Saturday, June 9, 2012

Natal Passenger Lists 1861

This is a shipping column from the Natal Mercury 13 July 1861.  Though at first glance it doesn't appear particularly exciting, some interesting points emerge on closer inspection of the details.

No passengers are listed for several of the vessels described as 'Arrived' (at Durban). The 384 ton barque Randolph, from London, was still 'Outside' i.e. waiting in the roadstead beyond the entrance to the port. Nevertheless, her passengers are named - in one instance not felicitously: Alex 'Climmury' was actually Alex Cumming.

It's the sort of error that creeps into newspaper passenger lists - these might have been transcribed three times (the captain's or agent's list, the port captain's list and the newspaper shipping reporter's transcript) before publication, making a good case for comparing a published list with the relevant hand-written original register: Cumming is clearly the correct version.

On the other hand, the printed list was helpful in my search for another passenger on the Randolph - Thomas Thomas (a name to conjure with at the best of times) is given simply as 'Thomas' (his surname) in the original register. The addition of his forename in the news column enabled confirmation of his identity. So, again, using both sources paid off.

For those who like contextual detail, the 'Goods Entered Inwards' paragraph shows the cargo carried by the Randolph: it includes various hogsheads and casks (contents not divulged), anvils, rope, nails, chain, grindstones, planks, a large quantity of creosoted timber, an iron boat, a wooden boat with sail and oars, rudders, anchors, axes, bellows, 2 monkeys, a pig house plus 1 pig, and 2 dogs - with kennels.

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