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DOWNEY, Patrick J.

121 passengers and crew lost their lives on Thursday 20th August 1857 when the clipper “DUNBAR” sank. The Dunbar was approaching the heads off Sydney Harbour after an 81 day voyage from England. This was the ships second voyage to Sydney and Captain Green and the crew attempted to enter the harbour despite tremendous weather conditions.

The ship was driven onto the reef at the foot of South Head and began breaking up immediately. The sole survivor was able seaman James Johnson, all other crew and passengers perished.

This would have been a devastating event for the residents of Sydney when the tragic accident was discovered on the next morning as those on board would have been relatives, whole families and business associates, returning or arriving for the first time.

There was a mass burial service on the 24th September at St Stephens, Camperdown.

Difficulties in calculating the exact number of dead was caused by a) some crew known by first name only, b) some servants travelling with wealthy families not named at all, c) names spelt incorrectly and one person listed on a headstone was never named on any passenger list.

Added notes:

Patrick J. DOWNEY born 1819, died 1857 aged 35 years.

James (brother) born 1831, died 26th May 1883 aged 53 years.

Sources: National Library of Australia – Trove

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