Jottings from a Sailor’s Life – The Journal of Alexander Kidd

In the year 1845, Nov. 11th, I was bound an apprentice for a term of 4 years and sailed in the Barque Anna Robertson of London from the Port of Leith with a cargo of coals for Alexandria in Egypt which we had loaded in St. Davids, a small place on the Fifeshire side of the Firth of Forth.


From a child I was fond of the sea and being close by was always playing on the sand by the sea shore and when the weather was suitable (and at times not very suitable either) splashing

among the water and swimming about whenever we got a chance.  A holiday from school was our opportunity and to get afloat in a boat was a great treat and hence I was being in a manner trained for a sea life.  My grandfather was a sailor and also his Son.  My uncle by the mother’s side at the time I started was Captain of a West Indian trader so I almost by right was intended for the sea. My mother put cold water on my attempts to get to sea but my determination was too strong. I insisted on going and also at the same time had formed a secret resolve to rise in the profession and become the commander of a fine ship some day.


I had been at times an unruly boy at school and at home and very often in trouble through an unsettled temper — however at sea I soon got that toned down.


So to sea I go. We weighed anchor and made sail and struck out from Leith Roads and down the Firth of Forth with a fine breeze and we parted with the pilot shortly after leaving and passed the Bass Rock with its swarms of sea birds spinning and whirling around us. Night coming on and the weather not very promising Captain Russell gave orders to shorten sail, top gallant sail first and the Chief Mate with a now then away aloft there boy and help the man to furl the sail. I got up but my help to the man was nil, I had enough to do to take care of myself. The man was more kind than the mate doing all himself while I hugged the yard thinking every minute I would be sent flying off the yard overboard. I had not got my sea legs on board and found it difficult to meet the quick motion of the ship in a heavy sea - it was not long ere that Topsail had to be reefed and the Yards being lowered and reef tacks hauled out.  Away aloft all of you came in hoarse tones from the Mate but the Captain, a little more human called the green Boy on the Poop and excused me another journey aloft.  By this time the sea had got high and washing about the deck and all hands feeling very uncomfortable and wet.  After about a fortnight of similar weather we got as far as the downs and anchored among a lot of other wind bound ships but our stay was short only one night but I felt thankful for the rest it gave us. The wind shifted and we got under weigh again with a fair wind which did not last long and the weather soon became worse than ever.  After beating about some days the weather got very bad the sea washing over all and the ship straining heavily she commenced to leak rather badly and gave plenty of work at the Pumps one night blowing a gale and the shop hove too under close reefed main top sail and fore top mast stay sail.  The Look Out (which was not a very well kept one Officer and all the watch below which should have been on deck.)  One man went on deck at times to take a look at the compass and around and came down again to report to the Mate who was reading at the Cabin Table, the Captain asleep at the time in his cabin.  On one of his visits to the deck the Lookout man returned in a hurry and told the Mate that lights were visible and not far off. The Mate jumped up sent all watch hands on deck and then called the Captain who immediately gave orders to call all hands to make sail. They were a crew of good sailors and were promptly at their stations and the Captain coolly got a heavy press of canvas on the ship making her fly through the water and smothering her with seas. I thought the masts and sails would all go out of the ship. I heard the Captain express anxiety and wishing the wind would haul a point or two which I believe it did or our chances had been very slight.  Indeed we had drifted in the Gale and got in bayed in about the Easkets near the French coast and all this through a bad watch and look out.  A good officer would have seen the lights in time to have wore ship in safety.  After clearing the danger and getting off shore with room to drift sail was shortened and the ship hove too again and ropes coiled up.  Orders were given to man the Pumps.  After working for a long time at them it was discovered we had sprung a leak the thrashing her off the Lee shore had shaking her so much by opening her at the Bows 24 hours pumping and no reduction of the water the sailors refused to pump any more unless the Captain would promise to make for a Harbour to repair. After considerable altercation and threats the Captain was obliged to succumb and promise to make for a harbour. We stood in for the English shore and as we neared the land the weather became fine and we took a fisherman on board for the purpose of going into Torbay but shortly after a proper branch Pilot for Dartmouth came on board who persuaded the Captain to go into Dartmouth as a more secure harbour and better place to effect repairs.  In approaching this place it looks as if you were running into the cliffs and going close to some rocks you make a short turn and open the mouth of the harbour or Dart river.  We were hailed from an old castle as to who and what we were by a man which I suppose to have been a coast Guardsman and running up about a mile moored with two anchors in a snug place in the middle of the river opposite the quaint old town.  After surveying and taken the usual steps in such cases repairs were proceeded with.  A lot caulkers carpenters and other tradesmen came on board to work and the crew were kept mending sails working at the rigging etc. and at the same time confined to the ship and not allowed to go on shore.


The communication with the shore was kept up by the Captain’s Gig, Carr the other and oldest apprentice and I being the crew (or rowers) so Jack was supposed to be pinned secure on board but where there’s a will there is a way.  The example to break through restraint was given by the Second Mate who was the Owner’s son and who decamped overnight leaving a note explaining to the Captain but he caught him soon and cleverly in Totnes the same night and brought him back again when I fancy he persuaded him not to attempt such a trick.  After this the Captain always took him ashore with him.  The Mate had to carry on all the work, the second was a young man and not much worth as a sailor.  So he was perhaps better out of the way, his mother’s family were living somewhere about the locality so he had a lot of invitations, the Captain also with him.


