109 Days Later

The barque "China" courtesy SA Maritime Museum
On Monday 26th July 1852, the barque "China" left Plymouth bound for South Australia with 184 adult and 122 child immigrants aboard. Amongst those were many Irish passengers who were leaving the horrors of the great famine behind them.

My widowed great-great-grandmother, Johanna Horgan (born Fitzgerald) 1805 -1880, and her 3 children were aboard having already travelled from County Kerry to Plymouth. The assisted passenger lists name them as Thomas, John and David whom we will later come to know as Daniel. Their voyage of 109 days was not without its difficulties and deaths despite the fine weather recorded on their arrival at Port Adelaide.

The barque China, which arrived at the Lightship on Thursday night at 12 o'clock, experienced very fine weather during the passage not having had a heavy gale of wind since leaving Plymouth. There were no deaths among the adults, but among the young children there were ten deaths, nine of these being under two years old. 1.

There were also 6 births recorded on that voyage. Imagine losing an infant or having a newborn at sea in 1852 aboard a heaving vessel without the most basic of conveniences or indeed the privacy a land based birth could offer. And what of those parents who had to see their child buried at sea, they must have wondered if they had made the right decision leaving all they knew behind.

In order for the ship to be granted another trip carrying assisted immigrants it was necessary to prove that all had gone well, so an attestation of goodwill would have carried weight with the commissioners deciding on the future employment of the ship's captain and his crew. This notice appeared in "The South Australian Register" just 6 days after the China's arrival in Port Adelaide.

WE the EMIGRANTS of the Ship "CHINA,"  from London, Plymouth, to Port Adelaide, desire to offer to you, and the Officers serving under you, our humble testimonial of the high sense we entertain of your unwearied exertions to promote, in every way, our comfort and happiness during the long voyage from England to Australia, at all times, and on all occasions. 

We beg that you will accept this, and we sincerely regret that it is not in our power to offer to you a more substantial token of the very high respect and esteem in which you are held by us. 

We wish you and your amiable and kind-hearted lady health and happiness, and we hope that the friends who may follow us may be fortunate enough to sail with you. 
We remain, Sir, yours very sincerely, THE UNDERSIGNED.....

There follows the signatures of men and women separated into 3 categories: Single women, Single men and Married men. In those lists one finds Joanna Horgan under single women and Thomas and John Horgan under single men. The attestation concludes with these words:

These are the genuine signatures, or marks, of the whole of the Single Women, Single Men, and Married Men, being the heads of families, on board the ship "China:'' 
THOMAS WORSNOP, Schoolmaster on board, DAVID ROBERTSON, Constable, JOHN MILLER, Constable. 2.

It appears indeed that this journey was more benign than many reported elsewhere.  My ancestors, this family of Horgans listed, went on to establish themselves as farmers in land selected near Tarlee in South Australia. There Johanna lived with her family until 1880. Her death was recorded in the Kapunda Herald and The South Australian Advertiser.

HORGAN.—On the 1st February, at her son's  residence, near Tarlee, Johanna Horgan, late of County Kerry, Ireland, aged 75 years, an old resident and much respected by a large circle of friends—a colonist of twenty-six years. 3.

1. 1852 'SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 13 November, p. 2, viewed 4 March, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38463488 
2. 1852 'Advertising.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 18 November, p. 4, viewed 27 February, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38454639
3. 1880 'Family Notices.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 11 February, p. 4, viewed 17 July, 2013 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article30798433

4. More information on early voyages to South Australia can be viewed via the Pictorial collection the Mementoes of Migration from the SA Maritime Museum.

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