Friday, November 25, 2016

Journey from Scotland to Australia

George SIM > John Wm SIM > Elizabeth GRUER-SIM
Imagine Elizabeth Gruer (1832-1907) and her sister Flora (1831-) leaving their home and family in Scotland for the chance at better lives (and rich husbands) in Australia.

In 1850 Scotland, people were being evicted from their farms.  Many took the opportunity to leave the country and the most popular destinations were Australia and Canada.  Australia needed women and young women were often given free passage.  Advertisements were targeted towards women in work houses and orphanages.  There was also a gold rush in Australia about this time.

From Sidney's Immigrant Journal

  News article advertising Austrialian immigration

The girls left Liverpool on 16 June 1851 on a ship called The Reliance (805 tons) under Captain Henry B. FELL.  The journey would take a grueling 3 months. 
Map of RELIANT route, 1851

View the passenger list (single women are at the bottom of the page)
You may note that there is also a James SIM on this manifest and there is a theory that this was Elizabeth's future husband, but no documentation has been found to support this. 

Ship manifest includes 313 emigrants and ships surgeon-superintendent J. ROBERTSON. Historical records tell of seasickness, disease and lice infestations. Rations were meager and conditions were similar to what they had been aboard the earlier convict ships. There was an unusually high number of deaths on this ship.  The first casualty was 24 year old female who died of a “disease of the heart” one month into the journey.  On July 22, a male passenger went insane and threw himself overboard.  Four adults and one child died of typhoid fever, 2 adults died of consumption, 1 adult died of diarrhea, an infant died of mesenteric disease and 4 other infants died of lung inflammation.

Enduring these dismal conditions, the girls finally landed in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 13 Sep 1851. 

If the GRUER sisters didn’t have a contact in Adelaide, there was a welcoming committee that took the girls into communal housing until they could get work.   Elizabeth and Flora planned on working as servants.  Conditions were poor in this housing and it is likely they started working right away. Both girls soon landed husbands.  Though things did not work out for Elizabeth, Flora married James SMITH (1827-) and had 11 children.  Her descendants are still living in Australia today.
* * *

Baggage, mail and cargo were not moved from the ship for several weeks because the crew deserted to seek their fortune in the gold fields.  Captain FELL wrote to the Adelaide Times on the 27th November 1851:

FELL Letter, 1851

Passengers that caused problems were placed in the brig and then, taken to court upon arrival (South Australian Register)


The Reliance stayed in port until February 1852 when she set sail for Bombay (Australian Register).


Details about the journey to Australia:

More information on Scotland emigration:

Advertisement for Australia immigration

No comments:

Post a Comment