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Week 19 - farewells and new beginnings

[ 26th of June 1836 to 2nd of July 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 19: Signs and Symbols ]

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 hear something of the voyage of the Emma, from a letter written by South Australian Company employee Charles Hare. Even at this early stage of the voyage we can see tensions emerging on this ship too, with the passengers dividing along village lines to quarrel with one another. Hare thinks that some good sermonizing is called for and proceeds to deliver it, but the captain’s wife has other ideas and she prevails. Hare’s grumble to Angas about the interference of ‘Mrs Captain Nelson’ reflects resentment commonly expressed at this time, at ‘petticoat government’ – meaning any attempts by women to assert authority.

On the John Pirie meanwhile, tragedy finally strikes. Mrs Chandler continues to decline, despite all attempts to nurse her back to health, and on 1 July she finally dies, in considerable pain and mental anguish, afraid for the ‘future Welfare of her soul’. We see a second burial at sea, a melancholy affair, with Mrs Chandler’s body sewn into ‘two or three old Sack’s’ [sic] and committed to the sea, weighed down with iron to make it sink.  We can only guess at the feelings of her husband and young children.

At about the same time Mary Thomas, on board the Africaine, bids a tearful farewell to England.  She has particular reason to be fearful, because unbeknown to the authorities, she has brought two sick children on board, and the third is now ill too, with the highly contagious and potentially deadly scarlet fever.  If the disease spreads the death rate amongst other children on board could be very high.

At sea in the 'Africaine', 1836. by John Michael Skipper. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Also on board the Africaine is Robert Gouger, whose views sometimes differ from those of Mary Thomas. He is travelling with his wife Harriet, and describes her anguish at parting from her family, perhaps for ever.


Journals from passengers at sea:

Monday 27 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

Monday, 27th. Nothing done on board the ship. Some pigs and poultry on board this morning. No work done by the crew. The Captain went on shore to lay his statement before the Consul. This evening remarked to Kingston that the expedition was suffering from this delay, advised him to divide his party into watches, and put them under the orders of the Captain for the work of the ship, begged him to begin early the next morning and to consult the authorities as to the steps he should take to compel the Captain to man his vessel. The Captain was drunk to-night.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Monday 27 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

… __________    Mrs Chandler con-
-tinues getting worse every Day, in despite of all the
care and attention that is paid to her, for I am sure
She does not want any thing, that can be obtain’d on
board of this Vessel, which is thought advisable for her
to take, such as Gruel, Sago, Wine, Medicine &c,
but She is quite delirious at intervals, and the smell
that comes from her Breath, is uncommonly strong, and
most disagreeably sickening   __________

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Tuesday 28 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

28th.  4 Brazilian soldiers came for 4 of the mutineers. The crew said they would all go and did so, except the carpenter. Kingston gave the Captain a letter which the latter did not open but left on the table when he went on shore.  Kingston did not insist on his reading it. The Captain left the ship, when he was gone Kingston told the Mate to To start, applied to liquids, is to empty the container. start the water, the Mate said he had no hands, Kingston offered his party. After breakfast Kingston assembled his men and said something to them about working. I inferred from a few expressions that they would not work because the Captain had promised them 3/6 a day and had not paid them. Sent a letter to my father.

The An iron tank rather than a wooden cask used for carrying water or storing bread and other dry provisions. tank came alongside and lay there, there being no where to put the water, Kingston said he had done all he could. The Captain came home drunk. Beat Ben – a terrible row midnight.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 30 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

30th. The A flag hoisted ashore to indicate that the vessel has been cleared out at Customs and is legally free to leave port. However, on the day a ship is to sail a ‘Blue Peter’ is hoisted at the head of the foremast. This flag is blue with a central white square. custom house flag was set on the The mast nearest the bow on vessels with two or more masts. fore mast .

Mr. Kingston, Morphett and Gilbert came on board late last night stating that they had been to the Consul about manning the ship. On Captain Lipson observing that the delay to the expedition was most shameful, Kingston though not addressed, wanted to know if Captain Lipson imputed blame to him. Captain Lipson replied, that if he considered himself responsible for the sailing of the ship, he deserved censure. The conversation ended by Kingston saying he had nothing to do with the delay. Kingston said hastily, ‘don’t bother me,’ and retired to his cabin.

N.B. Mr Kingston used expressions on this day in my presence and in the presence of other passengers tending to shew that he wished himself to be considered as the person who was to decide upon the proper time for the vessel to sail. His behaviour to Captain Lipson was most insulting. This day we received a paper informing us that the The last of the nine ships to leave England and the last to arrive in South Australia on 28 December 1836. The ship conveyed Governor Hindmarsh, his officials and other passengers. Buffalo was commissioned on the 23 April.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Thursday 30 June 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

[excerpt of letter from Hare to Angas]

June 30 1836

Brig Emma

Lat.                Long.

