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EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF ABIJAH GOODE [February 28th –June 27th, 1863].
THE DIARY OF ABIJAH GOODE [from February 28th 1863]
The material herewith published has been taken from the diary of Abijah Good his surviving family from Queensland supplied this material several years ago and only now has the right venue been found to honor this settler family.
Abijah and his wife and children left Coventry, England with only their clothing and a little money in the hope of making a new life in Australia; this is his story of the voyage from London to Rockhampton, Queensland and a description of how his life in the Australian bush began. The diary [for the most part] has not been changed an diction has been kept to it's original where possible. copyright R.J Warren 2012
The Docks. February 28th 1863. We left Coventry at nine of the o’clock and proceeded to the chalk farm, we then changed train and went to Stepney where we changed train again and went to Blackwall. The ship ‘Belfapore’* [this is a mistake, the ship is the "Beejapore"] was lying in the East India Dock. The agent then took us to the side of the ship and then left us to our fate, this was about four o’clock in the afternoon. There was about two hundred other emigrants going on board the same afternoon, so great confusion prevailed in all parts of the ship. The agent shewed us across the yard where we were to receive our outfit. I made an application and received a suit of clothes for each of us of very middling quality. I also received four small blankets and four mattresses, four large tin bottles for holding water, four tin washbasins, four tin drinking cans [panikens], four knives and four forks, four tin plates and nine pounds of soap. I likewise received one pair of boots for each of us of the very worst quality and two pair of sheets. I returned to the side of the ship where my wife and children were waiting and with the greatest difficulty, got them and the things they had given me on board.There was but one pair of narrow steps to reach the vessels deck and as men and women and children and boxes and everything had to be taken that way. You can plainly see it was no easy task to get women and children, to say nothing of the things they had given us, along a narrow plank and up steps very much like a ladder and straight upright. After some time, the berth clerk pointed to me and I applied to be shown my berth. He conducted me below along a narrow gallery and at last he pointed to a small place not much larger than a small pantry. Here he told me that my family and me would be allowed to share that with another man and his wife and family making twelve of us in the whole. I went in and immediately examined it and after being in there some time, my eyes had become accustomed to the light. I could distinguish that there were four shelves on which we were to sleep. Measuring it afterwards, I found this to be its utmost size: nine feet long by six feet wide and seven feet high up to the beams. There were two broad shelves along one side and two along the end, leaving a space of six feet by three feet to hold our boxes, food and other necessaries. One shelf along the side and one along the end I found to be twenty one inches from the floor and the other two were two feet above them leaving three feet three inches above the top one. The clerk told me that this was more room than the law allowed but the ships regulations allowed that I must occupy one of the top shelves and one of the bottom shelves and the other family must occupy the other two shelves. And so I hurried back on deck and brought my wife and children down to their new dwelling. I had three good sized boxes and my fellow berth mates two still larger boxes, so you may see that when we had got these five boxes and our tins and outfit in our berth, that there was not much room to spare. At about six o’clock, our luggage was brought to the side of the dock. They were put on the ground and we were made to pay to have them taken aboard and as many of us were without money, it was a serious difficulty. However it was over got and they were on deck at last and put below in the holds. March 1st 1863. About nine o’clock this morning breakfast was served out and I got five pieces of bread without butter and about a quart of the most foul tasting tea ever we tried. It was sweetened with an even fouler tasting sugar and was so bad we scarce could drink it. Dinner came as a surprise for we received one pound of good fresh beef for each of us making five pounds for me and my family besides plenty of good broth and potatoes. March 3rd, 1863. The days were going past and were much the same as the day before. The crew of sailors came on board at an early hour and I was awakened by loud noises on deck so I got up and went on deck and found them making preparations for leaving the dock. The ship had dropped her moorings and was drifting across the dock toward the gate but we could not get out until the tide was up and this would not be till about one o’clock. A steam tug was attached to the ship and when the tide had reached its highest pitch, the steam tug was started. She dragged us while everyone of us emigrants was on deck and as she left the dock, a loud hurrah burst from everyone on board which was returned by at least one thousand people who had come to see us start. Some shed tears some laughed and others just wave their hats or handkerchiefs. We reached Gravesend at about four o’clock and anchored for the night. March 4th, 1863. This was a busy day and the dock at Gravesend was crowded with gentlemen belonging to the Blackball line. A rope was placed across the deck and we were ordered to the other side. The doctor and the emigration officer took their stand and we had to give our names and answer certain questions. --- One man, a Lancashire man had a child ill with fever, found that the doctor would not pass him, so he and his wife and children were put ashore. But they promised him that if the child recovered within six weeks, he should be sent out in another ship – no sooner than this was over than the sailors began to get the anchor up. This takes a long time where the stream is deep but the sailors sing always when they are getting up the anchor and there is something interesting in it when you know that you have so many thousands of miles to go --- to me it seemed very affecting. By this time, the anchor was up and the steam tug came alongside and was attached to the ship by two very thick ropes and at dusk we started fairly on our journey. A journey which some of us should never see the end perhaps --- we stayed up long that night watching the different lighthouses as we passed them. Watching the river as it grew wider every few minutes and although there was no wind, we could plainly see the spray as the water was dashed against the side of our noble ship. As I stood alone that night, I could not help reflecting that it was a cruel destiny which had thus compelled us to leave our native land, our friends and our homes. To face we knew not what in a foreign land, for if I could have obtained the commonest necessaries of life at home, I would never have emigrated. To have taken a wife and children away from home and kindred. If a man may be excused for being downhearted and sad at a time like this---- it was with a heavy heart that I went down to my bunk. March 5th 1863. It was scarce daylight when I went on deck this morning and the scene was grand in the extreme, the sea was beautifully calm. On our left no land could be seen, while on our right about three miles distance we could plainly see the coast of Kent. --- About eight o’clock, we passed Deal and in half an hour we entered the straits of Dover and we saw the beautiful white cliffs called Dover Cliffs. The day continued beautifully calm and we enjoyed ourselves extremely.--- About four o’clock this afternoon seven of eight porpoises was seen at the side of the ship and one of the sailors told me we should have some wind before long. –-- I could not help laughing at the sailors superstition but I found he was right afterwards. At night we had the usual amount of singing and dancing on deck. It being a beautiful moonlight night at this time, it was very pleasant , [the first issue of provisions was given out today].
