814 on board the East Indiaman Asia, Captain Tremenheere. 
James Fish arrived in Sydney from Calcutta on 18 July 1820 as an officer on board the 149-ton Brig Favorite. The ship was carrying a speculative cargo of sugar, Bengal rum, spirits, soap, fabric and cotton goods.
On Tuesday last arrived from Calcutta the brig
Favorite, Captain Lambert. She sailed from Calcutta
the 18th of March, left the Pilot the 29th; and brings
a cargo of spirits, sugar, soap, and bale goods. The Sydney Gazette 22 July 1820 p.2a.
The voyage from India via Bass Straight had been extremely difficult and storm bound, with the death of three crew members.
The brig Favorite, Captain Lambert, experienced a great deal of bad weather on her way from Calcutta to this port, having encountered no less than nine gales of wind, some of which lasted for several days. On the 7th ult. in lat. 35° 30' long. 115°, she fell in with a tremendous gale; part of the cargo was thrown overboard to prevent foundering, viz. 85 bags of sugar,
100 cases of soap, and 15 water butts. The gale continued till the 13th. and left her almost a wreck, the damage sustained in her hull being considerable, besides carrying away most of her rigging. Having
been on an allowance of a quart of water a day for 6 weeks, Captain Lambert endeavoured to make Port Dalrymple, but from the heavy sea and tempestuous state of the weather was compelled to alter his course and bear away across the Streights to Sealer's Cove, near Wilson's Promontory, where the long-boat was stove by the sea; but they happily succeeded in procuring water enough to bring them to Sydney. Three of the crew died from fatigue and constant exertion, without which, and the mercy of Providence, the vessel and those on board could never have gained any port. Several of the crew are unable to walk, and the remainder are in a very ill and reduced state, although the kindest treatment, under circumstances of extreme privation and distress, was shewn them by Captain Lambert.
The Sydney Gazette 22 July 1820 p.2a.
The cargo included water damaged goods that were sold
soon afterwards at a public auction:
TO be SOLD by Public Auction, on Thursday the 3d Day of August next, by Mr. Lord, at his Auction Mart, Macquarie Place, for the Benefit of the Underwriters, a Quantity of Sugar, Canvas, Calico, Blue Gurrahs, Hearth Carpets and Soap, more or less damaged by Salt-water, being Part of the Cargo imported on the Brig Favorite. Capt. Lambert.
THE CARGO imported on the Favorite, consisting of Bengal rum 30 per cent, over proof, very fine Benares sugar, best Dacca soap, sannahs 20 yard pieces, baftas, blue ditto, cotton and common canvas, and a few bales of hearth carpets, is now open for sale at the Stores of Messrs. Eagar and Forbes, Pitt- street.
The Sydney Gazette 29 July 1820 p.2a.
Fish served as ‘Chief Officer’ or ‘First Officer’ on the Favorite, while Thomas Lambert was the captain of the
Within one month of his arrival Fish sought permission from Lambert to leave the Favorite and remain in the
[See: Letter dated: 19 August 1820; Thomas Lambert, Ship: Favorite: Master; certifying that
James William Fish was leaving of his own accord from the Favorite. Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. Reel 6050; 4/1747 p.132].
The dangerous voyage may have induced Fish to defer going to sea again so soon.
To His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie
.... The humble petition of James William Fish Sheweth That your Petitioner arrived in this Colony in the Brig
Favorite in the capacity of Chief Officer of the said Brig. That your petitioner being desirous of becoming a resident in this colony and having obtained permission from the Captain of the said Brig to leave his employ - humbly prays that Your Excellency will grant him leave to remain in the Colony - And your Petitioner as in duty bound will every pray.
J.W. Fish
Sydney, 19 August 1820

Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. Petition 19 August 1820. (Reel 6050; 4/1747 pp.131-132)
However, far more likely, was the fact that he had developed a romantic attraction to the widow Mrs. Matilda Bartho (nee Booker) (1794-1850) during the voyage from Bengal. She was returning to NSW with her four children on board the Favorite following the death of her husband Captain Anthony Bartho. She had been living in Calcutta with him and their children since c.1814. Bartho had died on 5 May 1819 (at sea or in India).
Death. Mr. Anthony Bertho, [sic] ship Fame. East India Register 1821.
Matilda and her children returned to NSW in 1820 presumably to improve the opportunities for herself and her children. She may have also returned at the urging of her sister Mary and brother-in-law Daniel Dering Mathew (1787-1856) who had been residing in Sydney since 1812. She arrived with a personal fortune of approximately £500 sterling.
On 16 November 1820 Fish married Matilda Bartho at St Philips Church of England, Sydney.
James William Fish, aged 30, Bachelor, Abode: Lane Cove [NSW AUS],
Timber Merchant, Signed; & Matilda Bartho, aged 25, Widow, Abode: Lane

