William Dalzell NicholsonPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Arthur Garland

The marble headstone commemorates William Dalzell Nicholson who died in the wreck of the ship "British Admiral" in 1874. Mr Nicholson was the son of the Chief Secretary of Victoria, the Hon W. Nicholson. 

On the 23rd May 1874, before any evasive action could be taken, the British Admiral had run onto the reef that now bears her name about 3.5 kilometres offshore between Currie Harbour and the Ettrick River.

She was immediately swept by heavy seas which washed many of those on deck overboard, as well as others who struggled up from below. Most of the boats were swept away and lost while being launched, with further loss of life, and others were drowned when the mizzen mast went over the side, followed shortly afterwards by the other masts. A boat near the stern was launched successfully, containing 10 occupants including the chief officer.

The boat was swept up the coast until it capsized off Currie Harbour. Six occupants, including the chief officer were drowned, but three male passengers and a crewman managed to struggle ashore. Meanwhile, another passenger and four crew, including the third officer, had managed to drift ashore on floating wreckage on a beach a little north of the wreck . A search for other survivors proved fruitless, leaving just nine survivors and a total loss of 79 lives.

" Sacred to the memory of William Dalzell Nicholson, third son of the hon. W. Nicholson, who, along with seventy-eight others, perished in the wreck of the British Admiral, 23rd May, 1874. " Such is the record taken from a marble slab on the western shore of King's or King Island. Wreckage all around, remnant of piano sticking in the sand, a green box protruding from the bank half unearthed, the bottom out, and the human bones in a heap. Another grave, rudely decorated, to Mary Fay; and further on, the ship's favorite, Tilly Dale, a maid of fifteen years, the life and soul of the vessel, full of song and mirth and life's young dream, lies, bared by the hunters, but the grave carefully protected, with a memorial slab of such materials as were at hand, and the ingenuity of the rough craftsman could fashion. The others lie all about, in the sand, in the bush, but nothing now to indicate their nameless graves.
Excerpt from Leader (Melbourne), 22 December 1877.


Address:Situated at wreck site on British Admiral Beach, Currie, 7256
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -39.956658
Long: 143.867751
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:23-May-1874
Actual Event End Date:23-May-1874


Front Inscription

To The Memory Of
Third Son Of The
Hon. W. Nicholson.
Who Along With 78 Others Perished
In The Wreck Of The British Admiral 
  23 May 1874
Aged 25 Years
To Live In The Hearts We Leave Behind
Is Not To Die.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au