John Hemery

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John Hemery

John Hemery.jpg

Unlike the former Hemerys who had been largely content to be ship owners, John sought out a career on the sea, serving first as a ship's officer and later becoming a Captain and ship owner, it seems against the wishes of his family and future father-in-law

Bengal Merchant

He was a ship's officer on the Lord Hungerford, a large ship of 700 tons.

A passenger list from the Lord Hungerford

He purchased his first ship in September 1839, the Bengal Merchant (built in India in 1812) which was 503 tons. John Hemery used her as a cargo vessel between England and India, or England, Australia and New Zealand.

The Constant

Bengal Merchant

In 1839 he took one of the first group of settlers to go from the UK to New Zealand. The Bengal Merchant sailed from Glasgow on 30 October 1839 and arrived at Port Nicholson New Zealand on 20 February 1840.


John married Anna Beatty in 1844. She was the daughter of Rev Frederick Beatty and Ann Charlotte Barlee and was born in Wilby in Suffolk in 1826. There was a major disagreement between her father and John and other members of the Hemery family before the wedding. Exactly what this was about is not certain, but possibly the Reverend may have disapproved of his daughter marrying a sailor, even a well-to-do one. Frederick Beatty had fought and been severely wounded at the Battle of Waterloo. His family came originally from Ireland.

Anna Beatty had her portrait painted at Windsor Cresent (Clement Hemery’s house) by Reynolds in February 1843. She accompanied John on at least one voyage, and their first son Clement was born in Sydney.


John sold the Bengal Merchant and purchased another ship, the Constant.

Built by John Mowbray Gates shipyard at Hylton Durham in 1843, her first owner was Joseph Somes of Ratcliffe Cross Middlesex. He sold it to John Hemery on 10 April 1843, while John was staying at the Tavistock Hotel. There were 64 shares in the ship. Constant was 535.3 tons, with two decks and a poop deck, three masts, length 114.5 feet, breadth midships 25.5 ft depth in hold at midships 19.7 ft. square rigged standing bowsprit, square sterned, carvel built, sham galleries and a woman’s figurehead. Clement Hemery’s diary records that their father was very angry that he had purchased the ship.

The first voyage was from Dublin to Tasmania, transporting convicts from Ireland to Australia. The Constant was engaged on public tender at £5 a ton, so John made over £2,500, less expenses. 204 male convicts were transported.

There were 43 crew, 9 who were with him on the Bengal Merchant. Crew signed on for a period not over 2 years. Pay was from £7 a month for the first mate to 15s for the ship's boys. She was fitted out and provisioned at Deptford for her voyage to Australia and armed with 6 cannon.

John Hemery was then 27 years old, and described by De Winton ‘The Constant was a barque owned and commanded by John Hemery a Jersey man every inch a sailor and a gentleman, and engaged to be married to a cousin of one of our officers, a beautiful girl, to judge from the portrait which hung in the captain’s cabin’

The Constant sailed from Dublin on 9 May 1843 and arrived at Hobart in Tasmania on 29 August 1843, the weather on arrival was cold with snow and sleet falling everywhere. John Hemery was present when the convicts were inspected in the yard of the prisoner’s barracks in Campbell Street. Conditions were good and only three convicts perished, who were already sick on embarkation, the rest being in good health. The ship did not call at any port during the voyage.

From Tasmania they sailed to Sydney, leaving on 9 September 1843 carrying troops.

Cabins advertised

Some cargo was already loaded at the end of October. Several adverts appear offering cabins, one stating the ship will sail for London on 10 December 1843. There are 'good accommodations for passengers' and the ship carries a surgeon. She was moored off Botts's Wharf. They departed from Sydney 23 December 1843 bound for London with 28 passengers, Thacker Mason and Co. were agents for the voyage. The ship was full, carrying 669 bales of wool, 65 casks of black oil, 217 cedar logs, 1795 bags of sugar, 8000 trenails, and many casks of beef. Inclement weather delayed the sailing.

Two paintings of the Constant exist, one formerly owned by John and Peggy Shorrock. On the back was written by Deaconess Kate Hemery (John’s daughter) ‘The ship ‘Constant’ leaving Sydney Heads with John Hemery and his wife on board 1845 – 46’. The figure of a woman with a red parasol can be seen on the deck. Soon afterwards John mortgaged the ship to his father Clement and two of his brothers, Clement and Peter.

