Friday, 31 December 2021

Thomas Jones' in the Pacific Northwest 1844-1846

[A] view of Maitavie Bay, [in the island of] Otaheite [Tahiti], William Hodges 1776

There's a note under entry for the marriage of Thomas Jones and Mary Harty, on 7 Jan 1844, which looks like it relates to this marriage. It's not clear, but seems to say something about a ship sailing. Thomas was, at that time, assigned to HMS Caledonia (1808), as Captain's Guard, however, on 1 Mar 1844, he joined HMS America (1810), again as [part of the] Captain's Guard.

HMS America, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, since 22 Feb 1844, had been under the command of Captain John Gordon and, it appears, personal influence - with brothers in the cabinet and the Admiralty - got Gordon this command on the Pacific Station, and "could expect his appointment to prove lucrative". 

Initially, I found scant details of this voyage, other than that "during the rising tensions with the United States over the Oregon boundary dispute, HMS America was dispatched to the Pacific Northwest in 1845"; that circa to Jun 1845, she was reported to be on the California coast and in 1846: was at the Pacific and Otaheite [TahitiStation, until I found Gordon's biography

Also on that voyage was Lieutenant William Peel (later Captain Sir William Peel VC KCB), son of then British prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet. Peel had "ship-hopped" to the Pacific, eventually to the frigate America, in which he voyaged to Puget Sound. [Source: Lieutenant William Peel, British Naval Intelligence, and the Oregon Crisis by Barry Gough PDF]

The ship was to give naval support to the Hudson's Bay Company and Peel became involved in a secret mission: to investigate the state of affairs of the besieged British interests at the Columbia River. Record tells us that HMS America arrived off Cape Flattery on 28 Aug 1845. They left Port Discovery on 26 Sep 1845, bound for Honolulu and reached England on 19 Aug 1846.

"As for Captain Gordon and the further voyages of America, it may be observed briefly that after reaching Honolulu and sailing for Mexican harbours he dallied taking on board a lucrative shipment of silver for the Bank of England, from which he stood to gain personally. His superior, Admiral Seymour (Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Francis Seymour GCB, GCH, PC), charged him with dereliction of duty and he was court-martialled on his return to Portsmouth."

These events were, I feel, not without consequences for Thomas Jones' career. 

Thomas stayed on HMS America, but on 1 Oct 1846, obtained a "sideways promotion" to Boatswain’s mate and, quite soon thereafter, on 30 Nov 1846, was made Ship’s Corporal. These promotions coincide with the appointment, on 10 Nov 1846, of Captain Thomas Maitland (Admiral of the Fleet Thomas Maitland, 11th Earl of Lauderdale, GCB) and it probably stands to reason that there would be a clean sweep and changing of the Captain's Guard. It's reported that Maitland commanded HMS America off the coast of Portugal in November 1846, but I've not found any further reference to explain in what capacity. 

Thomas Jones remained Ship's Corporal on HMS America until 20 Oct 1847, after which, he was appointed Coast Guard Boatman on 28 Dec 1847.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Thomas Jones' Expedition to China 1841-1843

The Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife before 1900

One-hundred-and-eighty years ago, on 30 Dec 1841, three troop ships, the Belleisle, Apollo and Sapphire, of this Britsh naval expeditionary force, put into the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They'd left Plymouth Sound on 20 Dec 1841, bound for China, during the First Opium War (or First China War).

The Canary Islands, whose strategic position in the Atlantic, between Europe, Africa and America, then made it a mandatory refuelling stop for ships.

After only just over a month, from 14 Oct 1841 to 21 Nov 1841, aboard HMS Caledonia (1808) - a 120-gun first-rate ship of the line - my 2x-great-grandfather Thomas Jones, had joined the 74-gun third-rate ship HMS Belleisle (1819), in Plymouth, on 22 Nov 1841, as an Able Seaman, but was assigned as Captain's Guard, on 4 Sep 1842, presumably somewhere up the Yangtze, as this was ten days before the force began to withdraw from the area. 

The captain of the Belleisle at that time, who they will have been guarding, was John Kingcome (Admiral Sir John Kingcombe - 1794-1871).

