Framing History-Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts

When we are writing our family’s history we need not only the specific facts of their lives but also to put them into the context, of the time and place. That is when, where and how they lived.

However, “All history is conjecture. All of it. It is the height of folly and arrogance for anyone to say that he or she knows definitely what happened in the past. We piece together the story as best we can, with the shreds of evidence that exist. When we are very lucky the pieces come together to form a beautiful and cohesive collage”….[from The Book of Love, Kathleen McGowan]

I am interested specifically in the Second Fleet story, because one of my husband’s ancestors, Harriet Hodgetts, is believed to have arrived in Australia, as a free woman, on the Second Fleet.

When we are writing about specific events, such as the “Second Fleet”,  we need to dig deep into a whole range of records. We have to study them carefully if we are to get the most out of them.

The following blogs are my interpretation of the documents and information I have found, and my version of what happened all those years ago, and why. How close it is to the ‘real thing’ I do not know, but believe it is a possible explanation of the events of that time.

The only surviving personal record of the Second Fleet is part of a Journal written by Elizabeth McArthur, the wife of John McArthur, a Lieutenant in the Marines. They embarked on the ‘Neptune’ in London. It is a personal record of some of her experiences, and what she thought about some of the things, going on about her. It only covers a few weeks of the voyage, on board the Neptune, not the whole seven months at sea. Much has been written and inferred by these few pages. Many historians have studied them, and written whole books on their interpretation of that collection of remarks and musings.

For the First Fleet there are more than twenty accounts of the voyage out, and indeed even the return voyage. It is hard to believe Elizabeth McArthur was the only person recording that voyage. True, a few letters written about the arrival of the Second Fleet in Sydney have survived, but no other records of personal experiences on board the ship itself. It was a popular thing for, particularly educated men to record their experiences, and publish them in book form, usually in their lifetime. There also would have been the Captain’s Log, the Surgeon Superintendent’s and the Naval Agents reports, of the day to day running of each of the ships in the Fleet. However, these have not survived, possibly destroyed to avoid blame and recrimination, after such a disastrous voyage.

I have been studying the Elizabeth McArthur story, so I can better understand our Harriet Hodgetts. She had been born in the same year as Elizabeth, and faced many of the same challenges, as their parallel lives stretched well into the 19th Century. They both died in Australia in the same year. There are very few records that even mention Harriet ‘Hodgetts’ by name, and absolutely none in the way of family stories, letters, diaries, or journals, telling of her thoughts, attitudes, and her victories and sorrows over the 83 years, of her long and eventful life.

As I have studied the life of Elizabeth McArthur and this specific part of our history, I see a different interpretation of what was going on around Elizabeth, then is recorded in her Journal.  Her reaction to things she had no former experience of. The things she was not a witness to, but only heard second or third hand. Finally, of things, that were specifically kept from her, particularly by her husband, John McArthur.

Let me say at the outset I have great admiration for Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, and as women, how they met the day to day challenges, not only of the voyage but in the infant colony at the edge of the known world.

View_of_Sydney_Cove_1792

View of Sydney Cove-1792

To really understand Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, I believe I needed to go right back to the beginning and study their ancestors and families. I wanted to find not only where and how they lived, but how they may have influenced the women’s outlook on life.  I wanted to find some possible explanations, not only for some of their decisions and indomitable faith but how they managed to live in a male-dominated society and world, so far away from their ‘roots’, with no family support.

Who was the real Elizabeth McArthur? Who was the real Harriet Hodgetts?

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A Voyage with a Ship “Lamp Trimmer”

In a former blog, I wrote about the occupation of the “Lamp Trimmer”. Just what did he do and what was life like for him on a ship?

The following is an extract from the book “The Log of a Sea-Waif; being recollections of the first four years of my sea life”, by Frank Thomas Bullen (1857-1915) published by Smith, Elder & Company, London, 1899. (Available on-line[i])

This extract is in reference to a voyage of the coastal steamer the “Helen McGregor”. This ship was built in 1866 and was lost while attempting to cross out over the Clarence River bar in very heavy seas on 12 March 1875. Her Master was Captain A Turner. The below extract is believed to have taken place in the early 1870’s.

” I was overjoyed to get a berth, without anybody’s assistance, as a lamp trimmer on board a pretty little steamer, called the “Helen McGregor”, that ran regularly between Sydney and the town of Grafton on the Clarence River, called at Newcastle and sundry places on the river en route.

