FF George BouchierWorganSurgeon ‘HMS Sirius’(1757–1838)


George BouchierWorgan was baptized at St Andrew’s, Holburn, London on 3 May 1757, son of John and Sarah Worgan. His father John was a doctor of music. George joined the navy as a surgeons mate in 1778 and served on HMS Pilotefor 2 years, 3 months and one week until June 1782.

In 1786 he was discharged from the position of surgeons’ first mate aboard the Portsmouth guard ship Ganges to Sirius on 1 November and sailed with her as the ship’s surgeon in the First Fleet.

Worgan seems to have been an amiable, cultured and good natured young man whose company was enjoyed by his fellow officers and Elizabeth Macarthur regretfully notes his departure for England. I assure you in losing him (Mr Worgan), a very considerable branch of our society will be lopp’d off.

The surgeon was distinguished in contemporary memoirs by having taken his piano with him of Sirius. On 7 August 1787 when the Fleet lay at Rio, Surgeon Bowes received an invitation to dine with Worgan& to hear his Piano Forte: he is a Son of Dr Wogan D: Music: & seems a very sensible good kind of man. Bowes, Major Ross and Surgeon John White went again to hear the music on 20 August.

George Worgan left an account of the first few months in the colony written as letters to his brother Richard.  His descriptions of plants and animals in the area as comprehensive and readable as any by his fellows.  He was not on Sirius when she was wrecked off Norfolk Island in March 1790 and remained at Port Jackson assisting Dr White at the hospital.

He had visited North and South Heads and was with Phillip on his survey of Broken Bay in 1789.

I hand an Inclination to Ramble to Day, therefore, as Capt. Hunter and Lieut. Bradley were going to the Point of Land which forms the North Head of the Entrance of Port Jackson, in order to ascertain its Latitude.  I took my Gun, and accompanied them.  We had to row 4 or 5 Miles down the Harbour before we landed.  We then, had to ascend a steep Rocky Hill, thickly covered with Brush-Wood, after walking about 2 miles, we gained the Summit of the Head Land, from which We had a very extensive View, several Leagues out at Sea.  Now (says one of Us) if we could but see a Ship from England steering for Port Jackson.  Aye, replies I, then I should get a letter from my Brother Dick, and perhaps a good Cheese. Ay Ay says Capt. Hunter, there would be general Rejoicings In Port Jackson if we could carry them the News of a Ship from England coming in. While the Gentlemen were Astronomizing, to get the Latitude, I & my Man Friday were rambling about, to shoot a few birds.

Worgan returned by Waaksamheidand landed in England on 4 May 1792.

 He continued in the navy until 1800, when he retired in poor health and engaged in agricultural work.

He married Mary Lawry on 23 May 1793 and they had four children, all Baptized in Cornwall.

In 1808 he was employed by the British Board of Agriculture to survey Cornish husbandry but turned to teaching in 1814.

 He was buried in St Martians Liskeard Cornwell England following his death in 1838.

Death Notice- Liskeard Falmouth Express & Colonial Journal, 10 March 1838,

As mentioned above, George B Worgan bought the first square built piano with him to Port Jackson. It had been built in London in 1786 by Frederick Beck. Smaller than a modern piano, it was fitted with campaign legs, allowing it to be folded easily for storage.

When he left the colony, he had gifted the piano to Mrs Elizabeth Macarthur.  She kept the piano for about 17 years, after which it was sold several times.

From 1838, until 1965, the whereabouts of the piano is not known.

 In 1965 an eminent antiques dealer heard of a spinet for sale in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Windsor, north-west of Sydney, where he found the piano being stored in the laundry. The family who owned it wanted money to buy a new washing machine, so sold the piano to the antique dealer who kept it in his private collection until it was purchased by Stewart Symons.

In May 2016 the piano was donated, as part of a collection of historic pianos, to the Edith Cowan University in Perth.  Three years later in April 2019, the piano went to Bath in England to be restored by one of the worlds’ foremost piano restorers Lucy Coad.

The piano will be returned to Australia in 2020 in time for the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook discovering the east coast of Australia in HMB Endeavour.

The Fellowship of First Fleeters installed a FFF Plaque on George BouchierWogan’s Grave

on1st September 1995

Refer FFF Web Site:http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/graves.html

Under  see FFF Plaque 97 – Installed 1st September 1995for

FF GEORGE BOUCHIER WORGAN Surgeon‘HMS Sirius’(1757-1838)



Article featured in the First Fleet Folio, Issue 124: June 2006
Reference: Gillen, Mollie,
The Founders of Australia p393.



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters