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Illustrated London News - extracts

Contents: (some pictures may not be original to the articles, and are only used to illustrate)

Emigrants on Their Way to The Place of Embarkation - December 21st, 1844

Since April this year, emigration has been progressively going on, not only to the South Seas, but also to the Canadas, and vast numbers of persons have availed themselves of the Government grant to quit their native shores for the purpose of seeking a better subsistence in the land of the stranger; and when we look at the existing condition of a considerable portion of our agricultural and manufacturing population, it excites but little wonder that a feverish restlessness should arise for change, though, unfortunately, it but too frequently happens, that a removal from one locality causes very trifling improvement, if any at all, in another. Like disease, we may change the place of our abode, but still keep the pain.

By a vote of the House of Commons a large sum was appropriated to enable families, and single men and women, to emigrate, free of expense — the men to consist of agricultural labourers, shepherds, bricklayers, and masons, wheelwrights, smiths, carpenters, &c.; and the single women and single men not to be less than eighteen years of age, and under thirty. A form of application is sent up to the agents, stating the place to which the applicant wishes to emigrate, their name written by themselves (if they can write), whether in the receipt of parish relief, and if so, for how long, their present place of residence, and other minor particulars, together with the trade or calling of each, age at the last birthday, and certificate of baptism. The applicants are likewise required to make a declaration that they have read the regulations for the selection of emigrants; have neither by themselves nor any other person paid, or authorised to be paid, any sum of money beyond the Government bounty, excepting £1 for bedding, box, and utensils, and they must pledge themselves to conform to the rules for the management and welfare of all on board, and not leave the ship until she reaches her destination. With these documents must be forwarded certificates, signed by two respectable householders, not being publicans or dealers in beer or spirits (why this latter exclusion should be made, we really cannot see), that they have known the applicants (for the time mentioned), working at their occupation, and that they believe them to be honest, industrious, sober, of general good character, and not likely to become a burden to the Colony. The next requisites are the certificates of a physician or a surgeon as to bodily health; of a magistrate, Protestant Clergyman, or Catholic Priest, that the signatures to the other certificates are genuine. These forms are invariably used in cases of unmarried men and women, and those for married people with families are much the same, except that the plural is used instead of the singular.

It has been generally supposed that the free emigrants are all paupers, glad to escape from the thraldom and confinement of a union workhouse; but this is a great mistake. There may be, and no doubt are, many of this character, but the chief portion are cottagers, most of whom have never received parish relief—families struggling with numerous difficulties to gain a precarious livelihood, and enduring severe privations and hardships in the inclement season of winter; and some few are persons who have been better off in the world, but, reduced by unforeseen events, are desirous of speculating with their little remnant of property, under a hope of retrieving their circumstances, and amongst these may be found individuals whose wounded pride cannot bear the thoughts of their old associates and friends witnessing their descent to poverty.

The general age of married men and women who wish to take advantage of the grant must be under forty at the time of embarkation, and parents who are still hale and capable of work, between forty and fifty years old, with grown-up children, are taken, provided some of the latter are above ten years of age, according to the following proportions:
If the age of the father or mother, or both, be above 40 and under 42 they must have 1 child above 10;
Between the age of 42 and 44 2 children above 10 years
Between the age of 44 and 46 3 children above 10 years
Between the age of 46 and 48 4 children above 10 years
Between the age of 48 and 50 5 children above 10 years
..and there have been, even at this latter period of life, many who have braved the perils of the ocean— “Hope and enterprise filling the sails with their eager breath” in order to locate themselves in an Eldorado of the imagination—unmindful of “Home, sweet Home,” amidst the soil that is sanctified by the ashes of their forefathers; and, let the descendants be in what part of the habitable globe they may, they will still look towards England, and give no other place the name of Home. It is no difficult matter to quit the land of our nativity; but whilst the pulses of existence continue to throb in the human frame, the link, which binds us to the spot where our eyes first opened to the light of Heaven, as we hung upon the bosom of a mother, can never be broken. We have known settlers in various parts of the world who have been residents there thirty, ay, even forty years, and though on the verge of eternity, still their hearts best, dearest affections have been bound up with England, Ireland, or Scotland, and they have longed to lay their perishing remains by the side of kindred dust.

