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Week 10 - fine weather and sea shanties

[ 24th of April 1836 to 30th of April 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 10 A Whale Of A Time ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 10 - fine weather and sea shanties ]

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 Madeira to the north. In the fine weather the passengers were finally able to air their bedding and clean out their quarters, to the relief of all concerned no doubt.  The sailors meanwhile went about their routine tasks – making ropes, harpoons for whaling and barrels.  Captain Morgan maintained his regime of Bible reading daily, but his sailors obviously enjoyed lighter entertainment, paining him by singing their ‘impious songs’ in the evening.  We will try to find some sea shanties – not too impious- to post on the site as examples.

Another of the nine ships, the Emma, was also on its way and Charles Hare, secretary to John Morphett, wrote a last farewell to George Fife Angas and took the opportunity to show what a good organiser he was!

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


Journals from passengers at sea:

Week 42: Numeracy Onboard

Over the past eight months we have read many journal entries, diaries and letters describing the experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings of those onboard the nine ships. We have followed the authors…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 25 – The demon drink

[ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | | | wrote.]

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 20 – infectious disease

[ | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | wrote.]

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….

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 14 – steady progress

[ | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

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 …

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

[ | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

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…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

[ | | | | , on board the | | | wrote.]

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…

[ Read the full journal extract ]


Although the weather remains fine, all is not so well on board ship. Captain Morgan has more trouble with some crew members, while a young mother fights for her life in childbirth below.

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Emigrant's trunk, circa 1840s. History SA, Migration Museum collection.

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