The Wreck of the Charles Eaton (ref: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4443589 )
A CENTURY-OLD TRAGEDY -By "C. CORAL."
One of the saddest tragedies of the straits was the wreck of the Charles Eaton in 1834. She was a 313 ton barque commanded by Captain G. F. Moore. She left Brisbane for Canton on July 29. A little more than a fortnight later she was wrecked while trying to get through the reefs near the Charles Hardy group of islands, out from Cape Grenville. In addition to the officers and crew therewere about a dozen passengers on board among whom were Captain D'Oyley of the East India Company's Artillery, with his wife and two boys and a native Indian servant. When the vessel crashed she fell broadside on. Two of the boats smashed, leaving only one, into which three seamen jumped, with the carpenter and boatswain, but the captain and officers re-solved to stay on the ship as they felt sure that the boat would have no chance. Soon the barque became a hopeless wreck.
The upper part held together, however, and there the greater number of the passengers and crew found foothold. A raft was constructed; it was not very large and could carry only nine people, but upon it were placed Captain D'Oyley and his family, with some other passengers and one or two officers. A week later another raft left the ship carrying 17 persons, including the steward's boy, John Ireland and another boy named Sexton.
The Boy Survivors
For more than a year the fate of the Charles Eaton was unknown. Then there drifted to Sydney stories of the arrival at Timor and Batavia of four of the men who had escaped in the boat. The captain of a ship passing trough Torres Strait reported too, that he had seen a white boyon an island living with the natives. Immediately the Government of New SouthWales fitted out rescue ship, the Isabella, in the hope that there might be survivors of the Charles Eaton. The East India Company despatched the sloop Tigris on a similar errand. The two search vessels met at Double Island, in Torres Strait, after the Isabella had successfully accomplished her mission and had recovered two of the boys -- the only two survivors – from Murray Island. The mournful tale was then told.
The two boy's were John Ireland and William D'Oyley. What happened to the first raft that left the ship will never be with certainty, for of its company of nine all were killed except the two D'Oyley boys. Probably it shared the fate of the second raft. This, after being at sea for two days and nights, drifted among some of the small islands along the east coast. A canoe was sighted in which a dozen or so natives could be seen. They seemed to be friendly and the castaways were taken to an island in the vicinity.
Thoroughly exhausted, hungry, and without water, the unfortunate people lay down to sleep. Then the natives clubbed them to death, and removed the heads of their victims, sparing only Ireland and Sexton, the two youngest. Once more the canoe was launched, and, with their ghastly trophies and living captives, the islanders set sail for their home in Torres Strait. Every year at the end of the North West monsoon the fierce and warlike islanders-then generally known as "Indians"- of Murray and other Torres Strait islands made journeys 200 miles or more down the coast in then canoes, trading and seeking heads and returning with the South East trades. Apparently this canoe was one of a flotilla, for when it arrived at the island of Aureed other canoes had already preceeded it, among them one carrying the two D'Oyley lads. Here the whole party remained for some weeks. A redistribution was made, one canoe departing with Ireland and the two year old D'Oyley boy, the other taking Sexton and the elder brother. From then on the boys of the second party were never traced, although the people of Darnley and neighbouring islands, who have had the circumstances of the affair handed down to them by the old people, tell one that the four lads were remembered as having been in the islands for some time and that two were taken away before the Isabella rescued the survivors at Murray. The two lads of the first party, however were taken to Marsden Island, in the central part of Torres Strait, and it was there that a Murray Islander and his wife saw them and, according to the stories of the native rescued them in exchange for bunches of bananas. Their new owners treated them kindly; in fact when the rescue ship came and ransomed the D'Oyley boy after having obtained the other survivors in exchange for tomahawks, he did not want to part from his foster mother.
When the Isabella came down to Aureed with her two ransomed captives aboard, on the way back to Sydney, she made a ghastly discovery. In a hut a large mask was discovered, shaped like a man's face and made of turtle shell. These skillfully made figures were used formerly for religious rites by the Torres Strait islanders. Once a year the people gathered at one of the chief islands to make their offerings of human heads at the "Feast of Augad-Au Ai" (the feast of the Great God). Acts a propitiation were made, and the young men ate human flesh to make them brave and strong in fight. Surrounding the large figure at Aureed, and lashed to it with rope evidently from some ship, were about a score of skulls. Most of them bore marks of violence. They were taken on boardthe Isabella, and in Sydney their European origin was certified. Almost certainly they were the skulls of the unfortunates of the rafts. They were interred, and in St. James's Church Sydney, a memorial tablet tells part of the melancholy story.
To-day there are no people living on Aureed but the other islands of Torres Strait
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