In art, dogs often represent loyalty and faithfulness, and quite right too.
In early May 1788, some of the last ships of the First Fleet left New South Wales, sailing north to China. The ships’ crews were glad to get away to safer places and fresh provisions, but some at least felt regret for those they left behind in the tiny, precarious settlement at Port Jackson.
John Marshall, the master of the Scarborough, left behind a Newfoundland dog called Hector. Who knows why? Perhaps he thought the dog would be happier on dry land. Certainly he cared enough to leave Hector in the care of his friend Zachariah Clark, the Assistant Commissary.
Hector would have worked for his keep as a ratter, and since the Commissariat was responsible for food supplies, he probably ate well – or at least as well as the rest of the settlement, which isn’t saying much. But he wasn’t up to hunting kangaroos, as Surgeon White noted in his Journal of a Voyage to NSW (1790):
It has been reported by some convicts who were out one day, accompanied by a large Newfoundland dog, that the latter seized a very large Kangaroo but could not preserve its hold. They observed that the animal effected its escape by the defensive use it made of its tail, with which it struck its assailant in a most tremendous manner. The blows were applied with such force and efficacy, that the dog was bruised, in many places, till the blood flowed. They observed that the Kangaroo did not seem to make any use of either its teeth or fore feet, but fairly beat off the dog with its tail, and escaped before the convicts, though at no great distance, could get up to secure it.
Then in July 1790, the Scarborough returned with the Second Fleet. David Collins, the Deputy Judge Advocate, told the story:
An instance of sagacity in a dog occurred on the arrival of the Scarborough, too remarkable to pass unnoticed; Mr Marshall, the master of the ship on quitting Port Jackson in May 1788, left a Newfoundland dog with Mr Clark, the agent… On the return of his old master, Hector swam off to the ship and getting on board recognised him and manifested in every manner suitable to his nature his joy at seeing him; nor could the animal be persuaded to quit him again, accompanying him always when he went on shore and returning with him on board.
Newfies are good swimmers. I really hope that Hector stayed on the Scarborough when it sailed. Zachariah Clark, on the other hand, stayed on in NSW. In 1802 he was arrested for incest with his adult daughter Ann, possibly on a trumped up charge. He got off, but died in 1804 ‘from excessive drinking’. He should have stuck to dogs.