My lamp-room was a mere cupboard by the side of the funnel, on deck, and just abaft the galley. To do my work I had to kneel on, a hot iron plate in front of the said cupboard, exposed to whatever weather was going. But the cook had all my sympathies. In his tiny caboose, he had to prepare meals for seventy or eighty people, while all his pastry-making, butchering, etc (for we carried live sheep and fowls with us), must need to be done on deck. Now the vessel, though exceedingly pretty to look at in harbour, was utterly unfit to cope with the tremendous seas that sweep along the eastern shores of Australia. Somewhere, in one of Henry Kingsley’s books (The ‘Hillyars and the Burtons’, I think), he speaks of a little steamer climbing one of those gigantic seas like a bat clinging to a wall. That was a common experience of ours. Her motions were frightful. I have seen every soul on board sea-sick while she crawled up, up, up one mountainous wave after another, plunging down into the abysses between them as if she would really turn a complete summersault. Everybody was black and blue with being flung about, and the passengers, who had perforce to be battened down in the sweltering saloon, or the second cabin, suffered misery untellable.  Yet even that wretchedness had its ludicrous side.

To see our fierce little hunchback cook astride a half-skinned sheep, to which he held on with a death-like grip, his knife between his teeth and a demonical glare in his eye, careering fore and aft in a smother of foam, surrounded by the debris of preparing dinner, made even men half dead with fatigue and nausea laugh. But it was terrible work. As for me, I got no respite at all at night. For I had to keep the lamps burning; and she thought nothing of hurling both the big side lanterns out of their slides on the deck or shooting both binnacle-lights at once into the air, leaving the helmsman staring at a black disc instead of the illuminated compass-card. And often, as I painfully made my way forward with the side-lights after a long struggle with wetted wicks and broken glass, she would plunge her bows under a huge comber, lifting a massive flood overall, which seize me in its ruthless embrace and swept me, entangled with my burden, the whole length of the deck, till I brought up against the second-cabin door right aft, with a bang that knocked the scanty remnant of breath out of my trembling body. Down in the engine-room, the grey-headed chief-engineer stood by the grunting machinery, his hand on the throttle-valve, which he incessantly manipulated to prevent the propeller racing the engines out of their seats whenever she lifted her stern out of the water and the screw revolved in thin air. For the old-fashioned low-pressure engines had no ‘governor’, and consequently, no automatic means of relieving the terrific strain thrown upon them in such weather as this. And the firemen, who had to keep steam up, though they were hurled to and fro over the plates like toys, were probably in the most evil case of all.

binnacle

She must have been staunchly built, for she bore the fearful buffeting without any damage worth speaking of, except to the unfortunates who were compelled to attend to their duties under such difficulties. And after the gale blew itself out, and the glorious sun mounted triumphantly in the deep blue dome above, the scene was splendid beyond description. We always kept fairly close in with the land, except when crossing a deep bight, and the views we obtained of the magnificent scenery along that wonderful coast were worth enduring a good deal of hardship to witness. We arrived off the entrance to the Clarence River just at dark, and to my great astonishment, instead of going in, the sail was set, the fires were damped down, and we stood ‘off-and-on’ until the daylight. As soon as there was sufficient light to distinguish objects on shore, we stood in; all passengers were ordered below and everything was battered down. All hands perched themselves as high as they could on the bridge, upper deck, and in the rigging, while we made straight for the bar. These precautions had filled me with wonders, for I knew nothing of bar-harbours. But when, on our nearer approach, I saw the mighty turbulent breakers rolling in mountains of snowy foam across the river’s mouth, I began to understand that the passage through that would mean considerable danger. Every ounce of steam we could raise was on her, and the skipper, a splendid specimen of a British seaman, stood on the bridge, the very picture of vigorous vigilance. We entered the first line of breakers, all around us seethed the turmoil of snowy foam, with not a mark of any kind to show the channel, except such bearings as the skipper knew of on the distant shore. Perched upon the rail, a leadsman sounded as rapidly as he could, calling out such depths of water as amazed me, knowing our draught. Along came an enormous wall of white water, overwhelming the hull and hiding it from sight. “Lead-quick”! Yelled the skipper above the thunder of the sea; and Joe screamed: “Two, halt one, a quarter less two.” Ahh! A long and grinding concussion as she tore up the ground, then along came to another mighty comber overall. When it had passed we were over the bar and in smooth water, only the yeasty flakes of the spent breakers following us as if disappointed of their prey. A very few minutes sufficed to dry up the decks, and the passengers appeared well pleased to be in the placid waters of the river and at peace once more.

huge-anchor-light

What a lovely scene it was! At times we sped along close to the bank, while a great stretch of the river extended on the other side of us a mile wide, but too shallow for even our light draught. On gleaming sand-patches, flocks of pelicans performed their unwieldy gambols, and shoals of fish reflected the sunlight from their myriad glittering scales. Turning a sharp bend we would disturb a flock of black swans that rose with a deafening clamour in such immense numbers as to darken the sky overhead like a thunder-cloud. And about the bushes that clothed the banks, flew parrots, cockatoos, and magpies in such hosts as I had never dreamed of. For an hour we saw no sign of inhabitants; then, suddenly, we sighted a little village with a rude jetty and about half a dozen houses. All the population, I suppose, stood on the pier to greet us, who came bearing to them in their lonely corner a bit of the great outside world. Our skipper, though noted for his seamanship, was equally notorious for his clumsiness in bringing his vessel alongside a wharf, and we came into the somewhat crazy structure with a crash that sent the shore-folk scurrying off into safety until it was seen to be still intact. We were soon fast, and all hands working as Chinamen to land the few packages of goods, for we had a long way to go yet and several places to call at. Our discharging was soon over, the warps cast off, and followed by (as I thought) the wistful looks of the little community of Rocky Mouth, we proceeded up the river again.

