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The Fleets

Aberdeen Clipper Line of Packets / Aberdeen to Natal Direct Line / John T. Rennie, Son & Co. / John T. Rennie & Sons 1845-1911 / Harrison-Rennie Line 1911-1921

John Thomson Rennie owned his first ship the SAMSON in 1845 with his brother George and became a shipping and insurance broker in 1849. Rennies ships initially traded to India, Australia and the Cape Colony and in 1853 also to Madagascar. John T. Rennie ordered his first steamship in 1854 from the yard of Scott & Company at Greenock and the MADAGASCAR was completed in 1855, followed in 1856 by the WALDENSIAN.

In 1856 the Natal Colony became self governing and the mail contract from Natal to the Cape Colony went to John T. Rennie and the MADAGASCAR in command of his brother George sailed from Natal via Algoa Bay and East London to the Cape. John T. Rennie set up the Aberdeen Clipper Line of Packets and the first sailing from London to Natal was taken by the Iron barque L’IMPERATRICE EUGENIE in November 1858. The MADAGASCAR was wrecked in December 1858 south of East London and the WALDENSIAN in 1862 near Cape Agulhas.

In 1869 John T. Rennie started a joint service with Bullard, King & Company under the banner of the Aberdeen Clipper Line of Packets from London to Natal. The London Company was known as John T. Rennie, Son and Company.

John T. Rennie died in 1878 and his three younger sons John, Alexander and David joined their brother George to continue the business. In 1882 a new steamship the DABULAMANZI was completed by Hall, Russell & Company at Aberdeen and in 1885 the MATABELE was delivered. By 1890 the Company owned six steamers mostly with Zulu or ‘In’ names. In 1895 the last sailing vessel the QUATHLAMBA was sold.

In 1904 the first above 4,000 tons gross INANDA (2) joined the fleet. The final and largest ship built for John T. Rennie and Sons was the INTABA which was completed at the end of 1910. John T. Rennie, Son & Co.'s Aberdeen Direct Line was purchased in 1911 together with their fleet of seven ships and passenger services to Natal by the Liverpool based Thos. & Jas. Harrison. Their fleet continued to sail to South Africa as the Harrison-Rennie Line, retaining vessel names beginning 'In' a tradition retained for Harrison's passenger vessels. The first vessel built for the Harrison-Rennie Line was a cargo ship named ITOMBI in 1912 and she was followed in 1913 by the only passenger ship ordered for the Harrison-Rennie Line the 114 passenger ship INGOMA.

In May 1921 the passenger service was abandoned. The Rennie name was dropped and both ships were transferred to Harrison’s London to West Indies passenger service. Two further passenger ships with Rennie names were built for the West Indies service in 1925 and 1937, the INANDA (3) and INKOSI (2). World War 2 was the end of the passenger ships for Harrison.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • Natal-Capetown
    • London- Natal

Funnel & Flag:

Fleet:

