Thomas' life at sea ...

After completing his sentence, he left for Port Jackson where he crewed on various trading and sealing ships in the colony.

The Flurry by William Duke (c1848)

1805
Captain Bristow was Master of several sealing and whaling vessels, including the whalers Ocean and Sarah. 1 The whaler Ocean returned to Hobart in October 1805.

The Ocean south whaler, Bristow, touched at Adventure Bay the 13th of August, after a short voyage of four months from England: but as her touching here was by no means certain, only a few private letters have been received by her. 2

The Ocean, Bristow, had arrived at Norfolk Is. from Adventure Bay, with 65 tons of black oil, and proceeded on the spermaceti fishery off New Zealand. 3

1806
It is believed that Thomas may have crewed on board the whaler Ocean with Captain Bristow when he again left Hobart on 4 August 1806 bound for England. 4

SHIP NEWS.
On Thursday arrived the Sarah, south whaler, Captain Bristow, from England 24 months and 25 days from Norfolk Island, with about 70 tons of sperm oil. She fell in with the Pegasus about ten days since off Howe’s island, at which time she was standing for Norfolk; off which place she left the Ann American, Captain Gwynn.
Captain Bristow further informs us, that the Seringapatam and Elizabeth were gone to New Caledonia, and might be expected about September next.5

1809
In December 1809 he sailed on the Colonial Schooner Halcyon, with another Calcutta man Samuel Gray, to Tahiti for salted pork. (Gray was also known to have served aboard The Brothers and the Governor Bligh although it is not certain that he served at the same time as Thomas.)

CLAIMS and DEMANDS.
ALL Clams or Demands upon the following Persons are to be forthwith presented to themselves for Payment; they being about to depart the Colony.
In the Halcyon, Schooner; William Henry, John Ward, John Sylvester, Daniel Gilmore, John Carnie, John Cummings, James Munroe, Samuel Gray, Thomas Arnott, James McBeane. 6

Sailed the 29th ultimo, the Halcyon, belonging to Mr. Blaxcell, for Otaheite, to procure a cargo of pork.7

1810
By March 1810 he had joined the schooner Unity on a sealing voyage to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, returning with 2000 skins, after an eventful trip when the ship encountered a heavy thunderstorm with her foremast struck by lightning and when lying at anchor she was shaken by the effects of an earthquake.

Wanted, a Number of active Sealers and seamen to proceed on a Voyage in the fine Colonial Schooner Unity. For particulars apply to Mr. Grono, the Master, on board or a-shore. 8

CLAIMS AND DEMANDS,
The following Persons being about to depart the Colony, all Claims or Demands on any of the said Persons are requested respectively to be presented to themselves for Payment ; Viz.
In the Unity, Mr. John Grono, John Stuart, Evan Evans, Henry Branch, Jas. McNathy, W. Needham Thos. Hambleton, Gilbert Grant, Thos. Arnett, Charles Chambers, Robert Jones, Jas. Hutton, James Mooney, Mich. Murphy, John Thorn, William Smith. 9

SHIP NEWS.
On Wednesday arrived for provisions and to refit, the Unity, schooner, Captain Cooper, with about 6000 fur seal skins. She has been mostly about the islands on the coast of New Zealand, and in Foveaux's Straits, which are about 700 miles to the southward of the Bay of Islands, and describes the natives as particularly friendly. About 45' to the northward of Dusky Bay, she encountered a heavy thunder storm in a port named by Mr. Grono, master of a colonial vessel, Thompson's Sound, another entrance to the southward of which is lain down in the charts by the name of Doubtful Harbour. Her foremast was stuck by lightning in five places, by which the lower mast and top mast were much damaged ; five men were knocked down at the same instant, between decks, and for a length of time deprived of the use of their limbs, one of them being also severely burnt on the crown of the head. Three days after, lying at anchor in the above place, the people felt most sensibly the effects of an earthquake; the vessel trembled, and a noise like that of casks rolling about her decks lasted for 3 or 4 minutes. 10

The schooner Unity returned by September of the same year.

1811

1812

1813
He was a crew member of several ships over a period of years including the brig Rosetta, built for inter-colonial trade and renamed the Prince Leopold in 1818 when the ship was acquired by Governor Macquarie for government service. Other ships on which Thomas was known to serve were The Brothers in 1813 -

CLAIMS and DEMANDS.
THE following Persons being about to depart the Colony, request all Claims and Demands against them to be presented for Payment;
In the Brothers Schooner; Mr. James Mills, Samuel Gray, Thomas Arnat, John Clements, William Sibley, John Baptist. 11

and the Archduke Charles (?) -

CLAIMS AND DEMANDS.
THE following Persons, being about to depart the Colony, request all Claims and Demands against them to be presented for Payment:
In the Ship Archduke Charles, Mr H. Kable, jun. William Butler, John Davis, John Burn, Thos.Wilkinson, Edward Bradbury, John Sneilers, James Marlin, James Johnson, Philip Innes, John Dogerty , Wm. Greenwood, Thomas Arnott, Martha Thomas, George Mason, Christr. Thomas, James Galvin, John Buskin. 12