Occasionally we sighted a homestead standing among a thick plantation of banana trees, each laden with its massive bunch of fruit, and broad area of sugar-cane or maize. From amongst the latter as we passed rose perfect clouds of cockatoos and parrots, screaming discordantly, and making even the dullest observer think the heavy toll they were levied upon the toiling farmer. Again we stopped at villages, each bearing a family likeness to the first, but all thriving and inhabited by well-fed sturdy people. Just before sunset we arrived at Grafton, having passed but two vessels on our journey up – one a handsome Brigatine, whose crew were laboriously towing her along at a snail’s pace in a solitary boat, and the other a flat-bottomed, stern-wheel steamer of so light a draught that she looked capable of crossing a meadow in a heavy dew. There was a substantial jetty built out from the steep bank to the end of which, after considerable fumbling about, we moored. The only house visible was a rather fine dwelling whose front verandah overlooked the jetty from the top of the bank. I was surprised to find quite a considerable town, with well laid out streets and every appearance. There was little inducement to remain, however, and I soon hurried on board again to enjoy some grand fishing over the side.

Here we remained for a week discharging our cargo and reloading with maize, cases of preserved beef and mutton, and bags of tin ore. Just before sailing, we received a good deal of farm produce, including several hundred bunches of bananas, for which there was always a good demand in Sydney. In order not to miss a tide we sailed sometime one morning before daylight, and when about twenty miles down the river, ran into the region of a bush fire. As we had to hug the bank rather closely just there, we had an anxious time if it, the great shower of sparks and sheets of flame reaching out towards us as if determined to claim us, too, among their victims.

The sight was terribly grand; the blood-red sky overhead and the glowing river beneath making it appear as if we were between two furnaces, while the deep terrific roar of the furious fire so near drowned every other sound. All hands were kept alert dowsing sparks that settled on board of us, and right glad was everybody when we emerged into the cool and smoke-free air beyond. After that, we had a most hum-drum passage all the way to Sydney…”[ii]

[i] The Grafton Argus, (Grafton) 8 January 1900, Trove, National Library of Australia website https://trove.nla.gov.au .Accessed 22 January 2018

ii   Bullen, Frank Thomas. The log of a sea-waif: being recollections of the first four years of my sea life. Smith, Elder & Co., 1899. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/5osDe9. Accessed 21 Jan. 2018. Gale Document Number: GALE|BJPYVT144389105

Pictures from Google Images http://www.thepirateslair.com/10-21-huge-anchor-light.html retrieved 22 January 2018

 

Occupations – The Lamp-Trimmer


The occupation of a ‘Lamp Trimmer” in the past was a very important one. These men were responsible for keeping ‘the lights’ in order and burning in all weather conditions, whether a municipal employee trimming the street lights, working for a railway company in trains and on stations, or even very large houses. However, it was on-board ships that he was of the greatest value.

Ship lights

 

In the days of sailing ships, this duty might fall to one or more of the petty officers on-board to attend to the navigational lights required by International Marine Law.

 

In pre-electric light times, when candles and oil lamps were the sole means of illumination, the rule of ‘lights out’ at ten pm was strictly enforced as a precaution against fire.

 

However, as ships got larger, especially with the advent of steam power, a ‘lamp trimmer’ was usually employed to take care of the many lights on ships. Both the cabin and navigational lights.

 

The lamp trimmer usually worked from a small room known as a ‘lamp locker’ containing tanks of oil, (originally Camphene and later kerosene), rolls of wick, spare lamps, chimneys, burners, scissors, reflectors, and cotton waste for cleaning purposes. He spent part of his days and most nights moving around the ship trimming and attending to all kind of lamps.

 

Even after the introduction of the electric light, International Regulations for the safety of life at sea made it mandatory that all ships should carry a spare set of oil navigation lights. These consisted of two white mast-head lights, one stern light, two anchor lights, one signaling lamp, one red and one green side lights, and two red ‘not under command’ lights. The latter was displayed one above the other, not less than six feet apart, whenever a ship was not under proper control owing to some defect in her engines or steering gear. It was the signal to other ships to give her a wide berth.

 

Even when all the above lights were normally electric, the spare oil lamps had to be kept trimmed, and once a week they had to burn for two hours, to ensure they were in good order.

 

The lamp trimmer was often given the nickname of ‘Lamps’ or ‘Lampey”, and he had to be a very competent seaman, who knew the importance of keeping all the lights trimmed and working in all weathers and situations. An inexperienced or lazy seaman would never have been employed in that position.

