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Week 21 - a sumptuous feast

[ 1836 to 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 45: Proclamation and Celebration ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 43: Kangaroo Island ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 40 - Finally! The harbour is found ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 37: Building a Home ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 36: Family Life ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 35: Pastimes ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 34 - a tempest ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 26: Whose story? ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 25 - The demon drink ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 22: In Good Time ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 20 - infectious disease ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 18 - the port of Rio ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16: Crossing the Line ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16 - towards Australia ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 15 - high drama on the John Pirie ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 08: Employment ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 06 : Weathering the Storm ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

This week we have eight of the nine ships on the ocean, as the Buffalo makes ready to sail. We also have a rare insight into the thoughts and feelings of one of the ordinary emigrants who is traveling in steerage. Rosina Ferguson and her husband have left their native Scotland to travel to Portsmouth where they have boarded the Buffalo. Although a little annoyed that the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ travelling with them have been much slower to board, she is generally content, and is gratified that a woman in her ‘station in life’ has been shown ‘every kindness’. The berths sound very small and cramped to us now, only six feet by four, and separated by flimsy canvas sheeting. Rosina says they are like her ‘mother’s hens nests’, but she is grateful for her health and for her husband – ‘one of the kindest and best of husbands I could desire’.  We can’t help but hope that all will go well for her on the voyage.

It is a far cry from Rosina’s cramped quarters to those of cabin passengers like Robert Gouger, who is travelling on the Africaine. In his dairy this week he describes how they ‘fare sumptuously every day’ and goes on to detail what seems to be a quite extraordinary amount of food and drink consumed.  We might wonder whether any of these ladies and gentlemen were actually sober by the late afternoon! Gouger’s diary also points to the differences between the standards of fare served to the different classes of passengers.  While the cabin passengers eat fresh meat every day, those in intermediate cabinsCabins of lesser comfort than those occupied by privileged passengers and intermediate between them and the dormitory accommodation afforded the emigrants only have fresh meat once per week.  Gouger doesn’t bother to tell us what the emigrants in steerage are served, only that they ‘are all contented, and have reason to be.’ We shall find out whether they agree with him over the coming weeks and months!

Meanwhile Captain Morgan is approaching the end of his journey, as he heads into the Great Australian Bight.  He catches his first glimpse of Australia, but his pleasure is spoiled by wrangling and petty thefts between his passengers and crew.  In despair Captain Morgan reflects that ‘such ignorence and vice I belive seldom ever met together’.

SLSA_B4263_HMS_Buffalo_1836 low res

HMS Buffalo, 1836. Image courtesy of SLSA: B4263


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 ]


Next week: Passengers on the Africaine are out of sorts – some ill, others discontented with their provisions.  The Buffalo is delayed at St Helen’s, but the Duke of York is closing in on Kangaroo Island.

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HMS Buffalo, 1836. Image courtesy of State Library of South Australia, B 4263.

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