Summary

Silver tankard made from Chinese export sterling silver by Sun Shing, Canton, circa 1830. It was presented to T.B. Chief Officer of the Kent by one of the passengers, Thomas Howard Fellows, as a memento of the ship's first voyage from London to Port Phillip in 1853.

Thomas Howard Fellows was born in 1822 in Hertfordshire, England, and educated at the prestigious secondary school Eton College before studying law. He arrived with his wife and young son aboard the 'Kent' in Melbourne on 20 April 1853, was admitted to the Victorian bar the following month. He held a variety of cabinet posts between 1856 and 1868. He was appointed as fifth judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in December 1872. He died at his home in South Yarra in April 1878, and such was his standing within colonial Victorian legal circles that, as a mark of respect, the Crown Law Offices were closed on the day of his burial at St Kilda Cemetery.

Physical Description

Flat bottomed tapering tankard with ribbed bands and a squared off handle, inscribed on front, made from Chinese export sterling silver, manufacturer's mark of silverware firm, Sun Shing, Canton.

Significance

This tankard is significant for its links to the early immigration and settlement of Melbourne and the early public and civic life of the colony of Victoria.

During the 1850s almost half a million people immigrated to Victoria, largely driven by the discovery of gold and the opportunities offered in a wealthy colony with a rapidly growing population. This tankard provides an opportunity for exploring the migration stories and experiences of the professional classes during this period.

This tankard is unique in that it was presented by an immigrant to a senior member of the ship’s crew as a memento of the voyage. It was the inaugural voyage of the Kent to Port Phillip. There are no other items like this in the collection, and this object allows us to explore the feelings of migrants toward the crews of the ships who brought them half-way around the world in safety and the value they placed on this shared journey.

The tankard holds further significance for its links to the early public life of the colony of Victoria and the museum. Thomas Howard Fellows arrived in Melbourne on 20 April 1853 and was admitted to the bar in May that year. He held a variety of cabinet posts from 1856 to 1868, and in 1870 he was appointed a Trustee of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery and a Commissioner of the planned Intercolonial Legislation and Federal Union Inquiries. He was appointed as fifth judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in December 1872. He died in April 1878, and such was his standing within colonial Victorian legal circles that, as a mark of respect, the Crown Law Offices were closed on the day of his burial at St Kilda Cemetery.

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