On 18 Nov 1841, the Belleisle had been in Plymouth, being fitted out for sea, and as a troop ship. Two days later, Lieutenants George Winsor. D. Ferguson, J. Risk, and Philip De Saumarez, were appointed. On 28 Nov 1841, they went out to Plymouth Sound. A company of artillery brought to Plymouth by the steamer Alban, embarked on 5 Dec 1841, and the 98th was reported to be embarking shortly. On 7 Dec 1841, the ship's company was paid advance of wages, which will have been useful on their first stop off en route if they were allowed off the ship to enjoy the sights. How many will have availed themselves of the services of the the notorious dock-women of Tenerife, I cannot possibly surmise.

1 Jan 1842 [Belleisle] is reported to have been at Santa Cruz for the last 2 days, with the troop ships Apollo and Sapphire, and schooner Wanderer. The Belleisle arrived Teneriffe (sic) [...] where the officer commanding of the troops, at the request of the locals, allowed the band of the 98th Regt to go on shore and play on the Mole, where comparison was made to Nelson's welcome some 40 years previously, and his unsuccessful attack. The ships took the opportunity to top up with water and fresh provisions, with prices reflecting the demand for 2,500 men on board the ships.

The ships left Tenerife on New Year's Day and continued their voyage. On 2 Feb 1842 the Belleisle, Apollo and Sapphire arrived Rio de Janeiro en route for China with reinforcements. They were there until 28 Feb 1842, when she departed Rio de Janeiro in company with her consorts, for China. On 14 Mar 1842 she arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, in company with the troop ships Sapphire and Apollo and departed for China on 22 Mar 1842. It took them until 2 Jun 1842 before they arrived in Hong Kong, from England, with part of the 98th Regt. On 5 Jul 1842 they were stationed at Chusan (Zhoushan). And from 16 Jun - 29 Aug 1842, made their expedition up the Yang-tse-Keang, to the end of hostilities and signing of the Treaty of Nanking. Following the signing of the Treaty, the force began its withdrawal on 14 Sep 1842; by 6 Oct 1842, the expeditionary force had completely withdrawn from the Yangtze River
"Shanghai was evacuated on June 23rd, and the troops and vessels fell back to Woosung. The expedition into the Yangtsekiang proper was then promptly organised. The European  troops which took part in it were the 18th, 26th, 49th, 55th, and 98th Regiments, with some Royal Artillery and Engineers, the whole being under Sir Hugh Gough, Major-Generals Lord Saltoun, Schoedde, and Bartley, Colonel Montgomerie, R.A., and Captain  Pears, R.E. Besides about forty transports, the following vessels of the Royal Navy and H.E.I. Co.'s marine participated :— H.M.S. Cornwallis, Blonde, Calliope, North Star, Dido, Modextc, Endymion, Clio, Columbine, Ahjerinc, Bellisle (sic), Apollo, Sapphire, Jupiter, Rattlesnake, Plover, Starling, and Vixen, paddle. H.E.I. Co.'s Sesostris, Auckland, Queen, Tenasserim, Nemesis, Phlegethon, Pluto, Proserpine, and Medusa — all paddle steamers. North Star, Modeste, Clio, and Columbine."
HMS Belleisle later as a Hospital Ship in the Crimean War Edwin Weedon, CC BY 4.0
HMS Belleisle, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 26 April 1819 at Pembroke Dockyard, was converted to serve as a troopship in 1841.

The Captain’s Guard

"In addition to their combat role, Marines also acted as a vaccine of sorts against the infection most feared by ship’s captains: mutiny. Armed with muskets and bayonets, they served as the captain’s personal guard and moved quickly to quell any hint of insurrection on the lower decks. It certainly was not lost on sailors that Marines were billeted between the sailors and the captain’s quarters. Fully armed sentries were posted at key points around ships, including captains’ cabins, powder magazines and spirit lockers. In battle, Marine sentries stood guard at the entrance to the companionways to prevent any less-than-stalwart sailors fleeing to the relative safety of the lower decks." 

It's interesting that Thomas was in a role that was more normally carried out by the Marines. We did wonder if this was because there were no Marines on this troop ship, however, Thomas was also part of the captain's guard on his next two ships, before he then joined the Coastguard service.

