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Week 28 - A wedding on the beach

[ 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 ]

On land

Things are looking up at the tiny settlement of Kingscote.  We start the week with a wedding on board the John Pirie. Mary Ann Powell, who travelled as an emigrant in steerage with her two brothers and sister-in-law, marries one of the Pirie crew – William Staple, who intends to remain in South Australia.  After the ceremony they all repair to the tents for dinner, music and dancing.  Things liven up later, with ‘one or two amicable fights, amongst which the Bride and Groom were very conspicuous’, John Woodforde reports. But squabbles aside, the celebration seems to lift the general mood to everyone’s satisfaction.

Come Monday morning though, Samuel Stephens’ troubles return. His two officers are still largely absent. His second in command, Thomas Hudson Beare has not reported for duty, although his wife seems to be improving, and Mr Birdseye apparently only consents to turn up for a few hours in the middle of each day. A harassed Stephens is relying more and more on Henry Wallan, one of the original settlers, who begins to supervise the company men in building a store. When Mr Beare turns up on Wednesday 31st to resume his duties Stephens ignores him. And so it goes on.  Some of the other recalcitrants have turned up again however.  James and Joseph Jones seem to have tired of their strike and come to Stephens ‘begging that I would receive them again’.  Strikes are all very well, but there is only one employer on this Island at the moment, and he has all the provisions as well!

And there is more good news.  Captain Morgan reports at the end of the week that Mrs Beare is much better.  Her children are able to return to her and she is able to acknowledge them.  What a bewildering experience it all must have been for these children.

At sea

On the Africaine Mary Thomas is a little happier.  She has made friends with the cabin cook who, in exchange for an extra glass of rum, will sometimes cook something for her.  Mind you the fare does not sound very appetising – salt beef pie, rice pudding without eggs or milk and cake made with dripping.  Still, beggars can’t be choosers and Mary is ever the optimist. She finds some aspects of shipboard life more difficult though.  Earlier in the week she had her first experience of shipboard discipline, and found it brutal and distressing.

On the Buffalo progress is slow and George Stevenson continues his relentless critique of his employer, Governor Hindmarsh.  There is no Sunday School again and Stevenson laments the lost opportunity to school the emigrant children.  He also gives us an interesting insight into the uncomfortable conditions the poor steerage passengers must endure.  The passengers are strictly segregated on deck and the only walking area accessible to steerage travellers is alongside the pig pens, which are ‘generally in a horrid state of dirt and uncleanness’.  These injustices will ‘tell eventually’ he writes darkly.

Scene: burial at sea
Burial at Sea, ca. 1854. by Charles Lyall

This week is also a sad one on board the Buffalo. One of the sailors dies of consumption (tuberculosis).  He is said to be ‘sensible to his latest hour, and spoke of his own death with the calmness and hope of a Christian.’ When he is buried later that evening, the shipmate who nursed him throughout ‘shewed by his sobbing and tears that a sailor can feel like a man’.  It is a salutary occasion for all on board.

Language warning: Please note that these sources contain language which is today considered offensive. It has been retained as it is part of the historical record and evidence of past attitudes.


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: Captain Ross is in trouble on the Lady Mary Pelham but Captain Martin acts as peacemaker on shore and miraculously restores harmony to the warring factions. The Cygnet finally arrives at Nepean Bay, while Light, Pullen and Woodforde set sail for the mainland and are captivated by the country from Rapid Bay to Yankalilla

On the Africaine the Gougers have trouble with one of their servant girls and a baby makes his appearance in the middle of a raging storm.  On the Buffalo the dog Lion falls overboard and the ship must turn around to try to recover him, while the Tam O’Shanter seeks in vain for the thief on board.

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Burial at Sea, ca. 1854. by Charles Lyall part of the Charles Lyall Collection. Sketchbook. pencil on grey paper. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Comments or Questions:

2 Responses to “Week 28 – A wedding on the beach”

  1. Neil Miller August 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Just a quick note regarding this weeks edition, where there is an error in the spelling of the name of THOMAS Hudson Beare. ( Not, Charles Hudson Beare.)

    Best regards, Neil.

    • Allison August 31, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      Thanks, Neil. We’ve fixed that up.
      Regards, Allison – History SA

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