It was never an easy job but was often downright dangerous in stormy and wet weather as we learn from the experience of Frank Bullen in the next blog.

binnacle2Binacle with light

 

 

 

Pictures from Google images https://www.google.com.au/  from eBay retrieved 22 January 2018

Immigration-“Woodbridge” Voyage-1838

The emigrant ship the “Woodbridge” left Southampton on 7 May and arrived in Sydney on 15 September 1838.

There were several people on board who had family connections to me.

Robin and Mercy Bell and family, who were an uncle, aunt, and cousins to my ancestor, George Bell who emigrated in 1837.

Also on board were Thomas and Alice (Ellis) Sargent and family who were my 3 X Great-Grandparents. Their daughter, Sarah married George Bell in 1844. I wrote a rather detailed account about the voyage in Bell Family Newsletter No 26 July 1993 p13-19. This blog is based on that article.

Barque

At this time emigrant ships were often provisioned through the naval stores at Deptford Dockyards. It was the Surgeon’s job to check the supplies for the emigrants.

Gravesend had been a port of embarkation for emigrants to America and Australia for many years but the inconvenience of trying to load passengers on board from small boats in an often swift tidal current (of the Thames River), led to the erection of a new pier which was opened in July 1833. It extended 100 feet into the river from the old stone pier, with a further extension opened in 1834. This new extension consisted of insulated columns or piles of cast iron which supported a floor or roadway. This pier was constructed so as not to impede the current of the river.

As mentioned below in the Surgeon’s Report emigrants from Kent and Sussex boarded the ship here on 22 and 23 April 1838.

The Surgeon Superintendent on this voyage of the “Woodbridge’ was Alexander Stewart, MD, RN.

He had been a naval surgeon and had been the Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship “Aurora’ under Captain Dawson which arrived in Sydney on 3 November 1833, so we know he had made the voyage at least once before. His report has survived and is at the State Records of NSW.

Surgeon’s Report of the ship Woodbridge ‘s voyage to Sydney by Alexander Stewart, MD, RN

Much of the below details were taken from NSW State Records Reels 2654,1296 and other papers, and from the Sydney Gazette dated 18 September 1838 by Peter Andrews and included in an article he prepared for the Journal of the Singleton Family History Society. Peter and the Society kindly gave me permission to use the material in the newsletter at the time. Peter is now deceased and his article can be found on the Society’s website.

http://www.xroyvision.com.au/andrews/history/hist4.htm

Log Commences

APRIL 1838

On the 22nd April 1838, I was appointed by Lord Glenelg (Secretary of State for the Colonies), as Surgeon Superintendent of the Emigrant ship “Woodbridge” bound for Sydney. Being complete with water and provisions the ship was dropped down from Deptford to Gravesend the 22nd of same (April), then the following day,76 persons were embarked and 61 more on the 24th completing the number to be taken on board in the river (Thames). They were chiefly farm labourers from the counties of Sussex and Kent and generally healthy, but a few of the children had a pustular eruption on the face, said by the parents to have taken place after vaccination. In the afternoon of the 25th, we got under weigh and again anchored in the sea reach, the winds becoming unfavorable and blowing strong. 26th 4.00pm got up anchor and made sail in the evening, the wind and the tide being against us, the ship was brought up at Mole. At noon on the 27th again weighed anchor, made all sails and having a fair breeze the ship came to anchor off Cowes, Isle of Wight at 11am on the 28th April. On the 2nd May embarked 130 emigrants from Wiltshire, the greater number of these were also farm servants and married with families. The day after the last came aboard I found out that some of the children were suffering from a whooping cough, but with one exception, of a mild character. No means could be adopted for the separation from the healthy and I am happy to say no serious consequences followed. Only a few cases subsequently occurred and these were very mild requiring some medical treatment. On the 7th May at 7.00am weighed and made all sail running through The Needles with a modest breeze and fine weather.

MAY 1838

During the month of May, the weather was fine with moderate breezes. The thermometer averaged at noon,63 degrees, maximum 83 degrees, in latitude 7 degrees north, minimum 50 degrees off Cowes, nine days of which rain fell, chiefly near the equator and in heavy showers of short duration. Winds were 7 days NE,1 day NEbE,1 day NNE, I day NW, I day NNW,3 days SW,1 day SSE,1 day SEbE,3 days E,1 day EbS,7 days ENE, I day EbN,3 days variable with calms. 48 cases were put on the sick list principally obstipatic and dysenteric. Many of the females suffered much from sea sickness, of whom 30 were cured and two children died, one of inanition and the other from dysentery.