Beside the free emigrants are what are denominated steerage passengers — that is, those who pay for their voyage out according to a fixed scale, and generally consist of young men willing to push their fortunes, or having colonial appointments—eccentric talent and genius, longing to rifle the treasures of a new world—cautious speculators in human wants and human miseries—debtors who have lived too freely in England, and consequently wish to cut the acquaintance of their creditors wish a long list of etceteras. Some have prospered exceedingly; more have returned back, much worse than they set out, whilst in numerical superiority the greater past lie buried in the silent grave.

Yet all this is going on apparently without exciting the slightest observation from those who remain behind. Thousands quit the rural villages of this country to embark for far distant lands, and yet but little notice is taken of it. The political quack doctors of the times assert, that as phlebotomy is necessary to allow of an unrestrained action of the heart, so is running off the blood of kindred requisite to preserve a healthy state of society otherwise, as the veins get clogged with the over-flux of the stream of life, so is a superabundant population calculated to produce an unnatural and diseased condition amongst the community in general. It, perhaps, would be well if these empirics, with those who manufacture the nostrums, were shipped in bulk to experience the effects of their own prescriptions.

It has hitherto proved manifest that emigrants have not been lacking. Hundreds go out every month, and, from what we have seen of the men, women, and children, they are certainly some of the finest specimens of the sons and daughters of Old England. We had frequently remarked this on former occasions, whilst witnessing their embarkation, and last week we had an opportunity of seeing an intermediate stage, between their acceptance as emigrants and departure from the endearing haunts of childhood, and the arrival at the depot near the Royal Dockyard at Deptford—which, to do the agents justice, is fitted up very comfortably for their reception. There were two covered or tilted farmer’s hay-wagons—on the way to the seaportone from a parish in Buckinghamshire, and the other (we believe) from the neighbourhood of Northampton; they had joined company on the road. The women and children, with but few exceptions, occupied the conveyances, which were loaded with packages, bundles, and boxes; a few of the more elderly females walked on the pathway by the side of their husbands and sons; the younger men trudging it with seeming glee, and carrying various articles we conjecture for immediate use. It was indeed a most picturesque spectacle, and well worthy the pencil of the artist. The leafless trees and hedges—the miry road, with long serpentine wheel tracks; the yellow wagons, with their inanimate and living freight, covered with light canvas; the women habited in blue or red cloaks; the men in their frocks blending in colour with the many hues of the bundles; and, above all, the object of their journey was well calculated to excite human sympathy. Yet no one appeared sad or sorrowful—on the contrary, all seemed to be cheerful; and their clean and decent appearance bore witness to the propriety of their general habits: the whole looked remarkably healthy, especially the children.
By this time they are on their way to other regions: may prosperity and happiness attend them.

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Emigration story July 29th, 1848

About a year ago we dined on board a large vessel in St. Katherine’s Docks, which had been chartered to carry out emigrants to America. It was a few days before the ship was announced to sail. The owner was a worthy gentleman and the party who had hired the ship were needy adventurers, whose references blinded all inquiries, and who were only found out when interference was of no legal avail. For days, hired vagabonds had been touting at every wharf and public house in the neighbourhood; and the call, although not so openly made as that of an omnibus conductor, only varied inasmuch as “America” was substituted for “Charing Cross” or “Paddington.” They took passengers for almost whatever they could get, paying no regard as to whether or not they had stores to last the voyage, or would starve before they were halfway across the Atlantic. It was a sorry sight, and the law had no power beyond that of making a few arrangements that would contribute to the comforts of the poor passengers.