A County Ball was given in an hotel in Dartmouth, the incidents connected with which I will never forget.  We rowed the Captain and 2nd Mate ashore in the Gig about 7 o’clock to go to this Ball.  We were sent back to the ship with orders to return at Midnight to bring the Captain off to the ship again after the Ball broke up.  Previous to going on shore with the Captain and 2nd Mate some of the sailors persuaded us to help them to get on shore.  We knew we would get thrashed if we were caught but we had to run risks to get into the good graces of the sailors with whom we lived in the Forecastle and who steadily taught us to look upon them as our Friends and the Captain and officers as our enemies.  The way the landing was effected was in this wise, the night being dark we pulled up the River above the ship and quietly dropped down under the Bows when five of them came down the chain cable into the Boat.  We landed them above the usual place and after getting a promise from them that they would not go near the place where the Captain and 2nd mate were we rowed quietly back to the usual landing place and then off to the ship as if coming right back from landing the Captain.  We repeated our orders to the Mate and after hoisting the boat out of the water we were sent to lie down and be ready for a call to go on shore again to bring the Captain off as ordered.  We were duly called and dispatched at midnight with the boat - after getting to the landing steps Jack Carr the other apprentice run up to the hotel (not far off) to see if it was time to take the Captain’s Boat Cloak up.  He soon returned in great consternation saying we are in for it now, all the beggars (meaning our sailors) are in the hotel drunk and making a row and the Captain will be sure to see them.  One of them called Clark came down just then who made us row him off quietly and he got on board without anyone knowing he had been ashore - he had kept sober and could tell the history of the adventure.  About 2 a.m. the Captain brought the other 4 sailors to the boat all drunk.  We started to go off to the ship but when about half way they began to fight nearly capsizing the Gig, the mate lowered another boat and came to the rescue, we got alongside and had to hoist two of the sailors on deck.  The Captain was in a towering passion and sent for us boys to question us (our story was concocted) he overhauled Jack first then I.  We both thought we had seen the poor shoemaker’s boat.  He called to the Mate Mr. Couper when next you see that shoemaker’s boat alongside through the Grindstone into her and sink her.  The story of the spree as told by Clark the sailor.  After landing they went to one of the Caulkers houses as they said. to see the caulker’s daughter but having no money they could get no drink and were in a dilemma but a happy thought struck one of them.  Murray an old man and an old dodger he was, that they should go to the Hotel where the Ball was going and represent themselves as Captain Russell’s boats crew to take Captain off after the Ball broke up and he the Coxswain Murray had Captain Russell’s orders to treat the crew to beer and she the landlady in the Bar would oblige him by sending in 5 Pots at once which was done and repeated about 4 times then it was thought they had enough.  But Coxswain Murray could tell a good yarn and kept holsters coachmen & others open-mouthed with his tough ones and at the end of each yarn, here Sailor drink with I handing the Pot which he took care went the round of his chums and came back empty to Tumas.  Another dodge to get some more was carried out by one of them, he went up stairs to the Ball room landing and watched a chance when the 2nd mate came near the door dancing with a Lady when this impudent fellow caught his coat tails and pulled him into the landing in the shade and a sort of your money or your life affair took place to get him out of the way. The officer gave him two or three shillings, he swore he would run into the Ball Room and kick up a row if he didn’t but the row came after all downstairs where the Captain found them having a general fight and ultimately the Captain had to pay for something like 24 Quarts of Beer ordered by his self appointed Coxswain and crew of his gig.  Our repairs were completed in about a fortnight but the continued westerly gales detained us wind bound for about six weeks altogether before we got clear of Dartmouth.  We got on extremely well afterwards and arrived in Alexandria in about a month afterwards and discharged our cargo of coals and loaded a cargo of cotton for Liverpool where we arrived in June 1846 after a tedious and long passage of 9 weeks.  We were put into Quarantine and had to discharge our cargo into a hulk which with the cargo had to remain in Quarantine some 30 days longer while the vessel sheered off and anchored to fumigate and clean for 5 days before she was admitted to Britain, then we got into dock and finished the voyage.  I had serious ideas of giving up the sea then fears of being jeered & xxxxxx  touched my pride.  So I made up my mind to stick to it & overcome the many drawbacks to a hard life.  It was anything but an easy one on board of the Anna Robertson a rough school living in the Forecastle with the sailors cuffed & snubbed by all hands & made to do the slavey for everyone but drilled into our business.  More perhaps for their own sakes than ours with a small ship & small crew it is an advantage to get everyone competent to do something — no drones in the Bee Hive there as they say everyone who cracks a Biscuit must work for it.  The owner of our ship had made up his mind to sell.  I suppose she was not a profitable one.  So the apprentices had to be disposed of & having no other ship (we had our choice) I was transferred to William Lamport of Liverpool, the other had his indenture cancelled & went to London.  I never of him again.  My new master was very kind and promised advancement at a future time if I behaved myself & served my apprenticeship out faithfully. He sent me to Greenock to join a ship of his called the William Ward of Liverpool Captain Jas. Scoullar bound to Quebec.  I did not care much about the Trade at first but our winter voyages to New Orleans made up the difference.  Liverpool had quite a large Fleet of very good ships in this trade at that time.  On joining the Wm Ward, the Capt and officers were all St. John New Brunswickers. Their behaviour and kindness was very different to what I had been accustomed to on the Anna Robertson.  We the boys lived in a place by ourselves with the Boatswain which I found much better than being in the Forecastle with the sailors. I soon became a favourite with them all (Captain & officers).  I had learned to do most any thing belonging to seamen’s work steer reef furl splice make knots sew & a lot of fancy work & my new fellow apprentices had been a voyage but they knew nothing, they had not been put to it as I had been.  I felt a little proud of my abilities now.  The Captain & officers seemed pleased to have a little fellow so well posted & which I took care to improve.  This kindness gave a fresh spur to my ambition to rise.  I took to my books and writing to improve myself, the Captain seeing this encouraged me so I got on swimmingly and soon managed the Rudiments of Navigation and before my apprenticeship was finished I had got much more than the usual quantum required for General purposes of Navigating a ship.


