Margaret Drury1

#27220, b. circa 1812

Individual's Timeline

Birthcirca 1812Margaret Drury2,1
Marriage12 January 1836Margaret Drury3

Primary events

  • Birth: Margaret Drury was born circa 1812 in Ireland Margaret was a convict on the ill-fated "Neva" shipwreck of King Island in 1835. Vic MALHAM has transcribed her convict records and says "From Margaret DRURY’s convict record her birth date is probably 1812 as she was 21 when convicted in 1833 and 23 when she arrived in Tasmania in 1835."

    Vic's blog can be viewed here -,1
  • Marriage: She married Peter (James?) Robinson on Tuesday, 12 January 1836 in St John's Church of England, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.3

Secondary circumstances

  • Married Name: Her married name was Robinson.
Some aspects of Margaret Drury's life. WRECK OF THE CONVICT SHIP "NEVA," ON KING'S ISLAND. From "The Book of the Bush Containing Many Truthful Sketches Of The Early Colonial Life Of Squatters, Whalers, Convicts, Diggers, And Others Who Left Their Native Land And Never Returned By Dunderdale, George, 1822-1903. Obtained via Project Gutenberg

She sailed from Cork on January 8th, 1835, B. H. Peck, master; Dr. Stevenson, R.N., surgeon. She had on board 150 female prisoners and thirty-three of their children, nine free women and their twenty-two
children, and a crew of twenty-six. Several ships had been wrecked on King's Island, and when a vessel approached it the mate of the watch warned his men to keep a bright look out. He said, "King's Island is inhabited by anthropophagi, the bloodiest man eaters ever known; and, if you don't want to go to pot, you had better keep your eyes skinned." So the look-out man did not go to sleep.

Nevertheless, the 'Neva' went ashore on the Harbinger reef, on May 13th unshipped her rudder and parted into four pieces. Only nine men and thirteen women reached the island; they were nearly naked and had
nothing to eat, and they wandered along the beach during the night, searching amongst the wreckage. At last they found a puncheon of rum, upended it, stove in the head, and drank. The thirteen women
then lay down on the sand close together, and slept. The night was very cold, and Robinson, an apprentice, covered the women as well as he could with some pieces of sail and blankets soaked with salt
water. The men walked about the beach all night to keep themselves warm, being afraid to go inland for fear of the cannibal blackfellows. In the morning they went to rouse the women, and found that seven of the thirteen were dead.

The surviving men were the master, B. H. Peck, Joseph Bennet, Thomas Sharp, John Watson, Edward Calthorp, Thomas Hines, Robert Ballard, John Robinson, and William Kinderey. The women were Ellen Galvin,
Mary Stating, Ann Cullen, Rosa Heland, Rose Dunn, and Margaret Drury.

For three weeks these people lived almost entirely on shellfish.

They threw up a barricade on the shore, above high water mark, to protect themselves against the cannibals. The only chest that came ashore unbroken was that of Robinson the apprentice, and in it there
was a canister of powder. A flint musket was also found among the wreckage, and with the flint and steel they struck a light and made a fire. When they went down to the beach in search of shellfish, one
man kept guard at the barricade, and looked out for the blackfellows; his musket was loaded with powder and pebbles.

Three weeks passed away before any of the natives appeared, but at last they were seen approaching along the shore from the south. At the first alarm all the ship-wrecked people ran to the barricade for
shelter, and the men armed themselves with anything in the shape of weapons they could find. But their main hope of victory was the musket. They could not expect to kill many cannibals with one shot, but the flash and report would be sure to strike them with terror, and put them to flight.

By this time their diet of shellfish had left them all weak and emaciated, skeletons only just alive; the anthropophagi would have nothing but bones to pick; still, the little life left in them was precious, and they resolved to sell it as dear as they could. They watched the savages approaching; at length they could count their number. They were only eleven all told, and were advancing slowly.

Now they saw that seven of the eleven were small, only picaninnies.

When they came nearer three out of the other four were seen to be lubras, and the eleventh individual then resolved himself into a white savage, who roared out, "Mates ahoy!"

