Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Passenger Arrivals and Departures: Natal 1863

Report of the departure of RMS Dane 'for Capetown and Intermediate ports', in the Natal Mercury of 3 July 1863, illustrates that troops on board were generally not named in published shipping lists. Officers occasionally were but here 2 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and six soldiers, travelling Third Class, pass unidentified into history.

The port is very busy, with several vessels of heavy draught (for that era) waiting Outside, others which have already entered, and a number still 'expected'. This last is a useful feature when tracking an ancestor on a particular ship - for example, the column announces that the Maritzburg sailed from the Downs 1st March, so obviously a search forward for its arrival would be indicated.

The Dane, built in 1855, pioneered the Union Company's service to the Cape in 1857, inaugurating the mail service to that port. During her interesting career, she was later (1865) chartered by the Admiralty to convey stores to Zanzibar for the British naval forces engaged in the suppression of the slave trade on the east coast of Africa. Having left Simonstown on 28 November 1865 on her way to play this important role, she was stranded during her approach to Port Elizabeth and became a total wreck. Passengers and crew were safely taken off.

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