Most of the Lacemaker emigrants sailed to Australian ports in one of three vessels, viz. Agincourt (destination Sydney), Fairlie (destination also Sydney) and Harpley (destination Adelaide). Other Lacemaker emigrants followed in smaller groups on other vessels. These included Andromache, Baboo, Bermondsey, Emperor, General Hewett, Harbinger, Navarino, Nelson, Walmer Castle and possibly others.

Descendants of migrants who came on any of the vessels mentioned above are encouraged to apply for membership of the Australian Society of the Lacemakers of Calais Inc.


For further information on these ships and the lacemaker passengers who were carried aboard them, select the appropriate link above or below.


The average measurement of vessels carrying migrants from England to Australia in 1848 “was approximately 450 tons”. In merchant ships, this was a calculation of the space available for cargo, rather than a calculation of the mass of the water they displaced. The space available was based on the number of tuns of wine a vessel could carry. A tun barrel originally held 256 gallons but this was later changed to 252 wine gallons (210 imperial gallons). Gradually “tun” became corrupted into “ton” and its usage in shipping is now generally accepted to mean a cubic ton or 100 cubic feet.

Sydney Harbour with Campbell's warehouses

In calculating the “tonnage” of a vessel, deductions were allowed for certain aspects of a ship’s design such as crew quarters, lockers for sails, anchors and equipment, engine compartments (where applicable) and so on. Ships presented for re-registration after 1 January 1836 were supposedly remeasured and this figure is described as “so many tons, new measure.” However, some vessels were never remeasured. For example, the Fairlie is generally referred to as 756 tons o.m. or 756 tons old measure, whereas the Harpley, which wasn’t built until 1847, is just 547 tons (547 tons new measure). Care needs to be taken when comparing vessels on tonnage alone because this is not necessarily an accurate indicator of her physical size. The rules set for calculating the original or “old tonnage” had a lot to do with the blunt nosed, slow vessels with which we are familiar. Port charges, tug fees, harbour dues on so on were all calculated on the official tonnage of the vessel.

As tonnage was calculated on the length of the vessel multiplied by the vessel’s beam multiplied by its depth (which was assumed to be half of its beam), hulls tended to be built extremely deep but quite narrow and with almost blunt bows so as to produce the lowest possible calculated tonnage figure. With the revision of the method of calculation on 1 January 1836, the way was opened for vessels such as the clipper ships – which had finer lines and which were considerably faster in the water.

The ungainly looking vessels, which the tonnage regulations helped produce, were also much more unstable under most conditions at sea. The captain of the vessel was more interested in fast times than in passenger comfort. Slow trips cost him time turning his vessel around and earning commission on his next load. He therefore tried to keep the wind bearing from his stern, but slightly to one side of the vessel or the other. This caused the ship to rise and fall on the waves from bow to stern and to pitch from side to side at the same time, in an irregular, corkscrewing type motion that upset even the sturdiest of stomachs. 

Often  a ship’s captain headed down into the Roaring 40s to pick up the strongest winds. In these circumstances passengers were often confined below decks with hatches battened for weeks on end in poorly ventilated, damp and appallingly smelly conditions. While much has been written in the pages of Tulle about the Agincourt, Harpley and Fairlie, less has been written about “those other ships” which, to some lacemaker ancestors, are every bit as important.

Lacemaker families and individuals are also known to have immigrated to Australia aboard the Andromache (the Lamb and Barton families), Baboo (Mather), Emperor (Goldfinch and Gamble), General Hewett (Parkes and Richez), Navarino (Holmes), Nelson (Strong, Savidge and Maltby), Bermondsey (Tivey) and Walmer Castle (Rogers). Others may have come aboard other ships.

The Shipping Lists

Check the lists of the passengers aboard the 1848 migration ships

Barque Harbinger

Ship Harpley

Sydney Cove

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