On July 14, 1866, a ship called the Netherby — carrying emigrants from London to Brisbane — ran aground off the coast of King Island, located in the waters between Australia and Tasmania.
All 413 passengers and 49 crew made it to shore alive. Some of the food was saved, and a source of fresh water was located…but hundreds of people were still stranded on a largely uninhabited island in the middle of winter, “with only so much covering as could be provided by the use of sails and spars.”
Two days later, on July 16, a baby girl was born on the beach to passengers William and Ellen Cubbin.
Around the same time, second officer John Parry and a handful of others trekked roughly 35 miles to the Cape Wickham lighthouse. There, they borrowed a whaleboat and, despite rough seas and high winds, managed to reach mainland Australia (about 70 nautical miles away). Parry himself then traveled an extra 26 miles on horseback to Geelong, in order to telegram authorities in Melbourne.
About a week after the wreck, two rescue ships — the Victoria, followed by the Pharos — finally arrived.
All passengers and crew ended up surviving, remarkably.
And the baby’s name?
Netherby Victoria Louisa Cubbin — first name in honor of the the wrecked ship, second name in honor of the first rescue ship, and third name in honor of Louisa Hickmott, “the lighthouse keeper’s wife who gave Mr. Parry gin in a small bottle to sustain him whilst rowing and sailing a bulky whaleboat for help in heavy seas.”
Netherby “Nettie” Cubbin was the fourth of eight children. (Her siblings were named William, Alfred, Elizabeth, John, Walter, Eleanor, and Emily.) She eventually married and welcomed three children of her own — including a daughter to whom she passed down all three of her given names.
- “Wreck of the ship Netherby on King’s Island.” Colonist [Nelson, NZ] 14 Aug. 1866: 10.
- “Wreck of the Sixties.” Argus [Melbourne, Vic.] 23 Aug. 1927: 16.
- Netherby (ship) – Wikipedia
- The Netherby Gazette (1866)
- Hammond, Joyce and Jennifer Cover. Cradled by Man: A Family History. Self-published, CreateSpace, 2016.
P.S. The Netherby‘s captain, originally from Wales, was named Owen Owens.