- Editorial Staff
- History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2014 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
An eagle eyed reader recently sent us a copy of a postal first day cover which appears quite remarkable for the number of errors it contains.
The errors are numerous and start with the obvious misspelling of Captain Bligh’s name as William Blight.
Bligh and his daughter Mary sailed from England on 28 January 1806 in the ship Lady Madeleine Sinclair, which was part of a five-ship convoy escorted by HMS Porpoise. After calling at Cape Town the convoy dispersed, with Lady Madeleine Sinclair and Porpoise proceeding around the southern tip of Van Diemen’s Land and entering Port Jackson on 6 August 1806. With contrary winds they were obliged to anchor at Watsons Bay and it was another two days before the ships arrived at Sydney Cove. The date of arrival on the cover is therefore incorrect.
The cover implies Lady Madeleine Sinclair was a person who arrived with Captain Bligh sailing in Porpoise. However this Madeleine was a ship and Bligh and his suite did not sail in Porpoise. The ship is most likely named after Madeleine, the second daughter of the Duke of Gordon; she was an extremely charming and intelligent young woman who had many admirers. She first married Sir Robert Sinclair but he died shortly afterwards. In 1805 she married Charles Palmer, a member of parliament and of considerable fortune. A Scottish reel is named in her memory.
The map showing the route taken by Captain Bligh is that taken by him in the ill-fated voyage taken by HMS Bounty between 1787 and 1790. It has nothing to do with the subsequent 1806 voyage.
Finally we come to the Sydney/Garden Island pictorial postmark which is not applied in accordance with Australia Post’s philatelic postmarking procedures. These require a stamp of at least basic letter postage (50c in 2006) to be affixed for a postmark impression. The Postage Paid imprint has no validity as a stamp, until the postal articles are lodged for transmission and paid for.
In summary, buyers beware of anniversary covers unless they originate from reliable sources such as Australia Post. A little knowledge of naval history and Scottish dancing also helps.