Sunday, September 16, 2012

Passengers to Natal: 1866

The arrival at Natal of the Aberdeen Direct Clipper, Umgeni, one of John T Rennie’s line, was reported in the Natal Mercury of 27 February 1866. A passenger list in the Shipping Intelligence column offers an example of how information as well as pointers towards further research can be gleaned from such a source.*

A group of Government Immigrants on board is a reminder that the scheme introduced in 1857, enabling those already settled in Natal to nominate and stand surety to others wishing to settle in the Colony, was still operating. The sureties could be relatives or prospective employers to whom the immigrants were contracted.

There were cabin passengers on the Umgeni, too, notably three missionaries including Rev. August Prozesky who worked among the Zulus at Konigsberg (Newcastle, Natal) from 1868 – 1900, and built the Lutheran Mission Church there.**

Passengers per Umgeni from London (as reported in the Natal Mercury):
Cabin: Revds. Carl Richter, Theodore Glockner and August Prozesky; Mr and Mrs John Gavin and child, Mrs Robert Forrest, Mrs Payne, Miss A Hubbard.

Government Immigrants:
Mrs E E Parker
Mrs E Gadd
Mrs F Hansen
Mrs S Keith
Thos Williams
M A McIntosh
M Mullins
M Roper
A Forester
Mr & Mrs Barrett
Mr & Mrs Drew & infant
Mr & Mrs Harmsworth
Mr & Mrs Harmsworth jnr
Mr & Mrs Jacob & 4 children
Messrs Hansen (2)
M Cleeves

Selecting a few names at random, interesting stories emerge: Thomas Bath was contracted to the sugar planter John Vacy Lyle of the farm Fenton Vacy on the North coast of Natal. A by-product of this estate was the fiery Fenton Vacy rum. The 19 year-old Maria Roper, whose surety was the tailor Ebenezer Beves, later became Mrs Beves: whether this was planned prior to Maria’s arrival in Natal, or a case of love at first sight, history doesn’t relate.

Annie Forester appears to be a solo passenger but in fact, aged 8, was travelling with her mother and stepfather, Mary and George Drew and the Drews’ infant son, Ernest. Fanny Hansen, with her two sons Benjamin and George, was joining her husband, William Hansen, a bricklayer who had settled earlier in Durban. The Barrett couple – John and Sarah - were going to employment on a farm at Weenen. John Campbell’s surety was the mason, William McIntosh, in Pietermaritzburg. Mrs Parker is a mystery passenger as she doesn't appear in the immigration records; perhaps she called herself by a different surname  for her new start in the Colony.

John Gavin, a well-known colonist who originally arrived in Natal on the Globe, made more than one voyage between the Colony and England. He was to meet a dreadful fate in 1875, falling into a pan of boiling sugar juice.

The Aberdeen Clipper Umgeni, 1864
The ship Umgeni brought further immigrants to Natal in five sailings between 1866 and 1874. The following year she was re-rigged as a barque - fewer crew members were then required to sail her. She ended her career as a coal hulk at the port of Durban.

*   Stating the obvious? Perhaps, but a blog visitor asked: ‘What’s all the fuss about passenger lists? They’re just lists of names.’ Indeed.

** The book Hope Farm: Mission Stories was translated from the German by Prozesky’s great grandson Oscar Prozesky.

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