Total names in database = 3010

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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

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

About the Muster Database.

  • Inclusion: Any person referred to as having served on board one of the permanent ships of the Victorian Navy, one of the converted ships during manoeuvres or in either division of the Naval Brigades is listed as having served in the Victorian Naval Forces. Likewise any member of the Royal (British) Navy on temporary attachment to the Victorian Navy is included.

  • Victorian Navy or Victorian Naval Forces: The permanent naval force was known as the Victorian Navy. The part-time force was known as the Victorian Naval Brigade or the Victorian Naval Reserve. Combined these two forces were known as the Victorian Naval Forces. View Victorian Naval Forces Flow Chart

  • Duplicated Names: It is possible that the same person may be listed twice. Even if two individuals have the same initial and surname, unless there is reason to believe that they are the same person, the decision has been made to err on the side of caution rather than risk removing the only reference to a particular individual.

  • Birth Dates: A birthdate with a year but 00 for the day and 00 for the month indicates that the individual was stated as being a certain age. Subtracting the age from the year when it was given results in an approximate birth year as the person may actually have been x years and 11 months in January and hence would have been born 11+1 years before the year being subtracted from.

  • Overlap of Victorian and Australian Navies: Although technically the Victorian Navy transformed into the Australian Navy (Commonwealth Naval Forces) on 1 March 1901 the men and ships did not radically change until the arrival of the new ships and higher manning levels in 1910. Names of Victorians that arise from 1901 until 1910 have been included in the Database with an indication that they served in the Commonwealth Naval Forces. All of these individuals will have served on ships of the Victorian Navy and most will have served prior to 1901.

  • Non-Navy Personnel: There are a handful of individuals in the database who did not serve in the Victorian Naval Forces. Individuals, such as Alexander Wilson who designed the Steam Steering Engine on Cerberus, have been included because of their important contribution.

  • Women: Although hundreds of women had surreptitiously served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars and earlier, this was not the case with the Victorian Naval Forces. By the time the Victorian Colonial Navy was formed in 1855 tighter fitting uniforms had been introduced which made it harder for women to disguise themselves. In addition the small size of the Victorian Navy and its frequency of being in port made disguise even harder.

  • Non-Whites: Mostly the Victorian Navy was manned by white European males. Some of the known exceptions include Thomas Bungalene, an aboriginal Kurnai Man from Gippsland, Henry (Black Harry) Moore from Jamaica & a sailor captured in a photo of a ship's parade. It is likely that more than 30 other members of the Naval Reserve also described as having dark complexion and dark eyes (as was Harry Moore & was also the case with Koorie soldiers in WWI) were also non-white. There was obviously no policy of discrimination based on race. List of known Non-Europeans. To date no Asian members of the Victorian Navy have been identified.

  • Sworn in as Police: Initially there was no legal basis for a colony to have a navy. Initially Victoria's crew were engaged under the Merchant Seaman's Act. However, within a week of arriving in Victoria, the crew refused orders to proceed towards Geelong so as to assist the ship Arthur the Great which had run aground. As a result of the crew's refusal, on 8 August Captain Norman was instructed to lose no time in engaging a crew for the ship under the 1853 Victorian Police Act. The crew were given a naval and police rank e.g. Able Seaman/Constable. This system continued until the passing of the Armed Vessels Act in mid 1860 when the crew was discharged from the Police Department. The ship was then returned to the control of the Department of Chief Secretary.

  • Naval Brigade or Naval Reserve: From 1859 until 1871 Victoria operated a Volunteer Naval Brigade consisting of the Williamstown Division (from 1859) and the Sandridge Division (from 1860). In 1871 the Volunteer Naval Brigade was disbanded and reformed as the Naval Reserve consisting of the Williamstown Division and the Sandridge Division. As the suburb of Sandridge changed its name to Port Melbourne in 1884 the Sandridge division also changed its name. In 1885 the Naval Reserve was disbanded and reformed as the Naval Brigade consisting of the Williamstown and Port Melbourne Divisions.

  • Sources: Apart from a handful of entries, the source for the information in each profile is given with the profile. Some very valuable sources have been:
    Volunteer Listing kept by CPO Goding & held by grandson Lawrence Dilks, Williamstown. Prepared by Ada Ackerly, Directory Williamstown Museum, c 1987.
    The Australian Illustrated Enclclopaedia of The Boxer Uprising 1899-1901, Justin Corfield, Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae Australia, 2001.
    Victoria & Australia's First War, Ian MacFarlane & Neil Smith, Mostly Unsung Military History, Brighton 2005.
    Victorian Naval Brigade 1860 - 1871, courtesy of Tom Corfmat, Victorian Colonial Infantry Association Inc.
    Certificates of Service 1884-1905, National Archives of Australia.
    Victorian Naval Reserve Register, National Archives of Australia.
    Profiles contributed by Shirley Joy.

    A large amount of information simply came from newspapers of the day, the Cerberus log books, Naval Lists and descendants of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces.

  • Images: Most photographs of men serving in the Victorian Naval Forces were provided by their descendants with approximately 40 being provided by Ada Ackerly.

* 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.