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Loch Long - voyage from Glasgow to Melbourne in 1886

Picture of Loch Long

LOCH LONG was a barque built by J.& G. Thomson, of Glasgow, for the General Shipping Co. of Glasgow in 1876. She was 1261 tons, 255 ft length, 35ft beam and 21ft depth. She is mentioned as a "wool clipper" operating Clyde-Australia. On 29th April 1903 she sailed from New Caledonia, under the command of Captain J. Strachan, bound for the Clyde with a cargo of nickel ore, but never arrived. It was assumed that she had foundered with all hands on the Chatham Islands as wreckage was afterwards found there.

This account is written by Jane Scott Snodgrass (1856-1928) and sent to her mother Margaret (Lennox) Snodgrass, in Scotland. Jane's husband Hugh Snodgrass (who was her father's cousin), was already in Australia, so she alone cared for their children, Alan, Margaret Lennox (Maggie), Matthew, Hugh and Anne, during the voyage. (there were 6 more children born in Australia) Travelling in First Class was widowed Joanna (Snodgrass) Lang (1819-1916), who was Jane's paternal Aunt, referred to as "Aunt Lang" and she was accompanied by three adult children, Matt, Hugh and Janet. Joanna had two sons already in Australia, James and Alex.

Monday, October 18th, 1886
Ship Loch Long
off Land's End, England



The Tug left us about midnight and we have a splendid wind carrying us on at a rate of 240 miles a day, or knots as it is called at sea. Maggie and Hugh got very sick, and vomited through the night, then Alan and Matt in the morning. Matt got very cross and wanted me to stop the ship, and not let it go on that way. She rolls a lot, then I got sick and vomited twice through the day, but I feel better tonight. Baby [Anne] never got sick at all. Janet Lang and I had a long talk with the Captain, he is a great cure. Found out he is married and has a son at school in St. Andrews. He says he is only 33. Mr. and Mrs. Davie have 16 hens and a sheep on board, two of the hens were killed yesterday, but there is no word of them forthcoming. Mrs. Davie is afraid they have gone to the saloon table. Wood is Mrs. Davie's name, her father farms in Ayrshire, was near Tyburn's, they are going to Sydney. Matt fell yesterday and skinned his nose, Hugh fell today, and hurt his chin, and is pretty bad, I have just got him to bed. Aunt Lang and Janet are both a little sick today, Aunt did not rise. We are to be in the Bay of Biscay tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 20th, 1886 I was very very sick and vomited yesterday two or three times, I did not know what to do with the children, they were all very sick but baby. Matt has been picking his nose, I will have to strap the bags on him day and night. Hugh's chin is very sore too. Baby has been very good indeed today, and as hungry as a hawk. Maggie eats close to Mr. Anderson (the Wigton farmer's son). He says she is his sweetheart. I was in the saloon and had a nice cup of tea with Janet Lang. Aunt is looking better today. Matt Lang is quite better already. The Minister, Mr. Finlayson, was out among us today; he seems very delicate. He is too ill to officiate. He was talking to the children and me today, and he is very nice, so is his wife. The Doctor is a very delicate young man, Brims is his name. He comes from Wick. Our steward fell off the deckhouse yesterday and dislocated his leg, so we are to get the (donkey man) for steward till he gets better. The music is going on in the forecastle, and the crew are dancing. The most of us are alright, but there is not much wind to carry us on.
Thursday 21st October 1886. A fine mild day. It is half past seven at night. I have got all the children to bed, and it has come on a little squally, and I can scarely write. The children are all fine and hungry, and Matt's nose and Hugh's chin are nearly better. We signalled a steamer the Petrolea of Gottenburg, going to the Black Sea. I expect we will be reported when she calls at Gibraltar.
Friday 22nd October 1886. A splendid day's sailing, and the Captain and Officers are all in good humour Mr. Anderson watches Maggie. Mr. Montgomery, an Ayrshire fellow, put on Matt's and Hugh's shoes this morning. Mr. McVicar, the Dumbarton young man, is a very good young fellow, and distributes tracts among the passengers. Mr. Forgan a young man from Dollar is in very delicate health. Mr. Mitchell is from Ayr, and is a nice young fellow. Mr. Russell from Leith is very quiet. Mrs. Davie is a swell wife. She orders her husband about and makes him do everything. She said she had a headache and she never rose today, she is taking out her piano and some of her furniture. Hugh's chin is quite better, and Matt's nose is all but. Aunt Jessie's cakes were well patronised and well praised too. Baby had an egg these two days and will do so as long as they last. Alan had had the toothache all the afternoon, he misses his Grandma's kind attention. Janet Lang gave them biscuits and gingerbread today.
