Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Charles Throsby R. N.

Surgeon and Commandant at Newcastle

Lieutenant Menzies resigned in March 1805 and was replaced by Ensign Cadwallader Draffen of the NSW Corps.

Ensign Cadwallader Draffen

Ensign Cadwallader Draffen was given Detailed Instructions by Governor King as to how to conduct the settlement however he became too ill to attend his duties.

Charles Throsby's Dramatic Return to the Settlement

When Charles Throsby made his dramatic return to the settlement on the Francis on 20th March 1805 he found Ensign Draffen completely incapacitated. Charles Throsby informed Governor King of the harrowing events surrounding his return to Newcastle in March 1805.....

Surgeon Throsby to Governor King (King Papers),

22 March 1805.
Kingstown, Newcastle,
I am extremely concerned in being obliged to state to your Excellency the loss of H.M. Colonial schooner Francis.

We arrived off Coal Island, with the wind about E.S.E. blowing fresh, on the afternoon of the 20th inst; but on hauling round the island the wind unfortunately backed to the south'd, and a strong ebb tide running obliged us to bring up in the channell under the island, when I left her in the vessell's small boat and with much difficulty gott on shore, as we had not left her more than ten minutes before it came on to blow very hard in squalls, in one of which the vessell parted from her anchor and drifted very close into the breakers on the Port Stevens shore.

They immediately made sail, and succeeded in getting her over well under the island, where they again brought up, and appeared to ride very quiet the remainder part of that afternoon with the wind more moderate until the evening, about seven o'clock, when it again came on to blow in squalls very hard, and continued the whole night, during which it seems some guns were fired from her, but which were not heard from the roling of the surffs and wind.

At daylight in the morning of 21st I had the mortification to see her riding with one bower anchor and kedge in amongst the heavy breakers off the sand point on Port Stevens beach, directly opposite Coal Island, where she had drifted during the night. Every sea that struck her made a fair breach over her. About eleven o'clock her bower anchor parted and left her riding by the kedge only, and we could plainly perceive she brought home with every sea that struck her. I then expected every moment to see her go broadside on the point, which had she done every soul on board must have perished; but, fortunately a smoth enabled them to set their jib and cut the hawser and had just time to gett her before the wind and sea before she struck.

Every sea lifting her drove her further inshore until so close in that the sea as it roled out left her dry. Immediately on seeing per part I sent the boats, with every person I could muster, to render every assistance, and to gett such of her stores, etc., out of her as we possibly could, in which we was fortunate enough to succeed, nothing of the Government property being lost except some bread and the provisions of the crew. The vessell now lays dry at low water, compleatly bilged, and in such a state that there is not the least hopes of ever getting her off.

Her sails, rigging, etc., I have desired the master of her to gett made up and tallied, which we are now employed at getting over to the store of this settlement. Immediately on her going on shore I requested the sergeant of the detachment to send a corporal and two privates as a guard over her stores to prevent theft, which he readily complied with; but as there now only remains the bare hulk I shall take no further steps until your Excellency';s directions are received thereon; but I much fear she will go to pieces the next spring tides, as she is now half- full of sand. Having stated to your Excellency as near as I am able the unfortunate loss of the Francis, I am also much concerned in being obliged to state that on my landing at the warf, I enquired for Ensign Draffen, when I was much astonished at being informed he was extremely ill and not capable of transacting business, being perfectly insane.

I therefore thought it necessary, on the following morning (after having seen him and being convinced as to his state), to open such letters as were addressed to him on service, knowing they contained some orders to him that was necessary to be put into execution. I therefore sent for Mr. Mileham, Mr. Sutton (the storekeeper), and the sergeant of the detachment, in whose presence and with whose concurrence I opened them, and finding some instructions to Ensign Draffen, wherein your Excellency is pleased to direct that the immediate superintendence and direction of all public works and prisoners in this settlement should rest with me, I have therefore taken upon myself the whole care and direction of Government concerns here, as far as relates to the civil department, untill your Excellency's further directions shall be received thereon, and which I trust will meet your Excellency's approbation.

With regard to Ensign Draffen's state of mind previous to and since my arrival, I beg leave to refer your Excellency to Mr. Mileham, who will deliver this letter, and whom I have also requested to deliver such letters as were written on the subject by that gentleman previous to my arrival here, since which time I have taken every means in my power to render his unfortunate situation as comfortable as possible. He is much debilitated, and is perfectly incapable of even assisting himself with the common necessaries of life, so much so that his servant is obliged to put every morcel of his food in his mouth. He never speaks, except when asked a question he sometimes answers yes or no, and when placed in any particular position he remains so untill removed by some person.

In my opinion, as a medical man, that his immediately removal to Sydney would be the only means of restoring him to his health and faculties, and unless some very quick change for the better he must very shortly pay the debt of Nature.

Two private letters I brought with me for Ensign Draffen, I have returned to Mr. Minchin, as I believe they were from that gentleman; the public ones I shall keep here untill your Excellency wishes them returned.

A gang of hands are now up river procuring cedar, but as they were gone before my arrival they have no orders to cut long cedar. The salt pans are constantly at work. We have twenty casks ready for the first vessell. Owing to the unfortunate loss of the Francis, I was not able to send to Port Stevens so soon as I could wish. I expect them back tomorrow Mr. Edwards, the master of the Francis having requested (by a letter) a supply of provisions for himself and the crew, the whole of their own being lost, I have desired the storekeeper to issue them one week's ration in the same proportion as issued here, which I trust your Excellency will not deem improper.

I have sent such part of Lieut. Mensies baggage as the master of the Governor Hunter could take; the remainder is all packed. The horses appear better, but I think it would be adviseable to remove them before the winter The storekeeper has this moment requested me to inform your Excellency we have but three weeks flour in store, and but 400 lbs. of sugar; of pork there is twelve weeks. The following observations I trust your Excellency will not deem improper: -

In my opinion vessells bound to this port ought always to lay too to the south'd of Coal Island untill the signal is made on the South Head for the flood tide having made in the harbour, as it is impossible to fetch to a safe anchorage with the ebb tide if it blows strong and the wind out.

Yours. Etc. C. Throsby. .......

Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. V, King 1803, 1804, 1805. Edited by F. M. Bladen, Lansdowne Slattery and Company, Mona Vale, N.S.W.,1979. 573 - 574.

Later in December Lieutenant William Lawson was appointed to the position of Commandant temporarily in the absence of Charles Throsby