But to return to my story we sailed from Greenock for Quebec in August 1846, the first night out it came on to blow and all the sailors being drunk and unfit for duty it became a serious matter to shorten sail with only the officers boys &  xxxxx  to do so.  They the sailors are a little better nowadays owing to the Law taking a little more notice of & punishing the offence of neglecting to join but still there is too much of it.  Drunken sailors gives much anxiety to the commander of a ship just leaving port with so much to be done in the way of clearing up and making all snug to contend with bad weather possibly and little room to work in.  He at all events must not be without his wits and woe betide him if he comes to trouble. The Board of Trade enquiries take no such excuse from him.  Sailors are Nursed by the Govt. in all ways Mostly but not nursed and put on board Sober and competent to do their duty and giving the commander something to work with and prevent numerous accidents such as shipwreck collision and Loss of Life and Property - but to go on with my voyage we got to Quebec after a tedious passage and there loaded a cargo of Timber for Liverpool.  This North American Trade is hard and Laborious not much fine weather on the voyage.  The St. Laurence looks fine in the Summer but beating a Ship up with a fresh wind takes away the beauty of it not much time to look round and admire the Scenery cracked hands pulling ropes calls forth a few oaths on the Ship wind river &c not very Poetic and after arrival we have cargo or Ballast to put out and then hurry up to get Timber loaded working early and late.  Men grumbling about the time they are kept at it but the Poor apprentices are frequently kept half the night in the Boat attending the Captain on Shore in addition to their share of the general work going on during the day but there is no help for it growl you may but a ropes end will likely be your reward and much better it is to go willingly, we got to Liverpool after a rough passage, thus ends the first Voyage in the William Ward.  We the (Boys) are Sent ashore to get our Meals but we Sleep on board not very comfortable in a cold damp ship especially when contrasted with the comforts we see others having on Shore. Captain & Mates are off we are left to ourselves no overlooking on us so we have a great inducement to go and Kill the Night time in Singing houses which we very frequently did & very doubtful places of Amusement they are as a rule but we manage to get through the Night.  The house we boarded at was what is called a Sailors boarding house and a very objectionable old woman kept it.  She was simply disgusting, the trade of the Port was bad and a lot of unemployed sailors or hard ups about.  This woman bullied them very much because the poor fellows did not get ships & away, giving them bad food at which we had to complain being participator at the same table but it came to an end and we sailed again for New Orleans in December 1846.  We had a fine passage all the way but kept very busy refitting ship which is the usual practice in the Tropics each year with ships in this trade.  I enjoyed the passage through among the West Indian Islands, the weather warm and fine, the rich vegetation of the low land in bright contrast with the blue and hazy mountains gave a charm to the scene as we went sailing by.  On arrival in New Orleans all was bustle owing to a war then going on between the United States & Mexico, a lot of transports going & kidnapping all the sailors they could get hold of and the means used not very justifiable.  All our crew were off in an hour after we made fast in the Pier to the Wharf.  New Orleans was a vile place at that time full of all sorts of scoundrels and life anything but safe.  We loaded a cargo of Provisions & cotton, shipped a new and very mixed crew and procured in various ways through runners of sailors boarding houses & shipping masters, very frequently they were drugged or made drunk and put on board in that state and were generally out at sea before they recovered their senses to find they had been victimised, in our ship we got two real victims, one a Scotsman McDonald who had been hocused by a villain and old schoolfellow and sold him for forty dollars.  He was a sergeant in the American army, a married man with a family.  He feared poor fellow that he would be posted as a deserter and deprive his wife of pension ground he had earned through long war service among the Indians, poor fellow I felt much for him.  Another a Prussian and also a victim to a countryman, he had saved for years working as a Cabinet Maker to get to America to better his condition.  He was shipped voluntarily but had been made to understand we were bound to New York where he could better himself and not liking New Orleans but the poor fellow was in great distress when he found we were bound to Liverpool.  The rest of our crew were a rough lot and a great trouble to the Captain & Officers they would only do what they pleased being runners and paid in advance, the Captain had little hold on them.  We had a stormy passage home where we got clear of all the rascals — one of the sailors an old Irishman & a decent fellow was an exception.  He amused us much by telling yarns like an Arabian Nights entertainment he had a wonderful faculty for fiction & making up a yarn and thoroughly believed in Fairies &c.  We the apprentices on arrival in Liverpool were sent to a different stile of Boarding house to our last, a large establishment where we were very comfortable.  Our next voyage was to New York with passengers, 1847, the Irish Famine Year.  We left Liverpool in April and took the North Channel into the Atlantic.  We had just cleared some 50 miles when we were caught in a heavy N. W. gale during which we had much trouble with the emigrants who got frightened. We also lost a man overboard, we could render him no assistance, the sea was too heavy to lower a boat.  We had a little sickness on the voyage among the children (measles) and one case of smallpox (an apprentice) who died and which alarmed the Captain who feared it might spread which would have been dreadful among so many people & no Doctor on board, but every precaution was taken fumigation, disinfectant & cleaning which was effectual. We (the crew) were glad on arrival at Staten Island to get clear of the emigrants, they were mostly very filthy but poor things theirs was a hard lot fleeing from famine with little means to keep themselves clean.  From New York we went to St John N.B. and loaded a cargo of Deals for London.  I had an attack of fever in St John but soon got over it.. Our sailors all ran away and with a fresh crew we sailed for London.  After a fair passage but a leaky ship with continual pumping we got to London without any mishap.  From London we went to Quebec and after a nasty cold voyage home we came to Liverpool again and boarded with Mrs Burns the mother of one of our apprentices, Tom Burns a making scamp.  I saw him years afterwards a common Sailor he told me he had been all over the world and every sort of ship and doing no good at any time.  He was dismissed from our employ as an incorrigible good for nothing and his indentures destroyed.  We started again December 1847 for New Orleans & without much incident returned to Liverpool in May and off again for Quebec, much the same sort of voyage as described previously but we returned to Bristol with our homeward cargo of timber. We enjoyed our stay of a month very much being new to us.  I liked the quaint old place and the people.  A fine lot of good looking girls here & we towed from Bristol to Newport (Mon) and loaded a cargo of coals (in the Winter of 1848 we were dismasted going out from Newport to St Thomas and had to put into Cove of Cork (now Queenstown) for repairs) for Bermuda a coaling station for the West India Royal Mail Steamers and an extensive convict station also a Naval Yard.  Consequently had always lots of soldiers about watching the convicts.  They seemed to be well taken care of clean and well fed only marked with the name of the Hulk they belonged to & deprived of their Liberty which was very necessary for a lot of Scoundrels they were.  We went from Bermuda to Turks Island and loaded Salt for New Orleans & returned to Liverpool.  Another Voyage to Quebec & returned to Greenock we had made a voyage from New Orleans to Cadiz & back to New York with Salt then to Quebec and on to Greenock   My apprenticeship being out I had some leisure to myself leaving the ship in Greenock discharging Cargo.  I paid a visit to my Father and Mother and stayed with them 5 weeks when recalled to join my ship in Greenock this time I was rated a Sort of Boatswain or 3rd Mate and sailed from Greenock for Newport (Mon) and loaded coats for St. Thomas in the West Indies.  We had a hard time before we got clear of St. Thomas we left that place with nearly all hands sick.  Myself and a few others not included we also had a man shot in a Sunday drunken row.  A Meddlesome Captain brought the soldiers to quell the disturbance and the result was a life or two lost which might have been avoided with a little tact.  From St. Thomas we went to New Orleans and was detained 4 months waiting for a freight & could get nothing worth taking for Liverpool the cotton trade being in a bad state during the time we were lying in New Orleans we saw a great deal of the place and those contained therein rather a rough lot an occasional Irish row and Fires every night and many of them the work of Incendiaries.  Not being able to find employment for the Ship here we sailed for Quebec in April and after a tedious time working through the Ice in the Gulf of St. Laurence we arrived in Quebec in May where we loaded a cargo of Timber for Newport (Mon) all the crew mostly left in Quebec they got discharged legally through an omission in the Agreement we got Substitutes and proceeded and got to Newport in due time all well where we were detained 6 weeks.  A money panic being there & Banks closing but being pretty well acquainted we managed to pass the time tolerably well.  At length we started towed to Cardiff & loaded Railway Iron for Mobile.  I was shipped as 2nd Mate this voyage and we started from Cardiff with a very mixed crew and anything but Sailors.  Such a lot I could hardly imagine collected together none of them could do what we call Sailors work which made it hard for the Mate and myself but we had to make the most of it we could not replace them at Sea — we got to Mobile in due course after a tolerable passage discharged our cargo of Railway Iron & loaded Cotton for Liverpool.  Ships Anchor in Mobile Bay some 30-miles from the Town the Captain is generally up in Town and sends provisions, Cargo &c down by Steamer and keeps the Chief Mate instructed by letter who carries on the work of Loading with a Stevedore & a few men from Town & hard work Screwing Cotton is to those not accustomed to it but we got through it & started for Liverpool and after a tedious passage of 64 days got to Liverpool safe and well & at this time Captain Scoullar & I left the Old William Ward & Peter Johnson Chief Mate became Captain of her.


