Monday, 23 July 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 28 - Travel

As I pack my suitcase to travel to England at the end of the week for five weeks, there is time to reflect on what it must have been like make a similar journey in the nineteenth century. I have written a to-do list, started packing the suitcase but I have the luxury of knowing that if I forget anything I will be able to buy it in England in a few days. The trip will take me less than 24 hours. By contrast it was not so easy for my great, great grandmother who travelled between England and Australia or England and India, by ship, many times.

In week 22 of this challenge - So Far Away - I wrote a post about how members of two branches of my family, the Mackillops and the Huttons, regularly travelled to India or to Australia. Another travel related post was written for one of my assignments for the Diploma of Family History where I wrote about George Hutton's voyage to Australia aboard the SS Somersetshire in 1869. George travelled to Australia on his own but what would it have been like to travel with a family aboard a ship on a voyage that could take months?

Eleanora Mackillop was born in Edinburgh in 1830. In 1832 her father, George Mackillop, and mother, Jean Eleonora Hutton, decided to take the family to India. George was a merchant in India and the decision was made to relocate to that country for a time to keep an eye on his business interests there. Both George and Jean had travelled between England and India previously. They had married in Calcutta in 1820 and their first three sons were born in India.They then returned with the boys to Edinburgh.

Five children accompanied their parents on the voyage in 1832. Eleonora was around two while her brother George was eleven, Charles was eight, John was six and James was a month or two old.
Example of a trunk used to transport clothes etc on ship voyages
As the whole family travelled to India, this was not planned as a short stay in that country. The family would therefore have packed trunks full of clothes and other possessions required for when they arrived. The Mackillop family was well off and staff would have accompanied them to assist on the journey, however it would still be quite an undertaking.

The family settled down to life in Calcutta. The British had been trading in India for more than eighty years and accommodation for British merchants in Calcutta could be described as comfortable with many staff.  However in July1833 James, now ten months old, died. This would have been devastating for the family and several months later they were once again on the move. This time the destination was Hobart Town in Van Diemens Land.

Of course, maybe the long term plan had always been to travel to and settle in Van Diemens Land where many families with ties to India had already settled. We will never know. However George obviously decided that this was the time to move again.

While the British had been in India since the mid 1750s, Hobart Town had been established as a penal colony only since 1804. However by early 1834 there were many opportunities for merchants, especially with ties to India, so George and his family moved into a large house in Davey Street.

In July 1834, a second daughter, Mary Rose, was born in Hobart Town followed by her sister, Georgina in April 1837. However tragedy had struck again in November 1836 when George and Jean's eldest son, also George died, aged 15.
St David's Cemetery
It was shortly after this that George first put the Davey Street house on the market with the intention of returning to Edinburgh. However this trip did not take place until about 1840. Once again George, Jean and their family boarded the ship for the long voyage back to Scotland.

While in Australia, George boarded a ship to Sydney in January 1835 before travelling to Monaro in southern New South Wales. From there he led a party of men to look for good land for pasture over the Victorian border. During the next few years he made a number of trips across Bass Strait and was one of the pioneers of the new settlement of Melbourne, though his home base remained Hobart.

Back in Scotland the family remained in Edinburgh for a number of years before moving to Bath in southern England.

In June 1849, Eleonora Mackillop married William Forbes Hutton, an officer in the British Army in India so the travelling began again.Their first son was born in England then Eleonora travelled to India with William. A daughter was born in India and when Eleanora returned to England in 1853 a second daughter was born. These three children remained in Bath with Jean and George when Eleonora returned, once more, to India. Another daughter and then a son were born in India before Eleonora and William returned to Bath. Two daughters and another four sons were born in England between 1859 and 1869.

In 1869, Eleonora's's eldest son travelled to Australia, followed by his father in May 1871. Eleonora made her final long distance voyage arriving in Melbourne with her younger children in May 1874.

There were many dangers travelling by sea in the nineteenth century as Eleonora knew. In November 1808 her grandfather, William Charles Hutton, a ship's captain, died at sea. Then, shortly after Eleonora and William settled in Victoria, a ship carrying their furniture was shipwrecked off the Victorian coast.

1 comment:

  1. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris