Trial (ship)

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The Trial was a ship that was seized by convicts and eventually wrecked on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia in 1816.

The Trial was a brig owned by the merchant Simeon Lord. While waiting near the Sow and Pigs Reef in Port Jackson for good winds to take it to Port Dalrymple it was seized by a group of thirteen convicts. The ship was sailed northwards but was wrecked some 97 kilometres (60 mi) north of Port Stephens in what is now called Trial Bay. The survivors of the wreck constructed a new boat out of the remains of the ship but, according to the local aborigines, the ship capsized and all thirteen convicts were drowned. The master of the ship, William Bennett, his crew and some passengers, numbering eight or ten in total (including a woman and child) were abandoned at Trial Bay by the convicts. These survivors attempted to walk back to Sydney but disappeared without trace.

On 12 January 1817, the Lady Nelson was dispatched from Newcastle, under the command of Thomas Whyte, to search for the Trial. Whyte was successful, finding the remains of the Trial on 14 January which consisted of a canvas tent and smashed timbers. [1]

Stories of a white woman living in a wretched state among the aborigines persisted, believed perhaps to have been a stowaway on the Trial. In 1831 apparently a reward was offered for restoration of such a survivor of the Trial, resulting in a woman said to be Emily Bardon, wife of the captain, being found, but 14 years of living wild had left her demented and she died soon after being reunited with her relations.[2]


  1. Charles Bateson (1972). Australian Shipwrecks - vol 1 1622-1850. Sydney: AH and AW Reed. p. 55. ISBN 0 589 07112 2. 
  2. ABC Shipwrecks - Accessed 17 Feb 2008