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Book Launch: John Marshall and Bounty Migration to Port Phillip

Feb 18, 2020 @ 5:15 pm - 7:00 pm


Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison AO, Chair of the History Council of Victoria, will launch Dr Liz Rushen’s book, John Marshall: Shipowner, Lloyd’s reformer and emigration agent.

After the launch, Dr Rushen will deliver a paper which explores the significant role John Marshall played in the white settlement of the Port Phillip District. When Port Phillip was first opened up for settlement, Marshall was Britain’s most active emigration agent: in the three years 1839-1841, he sent 21 ships containing nearly 5000 bounty migrants to the new settlement. A major shipowner of London, Marshall instigated reform of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping and established Britain’s first emigration depot at Plymouth, but today his contributions to the shipowning and merchant worlds of the nineteenth century have been largely forgotten.

Dr Liz Rushen, well-known to RHSV members, is a Melbourne-based historian who has written extensively on nineteenth-century migration to Australia.

Drinks are served in the Gallery Downstairs from 5:15pm, with the launch / lecture starting at 6pm. Books will be available for purchase and signing by the author. 

Immigration was as controversial in the nineteenth century as it is today. Australia has a long history of migration and is considered one of the world’s great immigration success stories, but this process has not been without cost.

This book tells the story of the most active emigration agent of the nineteenth-century: John Marshall. His influence can be read in the naming of the town Marshall, outside Geelong, Victoria, and in the lives of the descendants of the thousands of people he assisted to migrate to the British colonies of New Zealand, Canada and North America, Cape Town and most importantly, Australia. Marshall’s work also impacts the world today through Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

A brilliant strategist, Marshall instigated a review of the classification of ships and the merger of the red and green registers used by Lloyd’s shipowners and underwriters, and later established Britain’s first emigration depot at Plymouth. Enterprise was much-admired in the early to mid-nineteenth century and Marshall was one of the most active entrepreneurs of the period. He was a merchant-adventurer and superb logistician who read the marketplace and was prepared to move to a new start-up each time his finances dictated a fresh start: brokerage, trade, shipping, emigration, coal.

Marshall had both the vision and analytical skills to achieve great things, but he lacked business acumen or the personality to successfully carry through any of his undertakings. This book links the various facets of Marshall’s life from his humble beginnings to his impoverished end. It explains how an unknown insurance broker from the provinces could rise to be a key player in London’s ship owning and merchant world of the early nineteenth century.


Feb 18, 2020
5:15 pm - 7:00 pm


239 A'Beckett Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia
9326 9288
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Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV)
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