Thomas Pearce (1860?-1909) was an apprentice on the English merchant vessel the Loch Ard, which embarked for Victoria in March 1878 carrying 37 crew and 16 passengers, many from the Carmichael family. In stormy weather on 1 June 1878, just days from completing the three-month voyage, the Loch Ard wrecked against Muttonbird Island. Supported by an upturned lifeboat, the teenaged Pearce was washed ashore in a small bay, now known as Loch Ard Gorge; but when he spotted eighteen-year-old Eva Carmichael clinging to wreckage in the ocean, he swam out and struggled back to shore with her. As sole survivors of the wreck, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael became celebrities and posed for a number of Melbourne photographers after their recuperation. Pearce was presented with the first gold medal of the Royal Humane Society of Victoria. Popular sentiment was for a permanent union; but Eva returned to Ireland, and Pearce became a ship's captain.
This photograph is in an album associated with the Fullerton Family. James Lucas Fullerton was born in Northern Ireland on 02 July 1842, and died on 23 November 1932. HIs wife Mary Carson was born on 30 May 1844 in Northern Ireland, and died on 22 April 1917. They married on 14 October 1869 at Brisbane before moving to Creswick where James Fullerton worked as a grocer. They later moved to Ballarat where they ran a grocery shiop. James and Mary had ten children, and are buried in the Ballaarat Old Cemetery.
Photographic portrait of Thomas Pearce wearing the first gold medal of the Royal Humane Society of Victoria.