The Townsends Tale cont...
I believe I did not state who we had on board in fact I hardly knew at that time. There are as follows -
Mr. DAWSON Chief Agent to the Australian Company.
Mr. EBSWORTH, his clerk
Mr. HALL, Woolsorter
Mr. HOLLANDE, Surgeon
Mr. SMITH, Chief Mate
Mr. WRIGHT, Second Mate
these all Mess and live in the principle Cabins on Deck beside which there are in the Cabins below a Mr. ALLEN, wife and family consisting of 6 children and 11 Men, 8 Women and 19 Children sent out by the Company. Our crew consists of 27 Captain MONCRIEFF included, so that we altogether number about 80 living persons. We have also on board 340 Sheep, 8 Head of Cattle, 10 Dogs, so many Pigs, Dozens of Geese, Ducks and Fowls.
We are now crossing the Bay of Biscay and I assure you I have seen as much motion in the Thames as there is here at present. We have but little Wind - and this may account for it in some measure.
A Short Divine Service was performed in board this Morning / Sunday June 20th / by Mr. DAWSON, it consisted of a Prayer, a Chapter and a Short Discourse which Mr. DAWSON read from a Book of Sermons.
A circumstance occurred yesterday / July 1st. / which might have proved fatal to us all in about two o'clock in the afternoon we discerned a Sail some distance to the Windward of us, She seemed endeavouring to near us, our Captain thought her action strange and Kept on Deck in the pouring rain till 10 o'clock. About this time She came near enough for the Captain to hail her which he did and She returned answer she was bound for Madeira but she still continued to bear down upon us and soon came near enough for us to have a moonlight view and our Captain immediately perceived her to be an Algerian Piratical Schooner and appeared to be preparing to board us.
All hands were immediately called up and armed, some Muskets were discharged as a signal to THE BROTHERS the vessel that sailed from Cowes in company with us which She "though at some distance" heard and made the best of her way to us. In the mean time there appeared to be a great bustle on board the Pirate, when she suddenly crossed our Bows, and having laid to a short time as if reconnoitring us, she shipped off again to the Starboard of us and went away making all sail.
It is generally supposed on board of us that she must have imagined we were transports with Cavalry on board, as We were so expeditious in firing and more particularly as she must have had an indistinct view of the HAY in our Chains. However she must have been intimidated as we have seen nothing more of her. It is quite impossible to describe the consternation that reigned on board during the late transaction. I mean among the Women and Children and it will no doubt be some time before they regain their accustomed composure. For my own part I did not feel alarmed for I thought it would come to nothing.
Came in sight of Teneriffe this day / July 5 / had an indistinct view of the Peak which is amazing high.
I forgot to mention we passed Madeira on the 3rd of this month. We had a very poor view of the Western side of it which is a rock very hight but quite inaccessible. It was the intention of our Agent to put in there at first for a supply of water and fruit, but by the time we reached it he determined to pass and will probably let us put in at Rio Janario (sic) a Spanish Port in South America. If that should be the Case, I shall endeavour to forward this letter from thence. The Day we passed Madeira THE BROTHERS came alongside and our Agent went on board and the Captain and found all well.
This morning / 11 July / The Boatswain got his Jaw Bone broken in consequence of fighting with another Man. The Boatswain gave the provocation and also struck the first blow therefore has nobody but himself to thank for his pain. 15th. We had this day the first breeze we have had since we have been on board it frightened the Women and Children a little and made them sick. The heat is very powerful hereabouts the thermometer stands between 80 and 90. We are about 12 Degrees from the Equinoctial line.
/ Aug 1 / We have had fine weather for the last three weeks but in consequence of contrary winds we have made but small progress. We are about 5 degrees from the Equinoctial Line. A great deal is said by the Sailors about Shaving on crossing the line, they swear they will serve me out and hold out many threats against me. The reason is I have to serve them out Water every other day and in consequence of refusing to give them 2 or 3 Gallons over and above their allowance they swear vengeance against me. I have offered to pay the fine but they refuse. I desired Mr WILSON to offer a gallon of rum if they would not molest me, this they refused. I hardly knew how to act however before the time comes I will make the Captain acquainted with their threats and desire his protection though he behaves so strangely to me I fear I shall only receive some evasive reply. If this should be the case I must hit upon some plan to defend myself from the violence is I can though I fear it will be useless they are such a set of desperate chaps.