Dear Sir

You will be glad to hear that
the “Brig Emma” [and?] all that are in it are well at
this date, with every prospect that they will complete
the first and most arduous part of their journey
safely … I thought it well to write you a Letter
as there may be some affairs interesting to you
individually which would perhaps present no point
of Interest to the South Australian Company. Compy  generally …
Perhaps it may interest you to give you a
slight sketch of our For most Christians the Sabbath is Sunday, the day they celebrate their religion. For other Christians and for Jewish people the Sabbath is Saturday. Sabbaths at sea –
… The 2nd Sabbath Capt Nelson read the A liturgical prayer consisting of a series of petitions recited by a leader alternating with fixed responses by the congregation. litany &c and
I spoke for some time from the See topic of this name listed in the ‘find out more’ section at the bottom of the page. parable of the good
Samaritan
, there had been a great deal of quarrelling
in the The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. steerage during the week, the Acton men
backing one another against the rest &c
I endeavoured to shape my observations to meet these
circumstances… During the succeeding For most Christians the Sabbath is Sunday, the day they celebrate their religion. For other Christians and for Jewish people the Sabbath is Saturday. Sabbath
MrsCaptain Nelson, thought that the A liturgical prayer consisting of a series of petitions recited by a leader alternating with fixed responses by the congregation. litany was
quite enough, and that Captn Nelson & Mr Douglass
had much better perform the service…  in this and
man[y] other affairs the direct interference of Mrs Captn
Nelson has not only been injudicious but I think hurtful
to the general arrangements of the passengers and myself

Cape Town July 8 1836

Since writing the above …

with sincerest regards to Yourself from Myself and Mrs H

Believe me my dear Sir

yours truly

Chas S. Hare

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 1 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

… In the very height of the Gale, about 8, P,M, Mrs Chan-
-dler departed this Life, after having endured very much indeed,
by severe Pain’s, which for the last two or three Days,
have been principally in her Head and Breast,   _____
She was quite sensible a few Minutes before her Death,
and seem’d in a very despondent state of Mind, respecting
the future Welfare of her Soul, however, we may rest per-
-fectly satisfied that the Lord, will measure out, the rewards
of all his Creatures, in the strictest Scale of Justice, and
therefore it does not become us to Judge any One, but trust
to the unerring wisdom of our merciful Redeemer

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Friday 1 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]


On this day, July lst, my son William was taken ill of the scarlet
fever, and my youngest child Helen was so swollen with Oedema, referred to during the nineteenth century as ‘dropsy’. An abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body causing swelling of the soft tissues (usually in the lower legs and feet). dropsy
from the effects of the same disorder, which she and Mary both
had just before we left England, as to be confined to her bed
scarcely able to breathe.

On this day our To navigate difficult stretches of water, ships took pilots on board. Pilots were coastal navigators with knowledge of their local waters and they captained the ship through the channel or harbour. pilot left us and I sent letters to London,
Gosport, and Chalton near Petersfield, Hants.

We had hitherto walked on any part of the deck we pleased
and the mate said nothing to the contrary, but the day before the
captain arrived on board the following notice was posted at the
head of our stairs: ‘The passengers in the Cabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants. intermediate cabins are
not allowed abaft the A machine used to lift heavy loads or to weigh an anchor. The hauling rope passes in turns around the body of the capstan, which is mounted on a vertical axle and rotated by means of horizontal bars affixed to its head. capstan .’ This produced an altercation
between Mr Thomas and some others with the mate, who was a
Scotchman and possessed a sufficient share of his national pride,
but as far as his duty was concerned was an excellent seaman. He
said it was usual with all passengers who were not in the state
cabins, and he should insist on the order being obeyed, which they
flatly told him they would not – and to show that it was dis-
regarded we went to any part of the deck, the same as before,
without being interfered with by anyone.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 2 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

The Wind gradually lower’d after Midnight, and at 8, A,M, was
nearly a Without wind. Calm , with the most beautiful clear Sky, but the Sea
still very rough   ________    At which time the Body of Mrs
Chandler was committed to the Deep, it was sew’d up in two or
three old Sack’s, with a weight of old Iron, (in a Bag), made
fast to the Feet, for the purpose of making it sink  _______
On this melancholly occasion, all the People were musterd on
the The quareterdeck was the deck between the main mast and the back of the ship.It was sometimes raised to give more headroom to the cabins below it. In sailing ships the quarterdeck was the place from which the captain commanded the ship.It was the custom in most ships that only officers would use the quarterdeck. The crew would only go there for specific duties or to take instructions. Quarter Deck , where the Capt read over the Burial service
of the Church of England,  ______    It is rather singular that
it was 8, O’Clock in the Morng of June 2d when this Woman
threw herself into the Sea, and at the same Hour of July 2d
her Remains were thrown overboard, and both Morngs being
remarkably bright and clear, after having had heavy Rain,
and Wind, the previous Night   _______     …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Saturday 2 July 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

We again set sail, I having been up all night in
attendance on the children. I went on deck at daylight and saw
the Isle of Wight hills, the last view that I had of my native
country, and the reflection that it would in all possibility be the
last cost me some tears.

