Guide to the Journal of Thomas Mellersh (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Mellersh, Thomas (York, Western Australia)
Journal of Thomas Mellersh (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1836 - 1838
Collection Number
1 item
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Daybook kept by Thomas Mellersh while farming at 'Woodlands', York, 1836-37, and a journal kept on his voyage from Swan River to Mauritius and England, 1838. (1 vol.)

Conditions Governing Access

Available for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1963 (AJCP Reel: M466). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Originally filmed at private residence of Mr George F Mellersh, Guildford, Surrey. Originals now located at the Battye Library, Perth. For further information see Thomas Mellersh at the J.S. Battye Library (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Abercromby (ship); Aboriginal Australians; Australia; Majestic (ship); Mauritius; Mellersh, Thomas; Perth, Western Australia; Stirling, Lady Ellen; Stirling, Sir James; Western Australia; Farms and farming: Western Australia; Woodlands property, Western Australia; York, Western Australia


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 318, p. 118.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Mellersh, who came from Hambledon (probably in Surrey rather than Hampshire), sailed from England to the Swan River on the James Pattison in 1834. His fellow-passengers included the governor, Sir James Stirling, and Lady Stirling, who were returning to the colony, and Mellersh subsequently managed a flock of sheep owned by Lady Stirling. He received a large grant of land near York, east of Perth, where he bred sheep and grew wheat. In 1838 he sailed to England, leaving a tenant to manage his property. He returned to Western Australia on the Westmoreland in 1840 and resumed his life as a farmer. He was one of the founders of the York Agricultural Society.

Mellersh returned to England in 1849, but retained his ownership of properties in Western Australia and took a strong interest in the colony. Along with Stirling, Captain James Mangles, Captain Henry Sanford and other former colonists, he was a member of the Western Australian Association set up in London in 1860. In 1863 he took part in discussions about the continuance of convict transportation to Western Australia.

Item Descriptions

Daybook kept by Thomas Mellersh while farming at 'Woodlands', York, and a journal kept on his voyage from Swan River to Mauritius and England (1 vol.), 1836 - 1838 (File)

The daybook dates from 12 March 1836–27 December 1837. It contains brief entries for each day, written continuously with no paragraphs. They refer to the erection of Mellersh's house and barn, work on his garden, planting of vegetables, visits to York and Guildford, Western Australia, purchases of provisions and other goods, land clearing (grubbing), ploughing, sowing of wheat, reaping, binding and wheat grounding, lambing, sheep shearing, work with horses, wood splitting, carting timber, work undertaken by his employees and local Aboriginal Australians, kangaroo hunting, problems with wild dogs and cats, the management of Lady Stirling's sheep, news of ship arrivals, his surrender of 4000 acres to the Government, Mellersh's decision to leave the colony (November 1837), his departure from 'Woodlands', and financial transactions. There are frequent references to visits from or to neighbouring settlers, including R. Brockman, G.S. Burgess, G. Elliott, A. Trimmer, Macleod, Mortimer and Knights.

The journal describes Mellersh's voyage from Fremantle to Mauritius on the brigatine Abercrombie (which he spelt 'Abercromby'), 12 February–7 April 1838, and the voyage from Mauritius to England on the barque Majestic, 10 April–11 June 1838.

Although it continues straight on from the daybook, the diary is quite different in form and substance. The daily entries are quite lengthy and Mellersh sets down his thoughts and reflections, refers to the books and magazines that he read (mostly religious, historical and literary works), and summarises occasional conversations and arguments with his fellow-passengers. Among the passengers on the Abercrombie were the Quaker missionaries James Backhouse and George Washington Walker, who had spent six years in the Australian colonies. In addition, Mellersh refers to the management of his property in Western Australia, the future of the colony, his friendship with the Stirlings, his eyesight problems, the weather and the seas, his impressions of Port Louis at Mauritius, the sighting of Table Mountain at the Cape of Good Hope, the landing at St Helena, a visit to Napoleon's tomb, sighting of ships, games and other pastimes. The diary ends when the Majestic was entering the English Channel.