Captain Robert Towns 1794 - 1873 "A hard but just master"
The "Royal Saxon" was a ship of 510 tons built in Liverpool in 1820, she was quite a large vessel for her day and drew 19 feet of water when fully laden. She was also stoutly built, with iron knees and
"proved iron" cables, as well as having a copper-sheathed hull. Around 1840, after she had been sold to Robert Towns of London, she altered her regular run to Port Phillip, Australia and thereafter Sydney before disappearing
from record in 1844.
In another famous encounter the "Royal Saxon" was involved in the first of the "Opium Wars." For foreign ships to be allowed to dock in Canton for trade, Chinese authorities required a signed bond agreeing not to trade opium. Captain Charles
Elliot, Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China, ordered British ships not to sign the bond. After a second British ship, the Royal Saxon, tried to defy Elliot's
blockade on 3 November 1839, the Volage under Captain Henry Smith fired a warning shot
across the Royal Saxon's bow. In response, Chinese war junks under Admiral Kuan T'ien-p'ei moved out to protect the Royal Saxon. After Elliot gave in to Smith's pressure
for an attack, the more maneuverable British ships approached the Chinese vessels and fired broadsides at them from starboard.
Towns was of course the "cabin passenger" refered to in An
Old time Voyage by John Brickhill. He was indeed an interisting caracter who among other achievments was a member of the initial New
South Wales Legislative Council from 22 May 1856 to 10 May 1861. He afterwards bought station properties in Queensland, and about 1860 or a little later began growing cotton, employing South Sea islanders to do the cultivation and picking. Many attempts had been made to grow cotton in Australia before this time, but Towns
was the first to do so on a large scale. Realizing that a port was needed on the Queensland coast north of Bowen, Towns
arranged for explorations to be made from his stations, a suitable site was found at Cleveland Bay, and on to October 1865 it was gazetted as a port of entry and named Townsville.