Pigott, Jane

[Personal communication, Marjorie Morkham, descendant of Koombana passenger Jane Pigott, Monday 22 October 2018]

Hello Annie,

I hope this website contact is still working as I have a bit of information for you.

I had relatives lost on the Koombana (Jane Pigott and her daughters Genevieve and Alice Skamp) and found your book a wonderful, sad and incredible story. I bought a copy a couple of years or so ago and read every word and then worked with the on-line companion. Every so often I find a list of jobs to follow up or an unanswered email – which has this time brought me back to the Callanan/Skamp/Pigott connection

Jane Pigott’s maiden name was Callanan and she was my great grandmother’s youngest sister (so my great-great aunt). She was born 19/11/1856 at Eyrecourt, County Galway, Ireland – the daughter of Nicholas and Alicia Callanan. They emigrated to Victoria on the Blue Jacket arriving 13 August 1864. Jane married Richard Skamp on 27 February 1877 and they had 6 children Alice and Genevieve being 4th and 5th.

Richard Skamp was everything from a brewer to a fell monger to a wool broker. He died at only 41 years on 12 January 1890.

Ten years later on 7 February 1890 Jane married Sydney Capel Pigott in St Kilda (All Saints Anglican Church) and they lived in Broome (and Fremantle in hotter part of year). Alice and Genevieve lived with them and Jane’s youngest child Harold Skamp who worked as a clerk at Streeter & Male in Broome.

Curiously Jane and Richard’s 2nd child Ethel Elizabeth Bowden Skamp married Sydney’s brother Stanley Pash Pigott which makes working out relationships complicated.

It came to me when looking again at Koombana Days website that I had a photograph of Jane, the only one known I think. It was sent to me by a relative on the Skamp line ...

[Photograph of Jane Pigott nee Callanan, courtesy of Marjorie Morkham]

Jane with her first husband, Richard Callanan, c. 1880.

[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 02 April 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, 0186/N46/634]

Fremantle-Broome Piggott Mrs. ) Wife of ex Mayor of Broome and

Skamp Miss S. ) Sec. Pearlers Asscn. and her two

Skamp Miss G. ) daughters.

[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 12 April 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. provided to the author by the late Malcolm Barker]

List of passengers known to have been bound for Broome.

From Fremantle


Piggott, Mrs. Syd. ) Wife of ex-Mayor of Broome, and Secretary,

Skamp Miss G. ) Pearlers' Associations.

Skamp Miss ) The Misses Skamp daughters by a former husband.


[Barker, Malcolm, 2001, The Truth Is So Precious, Success Print, Perth, Western Australia, page53]


For Broome

Mr Abraham Davis, Manager for Mark Rubin Broome

Mr G. Simpson, the Resident Engineer of the Harbours and Rivers Department at Broome

Mr G. Harper, of the Harper Brothers (Pearlers)

Mrs Syd. Piggott, (and her two daughters) wife of an ex-Mayor of Broome who was currently Secretary of the very powerful Pearlers Association,


["No News of the Koombana", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 31 March 1912, page 1]


Mrs. Pigott, one of the passengers aboard the Koombana, is the wife of Mr. Sydney Pigott, at present one of the leading pearlers, and secretary of the Pearlers' Association. Mr. Pigott was at one time member for his district and Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament. The Misses Skamp are Mr. Pigott's stepdaughters.


[Bailey, John, 2001, The White Divers of Broome, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, Chapter 9]


The SS Koombana was due to dock at the Broome jetty with the evening tide the next day. On board were...and Mrs Jane Piggott the wife of Sydney Pigott, and her two daughters, returning home after spending Christmas in Perth.


The death of his wife and stepchildren weighed heavily on Sydney Pigott. He spent many hours on the verandah of his bungalow late at night discussing with his brother what was left for him in Broome. Sydney was 44 and had lived in Broome for 22 years. He had made a substantial amount of money. He was respected and successful. He had been the parliamentary representative for the area and was president of the Pearlers' Association. He spoke of selling his fleet. He spoke of selling everything - his house and his business. It was time to let go.


["Broome in Mourning", The Hedland Advocate (Port Hedland, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 8]

Broome, April 4.