JUNE 1838

June for the most part, fine with moderate and variable winds. Thermometer averaged 77 degrees, maximum 85 degrees in a latitude 4 north, minimum 66 degrees in latitude 28 degrees south. 17 days of which rain fell in heavy transient showers with occasional thunder and lightning. Winds 1 day NE,9 days SE,3 days SSE,1 day SEbE and 13 days variable with calms. Added to the sick list 55, cured 54, two children died of dysentery, the same diseases prevailed as the last month.

JULY 1838

July, on the 21st of this month, finding the bowel affections continuing on unabated and also with symptoms of scurvy making their appearance, I judged it necessary for the benefit of the health of the emigrants to put into some port to enable me to procure fresh provisions. Accordingly, I wrote to the Master of the ship requesting him to take her to the nearest convenient harbour for that purpose. On the same day, we arrived at Simmons Bay, Cape of Good Hope, where I purchased 2501 pounds of beef and mutton and half that quantity of mixed vegetables, having also taken on board 8 tons of water. No fruit was available. We proceeded on our passage on the 26th. The weather this month was more unsettled, the winds being stronger and a good deal of thick foggy atmosphere. The29th and the 30th days were particularly thick and muggy with torrents of rain and much thunder and lightning, which so injured our remaining fresh beef that a survey was held upon it and 887 pounds were thrown overboard, being unfit for use. The thermometer averaged 60 2/3 degrees, maximum 66 degrees at 29 degrees south latitude, minimum 56 degrees in the latitude 34 degrees south. Nine days of rain fell with the exception of the two days stated above in moderate passing showers. 34 were added to the sick list,32 cured and 4 died,3 children of dysentery and 1 of aphtha of the mouth and fauces.

AUGUST 1838

August, the weather was very unsettled and the decks were wet, but no injurious effects on the health of the people. The sick list, remarkably diminished since the issue of fresh provisions. Thermometer averaged 53 degrees, maximum 64 degrees in latitude 39 south, minimum 49 degrees in latitude 38 south. 19 days of rain fell in transient but heavy showers with occasional hail. The winds chiefly westerly, suddenly shifting around to the north and south, blowing strong with occasional gales and thick weather. The winds were 2 days N,2 days NNE,1 day NE,4 days NW,2 days NNW,2 days NWbW,8 days WNW,2 days WSW,3 days WbS,2 days SSW,1 day SW and 1 day variable and calm. 16 were added to the sick list,19 cured and a married female died from the debilitating effects of sea sickness.

SEPTEMBER 1838

September, on the 15th, the Woodbridge anchored in Sydney Cove and the morning of the 18th, the emigrants were disembarked. With the exception of one child, all were healthy. The weather this month was generally fine, with light and moderate breezes, no rain. The Thermometer averages 50 1/2 degrees, maximum 67 degrees in Sydney Cove, minimum 48 degrees in latitude 40 south. 2 added to the sick list,29 discharged, one of whom was a married woman died of dysentery

On Monday the 17th September 1838 the following two articles appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

  1. Shipping Intelligence : From Portsmouth, same day, having sailed the 7th May, the Ship “Woodbridge”, Captain Dobson with 260 government emigrants, under the superintendence of Dr. Stewart.
  2. The undermentioned immigrants, with their families, who arrived on the ship “Woodbridge”, on the 15 September, under the superintendence of Alexander Stewart, Esq., R.N., will be landed on the 19th instant, at the Immigrant Buildings, Bent Street; and persons desirous of engaging their services are requested to apply to the Superintendent, at the Buildings, the following day.

 

The Sydney Gazette dated Tuesday 18 September 1838 in the Ships News Column stated: “The emigrant ship Woodbridge is a vessel well adapted for the conveyance of settlers to our shores, her between decks, being more than seven feet in height, and very spacious. The emigrants on board appear to be in a mostly healthy state, and their berths and other accommodation do great credit to the commanding officers on board, and also the Surgeon Superintendent, Alexander Stewart, Esq., R.N. The only deaths on board this vessel during her passage were eight young children. (In actual fact the deaths were 8 children and 2 married women). Messrs R.Campbell & Co. are her Agents. The emigrants will be landed this day, and as they are principally agricultural labourers, there will be a good opportunity for the settlers to provide themselves with such as they may require.”

Additional Notes-

The vaccination referred to was for Small Pox, also known as Variola. Small Pox was a contagious feverish disease characterised by eruptions on the skin.

The ‘sea reach’ was a stretch of water where ships anchored waiting for a favourable wind. ‘Mole’ on The Downs’  is an anchorage or roadstead between the east coast of Kent and the Goodwin Sands and takes its name from the range of chalk hills visible in the distance that run through Hampshire, Surrey, Kent and Sussex.

The steamers and small boats brought the emigrants from Southamption about 10 miles down the reach to the ships at anchorage off Cowes. The ships then sailed Spithead side of the Isle of Wight or through The Solent down the other side of the island through The Needles and out into the English Channel.

Bell Ancestors,Coming to Australia-Robin and Mercy Bell,1838

Robin Bell (b 1785), the third son and fourth child of Thomas and Ann Bell of Mereworth, married Mercy Cheeseman in 1811 and had a family of ten children.