1814
.... Governor Bligh in 1814 -

CLAIMS and DEMANDS.
THE following Persons being about to depart the Colony, request all Claims and Demands against them to be presented for Payment ; -
In the Schooner Governor Bligh, Mr. Grono, John Denton, Benjamin Leverage, Alexander Boaks, Robert Robertson, Francis Farrero, John Camull, Samuel Gray, Thomas Arnott, John Daniel, Edward Williams. 13

1815
.... and then again the schooner Bligh in 1815 -

THE Persons undernamed intending shortly to depart the Colony in the respective Vessels beneath which their Names are placed, it is their request that those to whom they may be indebted will present their Accounts to each severally, in order to their speedy Arrangement; and also, that such Persons as may be indebted to either of them, the said Persons undernamed, will settle their Accounts forthwith.
In the Schooner Bligh, Mr. J. Grono, master, Mr. J. Dawson, Mr. Alex. Books, John Tagg, John Atkins, Rob. Robertson, Thos. Larking, Thos. Arnot, Pat. Branen, Henry Shaffrey, Thos. Galling, Wm. Burn, J. Soars, Benj. Levret, H.Farrero, J. Camel, Edw. Williams, and Wm. Claik. 14

1817
..... and the sloop Martha in 1817 -

Muster of the Master, crew and passengers of the sloop Martha of Sydney - bound for the Fiji Islands and thence back to Sydney 5th March 1817.15
No
1 Stephen Goff - formerly Mas. of Farquahar of the Isle of France.
2 Richd Perkins cond. pardon by Gov King on 4th June 1806 & now specially permitted on bond from McDermond (?) Chief Constable of Sydney.
3 Wm Barnes, formerly --- (??) from the Ocean - now discharged from ship Harriett by ----- (??).
4 John Watson came free in the Coromandel - from (??) discharged from Lady Nelson.
5 Joseph Flood free by birth in N S Wales formerly appt to blksmith in lumber yard.
6 Chas Reynolds free by birth in N S Wales with his father's permission.
7 John Lewis free by Certif. No 6/1492 date 6 Feb 1815.
8 Thos Arnott came free in Sarah Whaler.

It is believed that Thomas was even Master of the schooner The Hawk. 16When he delivered wet wheat to its destination rather than dry wheat (the implication was that the wheat had been swapped) Thomas is recorded as failing to respond to letters in relation to the matter, which was not unexpected as he was unable to read at that time. Apparently he was located at a hotel in a severe state of inebriation and was unable to be questioned, but he had already sworn an affidavit that the wheat was delivered in the condition in which it was received.

Windsor 12th June 1817
Sir,
I do myself the Honor to inclose
for your Excellency's perusal when it became copied,
of an ............ Affidavit ...................................... matter
...................... office inspecting the wheat which was taken
..................... from the stores at this station and
delivered at Sydney - part of this grain was charged and all
of it ... billed ... in the Schooner. Arnott the Master of
the vessel has taken a ............ oath in swearing he ......
the Wheat from ...... the stores at Windsor in the same
state he delivered it. When I went for that man in
Sydney he would not come to me, I therefore went
to him but as he was in a state of inebriation I did
not say anything to him.
I am Sir,
With the greatest respect
Your Most Obediant Servant
*Commisariate's Office, Windsor

9th May 1817
Received from His Majesty's Magazines at Windsor.
Three hundred and twenty bushells of Wheat in
a perfect and good condition to be delivered in the
same state at His Majesty's Magazines at Sydney
Signed
Thomas Arnott
his X mark 17

..... and again the sloop Martha -

CLAIMS AND DEMANDS.
THE Persons undernamed intending shortly to depart the Colony in the respective Vessels beneath which their Names are placed, it is their request that those to whom they may be indebted will present their Accounts to each severally, in order to their speedy Arrangement; and also, that all those who may be indebted to either of them, the said Persons undernamed, will settle their Accounts forthwith.
Crew in the Martha Sloop. William Barnes, Thomas Jones, Thos. Arnet, John Munday, Richard Perkins, and John Watson.
THE Sloop Martha, Mr. STEPHEN Commander, being intended shortly to leave the Port, Claims are required to be timely presented. 18

1819
Thomas then crewed on the schooner Governor Bligh until mid 1819 -

The following Persons leaving the Colony in the Schooner Governor Bligh, request Claims to be timely presented. - John Fussell, Wm. Wright, Wm. Barratt, John Williams, John Walker, Thomas McDonald, Thomas Farmer, Thomas Larking, Francis Ferara, James Nelson, John Cammill, Benjamin Leveret, John Sans, Richard Nevis, Thomas Burgess, John Tegg, Thomas Arnott, Michael Farling, George Pashley, and William Lawrence, John Eagan, Matthew Graves, William Brown, and John Byron. 19

.... and then transferred back to the sloop Martha for a voyage "home" -

THE Brig Governor Macquarie and Sloop Martha will positively sail for the Derwent in the Course of, the ensuing Week. For Freight or Passage apply to Mr. Richard Heany, Master, at Mr. Loane's Residence, on Bunker's Hill. July 24,1819.20

The brig Governor Macquarie, belonging to Mrs. Reibey, has been purchased by R. W. Loane, Esq. who has also bought the sloop Martha of Mr. John Redman. The former is being equipped for a voyage to New Zealand, and the latter is about to proceed to Van Diemen's Land.