March 6th 1863. At four o’clock this morning I found I had no cause to laugh at the sailor. --- I was suddenly awoke by nearly being thrown out of bed. I put on my clothes and hurried on deck when I found that a sudden wind had struck the ship throwing her almost on her side. – The sea was running very high. The steam tug, which was about fifty yards in front dragging us along by the two strong ropes each of them fourteen inches in circumference, was lifted up above our heads [as it seemed into the clouds] one moment and the next was dashed far below us into the trough of the sea. The wind increased and the sea boiled and foamed, the ship rolled and it became impossible to sit or stand on deck. I became very sick and went below where I found everything in the greatest uproar, everyone was fearfully sick and at every roll of the ship, children were screaming as loud as they could. --- Bottles, tins, biscuits, bread, meat, soap and in fact, everything we had which was not secured was rolling about the ship. – The fittings of the berths were creaking as if the whole ship was coming to pieces. – Benches were overturned and as if to increase the confusion, the doors of the berths had no fastenings and were banging backward and forward beautifully. Boxes were knocking about and everything else that was moveable. To sit or stand or lie down with anything like comfort was out of the question --- all this while we were all too sick to help one another, will give you but a faint idea of an emigrant ship in rough weather. About four o’clock, a great shake was felt in all parts of the ship – I scrambled on deck, to ascertain the cause and found that the steam tug was some distance from the ship having broken both her lines one of them having carried away a portion of the bow of our ship. After some delay, we got our head into the wind and we were again connected to the steam tug. We again proceeded but in a short time the lines were again broken and with the wind increasing, the captain decided to run for the nearest port. At the time of speaking, I was lying on my bed in my berth [if indeed it could be called lying] being rolled with the ship into many different positions. One moment I was standing on my feet as the foot of the bed went down, the next, I was standing on my head for the foot of the bed had gone up. The next moment I was thrown against the wall of the berth which formed the side of our berth and in the next instance, I would have to use all my strength to prevent being thrown out the of the other side. Everyone was in the same state and you will not wonder that we were all very sick. I might also mention that the doctor and several of the sailors who had been at sea many times, were also very sick. Matters remained in this state when I heard someone cry out that we were close to land – I went on deck and found that we were not far from Weymouth in Dorsetshire and were running into Portland Bay. In about an hour we were safe behind the breakwater, the steam tug was stopped and once more we had the pleasure of standing upright on our legs. There were none of us in the best of spirits but we had our tea as comfortable as we could under the conditions and we were pleased that the captain had run into this place for a little rest. We had no singing or dancing tonight; I went to bed very glad of the chance of a little quiet. March 9th 1863. The wind blew fiercely all the two following days and we remained safe at anchor. At about four o’clock on this day, the sailors began singing as they took up the anchor and the steam tug was attached and we were dragged out to sea. The rest of the day passed beautifully fine and the scenery along the coast was delightful, toward evening we had a large amount of singing and dancing and other games. March 10th 1863. Early this morning, the wind rose to a fearful pitch and we were all awoke by the vessel rolling heavily. I went on deck soon after daylight and I found the sea was fearfully rough – the waves were higher than I had ever seen them at present and as the ship rolled, they seemed to reach the very clouds and threatened to rush across the ship. The sailors were very busy in all parts of the ship and the voice of the first mate could be heard giving orders above the howl of the wind and the roar of the sea. I became very sick and went below where the scene of the sixth of March was repeated but to a greater extent. --- A little while before twelve o’clock a shock was felt all over the ship and it was the tow lines which had broken again. --- The captain considered that the tug was of little use in such weather and he determined to send it back to London accordingly the sails were set and the tug was dispatched on its homeward journey --- at this time, we were about six or seven miles off Lands End. The weather continued about the same all this and the two following days. The women and children were nearly all done over, for want of something to eat for it was impossible to eat the hard biscuit and the salt meat, which was served out to us. I am sorry to say that the cooks were very disobliging fellows. However, on the third day the weather became calm and we became a great deal better. At about 10 o’clock at night we came in sight of the lighthouse at the entrance of Queenstown Harbor not more than five miles distance and we all expected to be awoken in the morning to find ourselves safe at anchor. In the morning we were all disappointed to find ourselves far out to sea again, the wind had became contrary during the night and driven us out. – The wind continued contrary and the sea more or less rough until the morning of the nineteenth, when we again sighted land. The sea was smooth and with a light breeze. We were making the harbour when two steam tugs came alongside and wanted to make a bargain with the captain to take us in for twenty pounds. The captain offered twelve and after a great deal of bantering, they agreed to take us in for thirteen pounds.--- In two hours we were entering the harbour and soon after passing in front of the town, a more beautiful sight I do not recollect to have seen. The white houses were scattered in the green hills and as they passed before us like a panorama it was a splendid scene. In half an hours time we were anchored in front of the principal part of the town about one hundred yards from the shore. The emigration officer came on board and gave the doctor orders to allow none of us to go on shore. But we were not to be done in that way and a great many went on shore without leave. The doctor finding that it would not do, to be too hard, began to give out passes to a few. Before we left, there was not one who wished to go, who did not go and some went as much as six or eight times. March 20th, 1863. This morning as soon as I had finished breakfast I applied to the doctor for a pass, it was given to me and I went on shore immediately. I was very much surprised to find so much poverty for although the town looked beautiful from the vessel's deck, when I was on shore and could take a nearer view, they appeared very wretched dwellings. They were all whitewashed or painted and this was the cause of the fine effect from a