Monday, October 25th, 1886. The ship has sailed 216 knots since yesterday, and we are now off Madeira. The minister had service on board yesterday from 10 to 11, and the ship's bell rung for 5 or 10 minutes, it sounded not unlike the Cardross church bell. The waves often come dashing over the side, and all who are near get drenched. Alan got his jersey all wet today, and I fell with Baby but none of us were hurt. I had a long talk with Russell, he is well acquainted with Willie Lamont, he has a brother an Elder to Crerar's church in Leith. There is to be a concert in the saloon tonight, and they were very anxious for me to sing, but I excused myself that I could not leave Baby. Maggie had a sore head tonight and did not take any tea. I often think of you all and wonder how you are getting on at home. Maggie wrote a letter to her Grandmama at Millig today, but it was torn up. We saw a sailing ship yesterday, but she did not come near us. The weather is very fine and it is very pleasant sailing over the bounding main. The Langs are all very well. Hugh does not like the sea, and wishes we were on "terra firma" again. There are a good many 1/- [one shilling] a month men among the crew working their passage to Melbourne, there is one fellow from Edinburgh, the name of Laurie, his father is an accountant, and he has a brother an Episcopal minister. He has been often out before, and can play the piano or do anything. He told me today he intended to settle in Sydney this time. There is another fellow Hume, from Leith, he is doing the same; they all make a great work with the children.
Tuesday night 26th October 1886. This has been a lovely day, the ship has been gliding very smoothly, and it has been very pleasant, but the Captain says there is not enough wind to please him. Janet Lang has been busy trimming my big hat with Turkey Red. There was a ship seen in the distance today. Maggie is better. I heard Matt telling Mr. Davie today, "My Grandpapa stays at Helensburgh." The concert was a great success last night I hear. The children had all their bare feet today.
Saturday, 29th October,1886. [sic 30th] Friday, yesterday, was Alan's birthday, and our steward made a plum duff to celebrate it. We have not been moving very fast for a day or two, only 150 miles for two days, and 116 today. We are to have a concert tomorrow night, to hold Halloween, and I have promised to sing. Mrs. Davie was at London finishing her education. It is at Girvan her father's farm is, and Mr. Davie belongs to Prestonpans. I was wrong when I wrote about them before. What a lovely sunset we had tonight, after a lovely day. Alan was saying today he would like to go to Millig. "Oh," says Matt, "I will ask Papa to take us back." Aunt Lang is looking very well and they are all very well. Baby has improved very much since I left home. Miss Speedy would like to help me to nurse her, but I hear the steerage is full of bugs and I am afraid to give her to her; I have nothing else to do anyway. The days are getting longer with us and they will be shortening at home. I wish Grandmama and Grandpapa could transport themselves here on a day like this, how they would enjoy it; I never enjoyed a day the least like this at home. The air is so pure and the ship is gliding along so smoothly. Maggie commenced to hem a handkerchief to her Papa today and the Captain and the Mate and Mr. Anderson, and I don't know who, all wants her to do it for them. You would laugh if you could hear Matt and Hugh talking about the (foxhole) forecastle head, and fore and aft hatch, the royals and staysails etc. They often play at wee ships and sing like the sailors drawing the ropes.
Wednesday 3rd November, 1886. I have been neglecting my writing, I cannot write when the ship rocks. I sang at the concert "O for the Bloom," and got great applause I would not give an encore, the concert was a great success. Alan, Maggie and Matt were at it. Miss Speedy kept Baby, and she cried all the time and never slept. The Captain says I am to put her into his bed the next time. We were all at service on Sunday but Maggie and Baby, she slept all the time, and Maggie watched her. The Minister was not able to officiate, so the Doctor and Mr. McEwat, a young grocer did it instead, and Mr. Wishart, one of the saloon passengers precented. He was a traveller for flour. The Minister is a Free Churchman from Ross Shire, he is very narrow minded indeed, and does not go in for the slightest amusement, he nor his wife appeared at the concert. They are going to New South Wales, he has got a call up the Clarence River. Nothing could be pleasanter than the voyage so far as we have gone. The Captain says it is far too fine, we went 130 knots today. We sighted the Cape Verde Islands yesterday, also a ship homeward bound, but we did not signal her. We expect to be to the Line by Tuesday. The children are all getting on first rate, the sailors bath them every morning in salt water, and what fun they get: I put Baby in the bathe every morning.
Monday 8th November 1886. I was at service yesterday, I took Maggie, Matt and Hugh, Alan kept Baby. Hugh sat very quiet. We had two very heavy showers yesterday, but it is hot as ever today. We are coming near the Line and the sailors are making great preparations for shaving, etc. Many times I think on all the friends at home, and picture them all out. Alan often speaks of his Aunts and Uncles at Millig, and wonders if the harvest is in and the potatoes dug. Aunt Lang and I were just saying the other day if you could just get a week of our weather. As I write, the children are all in bed. Janet Lang gave Maggie a fan and she is busy fanning herself in her bed. They call her a little flirt on the ship. Mrs. Davie has not been well for two days, the heat seems to be sore on her. I got out the hymn book last night, the young men are all good singers. We sung for three hours. The steward sent me in a fowl yesterday for the bairns, and he often sends pastry and puddings.
