Captain Henry Wishart

For over a century and a half the myth has continued that the European who discovered and named Port Fairy was Captain James Wishart. But is was Captain HENRY Wishart who named the port, for his cutter the Fairy, and it was Wishart’s crew who first visited the bay whilst in search of convict absconders, who had stolen one of their valuable sealing craft from nearby Portland Bay.

Captain Henry Wishart of Port Fairy Bay by Jenny Fawcett, finally reveals the story of Henry Wishart’s life in the colonial maritime industries of Australia. Through the use of contemporary newspapers, government reports, private journals and ledgers, Jenny’s work on Wishart includes his discovery of Lady’s Bay near Corner Inlet and his time ashore at Western Port in 1826. The work also follows Wishart’s service in the sealing and whaling industries and provides an account of his being held hostage by Taranaki natives in New Zealand. The publication includes accounts of Isaac David Nichols, the Fairy’s owner, son of Australia’s first official postmaster, who accompanied Wishart to Port Fairy.

Port Fairy’s history is studded with references to the bay being discovered by a ‘James’ Wishart. A plaque on a wall near the river records that this was the spot near where ‘James’ Wishart arrived in 1810 aboard the ‘Fairy’. William Earle’s “Port Fairy” records that it was “early morning of April 25th, 1810 when the white wings of The Fairy cutter was observed by the natives to glide into and rest inside “the patches” of Port Fairy Bay”. Tourism pamphlets and history publications also record that the bay was discovered by ‘James’ Wishart. For nearly two centuries articles and publications have continued the error when detailing who discovered and named Port Fairy.

Captain Henry Wishart rewrites the discovery of Port Fairy, and necessarily prompts a fresh look at our accepted versions of published history. If Wishart’s story has been so wrong, just how accurate are any of our publications on Australian history?

You can order your copy of CAPTAIN HENRY WISHART of Port Fairy Bay from Jenny Fawcett here

$25.00 plus $3.55 postage (postpack)
Soft cover,72pps, Charts, Illustrations & Index, includes crew who served with Wishart, and list of vessels under the captain’s command.

Port Fairy. A Few Brief Facts
Wishart’s Port Fairy
The Fairy
Colonial Trader
Henry Wishart’s Colonial Service
Sealing Captain
Wily Masters. The Smiths
Western Port Bay & Bass Strait Bound
Clearing The Straits
A Final Command
List of Illustrations
Notes & Sources

Dr David Wishart