An extract from the diary of Alfred Withers in 1857, broadcast on Anne's Rock Show, Monday 23rd October 2017 on EGH Radio.
Tonight we have another extract from the diary of Mr Alfred Withers who sailed to Australia in 1857 aboard the ship the James Baines. He is waiting at the quayside to load their luggage into a steamer which would take them to the ship, moored about a mile up river. Many of the items may seem odd for passengers to be taking with them, but in those days the cabins were largely unfurnished. The company names mentioned in the extract may also be familiar to some. Heal & Son was founded in London in 1810. However, Pickfords it is alleged can trace its origins back to ‘gun running’ 1646.
The immense quantity of luggage, pyramids of boxes, cases and chests, the indescribable quantity of beds and bedding that one would think that Heal & Son had been completely cleared out. Water cans, pannekins, stovepots, baths – enough to open a Warehouse in the Tin Ware line.
(Many thanks to local historian Jim Herbert of Berwick Time Lines for playing the role of Mr Withers so brilliantly!)
Whilst these are passengers of choice on their way to a new life in Australia, it should be remembered that many made the voyage at her majesties pleasure. Furthermore, before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775, Britain dumped its criminal detritus on the shores of America. It is estimated that some 50,000 Englishmen were sentenced to transportation to the American colonies between 1614 and 1775. Many of their names can be found in Peter Wilson Coldham’s ‘The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage’ of which I have a copy. Whilst I am delighted to report there is not a single Mossman amongst them, there are a significant number of Lamberts.