distance. But there were really some handsome dwellings scattered about on the hill outside of the town. The city of Cork is about sixteen miles from Queenstown but the fare by the steamboat is very low and feeling very much inclined to see Cork, I took the boat and proceeded about ten miles up the river and passed some pretty villas along the banks, we then landed and were taken By rail the remainder of the journey. The railway station is about half a mile from the centre of town but poverty is everywhere apparent among its inhabitants and ignorance is very common even among its shopkeepers and at one instance it took the united efforts of the whole male assistants of a large chemist shop to ascertain how much six ounces at tuppence halfpenny[two and a half cents] per ounce amounted to and what change I required out of half a crown [twenty five cents] and I found the same ignorance prevail in all shops where I had an occasion to call—we passed the day very agreeably in wandering about the town which we could not help admiring --- about six o’clock I returned to the railway station and proceeded to the place where we had landed in the morning and we found the steamboat waiting. On passing by our ship in the steamboat, we noticed a great deal of confusion on deck --- about eight o’clock we went on board and soon found the cause of the confusion, about four hundred and fifty Irish emigrants had been put on board during our absence and when we got on board we could scarcely push our way down to our berths and the confusion we saw in London was exceeded if possible. Some were crying, some were drinking whisky and others were singing while others were talking in a gibberish that the devil himself could not understand and while some were on their knees where a space large enough could be found, others were cursing and swearing right heartily. This continued till ten o’clock when they were ordered to their beds and the lights were put out. March 21st 1863. This morning we had an uproar such as is seldom seen, I have heard the devil admires confusion and if that is the truth, he would be highly delighted to be here. Women and children are lying about the deck in all directions, women bare legged and bare headed are lying about more like cattle than anything else---we have the dandy Irishmen from Dublin or Cork and we have the uncouth Irishman from the mountains but the most amusing part to see is the various kinds of vessels they have taken to receive their food in and while I am writing, I can see several who are getting their teas from their tin chamber pots and in front of me is a man hard at work eating from a frying pan while his wife is doing the same from a saucepan but it is impossible for a man of very ordinary abilities to write a hundredth part or to convey the faintest idea of what it is like. March 22nd 1863. This is Sunday and after prayers were read, the emigration commissioner came on board and we had to pass before them as we did at Gravesend and all those who had paid their whole passage were given their land orders but there was none of us Coventry people. A very strange thing happened and is the talk all over the ship, on Friday, a Lancashire man went on shore with some friends of his and in the course of the day, they all proceeded to Cork and when they returned he wished to stay till the last train. They left him but he never returned and last night about ten o’clock, an Irishman came on board stating that he had bought the mans contract ticket and his box for a few shillings, the box itself was valued at ten pounds and the captain, thinking all was not right, had him put under arrest. They searched his pockets and found the Lancashire mans pocket book and several of his private letters, which he had when he left the ship. Search has been made but no tiding of him can be found and we begin to fear he has met with foul play. March 23rd 1863. The sailors commenced raising the anchors this morning and we all knew that we were about to sail---two females who had gone ashore yesterday returned at an early hour this morning but the doctor refused to allow them to come on board because they were three parts drunk. Their boxes was put on shore, they applied to the police, the police came on board and the doctor was compelled to take them---about nine o’clock, two steam tugs came along side and we once more proceeded on our journey—the hills and the streets of the town were crowded with people, many of whom had come to see last of their friends and as soon as we began to move, a real Irish howl was sent forth from the ship and it was quickly answered from the shore and for half an hour the howling and yelling was continued---hats and handkerchiefs were waved on the shore while on the deck they yelled and capered about in a manner that would have done credit to a lot of savages---no sooner were we fairly started than it was discovered that three men were on shore they were three who had come round from London, they had gone ashore without leave and now every one of us who knew them was full of wonder to know how they would get on board---when we were rather more than a mile from the shore we perceived a boat put off from the shore, we could see six men in it, four of whom were rowing with all their might, for some time they gained on the vessel but after a bit they came in front of the wind and they lost ground considerably---the men offered the rowers more money and they continued to follow the ship and when we were some miles from where we started, the captain caused the steam tug to be stopped and soon they were alongside, when it was found that one man was missing---he had a wife and one child aboard who were compelled to make the voyage without him but when the pilot left us the captain sent him a new contract ticket that he might proceed in the next ship going to Queensland---the weather was beautiful and the ship was very steady but we had not gone many miles before a great deal of sickness began to show itself amongst the Irish, they were lying on the deck in grand style and we expected to see some fine sport when the weather became rough. April 11th 1863. Nothing of any consequence has occurred since we left Ireland as this may be read by those who are about to emigrate, it may be well to mention and I will here state the amount of provisions which are received on this voyage but it must be borne in mind that that according to an act of parliament, the same amount are not received on a shorter voyage, thus, in a voyage to America, not near the same amount would be received, for if a voyage is supposed to extend more than 84 days, the same quantity are given out that we receive but not in a shorter voyage. Each man receives; Biscuit; 3 ½ pound. Butter; 4 Ounces Meat; 3 ¼ pound Raisins; 8 Ounces Potatoes; 2 pound Pepper; ¼ Ounce Flour; 2 pound Mustard ½ Ounce Oatmeal; 1 Pound Pickl;es ¼ Pint Sugar; 1 Pound Lime Juice; 6 Ounces Rice; ½ Pound Water; 21 Quarts. Peas; 1 Pound This is one week’s rations, children under twelve months receive nothing but all children under twelve receive half the allowance for a man or woman but if they are over twelve, they receive the rations in full.
Since we left Queenstown, everything has gone on very smoothly with the exception of a few petty disturbances caused by the weak mindedness of the doctor and of the inability of the Purser, for a more weak minded fool than the doctor has seldom lived and the Purser is but a boy without anything like management about him. They have made themselves laughing stocks all over the ship but the doctor was frightened almost out of what little sense he possesses the other night, for a letter was thrown into his cabin threatening to shoot him. He was so frightened that he has had men guarding his cabin every night since and this morning he has called a meeting of the passengers on deck and declared his intention to hold the office of doctor no longer, a man may lie and die but he will not help him. If he keeps his word, some dreadful things will be seen for there are many on board that are dreadfully dirty—but the captain seems a sensible man and no doubt he will take things in hand. The weather has been beautiful and we enjoy ourselves extremely with all kinds of games and amusements, on the 28th of March, one of the passengers laid a wager that he would go aloft to the top of the foremast, he reached the top alright, followed by two sailors but no sooner did he wish to return than they bound him fast in the rigging nor would they let him go until he promised to give them a portion of the wager, it is a custom among them it seems.
On the 30th of March, I was looking over the ship's side when I saw a large fish come to the top of the water. I did not know what it was but the first mate put about a pound of pork on a very strong hook and threw it out, in less than a minute, he had it safely on the hook, it was pulled on deck and it turned out to be a shark, it showed us some fine antics when he was on deck until he was secured, he was cut open and its insides taken out, when it was loosened it surprised us all by capering about in an incredible manner. It measured five feet seven and a half inches, many fish of different kinds have been seen but the largest fish I have ever seen in my life was seen on the 31st of March, we did not see its whole length but its body was quite as large as the body of a horse.
April 12th 1863. The doctor has taken office again this morning but I do not know that we are better off, for he is not up to much either as a doctor or as a passenger.
This morning an Irishman who had been ill ever since he had been on board, died about half past nine. He had numerous family and the ship rang with their cries and lamentations. Soon after dinner, his body was sewn up in a piece of sail. Weights and his bed were all sewn together in his blankets and about four o’clock it was carried by six sailors from the hospital to the upper deck.
It was a solemn and impressive sight, there stood the priest in his white gown, his white hair shining in the bright blazing sunshine, the family of the corpse at its head and who's cries resounded through the whole ship. The priest wished to commence the service but could not be heard for the cries of the bereaved family, at last, in a stern voice he told them that he would not pray for the body unless they were all silent---in an instant, all were still, not a sound was heard except the rattle of the water at the ships side for we were speeding through the water at a brisk rate, the service was in Latin and we could not understand it.
In a few minutes, the priest voice ceased and the boards on which the body was lying were raised and the body slipped forward, a splash was heard, the vessel sped on her way and we had one passenger the less.
Loud and long were the screams of anguish that burst from the friends of the deceased and then all was over, every one of us was on deck and every elevated position in the ship was mounted, some on the cook house, some on the poop, while the rigging looked more like trees crowded with crows than anything else.
April 15th 1863. We are near the line [equator] and we are infernally hot. Men and women are in all kinds of costume and some are almost without any costume at all. Some have made trousers out of their sheets and have nothing on but them and their shirts. Between decks the heat is almost unbearable and at night it is almost impossible to be in the berths and many of us have not been in bed for a week and we are not likely to be in them for a week to come for there is scarcely any wind and we are proceeding very slowly—early this morning a vessel hove in sight and the first mate told the passengers that if they wanted to send letters, now was the time for the captain was going on the vessel. When it was about three miles distance from our ship, the boat was lowered, no sooner had the mate told them than a very animated scene presented itself, everyone commenced to write letters, some were writing on their knees, others on their beds, some on the hatchway steps and all seemed anxious to let their friends know that they were alive. About dinner time, the vessel came alongside and we could plainly see the crew watching us from the deck of their own ship—something was the matter with them for our doctor was sent for and we lay near each other for more than three hours. We were all on deck and when she came near, three very hearty cheers were sent up by the English passengers and a real Irish yell by the Irish. This morning a very gratifying discovery was made that a great many of the passengers had the itch, seventeen females were placed in the hospital and a general inspection has taken place, a number were found to be infected. The vessel proved to be the ‘City of Mobile’ from Brisbane bound to London. This morning soon after eight o’clock, another vessel came in sight, a boat came alongside and the vessel proved to be the ‘Sir John Lawrence from Australia to London. All letters that could be written while the ship was alongside was sent at the rate of sixpence each and in all probability they will reach England before those which we sent yesterday for she was a much finer vessel. April 17th 1863. The weather is dreadfully hot and it seems to have heated the blood of a great many passengers, particularly the Irish. They are beginning to be very quarrelsome, today at dinnertime, a dispute arose between an Irishman and an Englishman, a fight ensued in which the captain and first mate were struck, After some time, the Irishman was dragged to the captains cabin, the rest of the Irish gathered in groups all over the deck threatening the English most dreadfully. I heard some swearing and threatening to raise of a sudden and murder the whole of the English passengers but if they had, they would not have found us unprepared, for I believe every Englishman was ready and at night many of us lay outside our berths fully prepared for the encounter, however, the night passed away very quiet—I had forgot to state that a child had died yesterday, at an early hour in the morning I was standing on deck , at about half past seven I saw a man come up the hatchway steps carrying a bundle in his arms, he