/Sunday 7th August / We shall cross the line this night and the Sailors intend to shave tomorrow I have spoken to the Captain this day about the threats held out to me but he does not seem to pay much attention to it the only answer I got from him was "Sailors say more (than) they mean but I will see about it" from the careless way in which he said it I much doubt whether he will notice it at all however if I should hear more about it from him I have determined to barricade myself in our Cabin and prevent the entrance of any one I have borrowed a Pistol this I shall load with powder and threaten to shoot the first that enters and provided they are sober when they come to me and endeavour to break down the door I will fire it to awe them and they will most likely desist but should they be drunk resistance will be vain and I will give myself up to them they will not I think hurt me then as I do not resist.
/Tuesday 9th August / A have been most brutally used my life has been endangered but I must state the thing as it occurred. Yesterday the Sailors prepared to Shave as we had crossed the line the preceding night. The Passengers had all determined to make assistance and as they had plenty of fire some mischief might have ensued. The Captain therefore ordered the Sailors to leave them alone and only Shave the Ships Company. Unfortunately for me I am marked as one of them, in fact myself and the Doctor were the only 2 respectable parties belonging to the Ship who hadn't been Shaved there was also 3 Sailors and 4 Boys to Shave. The Doctor had the Captain's protection and was of course not shaved.
About 2 o'clock in the day understanding they were just beginning I barricaded the door of our Cabin with Chests Boxes etc., and loaded a Pistol with powder about 3 o'clock they began and as I was afterwards told nearly drunk I heard them beating one of their own men terribly and began to anticipate what I should receive but I thought it possible they might overlook me.
They did not come near me till about 4 o'clock when one of the named EVANS came and tried to open the door, he looked through the Doorblinds and saw me he then went away and returned immediately with 2 more named MATTHIAS and BRYAN they began immediately to smash the Door. I had now a glimpse of them and I do not remember ever having seen such a set of incarnate Devils before. Picture to yourself a set of men dressed in canvas frocks and trousers black with tar and with their faces painted with white and yellow paint and coal tar and beastly drunk though not sufficiently so to incapacitate them from carrying any mischief into effect. To make resistance I saw would be useless. I said "wait a minute and I will clear the boxes from the door and come out to you," they desired me with dreadful imprecations to be quick.
I had removed one box and was endeavouring to remove the rest thought they still continued to demolish the door I told them it was impossible for me to remove the chests while they pressed against the door so hard at this moment one of them saw the Pistol on a chest, with horrible threats desired me to fire that Pistol out of the Scuttle. Knowing the Pistol as it was useless to me I complied with his desire and endeavoured to fire it into the Sea but it missed fire they now renewed their exertions to break open the door and I did also, the clear the chests away in about 2 minutes I got the boxes away but not before they had burst a panel of the Door in. I now came out to them when they began to use me very roughly one of them struck at my head with a staff his name was MATTHIAS I bobbed my head forward and received the blow on my shoulder another named EVANS gave me a hard blow on my side with the end of his Staff which forced one with no small violence against the Wainscot of our Cabins. They were swearing at me in a dreadful way all the time I now threw myself forward toward a corner when I had seen a stave in the Morning with the intention of seizing it and selling my life as dearly as possible for they were bent upon severely injuring me but it was not there. The Carpenter now joined them in abusing me though he did not strike me I rushed upon Deck the whole of this had been the work of 5 minutes or less from the time I left my Cabin. They followed me upon Deck and were joined by several others of the same description. I was now handled roughly again some heavy blows were struck at me. The Carpenter endeavoured now to protect me as also the Third Mate Mr. WILSON came forward to interfere I got several blows about the head and ribs at last one of them named BLAKE gave me a violent blow between the eyes which laid me senseless on Deck. I remained so for a few minutes, in the mean time the Captain came forward he had witnessed the whole scene upon Deck, they told him a most infamous lie they said I had fired a Pistol at them I was just recovering when I heard the Captain say "Shave him, shave him by all means".
I was then hurried forward to the shaving place the Captain was near and I appealed to him but he took no notice of what I said. The place where they shaved was in fore part of the vessel, the four corners of a sail were supported on 4 poles, bound together by cross poles, in front of this some poles were laced up like steps. I was put on one of the supper Rounds with my back to the sail which was about half full of water. I was now saluted by Mrs Neptune by one of the sailors dressed like a Woman he gave me a few hard Gripes (sic) on my cheek. My "face"eyes"nose"mouth" even my hair was covered with coal tar by a Man named SIMMONS who was Neptune for the time but acted as barber lathered my with Coal Tar himself in consideration of serving me out well, he asked some of the foolish customary questions which the state I was in made me incapable of noticing. The Razor was now produced to shave me / it was a Copper one about a foot long with teeth regular cut in it like a saw / preparatory to ducking but some of them were so anxious to see me ducked that before the Razor could reach my face they tipped me heels over head backwards into the Sail, this I was very glad of for I felt very faint but the water revived me but I could not remove any of the Coal Tar from my face with it then. I rose in the water they set up a shout of derision and though I was extremely mortified I would not show it but though half chocked with the tar I shouted also to show the Captain I was not mortified by his spite.