Cove [NSW AUS], Signed; married 16 November 1820 Church [NSW AUS], registered St Philips Church of England Sydney [NSW AUS] by Banns by Richard Hill.
Witness: Daniel Dering Mathews, Signed; Witness: Eliza Sarah Booker, Signed
Fish served as the master of the Government Colonial Cutter Snapper from at least 7 August 1821 until 15 February 1822.
He commanded the Snapper on a voyage to Newcastle from 1 November-21 November 1821 when the ship was sent as a tender vessel, accompanying the government brig Elizabeth-Henrietta when Governor Macquarie undertook a brief tour of inspection. Accompanying the governor was James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor-General; John Nicholson, Master Attendant; and Lieutenant Robert Johnston, RN.
Six days after returning to Sydney the Snapper was sent on an exploratory and survey voyage along the south coast of NSW to Jervis Bay and Bateman’s Bay,
returning via Port Macquarie. Lieutenant Robert Johnston RN [son of Lt. Col. George Johnston, formerly NSW Corps] was in command of the Snapper during this voyage (27 November to 10 December 1821). [see below: Appendix 1: for Official Report of the voyage by Robert Johnston].
Fish was dismissed from service in early 1822 when his behaviour during the December voyage was reported by Lt. Johnston (‘the Gentleman who accompanied him on that service’) to have been unacceptable. Master Attendant John Nicholson advised Frederick Goulburn, the Colonial Secretary, that he had
also discovered a deficiency of £3.9.1 in the victualling accounts kept by Fish – and had deducted this amount from his wages.,
Event Regarding Improper Conduct April 3, 1822.
Majesty's Dock Yard Sydney 3rd April 1822
In compliance to your direction to report the conduct of J. W. Fish late master of His Majesty's Colonial Cutter
Snapper, employed surveying the coast of New Holland, to the Southward of this Post as far as Cape Howe - I beg leave to state that the Gentleman who accompanied him on that service, having represented to me his very irregular and ungentlemanly behaviour, I thought it proper to discharge him forthwith from the command; and on examining his victualling accounts, from the 7th August 1821 to the 15th February 1822, I found a deficiency amounting to 3 pounds nine shillings and 1 pence, which I deducted from his wages and paid into the hands of the Commissary General.
I have the honour to be Sir
Your most obedient humble servant
John Nicholson
Master Attendant
Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. 3 April 1822. (Reel 6053; 4/1756 p.120). [State Records. NSW].
Fish was replaced by William Lawrence Edwardson (c.1788-1826) who had formerly served as Chief Mate of the transport Surry (1816-1818), and later Deputy
Harbour Master and Pilot.
[see: Ballard, P. W. L. Edwardson in H.M. Cutter Snapper. The South Coast of New South Wales Voyage 1822 – Technical & Biographical Notes. Duntroon, ACT: Department of Geography, Royal Military College, 1983].
On 19 June 1821 James Fish acquired an 80-acre portion of land originally granted to his brother-in-law, Edwin Booker, younger brother of Matilda.
[Note: Booker had already disposed of the land to Fisher by an article of agreement on 5 September 1820, that is, prior to his marriage to Matilda, and before the deed of grant was officially granted. This may have been a mechanism for ensuring that his widowed sister was provided for: as an unmarried woman Matilda could not hold property in her own name].

After his dismissal from colonial service Fish applied, unsuccessfully, for a land grant.
Reply to Petition: April 25, 1822. James William Fish (came free as Chief Officer of the ship Favourite, former master of the ship Snapper.
Colonial Secretary's Office
25th April 1822
In reply to your Memorial of the 25th Feby I am directed to acquaint you that the circumstances are such under which you were obliged to quit the Colonial Service as to preclude His Excellency the Governor from being able to cede to your request of obtaining a Grant of Land.

