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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Conder
First Name:James Bryant
Rank:Able Seaman
Birth Date: 15-06-1872
Branch:Victorian Navy

James (Jim) Bryant Conder

Able Seaman

Photo and text courtesy of Robert Murphy, grandson of James Conder.


Date of Entry - 28 May 1892

Transferred to Police Department - 27 January 1896


Naval Service

James was keen to sign up with the Victorian Navy but there were no vacancies at that time.  After service on boats in Port Phillip Bay, he signed up for a short six months service in June 1891, with the Royal Navy's Australian Station in Sydney.  At the end of this, he had the opportunity to sign up for twelve years.  His first ship was the 'Orlando" that undertook many cruises around the Australian coast, primarily from its Sydney Harbour base.  This is described in his second journal 'Notes from a Sailor's Log Under Steam - The Naval Part of It".

At the end of six months he decided not to sign up for twelve years and on discharge from the RN, he returned to Melbourne. His objective was achieved when, early in 1892, there was a vacancy and he was posted to HM Turret Ship 'Cerberus" that was principally a gunship provided for the defense of Port Phillip.  As part of this duty he was also drafted to the 'Nelson". The figurehead of this ship is now in the Australian National Maritime Museum.  He was also drafted to the "Albert".  A painting of this ship by James Conder is in the Museum.  The ships on which James Conder served are beautifully painted in watercolours in his journals.

James Conder left the Victorian Navy in January, 1896 as the Navy was planning to cut back.  An opportunity emerged and with his impending marriage, a shore job seemed appropriate.  He joined the Victoria Police immediately as a Constable but returned to naval life as a member of the newly created Australian Navy in 1904.

His first ship was HMAS "Katoomba', a builder's model of which is in the Australian National Maritime Museum.  Others ships on which he served included the "Challenger' and the "Psyche". He left the RAN in June 1909 and had many assorted shore civilian jobs over the next four years.


In 1913 he was asked to join the Naval College at Geelong as a Study Corporal and later transferred with the College to Jervis Bay in 1915.  He served there until the middle of 1930 when his services were no longer required, with the move of the College to HMAS “Cerberus” in Victoria.


Later that year he was called back from retirement to again fill this role, following the untimely death of his son-in-law, Sid Cooper who also was a Study Corporal.

James Conder continued at the Naval College until June, 1937 when at age 65 he had to retire.

Australian National Maritime Museum

When  the Australian National Maritime Museum opened in 1991, there was amongst the large number of exhibits, one permanent exhibit featuring the naval life of James Conder.  "The Australian" newspaper choose to include details of James Conder in its weekend colour magazine as an example of the material in the Museum, at the time of its opening.

This followed the donation to the Museum of the copy of his naval journals made for Alice (Conder) Murphy along with his Victoria Navy bayonet, wooden handle knife, framed portrait and a painting of the 'Albert".  This donation was made by Robert Murphy on behalf of the Murphy Family.  Elizabeth Cromb donated some historical photographs and Mary Weekes donated a "Cerberus" hatband.  Both are daughters of Sid Cooper and granddaughters of James Conder.

The Museum's interest in James Conder relates to the breadth of his naval experience, - in the merchant service, Royal Navy (Australian Station), Victoria Navy and Royal Australian Navy, particularly as a Study Corporal at Osborne House, Jervis Bay and at Crib Point.  James Conder is mentioned in the history of the Royal Australian Naval College.

The fact that James wrote down his experiences, illustrated them and also collected memorabilia adds to the importance of his contribution.


 Jim Coder's Journal of his Life in the Victorian Navy reproduced courtesy of his Grand-daughter, Betty Cromb.

Listed in the Enrolment Sheet of Victorian Naval Forces in 1892 as a Training Seaman. Height 5 feet 9 inches.


More details on this Jim Conder can be found on page 138 in the Victorian Navy Certificates of Service This is a very large pdf file of 119 mb and takes 13 minutes to download with a 1.5 mbps internet connection.


* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.