Broome has been in mourning over the dreadful news received of wreckage being found from the Koombana. A number clung till the last to hope, but this news has dispelled all hope.

There are some exceptionally sad cases of persons with those near and dear to them on board.

Harold Skamp, a young man employed at Messrs Streeter & Males, lost his mother and two sisters. Sid Pigott, his wife and two step-daughters;...

[Personal communication, Bethwyn Brandis, granddaughter of Koombana passenger Fred Clinch, 25 May 2005]

Background: In March 2002 Mrs Brandis, granddaughter of Fred Clinch, sought to contact with other descendants of those lost on the Koombana. She placed an advertisement in The West Australian under the heading "Can you help?". She was very surprised at the response and has recorded the correspondence which followed. Amongst her correspondents:

Jim Mayhew

[address withheld]

"His great grandmother Mrs Sydney Capel Piggott and her two daughters Alice Beatrice Skamp & Genevieve Callanan Skamp were all on the Koombana. His letter was interesting re family."

In Jim's hand-written letter of 11 May 2002 to Bethwyn Brandis, he retells part of the family history contained in the older family records below. He also mentions an informal link with the Clinch/Brandis clan of Mukinbudin..

"It's a small world but my grandfather on my father's side, WILLIAM EDWARD MAYHEW (Ted Mayhew) was at one time engaged to a Miss Clinch of Berkshire Valley,...

["Koombana's Passenger List", Broome Chronicle (WA), Saturday 30 March 1912]


For Broome.

Mrs. S. Pigott

Misses Scamp (2)


["Deaths", The Argus (Melbourne), Saturday 11 May 1912, page 13]


PIGOTT.--Lost on s.s. Koombana Mrs. Sydney Pigott and two daughters Alice and Jennie Skamp, beloved sister and nieces of Mrs. J. W. Cameron, Fernhill-road, Sandringham.


["In Memoriam", Nor'-West Echo (Broome, WA), Saturday 14 May 1927, page 1]

The news of the death of Sydney Capel Pigott in London, at the age of 59, caused deep sorrow and a sense of personal loss to those of his contemporaries remaining in Broome.


Coming to Cossack first in 1887 a lad of 19 he started his pearling career as clerk on the "Flowerdale" and by the time of attaining his majority was a pearler on his own account.


As a man he was possessed of those great qualities, head and heart, that made him both a leader of men and a white man, in all that white implies.


Mr Pigott leaves a widow and an infant son in London, to whom with his relatives in Australia, we offer our deepest sympathy.

[Pigott, Stanley Pash, Sydney Capel Pigott: Biographical Outline to the Year 1919 (unpublished), Unpublished tribute to his brother, May 1954, original held by Jim Mayhew, grandson of Stanley Pigott]

SYDNEY CAPEL PIGOTT : Biographical Outline to the Year 1919

compiled by his brother Stanley P. Pigott, May 1954.


Born 25th April 1867 at "Maritimo", Grey St. St. Kilda...

1st July 1873: Sailed for England in the auxillary S.S. "Great Britain" in company with all his brothers, sisters, and their parents, the voyage ending at Liverpool on 3rd September 1873. After spending some five days in Liverpool, where his Father had business to transact, Sydney with the rest of the family went to London, living for a couple of weeks at 212 Old Kent Rd., in lodgings, pending his Father's securing the lease of a larger house at 137 Brixton Rd., Brixton, which thereafter remained the family headquarters until it's departure for Australia in 1874 or early 1875.


1890: During a holiday visit to friends in Adelaide, early in 1890, Sydney determined to go to Western Australia, having heard a great deal about the wonderful prospects in that state for both goldmining and pearlshell fishing. He had no experience of either of these industries but, on his arrival in Fremantle, enquiries there soon convinced him that the pearling industry was the better proposition of the two.

The owners of the Schooner "Dawn" (Messrs. Barter, Lilly and Holdsworth) were at this time refitting and provisioning their vessel for the purpose of working the pearlshell banks off the "Nor-West" Coast between Onslow and Broome in conjunction with their luggers to which the "Anne" acted as a Supply-ship and receiver of their daily "catch" of shell and pearls. Sydney signed on the "Anne's" articles as Supercargo and Clerk, his duties being to keep account of stock, wages and accounts generally and also to assist the vessel's Mate and it's Master (Captain Robert Barter) in the collection of the shell, which they did by means of the "Anne's" longboat. Such shell was opened next morning on the deck of the Schooner Anne by the Mate and the Clerk, the pearls handed to the Master, and the shell scrubbed and cleaned by the crew and then packed in barrels or cases by the ship's carpenter ready for shipment by first export steamer calling on the pearling "grounds".

During the early months of the year, constituting the later half of the "hurricane" season, it was usual to work the shell beds off Onslow and Cossack, chiefly owing to the shelter afforded by the many groups of islands nearby, and the fact that the shell gathered from the reefs of these islands yielded many fine pearls of beautiful lustre. Later on in the year when the South East Monsoon set in, and the weather became more settled and the water clearer, the Pearling Fleet moved Northward, fishing the coast round about Port Hedland, Condon, the 80-mile Beach and round about the "grounds" off Roebuck Bay (Broome). In the course of a few years after Sydney engaging in the industry, the 80-mile Beach between Condon and Wallal became such a prolific yielder of the hardest and finest pearlshell that the majority of the fleets found Dampier Creek in Roebuck Bay the best protection and careening place during the hurricane season, and their owners took them there for their annual overhaul and refit.

Thus it was that Broome had a beginning; first a lot of tempory camps; then a few permanent buildings clustered along the foreshore of Dampier Creek, to be followed in a few years with the extension of the township Southwards on a well drawn up plan by the Surveyor General.


1894: ...Syd commenced pearling on his own account about this year...


1897. Syd's ventures prospered so much that by this year he had increased his fleet to some five luggers...


1898. In this year Syd extended his shore business considerably.


Taking full advantage fo the facilityies for transport afforded by the tramline, Sydn build on land adjacent to his Store a factory for the manufacture of Cordials and Aerated waters, placing the conduct of this in the hands of an expert in the manufacture of such drinks whom he engaged in Perth.

There being a large demand by the Hotels for spiritous as well as "soft" drinks, Sydney engaged in the importation and distribution of Beer, Wines and Spirits, much of which he obtained from London.


7th. February 1900: Sydn married Jane Skamp (widow of Richard Bowden Skamp) at St. Georges Church of England, Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne. They made their home in Eyrecourt in Mercer Rd.

April 1900: Syd with his wife arrived in Broome from Melbourne, staying during it's[sic] pleasant mild winter, and leaving again for Melbourne about Oct/Novbr to escape it's Tropical Summer.

Decbr. 1900: Syd's brother, Stanley, left Broome for holiday in Melbourne, staying at his mother's house in Glenderg Grove, Malvern, which is not far from "Eyrecourt" in Mercer Rd.

13th Febry. 1901. From "Eyrecourt", Ethel Skamp was married at St. George's Church, Malvern, to Syd's brother Stanley. Being her step-father, Sydney gave the bride away, her bridesmaids being her sisters Alice and Genevieve Skamp...

Parliamentary Career (August 1901--June 1904)

Syd was elected Member for West Kimberley of the Legislative Assembly of the 4th. Parliament of Western Australia in the month of August 1901.

...later, during the regime of Sir Walter James as Premier, Sydney was elected leader of the Opposition...

The Government would vote Syd almost anything he wanted, to improve conditions in Broome, Derby and other West Kimberley towns (and he got same) but when he "bumped" up against vested interests of the Lessees from the Crown of huge cattle Stations running into millions of square miles of country, it became a different matter, against which he made little, if any headway.


1907. The lease of "Lucknow" [now Bethesda Hospital] having expired, Sydney brought his wife and step-daughters, Alice and Genevieve Skamp, to live in Broome at the "Bungalow". During the winter months of this year, Syd occasionally went out with his fleet.


...Soon after Christmas of this year [1911] Syd sent his wife and Alice and Genevieve Skamp to Perth to escape the worst part of Broome's summer. Later on they joined Ethel and her four children at Albany for a few weeks and then returned to Perth in March 1912.

20th. March 1912. and S.S."Koombana"

The vessel was lost on the night of 20th. March near Bidout Island, between Port Hedland and Broome, with everybody aboard, numbering over 300 people, amongst whom were his wife, and his step-daughters, Alice and Genevieve Skamp.