 
    Sailing Ships  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Assyrian 1854 wooden ship, ex- Assyrian, 1872 purchased, 7 October 1877 in leaky condition at Port Elizabeth and condemned. 605
Cathcart 1852 wooden ship, 1867 sold to A. Robinson, Aberdeen, 1867 sold foreign renamed Philipp Melanchton, 1869 sold to Australia renamed China, 1872 sold to Norway, 1885 no longer registered. 422
Conqueror 1850 wooden ship, 1855 sold to John & James Richardson, Swansea, 13 February 1867 wrecked Bahamas. 458
Content 1842 wooden ship, ex- Content, 1852 purchased, 1953 sold to Alfred Hooker, Australia, sold several times and went missing in 1877. 147
Earl of Southesk 1858 wooden barque, ex- Earl of Southesk, 1860 purchased, 1874 sold to Anderson & Marshall, Melbourne, Australia, 28 May 1874 wrecked near Wellington. 336
Eliza Hall 1843 wooden brig, 1854 sold to W. Nicol, Liverpool, 1855 sold to E. Turner, Whitby, 22 October 1864 wrecked outside Granton breakwater. 199
Huguenot 1858 wooden ship, 31 January 1862 stranded at Merlemont, France and lost. 472
Ifafa (1) 1875 wooden barque, 1888 sold to France renamed Union, 19 November 1893 abandoned in North Atlantic after losing her rudder. 365
Illovo (1) 1867 wooden ship, 1875 re-rigged as a barque, 1887 sold to C.A.R. Hoare, London renamed Mercury, 1901 converted into a static training ship, December 1916 lost off Dungeness while under tow. 398
L’Imperatrice Eugenie 1854 iron barque, 6 February 1867 wrecked on Thunderbolt Reef off Cape Recife. 251
Lord Haddo 1847 wooden barque, 27 January 1867 stranded, later refloated and sold to T. Small, Lowestoft, 1869 sold to J.B. Adam, Aberdeen, 1871 sold to French owners, trace lost. 291
Maritzburg 1876 iron barque, 1890 sold to J.H. Wollner, Arendal, Norway, 1893 abandoned, 1894 sold to Otto Banck, Sweden renamed Hildur, 1900 sold to J. Labayle et Compagnie, Bordeaux, France renamed Madeleine, 16 August 1901 caught fire and lost. 456
Natal 1876 iron barque, 16 August 1888 left Calcutta and disappeared at sea. 459
Natal Star 1862 wooden ship, 1871 re-rigged as a barque, 19 July 1874 wrecked during a gale near East London, South Africa. 366
Prince Albert 1862 wooden barque, 1878 sold to S. Wiborg, Norway renamed Diana, 1885 lost at sea. 258
Quathlamba 1879 iron barque, 1895 sold to Edward Shuckburg, Bristol and Peter Lawry Francis, London, 1899 sold to Joseph James Craig, Auckland, New Zealand renamed Hazel Craig, 1906 sold to Joseph Kennedy, Gisborne, New Zealand, 1908 sold to The Ship Hazel Craig Co., Gismore, 1908 sold to George Turnbull Niccol, Auckland renamed Whitepine, sold several times and scuttled in 1947 off Melbourne. 495
Sampson 1836 wooden hermaphrodite brig, 1868 sold to George Smith, Aberdeen and William Harty, Sunderland, 9 March 1884 stranded in Keiss Bay during a gale and lost. 120
Transvaal 1874 wooden barque, 8 December 1874 dragged anchor and driven ashore south of the Umgeni River, Durban with the loss of 12 lives. 384
Tugela 1864 wooden ship, 3 February 1868 drifted ashore on Back Beach, Durban and declared total loss. 475
Umgeni 1864 wooden ship, 1875 re-rigged as a barque, 1882 converted into a coal hulk at Durban. 365
Umkomanzi 1874 wooden barque, 1894 sold to C.M. Bache, Norway, 1897 capsized, later scrapped. 334
Umvoti 1869 iron Ship, 1872 re-rigged as a barque, 1891 sold to William B. Hay, Adelaide, Australia, 1912 sold to Ireland, Fraser & Co., Port Louis, Mauritius, 1928 scrapped. 465
    Steamships  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Dabulamanzi 1882 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1900 sold to Compagnie Franco-Tunisienne de Nav., Marseilles, France renamed Ville de Sfax, 1906 sold to Compagnie Générale Transatlantique not renamed, 1913 sold to Unione Austriaca, renamed Anna, 1914 laid up, 1917 seized by U.S. Government, 1926 renamed Maule, 1928 lost by grounding in South America. 1,537
Ifafa (2) 1889 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1906 sold to Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock, London renamed Tantah, 1923 sold to Italy renamed Jean, 1924 renamed Jean M, 1925 sold to William John Hutchison, Pireaus, 1925 sold to Joseph Gasan, Malta renamed Maltana, 1928 sold to Greece renamed Anna, 1934 sold same name, 1937 sold renamed Ekaterini Peppa, 7 February 1938 sunk in collision with Dutch s/s PLUTO near Adlergrund Light Vessel. 1,788
Illovo (2) 1890 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1910 sold to Societa di Navigazione a Vapore Puglia, Bari, Italy renamed Calabro, 4 January 1917 captured and sunk by German submarine U.82. 1,930
