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Week 03 - Communication

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 03 - Communication ]

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 this week’s entry provides us with few details.  In the coming weeks we hope to find out more about this vessel and follow its journey to South Australia.

We learn from Captain Morgan’s diary entries onboard the Duke of York that he has not travelled far, and after damage to the vessel caused by a storm, he remains in the English Channel. We learn that he is still worried about his wife back in England, having sent her letters and is awaiting her reply. This week we will explore the forms of communication used in 1836.

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).

The English Postal System, drawn by Augustus Pugin Senior and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermann's Microcosm of London (1808-11)


Inquiry Questions:

  • What forms of communication were used in 1836?
  • How were messages relayed from the vessels to families, friends and employers back in England?
  • What emotions may the families and friends in England have experienced by while waiting and then receiving communication from loved ones?

Research Topics:

  • What was the structure of the postal system in England in 1836?
  • How was mail sent and received during these voyages?

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts Explore the concepts of communication, family, emotions, relationships, language and separation.
Historical questions and research  Use online resources to research the English postal system in 1836. How is it similar / different to current forms of communication?
Analysis and use of sources What are the key words in Captain Morgan’s diary entry that highlight the concern he has for his wife?
Perspectives and interpretations After a challenging start to his voyage, experiencing poor weather conditions and having concerns about his family, identify the attributes Captain Morgan displays that will enable him to continue his journey to South Australia?
Explanation and communication Letter writing, language structure, descriptive language and similes.


Activity Suggestions:

1.   Captain Morgan uses a simile in his diary entry, “parting… felt like cutting the tender string of life on the developing line.” What do you think he was referring to in this sentence? Develop your own similes to describe events that have happened in your life.

2.   What was the content of Captain Morgan’s letter to his wife? Use the first 3 weeks of diary entries to script a letter that you think would resemble the contents of that sent from Captain Morgan to his wife.

3.   Research the English postal system during this era. Draw a flow chart to show the steps involved from the sending to the receiving of mail in 1836. How was it different / similar to the postal system that is operated by Australia Post today?

4.   The journey to South Australia will be long and treacherous for the passengers onboard the John Pirie and Duke of York. Imagine going on this voyage yourself, what does the future have in store for these vessels and their passengers? Work in a small group and develop a PMI (positives, minuses, interesting) for the voyage ahead.  Share and collate as a class group.

What if?

What if Captain Morgan never heard from his family again? How would this affect the rest of his journey to South Australia?


What do you think?

Captain Morgan is frustrated with the slow progress of his departure and the concerns he has for his wife make the departure a challenging one, both physically and mentally.


Stay Tuned

Next week we find out more about Captain Morgan’s communication with home. We will also explore the cargo carried onboard these vessels and how it was important for the journey and in the establishment of a new colony.



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