Museum of Brisbane

Ask MoB | How was Fortitude Valley named?

​How was Fortitude Valley named?

Fortitude Valley was named after the immigrant vessel Fortitude, one of three ships chartered by Rev Dr John Dunmore Lang, to transport free settlers to Moreton Bay in 1849.

Free settlement was declared for Moreton Bay in 1842, and in the coming years Rev Dr John Dunmore Lang, a Presbyterian minister, saw the need for skilled workers and families in Moreton Bay. He felt the area would be suitable for cotton farming and it would show that American plantation slavery was grossly unnecessary as well as immoral. He arranged 3 ships: the Chasely, Lima and the Fortitude, to carry 550 passengers from the United Kingdom to Moreton Bay. During the 128 day journey on the Fortitude, 4 children were born and 8 people died.

Lang had a verbal agreement with the British government to provide land grants as an incentive, but the settlers arrived in Moreton Bay to discover no land would be granted. Some people camped in Fortitude Valley, which was known at the time as Bells Valley. As a consequence of the settlement, the Traditional Custodians, the Turrbal people, were violently and irrevocably displaced. By the early 1850s the area became known as Fortitude Valley in commemoration of the ship.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2
A history of Qld, Raymond Evans, Cambridge University Press
Historic Brisbane – Convict Settlement to River City, Susanna de Vries & Evans
Two to the Valley, BCC, 1992

Fortitude (ship). Drawing of the ‘Fortitude’. 608 tons. Master: John Christmas. Surgeon Supt.: Dr. Challinor. Sailed from Gravesend, England, 14 September 1848. Arrived Moreton Bay 20 January 1849. Carried 256 immigrants, many of whom settled on the present site of Fortitude Valley, which they so named in honour of the ship. Image courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.