Monday, July 28, 2014

Diary of a gold digger

Unidentified man, photographed by William Mariner Bent at Bendigo, circa 1870.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria collection. H2007.44/24
I visited the library of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria on a quiet Friday afternoon to read the 'Diaries of Edward J. Mallandain', which included an account of the voyage of the Panama from London to Melbourne in 1852.   This had been extracted and transcribed by Charles Mallandain.  Whether Charles M had imposed his own construction on the events of the voyage of the Panama is difficult to say ( had he left out all the interesting bits about musical interludes that I was keen to read?) but apparently Edward's on-board preoccupations were largely to do with disagreements  between the other passengers, and noting all the bible services on the poop deck followed by a declaration that he didn't attend.  He mentioned only a few fellow-passengers by name, and even then, usually by initials, and nothing at all about any dance or musical parties.

The difficulties he experienced in getting himself and his goods on shore are nothing short of a disgrace, and it was amazing to see how badly the passengers were treated at the end of the voyage.  It was not explained why this happened, but it was a very lengthy period of over a week after arriving in Hobsons Bay that the ship docked and allowed cargo to be removed - by which time Mallandaine had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to have his unloaded while the ship was still anchored out in the bay.

Mallandaine was certainly prepared to work hard with a pick and shovel, and his efforts with these were mainly rewarded when he got to the goldfields.  On Sunday 19 December 1852 while in camp at Bendigo he "received visits of Bennett, Fielden, Griffith, Clark re Fryers Creek & Co".  He showed his gold to them.

Whether the visitors were all shipmates from the Panama I cannot say  - PROV and its passenger lists is temporarily unavailable this evening - but even if they are, there is no clue to say whether or not that Griffith was my ancestor.

However, I enjoyed reading the manuscript, so I was glad to have spent the time on it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog of Logs

Looking for an account of the voyage of the Panama from London to Melbourne in 1852, I consulted the three volume work Log of Logs by Ian Nicholson. These volumes list the whereabouts of known accounts of ships voyages - logs, diaries, newspaper accounts.

In Volume 2 there is a reference to a voyage by:

1852   clipper ship, Captain Lane, London 30.6 to Melbourne 12.11.52; +extracts from Edward Mallandaine's diary, *RHSV  MS00065. 

As a member I can consult that record for free.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ship Panama from London

This ship Panama  is, at 1100 tons, twice the size of the one which sailed from London to Melbourne in 1852.
Now this is embarrassing. I have been caught by the oldest trick in the book.  Assuming that there is only one person, or in this case, one ship, of the same name.  Having previously searched through Trove looking for evidence of a ship called Panama arriving in Melbourne in 1852, I lighted upon a ship of that name which was on the California to Melbourne run BUT!!!  there was another one, at 511 tons, which left London for Melbourne in 1852, and that was the one that carried a George Griffiths.

Fortunately I did actually look at the passenger list for the Panama, and all was revealed.  Well, some of it was revealed.  The bit that was revealed was that the Panama had sailed from London, with the Master T S Thomas and 191 statute adult unassisted passengers.   The George Griffiths, aged 26, occupation clerk and an Englishman, arrived in Melbourne in October 1852.

The bit that was not revealed was whether or not this George was my gt gt grandfather George Griffith, a musician from Liverpool. He usually gave an age on records consistent with him being born in 1824, so by 1852 he should have been aged 28.  I don't necessarily expect to find the occupation of musician on the shipping records, but he was certainly sufficiently well educated to have the position of clerk, and this is the most likely occupation to date of any of the George Griffiths' who arrived in Melbourne around this time.

He may, of course, have come to Melbourne via a different port - too difficult to even contemplate at this stage.