Free Settler or Felon?
Newcastle Harbour Pilot
GEORGE WILLIAM JACKSON
son of Major Jackson was appointed Harbour Master in July 1837 after the resignation of Mr. Griffin. The following article in the Sydney Gazette in July 1839 illustrates the arduous duties of the Harbour Master in these years :
'Intelligence reached Sydney on Thursday of the total wreck of this fine vessel (King William IV), the property of Mr. Grose, at Newcastle, on Tuesday last. The vessel left Newcastle on Monday afternoon, and stood out to sea, the wind blowing southerly.
In a short time it began to blow a perfect gale. In consequence of some injury to her funnel shrouds which could not be repaired from the vessel pitching heavily, the funnel fell on deck, and Captain Prescott was induced to give orders that the fires should be put out, the engine unconnected, and canvas to be set on the vessel; the next morning stood in again for Newcastle and came to anchor under Nobby's Island, about three o'clock.
The swell was so great that both anchors dragged, and the vessel drifted in shore and struck about six o'clock and began to go to pieces. The situation of the steamer had been observed by Mr Jackson, the pilot, who pulled to them in the lifeboat to render assistance, and by so doing was the means of saving the lives of the whole crew and passengers. Mr. Jackson had reached the shore by the time the vessel struck; a rope was passed from the vessel to the shore, by means of which all the people escaped. Two infants who were on board were secured in blankets and thrown into the water, from which they were picked up by Mr. Jackson's crew. In a short time the sides of the vessel went to pieces, and the boilers and a great part of the engine fell into the water to seaward to deep water. Some few articles were saved; and it is expected that when the weather moderates the boilers and the engine will be secured.
The safety of the lives of the people is to be attributed to the united exertions of Captain Edward Biddulph and Mr. Jackson; the former was passenger on board the steamer; of Lieutenant B. exertions all speak in terms of the highest admiration. In the course of the morning the passengers were conveyed over to Newcastle, when they addressed the following letter to Mr Jackson, the pilot, expressive of their sense of the important services he had rendered them and to request his acceptance of a piece of plate which they intend to present to him, with the inscription underneath.
Sir, We the cabin passengers per King William the Fourth this morning wrecked at Newcastle beg leave to proffer you our most grateful thanks for the prompt assistance you rendered us and the judicious management you displayed in rescuing us and our fellow passengers from our perilous situation, and we request your acceptance of a trifling memento of the high estimation in which we hold you bearing the annexed inscription
We are Sir, Yours most faithfully, John Hector, H. Pilcher, James Phillips, George Lord, F. Adams, E. Biddulph, D. Thompson, H. Hill
Inscription. - Presented by the cabin passengers per King William steamer to George W. Jackson Harbour Master at Newcastle as a mark of their gratitude for the prompt and efficient assistance rendered them during the wreck of that vessel on the morning of 2 July.
George Jackson resided in Church Street in 1841 and was still Harbour Master in 1843.