The full-rigged Frankfield was built in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1840. Ordered by Wilson & Co. of Liverpool for their Australian immigrant service, she was registered at 903 tons gross (750 net) and principally constructed from black birch, with pine and spruce used internally. Under her first master, Captain Mitchell, her maiden voyage and those which followed were always to Sydney out of Liverpool usually carrying about 350 passengers, each of whom paid between £10 and £20 for their passage. In 1845-6 however, rather curiously, she is recorded as sailing from Liverpool to Icheboe [sic], an island off the Namibian coast of west Africa rich in guano deposits. It is hard to believe she was headed there to load guano, even allowing for it being such a valuable cargo, and it seems far more likely, especially given her extensive passenger accommodation, that she was merely transporting men to work on the island.
Ichaboe Island, Namibia, was first visited by Captain B. Morrell in 1828 who reported "birds' manure to the depth of twenty-five feet". Modest harvesting of the deposits began soon afterwards but large-scale recovery did not commence until 1843. At its peak in 1845, no less than 450 vessels lay off Ichaboe Island loading guano being 'scraped' by the men labouring ashore.
Returning to her more conventional trade, she is later quoted as arriving in Quebec on 9th August 1847 carrying 528 passengers under the command of Captain John Robinson whilst the final reference to her occurs in the Liverpool press in January 1848 where it records "the death of Captain Robinson on 7th December 1847 when his ship Frankfield was wrecked on the East Mouse, Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, in a terrible gale".
The dating of this portrait to 1847 seems slightly enigmatic as does the location, given the evidence that Frankfield was running to Quebec that year. However, it may well have been a commission by Captain Mitchell to record the vessel's 'glory days' on the Australia run before Mitchell handed her over to Captain Robinson.