Tuesday 9th November. We sighted two ships today, the children are all very well.
Saturday, 13th November, 1886. A fine breezy day, we have gone 208 knots today, we crossed the Line on Thursday and had great fun with "King Neptune," and the shaving business. Matt and Hugh Lang were both shaved, then they have to swallow a big pill and are pitched head first into a big sail filled with water, and ducked three times. The children were all ducked first. We saw a steamer today but did not signal her. We are in Longitude 32 West, Lat. 3 South, so if you look on the map you will see where we are two days after crossing the Line.
Monday, 15th November, 1886. We have been tacking for fair winds yesterday and today. We are all very well, we sighted the Brazilian Coast yesterday after service. I had the children at service. Mr. McEwat conducted the service he did very well. Aunt Lang and the rest are all very well. I go to the saloon every day to ask for Aunt, and if I'm long of going, she sends Janet along here to see what has kept me. I am often wondering how you are all getting on at home, and the children often speak of Millig and Mollandhu, and their Grandmama.
Friday 19th November, 1886. The weather has been splendid for two or three days and the ship has gone along so smoothly the children are all in excellent health and spirits. We had a concert on Wednesday night, I sung two songs and Janet Lang sung "Once more Goodnight." We all enjoyed the concert very well especially the sailor's songs.The sailmaker is continually nursing Annie and she is fond of him, and he sings to her and carries her about.
Friday 26th November, 1886. The ship has been pitching a lot so I could not get writing, the children are all getting on first rate and wee Annie is thriving fine. The sailmaker was just saying today she is getting bigger. They are always so hungry I feel quite ashamed of them, but the Chief Steward is very kind and often sends in biscuits and pastry for them. Aunt Lang is very fine and is looking very well indeed. Mr. Russell had the children all round him today reading stories to them. Mr. McVicar has not been well, he has had an abcese on his leg, and he has not been up for a week. Montgomery is very attentative to him and makes poultices for him. I supply the cloths. The Doctor is not improving but the Minister is much better. We had sailed 300 knots today, and are in line with the Cape of Good Hope. There is an Albatross hovering overhead today.
Thursday 2nd December, 1886. It is not easy for me to get writing, but I try to get a line now and again. The children are all very well, as I write I hear wee Hugh on the forehatch singing "Mrs. Brown" to the sailors, they get great fun with Matt and Hugh. They are just getting spoiled, I have to keep the tawse in my pocket, and use them often too. We get our food well cooked, and I must say we have not much to complain of. On Saturday we had a big bird on board called a Molly-Hawk, it measured 7 ft. from tip to tip. Then on Monday we caught a shark, it was not a very big one, it only measured 7 ft. long. It was cut up and thrown overboard and its tail stuck up on the bow for luck, since then we have had fine fair winds. Anderson is taking his 4 hours watch on deck with the sailors, so is McIntyre and Jardine. The latter was at Larchfield with our James. Aunt Lang is quite cheery, and Janet, Matt and Hugh are all looking very well indeed, Matt is very much improved. The weather is as cold now as when we left home, and the children need on all their warm clothes.
Friday 10th December, 1886. We are about 200 miles past the Cape of Good Hope, and the ship is flying along at 12 knots an hour. We expect to be in Melbourne in about 3 or 4 weeks at this rate. We have all given up hope of being there before New Year's Day. The children have all the colds in their heads and are very bubbly, but otherwise they are very well indeed. Anderson and some of the others were on the booze yesterday, but they are all right today. They were holding wee Hugh's birthday, it made us feel a little uncomfortable. I was along at the saloon on Sunday night helping to sing hymns. Tha Captain came for me and told off one of the sailors to watch Baby, but she cried so much the sailor had to come for me. The steward sent along a lot of nuts, figs, raisins etc. to Hugh yesterday, and the Captain said if he had known in time he would have had a cake baked for him. He is very kind to me, and often sends shortbread etc., to the children. They are all getting fat, we often speak of Grandmama and Grandpapa and all the Uncles and Aunts, and we were just wondering today how Grandmama at Mollandhu is getting on, I do hope poor body she is about her usual. The passengers are all well acquainted with the Uncles and Aunts names now.
Wednesday 15th December, 1886. We have had fine winds since I last wrote but it is very cold, I hear Mr. Anderson shouting, "An iceberg away to windward," but I expect it is a joke. Mr Russell has Hugh in his bed with him singing "Mrs. Brown" and what fun the rest of the young men are getting with him. Annie is very cross with her tooth. I had a long walk on deck with Aunt Lang last night and she is very well. We are all busy preparing homemade Christmas cards. There is to be a letter box and postman and we are to have buns and hens and roast mutton. There are only 2 sheep, 2 pigs and 20 hens left but we expect to be landed in about three weeks.
17 January, 1887
(after arrival in Australia)



