Jacob Nagle

Ship's crew
Arrived on: HMS Sirius
Left colony: 27 March 1791 on the Dutch merchant ship Waaksamheyd
Twenty-five-year-old Able Seaman Jacob Nagle travelled to Australia on board HMS Sirius as a member of the ship’s crew.

The sailors on the First Fleet were highly regarded by Governor Phillip, who realised their importance to the success of the voyage and the new colony. When a disagreement broke out on board between the sailors and ‘Mr Maxwell’, a third lieutenant, Phillip quickly came to the crew’s defence:

… the Capn & governor hearing the Noise upon deck Came up to see what was the matter the Ships Company informed the Capn of the treatment the Reciev’d & told him [if] this was the treatment they ware to have it would be better to [jump] Over Board at Once … he Said those men are all we have to depend Upon … all those men are Our support and if they are ill treated they will all be dead before the Voige is half Out & who is to bring us back again …

Once at Sydney Cove, Nagle formed part of Governor Phillip’s boat party assigned the task of exploring Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River. He soon gratefully returned to England in May 1792, writing that during their celebrations ‘we made so great a Noise in Dancing & Carouseing & drinking’ that the captain of a nearby ship thought a mutiny was occurring and sent his sailors to investigate.

Source: Jacob Nagle, ‘Jacob Nagle his Book A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine …’, 1775–1802, State Library of NSW.

Pencil illustration of sailors on a ship.

Sailors on Board H.M.S. Royal William, George Henry Harlow, ca. 1806 Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection [public domain]