The white man was Scott, the sealer, who had taken up is abode on the island with his harem, three Tasmanian gins and seven children.

They were the only permanent inhabitants; the cannibal blacks had disappeared, and continued to exist only in the fancies of the mariners. Scott's residence was opposite New Year's Island not far from the shore; there he had built a hut and planted a garden with
potatoes and other vegetables. Flesh meat he obtained from the kangaroos and seals. Their skins he took to Launceston in his boat, and in it he brought back supplies of flour and groceries. He had observed dead bodies of women and men, and pieces of a wrecked vessel cast up by the sea, and had traveled along the shore with his family, looking for anything useful or valuable which the wreck might yield. After hearing the story, and seeing the miserable plight of
the castaways, he invited them to his home. On arriving at the hut Scott and his lubras prepared for their guests a beautiful meal of kangaroo and potatoes. This was their only food as long as they remained on King's Island, for Scott's only boat had got adrift, and
his flour, tea, and sugar had been all consumed. But kangaroo beef and potatoes seemed a most luxurious diet to the men and women who had been kept alive for three weeks on nothing but shellfish.

Scott and his hounds hunted the kangaroo, and supplied the colony with meat. The liver of the kangaroo when boiled and left to grow cold is a dry substance, which, with the help of hunger and a little
imagination, is said to be as good as bread.

In the month of July, 1835, heavy gales were blowing over King's Island. For fourteen days the schooner 'Elizabeth', with whalers for Port Fairy, was hove to off the coast, standing off and on, six hours
one way and six hours the other. Akers, the captain, and his mate got drunk on rum and water daily. The cook of the 'Industry' was on board the 'Elizabeth', the man whom Captain Blogg was flogging when
his crew seized him and threw him overboard. The cook also was now pitched overboard for having given evidence against the four men who had saved him from further flogging.

At this time also Captain Friend, of the whaling cutter 'Sarah Ann', took shelter under the lee of New Year's Island, and he pulled ashore to visit Scott the sealer. There he found the shipwrecked men and
women whom he took on board his cutter, and conveyed to Launceston, except one woman and two men. It was then too late in the season to
take the whalers to Port Fairy. Captain Friend was appointed chief District Constable at Launceston; all the constables under him were prisoners of the Crown, receiving half a dollar a day. He was
afterwards Collector of Customs at the Mersey.

In November, 1835 the schooner 'Elizabeth' returned to Launceston with 270 tuns of oil. The share of the crew of a whaling vessel was one-fiftieth of the value of the oil and bone. The boat-steerer received one-thirtieth, and of the headmen some had one-twenty-fifth,
others one-fifteenth. In this same year, 1835, Batman went to Port Phillip with a few friends and seven Sydney blackfellows. On June 14th he returned to Van Diemen's Land, and by the 25th of the same
month he had compiled a report of his expedition, which he sent to Governor Arthur, together with a copy of the grant of land executed by the black chiefs. He had obtained three copies of the grant
signed by three brothers Jagga-Jagga, by Bungaree, Yan-Yan, Moorwhip, and Marmarallar. The area of the land bought by Batman was not surveyed with precision, but it was of great extent, like infinite
space, whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere. And in addition he took up a small patch of one hundred thousand acres between the bay and the Barwon, including the insignificant site of
Geelong, a place of small account even to this day. Batman was a long-limbed Sydney native, and he bestrode his real estate like a Colossus, but King William was a bigger Colossus than Batman--he claimed both the land and the blacks, and ignored the Crown grant.

Next, John Fawkner and his friends chartered the schooner 'Enterprise' for a voyage across the Straits to Australia Felix. He afterwards claimed to be the founder of Melbourne. He could write and talk everlastingly, but he had not the 'robur' and 'as triplex'
suitable for a sea-robber. Sea-sickness nearly killed him, so he stayed behind while the other adventurers went and laid the foundation. They first examined the shores of Western Port, then went to Port Philip Bay and entered the River Yarra. They disembarked on its banks, ploughed some land, sowed maize and wheat,
and planted two thousand fruit trees. They were not so grasping as Batman, and each man pegged out a farm of only one hundred acres.

