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Location notes
Though we have selected St Katharine Docks, we do not know which dock the Success left from.
Date notes
Biographical information
James Stirling was born on 28 January 1791 at Drumpellier, an estate in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the fifth son of second cousins Andrew and Anne Stirling. [1, p 1] Stirling's maternal side had a strong naval tradition. He entered the navy as a first-class volunteer when he was 12 and went to the West Indies. He first saw action in the Napoleonic Wars when he joined HMS Glory as a Midshipman, aged 14. [1, p 13] While stationed in the Royal Navy at Jamaica, with his Uncle Charles Stirling was Commander-in-Chief, they received prize money for capturing ships, some of which contained slave-produced goods. [Georgie ref] After the end of the wars Stirling moved around Europe and English 'society'. In Woodbridge, Surrey, he became acquainted with the Mangles family, including his wife-to-be, Ellen Mangles. [2] They had 11 children, five daughters and six sons. Ellen's father James Mangles was Director of the East India Company and also owned a ship which transported enslaved people between Africa and the Caribbean. [Georgie refs] Following renewed naval activity and the possibility of colonisation in the Pacific by the French, Stirling was tasked with bringing a supply of currency to New South Wales and moving the location of the British garrison at at Meville Island to a more strategic location. [2] In April 1826 he was given command of the new Success; they sailed on 9 June. [1]
Links to slaver
Stirling had multiple connections to the slave trade. His intergenerational family businesses traded in slave-produced goods in the United States and Caribbean. His brother Walter Stirling received compensation for the loss of enslaved people in Guiana and Barbados. Stirling was stationed in the Royal Navy at Jamaica, where his Uncle Charles Stirling was Commander-in-Chief. They received prize money for capturing ships, some of which contained slave-produced goods. Stirling's father-in-law James Mangles owned a ship which transported enslaved people between Africa and the Caribbean. [Georgie refs]
Attitudes around race
In her biography of Stirling, Pamela Statham-Drew states that from his father Andrew's side came 'an enviable Scottish pedigree and enormous family pride.' Statham-Drew explains that Stirling's father Andrew 'often reminded his children they were descendants of one of the oldest untitled families in Europe who could trace their ancestry from Willielmus de Strivelyn, named in the early twelfth century Chartulary of Glasgow as the rightful owner of lands in the county of Lanark.' [1, p 1]
Attitudes around labour
Wikimedia Commons portrait: State Library of NSW portrait:
Images notes
[1] Pamela Statham-Drew, James Stirling: Admiral and Founding Governor of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, 2003 [2] Frank Crowley, The Australian Dictionary of Biography, [3] Chris Owen, "The Pinjarra massacre: it's time to speak the truth of this terrible slaughter", The Guardian, November 18, 2019, [4]