We went down into the hold, which was fitted up with berths, if such a name may be given to the tiers of un-planed deal boards, which resembled large hen-coops piled one above another; and stretched on mattresses upon these wooden gridirons we saw many of the emigrants, waiting wearily for the appointed hour that was fixed for sailing. It made the heart sicken to picture that hold, when out at sea with the hatches battened down, and the vessel driving through a storm. There were little children running about, and playing at hide and seek amongst the bales and casks – fair-haired, red-cheeked, blue-eyed beauties, whose sunburned arms and necks told that they below deckshad had the run of the open village green; and such we found had been the case when we enquired. Both father and mother were fine specimens of our English peasantry; the grandfather and grandmother were also there. They had fixed up, in the hold, the very clock which had for years ticked in the old familiar cottage, and brought a few choice flowers in pots which they hoped to plant about their new home in a foreign land. An antique oak table, which had been in the family for many generations, was also doomed to bear them company on the long voyage. The old grandfather, whose countenance would have enraptured an artist, sat in a deep Rembrandt-like shadow at one corner of the hold, with the family Bible opened on his knee. They appeared to be well provided for the voyage, and were full of heart and hope.

A wretched-looking Irish family occupied another corner. All seemed to regard this miserable group with an eye of suspicion more than of pity, for it was whispered that a few biscuits and a little oatmeal was all the provision they had made for the voyage. The captain, however, who had had some experience, considered that they were amply provided, and he had made the strictest inquiry of them. A bag of coarse bread, which had been cut into slices and then browned in the oven, had that morning, he said, been sent on board to assist them - it was the gift of a few poor Irish people who lived in the borough of Southwark. This bread, he said, with a little suet, made excellent puddings; and he promised that they should not lack the latter ingredient. As he said, “We never yet allowed one to starve; but this is a queer lot.”

If we remember rightly, the number of passengers was not sufficient to call for the interference of the Emigration Commissioners. The ship had been chartered to carry a cargo, a part of which, from some cause or other, was withheld, so the speculators endeavoured to make up the loss by passengers. Our attention was too much engrossed in conversation with those who were about to quit their native country, it might be, for ever, to enter fully into the legal matters, although we believe the number at last became sufficient to call for this interference.

To our feelings, there was something very revolting in married and single, young and old, being thus placed together in the hold of the ship,in steerage which was never intended for the accommodation of passengers; and we think that Government might be worse employed than in applying a remedy to these evils. We fear that many who leave our shores with refined and delicate feelings, who, however humble may be their station in life, are gifted with that innate feeling of modesty which in no country has more natural growth that in our own - that many such are doomed to quit England, through circumstances over which they have no control, and land as great losers.

A voyage to America in the hold of a vessel, fitted up temporarily as we have described, is a scene not likely to fall under the eye of a popular author; it can only be sketched by getting the information from some poor unfortunate fellow who has been bumped and thumped against those huge beams which run inside the berths, and rolled about like a barrel, and has been a lucky enough to outlive all such pitching and tossing. A state cabin, in the roughest gale, must be a palace compared with such a place in a moderate calm, and a common steerage, rendered as comfortable as circumstances will permit, a perfect Elysium. Picture those who have never, in all their lives, encountered a stronger gale than needed a safe hand to keep on the hat, turning all sorts of imaginable somersaults - and who never heard any noise louder over their heads than when some relative fell down drunk upon the chamber floor at feast-time, first listening to the tramp, and thunder, and hurly-burly on deck, when the ship is struck by a heavy sea, and every timber groans again in its deep agony. No regular steward to assist - no servant to attend – berth moaning to berth - child squealing against child - one praying here, another cursing there - the hold all but dark, and, where a glimmering of light is seen, the sea rushing in like a cataract - and, over all, the wind howling like a raging demon, and every wave knocking at the ship’s side, and demanding admittance; and, if such is not a picture of a certain nameless place upon earth, it would convey no bad idea of one of upon the sea.

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The Missing Pacific - March 1st 1856

March 1, 1856

The anaxiety felt for the steam-ship Pacific has become intense. At the date of our last advices from New York, she had been out twenty-two days. It is thought that she may, perhaps, have been detained by ice. If so there is no cause for serious alarm. The United States propeller Arctic is supplied with abundant provisions and stores for the support in comfort of a hundred persons for a two months voyage. Spars, sails, and other rigging is supplied to refit any ship that may have lost theirs by the storms. There are also on board a large quantity of blue lights, Congreve rockets and the like, to signal vessels in distress. The Arctic was to sail for the Grand Banks, and stand on and off the usual course of vessels sailing for New York- hailing every vessel for information of the missing steamer.

