Ticonderoga (clipper)

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US flag 30 stars.svgUnited States
Launched: 1849, Williamsburg, New York
Fate: Wrecked off India, 1872
General characteristics
Class and type: 4-masted clipper
Displacement: 1089 tons
Length: 169 ft (52 m)

Ticonderoga was a 169-foot (52 m), 4-masted clipper ship displacing 1,089 tons, launched in 1849 and wrecked in 1872.



Ticonderoga was launched in 1849 at Williamsburg, New York (United States). She was infamous for her "fever ship" voyage in 1852 from Liverpool (England) to Port Phillip, Victoria (Australia) carrying 795 passengers, arriving on 22 December 1852. It was a double-decker ship, overcrowded, and with more than her recommended load. Many passengers were small children, as the restrictions on the number of children per family had been lifted. Most came from the Highlands of Scotland under the auspices of the Highland and Island Emigration Society but there were other families from Somerset on board.

The ship was not designed well for passenger carrying, sanitary provisions were totally inadequate, and the doctors were soon overwhelmed, and themselves caught typhus. The decks were never swabbed properly and there was no cleaning undertaken below decks; contemporary accounts mention the dreadful smell and the lack of sanitation. Bodies were bundled into mattresses in tens and thrown overboard during the voyage.

During the voyage, 100 passengers died of what was later determined to have been typhus. When the ship arrived, it was initially moored off Point Nepean and the headland was turned into a quarantine station, where many more passengers died and were buried, rather haphazardly in shallow graves. Later memorials have since been erected by the descendants of survivors.

After the press furor about sanitary conditions, double-decker ships were no longer used for emigrants, and the restrictions about the numbers of children allowed were reinstated.

In 1872, Ticonderoga was wrecked off India.

Michael Veitch wrote the book Hell Ship – The true story of the plague ship Ticonderoga, one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian history in 2018 and developed a one-person play from it. [1]

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  1. Veitch, Michael (2018). Hell Ship – The true story of the plague ship Ticonderoga, one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian history. Allen & Unwin. ISBN   978-1-76063-084-3.

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