walked to the side of the vessel and I noticed that the doctor was behind him with an open book in his hand, they stood about two minutes and then the man threw the bundle overboard,. I was much surprised to see him throw the bundle away and I inquired what it was that he had thrown away, I asked several but no-one seemed to know, at last I was told it was a funeral, there were at least 100 people on deck and scarcely anyone knew that it was a funeral, this will give some idea of the manner in which protestants bury their children at sea. April 22nd 1863 On the night of the 17th, we passed the line, sailors and several of the petty officers got a great deal of drink and in fact, the drinking has been continued among the petty officers ever since yesterday. It was carried to a fearful pitch, almost all the officers were drinking and at night they quarreled and very strange things occurred, the third mate and another officer and one sailor were put in irons, the captain and the doctor were walking the deck throughout the night armed with pistols, threatening to shoot the first man who attempted any disturbance,----on the night of the 20th, another child died at about eight o’clock at night and about five minutes past ten, I was lying on the between decks when I saw a man pass with a large bundle, in less than a minute, I followed but the nights at the time were very dark and I could not see anything of the funeral. There were a few people on deck but no-one knew that a child was about to be buried, I had not been on deck more than two minutes when I heard a dull splash in the water and I knew it was the body of the child but there was neither priest nor mourners to be seen
April 30th 1863. Since I last added anything to this brief account of our voyage, death has been very busy among us. On the morning of the 24th, a man who had been ill from his first being on board, died. His body was carried on deck and placed in the port galleyway, a sail was hung at the entrance so that no-one would see it and in fact, since the first body was thrown overboard, everything has been done to render the proceedings as quiet and as secret as possible, no-one was allowed on the other side of the sail except the sail maker to sew the body up in blankets and his relations [the relations of the deceased I mean] and the doctor to read prayers, five or six of the passengers ascended the rigging and they were the only persons who knew the exact moment when the body was thrown overboard and there were scores of people on the deck who did not know that anything of the kind was taking place. On the morning of the 28th, a child eleven days old died about an hour after. We were all sitting at breakfast when we saw the sail maker pass with a large bundle in his arms, it was taken on deck and thrown overboard without even the parents being acquainted with what they were about to do. A few minutes past 12 o’clock this morning, death again came amongst us, this time it was a married woman who had catched the measles which at this time are very common amongst the children, in less than an hour, the body was thrown overboard. None of the passengers knew until we were told by the men who are appointed to watch the doctors cabin. I mentioned on the 11th of April that owing to a threatening letter being thrown into the doctors cabin, men had been appointed to watch for he was weak minded enough to be afraid for his life. Soon after daylight this morning, something like a small cloud appeared on the distant horizon and for more than two hours there were differences of opinion among the passengers as to whether it was a cloud or land, at length, its unchanging form convinced us that it was land. It proved to be the island of Trinadad*, it is a small island but bold and rocky and barren without inhabitants and many hundreds of miles from the main land. About two o’clock, we passed within six or seven miles of it , the first land we had seen since we left Queenstown, everyone was on deck to see it *[certainly not Trinidad –Tobago but probably one of the Fernando De Noronha Islands off Brazil. Ed.]
May 5th 1863. This was a very bad day, the wind rose very high-the sea ran in tremendous waves knocking our noble ship unmercifully, the thunder rolled and it lightninged heavily while the rain came down in perfect torrents, there are about seven hundred and twenty of us and when we are all crowded between decks, it is to be seen that it is anything but comfortable –about ten o’clock in the morning a shock was felt which caused some dismay amongst the passengers and scores rushed on deck to see what was the matter, it proved to be one of the jib ropes which had been broken by the violence of the tempest, one of the sails was thrown slack in the wind causing a noise like thunder--at night the scene was beautifully grand as the thunder had ceased but the wind rushed through the rigging with a noise equal to it and the lightning lit up the sky making it as blue and as clear as it is in summertime at midday and although between flashes it is so dark that we could not tell one from the other, when the flashes did occur, we could have seen a pin lying on the deck.
May 13th 1863. We are off the Cape of Good Hope and the wind is very strong, it has been very strong since we the morning of the 5th and we are driving through the water at a rate which has never been attained before on this voyage, we are doing three hundred miles in the day of 24 hours—a child died about four o’clock this afternoon and was thrown overboard about six—the weather has become very cold and it is not daylight till near eight in the morning—at dusk tonight, the wind increased and some of the sails were taken in and we all expected a rough night but we had not been in bed long before a great shock was felt which caused the ship to tremble from end to end—many of us jumped out of bed and rushed on deck to ascertain what it was—we found that one of the stunsail booms [a large spar, three feet in circumference] had been broken by the violence of the wind. We found there was no danger and very soon we were snug in our berths again.
May 14th 1863. Today the weather is very rough but another stunsail boom was hoisted to the yardarm.
May 15th 1863. Weather still very stormy, about 12 today, the new stunsail boom broke short in two and we are rolling about very uncomfortably.
May 16th 1863. The weather continues very rough, a child died this morning about six and was thrown over about seven, there is not much ceremony here.
May 17th 1863. Weather very bad, another child died last night but as it belonged to a cabin passenger, it was not thrown overboard until about eight this morning.
May 19th 1863. At an early hour this morning, the wind reached a fearful pitch and before the sails could be taken in, the main staysail was torn to ribbons with a noise like thunder. It is very cold and foggy snow has fallen and we can not see many yards from the ship's side. The ship is rolling very unpleasantly, causing us to run against each other in a laughable manner.