Inanda (1) 1888 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1903 sold to Khedive of Egypt renamed Abd el Monem, 1905 sold to Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock, London renamed Menzaleh, 6 June 1918 torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB.105 near Malta with the loss of 10 lives. 1,758
Inanda (2) 1904 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1920 sold to Ellerman’s Wilson Line, Hull renamed Orlando, 1932 scrapped. 4,090
Inchanga 1895 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to Arab Steamers, Bombay renamed Bahrein, 1922 sold to the Bombay & Persia Steam Nav. Co. ( The Mogul Line), Bombay, 1923 sold, 1926 laid up, 1927 sold to Egypt, 1933 scrapped at Alexandria. 2,197
Induna 1891 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1904 sold to Henry Edwin Campbell, London, 1904 sold to Burns, Philp & Co., Sydney, Australia, 1920 sold to the Patrick Steamship Co., Sydney, 1925 sold to the Railway Commissioners for New South Wales, Sydney and converted into a train-ferry, 1932 laid up and sold for use as a wharf at Grafton, 1957 scrapped. 699
Ingeli 1897 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1913 sold to Vaccaro Bros, Honduras renamed Tegucigalpa, 1941 sold to the Swiss War Transport Office renamed Chasseral, 1951 sold to Italy renamed Mar Corrusco, 1953 scrapped. 2,928
Ingoma 1913 built by D. & W. Henderson & Co., Glasgow | Harrison-Rennie Line, 1915-1917 troopship, 1921 to West Indies service, 1937 sold to Compagnia Ligure di Nav., Genoa, Italy renamed Giovanni Batista, 1943 scuttled at Tripoli, later salved and scrapped. 5,686
Inkonka 1900 built by Wm. Gray & Co., West Hartlepool | ex- Tabaristan, 1902 purchased from F.C. Strick & Co. renamed Inkonka, 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1916 sold to David MacIver renamed Tuscany, 1929 scrapped. 3,430
Inkosi (1) 1902 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1918 torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U.96 off Galloway with the loss of 3 lives. 3,575
Insizwa 1899 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1913 sold to Italy renamed Tolemaide, 1929 laid up, 1931 scrapped. 2,984
Intaba 1910 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1916-1917 operated as Q-ship under the name Waitomo, 1927 sold to Hajee Nemazee, Hong Kong renamed Englestan, 1929 sold to Bengal & Burma S.N. Co., Rangoon same name, 1950 sold to Scindia S.N. Co., Bombay same name, 1953 scrapped. 4,832
Intombi 1912 built by Wm Hamilton & Co., Port Glasgow | Harrison-Rennie Line, launched as Actor but completed as Intombi, 1914-1917 Royal Navy squadron supply ship, 1921 to West Indies service, 1931 sold to M. A. Embiricos, Andros, Greece renamed Maliakos, 1949 sold to Turkey renamed Saraykoy, 1954 sold renamed Sapanca, 1956 collided with Dutch s/s BLOMMERSDYK and sank in the Scheldt. 3,883
Inyati 1896 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to the Charente Steamship Co. (T. & J. Harrison), 1912 sold to Spain renamed M. Benlliure, 1915 disappeared at sea. 2,516
Inyoni 1890 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1911 sold to Administration de Navigation a Vapore Ottomane, Istanbul, Turkey renamed Kizilirmak, 13 September 1915 shelled and sunk by Russian warships. 1,945
Madagascar 1855 built by Scott & Co., Greenock | 1855 chartered by British Government as a Crimean War Transport, 3 December 1858 struck Madagascar Reef and declared total loss. 321
Matabele 1885 built by Hall, Russell & Co., Aberdeen | 1905 sold to Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock, London renamed Keneh, 1930 scrapped at Savona. 1,556
Waldensian 1856 built by Scott & Co., Greenock | 1856 chartered by British Government as a Crimean War Transport, 13 October 1862 wrecked on Bulldog Reef near Cape Agulhas. 369
    Ships with Rennie names  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Inanda (3) 1925 built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle on Tyne | built for Harrison’s West Indies service, 1940 bombed and sunk in London Docks, repaired and renamed Empire Explorer for Ministry of Supply, managed by T & J. Harrison, 1942 torpedoed, shelled and sunk by German submarine U.575 off Trinidad with the loss of 3 lives. 5,985
Inkosi (2) 1937 built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle on Tyne | built for Harrison’s West Indies service, 1940 sunk by air attack in London Docks, raised and renamed Empire Chivalry for MOWT with Harrison Line managers, 1946 returned to Harrison Line renamed Planter, 1958 scrapped. 6,618

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