When I got out of the Sail BLAKE the same man who struck me senseless on Deck kicked me and dragged me down under him three or four others throwing themselves on him and thereby pressing me with no small violence but they got off directly to make room for some one to throw water over me which they did BLAKE holding me the whole time. I then got away half choked with the Tar and fainting with the blows I had received.
When I came below to my Cabin one of the Passengers named CARTER gave me about quarter of a pint of run which I drank off directly and felt somewhat better. I then changed my clothes and wiped as much of the tar off as I could from my face. I went upon Deck and remonstrated with the Captain upon the treatment I had received but all I could get from him was that I was shaved and he had been shaved before me "very consoling truly I had been in danger of having a broken head" he seemed I thought afraid of being called to account for the treatment I have received, he asked particularly who saw the Cabin broken open and also who saw me maltreated below and I am telling him several women saw the transaction he said rather exaltingly "A Woman's evidence will not I think be taken in Court under the existing circumstances" however there was one man present who offered to make a deposition before any magisterial party in my favour. I am told in confidence by the Chief Mate that if my friends desire to take the late transaction into consideration upon my arrival in England damages to no small amount would undoubtedly be recovered and he says he has known some similar instances where Captains have been ruined in cases where parties have not been as ill treated as myself. I am told generally that no law is in existence allowing the brutal custom of Shaving and that, combined with injury sustained from blows particularly the Captain being previously made acquainted with the Men's intention of maltreating me under the circumstances doubly recoverable. I have been very particular in no allowing the least sentiment of remedy on my part against the Captain escape me but on the contrary when spoken to about it I generally say if I could make the Men smart for their brutality I would do it but the Captain is quite out of the question.
I assure you I had no small difficulty in removing the tar from my face I accomplished this however by using no small quantity of grease but could not remove it from my eyes. I forgot to mention the custom adopted by the Sailors the night before Shaving. A tar barrel is filled with old canvas, tar wood and other inflammable articles and set fire to after which it is lowered into the water, in the mean time A sailor climbs to the end of the bowsprit and hails the Ship in a gruff stifled voice as though a speaking trumpet at some distance. The Captain answers him through a speaking trumpet asking "What Ship that is" the Man answers "I am Neptune and understanding you have some of my children on board who have not crossed the Equinoctial Line before I shall pay you a visit and shave them tomorrow" The Captain answers "Very well Mr. Neptune, very well I shall be happy to see you" Neptune them says "good night Captain, good night my Sons" upon which the barrel is let down and the ceremony ends.
I think upon the whole I never witnessed such a foolish brutal piece of business as this shaving in my whole life. After the Shaving was over on Monday last the men got comfortably drunk and began fighting among themselves and the Captain interfered and was abused in the most gross and unpardonable manner. So this is the best he got for allowing the men to make brutes of themselves and injure other people. The Agent was also abused in no slight degree.
I have had a bad nights rest during the preceding one from the pain in my eyes head and side my face is also a good deal swelled and my eyes both blackened from the blows received on my nose. I have applied to the Doctor for something to relieve the pain in my head and he has given me some medicine to take every 3 hours in case I do not find relief by morning I am to apply to him again.
I have been obliged to give up my nightly watch in fact am not in a fit state for duty.
/ Wednesday 10th. August / I am somewhat better today the pain is not so violent in my head but the most pain I feel in my right side enjoyed a good nights rest last night.
/Sunday 14th August / I am now quite recovered from the injury I sustained on shaving day and think myself fortunate that I was not more severely hurt.
I believe I have previously given you some idea of the Passengers. I will now endeavour to give you some idea of their Characters as far however as I am concerned with them. I will begin with our Captain T (I?) MONCRIEFF. I am unable to form an opinion of this party as he had acted so strangely to me - he may be a very good man but his behaviour to me has not been what I expected I know no just cause or reason why or wherefore I have displeased him I have always treated him with great respect and have never yet refused doing anything he requested me. I can only assume his motive of treatment to 2 Causes and perhaps I judge erroneously in both.
The first is I fancy he expects me to work among the rest of the Sailors for taking the Rigging down, Viz now you know well I did not accept any Situation under the Supposition that I was to work as a common sailor and though I certainly did work very hard in our passage from GRAVESEND to COWES, yet upon signing Articles before leaving there I explained to the Captain it was not my intention to work the Ship and he seemed satisfied with what I said upon it I shall instantly refuse to do any duty hard work he may chose to set me about yet I shall give assistance at time in hauling on ropes.
