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Briefly about the surgeons and medicine:

In crowded passenger ships, disease could bring disaster. The main killers were diarrhoea, measles, whooping cough and scarlet fever. The most common, minor complaints were constipation, headaches and sea sickness. The causes of diseases were not well understood. By 1800 100,000 people in Britain had been vaccinated against smallpox using the cowpox virus but in [...]

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Posts related to: surgeons and medicine

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 17 – wet weather and wild tempers

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are making good progress, as freshening winds drive the ships forward at speeds of between eight and nine .  But the wintry conditions bring other discomforts.  On the Duke of York weather swamps the ship, wetting all the bedding and clothing in the deck cabins and spoiling some of [...]

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Week 18 – the port of Rio

This week we see the Cygnet in Rio Harbour, where it has called to replenish stores and take on fresh provisions.  From the terse comments in Finniss‘ diary we are led to believe that the decision to call at Rio was taken by Kingston, perhaps acting on John Morphett’s advice, but against the wishes of the [...]

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Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink. We finally [...]

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Week 20 – infectious disease

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state. On board the Africaine Mary Thomas is not so happy, as she struggles to nurse her sick children in the confined intermediate [...]

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Week 21 – a sumptuous feast

This week we have eight of the nine ships on the ocean, as the Buffalo makes ready to sail. We also have a rare insight into the thoughts and feelings of one of the ordinary emigrants who is traveling in steerage. Rosina Ferguson and her husband have left their native Scotland to travel to Portsmouth [...]

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Week 22 – all ships underway

Black and white photograph of an 1833 portrait of Robert Gouger.

All of the fleet is finally underway, but it is by no means fair sailing.  The Buffalo sets off hopefully, after much delay, but is soon back in port ahead of an approaching storm.  This week we meet two new informants on the Buffalo – George Stevenson, who is secretary to Governor Hindmarsh and partner [...]

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