German Immigrants per America 1855

Extracts of the book:

German Immigrants
Arriving in Tasmania per America 1855.

                                                                                               Compiled by Irene Schaffer & Pat Harris


In the 1850’s several Ships brought German immigrants to Tasmania. Amongst them were the Montromency, Wilhelmsberg, San Francisco and the America.  Hamburg was the port of departure for most European immigrants but it was not uncommon –for some to travel to Hull and then across to England to Liverpool. Mostly these travelled on to America and only a few to Australia. Over 83,000 immigrants left for Australia. From British Ports in 1854 but this number dropped to 52,000 the following year.

The America was a 706 ton,2 gun packet with crew of 22. Owned by James Baines & .3+Co. Of the Blackball Line. The Captain was John Gardyne, the Surgeon Charles Willes. William Kirchner sponsored all the Germans on board, having purchased 300 tickets in May 1854.

On her only voyage to Australia the America sailed from the Mersey at Liverpool on April 15, 1855 and arrived in Hobart on July 23, a voyage of 99 days. It was an unfavourable voyage with the outbreak of measles soon after departure. Rough and contrary winds were encounted most of the way.

There were 21 deaths on board mostly from complications following measles. An apprentice member of the crew was lost overboard, when he fell from the main yard arm.  Of the 6 births on the voyage 5 died before reaching port, and the other died on 31 July 8 days after the ship arrived.

There were 283 Germans passengers on board, 45 married couples, 11 single adults over 14 years, 92 children under 14 years. Of the married couples, three travelled, three travelled on single tickets (as marriage was just prior to departure and one couple was not married. Also on board were 11 passengers from the UK, and Mr H.M. Shaw was the only cabin passenger.

Profiles of the 283 passengers can be found in the book, names like Becker, Kromer, Dieffenbach, Hass, Koch, Reichmholdt, Riebenach, Silbereisen and Wolff and Yost, to mention just a few.


‘The newly arrived immigrants were not allowed to land until they signed agreements to stay in the Colony of Tasmania for four years. They were also warned they would unable to acquire land until they had become naturalised British subjects in accordance with the Aliens Act.  The naturalisation fee was two shillings and six pence, with an extra two shillings required for the certificate.  In late August 1855, a contingent of Germans left the America and travelled by costal steamer to the small hamlet of Falmouth, south of St. Helens, where they landed at St. Patricks Point, now known as Mariposa.’ [1]

The Article Peace and the Plough written by Joanna Dean and Warren Boyles can be seen in the 17 issue of the 40 South and gives an insight to the life of these German immigrants who settled on the east coast.

Another interesting book that covers this subject is the book  ‘Inducements and Agents, Germans in Tasmania 1855-1887’ written by Marita Hargraves, and can be purchased from the St. Helen’s Historical Society.

Extracts of the book:





[1] Dean. Joanna, and Boyles Warren Peace and the Plough – Tasmania 40’ South, issue 17.