MORETON BAY COURIER. SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 1850.
To the Editor of the Moreton Bay Courier.
SIR,— On perusal of your paper of the 31st ult., I perceive in your leading article your urging the necessity of the Executive Council examining most strictly into the cause of so much unhappy loss of life on board the ship Emigrant, on her late passage to this port with Commissioners’ immigrants, and contrasting the ship with others which have arrived under private superintendence. As far as regards the ship Emigrant, she was acknowledged by the authorities in Sydney last year as a most eligible ship for the conveyance of passengers, both as regards her spacious ‘tween—decks and her sailing qualities,—I having landed my immigrants on the 90th day from being put on board at Plymouth. I had on board 50 souls more than this year , viz., 326 instead of 276; and only one adult died during the passage, and that of consumption, although measles prevailed throughout the whole of the children, 117 in number.
I have been now in command of ships for eighteen years, and much of the time employed in conveying passengers , having crossed the seas ten different voyages, with ships full and crowded, two of which have been to Sydney-1841 and 1849, and the present one to Moreton Bay; during the whole of which I never lost more than one adult on any passage, and two or three children. Even during the rage of typhus in Ireland and Liverpool , in ‘46 and ‘47, I went to Quebec with 500 on board; I lost but one, when there were vessels arriving with 150 deaths on board,-not single instances, but numbers with upwards of 100. You wish the thing to be diligently inquired into. I make no doubt but such will be the case, or it will be different from any voyage I have made under the Commissioners, which have been generally sifted so closely as almost to make the commander of a ship feel himself degraded to hear questions put to some who are in no way fit to answer them. However, I am happy to say I never yet had fault found.
As far as regards the sickness, I presume you are aware what a fearful malady typhus is ashore, even where you can get away from it; but how much more so must it be on board ship, where there are no back doors to escape by, and where you can hardly get a second person to attend upon the sick! for almost certain everyone who attends falls, which has been the case on board my ship. The surgeon at times could scarcely get anyone to attend; ‘twas only by the utmost persuasion such could be done. We have only one, who has been a constant attendant upon the sick, who has escaped altogether,—John Farmer; he is an aged married man, and I wonder, when I look at him, how he has sustained the fatigue. J. W. Ball the surgeon’s assistant, struggled through it in a most wonderful manner until a few days since; but it had such a severe hold of him that he died after going on shore. The same with George Huiston; he was also in the hospital attending; when he went ashore a lease might have been taken of his life, but it took him off in a few hours. The female nurses have both had very severe attacks, but are recovering; and Dr Mitchell himself, after superintending the whole both night and day, was attacked the day we arrived here; he has been laid down ever since, and very near death’s door, and still lingers.
Up to my arrival in Bass’s Straits, 24 July, our cases of deaths (although there had been a fearful number of cases) were not so many; 3 infants of diarrhoea, 1 married woman apoplexy, 3 married women and 1 man fever, and the matron from decay of nature, making 6 adults and 3 infants; after which time it gained ground fearfully, having nothing but light winds on the coast from 24th July to 8th August, when I was boarded by my pilot in Moreton Bay, no less than 7 adults fell a prey to fever , and after he was on board up to the 13th, 3 more were taken off. As for the true origin of the sickness, I believe there is no possibility of ascertaining, but it often occurs from people who have been rather scant of provisions, or using bad, being placed upon full allowance; also the changes of climate will, I believe, often have a similar effect. I subjoin a list of the deaths which took place during the passage:—
May 2. Wm.
Faith, 8 months, diarrhoea.
(actually Henry Frith, son of William and Emma Frith)
" 24. Hannah Hallett, married, apoplexy.
(wife of Charles Hallett)
" 25. Mary Meara, married, fever.
(wife of Timothy Meara)
June 3. Catharine Slattery, infant, diarrhoea.
(daughter of Edmund and Alley Slattery)
" 18. Infant child Hallett, 1 month, diarrhoea.
(child of Charles and the late Hannah Hallett)
" 19. Mrs. Burberow, 56, decay of nature, matron.
(mother of Fanny Burberow)
(July 3. Ann Cunningham, mentioned in letter of Sarah Kemp)
Jul 10. Mary Waterson, married, fever.
(wife of Henry Waterson)
" 15. James Chapple, married, fever.
(husband of Julia Chapple)
" 22. Ann Gleeson, married, fever.
(wife of Thomas Gleeson)
After entering Bass’s Straits:—
Jul 26. Ann Charlton, single, fever.
" 26. Geo. Hayward, single, fever.
" 28. Sophia Bremble, single, fever.
(Sophia Brimble, sister of Andrew Brimble)
" 29. Ann Connor, married, fever.
(wife of James Connor)
" 31. James Lancaster, supery. seaman, fever.
Aug 3. Caroline Loder, single, fever.
(sister of Maria Trowbridge and Martha Loder)
" 5. Fanny Bloxam, married, fever.
(wife of Thomas Bloxam)
Boarded by pilot 8th August-at anchor in Moreton Bay:-
Aug 8. Euphemia Furphy, widow, 67, fever.
" 10. Joseph Waterson, married, fever.
(actually Henry Waterson, husband of the late Mary Waterson)
Aug 12. At Anchor, Quarantine Ground.
" 13. J. German, married, fever.
(actually Daniel Gorman, husband of Mary Gorman)
I am Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
W. H. KEMP.
Thursday 15th August, 1850.
Mrs Sarah Kemp's Letter
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