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The Voyage of the Bussorah Merchant in 1839

The Bussorah Merchant, of 531 tons, left Bristol 15 April 1839 with 236 emmigrants aboard. Two of the 84 children died on the voyage (girls aged 7 yrs and 6 mths).

One child was born on board. He was Andrew Charles Bussorah SHIPWAY whose eldest brother
John married Wilmott Melhuish THOMPSON who was also on board. The THOMPSON family was also connected to Hawkesbury, as were the WICKS and VAISEY families.


This is the Surgeon's Report on arrival

Nature of principal diseases which occurred on board: fever, inflamation of the bowel, colic, worms, dihorrea etc.

General state of the vessel on arrival with respect to health: Very good.

Length of voyage: 141 days, including 12 days at anchor in (indec) Bay.

Date of arrival at Port Jackson: 3rd December 1839.

Divine service was performed 14 times (i.e. every Sunday) when the weather permitted; and on each occasion a sermon was read. All the emigrants were Protestant. Two schools were established: one for each sex, and about 54 children attended very regularly.

To prevent idleness and consequent disease, the males were obliged to clean the decks and invited to assist the crew in working the ship, which they did very willingly. The females, also, were obliged to clean their own bed place, and were encouraged in their attempts to improve their sewing, by repairing their clothes, making and repairing bed curtains and other light works. They were likewise allowed, and urged to walk much , at a quick pace, on the quarter deck, and around the capstan, which is good exercise at sea, because the motion of the vessel compels the persons so engaged to use considerably more muscular exertion than would be required in going a greater distance on shore, or in a ship at anchor.

The best of all amusements and exercises on shipboard, could not be procured for the emigrants - I mean dancing - because no individual among the crew or passengers could play the violin or any other musical instrument; to make up in some degree for this deprivation, such as the males and females, at the much inferior to that of Catalance ? were permitted and encouraged to give evening concerts of vocal music and thus an innocent amusement was afforded both to the performers and to others who could not join them.

The lower deck was kept constantly dry (never being washed), and was almost daily rubbed with sand, after careful scraping, and occasional sprinkling with a strong solution of chloride of lime; no persons except those actively engaged in the work being allowed to remain below, during the process of cleaning the deck and berths. The bottom boards of the berths were carefully lifted, almost every day, in order both to promote a free circulation of air, and that no filth of any description might be suffered to remain on the deck below them.

It may be added that such of the males as were mechanics, were allowed to work at their respective trades, and that to such occupations in a great degree, and still more so to the cordial co-operation of Captain Moncrief and his officers, in all that was attempted and recommended, may be ascribed the almost unexampled good health of the emigrants during a voyage of unusual length.

James Scott M C
Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London,
Surgeon Superintendent.


The ship was still sailing in 1853

Master: Captain P.D. Blyth
Rigging: Ship [three masts]
sheathed in felt and doubled in 1833;
sheathed in yellow metal in 1852; fastened with iron bolts.
Tonnage: 531 tons
Construction: 1818 in Calcutta, using Teak; top sides & deck doubled in 1846
Owners: D. Dunbar
Port of registry: London
Port of survey: London

(Thanks to Doug Thompson for ferreting these details out)



The Voyage of the Bussorah Merchant in 1839

The Bussorah Merchant, of 531 tons, left Bristol 15 April 1839 with 236 emmigrants aboard. Two of the 84 children died on the voyage (girls aged 7 yrs and 6 mths).

One child was born on board. He was Andrew Charles Bussorah SHIPWAY whose eldest brother
John married Wilmott Melhuish THOMPSON who was also on board. The THOMPSON family was also connected to Hawkesbury, as were the WICKS and VAISEY families.


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