Thomas Jones remained as Captain's Guard on HMS Belleisle until 28 Sep 1843. He went back to HMS Caledonia, then under the command of Captain Alexander Milne (Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet), again as Captain’s Guard, on 29 Sep 1843, in which capacity he was still serving at the time of his marriage to my 2x great-grandmother, Mary Harty, on 7 Jan 1844.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Thomas Jones' Cruise off West Africa 1841

An 1850 map showing the Akan Kingdom of Ashanti within the Guinea region in West Africa
Rev. Thomas Milner, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On 29 Apr 1841, Thomas Jones joined HMS Forester (1832), as an Able Seaman. Whilst there is no image online of Forester, she was a Royal Navy 10-gun Cherokee-class brig-sloop of the same era and ilk as HMS Beagle

"Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1841 [Forester] was involved in combatting the Slave Trade". And just two days prior to Thomas joining this ship, the following entry appears, which certainly explains why they will have suddenly needed men to replace those lost: 
27 Apr 1841 [Forester] proceeded up the River Pongos with the ship's boats to ascertain the state of the slave trade in the river. Early next morning the boats of the Termagant joined the party, and as soon as the flood tide commenced at 7.00 am, they boarded several boats while proceeding up the river to Mrs Lightbourne's slave barracoons, which were burnt. However following an explosion, as they were departing a number of men were killed and wounded, and several went missing, in particular one man who would appear to have found alcohol in the barracoon, which he consumed to excess, and was awaiting punishment.
Forester had arrived at Accra (Kingdom of Ashanti - Ghana), from Whydah (Kingdom of Whydah - now Benin) on 28 Apr 1841, and departed on the 29th on a cruise. (It's only a guess, but I doubt they mean pleasure cruise.) 

Thomas had presumably arrived in Accra on some other vessel, however, there's a gap of some 4 years, from when he was paid off from HMS Sparrowhawk on 4 Feb 1837, until joining Forester in 1841, where no ship assignments are listed for him, so I have [so far] not discovered how he got to Accra.

One theory that's been suggested to me is that, at that time they signed on each voyage rather than permanent navy, so he could well be merchant navy in the intervening time. There is always a danger in accepting a theory, just because it fits, but this time it does, on several levels. One, because that would adequately explain both the gap and provide a means by which he could have got to Accra on a commercial vessel. Also, because, while his son David followed him into the Royal Navy, his son Nicholas had a long career in the Merchant service. It hadn't occurred to me before that both of them could have been following in their father's footsteps. There are, however, at last count over 900 records for Merchant Seamen named Thomas Jones, born around 1817, in the relevant timeframe, so I think finding proof will be, shall we say, 'challenging'.

Being on this cruise does explain why Thomas was not on the Census of 6 June 1841 as he was at sea. Seamen on shore on census night were enumerated in the same way as the general public, in the place where they spent that night. There was no provision made for recording seamen at sea on census night. 

There are no more details of what this cruise aimed to achieve - besides bringing the ship back to England - or where it went either, merely the notice that, on 17 Sep 1841, it arrived Plymouth Sound from the coast of Africa. And on 29 Sep 1841 Plymouth, was paid off, which is the date Thomas left this ship.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Thomas Jones' Voyage to South America 1834-1837

HMS Sparrowhawk by William Smyth, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Built by Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea, Essex, launched 20 August 1807 (Sold 1841)

Thomas Jones' naval pension record begins on 11 Feb 1835, when he will have been 18, where he's listed as being on HMS Sparrowhawk (1807) - an 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop - as a Boy 2nd Class. Still on this ship, he is made an Ordinary Seaman on 1 Mar 1835 and an Able Seaman on 1 Aug 1835

After spending the second half of 1833 being fitted out as a brig, on 1 Feb 1834, Sparrowhawk was reported at Portsmouth, expected to sail for the South America Station shortly and departed Spithead for the South American station on 13 Feb 1834. As I don't imagine Thomas was flown out later, I think it safe to assume that the then 17 year old will have left with the ship on this voyage.

Commanding the Sparrowhawk, between 9 Nov 1833 and 4 Feb 1837, was Commander Charles Pearson, veteran of the Peninsular War (father of Lieutenant General Sir Charles Knight Pearson KCMG CB), who was employed, 1830 to 1833, in the Coast Guard at North Yarmouth.

Around 24 Mar 1834, Sparrowhawk touched at Madeira en route for South America. Then on 17 Aug 1834, she rescued the crew of the Mars (en route from Launceston to London, foundered on the Falkland Islands 3 July).

10 May 1835 was at Valparaíso (Chile).

30 Oct 1835 reported to be off the coast between Callao (Peru) and Mexico.

17 Apr 1836 is reported to be calling at Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Coquimbo (Chile), prior to returning to Valparaiso to meet HMS Blonde (1819).

20 Aug 1836 is reported to be due at Valparaiso shortly to relieve HMS Rover (1832), and to sail for Rio de Janeiro and England in Oct.