This family emigrated to New South Wales on the Woodbridge in 1838.

In the late 18th Century, England was again at war. The most terrible effect was a great depression it brought about in agriculture. It was essential the land produce an ever-increasing amount of food and although land enclosure had been going on for a long time the pressures of war hastened the movement. Many more taxes were introduced and although they mainly applied to the rich landowners they had a roll-on effect to the labourer in that as his taxes rose the landowner used them as an excuse to pay his workers less. By 1795 in the south of England agricultural labourers were paid only a pittance compared to what they had been and attempts were made to supplement his income from the parish poor rate. Many people resisted this step and tried to do without this assistance because of the stigma associated with it. They were willing to work, but there was no work. Of course, the Industrial Revolution played its part too.

We know that by the early 1830’s conditions had become so terrible that some agricultural labourers caused riots. In some effort to assist the poor, workhouses were set up all over England. It was probably about this time that Robin and Mercy Bell and family were forced to return to Mereworth from East Farleigh where they had lived and worked for a number of years.  (Mereworth was Robin Bell’s parish of birth, so became responsible for him and his family in times of unemployment and destitution).

At the same time, the colonies were calling for more agricultural labourers for the expanding wool trade. Immigration was encouraged but only the richer farmer could afford to go.

By 1837 the first of the assisted immigration schemes to Australia were in place. The summer of 1837 in England and Europe was cold and wet which led to a very poor harvest for that year.

This was probably one of the catalysts that led James and George Bell of East Farleigh, the sons of Thomas Bell (b 1782) and his first wife Mary, to sign on as sailors on board the convict ship Asia to work their way to Sydney in late 1837. See former blogs My Bell Ancestors-George Bell (1817-1894) Sorting Red Herrings posted 3 July 2015 and My Bell Ancestors-George Bell Red Herrings Sorted posted 1 February 2016.

The bad summer of 1837 was followed by a very harsh winter with much snow.

Many families were literally destitute and starving. Several of our Bell families like many others decided to emigrate, hoping to make a better life. The ‘bait’ as it were, was the dream to be able and own land after a few years working in the new colony. This was a dream they couldn’t have realized if they had stayed in England. Having decided to emigrate the families had to full-fill very strict conditions for a free passage to Australia. Many applicants were turned down as they were not able to fit these conditions. Robin Bell (b1785)and his family of Mereworth, Kent, were able to satisfy the conditions to emigrate to Sydney, as most of their family were adults and employable. See former blog “Robin and Mercy Bell of Kent, England, and Scone in New South Wales”, posted 1 September 2012.

With the bounty System for New South Wales, the male members of the family would have applied to the Workhouse Union Clerk at Malling for an assisted passage. He would have sent their application onto the Agent General for Emigration in London. Writing back to the clerk at Malling the Agent-General would announce that the Surgeon Superintendent of a certain bounty ship, such as the Woodbridge, or his agent, would be available to interview applicants on a certain day in the workhouse boardroom. The necessary certificates had to be presented at the interview. The applicant had to produce certificates certifying to moral and industrious habits, good health and practical knowledge concerning his given occupation. These documents had to be signed by the parish clergyman and other respectable inhabitants in the parish where the applicant resided. The applicant also had to tender certificates to his age and that of his wife and children. These were usually extracted from the parish registers. It is probable that Robin Bell and his family made the original application sometime in February 1838.

Other specified conditions for passage to Australia included a certain amount and type of clothing. Luggage packages were not to exceed 18″ deep and every steerage passenger before embarking had to put sufficient linen and other changes of clothing for a month into a box, not more than 15″ square as only these small boxes were allowed in the steerage compartment. All other luggage was stored(preferably in a tin-lined trunk), in the holds to be retrieved and brought onto the deck in calm weather about four or five weeks into the voyage.

Eligibility for free passage was determined by the Superintendent or his Agent at the interview. The successful applicants would then be advised the ships departure date and the necessity of reaching the place of embarkation a couple of days before the date of departure so their luggage could be examined for correctness under the rules of passage.

Preparations would take several weeks to complete, as the clothing alone which was all made by hand would take time. Parish Overseers Accounts in the Parish Chest Records for Mereworth, Kent, give a great insight into the lives of our Bell families, as these show us that the Mereworth Parish Overseers paid for the shoes and clothing to be made to allow our Bell families to emigrate. Also the tin lining for the trunk and tools for their trade. Emigrants were expected to travel to the place of embarkation at their own expense. Again the Mereworth Parish Overseers assisted. Note the ‘landing money’ which was given to the emigrants on landing in the colony.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Original Parish Chest, St Lawrence Mereworth, that once held the parish account books including the Overseer of the Poor. Copyright Nola Mackey-2004

“1838 – An Account of Moneys Spent by me for the parish of Mereworth to assist in clothing and other expenses attending so many poor families who were emigrating from this parish to New South Wales”

April Gave Robt Bell by check To purchase tools etc £4
Paid Mr. Farrant a bill for Robt Bell and family £6
Pd the Revd Mr. Jebb for Robt Bells Family

To receive at Landing in Sidney (sic)

£10

 

Robin and Mercy Bell were also known as Robert and Mary Bell in the Mereworth records.