[ Read the full journal extract ]


The Cygnet finally manages to get underway from Rio, after more annoying delays.  On the Africaine Mary Thomas struggles to nurse three sick children, while Harriet Gouger suffers from both sea sickness and the treatment for it.

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Image credit: At sea in the 'Africaine', 1836. by John Michael Skipper. watercolour 4.1 x 11.4 cm Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Morgan Thomas Bequest Fund 1942.

Comments or Questions:

2 Responses to “Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings”

  1. Diane Cummings June 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    I have just noticed a duplication,
    so have checked my Source, and the above should read as follows:
    Monday 16 May. …Went on board the Africaine with gouger and concluded our bargain for our
    passage with the owner. We are each to have a stern cabin. The vessel is commodius and
    well arranged. There will be 3 cabins in the state room and we have undertaken to fill her
    with freight and passengers, that is to find 12 cabin passengers, 10 intermediate, and 40
    steerage, with 300 tons of Freight….
    ……………………
    Monday 23rd. On board the Africaine. Called on Mrs. Gouger and Mrs. Higgins,
    bride-visits. Thomas has taken his passage by the Africaine, and Everard. Heard in the
    rooms that Howard is to go in the Buffalo after all, altho’ Currie arranged his passage by
    the Africaine on Saturday with Findlay, who behaved very liberally, taking the 3 & the 2
    children for 180 (pounds).

  2. Diane Cummings June 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    AFRICAINE from London Voyage No.36/07 arrived Adelaide November 14 November 4 arrived Nepean Bay, KI,, 1836

    Passengers of note were Robert Gouger (Colonial Secretary),
    his friend John Brown (Emigration Agent)

    BROWN, John born c1801, Emigration Agent, and wife and his sister. Ref: Sexton, Opie, Before the Buffalo by FINNIS
    EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF JOHN BROWN, 1835-1836
    Foundation Documents – transcript – PRG 1002/2
    1836: April 25 – Sir John Jeffcote advised Mr Hill that he [Jeffcote] had been offered Judgeship.
    [Mr.] Thomas has taken his passage by the AFRICAINE, and [Mr.] Everard.
    Heard in the rooms that [Mr.] Howard is to go in the BUFFALO after all, altho’ [Mr.] Currie arranged his passage by the AFRICAINE on Saturday with Findlay, who behaved very liberally, taking the 3 & the 2 children for 180 (pounds).

    1836: May 10 – John Brown to receive £110/-/- for passage for him and family.
    1836: May 16 Monday. …Went on board the AFRICAINE with Gouger and concluded our bargain for our passage with the owner.
    We are each to have a stern cabin. The vessel is commodius and well arranged. There will be 3 cabins in the state room and we have undertaken to fill her with freight and passengers, that is to find 12 cabin passengers, 10 intermediate, and 40 steerage, with 300 tons of Freight….

    1836: May 23rd Monday. Went on board the AFRICAINE with Gouger and concluded bargain for passage to SA.
    We are each to have a stern cabin. The vessel is commodius and well arranged – 3 cabins in the State Room.
    There will be 12 cabin passengers, 10 Intermediate passengers and 40 steerage.. Called on Mrs. Gouger and Mrs. Higgins [bride-visits].

    1836: June 11 paid passage money £15 each for cabins, £30 for Mr Brown, £25 each for his wife and his sister.
    After much researching we have discovered that John Brown’s sister was Maria Josepha, who became the second wife of Charles Mann (1837).

    1836: June 19th Sunday. Mann called here. He has had a dust with the Governor about his passage.
    It appears that he asked to have a passage in the AFRICAINE some time ago when he was
    told that the Governor expected him to go in the BUFFALO. The other day he again spoke to
    the Governor stating that he should be greatly in-convenienced, unless he had a cabin to
    himself. This the Governor said ‘it was too late to arrange’ and got rather angry.
    Mann wrote to the Commissioners. asking for a whole cabin or a passage in another vessel…
    Source: http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/samemory/PRG_1002_2_Extracts_of_Diary_of_John_Brown.pdf

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