March 8, 1856

The Persia steamer which left New York on the 20th ult. arrived at Liverpool on Sunday last. Up to the time of her departure nothing had been heard of the Pacific. The steamer which went in search of her had not returned.

March 15, 1856

The royal mail-steamer Canada, which left Boston on the 27th ult., arrived at Liverpool, no tidings of the Pacific had been received.

March 15, also,

The steamer Alabama, which was sent out on the 9th inst. in search of the 'Pacific', returned to port on Sunday morning, having been absent about two weeks. She brings no tidings of the lost vessel. The Alabama proceeded as far as Cape Race, where she met with large fields of ice, which prevented her further progress. She took a zigzag course, following the usual track of the Collins steamers; sailed round Sable Island, thence to Cape Race, and, returning, put into Halifax, from which port she sailed on Thursday morning last. She spoke to some thirty vessels during the cruise, none of which could she gather any news relative to the 'Pacific' . Before reaching Cape Race the Alabama ran for about eight hours through a field of ice, which is described as presenting a very beautiful and singular appearance. The ice was broken up in small and mostly circular pieces, from one to two feet in diameter, and, being encircled by a rime of snow, they presented the appearance of myriads of plates spread out for a grand banquet in honor of Neptune. On reaching Cape Race, however, the ice gradually grew more compact until it became almost impassable. It is thought by some that the 'Pacific', in attempting to force her way through one of these fields of ice, may have broke down and still remains fast in the ice. If this be the case, the government ship Arctic, which is now in search of her, and which was built for an ice- boat, will probably be able to search her out. The Alabama could make but little headway where the ice was compact, and she tore a large portion of the copper from her bottom in the slight attempts she did make. As the Arctic left Halifax for Cape Race on the evening of the 21st inst., she has doubtless, ere this, traversed a large portion of the ice fields in that vicinity, and may perhaps have succeeded in finding and relieving the 'Pacific'. (New York Herald, Feb.26.)

March 22, 1856

The mail steam-ship Asia, which left New York on the 5th inst., arrived at Liverpool on Tuesday. No intelligence of the 'Pacific' has been received.

March 29, 1856

The Royal mail steam-ship, America, which left New York on the 11th inst., did not arrive at Liverpool till midnight on Thursday week, several days after usual time. The America reports nothing of the missing steamer 'Pacific'.

April 5, 1856

The Royal mail-steam-ship Africa which left New York on the 19th ult. arrived at Liverpool on Monday. Nothing had been heard of the 'Pacific". Captain Hartstein, who some weeks ago obtained permission from the American government to go out in the Arctic in search, made a short cruise over a certain district of the sea, and, touching at Halifax for a larger supply of coal, pushed his way into the region where he thought it most probable the 'Pacific' might be found. He was amply furnished with all the means he required, and his experiences in the Polar regions had especially qualified him for this cruise. His ship was built for such service. Rigged as a brig, he said before he started that he could remain at sea at least two months, and still retain a stock of coal to bring him to the coast after the search was over.

April 5, 1856

A letter received at Lloyd's on Thursday, from their agent in Figueira, dated 24th of March, says:- The Skipwith, arrived here from Newfoundland, fell in with ice to the distance of 200 hundred miles from land, and saw the lights of a steamer in the ice. The Skipwith left St. John's Newfoundland, 13th February.

May 3, 1856

Advices have been received at Lloyd's under date New York, April 12, that, on the 8th instant, the Alliance, Captain Cole, when in lat. 37. lon. 72, fell in with some floating pieces of wreck, amoungst which was the top part of a steam-vessel's paddle-box, of a large size, similar to the 'Pacific's. It was painted black, except in one part, where a new board had been put in: and it is suspected that this is part of what remains of the missing vessel. A strong gale prevented Captain Cole from securing the paddle-box. (Louis de Furia)

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The Red Jacket - October 17th, 1857

October 17, 1857

The Red Jacket arrived at Liverpool on Tuesday from Australia, with 126 passengers, nearly 100,000 ounces of gold, 500 bales of wool, a quantity of tallow, hides, colonial wines, etc.

September 18, 1858

Mr. James Lord, of Liverpool, late a partner of a firm of timber merchants there, and part owner of the Red Jacket and other vessels, was killed by a railway accident on the 24th in Canada.

December 3, 1859

The White Star clipper, Red Jacket, Captain Kirkby, arrived in the Mersey on Tuesday from Australia, with 40,000 ounces of gold. She left Melbourne on the 10th of Sept., and the Pemanbuco on the 3rd of November.

March 2, 1867

Miss Rye has received official notice of the arrival at Melbourne of the ship Red Jacket. The ship was reported clean and in good order thoughout. The young people landed in good health and expressed themselves satisified with the treatment they received during the voyage. (Louis de Furia)

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Two Circassian ships

August 29, 1857

The steamship Circassian arrived at Liverpool from St John's Newfoundland, on Saturday last. She left that port on the 14th inst., completing the voyage in seven days, twenty-two hours. [Note: this was the North Atlantic Steam Navigation Co. vessel]

July 12, 1862

The judgement against the British steamer Circassian declares that papers were found on board giving conclusive proof of an intention to run the blockade.[Note: this was the North Atlantic Steam Navigation Co. vessel]

May 15, 1880

The Circassian left Liverpool for Quebec with 950 passengers. (Louis de Furia) [Note: this vessel was owned by the Allan Line]

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Search for Stowaways - July 6th 1860

The Search for Stowaways search for stowaways
The practice of 'stowing away', or hiding about a vessel until after the passage tickets have been collected, in order to procure, by this fraudulent means, a free passage across the Atlantic, is stated to be very common to ships leaving London and Liverpool for the United States. The Stowaways' are sometimes brought onboard concealed in trunks or chests, with air-holes to prevent suffocation. Sometimes they are brought in barrels, packed up to their chins in salt, or biscuits, or other provisions, to the imminent hazard of their lives. At other times they take the chance of hiding about the ship, under the bedding, amid the confused luggage of other passengers, and in all sorts of dark nooks and corners between decks. Hence, it becoming expedient to make a thorough search of the vessel before the steam-tug has left her, in order that, if any of these unhappy intruders be discovered, they may be taken back to port and brought before the Magistrate, to be punished for the fraud which they have attempted. As many as a dozen stowaways have sometimes been discovered in one ship; and cases have occurred, though not frequently, of men, women, and young boys, having been taken dead out of the barrels or chests in which they had concealed themselves, to avoid payment of 3 Pounds or 4 Pounds passage money. When the ship is fairly out, the search for stowaways is ordered. All the passengers are summoned upon the Quarter-Deck, and there detained until the search has been completed in every part of the ship. The Captain, Mate, or other Officer, attended by the clerk of the passenger broker, and as many of the crew as may be necessary for the purpose, then proceed below, bearing masked lanterns or candles, and armed with long poles, hammers, chisels, etc, that they may break open suspicious looking chests and barrels. Occasionally, the pole is said to be tipped with a sharp nail, to aid the process of discovery in dark nooks; and sometimes the man armed with the hammer hammers the bed-clothes, in order that if there be a concealed head underneath, the owner may make the fact known, and thus avoid a repetition of the blows. If a stowaway be concealed in a barrel, it is to be presumed that he has been placed with his head uppermost, and the searchers, upon this hint, whenever they have a suspicion, deliberately proceed to turn the barrel bottom upwards,- a process which never fails, after a short time, if the suspicion be well founded, to elicit an unmistakable cry for release. Although this search is invariably made with the upmost care, it is not always effectual in discovering the delinquent; and instances have occurred in which no less than eight, ten, or even a larger number, including both men and women, have made their appearance after the vessel has been two or three days at sea. Some captains used to make it a rule to behave with great severity, if not cruelty, to these unfortunates; and instances are related of their having caused them to be tarred and feathered, or to walk the decks through the cold nights with nothing on but their shirts: but this inhumanity does not now appear to be practised. As there is a great deal of dirty work that must be done on ship-board, the stowaways are pressed into that service, and compelled to make themselves useful, if not agreeable. They are forced, in fact, to work their passage out, and the most unpleasant jobs are imposed upon them. After the search for them in every corner of the ship, the next ceremony is commenced.