May 20th 1863. This morning a child died, it died of the measles which are very bad amongst the children and the doctor is of no more use than an old washerwoman, in fact the captain comes round every morning to see who is ill and he seems to know more than the doctor for he gives him directions and states to him what he is to administer in each case and the captain says he would have done much better for us if we had no doctor. In about an hour after the child died, I saw the sail maker go into the hospital where the child lay still wearing the clothes in which it had died. He spread an old biscuit bag on the floor and taking the child from the bed he rolled it up clothes and all with two pieces of coal to sink it, over this he rolled another piece of bagging and tied all tight with some old rope—as soon this was done, he picked up the bundle and went straight on deck. I followed and saw him proceed along the deck until he reached the poop no sooner did he reach the poop than he threw the body over the rail into the sea, the captain and one sailor were the only persons I could see on the poop at the time and there were neither prayers nor rights of any kind performed—so you see, it will not do to go to sea to have a fuss made with you.
May 21st 1863.
The mariner who first discovered the Cape of Good Hope called it the Cape of Storms and well he might, for we have had nothing else since we have been near it, it has been thought among the passengers that when the wind changed, it would be warmer and calmer but it changed in the night and we are sorely mistaken for the wind is much stronger and colder, the air is clear but the sea is in the wildest commotion—about eight o’clock this morning another child died entirely through the neglect of the doctor. It being the second belonging to the same parents, it was rolled and sewn up on the floor between decks and thrown overboard within an hour of its death but this time, prayers were read by the doctor who is neither more or less than a respectable blackguard.
May 22nd 1863. This morning the wind is not so strong and the sea is calmer—there is a clear frosty air and the sun is shining beautifully, death, the king of terrors paid us another visit this morning, this time taking two children, one belonging to my fellow berth mate and I could safely swear that it was entirely through the neglect of the doctor. He never has given it anything of any kind. The bodies were thrown over in about half an hour and no prayers were read, this time the doctor being too lazy to leave his cabin.
May 24th 1863. Yesterday, the weather was calm though it was very cold but this morning the storm king has come again and it is so rough that prayers cannot be read nor mass held on deck it being Sunday and I may here mention that it has never been neglected before.
May 25th 1863. This morning, we have the storm king around us arrayed in all its terrors, the sea is in the wildest commotion, every few minutes, the waves are dashing over the ship half drowning those who are unfortunate enough to be on deck at the time—we are all crowded below and are nearly starved to death for there is not enough room for exercise if the rolling would allow it but, it is impossible—tons of water were dashed down the hatchways by the violence of sea making the between decks as uncomfortable as the upper deck. We were all glad to go to our berths at an early hour but there was no sleep for we could barely keep ourselves from being thrown out of bed by the rolling of the ship—about twelve o’clock in the night, we were all alarmed by a heavy sea breaking over the vessel and my fellow berth mate and two of his children were half drowned in their beds through the ventilator which was just over their bed not being properly fastened—a pleasant thing to walk about between decks in cold weather with your clothes dripping wet.
May 28th 1863. The weather has been fearfully stormy till about two o’clock this morning when the wind dropped and although it is not smooth, it is a great deal better—two other children died this morning, they were thrown over in a short tome and no prayers were read this time for the doctor was not up. He first murders them through neglecting them and then refuses to read prayers because it is too much trouble.
May 29th 1863. This morning a petition was sent to the captain demanding the dismissal of the cook and the baker, the provisions have been cooked in a very bad manner and they have never failed to insult the passengers when they have had the chance—the captain would not discharge them as they promised to behave better in the future—another child died tonight and was thrown over in about twenty minutes, before the body was cold and no prayer this time.
June 1st 1863. This morning the wind is not strong but there is a very heavy swell on the sea which has caused a fatal accident to one of the passengers, the vessel was rolling heavily and it was almost impossible o stand on deck, one of the passengers was thrown by the heaving of the vessel across a rope which was slack at that time although it was attached to one of the sails, at the moment he fell, the wind suddenly filled the sail and the rope was jerked tight and he was thrown with great violence over the ships side into the foaming sea, a cry was raised on the instant but before the ship could be stopped and a lifeboat could be lowered, we had proceeded more than half a mile and a quarter of an hour had elapsed, this was caused by everything being found out of order. On the first outcry, one of the sailors ran to the lifebouys but they were fastened so tight that he could not get one off till it was too late and when the sailors attempted to lower the boat, it was found to be out of order too for it was lashed to a spar and the blocks had never been greased since we left London, so that by the time the boat touched the water, the man was not seen, eight brave fellows were in her and it was an exciting thing to see the beautiful manner in which that little boat rode the waves, one moment it was perched on the top of a mighty wave and the next, men and boat was lost to view as they sank over the wave into the valley of waters behind—every praise was due to the seamen who were in the boat but no trace of the drowning man could be found and they were compelled to return without him—he was a young man about 24 years of age—he had a brother and sister on board and he was very much respected—while crossing the line a boy was sun struck but he had lingered on in great misery until about eleven o’clock tonight when he died. The body was thrown over in about an hour.
June 3rd 1863. Another stunsail boom was broken by the strength of the wind today, making the third since we left Queenstown. About four o’clock this afternoon another child died and was thrown over soon after—no prayers this time.
June 6th 1863. Today, death has been very busy amongst us and four children have died, their bodies were thrown over soon after death taking place, no prayers.
June 8th 1863. Death is making a havoc amongst the children and I am sorry to record that three other children have died today—otherwise nothing worthy of note has occurred.
June 9th 1863. Two other children have died today, it is a fearful thing to have to record the deaths of so many human beings.
