Trove Tuesday – Samuel Plimsoll (ship) 1878 illustrated sketches

23 January 2018

Elizabeth Price is on the left, her husband Thomas is on the right and the woman in the middle is unknown I would love to know who she was!

Elizabeth Price is on the left, her husband Thomas is on the right and the woman in the middle is unknown I would love to know who she was!

My great grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived in Sydney on the Samuel Plimsoll in 1878.  As a newly married couple from West Bromwich in Staffordshire, they were embarking on the adventure of their lives in a new land. They had ten children in various parts of New South Wales and Queensland, finally settling in Charters Towers.

Years, more like decades ago, I found a report of the arrival of the Samuel Plimsoll in a Sydney newspaper on microfilm at the State Library of Queensland where I worked at the time. For this Trove Tuesday post I decided to have a look and see what else I could find as there are a number of Sydney newspapers now digitised.

Samuel Plimsoll sketches 1878 via Trove

Samuel Plimsoll sketches 1878 via Trove

For something different, I used the illustrated filter and was totally excited to find seven sketches related to the 1878 voyage that Thomas and Elizabeth Price were on. The sketches were published in the the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser on 10 August 1878. There are people standing at the rail, babies in cots, people seated in the dining room and listening to someone on the deck, possibly a church service. Plus a sketch of the Samuel Plimsoll.

There are lots of photos of the ship but this is the first time I have seen sketches of life on board. So exciting.

Nearly two weeks earlier the Sydney Morning Herald published on 29 July 1878 a complete report  which tells me a little bit more about what the voyage was like:

The fine iron ship Samuel Plimsoll, Captain Bowden, arrived yesterday morning from London, via Plymouth.  She has, as usual, made an excellent passage, although the weather has not been of the most genial character.  However, she has come safe to port, and her immigrants, of whom there are 436, speak in glowing terms of the great kindness and attention they have received during a most pleasant passage.  The vessel is scrupulously clean, and marks the excellent manner in which the discipline on board is carried out.  The passengers have been so well pleased with their treatment that they have presented Captain Bowden with a testimonial, expressive of their appreciation of her endeavours to render the voyage as easy as possible.  Captain Bowden is also anxious to state that a more orderly number of emigrants were never under his charge, and he has had some experience in this immediate branch.  The classification is as follows – 67 married couples, 113 single men, 103 single women, and 106 children.  There have been five deaths during the passage – two being adults, and there have also been three births.  Dr. Smith is the surgeon in charge, with Miss Kent as matron, and nothing has transpired during the voyage to interfere with a most pleasant trip.  The Samuel Plimsoll left Plymouth on the 3rd May, clearing the Channel on the 4th, with strong westerly winds, and she was 13 days making the latitude of Madeira.  The NE trades were particularly shy, and the Equator was not crossed until the 4th June, in longitude 26° 30′ W.  The SE trades proved also very bad, and were lost in latitude 18° S. and from thence she had a long stretch of light weather to Tristan D’Achuna on the 23rd June.  The meridian of the Cape of Good Hope was crossed on the 28th June, and she ran down her easting on a mean parallel of 40° S., with the winds prevailing from NW to SW.  Cape Otway was passed on the 23rd July; and squally weather from the NW has been experienced on this coast.

Remember to look either side of an arrival date as it can take some time for a report to be published.

These sketches of the Samuel Plimsoll are a good representation of what life was like on board during the voyage. Of course this discovery now means that I will have to go back and look at all of my other ship arrivals. But that is the ongoing beauty of Trove, there is always something new to discover. Happy Trove Tuesday.

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  1. Great to find this as my ancestors The Brooking family were also on this ship.
    Consisted of parents , two married sons and wives , three sons and several grandchildren.
    They would make a new life in NSW

  2. Hi Shauna, I just stumbled across this post and it’s really informative. My great grandparents – Michael Shiel and Mary Tobin – were on this voyage. They had only just been married in Ireland in the February and then made the trip to Sydney as 27 and 19 year olds. You’ve reminded me to return to Trove for more surrounding information.

  3. Any info on John and catherine simms nee McGee newly weds on this voyage

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