Later on (from pearling divers), it was placed beyond all doubt, that the Koombana had struck the Bidout Reef, crashed over it, and sunk in deep water on the other side...


1912 During teh course of the remainder of this year, Sydney sold his fleet of boats, and his land and house, the "Bungalow", which had been his Broome home for so long. This enabled him to concentrate more and more on Pearl-buying, for which he had a wonderful "flair".



Upon the outbreak of war in August, the market for both Pearls and Pearlshell collapsed and the pearling fleets were laid up to cease work for an indefinite period. Syd wound up the remainder of his Broome affairs early in December 1914, and confidently determined to find a job in London, where his knowledge of Pearls and M.O.P. Shell were held in high esteem.

Accompanied by Ethel, who was going to Perth to be with our children during their school vacation, Sydney reached Perth early in January, 1915, stayed there a few days, and then left for London.

AB notes:

Sydney born 25th April 1867. he was just short of his 45th birthday when Jane was lost

He married Jane Skamp 7th. February 1900, so they had been married almost 12 years

[Black, David 1936-

Biographical register of members of the Parliament of

Western Australia, Volume one, 1870-1930

Western Australian Parliament 1990, 2001]

PIGGOTT, Sydney Capel

...by 1894 pearling on his own account in Broome with 2 luggers, expanded business as importer and exporter; 1897 owned Roebuck Bay Hotel; started aerated water factory; 1909-12 accountant for Norman Goldstein and Co., pearlers an merchants; 1913-15 independent pearler; went to London in 1915 to set up as a pearl merchant...

[Private letter from Stanley Pash Pigott to his cousin Gladys Leask, March 1953]


We [Stanley and Ethel] were married in February 1901 at St. George's Church, Malvern, her mother (widow of the late Richard B. Skamp) having the previous year married my elder brother Sydney Capel Pigott. She thus strangely became my neice as well as my wife. On her father's side she comes of Devonshire stock (Ilfracombe), her mother being a Callanan, born at Eyrecourt, Ireland. For me, Ethel as a girl gave up the pleasantness attaching to living in Melbourne, to make a home for me at Broome, W.A. a Pearl Shell fishery centre having but few of the amenities of life and all the discomfits of a Tropical climate. For the first ten years we never had ice and our lighting was limited to that of kerosene lamps. Our mail from South arrived about once in six weeks, but fortunately the township had telegraph facilities, and we were able to obtain the services of good Asiatic cooks and Houseboys, and, as our children came, good British nurse-girls from Perth. For the first ten years at Broome I was engaged in managing my brother's (Sydney Capel) interests there, the chief of which consisted of a fleet of some nine luggers and their schooner-tender. During the latter part of this period and up till 1919, I also had a few pearling luggers of my own, which I then sold on a strong market, and thereafter represented American and London houses purchasing Mother-of-Pearlshell. An end came to this with the entire closure of the Pearling Industry when Japan entered the last war, and the American forces took charge of Broome and evacuated all civilians a few days prior to the Japs bombing it.


["Family Notices", The Argus (Melbourne), Monday 13 January 1890, page 1]




SKAMP.--On the 12th inst., at Annery, Asling-street, North Brighton, Richard Bowden Skamp, of Goldsborough, Mort, and Co., Limited.



Jane had been widowed for ten years when she married Syd. Pigott

["Family Notices", The Argus (Melbourne), Wednesday 15 March 1882, page 1]



SKAMP.--On the 10th inst., at 8 Anderson-street, Albert-park, the wife of R. B. Skamp, of a daughter.


AB notes:

elder sister Alice born 10 March 1882

father died 13 jan 1890, when Alice was almost 8

her mother married Syd Pigott 7 feb 1900, just before her 18th birthday

she had just had her 30th birthday aboard ship when Koombana disappeared

["Family Notices", The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne), Wednesday 11 February 1885, page 30]



SKAMP.--On the 10th inst., at Albert-park, the wife of R. B. Skamp of a daughter.


AB notes:

younger sister Genevieve born 10 February 1885

father died 13 jan 1890, when "Jennie" had just turned 5

her mother married Syd Pigott 7 feb 1900, a few days before her 15th birthday

she had just turned 27 when Koombana disappeared