These farms were very valuable in the days of the late boom, and are called the city of Melbourne. Batman wanted to oust the newcomers; he claimed the farms under his grant from the Jagga-Jaggas. He squatted on Batman's Hill, and looked down with evil eyes on the
rival immigrants. He saw them clearing away the scrub along Flinders Street, and splitting posts and rails all over the city from Spencer Street to Spring Street, regardless of the fact that the ground under their feet would be, in the days of their grandchildren, worth 3,000 pounds per foot. Their bullock-drays were often bogged in Elizabeth Street, and they made a corduroy crossing over it with red gum logs.

Some of these logs were dislodged quite sound fifty years afterwards by the Tramway Company's workmen.

Some aspects of Margaret Drury's life. VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
MELANCHOLY SHIPWRECK. - Total loss of the female convict ship "NEVA," in Bass's Straits-Two hundred and twenty-four lives lost.
* It falls to our lot this week to record the most distressing case of shipwreck, and attended with the greatest sacrifice of human life than has been recorded, to our knowledge, for many years past, in any part of the world-the total loss of the barque Neva, bound to Sydney, with female convicts from Cork : the third convict ship bound to the Australian Colonies which has been lost within two years ; and far exceeding both the first lamentable occurrences in loss of life and destruction of property. The first of these wrecks was the female convict ship Amphitrite, off Solange, in 1833, when 170 lives fell a sacrifice ; the second the unfortunate George the Third, lost at the entrance of D'Entrecasteaux channel on the 12th of April last, with a loss of 134 lives ; whilst .at the third, the present dreadful wreck, 224 lives have been lost.
* We have used our best exertions to give a faithful account of every circumstance connected with this awful catastrophe; and our readers may place implicit reliance upon our record of the event.
* The barque Neva was a vessel of 337 tons bur- then, commanded by Capt. B. H. Peck, with a crew of 26 men. Surgeon-Superintendent of the convicts, Dr Stephenson She left Cork on the 8th of January last, having 241 souls on board, 150 female convicts, 9 free female emigrants, and 55 children, the Commander, Surgeon-Superintendent, and crew. Three persons died on the passage, and one child was born.
* At noon on the 13th of May, according to the ship's reckoning, she was 90 miles from King's Island, at the entrance to Bass's Straits. A good look-out for land was kept till sunset; and about 2 o'clock on the morning of the 14th of May, the land was made. Two hours after, breakers were suddenly discovered right ahead. The Captain, "who was on deck, gave immediate orders to tack, which were as promptly attended to; but, whilst in stavs, the vessel struck violently on a rock, and unshipped her rudder. Thus, being unmanageable, she paid off before the wind,-which was blowing strong,-being under double-reefed top- sails, and immediately struck again in the most violent manner on the larboard bow, swung broadside on the reef, and bilged. The pinnace was immediately lowered, and the Captain, Surgeon Superintendent, and two of the crew, got into her. The prison having been thrown down by the force of the striking of the vessel against the rocks, a rushing of the women thus liberated immediately took place to the boat, which swamped her, and, with the exception of the master and two seamen, every soul in her perished. On the master regaining the vessel, the crew immediately launched the longboat, with several individuals on board; care having been taken that too many should not be in her, as was the case with the pinnace; shortly after, however, she was up- set by the force of the surf, and the whole were precipitated into the sea. The master was again saved with the chief mate, but every other individual in the boat met a watery grave. These two succeeded in regaining the ship, which shortly afterwards went to pieces. The scene at this awful moment is indescribable. The vessel, completely divided into four parts, was covered with the un- fortunate females,-in the state in which they were aroused from their beds,-with the surviving crew of the vessel, clinging to the various portions of the wreck, and screaming in the most piteous manner. The detached portions of the wreck soon broke up entirely, and the work of final destruction was effected.
* Twenty-two persons, consisting of some of the crew and convicts, by clinging to various pieces of the ship, were carried on shore at King's Island, a distance of nine miles from where the vessel struck, after being eight hours in the water. Seven of these died soon after from exhaustion. The remaining fifteen, on recovering from their dreadful state of cold and fatigue, succeeded in erecting a tent of the things washed on shore from the wreck; and soon discovered some provisions, upon which they subsisted for about fifteen days. At this time, most singularly, and, as it now appears, fortunately for the survivors of the Neva, a small vessel, the Tartar, of this port, the property of Mr. C. Friend, was wrecked on another part of
the Island, the crew being saved ; and attracted by the numerous portions of the wreck found on the coast, they commenced a journey round the island in search of some further vestige of the wreck, and, after a fatiguing march, came to the tent erected by the survivors of the unfortunate Neva. The crew of the Tartar were accompanied by a sealer, a, passenger in that vessel, who had several dogs. With these they succeeded in taking wallaby, upon which the persons on the island lived until the arrival of Mr Friend, in the Sarah Ann, on the 15th instant-a month from the time of the wreck taking place. Mr. Friend was passing the island for the whaling station at Portland Bay, and went ashore with part of his crew at the imminent risk of his life, for the purpose of assisting the individuals on shore, the signals made giving him reason to suppose they were some persons in distress. With the exception of two seamen and one female convict, who were at the other side of the island, the survivors of this awful calamity were got on board the Sarah Ann, and arrived in Launceston on the 27th instant. Upwards of 100 bodies were interred upon the island, by the men, under the direction of Mr. Friend, before they left.
* The names of the saved out of the 239 individuals on board when the vessel struck are as follows: B. H. Peck, commander; Joseph Bennett, chief mate; Thomas Sharp, John Wilson, Edward Calthorpe, Thomas Hines, Robert Bullard, John Robinson, and William Kidney, seamen; Ellen Galvin, Mary Slattery, Ann Cullen, Rose Ann Heland, Rose Dunn, and Margaret Drury, female convicts.
* Of these, Robinson, Kidney, and Margaret Drury, were left at King's Island.
* The cutter Shamrock has been despatched for the purpose of taking off the persons left there, and to pick up any portion of the wreck or government stores which may have floated on shore. It appears the Neva had on board several bales of clothing, and 30 puncheons of rum for the Sydney government.
* The reef on which the vessel struck is off the south end of King's Island-running out 12 miles towards the main land of New Holland. There does not appear to have been the least blame attributable to the officers of the Neva-but on this it is not our province to dwell, as we have no doubt the local government will appoint a board of inquiry into all the circumstances of the dreadful occurrence.
* We think it just to state that considerable assistance was rendered by the sealer, Scott, who resides on King's Island, where he now remains: with him the woman and the two seamen left from the wreck will no doubt remain until the Shamrock reaches the island. As reported in the The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal Saturday 26 September 1835 This was noted there as being copied from Launceston Advertiser, July 2.
* Margaret went on to have at least one child with the sailor ROBINSON who was saved from this same shipwreck.