June 10th 1863. About eight o’clock this morning, two other children died making thirty two deaths in all and I am very sad to write that several others are not expected to reach land—about seven o’clock tonight as we were amusing ourselves as best we could, a cry was raised which caused every heart to leap, the cry of fire caused everyone to spring to their feet and we could plainly see the light streaming through the hatch from below—in an instant everything was in the wildest confusion, women and children were screaming in all directions while there was a general rush for all parts of the ship to the place where the fire existed, the whole of the crew were turned out and the fire engine was brought forward when it was found, like everything else on board, completely out of order. Thank god its services were not required for the fire was found to proceed from a very slight cause and it was very soon put out. In about an hour everything was over and we were as quiet as usual.
June 12th 1863. Weather beautiful, we are in the South Pacific—it is warmer and the sea is quite calm—two other children died today making it thirty-four deaths in all.
June 14th 1863. Weather very rough, another child died today.
June 15th 1863. Great preparations being made for landing, the sailors are very busy raising the chain cable and getting the anchors ready, the upper deck is being scoured in all directions ready for the commissioner’s inspection. Another child died tonight.
June 20th 1863. A tea and convivial party was got up in the married department tonight, the health’s of the captain, the officers and crew were drank and the evening passed off very agreeably.
June 22nd 1863. At an early hour this morning, one of the lamps which burn in the hatchways caught fire, in a few minutes, the greatest uproar prevailed and another singular scene presented itself, scores rushed from their berths in a state of perfect nudity, others commenced to kick the fire in all directions while some were shouting and running about more like mad men than anything else. However, no damage was done. About one o’clock we sighted land, it proved to be Wide Bay and Sandy Island lying off the coast of Queensland. At dusk we could plainly see a cluster of islands called Sandy Cliffs. A little before dark, while lying about twenty miles from the land, a beautiful Australian butterfly was caught on deck.
June 23rd 1863. Everyone was up early this morning looking anxiously for land but the land we saw yesterday was left far behind but another island was in sight lying off Harvey Bay.
June 24th 1863. Soon after daylight this morning, we again sighted the Queensland coast and we sailed along the shore about twenty-mile distance through the whole day. We passed a great many islands and about eight o’clock at night the captain, finding the water very shallow he decided to cast anchor during the night. Another child died today.
June 25th 1863. About two o’clock this morning, another child died and was thrown over soon after. At four, the sailors began to get up the anchors and about six, we proceed again. We passed several rugged looking islands and about one o’clock the anchors were cast in Keppel Bay. We expect the government steamer to come down the river to take us to the depot, we are lying within half a mile of the land and it looks very fine but there is no life to be seen.
June 26th 1863. We are all on deck at an early hour this morning. Several large sharks were seen in the bay but nothing alive could be seen on shore except some birds. We remained the whole day anxiously looking for the steamer but we received no tiding of it until about midnight when the commissioner and other officers came alongside and the whole ship was in an uproar, many sat up the whole night.
June 27th 1863. About 7 o’clock this morning, the steamer came alongside and we all had to pass before the commissioner. By three o’clock in the afternoon everything was ready and after giving three very hearty cheers to our friends whom we left on the ship and who were going to Brisbane, the steamer started up the river Fitzroy on its way to Rockhampton. The scenery along the banks of the river was very fine, the trees were growing into the water on both sides up the hillsides and as far as the eye could reach, nothing but trees met the view—nothing with life could be seen, everything was still except the noise we made and which appeared to astonish some birds which flew very near the steamer. About six we came in sight of a steamer which was wrecked on some sand banks which we had to pass and the tide not being high enough, we had to wait until there was water enough for the steamer to pass with safety, by this time it had become quite dark, we had not been proceeding very long before we were all startled by two cannons being fired on deck and at the same instant, two rockets were sent into the air. We were told that this was a signal to let the people at Rockhampton know that the steamer was near. In a very short time, we were in front of the town, the town we had come so many thousands of miles to see. It would be impossible to describe it exactly as it appeared to us that night, we could see on the bank of the river, about a score of tents made of calico, the highest portion of which was not seven feet from the ground on the outside of each tent at some little distance was a wood fire by the light of which we could see the people passing from one tent to another, a little farther on we came in sight of some wooden huts. The moon shone out brightly about this time and we could plainly see three or four large wooden buildings which bore the appearance of public houses and one butcher shop. About four hundred of the inhabitants of the place assembled on the bank of the stream and gave us a noisy welcome, some were shouting to us to inquire if there were any men from such and such a country, others were inquiring if such and such a man was with us. At this time we were lying in the middle of the stream and we were very much surprised when the anchor was let go and we were told that we would not be allowed on shore that night and that we must pass the night on deck without beds or covering of any kind. This was very unpleasant considering that many of us could not get at our boxes to get our blankets. In about two hours we were served with plenty of fresh beef and bread and tea which was a great treat to us after being without so long, by this time, the people on shore had left us for the fog had become so thick that they could not even see the vessel. We passed that night very miserably, for it was very cold and the vessel was too crowded for us to walk about. Everything must have an end and so the night had an end, daylight came at length, the sun shone out so brightly and in a very few minutes the fog was gone and soon we were as much too hot as we had been too cold. After we had partaken of a hearty breakfast, the commissioner came on board and we were allowed to go ashore and directed to go to the depot, which was about a mile from the place where we landed. We left our luggage behind which was sent up to the depot free of any expense, about two hundred of the men of the place [for I cannot bring myself to call it a town yet] came to see us land and no doubt they thought we were a poor looking lot, for some of us had been without sleep for four or five nights and we were all very dirty knocking about the steamer during the night. However, they did not seem to despise us for they were very friendly towards us and several carpenters amongst us had work offered to them before we had been on shore half an hour. We straggled on a few at a time in to what they called the town, we found that most of the dwellings were of calico about seven feet high along what they call the streets we found some more substantial buildings of wood covered with zinc, these were at intervals of sixty or eighty yards apart and there were a few brick buildings which were two stories high and which is a novelty here. We reached the depot at length, where we found everyone hustling about looking after his or her luggage which had begun to arrive. We found the depot to consist of two large wooden sheds, one of which was fitted up with berths to accommodate one hundred emigrants, the other was parted off into several large rooms, there was also a number of calico tents about seven feet square and not more than six feet high in the highest part. There were no beds of any kind in the depot and as the whole of us had thrown our beds overboard before we left the ship, we were without. But I heard no complaints, everyone seemed to be happy to be on shore even without a bed and as many of us had lain on the boards for the last two months before we left the ship, it was nothing new to be without a bed. We found our luggage alright and in about two hours we were served with plenty of good beef, potatoes and bread and tea and sugar. Frying pans were sent up to us and very soon we were enacting the first scene in the drama of bush life. It would have done you good to have seen us at that time with at least a hundred fires burning amongst the trees, on the top of each fire a frying pan fizzled away beautifully and the sides of the fire surrounded with kettles containing potatoes, tea and co. In the after part of the day, the depot was visited by all of the people of the place who were in want of servants and by the time it was dark, about fifty of the emigrants had been engaged. This was considered very good especially as it was Sunday.