Captain Scoullar now got command of a new Ship the “Senator” & after passing my 1st examination he appointed me his 2nd Mate.  A new law had just come in Force compelling Masters & Mates to pass examinations & be certified Officers we were loading for Bombay.  A new trade for me and the change was very agreeable & opened up new prospects I was quite proud of my position.  2nd Mate of a fine New Ship & bound to the East Indies.  Another spur to my ambition to rise, and if by Strict attention to duty & diligence in Study I might rise I was determined to Succeed I had only one drawback that was I thought the Overlooker had a Spite against me for no reason that I knew time has proved I was mistaken and instead has proved my best Friend & I still hold the Old Gentleman in high esteem he has often given me good advice & substantial help when necessary — We started on our voyage in the Summer of 1852 and had a very comfortable passage all the way to Bombay with a fine ship & a good crew we were all very happy - The Captain a had his Wife on board and her little boy.  She had frequently made voyages with us and I always felt pleased to see her on board.  She was very kind to me at all times & best of all she kept the Captain from worrying himself and being nasty about the Deck.  We loaded a cargo of cotton in Bombay for Liverpool and preceded on our homeward voyages we had a few passengers on board who made themselves generally disagreeable without a cause more especially the wife of one of the Passengers.  Nothing could please her & the Captain was often in a fury and it was fortunate for them his wife was on board or he very likely would have taken different measures with them but all things come to an end so did this voyage and on the whole I enjoyed it very much — We were not long in Liverpool only one month and off again for Bombay with a general cargo where we arrived in due time and discharged our cargo and loaded again for Liverpool on this voyage the Chief Mate Mr. Brailly a very clever man but not very moral had given offence to the Captain by taking drink so they were not on good terms.  Although the Mate and I got on very well together.  The Captain had an accident by a Cotton Bale falling on his foot which broke a small bone in his ankle which kept him from moving about so after leaving Bombay the Captain made me do the Navigating work of the Ship he would not trust the Chief Mate but the Mate had sense enough not to make it unpleasant for me as I was bound to obey the Captain’s order.  We had only one passenger this time Captain Wheelwright Bengal Artillery, who had been cashiered the Service for insubordination & drunkenness and a queer fellow he was he did not get on very well with the Captain at all the Mate worked up trouble between them.  Captain Wheelwright I heard went to the Crimea & joined the Turkish contingent whether he ever returned again I never heard we arrived in Liverpool after a tedious passage 4 ½ months all well.  I passed another examination for Chief Mate & Mr. Brailly having neglected his duty by leaving the Ship and going on the Spree he was dismissed and I was appointed Chief Mate in his place.  We now loaded a cargo for Quebec and started in April 1854 being early Spring we had a stormy passage across the Atlantic and got among the Ice entering the Gulf of St. Laurence and cut our Bow very much & nearly took all the copper off the Bottom we got to Quebec at last & loaded a cargo of Timber and came back to Liverpool where I left the Senator and went to London with Captain Scoullar & joined a new ship the Leicester we went in Ballast with her to Shields and loaded a cargo of coals for Bombay we sailed from the Tyne in Nov. 1854 and after a long and tedious passage we arrived in Bombay all well and loaded a return Cargo of cotton and seed for Liverpool and after another tedious passed we got to Liverpool all right and this time I left my Old Captain to take command having passed the board and received my Masters Certificate in 1855.  I was detained in Liverpool some time waiting the arrival of the Barque Glengariff whose Captain I had to relieve who had misconducted himself on the voyage.  She arrived and in due time I was appointed Master of the Glengariff, loading for Jamaica.  When nearly ready for Sea the Owners bought another vessel in London (the Barque Leander) I was asked to command her and leave the Glengariff, which I did, preferring the Employment she was to be engaged in.  She was to load for Madras so I went to London and took charge. She had been purchased without survey or approval and I found her in very bad order in fact a very inferior ship everyway & requiring a lot of repairs which turned out to be an expensive affair and a very bad bargain for the Owners — we started from London for Madras in February 1856 and this voyage to me was a very trying one especially to a young Man & a first command troubles came one after the other testing my abilities & energy in Several ways to begin with a very inferior ship with an indifferent crew who gave me much trouble by broaching cargo but I caught them & had them punished by imprisonment with hard labour (that is the ringleaders) in Madras after arrival then they were all guilty but I had to consider the interests of the ship or they should all have been punished - next came trouble about loading the ship the Agents for the Charterer would not act on the charter so I was obliged to be cautious for my owners interests which I tried to do by reading up Maritime Law and writing on the subject receiving replies to my extensive correspondence with the assistance of a Lawyer at times until I was satisfied all had been done to insure my owner’s claim on the charterer for more fulfilment of contract which we recovered in Liverpool we loaded a cargo of Sugar for Liverpool & proceeded and after an ordinary passage to the Cape of Good Hope where we had some rough weather I put into Table Bay to get a Supply of Water having lost most of our water by the Bursting of the Water Tank which held all our Supply with the exception of Six Casks - here I met trouble & delay by a Number of the Crew refusing to proceed in the Ship which ended in their being sent to prison for 8 weeks and losing all their pay due, they not having any reasonable excuse to justify their refusal of duty.  After procuring other Seamen I continued the voyage and all went on well until a day or two after passing the equator the Ship sprung a leak and a very bad one keeping us constantly pumping all the way home and getting into bad weather entering the Georges channel gave us as much as we could do to keep her afloat and the exercise Labour pumping knocked up nearly all the crew we got drove north of Liverpool with the gale and passed a very bad night between the Isle of Man & the coast of Cumberland & finding myself getting into close quarters with a disabled crew and a lot of water in the Hold I was compelled to make for a port &  Whitehaven being the nearest and most convenient I ran for that place in the morning and got assistance from the Shore while waiting for the Tide and entered the Harbour about 8 o’clock at night where a large number of the people were waiting to receive the ship in distress.  A report having got afloat during the day while we were waiting outside of an exaggerated amount of suffering we had endured at all events the people were very kind & I have always liked them since & have confirmed the liking having taken my wife from among them.  We made a few repairs to the ship and towed to Liverpool where I finished my voyage & command of the Barque Leander of which I was heartily tired and glad to be clear of her having had a very uncomfortable voyage. I now begin another era of my life with a very steady number of voyages in various steamers and generally fairly successful with a few ups and downs of more or less importance to myself & others.



In January 1857 I took command of a small steamer the Cleator owned by Mr. Alfred Holt of Liverpool in the Bordeaux & Liverpool trade making occasional intermediate trips to various other places giving me quite a new and bustling sort of occupation which I did not like at first but gradually got used to it and liked it better as time went on. The Bordeaux trade is hard in Winter but very pleasant in Spring & Summer & ere the first year expired I got quite reconciled to my new occupation. I married in February 1858 leaving my vessel in Whitehaven.  All arrangements having been made with my wife and family I quietly went to Keswick got married to a dear Girl and returned to my vessel in Whitehaven & off to Sea the next day, and a rough Honey Moon our Wedding Trip was we got into a heavy gale the day after leaving and had to take shelter in Holyhead for three days.  Another three days in Milford Haven to shelter another gale but we got safely over the voyage in due course.  After several trips in which my wife accompanied me I was sent with the Cleator to the West Indies to fill up the place of the Saladin which had met with an accident & got delayed. This was a new line being opened up by A. Holt in connection with the Panama Railroad for Transit of Goods & Passengers to the west coast of America and including several places in West Indies which increased to very respectable dimensions before I left the trade we had rather a rough & tedious time on our round with the Cleator.  She being unsuited for a long passage the space for fuel being limited but we had to make the most of her as a make shift for this voyage.