The family was given ten pounds on landing in Sydney to help them live until they could arrange employment.

The Woodbridge left  England on 7 May and arrived in Sydney on 15 September 1838.

In the next blog, I will give more information on the voyage of the ‘Woodbridge‘ itself.

Bell Ancestors Coming Down-Under- South Australia

 

In former blogs, I have blogged about the emigration of various branches of our Bell Family to United States, Canada, and Australia. This emigration story spanned nearly a century and was virtually global in range.

The 1830’s were a terrible time period for our Bell ancestors in Kent, England. Many families who faced with starvation or the newly erected Workhouses, saw emigration as their only opportunity and salvation. However, they didn’t have the means to emigrate.

Fortunately, through various avenues several immigration schemes were being put forward by colonial governments particularly in Australia. Several of our Bell family took advantage of these schemes to emigrate.

George Bell (b1806) the second son and child of John and Mary Bell (nee Kemp) of Mereworth, Kent married Jane Hunt on 25 December 1827. They had a number of children all born at Mereworth; Jane (b1828), John (b 1830), Mary (b1832), George (b 1834) and Ann (b1837).

By 1837 this family had to rely on parish assistance to survive. The alternative was to go into the Malling Workhouse.

They wished to emigrate to New South Wales with other family members, but unfortunately, they could not satisfy some of the conditions for a free passage. Their children were too young for employment when they arrived. However, no such restrictions were proposed by the South Australia (Land) Company who were paying free passages for emigrants to come out to the newly formed free colony of South Australia.

George Bell was the right age and calling for a free passage, but the company was not prepared to pay the passage of his wife and children. The Mereworth Parish Overseers came to the family’s assistance and paid their passage. They also paid all the other costs of emigrating.

“1838 – An Account of Moneys Spent by me for the parish of Mereworth to assist in clothing and other expenses attending so many poor families who were emigrating from this parish to New South Wales”

Pd the Emigration Committee for passage for five children belonging

To George Bell                                                                                                              £15.00

Pd Mr. Carr a bill for list shoes etc for G Bell                                                              13. 4

Pd Mrs. Browning a bill ditto                                                                                          14. 6

Pd Mr. Viner a bill for G Bell                                                                                           £2. 12. 6¾

Pd Mr. G Morphew a bill for tools for George Bell                                                            18. 7

Pd Mr. Farrant for ditto                                                                                                     £2. 16. 2

Pd J & T Dutt a bill ditto                                                                                                            9. 6

Pd Mr. Hy Shirley a bill for tin for G Bill                                                                               4. 10

Pd Mrs. Capan for allowance for G Bell and family at T(own) Malling                              1. 10

Pd Mr. Samuel Glover bill for Bell                                                                                     £2. 17. 6

Gave George Bell and family to receive at landing in South Australia                      £3. 10. 0

Gave the man to pay for breakfast for himself and George Bell, his wife and

family on rode (road) to Deptford                                                                                       £1. 1. 0

Pd Mr. George Harryman a bill for meate (meat)for Mrs. Bell                                              2. 6

Pd Mr. Wolf a bill as part for Mereworth going to Deptford with emigrants                  14. 0

Pd Mr. Durrell a bill at Meeting of South Australia Company                                             6. 0

Pd Mrs. C Goodwin a bill for George Bell                                                                          £5. 16. 6

Pd Mr. Hards a bill for Mrs. Bell                                                                                                11. 3

Paid for George Bells bed and bedding                                                                              £4. 10. 0

This gives us a very detailed account of the costs involved in emigrating

Clothes and shoes,  as well as the necessary tin lined trunk for the clothes to keep them dry on the voyage. Tools for George Bell to bring out with him to use in his employment.

The bed and bedding for the voyage and the family’s settlement in Australia. For the family to stay overnight at Malling and their transport to Deptford. From there the emigrants were taken to Gravesend to embark on the emigrant ship.

Barque

Image from https://www.google.com.au believed to be Barque Falls of Clyde now preserved as a museum ship in Hawaii. Retrieved 15 July 2017

 A Barque has three or more masts with square sails on the foremast and fore and aft sails on the after mast. Generally in the range of 250-700 ton capacity.

 

George and Jane Bell and family embarked on the Resource, a barque of 417 tons built in Calcutta in 1804. It was owned by Mr. T Ward of London. The ship left London about 15 September (1838) under Captain Boyle and arrived in Port Adelaide on 23 January 1839. On board were more than 140 immigrants, many poor farming families from Kent and other places in England.

