My characters are transported

In my Radwinter story which I’m writing as part of the National Novel writing Month challenge, the main character Thomas is researching his family tree. He thinks an ancestor might have emigrated (or been transported to Australia and begins to look on-line at passenger lists of ships which travelled form the West Country to Adelaide:

I look at the information for the Trafalgar, which arrived in Port Adelaide on the 2nd Jul, 1947 with two hundred and seventy-eight (no cabin passengers) No cabin passengers, did that mean they just slept in the hold, or were there like big rooms they all slept in together? Two hundred and seventy-eight of them? There were families with children, John Burlery and wife (nameless) and four children; Edward Lahor and wife and four children, Nicholas McNamee, wife and five children, and saddest of all, Barney Doolan and wife and child (Jane Doolan, aged 16 died on the voyage) There were no Radwinskis or anything like it. Many of the people on the Trafalgar sounded of Irish origin, Cassidy, Corrigan, Kennedy, Leonard, Lynch…O’Brien, Ryan and Kavanagh…

The Samuel Boddington left London on the 27th September 1848, and left Plymouth on October 10th with Captain Hurst to arrive in Port Adelaide on the 12th January. There is an interesting note attached to this; “one of the passengers wrote ‘that the Samuel Boddington, whilst having a pilot aboard, heeled on her anchor below the bar. The watercasks were all started aft, and all the passengers ordered forward to lighten the vessel astern, and by those means she was got off. The captain said the event would have involved an expense of £1000.’ (This was reported in the October 10, 1849 issue of the South Australian REGISTER)”

Things sounded pretty dire on board the Samuel Boddington, and when I looked down the passenger list in search of Tolik, I was shocked to see how many people had died en route; the Whiteman’s infant son, Frederick Cheeseman aged twenty-five and buried at sea, the infant daughter of John and Elizabeth Hender, and the Hoopers infant daughter also, Ann Lee, another infant, not only the wife of Richard Salt, but the baby son born to her as well, the wife of John Martin – Jane Martin, and yet another little baby, born and died at sea, tiny JohnTrewar… I felt quite melancholy. I kept thinking of Richard Salt, who having lost his wife Eliza and baby son, had arrived in Australia, widowed, bereaved and with a little one year old daughter, Ann, to look after

I looked at the Candahar from Plymouth, which sailed under Captain Fraser to Port Adelaide and arrived on the 10th February, 1849. On board, among others was Mr. Foster (surgeon-superintendent, and lady)Julius Haast (later Sir Julius von Haast) poor Mrs Bird who died, and not only were Mr and Mrs. Stapley and their five children on board, and Mr and Mrs Giles and their six children, but also Mr. and Mrs. Pascoe and their eight children. Eight children, Good heavens!… and we didn’t even have one child…

I searched through the names of the passengers who had travelled on the Madawaska in 1849. The ship was built in 1847 in Quebec for Fieldon & Co. Of Liverpool; she was a three-mast rig 127” X 26” X 18” (561 tons) Under captain John McKinnel, she left London and Plymouth on March 26th 1849 and arrived on July 17th, with the mutual co-operation of the passengers, whatever that meant… Four months, they were at sea for nearly four months! I expect they must have stopped off at places for supplies but four months!

A cup of coffee then back to the ships registers; it was a hopeless task… there were literally thousands of ships which had gone to Australia… and why should Tolik have been on any of them? He might have emigrated to Canada, he might have gone to any of the colonies to seek his fortune, he might have changed his name and be lost to me for ever…

I would look at the Prince Regent, 528 tons, and then I’d give up. The Prince Regent was an old ship, built in 1811 by Frinsbury for Buckle & Co. Of London. The information rather chillingly added that it had been used as a ship to transport convicts in 1820, 1824, 1827, and 1830. However, on April 8th 1849, under Captain William Jago, the Prince regent left Plymouth and arrived on July 29th 1849 in Adelaide. There were three cabin passengers, and again I wondered where the others all were, the marvellously named Sinclair Blue, a surgeon superintendent, Mr Cleaver, and Mr and Mrs Foales and their two children.

Sinclair Blue? Is that really a name? I have to deviate and check, and yes… he was married in 1839… Back to the Prince Regent, I mustn’t deviate…

I begin to look down the long list, and there is more information, the ages of the passengers and a little note about some of them; from Somerset, from Cornwall, from Hertfordshire, Gloucester and… Westmeath? Isn’t that in Ireland? Strange names.. the Beaglehole family from Cornwall, the Bloodworths from Gloucester, the Brutins, the Carbis family with their six children… Mr Carbis and the four-year-old are named Pascoe… that’s a nice name…

Back to the Prince Regent and more unudsual names, Anne Culleeny form Count Clare, an agricultural servant aged twenty-six; Mary Fidock aged fourteen, the Gauleys, the Guppy’s, Frederick Haggett and Thomas Halpin, The Jewells, the Odgers…

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