Diary of James Anderson McLauchlan

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The first two entries here are written aboard the SS Anglia, and are included here only to show James McLauchlan's feelings at the time of his departure.

Please note: spelling and abbreviations are as written in the diary. Some modifications to the punctuation were made to the context of the diary by the present owners, in order to attain readability, and in a few instances notes have been placed in the text for clarification - where this occurs here, we have placed these inside [square brackets].

Diary Transcript

Saturday May 23 1874

After taking an aft. leave of all my Friends and Relations in Monifieth, Dundee and neighbourhood I stepped aboard the S.S. Anglia one of the Dundee and London Shipping Company's splendid Boats. I shall never forget the feeling that came over me when I first put foot from my native land, I felt that now had come the tug of war and that I was (for I had never been from home before) now fairly launched on the Ocean of life to fight my own battle, but I was determined to persevere and do what I could.

After a waving of hats and Handkerchiefs to friends on the shore we at last got under way and steamed from the Docks * with a good many passengers some of whom like myself were bent on finding a home in a distant land there were I think six different families all for Canterbury NZ. And some eight to ten sailors just newly home from Calcutta in the second cabin of which I was also an inmate. I didn't know much about the first cabin passengers for I saw little of them all the voyage.

Well we passed the Stannergate down by Broughty Ferry where I saw (and answered) some well known handkerchiefs waved by friends who promised to recognise me in passing. In a very short time I could see Monifieth also in the distance. Such a thrill passed through me when I saw it, it being the place that most of all I loved... my birthplace... and in it my old Mother, my brother and a married sister (besides some more friends and relations still lived) therefore it was no wonder I felt my heart beats. I took a last longing look of it knowing that it might possibly be for the last time. However it also soon passed from view and we sailed majestically into the broad German Ocean. We had not long left the Firth of Tay when it came on to blow very fierce accompanied with a heavy swell which made me feel glad to get to my berth.

* about 8 o'clock p.m

Sunday the 24th [May]

When I awoke on Sunday morning I found the ship rolling and pitching at (to us landsmen) an awful rate. I attempted to rise and get on deck but as soon as I got on my feet I felt as sick as a dog. I got myself supplied with (what the Jolly Steward was pleased to call) a "Jelly Pot" but what was in reality a thing in which to empty the contents of our disarranged stomachs and I was not long in making use of it. I felt all the horrors of seasickness the whole of that day, it was so bad that some of the deck-hands were sick also, and some of the sailors from Calcutta were as bad as any of us. The women and children were the worst for the steward was not able to attend to us all. However, towards evening the wind fell a little and also I fell asleep.

[We now join James McLauchlan in London preparing to board the "City of Adelaide" for the long voyage to South Australia. Please note that some of the following entries have been summarised to the main points of the entry to allow as much information to be included on this page as possible.]

... having a look through the good ship "City of Adelaide" which was to be my home for the three months to come, she did indeed look a goodly vessel. She is what is termed a full rigged ship being square rigged fore and aft... her tall rackish masts make her look very graceful, she must be very fleet too for the Boatswain tells me she made a voyage to Australia in seventy five days which was a remarkably quick run...

Thursday 28th [May]

The day on which we ought to have sailed was mostly spent in getting my Baggage down to the West India Docks and in having a look through the good ship "City of Adelaide" which was to be my home for the three months to come, she did indeed look a goodly vessel. She is what is termed a full rigged ship being square rigged fore and aft... her tall rackish masts make her look very graceful, she must be very fleet too for the Boatswain tells me she made a voyage to Australia in seventy five days which was a remarkably quick run.

I had a look through her 'Tween decks the place allotted to us intermediate Passengers. It is divided into three apartments, the Fore Hatch to us single men, the Main Hatch to the Married Folk and their children below twelve years of age (all above that going to the Fore Hatch), and the After Hatch to the single women. They all appeared as roomy as could be expected under the circumstances considering that there is to be about 250 of us stowed in them. The ship does not appear to have been in the Passenger line before for everything had to be fitted up new for us which of course was a great benefit as we got it all clean to go into. I saw a good many of my future mates also down looking through her. We were informed that she was not going to sail until Friday at 10 o'clock so I came back to the Hotel in Whitechapel in which I was residing to spend my last night in Great Britain for a time a least.

Friday 29th

I got up this morning shortly after six had breakfast then went out and caught the Blackwall Buss which landed us almost at the docks. (It is wonderful how cheap you can ride on these Busses,... some of them run a distance of 5 or 6 miles and all they charge is two-pence and they run in all directions throughout the town.... of course the advantage they have got is that suppose you have only a short distance to go the charge is still the same).

Well we reached the docks and got aboard about 9 o'clock and by 10 a.m. we were under weigh for Plymouth where we were to take in the most of our Passengers. We were taken in tow by the Steam Tug "Uncle Sam" and warped slowly out of the docks, it was necessarily a slow process having to work our way through it, taking in late Passengers and sailors at different parts of the Quay. As soon as we got outside the Locks, all hands gave three splendid parting cheers which was answered by the onlookers on shore and then all joining together gave one last tremendous cheer and all was silence.