October l0th 1858

We left Liverpool deeply laden with 80 tons coal on deck for fuel, all available space being filled up with cargo intending to call at one or two places for coal we made for St. Michaels in the Azores and with considerable difficulty got 60 tons on board & left immediately the weather not looking very favourable but we were caught by the gale and we lost about 5 days coal overboard rather a serious matter with a long run before us, but we had to make the best we could of it and went South to get the trade winds & use the canvass carrying a low press of steam to save fuel by which means we reached St. Thomas all well and after taking some coal proceeded for Jamaica & arrived there in due time without any mishaps. We were detained in Kingston 4 days being the rainy season we could not discharge cargo only at intervals, the rain comes down in torrents flooding the whole plains which descends in a gentle slope from the base of Mountains which tours in ridges back in the distance ending in the Blue Mountain Peak which sends its water shred down with considerable velocity through the Plain converting the streets of Kingston into small rivers rolling cocoanuts Palm leaves dead Pigs Fowls &c into the Harbour. After the rains the country assumes a beautiful aspect all becomes fresh and green with a fine clear atmosphere.  A very grateful change after there long droughts which they generally have after June until October during time all grass is burnt up & the cattle suffer a great deal in fact some have to sell their cattle.  A heap to those who are fortunate enough to have a river that does not dry running through their estate of which there are a few, and about the only properties worth owning nowadays, Sugar is a bad speculation and Coffee not much better owing to the difficult matter of Labour.  The Negroes are bad to manage and give a lot of trouble to the Planter.  They may have some grievances but I think they are very few in comparison to those the Planters have to contend with.


We started for Calon, 20th of November where we arrived on the 24th all well.  A most uninviting place & full of a vile fever. The place had not been long opened by the Panama Railroad Co. & only partially finished it stands in a beastly swamp with an Indifferent Harbour but became somewhat better in time & a very busy place being the grand route for California during the Gold Mania & rebellion in the United Stated which brought large numbers of Passengers and a great amount of Traffic the Scenes on arrival of the New York’s Steamers crowded with Passengers were worth looking at. The Hotels being crowded & Bar Rooms full of all sorts with a good sprinkling of Sharpers who came like Birds of Paradise to prey upon the Travellers.  We remained in Calon or Aspinwall 6 days and returned to Kingston (Jamaica) and after loading some cargo for Liverpool & a portion for New York.  We started for Liverpool via New York, and after a rough and tedious passage anchored at Straten Island 8 miles from New York on the 1st of January 1859, here we suffered much from the excessive cold weather after being so recently in the warm Tropics.  I went up to New York in a passage steamer to try & see our Agent, but could find no one in the office New Year’s day being the great Holiday in the United States all business is suspended and the Streets of New York crowded and dressed in their best.  I went to dine at the St. Nicolas Hotel with a passenger I had brought from Jamaica and a sorry figure we made in the gaudy assembly in our rough Sea Attire among a highly dressed lot of Ladies & Gentlemen we were anything but comfortable and retired from the dinner table as soon as possible to my friends room away up any amount of stairs and a poking hole it was very poorly furnished for an Hotel with such a display in the Public rooms below.  I went back to the ship in the afternoon with the passage steamer quite an exciting trip for an hour going through broken ice floating out of the Hudson into New York Bay, the Paddles throwing the pieces up into the Buoys with a noise like thunder to the passengers in the cabin.  Next day we steamed up to New York and discharged some cargo and coaled for the passage home to Liverpool.  My wife and I went to Laura Keenes Theatre to see Southeren in Our American cousin as Lord Dundreary which I did not think of at the time and did not stay it out being very cold & the streets abominable with slush (snow & salt are used to thaw the streets to keep Broadway clear for carriage traffic).  Some of the streets are left frozen and sleighs run very easily over it.  We were glad to get on board to our snug comfortable cabin on the 7th December 1859.  We steamed out of New York Harbour to sea with a bitter cold wind & the decks covered with ice and after a very stormy passage all sails blown away & Fore yard broke (3rd Engineer buried at sea Wm Jones).  With these exceptions arrived in Liverpool all right and glad to get over a tedious & hard voyage. I left the Cleator and got a short holiday.  In April I took command of the S.S. Saladin and sailed for Kingston Jamaica on the 7th April and after a tolerable passage arrived in Kingston on the 9th of May all well.  From Kingston we sailed for Santa Martha and from there to Calon and then to Parthagina, Savanilla & back to Kingston taking in cargo at all the above places calling at Bermudas & Sydney C.B. on the homeward voyage & arrived in Liverpool on the 12 July finishing a somewhat tedious voyage with a new traffic working up and a vile fever among the crew which gave a great deal of anxiety and required personal attention having no surgeon on board at that time.  Aug 2, 1859 sailed again with the Saladin for Jamaica taking the northern route via Sydney C.B. thence to Kingston & the other ports mentioned in the previous voyage and returned by the same route and after a very stormy passage arrived in Liverpool on the 4th Oct. all well.


Another voyage, my wife with me this time.  We left Liverpool on the 7th Dec. 1859 with a large cargo for this ship & not enough coal for the whole distance, it was arranged to call at Madeira to coal on the 17th steamed into Funchal Road but could not anchor to coal as the Sea was heavy and bad weather threatening.  Stood off shore to sea awaiting more moderate weather.  Tried Funchal next day but found it rather worse and a gale coming on we ran to leeward of the Lesertas where we lay quiet for a short time but the wind shifted to N.E.  A gale which made us get out of that place in a hurry.  Next day we got our Coal at Funchal & proceeded on our Voyage & arrived at Kingston (Jam) on the 11th Jan. 1860.  From Kingston we went to Colon & thence to Carthagena & Santa Martha & back to Kingston then on to Bermudas for Liverpool where we arrived about the middle of March.  This voyage I had to part with my chief officer Mr Laslebrook an excellent officer but could not resist drink, it had become a disease with him which I proved in several cases.  He had another chance as Master of the Cleator but failed again.  I met him afterwards very miserable and hard up, I gave him a trifle to get something to eat.  I heard afterwards he went as mate of a ship & died in Calcutta thus I had the example of a man ruined through drink.  We had a very nice family passengers home from Bermuda this trip.  A Military Captain Blurton wife 2 daughters & a Son.  Captain Blurton’s Daughters told some amusing anecdotes of their sojourn in Bermudas. I heard them telling my wife the way they tried to catch husbands.  All the Bermudan young men have to go away to find some employment at other places some go to America and some to England.  So the only chances left for the resident girls are the soldier officers who may be quartered there.  When a new regiment is expected they have general tea gathering and with an army list take out the names & have a sweepstake, each draw their man and no competition is allowed.  In the case of the 39th Blurton’s regiment all the officers who came with the regiment from Canada were married only an assistant surgeon left, all the Ensigns are exempt.  The unmarried ones had gone home on leave or exchanged.  So I suppose the surgeon was nearly worried to death.  Whether he was caught or not I never heard - My wife heard occasionally from the family afterwards.  April 8th 1860.  Started on another voyage with the Saladin but in turning in the River Mersey in charge of a stupid pilot, we fouled a schooner, her anchor chain getting foul of the Screw and ran aground on the Bank of the River & the tide left us high & dry off Egremont & we had a valuable cargo on Board and were well watched by the underwriter but we took no harm & got off next tide & proceeded.  We had a fair voyage out & arrived in Kingston May 2nd 1860.  Made the usual calls on the round (Viz) Santa Marta, Colon, Savanilla, Carthagine, Kingston, Bermudas, Sidney C.B. & arrived all well in Liverpool on the 1st of July & left the Saladin Sept. 1860.   Made a voyage to Bordeaux in the Cleator Sept. 29th 1860.   Started on another voyage to the West Indies in the S.S. Plantagenet and had rather a rough voyage but arrived in Liverpool all well on the 29 Dec 1860. We took a new port this voyage (viz) Port au Prince a Black (Negro) republic in the west part of St Domingo.


