As I mentioned in a former blog I am preparing to visit Britain in a few weeks to attend a Family History Cruise with Unlockthepast on board the Marco Polo. Full details of this Conference Cruise can be found at http://www.unlockthepastcruises.com/
One of my ancestral families from Ireland is a Sherwood family. From documents I have collected in Australia I can briefly outline my family as below.
Robert Sherwood, bc 1765, Monasterevin,County Kildare Ireland, Married 1818 in Kildare, Bridget Hannah Dunn.. Emigrated to Sydney per Premier in 1840. Issue included: William Dunn, b 1820; Amelia (Emily), b 1822; Robert, b 1825; Nelson, b 1828; Joseph, b 1830; Emily, b1833; Margaret, 1835.
Robert Sherwood died in 1860 and Bridget Sherwood in 1867. Both are buried in Sydney.
I have copies of several documents including Robert’s Death Certificate, Church Burial Entry and newspaper death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald., of 24 Sept, 1860 which states:-
“At his residence, Balmain, on the 21st September, Mr. Robert Sherwood, aged 104 years, late of Malpes Court, New England, and formerly of Ivy House, county Kildare, Ireland. He served forty-two years in the army, and was highly respected by all who knew him.”
The earliest records I have for this family in Australia are their immigration records. Originally I located these records some forty years ago from the card indexes held at the NSW State Archives now State Records of New South Wales. This index gave me the information that the family arrived on the Premier on 2 July 1840. This index is now on http://www.ancestry.com. I have always found newspapers to be a great source for family history, and I encourage all family historian to tackle this great resource. I followed up the arrival of the Premier in the shipping intelligence and other sections of the Sydney Herald (Sydney), and other surviving newspapers of that time.
In the newspapers there is often information concerning the voyage and the ship itself, not found in the Harbour Masters Papers or other Shipping records, but sometimes much more, which adds to the family’s story. When looking for details on the voyage of the Premier in 1840, I certainly found some interesting information.
The Premier brings a fine and healthy looking body of Bounty Immigrants; during the voyage. only four infants were lost. She had an uncommonly swift passage (90 days), though becalmed for some time off the Cape.
However, by far the most interesting information was that there had been a mutiny on board.
A mutiny you say! Great, how can I find out more about that?
Of course these sailors were incarcerated in the Sydney Gaol on arrival and hauled before the Courts to explain themselves. These Court cases were reported in the newspapers of the day, as well as other news items about the mutiny.
The fullest report by the Surgeon Superintendent Mr John Turner., was published in the Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser. , 4 July 1840. Here is a short extract-
MUTINY ON BOARD The “Premier” Immigrant Ship Dear Sir,–To prevent misconstruction, the following account of the mutiny on board the Premier, from the Log-book, is at your service, if worth inspection. I remain yours obediently, J. TURNER, Surgeon. ” I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to the ready and willing manner in,which most of the male Immigrants came forward on Tuesday the 6th of June to assist in navigating the ship under circumstances of a most trying nature.. ……
The Court Reports of the 7th July published in the same newspaper on the 8th and 9th of July gave further details. The full extracts run to some twelve pages of notes for my Sherwood Family History file.
All these newspapers can be freely accessed online in Digitised Historical Newspapers through Trove on the National Library of Australia website at https://www.nla.gov.au/
Although my ancestors are not named in these reports we know that approximately twenty four male immigrants of about forty five assisted the officers and apprentices to ‘man’ the ship for about two days. There is no doubt all on board would have been aware of what was happening. It would have been very traumatic for many, especially during the gales as most were from poor farming communities of Ireland, and had never been to sea before. What great details to add to the story of the Sherwood family’s voyage to Australia.
I encourage everyone interested not only in the Sherwood family, but anyone descended from one of the 30 families or the 16 unmarried men or 35 single women on this voyage to look up these newspapers to get a feel of what went on at the time.
Next blog I will be discussing surviving government records available for the Premier’s, 1840 voyage with information about the immigrants themselves. I will be looking at these records for my Sherwood family.