Locus Operandi

Child of Margaret Drury and Peter (James?) Robinson


  1. BDM in Australia, Aust Vital Records 1788-1905, ROBINSON, M     CB 1767031 Birth
         Sex:     Male     Father:     James
                   Mother:     Deury Margaret
         Event Date:     14 Feb 1844
         Reg Year:     1844     Reg State:     Tasmania
         Ref Number:     137.
  2. Victor MALHAM, "Victor MALHAM email," e-mail to Shirley Elrick, various.
  3. International Genealogical Index (IGI), Name:     Peter Robertson
    Birth Date:     
    Spouse's Name:     Margaret Drury
    Spouse's Birth Date:     
    Spouse's Birthplace:     
    Spouse's Age:     
    Event Date:     12 Jan 1836
    Event Place:     Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
    Father's Name:     
    Mother's Name:     
    Spouse's Father's Name:     
    Spouse's Mother's Name:     
    Marital Status:     
    Previous Wife's Name:     
    Spouse's Race:     
    Spouse's Marital Status:     
    Spouse's Previous Husband's Name:     
    Indexing Project (Batch) Number:     M39040-1
    System Origin:     Australia
    GS Film number:     1368285
    Reference ID:     

    Citing this Record:
    "Australia Marriages, 1810-1980," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 May 2015), Peter Robertson and Margaret Drury, 12 Jan 1836; citing Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,368,285.