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History and Passenger Lists of the Marquis de Ray Expedition to
New Ireland in 1880
    In the late 1880’s, immigration schemes were popular with rural Europeans looking for a
better life than their often miserable conditions.   One such scheme was organized by
Frenchman,  the Marquis de Ray.   Ray organised several expeditions to colonise various
places in the Pacific and especially what he called “New France” which in fact was the island of
New Ireland, a part of what is now New Guinea.  As these places were on the equator, hot,
humid and in the jungle full of wild animals and unknown tribes, it was always highly unlikely
that the new immigrants would find a better and more comfortable life.  

    On the 9th July 1880 one of the Marquis de Ray’s expeditions left Barcelona on board the
ship “India” to found the colony of New France to the south of New Guinea.  The group
consisted of some 300 Italians from the Veneto Region of Italy who had paid substantial sums
to the Marquis to join his scheme.  At first the governments of both Italy and France, conscious
that the scheme was a scam and that the welfare of the Italians was in danger, had forbidden
the voyage to take place.  Nevertheless, the Marquis organized the group to travel to Barcelona
in Spain to avoid the interdiction by the French and Italians, and faced with the fait accompli, the
Italian Government finally gave its permission for the Italians to leave.

    When they arrived on the 14th October 1880 "New France", the new immigrants found not
the promised land they had been seeking, but an inhospitable climate with a lack of food which
soon claimed the lives of many.  Of the original group, the 200 or so survivors decided that they
must leave for their own well-being and commandeered the ship “India” to take them to a more
hospitable environment.  The “India” was not in any shape to go long distances and the group
made it to the French colony of New Caledonia.  The survivors having had enough of the
French at this stage, refused to stay in New Caledonia and finally, the New South Wales
Government was persuaded to take the immigrants.  The 200 survivors then left Noumea on
the 2nd April 1881 bound for Sydney on board the ship the “James Paterson” where they
arrived on the 7th April 1881.  The history of the group and their arrival is well recorded and
documented in official files and newspapers of the day.

    Subsequently many, but not all of the survivors went to live in "New Italy" in northern NSW
and their descendants are also well-known and documented.  There are several books
published about these New Italy settlers and there is a museum in the now deserted town.  
There is a good site where the history of New Italy is discussed and presented.

    The source of much of this information is the report of the New South Wales Government
"Italian Immigrants Inquiry Board" led by Milbourne Marsh and George Wise and published
in 1881.  A copy of the Report is available as a PDF File (NOTE:  This file is 1MB and may take
some time to load. Also, currently only the summary is available but the whole report will be
made available as soon as it is acurately transcribed).

Passenger lists:

Several passenger lists exist although there are many inconsistencies between them because
of the inability of those recording the names to recognise the Italian language and its
phonetics.  There were many subsequent changes in spellings of the surnames as the
survivors integrated in Australian society and undoubtedly several found their way back to Italy.

The lists are as follows (click on the title to see the lists)

The list of those Italians who died at “New Ireland”.  The list was compiled by the French
authorities in New Caledonia and so represents French spellings for many of the names.

The “James Paterson” passenger list: The Captains records of the Italian survivors as
recorded as sailing on the “James Paterson” from New Caledonia to Sydney, Australia in July
1881.  This list only records the names of the male heads of families and the number within
the family group.  There is some inaccuracy in the family groups because of the number of
deaths that had occurred and the fact that many children were left as orphans.  

The passenger list of those who arrived in Sydney on April 9, 1881.  This was compiled by
the Australian authorities and while reasonably accurate, still displays some of the spelling
errors and family grouping errors present on the “James Paterson” list.

Ken Baker’s grandfather De Mori, was one of those who were on the original voyage and his
family group who arrived in Sydney on the "James Paterson" consisted of Lucia Barbarotto (his
grandmother) and Angelo Barbarotto (his uncle) and so-said two children with the surname De
Mori.   De Mori was a young boy of about 6 or 7 years old and parted from the rest of the family
group in circumstances which are still not clear and anglicized his surname to Maurice
Thomas Moore.  Lucia Bararotto (born Lucia Pusiol near Oderzo, Italy) died on the 5th October
1908 aged 90 years, at the Home of the Sisters of the Poor at Randwick in Sydney

The fate of the the rest of the Barbarotto family is still unclear but De Mori did talk about his
Uncle Barbarotto placing him in an orphanage.  Maurice Moore eventually went to New Zealand
in the early 1900’s where the family became established.
Contact us:
Ken Baker
Brussels, Belgium
Tel:+32 2 675 1656
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