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Letters to and from home were treasured by early immigrants to South Australia.  In 1836 an extensive postal system already existed in Britain, although it was still too costly for most to use. Mail from foreign countries was carried on a separate network of mail vessels, called ‘ ’, but was also carried informally by [...]

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Weekly Posts related to: English postal system

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 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 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

An oil painting by Washington Allston of ships in a storm at sea, 1804.

On 26 March the John Pirie seemed to be making progress, as it finally cleared the English Channel and struck out for the Atlantic Ocean. But just west of the Bay of Biscay the weather worsened dramatically into what one of our informants described as a ‘perfect Hurricane’.  All but overwhelmed by ‘a most tremendious Sea’, the little ship was literally [...]

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Week 03 – Communication

The_Post_Office_Microcosm_edited The Post Office as drawn by Augustus Pugin Senior and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermann's Microcosm of London (1808-11).

This week we discover that another vessel, the John Pirie has also departed the shores of England. The John Pirie was in fact the first vessel to set sail, and this week we look at the first known diary entries that were written onboard this vessel. So far we know little about this voyage, and [...]

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