My Dear Mama,
I have tried to make what I wrote in the ship as legible as I can, and you will have an idea how well I got on. Hugh did not arrive at Yarra bank until the Friday after we landed. He only got word of our arrival about 8 o'clock that (Friday) morning, and James Lang was on a visit to Alex and him that day. It was a little unfortunate, but you see they did not expect us in so soon. The Loch Bennoch [Loch Rannoch ?] only arrived two days before us, and James thought sure we would not be in for three weeks. However we were all out at Yarra Bank lying on shake downs, and Aunt Lang was so glad to have us all for two or three days. We came out to Colac on Monday 10th and stayed a night in an hotel for we could not get our luggage til next day. Then we came out in a cart the next day and on top of the luggage, and my legs were sore sitting so long. It is ten miles out to here from the town, we are at the foot of Warrion Hill. We are sleeping in the woolshed till the house is ready. They are building a nice little weatherboard house for us. I thought Hugh very thin and careworn-like, I scarcely knew him, he is more than two stones [28 lbs] lighter since he left home, he has been working very hard, and the heat is sore on one. Alex has bought a farm about two miles from us, and Hugh and him were living in a hut together. Alex has not got his house up yet either. James Lang advised Hugh to take this place, so he has only a four year's lease, and he will see how it will do. He intends to get some cows and make butter. The grass is very rich, and you get 2/- and 2/6 for butter in Melbourne in winter. He intends to crop a little too. We have a splendid view, and it does look like splendid country. He has some of James Lang's cows up to fatten off, every paddock is well watered, which is a great boon in this country. It was a big station, belonged to a Mr. Robertson, and he fenced it off into small farms, and has sold and let some.
January 18th, 1887. I had to stop last night and I will finish today. Hugh has been away since morning at Alex's place helping him. Alan and Maggie are at school, so the three youngest and I have been alone all day. I have been very busy washing for three or four days. You see I had such a lot of dirty clothes I had to wash them by instalments, and boil them in a pot outside. I have not seen women since I came here and very few men. The Joiner who is putting up the house seems a decent sort of man, and he is never far away or I would feel very lonely in this strange place. The School is about two miles from here, and when Hugh went with them the teacher was very glad to see them. There is only about 30 at the School and it is a male teacher. As I write it is pouring and they have neither cloaks or umbrellas. I thought that we were to have neither rain nor cold here, but I can tell you it is very cold at night. Of course we are sleeping in a great draughty shed, but Hugh says this is the best watered part of Australia and first-rate for grazing cattle. It is all wood we burn and it is lying all about us. It was very hot the first two or three days at Yarra Bank, and Aunt Lang felt it a good deal, but the children and I stood it better than I expected. We are about 12 or 14 miles from McIntyres and Slaters, but that is counting nothing here as everybody rides. Alex was saying Mrs. Slater was angry with Hugh for not taking us there the first night, but I did not like to go with so many children. Everybody says this is a fine healthy part. I hope we all keep well as it would not be easy to get a Doctor. The poor Doctor is dead who came out with us on the Loch Long, he only lived a week after landing. No, Dear Mama you must not expect me to write often as I am very busy, and it is so far from the Post Office, but I will try and write to you as often as ever I can. I do hope Papa and you and all at Millig are keeping well. Tell Jessie and Joanna I was so glad to get their letters the Saturday after I landed, also one from Agnes. I am writing Mrs. McIntyre a few lines. Hugh will write the girls whenever he gets time. Matt says "Send Grandma a kiss from me" I will make Maggie and Alan write when we get into the house. I think we will be very comfortable in it, we are to have four rooms and a kitchen. I was glad to hear Jessie and James were well at the Bryans and liking their new house. Now you are to write to me yourself and so are the girls and boys too and Papa too. I must stop with dearest love to you and Papa and all the girls and boys.

From your affectionate daughter,

A list of passengers for this voyage may be found on the Unassisted Shipping Index at the Victorian Public Records Office


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