- Davis, D.F.
- Ship histories and stories, History - pre-Federation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1992 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Her Majesty’s Colonial Ship VICTORIA was a screw sloop, laid down January 1855, launched 30th June 1855, completed November 22 1855 by YOUNG, SON, MAGNAY AND CO, LONDON. Delivered to Victoria 1856 and costing 38,000 pounds. Her tonnage was 880 tons displacement or 580 tons measurement, she was 167 feet long. Her armament was two 32 pounders, 56 hundredweight, 9ft 6ins, pivot guns and six 32 pdr, 25cst, 6ft guns. Her engine was 150 nominal horse power, twin screwed with speeds of 9.5 knots and 12 knots under sail.
Between 1856 and 1860 HMCS Victoria had been under the control of the Victoria Police Department, but at the urging of Captain Seymour RN, she came under the control of the Chief Secretary and Commander Norman and his officers were commissioned to the Victorian Government.
The Victorian Parliament passed “The Armed Vessels Regulation Act” which regularized the position of Her Majesty’s Victorian Ship VICTORIA and her crew in war and which effectively created the Victorian Navy, the first in the colonies.
The law officers of the Crown in Britain and a horrified British Government were quick to disallow the Act, seeing it as leading to a most undesirable independence on the part of a mere colony. While the Victoria was hotly engaged in the New Zealand war, the Crown stated, “We think it very doubtful whether she could claim to be recognised as a British man of war and to possess the privileges incident to International Law, to such a vessel, as for instance whether captures made by her would be liable to be condemned as prizes.”
The Victoria sailed from Melbourne on the 4 August 1861 for Brisbane and points north, to search for Burke and Wills who had left Coopers Creek for the Gulf in June 1861.
The Victoria was re-armed 1878 with one 64 pdr and four 12 pdr howitzers; she finished her Naval service in 1882, was purchased by Western Australia in 1894 and laid up in 1897 then scrapped in Sydney 1920.
The Enfield breech loading rifles carried by the crew in New Zealand were much envied by the Naval Brigade who had colt revolvers and cutlasses and less pay.
Shore parties who engaged the enemy were eligible for the New Zealand medal. Forty members of HMVS Victoria were entitled to this medal, seven issued in 1871/72 were dated 1860/61 on the reverse and three sent later were undated. This medal was only issued to veterans who were alive in 1869, having been sanctioned 1 March 1869, but it is surprising that there were not more applicants.
16,000 pounds were spent maintaining the Victoria on operations in New Zealand.
The flogging rate on the Australian Station in 1862 was 55 per 1,000 i.e. 3 times the RN average, this was caused by desertions to the gold fields; to improve this situation a colonial allowance to all RN personnel in Australia was made ranging from 15/- daily for senior officers 6d for seamen, marines and boys.
Known Crew of HMVS Victoria in NZ 1860/61
Full Complement 95- Entitled to NZ Medal
ALLEN Cpl Carpenter; ASHWELL Edward Trimmer; BENFIELD Patrick AB; BRETT George AB; COLLINGWOOD Joseph AB; CROMARTY Joseph AB; DAVIS Mark Trimmer; DUDLEY Thomas AB; DUNN A AB; EDMONDS R AB; FORD Harry AB’ ; GRAHAM Cuthbert Drummer’ ; HAWKINS James AB; HAY John AB’ ; HOWIE William Lieut; HOOD Peter AB; HORNE Midshipman MID later Comd, RN, Roy Hum Soc. Medal*; HORSELEY William AB; JONES William Boy 1st class*; JONES William Cook’s Mate; KENSINGTON Ambrose Capt Foretop; LAWSON Alex AB; LINDON Robert QM; LOCKE E J AB; LONG Samuel QM*; LUTHER Masco Gunners Mate; MAREY George Stoker’ ; McINTYRE Thomas Trimmer; McMYRN John Trimmer; NORMAN William H. Mid, Comd. died 1867; OVENDEN James Capt Foretop”; PARKES Robert Trimmer; REES Benjamin Stoker; SCHRADER John AB; SMITH Samuel Boy 2nd Class, later AB; STEWARD James AB; STROUD A Boy 2nd Class; SIBBOND William AB; TAYLOR John, Leading Seaman; WHITE John AB; WOODS George Mid Lieut.
Boy 2nd Class Samuel Smith was never traced and his medal went to Department of Defence 1905.
* Medals sent to applicants
No Medal Application
CECIL Charles Lieut; CAYNE J Lieut; ELLIOT George Paymaster; PATTERSON Samuel Surgeon: SERJEANT Henry AB, accidentally shot 1860, buried New Plymouth.
Rates of Pay Per Annum
- Comd 600 pounds
- Lieutenants 350 pounds
- Paymaster 200 pounds
Rates of Pay Per Day
- Stokers 6/-
- AB 4/9
- Boy 1st Class 3/-
- Boy 2nd Class 2/6
1. Australian Colonial Navies, by Colin Jones
2. NZ National Archives and Gazettes
3. NZ Naval Museum, Devonport
4. Mr. R. D. Williams