6th February 1861 commenced another voyage in the Plantagenet, the day after leaving met bad weather and went into Holyhead for shelter.  Stayed one day & proceeded & made a good voyage arriving in Liverpool on the 21st April 1861.


2nd June 1861. Commenced another voyage in the Plantagenet made a good voyage & finished 22nd Aug. & left the Plantagenet.  10th November 1861.  Commenced another voyage to the West Indies in the Talisman, made a good trip & arrived in Liverpool 21st January. 1862.  February 9th 1862.  Another voyage in the Talisman, had bad weather going out & nearly lost the Chief Officer in a gale.  Mr. Alfred Holt was on board making a tour of inspection of his line.  During his voyage he learned something of an Atlantic gale.  The day the Mate had a narrow escape Mr Holt was on deck — he came into my room in haste to tell me the mate was aloft in danger.  I ran out & saw the mate in an awkward place on the lee Fore Yard Arm and the Topsail Yard broke & the Top Sail shaking & likely to knock him overboard.  I immediately gave the engine more speed & filled the sail to keep it steady & had him brought down, found he was bruised but no bones broke.  I gave him a blowing up for getting into such a place without taking certain precautions.  I had to put the ship in a bad position to save him.  We shipped a very heavy sea filling the Decks which rather astonished Mr Holt & learned him to take precautions in his ships which he would not listen to previously and on the whole his voyage was of great advantage to him he went to all the ports with me & left at Kingston to go on to New York to see something of the United States & returned to England by the Inman Line.  We got home on the 21st April 1862.


June 8th 1862.  Commenced another voyage in the Askalon & went out by the way of Sydney C.B. to all the parts in our West Indian Route & returned via Sydney to Liverpool making a good voyage.  Arrived in Liverpool on the 16th August 1862.


7th September 1862.  Another voyage in the “Askalon” via Sydney C.B. had rather a rough passage out but had a good voyage & arrived back in Liverpool November 17th 1862.


January. 7 1863 Another voyage in the “Askalon” - had a fair voyage to Port au Prince left to meet the Talisman Captain Turner Russell who was late with the Mail from New York.  Met him next day transferred his Mails & Passengers & proceeded for Kingston. When  we arrived found the Saladin ashore below Kingston.  Sent the Mails & Passengers up to Town & commenced to get the Saladin afloat, took coals out of her & got her off next day all right & her people were mostly all sick with fever & the Captain not square coming home we had a serious brake down to the Engine but we managed temporary repairs & got home all right arriving in Liverpool on the 22nd March 1863. 


April 9th 1863.  Sailed again in the Askalon returned to Liverpool on the 21st June 1863.


July 9th Sailed again in the Askalon.  Another good voyage  & returned to Liverpool 10th September 1863


October 10th 1863 Sailed again in the  “Askalon” on the usual round & returned to Liverpool 22nd   December 1863.


January 21st 1864   Another voyage in the “Askalon  ”Mr Holt sold his interest and all the vessels of the Line & now we are the West India & Pacific Steam Ship Company Limited. I went to St Thomas & Curacoa in addition to the other ports. This  time had a fair voyage and returned to Liverpool 30th  March 1864


April 21st 1864 Another voyage in the Askalon via St Thomas and then the usual round via Port au Prince.  On the passage from St Thomas to Port au Prince the United States War Steamer Pouhatan stopped us with a gun & sent an officer to examine my papers.  It was during the American Rebellion he was polite & apologised for stopping us & returned to his Ship & we proceeded.  Returned to Liverpool after a fair voyage on the 29th June 1864 when I left the Askalon.


October 26th 1864 Started on another voyage in the Chillian on the usual route via St Thomas. This was the most uncomfortable ship I ever was in. She was in bad proportions & a most awkward ship to work & I did not like her.  However I made the one voyage and would not go in her again.  So left her on my return January 1865.  I was sent to Leslie’s the Builders on the Tyne to superintend the finishing of a new ship called the “Cuban”.  I brought her round to Liverpool & was sent to take the Christabel Colon the Captain of which vessel took sick on the eve of sailing so I was sent off in a hurry.  I did not care much about going in her. She was old & worn out, however I did go & she gave us a lot of trouble on the voyage but I would not go in her again, so she was laid up & I went to Greenock to look after two new ships (the American & Californian).


September 11th 1865 commenced another voyage in the S.S. “American” taking the usual West Indian Ports & returned to Liverpool in November 1865.



November 20 Only 6 days at home & commenced another voyage in the American & left her on my return to Liverpool in January 1866 which was my last voyage to the West Indies.


1866.  Here begins another stage of my voyaging.   in  February made a short trip in a new ship of Lamport & Holts (S. S. Humboldt)  I took her from the Builders Leslies on the Tyne with a cargo of coals to Gibraltar & returned to Liverpool via Lisbon. This was a test & trial trip with Alfred Holts new engine.  Mr Lamport thought the engine was a failure.  Alfred Holt thought otherwise and sent me to prove it was all right in the “Humboldt”


Mr Holt had three steamers building with his new engine the Agamemnon [Captain Isaac Middleton], Ajax [Captain Alexander Kidd] & Achilles [Captain Turner Russell] for a new trade (via China & the East) & we commenced a line which has continued ever since & risen to a large concern & now comprises 23 large steamers & five small ones & I am still in command.



July 1st 1866 I commenced my first China voyage in the S.S. “Ajax” and made a very favourable passage direct to the Mauritius.  We had a small cargo and some 5 passengers, one too many a clergyman who took offence at a trifle and made himself generally disagreeable but he had the worst of it, a shallow vain fool and not much of the Christian about him, so far as I could see.  I met some nice people in the Mauritius but had not much time with them as we were only two days there and off again for Penang (our next Port) I had a good passage to Penang where we loaded some cargo & took a lot of Chinese deck passengers for Hong Kong and proceeded on to Singapore discharged cargo from Liverpool & filled up with local freight & passengers and started for Hong Kong and after a good run up the China Sea arrived in Hong Kong all well, remained 5 days there, finished our work and started for Shanghai had a fairly good passage & arrived in Shanghai Thursday September 20 1866.


We stayed a month in Shanghai waiting to see if times would mend but found things getting no better.  Started on the return voyage with very little cargo and very poor prospects.  Still I had faith in something turning up.  We took all we could get at Hong Kong & Singapore & Penang and we left Mauritius with 2000 tons space to fill up. I was rather puzzled what to do with a fine ship going home 1/3 full not very promising for our new trade.  But when approaching Algoa Bay I thought I would call at Port Elizabeth & try if I could get any cargo there, fortunately I did.  We filled all our space with wool at a very fair rate & thus enabled me to finish my first China voyage very favourably & got complimented by Mr Holt for the way I had managed.  I landed a mail & some passengers at Falmouth took in some 40 tons coal & proceeded to London where we arrived & went into the Victoria Docks Tues January 21st 1867.  Had a rough passage round to Liverpool from London. Entered the Dock in Liverpool February 3rd 1867 finishing voyage.

