Alexander McLennan and Mary Matheson
Isle of Skye to Sydney, Australia
July 6, 1837 October 27, 1837
Alexander McLennan, his wife Mary and their two year old son Farquhar along with Alexander's sister, Catherine, sailed from Isle of Skye to Sydney, Australia aboard the “William Nicol”.
The Passenger List for the William Nicol for this voyage included:
NAMES CALLING AGE # OF CHILDREN BY WHOM ENGAGED & RATE OF WAGES McLennan Alexr. Stockman 30 1child J Dow, Esq, Invermein, 30 pounds & rations McLennan, Cathe, sister Housemaid 24 single Sempill, Sydney 10 pounds & rations
Like many of the early immigrant ships conditions on the "William Nicol" were crowded and unhygienic. There was no official regulation on the amount of passengers that could be carried on the ships and, as a result, many were packed as tight as possible. The "William Nicol", at 408 tons, was about the same length as one and a half train cars of modern design. When the “William Nicol” left port it was carrying 148 adult immigrants and 180 children, plus officers and crew including Dr. George Roberts and a chaplain. Space of 18” feet only was allowed each person.
Another problem on these early immigrant ships was language. Among the passengers on the "William Nicol" only the midwife spoke English and the ship’s master, crew, and doctor did not speak the Gaelic, so communication was very difficult.
Food on the "William Nicol" was described as ample but unfortunately consisted mainly of salt pork and beef. Oatmeal, the mainstay of the passenger's diet, was not included in the stores. Many of the passengers, especially the young children, suffered from gastrointestinal problems during the voyage including the McLennan's son who was listed in the Sick Book from the "William Nicol" (the child's name is given as Alexr, not Farquhar, but as there were no other McLennans aboard the vessel and the age is correct we can assume that the father's name rather than the son's was listed).
PASSENGER AGE DISEASE OR WOUND WHEN PUT ON SICK LIST WHEN PUT OFF SICK LIST HOW DISPOSED OF Alexr McLennan 2 Diarrhea August 19 August 21 Discharged, cured
An excerpt from Wooden Hookers by C Bede Maxwell (pen name of Violet Thomas Maxell, wife of Clarence Bede Maxwell) describes the complaint filed by Sir Benjamin D’Urban, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, on the conditions he found aboard the vessel when it docked there during the voyage.
Unlike several other of the early immigrant ships the "William Nicol" did not have an outbreak of fever. Dr Robert’s knowledge and skillful attention given to the highland folk during this voyage and the provisions provided at the Cape of Good Hope probably helped prevent further illnesses from spreading throughout the ship.
There were only 10 child deaths and one female death recorded when the “William Nicol” arrived in Port Jackson on October 17, 1837.
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