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Week 10 – fine weather and sea shanties

image of an emigrant's trunk with leather straps and brass fittings

With good sailing conditions at last, both the Duke of York and the John Pirie were making good progress, both heading south off the coast of Africa.  By 30 April the Duke of York sighted the Island of Brava, the southernmost island in the Cape Verde group, off the coast of present day Senegal, while the John Pirie passed [...]

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Week 11 – ‘dangers stand thick all around’

1849 sketch of men bathing on deck.

At long last fair conditions prevail for the travelers and they make good progress.  But danger still stalks the Duke of York. Lucy Beare becomes dangerously ill and almost dies.  Reading between the lines, it seems likely that she gave birth to a child (family history says it was a daughter) who was still-born. Her health [...]

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Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with what he sees as the ‘apathy’ of the passengers and decides on a thorough clean up, despite the reluctance [...]

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Week 14 – steady progress

Image of a ship's chronometer housed in its wooden box

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie the and the ship’s carpenter come to blows over a seemingly trivial matter – the supply of nails, but it seems there is a [...]

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Week 15 – high drama on the John Pirie

Scene: sunday before a hard gale

  It is a week of high drama on board the John Pirie. First bad weather whips up heavy seas. The passengers all huddle on deck trying vainly to escape the leaks, only to be drenched by a sudden wave that washes right over them. This frightens the ship’s cat so much that he leaps overboard [...]

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Week 27 – a scandal averted

lithograph of a wallaby

At Kangaroo Island Samuel Stephens is gradually settling into a routine, although his habit of rising well before 6 am in the middle of winter cannot endear him to his men. He sends the company stock off to good grazing land near the Salt Lagoon, and selects a portion of land for a more permanent [...]

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Week 28 – A wedding on the beach

Scene: burial at sea

On land Things are looking up at the tiny settlement of Kingscote.  We start the week with a wedding on board the John Pirie. Mary Ann Powell, who travelled as an emigrant in steerage with her two brothers and sister-in-law, marries one of the Pirie crew – William Staple, who intends to remain in South [...]

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