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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 ]
[ View related 'school content': 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 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.


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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