Saturday 9th March 1867.  Commenced another China voyage. Had a good passage to Mauritius 41 days 8500 miles.  After staying 3 days sailed for Penang and made good work to that place.  2 days there & on again to Singapore where we arrived on the 12th May on again to Hong Kong and Shanghai where we arrived on the 4th June & stayed there until the 20th June when we commenced the return voyage calling at Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang & Mauritius & after a good voyage running on Time, 75 days the Penalty  £3,500 which we just saved by 3 hours. Arrived in London 2nd September 1867.   We had an accident coming down the Thames on our way to Liverpool.  A smack (the Pride of the Dart) ran in between the steamer towing us & our Bow.  We struck her & she sank soon after above Gravesend.  We proceeded & got to Liverpool on the 11th September 1867.  Ending the 2nd Voyage to China in the Ajax.


S.S. Ajax October 18th 1867.  Left Liverpool commencing a third voyage to China, had it rather rough the first 4 days.  We called at Santa Cruz, Canary’s Tenerife, coaled & proceeded on the 1st Nov.  We met our sister ship the Agamemnon (SS) Captain I. Middleton came on board got a few articles he required and then we parted.  We had a fair passage & arrived in Mauritius on 30th  November..


Left Port Louis on Monday 3rd   December  & arrived at Penang Tuesday December 17th   Lost the propeller in getting under weigh & got towed down to Singapore by the British India S.S. Company’s Mahratta went into dry Dock & put on another screw & started for Hong Kong on Monday 13th January 1868.  Arrived at Hong Kong January 22nd & proceeded for Shanghai 25th January Arrived Shanghai January 29th, in leaving Shanghai had a collision with a ship doing some damage but not very serious, called at all the Ports on the return voyage & arrived in London Monday 4th May 1868.


4th Voyage June 25th 1868.  Commenced another to China in the Ajax had a good passage & arrived in Mauritius on the 4th August left again in pursuit of two Chinese Absconding Debtors with a detective. On the 12th day caught the S.S. Quang Tung & put the detective on board who apprehended the delinquents on arrival at Singapore but they were released through some informal nature of warrant & the scoundrels got away with a lot of stolen money 8000 Pounds in Gold, the Mauritius creditors were furious at the action taken by the Singapore authorities & made it a subject with the home Government.  We arrived in Shanghai on the 9th of September 1868 but we met with great trouble before we got away from Shanghai, our poor Ajax sank in the Shanghai river at her moorings & was under water for 24 days destroying a lot of property, the accident occurred through the shaft running out of the stern pipe while under repairs caused by an unusual current running up the River.  After strenuous exertions & spending about £17,000 pounds, we got our good ship afloat again & made all right & returned home again, arriving in London on the 19th February 1869 all well - after discharging homeward cargo steamed round to Liverpool arriving there 2nd March 1869.


Sunday April 11th 1869.  Commenced another voyage to China in the Ajax calling at Cape Town Mauritius Penang Singapore Hong Kong & Shanghai taking the same ports on the way back & after a successful voyage arrived in London 23rd  September 1869.


Thursday 21st October having loaded in London. Started for Tunis Malta & Alexandria had my wife & 3 children, Alick, Annie & Willie.  At Tunis we had an opportunity of going to visit the ruins of Ancient Carthage and the Tomb of St Louis at Malta, we visited St John’s Church & other places worth seeing.  While in Alexandria at the request of Mr Alfred Holt took a passage in a Russian Steamer to Port Said for the purpose of seeing the Suez Canal, it was opened at that time the Inauguration was a fine sight.  I had a conversation with Mr Lessep’s for the information of Mr Holt about the Canal.  I took a passage to Ismailia in a Post Boat & remained one night there, fortunately I found a bed at a small tavern & met an old acquaintance a Swiss Mr Ernst who at one time lodged with Mrs Nicoll in Liverpool.  We saw all the preparations being made at a new Palace of Pasha Ismail for the reception of his grand visitors “Eugenie” Francis Joseph & a lot others to a Ball in honour of Opening the Suez canal.  The whole altogether was a grand sight and worth having seen.  I returned by Rail to Alexandria & sailed for Liverpool & had a rough & prolonged passage called at Queenstown, short of coals.  We got to Liverpool on the 11th December all well.


Saturday January 1st 1870.  Started on another voyage to China in the “Ajax”, had a good passage & arrived at Table Bay, Cape Town on the 31st January then on to Mauritius, Penang, Singapore,

Hong Kong & Shanghai.  Shanghai to Amoy & Hong Kong where we loaded a cargo principally Rice for Yokohama Japan & returned to Shanghai.  Loaded for London by the way of the Red Sea & Suez Canal passed through Hong Kong and Singapore, got on all right until about half way up the Red Sea when we broke our Crank Shaft, the weather very hot.  I made a bargain with the Captain of the Steamer Brazillian to tow us up to Suez for £1000, where we arrived in due time towed through the Canal repaired & proceeded for London where we arrived on the 29th   August 1870 having made a fairly good voyage.


Loaded again in London for Malta and Alexandria & started September 24th arrived back in Liverpool November 10th 1870.


Thursday December 8th 1870.  Started on another voyage to China via the Suez canal in the “Ajax” had a rough time after leaving and had a sad misfortune in the loss of my Chief Engineer David James who had been sailing with me about 14 years.  We did not know how or when he went but supposed he must have been washed overboard during the night, his loss cast quite a gloom all over the ship.


We called at Malta for Coal, called at all the usual Ports and returned to London arriving there on the 12th April 1871.


8th Voyage Friday May 19th 1871.  Started on another voyage to China in the “Ajax” had the usual round having some trouble on the way home with the stern post broken.  Got to London

Oct 13th 1871. Afterwards towed to the Tyne to repair Stern Post afterwards steamed to Liverpool had my wife with me on the Voyage.


9th Voyage.  Thursday 11th January 1872.  Started on another voyage to China via Suez canal & the usual Ports on the route and after a fair voyage returned to London, arrived on the 25th May 1872 and steamed round to Liverpool where we arrived 2nd June ending 9th Voyage.


10th Voyage.  Sunday June 30th 1872.  Started on another China Voyage nothing of importance occurred during this Voyage, returned to London 8th November 72 and round to Liverpool 19th  Nov ending 10th Voyage.


11th Voyage   Saturday 4th January 1873.  Commenced another voyage to China had very rough weather as far as Cape St. Vincent.  Afterwards fine, made a fair voyage and returned to London & Liverpool on the 4th June 1873.


12th Voyage.  Thursday 26th June 1873. Started on another voyage to China & returned to London 7th November 1873 and steamed round to Liverpool, remained in Liverpool all winter getting new boilers.


13th Voyage Friday 15th May 1874 Another start for China made a fair Voyage & returned to London & round to Liverpool arrived 21st September 1874.


14th Voyage Sunday 1st November 1874.  Another Voyage to China & returned to London 4th March 1875. Afterwards round to Liverpool.


15th Voyage Tuesday May 4th 1875.  Another voyage to China returned to London September 3rd & Liverpool 14th September 1875.


16th Voyage Sunday October 17th 1875.  Another voyage to “China” returned to London 17th February 1876, arrived Liverpool 29th February 1876.