The following Persons leaving the Colony in the Sloop Martha, request Claims to be presented :- Mr. Richard Perkins, master, Thomas Arnott, John Tegg, John Egan, John Monday, and John Soars. 21

It would seem that at this time, Thomas retired from his seafaring career and moved back to Van Diemen's Land to settle on the land.

  • 1. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 26 June 1808: p1
  • 2. SHIP NEWS - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 13 October 1805: p2
  • 3. SHIP NEWS - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 1 December 1805: p2
  • 4. Nicholls : Knopwood's Diary - Monday 4 August 1806
  • 5. SYDNEY - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 5 June 1808: p1
  • 6. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 26 November 1809: p2
  • 7. SHIP NEWS - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 21 January 1810: p2
  • 8. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 10 March 1810: p2
  • 9. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 31 March 1810: p2
  • 10. SYDNEY - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 18 August 1810: p2
  • 11. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 4 December 1813: p2
  • 12. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 24 April 1813: p2
  • 13. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 22 January 1814: p2
  • 14. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 22 April 1815: p1 (Supplement to the Sydney Gazette)
  • 15. NSW Departures 1816-1825 No 39/132
  • 16. NSW Colonial Secretary Index - ARNOTT, Thomas
  • 17. Ibid - Reel 6047; 4/1739 pp.213, 215 - transcribed by Julie Skellern
  • 18. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 25 October 1817: p4
  • 19. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 29 May 1819: p2
  • 20. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 24 July 1819: p1
  • 21. Classified Advertising - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) 31 July 1819: p2
Ian Byers
Ian Byers's picture
Possible New Zealand geographical connection to Thomas Arnott

A New Zealand researcher, Stephen Donaldson, writes that -

Thomas was a sealer and he sailed to New Zealand on several occasions on ships under the command of Welsh sealing Captain John Grono who is associated with the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney. Thomas obviously became an experienced hand. Grono frequented the Fiordland and the south Westland areas, which are remote parts of the South Island of New Zealand. It is known that many places in Fiordland were named by Grono and he was quite parochial considering parts of this coastline his private sealing grounds. Chalky Inlet was one of his favourite haunts. He obviously explored the Foveaux Strait area also. Grono had a sealing station in Doubtful Sound at what is now known as Grono Bay. The sealers called it Gronows. Examples of geographical features Grono named were Thompson Sound, Nancy Sound, Bligh Sound and Milford Sound derives its name from Grono’s original Milford Haven. It is thought he also named Caswell Sound. This is interesting because it proves he explored the entire Fiordland coastline.

You may be wondering why this is relevant to Thomas Arnott.

In 1826 the educated sealer John Boultbee was a member of a sealing gang initially dropped off in northern Fiordland. His gang went up the West Coast of the South Island and in April 1826 he camped at a place called Arnitts Point (now known as Arnott Point) which was also known to the sealers as Cave Point. There is also an island near to and south of the mouth of the nearby Moeraki River that Boultbee in his journal referred to as Arnitts Island. He also referred to Moeraki River as Arnitts River. This proves the name Arnitt was already associated with this location and known to other sealers by that date. In my view it follows that these geographic features were named after a man named Arnitt or Arnott or something similar and he must have been a sealer sometime prior to April 1826. I believe these features were named after the Thomas Arnott subject of this research. This is logical bearing in mind the dates of the voyages he took and that he was associated with Grono. I think he was probably the leader of a gang. Who exactly conferred the names originally is open to conjecture. It may have been Thomas, the members of his gang or Captain John Grono.

Map of Arnott Point and Arnott Creek (NZ Topo Map)

There is a rest area at Arnott Point adjacent to the State Highway which is known for its expansive views out over the Tasman Sea and the surrounding native bush area. It is well known to those that have travelled that road which I have done several times over the years.

If you Google Arnott Point, West Coast, NZ you will see what I mean. Seal numbers have increased over recent decades and there is now a seal colony at the point. Seals numbers in the past must have been astronomical compared to today but the fact that seal numbers are coming back and that they frequent this location is significant in itself.

This is interesting because I believe it enables one to locate one of the places where Thomas was engaged in sealing. 1

View from Knights Point lookout to Arnott Point

View from Knights Point lookout to Arnott Point
(Wikipedia Commons - Markus Koljonen 2006) 2

  • 1. Email communication with Stephen J. Donaldson, Wellington NZ, January 2019
  • 2. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Licence