HMS Buffalo was originally named the Hindostan. It was built of teak in Calcutta, India in 1813. Its builders, James Bonner and James Horsburgh, sailed the Hindostanand a second vessel to London and sold them to the Admiralty to be used as storeships for the Navy.

The Buffalo’s early history did not promise a grand beginning for the province of South Australia. It made four voyages for the Navy but was laid up at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. The Navy considered selling the Buffalo but the ship was saved when an outbreak of cholera reached Britain. It was used as a quarantine ship.

The Buffalo was then despatched on three voyages to New Zealand to obtain kauri timber for spars. On the first of those voyages, it also delivered convict women to Sydney. On the second, it would take Governor Hindmarsh to South Australia.

The 589-ton Buffalo was the largest of the first nine ships. It was 36.6 metres long and 10.3 metres in beam and it carried 174 passengers, twice the number of any of the other nine ships that reached South Australia in 1836.

Hindmarsh was appointed captain of the ship. Amongst the 37 cabin and intermediate passengers were his family and his private secretary, Stevenson, and government officials such as Resident Commissioner Fisher, Colonial Treasurer Gilles, and Colonial Chaplain Howard. As well as 137 emigrants, the ship carried 85 officers and crew, and 19 marines.

The Buffalo had two fixed decks. At the front of the ship it had a forecastle deck sheltering the galley stoves, which stood on the uppermost deck, and at the back it had a poop deck over the passengers’ cabins. In the between-decks additional cabins were installed for the ship’s officers and intermediate passengers, while emigrants, who were given a free passage, shared a dormitory. The crew slept on the orlop, an additional deck installed in the hold.


Carrying capacity 589 tons

Length 36.6 metres (120 feet), beam 10.3 metres (33 feet 9 inches)

Built by James Bonner and James Horsburgh at Calcutta, India in 18l3

Rigged as a fully rigged ship

Graham  Bone's picture
Graham Bone says:

This is just a hello to Bob Sexton as I remember working for him at the Highways Department on the SE Suburbs Drainage Scheme in Adelaide many moons ago.

Melanie Lavell's picture
Melanie Lavell says:

My apologies, I didnt know you had answered.
Yes I have done a lot of researching trying to find my 4x great grandfather. I have all sorts of paperwork from all over the world because I like to have a paper trail to back things up, I think it makes researching things easier.
However regardless of what paperwork I have, what site I check, how I search for his name and who I talk to, I still can not find where my 4x great grandfather ended up and to be truthful, at this point in time thats the main thing that is getting to me.
I think at this point in time I have one of two options.... either keep going and hope I can find that one missing piece that makes everything fall into place or just completely give up looking for him.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

Sounds like a fascinating family history Melanie,
I'm afraid we don't have any further information on file, and it sounds like you've done a fairly good search already, but if you haven't already visited State Records perhaps try there re. his time on the Buffalo Otherwise if the last trace is in Tasmania perhaps consult someone at Libraries Tasmania?

Melanie Lavell's picture
Melanie Lavell says:

My 4x great grandfather, William Lavell, was a crew member on this ship. Unfortunately all I know of him is he was from Ireland (circa 1806), he enlisted in the 51st Regiment of Foot in England (1825) with whom he served for a several years, he then went to Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) aboard this ship.
While serving in Tasmania he transferred the the 11th Regiment of Infantry (1846) and was discharged for medical reasons a year later (1847)
Even though I tracked down a copy of his discharge papers I haven't been able to find much more bought him. I have some of his children's certificates so I can place him in certain parts of Australia but other than that he just vanishes. I would love to find where he went and where he ended up one day

Jason's picture
Jason says:

Hello Gary, im originally from Adelaide and i too wish to make a model of the Buffalo, did you ever come across any plans?

Pieter Haverhoek's picture
Pieter Haverhoek says:

My 8 year old daughter recently came home with homework about our ancestry, which led us to explore the family. If I have it right, on, then the Sladdens on the Buffalo passenger list are our direct descendants on my mothers side. My Grandmother is Hazel Rowel (nee Sladden). We were pretty blown away to realise this - we are mostly from Perth, however I have lived in Adelaide for the last 17 years. There are other Sladdens who came at the same time on the Cygnet as well.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

I believe it is Stephanie, the local council should be able to tell you more.

Stephenie Szpunar's picture
Stephenie Szpunar says:

There is a street in Edwardstown named HMS Buffalo. I'd assume the street is named after the ship.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

Hi again Gary,
In 1936 'The Advertiser' published instructions for making a model of the Buffalo. You can access these via the National Library of Australia Trove site, this link is for the first in a series of instructions

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

As far as I'm aware no original plans remain Gary, but I'm checking with the South Australian Maritime Museum about reconstructed plans, they may know where you can find something. Several models have been made previously, and there is one on display at the Migration Museum (82 Kintore Ave, Adelaide) currently if you are interested in going in to have a look.

Gary Lewis's picture
Gary Lewis says:

Hi l am building a model of the Buffalo and l want to know if there are any detailed plans of the ship, if there are how do l go about obtaining them.

Yours Gary

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History Trust of South Australia, 'James Hurtle Fisher', Bound for South Australia,, accessed 12 June 2018.