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Mary Ellen Fairbairn (nee McNamara) 1881-1955 by Ann Rackstraw

From Ireland to Australia: Information for Emigrants; The voyage on the Standard

Information for Emigrants

Colonization Circulars were issued regularly by Her Majesty’s Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners; these provided the regulations concerning the transport of immigrants to the colonies and contained advice and information for the immigrants in the United Kingdom before they left on their journey.

Circular No 13 issued in March 1853 reported that 87,424 people migrated to the Australian Colonies and New Zealand in 1852.

‘It appeared from recent reports from the colony of South Australia that the demand for labour still continued great [sic]. Female servants of all work, of good moral character, miners, farm servants, agricultural labourers, and shepherds especially, are in request. Shoemakers, tailors &c. are also mentioned as being required’.

Prices in South Australia were reported for Sept 1852 including;
• Bread 1st quality - 2½d per lb.
• Meat, fresh – beef & mutton – 4d to 5½d per lb
• Potatoes – 2d per lb.

Wages in South Australia were reported for Sept 1852 including;
• Married Agricultural Labourers - 50 to 60 pounds per annum
• Single Agricultural Labourers - 50 pounds per annum
• Female house servants - 16 to 20 pounds per annum
All wages included board and lodging.

The section ‘Passage for Australia’ contains information regarding ‘regulations and conditions for applications for emigrants to be selected for passage to the Australian colonies, when there are funds available for the purpose’, and a table provides information on the ‘Payments towards Passages’, this indicates a rising scale, by age, for various occupational categories, eg;

Married agricultural labourers –
• Under 45 - 1 pound,
• 45 to under 50 – 5 pounds,
• 50 to under 60 – 11 pounds.
Passages from Dublin and Cork to Plymouth were provided by the Commissioners for emigrants. All other travelling expenses to be borne by the emigrants themselves.

The Commissioners provided, free of charge, provisions, medical attendance, and cooking utensils, also new mattresses, bolsters, blankets and counterpanes (bedspread possibly quilted), canvas bags to contain linen, &c., knives and forks, spoons, metal plates, and drinking mugs, which articles will be given after arrival in the colony to the emigrants who have behaved well on the voyage. The emigrants were to bring their own clothing which would be inspected at the port and they would not be allowed to embark unless they have a sufficient stock for the voyage, not less for each person than- Men – 6 shirts, 6 pairs stockings, 2 pairs shoes, 2 complete suits of exterior clothing. Females – 6 shifts, 2 flannel petticoats, 6 pairs stockings, 2 pairs shoes, 2 gowns. Emigrants were advised that they should be prepared for both hot and cold weather and the larger the stock of clothing the better for health and comfort.

Every passenger was to rise at 7am, breakfast from 8 to 9am, dinner at 1pm and supper at 6pm. The passengers were responsible for the cleanliness of their quarters and to follow the orders of the surgeon or the master.

The expense of erecting a Dwelling suitable to an Agricultural Labourer in South Australia was estimated to cost from 20 to 60 pounds. Emigrants to the Australian colonies were strongly advised, with a view to their own advantage and health, to look immediately on arrival for employment in the country, and not to linger in the crowded dwellings of the towns.

The estimated length of passage to Australian Colonies, other than Western Australia, was 140 days for Sailing Vessels and 90 days for Steamers. Under the Passenger Act 1852, each ship must provide two privies in each passenger ship, with two additional privies for every hundred passengers on board. The whole number of privies need not exceed 12, and they are to be placed in equal numbers on each side of the ship. – Sec.22.

The Circular also included advice on disposal of Crown Lands, climate, population and the cheapest and excellent mixture for preserving leather from the bad effects of sea water.
(Colonization Circular March 1853, No 13, Price 3d. Digitized for the Australian Cooperative Digitization Project 1998, National Library of Australia, website)

The voyage on the Standard

The McNamara family probably travelled by small steamer from Ireland to Plymouth where they boarded the immigrant ship.

They sailed on the Government ship Standard, a vessel of 714 tons, from Plymouth on 2 July 1853. Standard was a three masted sailing ship, constructed in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1848, built of wood and sheathed in yellow metal, owned by Wilson & Co and registered in the Port of London. (Entry in Lloyds register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1853 edition, supplied by Gillian Simpson, Australian National Maritime Museum, email dated 25 September 2008).

The Standard was the twelfth ship from England to SA with government passengers for 1853 and came to anchor at Port Adelaide on the 13 October having been 104 days on the passage. It was commanded by Mr John Blyth; he bought the same vessel with emigrants last year, and has, on both occasions, been most attentive and kind to the people during the voyage. On this vessel there were only four deaths - one female adult and three male infants, there were only a few cases of scurvy. There were nine births on the passage (including a daughter to Bridget McNamara). The number of souls originally embarked was 321; the number of souls landed was 326. The surgeon Superintendant, Mr Hammond Chalk, performed his duties in an energetic and efficient manner; the emigrants generally expressed themselves grateful for the kindness and attention shown them by the surgeon and master of the ship. The matron of this ship was disrated (reduced in rank) for inefficiency (The Ships List, website).

Of the emigrants embarking on the Standard: 200 English, 88 Scots and 33 Irish. Notes from the Surgeon's report: ‘Children under fourteen years of age should prior to embarkation have their hair closely cut and dressed with white precipitated ointment (a mixture containing sulphur for the treatment of scabies and lice). The adults should also be persuaded if possible to have their hair trimmed and dressed with the above ointment - it is conducive both to health and comfort ..... I am fully convinced that the quantity of animal food will bear reduction. So much pork has a harmful influence on the health - once a week quite sufficient - fish would be a good substitute to tripe and even one day without animal food I think would benefit the health of Immigrants. Soup ..... is much to be preferred to preserved beef. Pork, plum pudding and pea soup will each alone produce diarrhea’ (CD, Bound for South Australia: Births and Deaths of Government-Assisted Immigrant Ships 1848-1885).

The ages of the McNamara family were recorded on the passenger records as follows; John 38 - Farm Servant, Bridget 36, Dennis 12, Mary 11, Thomas 9, James 4 and infant Catherine, born on the voyage (The Ships List, website).

The ages on the passenger list conflict with the age at death on the death certificates for both John and Bridget, also the ages of Denis, Mary and Thomas conflict with the ages recorded on their marriage records.

There are two adult McNamara children listed with the single passengers, Bridget - 18, Servant and John 16, Farm servant. A note on the transcription of the passenger list suggests that they may be members of John and Bridget's family, but they are not listed on the obituary for John McNamara dated 1890 and no link to John and Bridget has been found although thorough but unsuccessful searches have been conducted in South Australia and other Australian states for these two young people.




Mary Ellen’s paternal grand-parents