Shipping…

JAN. 23.—Barque Resource, Capt. Boyle, from

London, 7th October, with 140 emigrants and passengers.

Trove: Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA: 1838 – 1844) Wednesday 30 January 1839 p 2 Article From <http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?l-state=South+Australia&l-decade=183&l-month=1&l-year=1839&q=%27Resource%22>

South Australian Shipping…

Resource, from London, Captain Boyle, arrived 23 January, with one hundred and forty-three emigrants, six adults and fourteen children died during the voyage.

Trove: The Sydney Herald (NSW: 1831 – 1842) Wednesday 6 February 1839 p 2 Article From <http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=%22Resource%22&l-decade=183&l-year=1839&l-state=New+South+Wales&l-month=2&s=0>

Sudds Cousins Emigrate to America

In a former blog I wrote about the family of John Bell(b1822) Mereworth, Kent, England, who had married in Staplehurst in 1851, Harriet Hatcher. They had three children John (b.1851), Elizabeth (b.1853) and Mary Ann (b.1855) before they emigrated to the United States of America in 1856-7.

At the end of the blog I suggested they were probably not the first in the Bell family who had emigrated to America.

After assessing the large collection of documents my cousin Glenda and I had collected on the various branches of the Bell family, I narrowed down my ‘possible’ families.

One person of interest was William Daniel Sudds, the youngest son of Paul and Jane Sudds (nee Bell). His mother, Jane Bell (b.1778) was the eldest daughter of Thomas and Ann Bell (nee Lawrence) of Mereworth, Kent, England. This couple, Thomas and Ann Bell was also Glenda and my 4X great-grandparents, although down through different children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St Lawrence, Mereworth,Kent-Copyright Nola Mackey 2004

William Daniel Sudds (b.1811)known as Dan Sudds, is believed to have emigrated to New York about 1845. There he married a Mary Unknown and had a number of children including Emma (b.1846); Addison (b.1849); Josephine,(1852; Rachel (b.1854); Jennie (Jane) b.1856; Daniel (b.1859). This family also migrated to Michigan where two more daughters Maud (b.1860) and Elsie (b.1864) were born. The family resided at Chocolay, Michigan for a number of years. Dan Sudds died in 1868.

Dan Sudds would have been a first cousin to the former mentioned John Bell(b.1822) and also to my ancestor George Bell who emigrated to Australia in 1837.

Dan Sudds elder brother Iden (b.1804) married Jane Huggett in 1825 and had a number of children including Jane (b.1826); Mary Ann (b.1827); William (b.1828); Iden (b.1830); Sarah (b.1831); Isaac (b.1833); Ann (b.1836); Eleanor (b.1837); Catherine (b.1838); Emma (b.1841); Amos (b.1842); Caroline (b.1844); Frederick (b.1846) and Amy(b.1848).

We have been able to establish that the above mentioned Mary Ann Sudds(b.1827) married David Kennedy and Sarah Sudds (b.1831) married Jeremiah Wells. These couples emigrated to Canada c 1860. As yet I have not been able to establish if Mary and David Kennedy had any children, but she died in Ontario in 1895.

Jeremiah and Sarah Wells had a number of children including the following born in Ontario:- Julia (b.1863); Jessie (b.1865); Mary (b.1868);Mark (b.1869); and Minnie (b.1870).

I have been a member of the Kent Family History Society for over forty years. Over the years I have purchased most of their books and CD resources and in more recent years have been involved in the Global Branch of the Society. There members can post questions and problems concerning their family research on the Society’s website. I was most fortunate to have several KFHS members living in USA and Canada answer my queries and I was able to make further headway with my research over there

As well as the above mentioned Sudds families and connections, I found other Sudds families emigrating from Mereworth and Wateringbury, Kent. About 1875 Frederick Charles (b.1851) and Martha Sudds and his brother Timothy Sudds (b.1842)and his wife Sarah emigrated to the USA. They first settled in Michigan, but had moved to Ravenna Portage in Ohio by 1878. They remained there for several years, where Timothy was a saloon keeper. In about 1887 the families moved to Cook, Illinois.

Meanwhile back in Wateringbury, Kent, Frederick and Timothy’s younger brother Nathan (b.1854) had spent some time in the army, as a wheelwright. He was stationed in Malta, where he met and married a local girl, Carmella. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in Malta before they were shipped back to Kent about 1880. A son, Nathan, was born the following year. Then two daughters were born, Emily and Ann, in 1883 and 1885 respectively.

Soon afterwards the family decided to emigrate to USA and joined Nathan’s brothers and their families in Illinios. The family later settled in Thornton, where a number of children were born and by 1900 a total of ten children were living at home with the parents.

Although it was fun tracking down other twigs and branches of the far flung ‘Bell Family Tree’, Glenda and I decided it was time we returned to our more immediate family connection in Kent and Australia. There was still plenty of research to do.