Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Travel Tuesday - Farewell to Dear Old England

In tracing the lives of my ancestors I've had some interesting and educational "virtual" journeys.  
My one dream in life is to visit their homelands. Maybe one day ................
Meanwhile I love to read about their travels and as their stories are often long gone it's major a excitement to me when any written stories are found.   
They all came to Australia in the days when travel by sea was the only option and often a very uncomfortable and dangerous one at that.
The travel story below is one written by my 3rd Great Grand Uncle, Edward Hulme in his little book "A settlers 35 Years Experience in Victoria, Australia 1856-1891"


We did intend taking our passage in the new ship "Schomberg" just launched, owned by the "White Star Company". On enquiring at the London office, they informed me that I could send our goods on at Liverpool, but they would not be put on any ship until our passage money was paid, and that I could find them in the company warehouse at Liverpool, consequently, I sent the goods on. We could not however get ready to go by  the "Schomberg". On arrival at Liverpool, and enquiring for our luggage, I found it had been sent on in that vessel.

Now the fate of that fine new ship, I presume is generally known. The captain had a bet with the captain of the ship "Kent", a well known clipper, and declared "if he did not beat the "Kent" he would knock the "Schombergs" bows in". On hearing that the "Kent" had made the passage before him, the "Schomberg" was wilfully run on shore just a little way from Cape Otway. Luckily it was fair weather and the passengers and crew were taken off, but with only the luggage they could carry in their hands, there being only just standing room on board the rescuing steamboat. The "Schomberg" became a total wreck.

This I suppose, is one of the most wicked and shameful incidents that ever happened on the shores of Australia. We took our passage in the next ship, the good ship "SULTANA" from Liverpool, on the 2Ist October, I855.

I remember, as we weighed anchor, being some distance out in the stream, and out of hearing of any friendly cheer, a serious calm appeared to pervade the ship, all appeared absorbed with their own thoughts, when we found the ship was under way, more by the apparent moving of the receding shore, she being a sailing vessel. I dont know the feelings of the other passengers, possibly many were like our own, at departing from the good 'Old Land'. Hitherto, we had borne up well in parting from kindred and friends. We said 'Good Bye' in London, but now, in those few calm moments, seated upon the ships deck, with wife, six sons, and a baby girl around us, we felt the necessity of faith in that good Providence on Whom we had cast the future. Our feelings, however, would have vent in a few hot tears, but these had to be brushed quickly on one side.

I do not think it necessary in this little sketch to give a long account of our voyage, or the various incidents that happened. There was nothing very sensational, our worst experience was our first night out. The ship was so crowded that there were not berths enough, and, as we came late on board, ours had to be erected, so that we had to huddle down between decks, as best we could. The children being our great care, there was no rest for wife or self. We had fearful weather in the channel, and everything being loose on board, the din was fearful, the heavy iron cable on deck rolling from side to side, and the ships bell tolling at every roll of the ship, and the carpenters working all night fitting up berths, and the state of the can guess the confusion!

And what added to it more...just as we reached the most dangerous part of the channel, off the coast of Ireland, the tug-hawser parted but, when pulled on board, it evidently had been cut adrift with an axe, a most shameful act. The contract was to take us clear of the channel. this then made further trouble, as all hands had now to set to and work the ship, and there was great danger in working her out of the difficult position she was left in, and anxiously did all wait for the morning.

It may be imagined that the whole of the voyage was no pleasure trip for wife or self, in a crowded ship, and seven children (under I2 years of age) to look after. Neither do I think the children liked it, they were too young, and they did not thrive at all on the rough ships fare, particularly the hard ships biscuits...they could not manage them at all. After a time, though we got on better, I had a carpenters plane with my goods, and we shaved the biscuits down on that, and made it into puddings, and so managed to get rid of them in this way. The plane went the round of the ship after this, particularly among the old people. We had however, on arriving in Melbourne, an American cask full, unconsumed, these we took ashore with us, and they went fine in soups etc with good Australian beef at 3d a pound.

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