I am Sir
Your Obedient Servant
F. Goulburn Col. Secy.
Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. 25 April 1822. (Reel 6009; 4/3505 p.198). [State Records. NSW].
A ‘William Fish’ appears to have planned to depart from NSW in early 1822 on board the Britomat
WILLIAM FISH leaving the Colony in the Ship Britomart, requests all Claims to be presented. Sydney Gazette 19 April and 26 April 1822 p.2.
The ship was sailing for Valparaiso, Chile.
In March 1824 Matilda Fish was advised by the Colonial
Secretary Francis Goulburn that permission had been
granted to her to lease any vacant allotment of land of
her choice in Sydney. [25 March 1824. Re application to lease land in Sydney (Reel 6012; 4/3510 pp.580-1)].
However, in time, this led to complications and by early 1825 she was seeking assistance from the Governor. In a Memorial addressed to Governor Brisbane Matilda sought relief for herself and her family, explaining how the absence of her husband 18 months earlier had created a domestic crisis.
To His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane
K.C.B. Captain General & Governor in Chief & over His
Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales & its Dependencies.

The Respectful Memorial of Matilda Fish Humbly herewith
That Your Memorialist is the Wife of James William Fish, by whom she is left in an Unprotected & Destitute State, in this Colony for 18 months past her Husband being gone to Batavia leaving behind him
four small Children
without the Means of Support. Memorialist purchased a Farm at Lane Cove Cost £105 – it was Transfer’d in her husband’s Name. Consequently she Cannot Sell without his Authority. Memorialist is fearful he is Dead, not having any tidings of him since his Departure from the Colony & she has no means of Subsistence. Living on the Farm being Unprotected & has suffer’d great Losses by Robberies Committed by Bush Rangers & is Compell’d to fly to Sydney to Endeavour for Support & Rent being heavy induced her to make this Application for a Grant of Land in Sydney – having a Friend who
will advance the Means of Erecting a Dwelling on it for the Shelter of herself & four helpless Children without Rent.

That your Memorialist Arriv’d in this Colony a Free Subject (1812) by the Ship Clarkson.
Your Memorialist most Humbly prayeth that Your Excellency will take her Unfortunate Case into Humane Consideration by Granting her the Indulgence herein Ask’d for their Assistance and Memorialist as in Duty Bound will pray &c.[Annotation]:Commended for consideration John Piper
Naval Officer
‘Memorial: Matilda Fish to Governor Thomas Brisbane, March 1825’. Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 (Fiche 3131; 4/1841B No.274 pp.753-754). [State Records. NSW].
Letters addressed to James Fish were advertised in the Sydney Gazette as awaiting collection on 28 December 1825 and 25 March 1826.
Matilda is listed as a ‘widow and landholder’ in the 1828 Census; in addition, she was residing with her four (4) children (Eliza, Amelia, Leonard and Henry), at her farm named ‘Hunter’s Hill’, [later re-named] and employing five (5) persons:
William Cruise, aged 15 as a ‘sawyer’. John Price, aged 25 as a ‘sawyer’. James Lediard, aged 30 as a ‘sawyer’. Sarah Mahar, aged 49 as a ‘servant’. Jane Humphries, aged 30 as a ‘servant’.
Fish never returned to New South Wales. Apparently he abandoned his wife, child and step-children in NSW? No further records exist for him in Australia.
There is, however, a gravestone in St Mary's Churchyard, Winkfield, Berkshire, England, that may belong to him. If this is the same James William Fish, then he died on 4 March 1830, aged 35 years.

His wife Matilda never remarried. She died on 18 November 1850 at her property named ‘Lane Cove’, [near modern-day Killara, Sydney], aged 57 years. She is buried in St Thomas’ Cemetery, North Sydney.
[DIED] : At her residence, Lane Cove, on Monday, the 18th
November, after a short
but painful illness, Mrs. Matilda Fish, in the fifty-
sixth year of her age, the relict of the late 
Captain J. W. Fish, formerly of the H.E.I.C.S. and eldest
daughter of the late William Booker Esq., of
Rotherhithe, London, and for many years in the
Ordinance Depot at the same place. Sydney Morning Herald 19 November 1850 p.3.

Ballard, P. W. L. Edwardson in H.M. Cutter Snapper. The South Coast of New South Wales Voyage 1822 – Technical & Biographical Notes. Duntroon, ACT: Department of Geography, Royal Military College, 1983 [Occasional Paper No.37].
Census of NSW, November 1828. Edited by Malcolm R. Sainty and Keith A. Johnson. Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1980.
Thomas, Thurles ‘Matilda Fish (c.1793-1850) and Her Family’ in The Historian (Ku-ring-gai Historical Society) Part 1, Vol. 16 No. 4 December 1987 and Part 2 Vol. 17 No.1 March 1988.
Wyatt, Margaret. ‘Matilda Bartho Fish’ . Women of Ku- ring-gai: A Tribute. (ed.) Helen Malcher. Gordon: Ku- ring-gai Historical Society, 1999 pp.76-78.
© Notes prepared by Robin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. 19 August 2015.


No comments:

Post a Comment