Soon after we were called down to dinner, which was the signal to commence to our regular routine of duty. We were all divided off into Messes of 9 each with a Captain over each, whose duty it was to get the provisions and give each his portion... but our Mess agreed to take turn about at it. Well we had dinner, which consisted of Broth, Roast Beef and potatoes.. a very fair start. We were only sorry that it was to last for a very limited period (they are obliged to give us fresh provisions always when in the vicinity of any Port.. that is if it is possible to land). After dinner we agreed that two of us should take day about washing dishes... you would laugh to see us awkward fellows with our shirtsleeves up doing the slop work.

Our Mess consists of three Scots miners from the Glasgow district, and English miner from Durham, two fellows from Norfolk (I don't know what their occupation is yet), and a Swede who doesn't know a word of our language (he has got a brother, a sailor, on board but still poor fellow, he is very lonely sitting by himself all day long... I was very glad to see that none of them tried to take advantage of him... everyone seemed to feel for him and tried to assist him as far as possible at meal time). The Englishman before mentioned as my mate and myself make up the rest.

We reached Gravesend about 6 o'clock where it seems we have to wait for some time for our Captain and the Government Inspector. As soon as we cast anchor the bell rang for Tea which consisted of Tea and plain bread and butter. After that was discussed we went upon the Forecastle to watch the homeward bound ships coming in of which there were a good many, most of them cheering as they passed. About 9 we went below to bed. We were supplied with mattresses, blankets and all our bedding, in fact with the exception of sheets which we had to get ourselves.

I was very fortunate in having everything I required in a small chest which I kept for every day use... some of them had everything in their large chests which of course were stowed below and can't get to them for three weeks yet. They had to go about borrowing from the rest of us, which is a thing I hate.

Well we did get to bed as best we could, for myself I was very comfortable. Our beds were all arranged in the order of our messes... that is they ranged along the side in tens, 5 above and 5 below with a table between each and a pretty broad passage up the centre form end to end. It is pretty well ventilated just now but I am afraid when we get our full complement and reach the Tropics we will be short enough of air. The lights were put out about 10 and after a little chaffing among ourselves we fell asleep.

Sunday May 31st

We arose this morning about 7 o'clock, went on deck and found ourselves far down the Channel, we could see Dover with its beautiful chalk cliffs quite distinctly and the French coast on the other side could be seen in the distance. We were making rather slow progress as the wind was dead against us. The scenery though was beautiful and varied... that helped to keep us wearying. As the day wore on we could hear the church bells ringing which put me in mind of home. In my mind's eye I could see all the well-known forms wending their way to our village church... forms which, (oh hard the thought), I may never see again... if such should unhappily be the case, at least they will never be forgotten as long as I live. I was very much disappointed that there was no Service today. I expected in the whole day but nobody seemed inclined to officiate and the day passed much the same as any other day would. However I fancy if we were once fairly at sea there will be a regular service. Towards evening we could see Dungeness the place where the ill-fated "Northfleet" went down. I have no doubt the remembrance of that vessel's sad end was brought keenly back to the minds of many of my fellow passengers. Before we retired some of us read a chapter of the bible and sung a psalm after which we turned in.

Monday June 1st

[summarised entry] The 1st of June broke on us when we were far out in the Channel.... The wind was very light today and the sun very warm, which caused a very disagreeable smell from the Pigs' Stye, which was uncomfortably close to our quarters.... There were some 6 or 8 pigs all huddled in the smallest possible space. The sheep, of which there is some 8 or 10, and some ducks comprised all our live stock..... In the afternoon the Tug left us to our own resources after which our progress was necessarily much slower as we had to beat up against a head wind.....

... has had the effect of keeping all the girls below with the exception of two, who appeared splendid sailors.... hope the fair ones are not sick.... they are so kept under by their Matron... a very hard old lady who appears to think it would be an offence punishable by death, for any of us to speak to them...

Tuesday 2nd [June]

[summarised entry] This morning after breakfast we had a new task imposed upon us in the shape of scrubbing out our apartment...... a good deal of grumbling by some... we were none of us aware that we would have to do it.... supplied with brushes brooms and co. not forgetting the bricklike affair they called a Holystone and which we had to rub back and forward on the planks to take off the superfluous pitch....we got ourselves with a soft fatty substance called soap and 2 or 3 pails of water.... there was one from every mess (each to take turn about) and his duty was to scrub the place occupied by his mess.... scrubbed it all over first with a stiff broom soap and water, then got a long handled scrubbing brush with a piece of India rubber nailed on it to act as a scraper.....scrubbed it well with that brush then applied the scraper ..... scraped it all to one place and dried it with a mop..... far from being white yet but there is a decided improvement..... stiff breeze today but still dead ahead.... has had the effect of keeping all the girls below with the exception of two, who appeared splendid sailors..... hope the fair ones are not sick.... they are so kept under by their Matron... a very hard old lady who appears to think it would be an offence punishable by death, for any of us to speak to them...... passed close to the Isle of Wight in the afternoon...

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