Friday, August 2, 2013

James Pilgrim and the Lady Milton



The Pilgrimage to Australia

20th June 1858 – 10 October 1858


James Pilgrim was 22 when he left his family, job and home town to take a dangerous voyage to an uncertain future on the other side of the world, knowing that he would never see his family ever again.

It was such a long and costly journey in the 1800s, that once you left England; it was unlikely that you would ever return.

James is my great great grandfather.  He was one of 39,295 people who emigrated from United Kingdom to Australia in 1858, hoping for a better life.  His decision would have been made easier as his elder brother John had immigrated to Australia three years earlier.


The Times
London, Friday June 11 1858

The voyage from UK to Australia, which on average took 3½ months in 1858, was fraught with danger and many passengers died.  Sea sickness was a common problem but even worse, gastro, scarlet fever, measles, typhoid and small pox plagued many ships.

The steerage passengers lived below deck in conditions that were most often dark, damp and cramped.  Vermin such as rats, lice and cockroaches infested most vessels. 


1858 Colonization Circular
James chose to make the voyage on the two year old Lady Milton, which was described as a “first class British Clipper” in the London Times.  

James was an "unassisted passenger" and paid the full fare for his ticket to Australia.  The cost of passage on the Lady Milton was 14 guineas and upward (14 Pound, 14 Shillings), which was equivalent to about six months of wages for an agricultural labourer like James.

The Ship Lady Milton
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Reference Number: NON-ATL-0065


The Lady Milton was a 902 ton, fully rigged ship, built at St Andrews, Scotland in 1856 by William Townshend and Charles Short.  
The Lady Milton left London a week late, on the 20th June 1858 and sailed for 113 days, reaching Melbourne on the 10th October 1858.  The ship was fully laden with cargo but unusually, there were only twenty three people onboard; captain Benjamin Stacey, a surgeon, two other crew and nineteen passengers, including one child.

It is likely that this was the maiden voyage of the Lady Milton and passengers were reluctant to board the ship until after she had proven her sail worthiness.  In future voyages, the Lady Milton was primarily used for government and assisted passengers with up to 320 immigrants on board.

“The choice of the Commissioners certainly fell on an eligible vessel when they selected the Lady Milton for it has not lately occurred that such roomy tween decks have been seen by the officers boarding. They even exceed those of some of the old ships we were wont to eulogise”.
The South Australian Advertiser - 30 November 1865

1858
Lady Milton Passenger List

It is my intention to trace each of the 19 passengers, who arrived at Port Phillip on the 10th October 1858, and determine where they settled and what became of them.

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31 comments:

  1. Hello
    This is my first sepia Saturday
    I am learning so much reading everyone's post I am starting to worry mine will be too boring and not so informative as all you clever people I enjoyed your post in some ways I think he was lucky to be on a ship with just twenty people sounds better than steerage in most ships! Good luck in your search of the other 19
    Jackie

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    1. Welcome to Sepia Saturday Jackie.

      I would say that the passengers did alot of the crew work too as there were very few crew for such a large boat.

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  2. Wow, this was simply a vacation and inspiring learning experience all in one post.

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    1. It was very interesting to research too :)

      Just realised that I didn't mention that James Pilgrim is my Great Great Grandfather (I know who he is!) so will alter.

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  3. Good luck with sourcing them. I presume the ship was built at St Andrews Scotland.

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    1. Thanks Bill.

      Yes you are right. I have updated the blog. Thank you :)

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  4. Sharon, what a great picture of the Lady Milton. And I will be interested in your tracking down of each and every one of the 19 passengers. What a fun project!

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    1. Thank you Joan.

      Yes I think it would be a good project, made so much easier by so few passengers :)

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  5. So interesting. I hope you will post what you learn about what became of the passengers.

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    1. Definitely........but don't think it will be in the near future :)

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  6. What an interesting project, for which I wish you all the best of luck. I hope that before long you'll be swamped with emails from descendants of those 19 passengers.

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  7. What a great goal Sharon. Let us know how you go won't you. I often think if I found out more about fellow passengers, I'd found out that they were neighbours or in laws or friends back in the old country...but maybe not. Certainly your story will be richer for the research.

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    1. Thank you Alex. I have so many little projects that I want to research but not enough time to dedicate to them yet. I don't look forward to getting older but bring on retirement!

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  8. I agree, a great goal - and yes, lucky there were only 19 passengers or you could be at it all year!
    Thank you for adding to my 'tale' with all the wonderful details about the voyage.
    I love your play on words: pilgrimage of James Pilgrim - did you intend that!?

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    1. Too true Jackie. 19 passengers should be achievable :)

      Yes the play on words is deliberate. This blog is an excerpt from the Pilgrim family history book that I wrote.

      Congratulations on your Top 50 Blog Award.

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    2. I love clever titles but often so hard to think of at the time you actually need them.
      Congratulations to you to - on the Top 50 - well deserved.

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  9. You have really put the tough decision to leave home and start over in a strange land in perspective with those details about mice and scarlet fever. Either home was really that bad or the opportunities that great to risk illness and/or death.

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    1. Amazing isn't it! Three of the children came to Australia (all farming related). Their father was a chandler and owned property so had more money than most. I couldn't imagine taking such a risk.

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  10. The Lady Milton is impressive from the outside but I suspect being on board was no picnic for anyone.
    I will lokk forward to what you find about the other passengers, You have set yourself quite a task.
    Good to see a ship made in St Andrews where I went to university.

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    1. I think the Lady Milton would have been better than most. It was a new boat so wouldn't have been as bad as many of them.

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  11. You tell such a fascinating story backed up by evocative images.

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    1. Thank you Sue. I am recording for my family but it is great if others enjoy them too.

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  12. How wonderful that you have so much information on James Pilgrim and his voyage. Whenever I read of the hardships faced by these early emigrants I am amazed at their courage and fortitude. Hats off to your great great grandfather!

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    1. He seems to be quite an amazing man from the research that I have done.

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  13. Sounds like an interesting project.

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    1. I look forward to retirement when I may get time to complete some of them!

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  14. You should be able to find some newspaper references to the ship and its passengers on the Trove website. I just did a quick search ("Lady Milton" 1858) and some of the passengers are mentioned in obituaries.

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  15. And here I thought the Lady Milton was a woman that your relative wound up marrying in Australia! :-)

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    1. That's what I wanted people to think :)

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