17th Voyage Saturday 1st April 1876.  Another voyage to China returned to London 7th August & Liverpool 18th August 1876.


18th Voyage Wednesday 4th October 1876.  Commenced another China voyage returned to London 3rd February & Liverpool 14th February 1877 - had an accident on this voyage the British India Company’s S.S. ”Agra” run into our Bow while we were at Anchor in Suez Roads doing considerable damage to both ships which detained us 4 days to repair.  Although she was to blame we had to pay.  A lot of hard swearing done on the other side lying well and I think paid the referee well.  However not very serious.  Mr Holt got my explanation & believed I was right.


19th Voyage.  Thursday March 22nd 1877.  Commenced another voyage to China.  All went on well on the outward voyage & homeward we met with a bad Accident breaking the Shaft in the Stern Pipe to repair which it was necessary to get into a Dock. We made all the sail we could set & with a fair wind made for Bombay where we arrived safely having been 9 days under sail covering 1300 miles, on Monday 16th July 1877 and during our detention while effecting repairs had lots of trouble in many ways and everyone especially the authorities did not do anything to favour a distressed ship.  However we helped ourselves and got away from Bombay on the 4th

October 1877.  I have anything but an agreeable opinion of Bombay facilities to effect repairs to a disabled ship.  Parsees are fine thieves and require watching & strict superintendence.  We arrived in London on the 4th Nov & Liverpool on the 15th November 1877.


20th Voyage. Tuesday, 18th December 1877.  Commenced another Voyage to China with my wife on board.  A trip for her health but I fear it did not do her much good probably the reverse but the intention was for her benefit.  We called at Colombo on our return voyage & arrived in London on the 15th May & Liverpool 26th May 1878.


21st Voyage.  Sunday 23rd June 1878.  Another Voy to China and back to London arrived 6th  November 1878 after a fairly successful voyage. After this I took the Ajax to Greenock to undergo extensive alterations and went home with my wife who had come from London with me.  While at home in Keswick I was much grieved to find my wife’s health failing.  I did all I could to help her but had to leave again to take the Ajax from Greenock to London to load a cargo there for China.  While the ship was in Greenock I lost two officers old servants. Mr Bisson fell down the hold & was killed, was with me 10 years.  Mr Hobson 2nd mate died of inflammation after a very short illness, he had been with me 10 years, their loss was very keenly felt more especially by my worthy Chief Officer Mr Wm McGaw.


22nd Voyage   Wednesday 12th February 1879 - Sailed from London this voyage & had a fairly successful trip & arrived back in London on the 4th of June 1879. At Gravesend I found my son Alick awaiting my arrival with very painful news for me.  A scribbled note from my dying wife to make haste home to see her while she was alive.  Arrangements were made by Mr Holt for the ships business & my son & I travelled all night and got to Keswick early next morning.  My wife just recognised me and then gradually sank & died on the 12th July 1879, her death was a great blow to me and with my large family caused much anxiety.  I laid my wife in a grave beside her mother & close to her first baby boy Alfred with a very sad heart but time is a great healing power & association removes the grief — at first I got soured with Keswick and made up my mind to leave the place.  I gave up my house & placed my children with a lady (Mrs Geo Mawson) who volunteered to take charge of them. She had been a school fellow of my wife’s.  I thought it an act of disinterested kindness but found it was not so & I made a mistake as the sequel proved and gave me great anxiety — the 23rd voyage of the Ajax was made under Captain Scale while I stayed at home for private affairs.


24th Voyage.   Saturday 7th February 1880.  Made another voyage to China & returned to London June 24th  /80.  Had only time to make a hurried journey to see my children in Cockermouth & found things not so nice as I should like, had to send my eldest daughter, Annie Agnes, to her aunts in Middlebro as she could not get on with Mrs. Mawson. I was much troubled but had to hurry back to London to start on another voyage there.


25th Voyage.   Friday July 9th 1880.  Started from London on another voyage to China & Japan returned to London 27th November. & round to Liverpool arriving December 8th 1880.  Ending 25th Voyage. 


After arranging the ships affairs I went to Cockermouth to be with my children & found things not so pleasant as I should like.  My children being scattered and no home for myself I felt very miserable indeed so began to think seriously of trying to establish another home.  I observed Lizzie Bowerbank who was Governess with Mrs Mawson and very kind to the children.  A happy thought struck me; if I could only win her for a wife she would make me and the children very happy.  I made proposals & she being young felt diffident about taking such a responsibility but as she was leaving Mawsons, she would look after my new house & children. So under these arrangements I left and made the 26 Voyage to China. On the voyage I received several nice letters detailing matters connected with furnishing and on my return I found all very nice & comfortable.  I felt very grateful and if it was only respect & esteem I had for her before, I felt it had grown into a sincere love and made up my mind to try again to get her for my wife.  After some persuasion she consented to be my Darling & make me happy.  So I started on another voyage with an easy and contented mind & we agreed to marry on my return.


27th Voyage.  Thursday June 23rd 1881.  Made another nice voyage to China & returned to London on the 13th October and hastened down to Liverpool to meet my betrothed wife.  And we were married, Blessed & made happy on the 18th October 1881.  And ever since I feel certain I have gained a good wife.   We love each other dearly and are devotedly attached.  I adore her and she is respected & loved by my children & I have a contented mind and a happy home managed with good sense & tact by a dear wife.  She says I have taught her to love me dearly, My own Lizzie, it will be my aim to love nourish & cherish you according to the solemn vow made at God’s alter when we were made man & wife & with God’s Blessing we will be very happy My Wiffie.


28th Voyage Saturday November 10th 1881.  We started from London this Voyage taking my young wife with me and we were very happy on the voyage even although my wife was a bad Sailor and not well all the voyage but at Ports on shore she enjoyed the trip, we went to Japan & I let her see all that was to be seen at the various places & she came back a traveller having seen a good deal of the Far East.  We arrived back in London on the 5th April 1882 & round to Liverpool 17th April 1882.


29th Voyage.  Wednesday, 17th May 1882. Made another trip to China and returned to London on the 16th September 1882 where my wife met & sailed round to Liverpool with me and was a good sailor, we arrived in Liverpool 22nd September 1882, the only drawback to our happiness is the parting but I am thankful for other blessings amongst them the loving wife & happy home to come to.


30th Voyage. Saturday, October 7th 1882. 0ff again for China, hurried off this time taking the place of 2 other vessels disabled.  Just got home to find I had to leave again.  Wiffie and I mutually grieved to have to part again so soon.  I returned again to London on the 9th February 1883 and found my dear wife waiting for me on arrival to give me a loving welcome home.  It was so nice to see her, Bless her dear heart, she loves me dearly and the feeling is mutual.  Captain Roberts took the ship round to Liverpool so that I had a little longer at home this time but happy moments do fly & I had to be off again, the voyage flies also looking ahead to the pleasure of being again united to those one loves & who are longing to have you back again.


31st Voyage Thursday March 22nd 1883 commenced another voyage to China.  Parting with my wife seems harder each time and my wife pet seems to feel it acutely.  Our letters are about the only soothers during absence being mutually affectionate and full of regard for each other & looking forward to our next Reunion.