June 29th 1863. This morning I took a stroll into the town such as it is, I found there was but one street that could be considered as such, this I found to be properly macadamised [road graveled] and with some very tidy looking shops but the thing that surprised me most was that so much had been done in so short a time, five years ago, this place was scarcely known. I found there were four places of worship but I found there were more public houses than anything else and a fine business it is here, for drunkenness is very common, as I was walking along, a chance offered and I earned my first shilling in the colony.
June 30th 1863. About one hundred emigrants were engaged yesterday and today, a great many more are engaging, as I was standing at one of the fires, a gentleman came to me and inquired if I was engaged, I replied that I was not but that I wished to be, he then made me an offer which I accepted, the station to which he belonged was four hundred miles from Rockhampton, two hundred of which we were to go by water, the other two hundred we were to walk with bullock drays for guides. The vessel which was to take us away was not yet arrived but was expected in within a week during which time he was to keep us at a boarding house for all parties are turned out of the depot as soon as they are engaged.
July 1st 1863. Today, we left the depot and have gone to the boarding house where we are more comfortable.
July 8th 1863. The week spoken of at our engagement has expired and the vessel has not arrived.
July 15th 1863. Another week and no vessel, this is the more annoying as our wages are not to commence until we reach the station.
July 29th 1863. Another week and the vessel has not arrived but news has reached the agents that she is fast upon some sand banks and that another vessel has been laid on to run in her place. We are very anxious to get away for it is very tiresome waiting here, there is no amusement here except going to see the native blacks, there is a tribe of about four hundred about half a mile out of town and to see them sitting and capering around their fires [all quite naked] with their ugly faces, wooly hair and grinning teeth is a very queer sight to say the least of it. The police of the town do not allow them to come into town unless they put some clothes on but it is not uncommon to see a grown woman with nothing on except a shirt scarcely large enough for a boy of eight.
August 1st 1863. The vessel arrived yesterday and today we went on board, it is a steamer and we expect to reach our destination in forty-eight hours, we left Rockkhampton at ten o’clock at night.
August 2nd 1863. Today, we are rolling about on the ocean again and what was very surprising, we were all very sick. We found the provisions of the ship, first rate but the accommodations were very bad with regards to berths. The price of our fare was three pounds ten shillings for each of us.
August 3rd 1863.
About two o’clock today, the anchor was cast and we were told that we had about eight miles to go but there was not water enough for the vessel to go any farther and that we must go in the small boats. In about an hour, the small boats left the ship and the sailors rowed us across the bay and up the Pioneer River. A little before sunset, we came alongside a large wooden building and we were told that this was the place we were going to land. We had a letter from the agent in Rockhampton and we made an application and produced the letter and we were sent, for that night, to a public house not far from where we landed and were told that we must see the agent again in the morning
*The vessel ‘Belfapore’ or ‘Belapore’ did not exist, historians still include either one of the above names as being fact but the truth is, the vessel on which Abijah and Emma Good arrived at Rockhampton Queensland, was the ‘Beejapore’, a vessel chartered by the Black Ball Line for emigrant to Queensland. Although this may seem a small area of concern, it can lead to a great deal of extra work trying to find vessels that don’t exist. Thankfully, we have libraries where passenger lists of the arriving vessels are stored for all time. I have unearthed a few amusing items in my research of this particular diary but none more than the Depot manager’s list of passengers who arrived on this vessel. Abijah Good was given the name Abigail by someone who could not read his handwriting when copying the shipping lists. It is a shame that the State Library of Queensland has not rectified this error for copies of the diary are in the Mackay library and I am sure that the State Library also has a copy. It would be sad to see his family with an incorrect name for their head as they go on through history, Abijah Good and his family remained in Port Mackay [Queensland] for a little over a month while waiting for his masters bullock teams to arrive, during this period he obtained temporary work as cook at the Royal Hotel [because ‘I was the only person there who could cook’] The hotel had only earthen floors and a limited number of seats. He remained there for several weeks until he was able to be transferred to the property to which he was contracted, some two hundred miles inland. It was here that the family remained for some time. Perhaps this story could be described as a very normal emigrant passage and arrival in the new settlements but the deaths of so many children due to measles, did not happen on every voyage and the Goode family were very lucky to arrive without mishap.