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Francis Tuft, son of John and Annie Smith Tuft, was born in 1839 in Liverpool, England. He became a skilled carpenter and went to sea aboard the American whaler “Edward”.

The Confederate cruiser “Shenandoah” which was the dread of the Union Navy arrived in Port Phillip Bay, off Melbourne on January 25, 1865; commanded by Lieutenant James I. Waddell. At that time, Francis Tuft, serving as the “Shenandoah’s” ship carpenter, had been aboard for some weeks. The “Shenandoah had previously captured a Union whaling ship named the “Edward”, on December 4, 1864, about fifty miles southeast of Tristan da Cunha; burning it at sea the following day. The “Edward” was valued at $20,000; a good sum at that time. Aboard the “Edward” Tuft had served as its ship’s carpenter and upon its capture, was taken prisoner by Waddell. Realizing that Tuft’s skills could be utilized by the “Shenandoah”, Tuft was offered the chance to enlist in the Confederate Navy with a promise of a portion of the prize money from future captured Union ships. Other members of the “Edwards crew were given the same opportunity, but Tuft was the only member of the crew to accept the offer. He enlisted first as a landsman and then cooper and was obviously quite heavily relied upon by the ship.  

On January 25, 1865 Captain Waddell sent a dispatch from Melbourne, Australia to the Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory which stated;

“On the 5th [4] of December captured and destroyed the bark Edward of New Bedford. I removed a large quantity of stores from her. Her carpenter joined us - a man we much needed”.

Waddell later stated that Edward Tuft was indeed a valuable asset to the “Shenandoah” and her crew.

At the time of the “Edward’s” capture and Tuft’s joining the crew of the “Shenandoah”, it already had two Confederate Navy carpenters aboard; one an Irishman named John O’Shey. John O'Shey, also spelt  O'Shea, was a carpenter; born in Ireland who at one time was a citizen of New York. O’Shey, however had been in some trouble and had already decided to leave the ship at its next port of call, and did so, upon the arrival of the “Shenandoah” at Melbourne, Australia; where O’Shey got his discharge. Due to his experience, Tuft assumed the duties of the ship’s carpenter and was given O’Shey’s position. Tuft remained with the CSS “Shenandoah” until it entered the Mersey in November 1865.

Tuft apparently liked Australia and its culture, because after the war he returned to Australia and remained until he died.

In the meantime, Tuft sailed with the “Shenandoah” when she left Melbourne and served aboard her until the wars end; when the “Shenandoah” surrendered herself to British authorities at Liverpool, England in November 1865. From there Tuft returned home where he met and married Caroline McKee at St. Mary's, Kirkdale in Lancaster County, near the place of his birth, on February 24, 1871. Some years later Francis and Caroline migrated to New Zealand, making their home at Napier, New Zealand until they again migrated to New South Wales, Australia.

Francis’ in 1903 appeared on the Australian Electoral Roll under the name Frank, and  with him were Caroline and a daughter Lily Mary; the family were at this time residing on Prospect Road, Prospect, NSW. He gave his occupation as a farmer and the two women were listed as having domestic duties.

Francis Tuft died on November 29, 1919 at Kerrs Road, Berala,  New South Wales at 80 years of age. He was laid to rest in the ground of St. Bartholomew’s Church of England Cemetery in Section 3, Grave 163 at Prospect, a suburb in the City of Blacktown, in Western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales. He was survived by his wife and seven of his eight children. Caroline joined her husband, after her death, on  December 17, 1929.

 

Barbara Gapps, Deputy Mayor, Blacktown City

 Blacktown City Council

 English General Register Office Marriage Certificate, Francis Tuft, register number MXB 649090

 Hazel Magann, historian and head guide, St. Bartholomew's Church of England, Prospect NSW.

 New South Wales death certificate, Francis Tuft, registration number 1919/025600

 “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion”, Series 1, Volume 3, page 760

 “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion”, Series 1, Volume 3, page 805

  “Roll The Summers Back”, J.A. Porter , Jacaranda Press, Australia

 St. Bartholomew's Church Archives

 “The Voyage Of  The CSS Shenandoah : A Memorable Cruise”, William C. Whittle, University of Alabama Press, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

 

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