The second cause for the Captain's displeasure I ascribe to the following circumstance. On board the vessel there is a person of the name of ALLEN whom I shall hereafter mention more largely, from the party I have received many little attention which I have of course returned. Unfortunately he has quarrelled with the Agent of the Australian Company who is very bitter against him and finding I am in the habit of playing Chess now and then with Mr. A the Agent supposes or chooses to suppose from that circumstance that I am upon intimate terms with Mr. ALLEN and consequently he has doubtless prejudiced the Captain against me in fact every thing I observe confirms the supposition now I am rather surprised at this for some time ago when I had conversation with the Captain I mentioned to him that it had been said to me he did not approve my associating with Mr. ALLEN. I told him if he certainly disapproved Mr ALLEN and myself holding conversation together I would undoubtedly refrain from saying any thing to him the Captain stated he could have no objection whatever to my being on friendly terms with Mr. A and I was quite at liberty to associate with whom I pleased after this I felt no hesitation in playing Chess or otherwise with Mr ALLEN. The Captain appears to constantly avoid me and never passes a word with me neither do I receive any orders or communications from him whatever.
Mr DAWSON Chief Agent to the Australian Company.
This gentleman appears to be not a little proud of his appointment and from what little I can observe is of a revengeful disposition he has behaved very despotic and illiberal to Mr ALLEN. I believe him to be a severe enemy of mine on account of my not joining with others in insulting Mr. A and as I before mentioned I think he has injured me with the Captain. I could observe he was highly pleased to see me abused on Shaving Day. The Captain and Mr DAWSON are very intimate so much so that DAWSON appears to be more Captain than MONCRIEFF consequently displeasing DAWSON is making an enemy of the Captain, from several circumstances that have occurred I am well convinced I have no friend in either of them.
Mr EBSWORTH, Clerk to Mr. DAWSON
This seems to be an agreeable intelligent young man but he is afraid of passing a word with me if the Captain or Mr. DAWSON are present for fear I suppose of offending them if the slightest conversation takes place between us and either of them appears he moves off instanter.
Mr HALL, Woolsorter to the Company
This young man like the former is afraid of saying much to me and if either if the before mentioned parties appears he is off in a twinkling.
Mr HOLLANDE, Surgeon
I have been greatly deceived in this Gent during the few days I was at GRAVESEND I became acquainted with him and his professions of friendship were profuse but when he saw how the Captain used me and how I was situated on board he altered quite to the contrary and now we seldom pass a word with one another.
Mr SMITH, Chief Mate
This seems a quiet peaceable little man and hitherto he has behaved civilly to me though I much fear for his own comfort he will be necessitated to behave like the others. I think he is rather cunning and on that account I am careful what I say to him.
Mr WRIGHT, Second Mate
This is a pompous consequential mean noisy little fellow and quite a party man. I can see he is no friend of mine and I think for the sake of gaining favour he would lick the Captain's Shoes I fear I shall disagree is he at all interferes with me.
Mr WILSON, Third Mate
This is a young Gent about my own age and also a messmate. We have as yet agreed very well but he is I think against Mr ALLEN and consequently I am afraid of saying much to him for I think he is rather artful. I do not mean to say he has behaved very openly to me as yet but yet it is necessary to be suspicious under the circumstances.
This Gentleman I have before mentioned he holds a Situation under the Australian Agricultural Company. He has on board a Wife and 7 children, she lost a little Girl born a few days ago.
Unfortunately for him the Agent and himself are on bad terms in consequence of not having a proper understanding. Mr ALLEN's agreement with the Company states that they are to find himself and family a passsage to NEW SOUTH WALES and upon his arrival there he is to place himself under the direction of Mr. DAWSON the Agent, here the principal quarrel lies Mr DAWSON being desirous of assuming power over Mr ALLEN during their passage which Mr. A would not submit to. A disagreement also took place between them at Cowes Mr. A not being satisfied with provision allowed his family particularly as Mrs. A was in the family way he said he was deceived with regard to his living accommodation. Two of the Directors being at Cowes and not being friends of his they treated his complaint rather contemptuously but fearing he might leave the ship altogether they sent some Poultry on board for his use and told him he was to have fresh meat wine and other convenient and other palatable articles the same as the Captain and Agent enjoyed at their table however when we put to Sea this was refused and the quarrel of course commenced.
REF: email to GENANZ@rootsweb by Dione Dover, Kent, England on 26 November 1998