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Shipwreck off Tasmania: the loss of 95 migrants from Oxfordshire – 175 years on

The shipwreck of the Cataraqui on King's Island, 1845

Oxfordshire Family History Society has been sent the following news:

Were people from your village or family among the 400 fatalities in Australia’s biggest peacetime disaster?

On 20 April 1845 the Cataraqui ship left Liverpool with emigrants bound for Melbourne.  A quarter of the 369 passengers were from Oxfordshire.  Many were poor families “encouraged” to take assisted emigration under a Poor Law amendment.  Close to its destination, on 4 August, the Cataraqui was shipwrecked on King Island in the Bass Straits (between Tasmania and mainland Australia).  Only 9 survived – mainly crew. The outcry which followed resulted in Australia’s first lighthouses.

The following Oxon villages and families had people who died in the Cataraqui disaster, including 58 children:
Chesterton (Andrews); Fringford (Cotterill, White); Fritwell (Rutter); Great Haseley (Knott); Kiddington (Savings, Simmonds); Rousham (Walton); Stoke Lyne (Loveridge); Stonesfield (Barrett, Oliver, Rolling); Tackley (Cook, Drinkwater, Floyd, Harwood, Hoare, Knibbs, Merry, Payne, Ryman, Savings); Wootton (Bishop).

Find out more about this piece of local history and its 175th anniversary commemorations at

Come to a talk Mon 6 April, at 8:15pm in Tackley Village Hall OX5 3AH; given by Neil Wilson & Rachel Strachan.
Shipwreck off Tasmania: the loss of 42 impoverished migrants from Tackley – 175 years on”.

There’ll be a commemorative service on Sunday 19 July in Tackley for all the Oxon villages and families involved; contact Tackley Local History Group via

Go to King Island to join their commemorations 1-5 August, see the wreck site and artefacts.  Contact

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