This is one that occupies a considerable space of time, especially in a large ship, containing seven or eight hundred emigrants. The passengers-those in the state cabin excepted-being all assembled upon the Quarter-Deck, the clerk of the passenger-broker, accompanied by the ship's surgeon, and aided in the preservation of order by the crew, proceeds to call for the tickets. roll callThe clerk, or man in authority, usually stands upon the rail, or other convenient elevation on the Quarter-Deck, so that he may be enabled to see over the heads of the whole assemblage-usually a very motley one-comprising people of all ages, from seven weeks to seventy years. A double purpose is answered by the roll-call-the verification of the passenger-list, and the medical inspection of the emigrants, on behalf of the captain and owners. The previous inspection on the part of the governor was to prevent the risk of contagious disease on board. The inspection on the part of the owners is for a different object. The ship has to pay a poll-tax of one dollar and a half per passenger to the State of New York; and if any of the poor emigrants are helpless and deformed persons, the owners are fined in the sum of seventy five dollars for bringing them, and are compelled to enter in a bond to the city of New York that they will not become a burden on the public. To obviate this risk, the medical officer of the ship passes them under inspection; and if there be a pauper cripple among the number who cannot give security that he has friends in America to take charge of him of arrival, and provide for him afterwards, the Captain may refuse to take him. The business of verification and inspection generally occupies from two to four hours, according to the number of emigrants on board; and, during its progress, some noteworthy incidents occasionally arise. Sometimes an Irishman, with a wife and eight or ten children, who may have only paid a deposit of his passage-money, attempts to evade the payment of the balance, by pleading that he has not a farthing left in the world; and trusting that the ship will rather take him out to New York for the sum already paid, than incur the trouble of putting him on shore again with his family. Sometimes a woman may have included in her passage-ticket an infant at the breast, and may be seen, when her name is called, panting under the weight of a boy of eight or nine years of age, whom she is holding to her bosom as if he were really a suckling. Sometimes a youth of nineteen, strong and big as a man, has been entered as under twelve, in order to get across to America for half the fare of an adult; and sometimes a whole family are without any tickets, and have come on board in the hope that, amid the confusion which they imagine will be attendant upon the congregation of so many hundred people on a ship, they may manage to evade notice, and slip down unperceived amid those whose documents are found 'en regle'.

These cases, as they occur, are placed on one side; and those who have duly paid their passage money, and produced their tickets, are allowed to pass down and take possession of their berths. Those who have not paid, either in whole or in part, and are either unable or unwilling to satisfy the claim against them, are then transferred on board the tug, with bag and baggage, to be reconveyed to port. Those who have money, and have attempted a fraud, generally contrive, after many lamentations about their extreme poverty, to produce the necessary funds, which, in the shape of golden sovereigns are not unfrequently found to be safely stitched amid the rags of petticoats, coats, and unmentionable garments. Those who have really no money, and who cannot manage to appeal to the sympathy of the crowd for a small subscription to help them to the New World, must resign themselves to their fate, and remain in the poverty from which they seek to free themselves, until they are able to raise the small sum necessary for their emancipation. The stowaways, if any, are ordered to be taken before the magistrates; and all strangers and interlopers being safely placed in the tug, the emigrant ship is left to herself. May all prosperity attend her living freight!

'Far away-oh far away-
We seek a world o'er the ocean spray!
We seek a land across the sea,
Where bread is plenty and men are free,
The sails are set, the breezes swell-
England, our country, farewell! farewell!

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Loss of the Vesper - September 13th, 1873

The official report of the Board of Trade inquires into the loss of the brigantine Vesper has been issued. There appears to the Court to have been no sufficient cause for the master abandoning the ship, and that his having done so led to this sad loss of life. They are, therefore, of the opinion that his conduct merits the severe censure of the Court, and, had he held a certificate as master, they would have considered it necessary to have suspended it for six months. The Court considers that the owners, Messrs. Quinn, are indirectly responsible for the loss of life, inasmuch as the vessel was sent to sea with an insufficient crew. The owners are therefore ordered to pay £15 towards the cost of the inquiry. (Louis de Furia)

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