Burton, Isabella - I521

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Steerage Class Passenger 
Isabella Burton
Born abt 1844-45
Nationality Unknown
Born abt 1844-45
Genealogy Data
Person ID I521
Voyage Data
Voyage to Adelaide in 1874
Personal role Steerage Class Passenger
Name on list Isabella Burton
Age on voyage 29
Occupation Dressmaker
Passage type ukap
Joined place London
Left place Adelaide

Isabella Burton was born c1844. This is based on her age of 29 shown on the passenger list on the 1874 voyage of the City of Adelaide.

The Sydney Morning Herald[1] quotes an article in the Wallaroo Times (provided below) that tells of a schooner called Mayflower that had to put into Wallaroo on Friday, August 28th, 1874. It had been heading from Port Broughton to Port Adelaide, but been driven back up the Gulf by a strong south-west gale and had lost the mate overboard.

The man's name is given as Richard and his age as 32. It also indicated that his wife was a passenger on the City of Adelaide who had come to South Australia to be with him.

The Mayflower man overboard story was briefly reported in several newspapers prior to the Sydney Morning Herald article. Some newspapers reported that the man's first name was "Richard"[1][2][3] Other newspapers reported that the man's first name was "Charles".[4][5] It appears that at least one journalist has jumped to the wrong conclusion and taken the name Charles from another Burton couple whose names are seen on the City of Adelaide passenger list.

It would not be possible for the passenger, Charles Burton, to have come off the stranded clipper, travel to Port Broughton, set sail in a schooner in a gale as the mate, and subsequently be lost. The evidence is reasonably solid that Richard Burton, 32, was at sea on the schooner Mayflower on its way to Port Adelaide, and the schooner was upset by the same run of bad weather which had caused his wife's ship to be run aground.

During this week of weather drama, it was also reported that the schooner Adelaide was wrecked[6], and the schooner Resolute went aground[7], both at Kingston. The diary of James McLauchlan also describes the weather getting rough as they approached South Australia.

It is sad to ponder whether Richard, in Port Broughton around the 25th August, had received word by telegraph of the arrival of Isabella, at Port Adelaide on the City of Adelaide, and whether that may have contributed to the schooner being caught in the gale on their way to Port Adelaide and Richard being lost overboard.

Lost Overboard


The Wallaroo Times reports that the schooner Mayflower, Evans, master, from Port Broughton to Port Adelaide, put into Port Wallaroo on Friday, August 28th, having been driven back up the Gulf by a strong south-west gale. The captain reports while opposite Corney Point a strong south-west gale was encountered, and the schooner lost her jib, in consequence of which she was compelled to make for this port.

When about fifteen miles to the west of Wardang Island, while pursuing his course down the Gulf, the captain being at the helm, a loud shriek was heard, and on the captain looking over the stern he saw the mate, Richard Burton, who had been swept overboard, struggling in the water with his hands uplifted.

The captain knew that the unfortunate man could scarcely sink so long as he kept in the deadwater, and immediately left the wheel and seizing an empty cask, threw it over to the assistance of the swimmer. One of the seamen then got a ladder and threw it over. The captain rushed back to the helim and at the risk of damaging the vessel tried to bring her round.

In the mean time the sailors were making their best efforts to get the boat down the side, and the captain went aloft in order to ascertain the direction in which the unfortunate man had floated. The cask and ladder were discernible, but the mate was nowhere to be seen, and a piercing shriek at no great distance meaned to indicate that the poor fellow had sunk to his grave.

He was a native of Devonport, and 32 years of age. What makes this loss of life the more lamentable is the circumstance that his wife had just arrived from England by the City of Adelaide in order to join her husband in this country.

Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 September 1874[1]


A marriage of Richard E Burton and Isabella Watkins was registered in Cardiff, Wales within the July-Aug-Sept quarter of 1866. This Isabella Watkins may have been born in the district of Abergavenny, Wales within the July-Aug-Sept quarter of 1845.

Isabella Burton née Watkins (29) married James McKiverken (29) in Ebenezer Place, Adelaide, South Australia on 5 October 1876. There is no other occurrence of the name McKiverken in the births, (to 1906), marriages (to 1916) or deaths (to 1915) registered in SA.

James McKiverken was also a seaman. He is listed in the crew of the ‘Alexander’ when she plied from Melbourne to Sydney in December 1872 (trimmer, aged 27), and in March 1873 (able seaman, 28). In June 1873 he was in the crew of ‘Essie Black’ that sailed from Adelaide to Sydney (second mate, 28). His nationality was given either as ‘British’ or ‘Port William’, which is a small fishing village in the county of Wigtownshire and on the south-west coast of Scotland.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 September 1874. 
  2. The Argus (Melbourne). 1 September 1874. 
  3. The Mercury (Hobart). 8 September 1874. 
  4. The Brisbane Courier. 1 September 1874. 
  5. The Queenslander (Brisbane). 5 September 1874. 
  6. The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 August 1874. 
  7. The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 August 1874.