Trial was a brig owned by the merchant Simeon Lord. While waiting near the Sow and Pigs Reef in Port Jackson for good winds to take her to Port Dalrymple, she was seized by a group of thirteen convicts. The ship was sailed northwards but was wrecked some 97 kilometres (60 mi) north of Port Stephens, in what is now called Trial Bay. The survivors of the wreck constructed a new boat out of the ship's remains but, according to the local aborigines, the ship capsized and all thirteen convicts were drowned. The convicts abandoned at Trial Bay the ship's master, William Bennett, his crew, and some passengers, numbering eight or ten in total (including a woman and child). These survivors attempted to walk back to Sydney but disappeared without trace.
On 12 January 1817, Lady Nelson was dispatched from Newcastle, under the command of Thomas Whyte, to search for Trial. Whyte was successful; on 14 January he found the Trial's remains, which consisted of a canvas tent and smashed timbers.
Stories of a white woman living in a wretched state among the aborigines persisted; she was believed perhaps to have been a stowaway on Trial. In 1831, a reward was offered for restoration of such a survivor of Trial. As a result, a woman was found who was said to be the captain's wife, Emily Bardon, but 14 years of living wild had left her demented, and she died soon after being reunited with her relations.