The mortgage document is dated 1 July 1844 between ‘John Hemery heretofore of the Tavistock Hotel, Covent Garden, and now of Great Marlborough Street Regent Street, master mariner of the first part, and Clement Hemery and Clement Hemery the younger and Peter Hemery of St Helier trading under the name of Hemery Brothers. About the ship Constant of London, 535 3/10ths tons has two and a poop deck and three masts, the part of the stern post aloft is 114 feet 5/10ths, her breadth in midships is 25 feet 5/10ths, she is square rigged with a standing bowsprit, square sterned carvel built. John Hemery is indebted to the sum of £5000 to Clement, Clement and Peter Hemery with interest at the rate of 4 pounds 10 shillings per centum (£100) per annum.’ (This document was owned by the Hon Cynthia Leapman, a descendant of Charles Hemery, and is still in the possession of her family.)

The Constant's figurehead

The Constant arrived in Sydney on 28 August 1845, having left Hong Kong on 7 May, via Manila, leaving there 11 June, with a cargo of 200 chests of Congou, over 900 chests and 1500 half chests of hysonakin tea, over 7000 bags of sugar, cases of cigars, 188 coils bale lashing, 76 coils of rope, 21 barrels of wine and two cases of carpenters tools. Passengers include Mrs Hemery and daughter and two servants.

On 8 September 1845 Mr R Fawcett sold at auction seven coils of wool lashing, slightly damaged by sea water, from the Constant from Manila.

On 16 September 1845 John advertised for a nurse to accompany a lady to England. He advertiseds that he would sail for Hong Kong direct on 20 September. They left Sydney for Manila on 25 September 1845, with Mrs Hemery and three servants on board. The Constant arrived back in Sydney on 2 March 1846, from Manila, with a cargo of sugar. They left Manila on 23 December 1845, Mrs Hemery was also on board.

On 3 March 1846 Captain Hemery warned that he would not be responsible for debts contracted by his crew.

On 6 March he advertised the Constant as ideal for shipping horses to India, due to her spacious 'tween decks.

On 21 March 1846 an advert appeared to sell a beautiful piebald Manila pony, apply to Mr Hemery, barque Constant, Moore's Wharf.

On 28 March 1846 Mr R Fawcett sold at auction eight coils of wool lashing, more or less damaged by sea water, from the Constant from Manila.

Anna Hemery

Stalls for horses

Adverts appeared at the end of March and the beginning of April stating the ship would sail to Ceylon and Madras on 1 May 1846, she had a few stalls for horses available. The ship was moored at Miller's Point Wharf, Sydney. The Maitland Mercury stated on 15 April 1846 that the Constant was taking on a cargo of coals for Ceylon, the freight offering for horses not being sufficiently high to induce Captain Hemery to keep his ship on the berth for Calcutta and Madras.

The Constant departed Sydney on 24 April 1846 bound for Hong Kong, with Mrs Hemery, child and servant on board.

There is a mention of the Constant in the Sydney Morning Herald 20 September 1847, when it was expected in Sydney having sailed from Liverpool.

My father remembers a book of typed letters from John Hemery originally sent from a voyage from Glasgow in 1849 – 50, quarto size, soft green binding, with a title ‘Letters written home to his wife Anna by John Hemery 1849 – 50’. This, I think, is what has been sometimes mistaken for the log of the Constant. John Hemery’s grandson John took it to America when he emigrated there around 1955 and gave it to his son Michael Hemery who has misplaced it.

My father also remembers a large photo or print of John Hemery aged 50 – 60 hanging in the hall of their house.

The Constant was not used as a convict transport again. She continued to trade between London and various Australian ports, usually carrying wool or wheat. On 14 June 1849, Charles Hemery of Liverpool, and Peter and Clement Hemery Jnr. sold the Constant to Richard Coombes Soutter and Robert Harwood Soutter of Lower Shadwell Middlesex. She left London on 4 October 1854 on her last voyage. On 19 March 1855 the Constant was wrecked in a gale at Portland Bay, Victoria, Australia. Her anchor cables snapped and she was driven ashore. It was recommended she be sold. She became embedded in sand and after a couple of weeks was breaking up. The purchasers of the wreck employed a party of workmen to break up the hull.

The figurehead is still in the museum at Portland.

Later career

John Hemery retired from the sea in 1849 following the sale of the Constant. Moving to Arundel in Sussex he embarked on a banking career and became manager of the London and County Bank.

Later the family moved to Canterbury in Kent. The 1861 census records them living at 11 Parade, with four servants. By the 1871 census they are at Barton Fields, Canterbury, with three servants. In 1881 they have four servants, including a nurse.

He became involved in local politics – an article from the Kentish Gazette, dated Tuesday 11 November 1879, records John Hemery elected as Alderman unanimously and elected Mayor of Canterbury the same day. It was reported ‘A little chaff, he might say, had been bandied about the town with regard to the method of election’ He stood for the Conservative part of the Council. Mr Hemery had long been on the Bench of Magistrates, and had won high praise in the performance of his duties, as well as the confidence of the public. ‘Mr Hemery’s cordiality, his geniality, his tact, his business habits and acquirements would all recommend him to them.’ The new Mayor was cheered. He promised to work not on party lines but for the good of the city.

Other newspaper cuttings record his failing health. Election of Mayor. Includes letter from John Hemery ‘my deep regret and disappointment at being prevented by indisposition from attending the meeting. I am very sorry that illness should have lately prevented me from attending to my public engagements so closely as I should have wished.’

Vote of thanks to Mr Hemery

‘They knew how he had devoted his personal attention to the duties of his office, and how well he had fulfilled them. Mr Hemery was a new member of the Council when elected to the Mayoralty, having been chosen as Alderman and Mayor at the same time – a rather unusual occurrence; and the manner in which he had carried out the duties proved his fitness for the office.’

During the latter portion of his term of office he was unable to devote himself to public duties.

‘Alderman Hart referred to Mr Hemery’s hospitality during his year of office, and to the successful way in which he had held himself aloof from party in the matter of the political troubles of the city during the past year.’

‘The ex-Mayor’s kindly and genial disposition had won all hearts’


John Hemery’s resignation from manager of the London and County Bank will be much regretted. He has resolved to leave the city on medical advice. ‘Alderman Hemery’s kindly and genial character has endeared him to all who knew him. He has served the city with fidelity and generosity’

Absence of the retiring Mayor

‘When he took office a year ago Mr Hemery was comparatively an untried public man. But the manner in which he has performed the various, and in some instances difficult and delicate, duties belonging to the office of Chief Magistrate, fully justifies the choice of those who selected him for the post of honour.’

Anna Hemery later in life

Obituary from the The Kentish Gazette, 22 November 1881

At Barton Fields Canterbury, had for many months past suffered from ill health. Became manager of the London and County Bank in 1860, where ‘his strict integrity, geniality and kindness of heart rendered him deservedly popular’ Elected Mayor in 1879. ‘He filled the office with great efficiency and dignity’ He was PM of the United Industrious Lodge of Freemasons (no 31) and Past Provincial Grand Warden of Kent. In June 1860 he joined the Lodge, having previously been a member of Lodge 64. He was Worshipful Master in 1865, and in 1866 received from the Provincial Grand Master Viscount Holmesdale the appointment of Junior Grand Warden of the province. In 1877 assisted in the formation of a Royal Arch chapter, being appointed to fill the chair of J at its consecration. In 1879 he installed the first principal of the chapter. He was also a Rose Croix mason, a member of the Ethelbert chapter.

The funeral took place on Saturday at the cemetery. The cortege consisted of a hearse and 4 mourning coaches, started from the residence at 11.30. In the first carriage were Rev Mr Lindon, deceased’s brother in law, Mr Vincent Hemery nephew, the Misses Hemery his daughters, in the second carriage Mr T P Borrett, the Rev J G Brine, Lower Hardres, and the Rev N H McGachen, Littlebourne, third carriage Rev J P Vallings (Sub Warden of St Augustines College) and the Rev E F Taylor. In the fourth carriage the servants of the deceased. The funeral service was read by the Rev H T Maitland, curate in charge of St Paul’s. In the chapel the choir sang the hymn ‘When our heads are bowed with woe’ the hymn sung at the graveside ‘For ever with the Lord’ the coffin was of polished oak and bore the inscription ‘John Hemery born October 30th 1813, died 16th November 1881.’ There was no pall, but the coffin was covered with crosses and crowns of flowers, the loving offerings of members of the family and friends. Among those present in the cemetery were the Mayor Mr G R Frend, Aldermen C Goulden and W H Linom, the Sheriff Mr Thomas Cross, Councillors J W Z Wright and R Y Fill, Mr George Furley, Mr W W Mason, Major Morrah, and Major Burridge. The following Freemasons were also present : Mr C Holttum, Mr W H Donaldson, Mr George Pilcher, Mr T H Walkley, and Mr John R Hall. Funeral arrangements were by Higham and Hunt, under the personal direction of Mr Philip Higham. The flag on the Westgate Towers was at half mast Saturday, and on Sunday the death march from Saul played in the Cathedral.

Another cutting adds some other details : John Hemery was interred at the New Cemetery, the two banks and many of the principal shops were partially closed as a mark of respect. Also present were the Town Sergeants and Bartlett, a very old and esteemed servant of Mr Hemery. The Death march from Saul was played at the close of the afternoon service, and also at St Pauls church at the close of the evening service.


The 1891 census records Anna Hemery, John’s widow, living at 35, the Avenue, Acton, with her daughter Kate and two servants. In the 1901 census, Anna and Kate, still living together, have moved to Albert Street, Upton cum Chalvey near Slough. Leonora M Jones, Anna’s granddaughter, is a visitor. They have two servants.

Anna Hemery died in Kingston in March 1908 aged 85.

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