Leven Lass: An Origin Story

By: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

As I near the end of my directed study in maritime archaeology, I wanted to take the time to discuss one of the main facets of my final report: Leven Lass. I have had the opportunity thoroughly to research the background of Leven Lass, not only for my directed study, but also as part of my masters thesis. For my thesis, I am producing a multiphasic vessel biography on Leven Lass utilising Wessex Archaeology’s BULSI (Build, Use, Loss, Survival, and Investigation) system. I plan on evaluating the system for its utility in shipwreck studies and place Leven Lass in a broader context of nineteenth century seafaring in Australia.

Leven Lass was chosen as my thesis topic after the 2014 Maritime Archaeology Field School conducted at Phillip Island, Victoria this past January. The field school was centred on a wreck that was determined to be Leven Lass by a previous Flinders masters student who worked on the wreck during the 2012 Maritime Archaeology Field School (Wilson 2012). While the focus of that thesis was more on maritime cultural landscapes, my thesis is looking at the vessel’s life cycle or career, from design inception to shipwreck investigation, and its broader implications for shipwreck studies, significance assessments and post-colonial Australian seafaring.

Leven Lass was built in Dumbarton, Scotland, at Denny’s Shipyard (see Figure 1 below), yard number two, in 1839 (The Clyde Built Ships 2014). Leven Lass was sold in Glasgow, Scotland, on 16 September 1852 by Paton and Grant and sailed from Scotland to Australia (Melbourne) on 1 October 1852 by Captain Sholto Gardener Jamieson (1818-1882), arriving in 1853 (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8; Lythgoe 2014; Wilson 2012). The brig Leven Lass spent time as a post carrier between Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney and was considered “a remarkably fast sailer” (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8). A brig was a two-masted sailing ship with square rigging on both masts and was commonly used as couriers on coastal routes (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014). 



Figure 1. A model rendition of Denny’s shipyard in 1908 at Dumbarton, Scotland (Royal Museums Greenwich 2014).

Leven Lass is going to be thoroughly researched by the end of 2014 to say the least. The field report being constructed for Heritage Victoria during this directed study is not going to be as detailed as my proposed thesis but more of a synopsis of field work conducted and a discussion of the results and interpretation of the data collected during both the 2012 and 2014 field schools.


Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014 “Brig”. Retrieved 3 June 2014 from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/79477/brig.

Glasgow Herald 1852 “At Glasgow – For Melbourne, Port-Phillip”. 17 September: 8.

Lythgoe, Darrin 2014 Shetland Family History. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.bayanne.info/Shetland/getperson.php? personID=I11228&tree=ID1.

Royal Museums Greenwich 2014 Denny’s Shipyard. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://prints.rmg.co.uk/art/510730/Topographic_model_Dennys_shipyard_Dumbarton.

The Clyde Built Ships 2014 Leven Lass. Electronic document. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.clydeships.co.uk/view.php?ref=14432,

Wilson, Dennis D. 2012 The Investigation of Unidentified Wreck 784, Phillip Island, Victoria: Applying Cultural Landscape Theory and Hierarchy of Time to the Assessment of Shipwreck Significance. Unpublished Masters thesis, DEPT Flinders University, Adelaide.



2 responses to “Leven Lass: An Origin Story

  1. http://www.clydeships.co.uk/view.php?ref=14432
    Name Official number Flag IMO
    Year built Date launched Date completed
    1839 1839 12/11/1839
    Vessel type Vessel description
    Cargo Wood, Sailing Vessel Brig
    Builder Yard Yard no
    Denny & Rankin, Dumbarton Woodyard 2

    Tonnage Length Breadth Depth Draft
    200 grt / 184 nrt / 86.1 ft 20.4 ft 13.4 ft
    Engine builder
    Engine detail

    First owner First port of register Registration date
    Alexander Denny, Glasgow and Francis Spaight, Limerick
    Other names

    Subsequent owner and registration history
    1840 Alexander Denny, Glasgow
    1848 James Eadie and Agnes Kerr
    Vessel history
    12/11/1839 builder’s certificate
    Principly in timber trade

    End year Fate / Status
    1854 Beached
    Disposal Detail
    prev13/12/1854 Hobart for Melbourne, sprang a leak and run ashore at Weston Point, Philip Island; became total loss. Capt Nichol, crew and quarter of cargo saved.
    A 20m section of the wreck remains.

  2. http://www.bayanne.info/Shetland/getperson.php?personID=I11228&tree=ID1
    Captain Sholto Gardner JAMIESON
    Male 1818 – 1882 (63 years)
    amieson, Sholto Gardner b. Lerwick 1818 Lloyd’s Register: 42376

    Captain of the brig “Leven Lass”, which carried his wife Betsy, and her sister’s husband James Jamieson to Australia in 1853. James died en route, and was buried at St. Paul, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.