Historical information

This Holy Bible is entitled "The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues: and with former translations diligently compared and revised by His Majesty's Spiritual Command." It was printed by Sir D. Hunter Blair and M.T. Bruce in Edinburgh, 1836, printers to the King's most Excellent Majesty, H.B.S."

The Bible belonged to David and Alice Ellis, a young couple married in Dublin in 1855. It has been handed down in the Ellis family until it was donated, together with other personal effects, in 2004 by David and Alice’s granddaughter, daughter of David Ellis Junior. Alice treated the Bible as an important posession.

On 6th October 1855 newlyweds David and Alice Ellis set sail for Australia in the brand new Schomberg, considered the most perfect clipper ship. She was built as an emigrant ship in Aberdeen and set sail from Liverpool on her maiden voyage, bound for Melbourne, Australia. She was loaded with 430 passengers plus cargo that included iron rails and equipment intended for building the Geelong Railway and a bridge over the Yarra from Melbourne to Hawthorn.

On 27th December 1855, only one day from her Melbourne destination, the Schomberg was grounded on a sand-spit on the Victorian coast near Peterborough. The passengers and crew were all safely rescued by a passing small steamer, the SS Queen, which traded between Melbourne and Warrnambool, and taken to Melbourne. The passengers had been told, when leaving the sinking Schomberg, that all they could take with them was a small basket or handbag. A newspaper article later mentioned that one of the things Alice made space for in her basket was her Bible. (It is unclear whether Alice took any possessions with her onto the SS Queen, but a note accompanying the donation of the Bible and basket states that the items were “left on deck and salvaged as Schomberg went down”.) Another steamer was despatched from Melbourne to retrieve the passengers’ luggage from the Schomberg and Alice was reunited with all of her boxes of belongings. Other steamers helped unload the cargo until the change in weather made it too difficult. Although the Schomberg was wrecked there were no lives lost.

At that time David was 23 years old (born in Wales, 1832) and his new bride Alice was 26 (born in Dublin, 1829). They had been given letters of introduction to people in Tasmania so they travelled there from Melbourne. However the couple only stayed on that island for about a year before they returned to the Western District of Victoria. David worked for Mr Neil Black as a gardener for a while then, when the land in the area was made available by the Victorian government, David and Alice claimed a selection of land on Noorat Road in the Terang district. They settled there for the remainder of their lives, expanding their property “Allambah” as opportunities arose.

A document accompanying the donation lists the names of six children; William, Grace (c. 1859-1946), Thomas (c. 1866 – 1939), David (c. 1962 – 1953), James and Victor.

David died on 13th April 1911, aged 79, at their property. Alice passed away the following year, November 1912, aged 83. Alice’s obituary described her as “a very homely, kindly-natured woman, who was highly esteemed by a large circle of friends; and she was also a firm adherent of the Presbyterian Church”.

At the time of Alice’s death she left behind three sons and one daughter. Her daughter Grace Ellis was also a very active member of the Terang Presbyterian Church and a member of the PWMU (Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union). She was also involved in the Red Cross and other charities. Grace passed away in 1946, aged 87.


David and Alice Ellis were amongst the very earlies pioneers of the Terang district of Western Victoria. Their donated possessions are a sample of the personal effects of emigrants to Australia.

The donated items are a sample of the personal goods carried aboard a significant migrant ship in 1855. They are also significant for their association with the Schomberg.

The Schomberg, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR S612), has great historical significance as a rare example of a large, fast clipper ship on the England to Australia run, carrying emigrants at the time of the Victorian gold rush. She represents the technical advances made to break sailing records between Europe and Australia.

Flagstaff Hill’s collection of artefacts from the Schomberg is significant for its association with the shipwreck,

The collection is primarily significant because of the relationship between the objects, as together they have a high potential to interpret the story of the Schomberg. It is archaeologically significant as the remains of an international passenger Ship. It is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history and for its association with the shipwreck and the ship, which was designed to be fastest and most luxurious of its day

Physical description

Bible, known as the Ellis - Schomberg Bible, with patterned brown leather cover. Printed by Sir D. Hunter Blair and M.T. Bruce, Edinburgh 1836. Bookmark of card placed within Bible’s pages is from Keswick Book Depot, Melbourne. Bible has hand written inscriptions inside front and back covers and has been well used. Bible was amongst the possessions of David and Alice Ellis, passengers on the Schomberg when wrecked in 1855.

Inscriptions & markings

Scripture references and notes are hand written in pencil on front and back inner pages.
Bookmark card has printed inscription; on front “BOOK MARK / KESWICK / BOOK / DEPOT / EVERYTHING / EVANGELISTIC / 315 COLLINS ST / MELBOURNE / CENT. 3013”, on back is line drawing of a stem of iris flowers above the verse “The entrance of Thy / words giveth light; it / giveth understanding / unto the Simple. Ps. 119-30”