Thomas remained with this ship until the end of this voyage, on 4 Feb 1837, when he was paid off. Quite a journey for a young man, in those times, when most ag labs never left their village. This may not have been his first trip either - by the standards of the day, he could have been at sea for five+ years already - but, sadly, I don't [yet] have any records of his earlier service as a boy.

Monday, 27 December 2021

John Winnall, Thames Waterman of Blackwall

River Thames at Blackwall
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Nigel Cox - geograph.org.uk/p/792054

John Winnall (b. 1642), son of Augustine Wynnall and Elizabeth Knighte, and his wife Alice [maiden name unknown] were the parents of the following children. All baptisms listed were at the church of St Dunstan's, Stepney:

  1. Elizabeth Winnall bap. 2 Jun 1669
  2. Mary Winnall bap. 30 Jul 1671
  3. Jo*** Winnum (sic) bap. 12 Sep 1672 (This record has been transcribed as Joyce Winnum, however, on the original written document, although the first name isn't easily readable, it says SON of John Winnum of Blackwall, Waterman and Alice. So I definitely don't think it's Joyce, but I do think that Winnum is an error and this is a son of the same John Winnall. John for the first name would be the obvious choice, but it doesn't look like that.)
  4. Alyce Winnall bap. 6 Mar 1673
  5. Augustine Winnall bap. 16 Nov 1678
  6. Anne Winnall bap. 16 Mar 1680
  7. Rachel Winnall b. ~1680 (As yet not seen original baptism.)

Most say son or daughter of John Winnall of Blackwall, Waterman and Alice.

So, not only was John Winnall born the same year as the start of the English Civil War, this places him and Alice in the capital at the time of the Great Fire of London. They also lived through the plague (1665-6). Interesting times.

Samuel Pepys, who commuted by water from his home to his job at the Admiralty, refers to the death of his waterman in his diaries of 1665 revealing the particular vulnerability of Thames watermen to infection. On Sunday 20 August 1665, he writes, "And I could not get my waterman to go elsewhere for fear of the plague."

Blackwall had a proud maritime tradition and both Raleigh and Nelson are said to have had homes here. The first colonists of Virginia sailed from Blackwall in 1606 and later the East India Docks - a group of docks in Blackwall, east London - brought thriving inter­na­tional trade. 

Blackwall Yard was famous for building East Indiamen, which vessels were often called Blackwallers. Built in 1614, it was the first wet dock in the port of London and was the East India Company's principal shipyard, "... residential development at Blackwall commenced in earnest during the 1620s and 1630s, and it continued throughout the century as both the shipyard and overseas trade prospered and the demand for labour in the area increased." 

The evidence suggests that John Winnall's father had come to London from Gloucestershire some time between 1627 and 1634. We don't know what his occupation was once he got to the capital, but he had been a labourer. We know he settled in this area, as his children were baptised at St Dunstan's, Stepney, so the development in the area would seem to offer the perfect reason for arriving and finding work at that time. It certainly explains why many in this branch of my family (my maternal grandfather's ancestors) had settled in this area and made their living in some way related to either the river or the seas as watermen, dock labourers, ships' carpenters, shipwrights, sailors ...

Thames watermen and ferries: "Wherries could be hired at many stairs that led down to the Thames. Watermen gathered at each, jostling for custom, crying “oars oars sculls oars oars”. Working a passenger wherry, ferry, or barge on the Thames in all weathers and tides required knowledge and skill, with tides used to achieve remarkably quick journeys up and down river. The men who operated such craft, as well as those who transported goods by barge or lighter, were a special breed, whose families undertook the same work for generations." 

The record of the burial of John Winnall, on 16 Nov 1693 at St Dunstan's, Stepney, also lists him as John Winnall of Blackwall, Waterman at Poplar.

In the records of Thames Watermen & Lightermen 1688-2010, there is a John Winnall listed, in Blackwall, apprenticed to a Master Winnall, in 1707. It would not be a surprise to find that this was perhaps, John Winnall's grandson.

Rachel Winnall later married Thomas Travally, also a waterman, as was their son.

Sources:

  1. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:68V4-752G), Elizabeth Winnall, 1669.
  2. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6Z87-YLC4), Mary Winnall, 1671.
  3. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6ZZ6-Y723), John Winnum in entry for Joyce Winnum, 1672.
  4. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6ZDK-WST1), Alyce Winnall, 1673.
  5. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6ZZF-RSHY), Augustine Winnall, 1678.
  6. "England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6ZRX-BQYH), John Winnall, 1693.

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