Friday, October 19, 2018

Passenger list problems

The eternal problem of finding one's ancestor on a passenger list, particularly heading for South Africa, continues unabated. First, we have to accept that few if any original sources were made for the benefit of family historians of the future. And in the case of passenger lists, we have to accept that their accuracy - if they exist at all - must remain questionable. They will also not give full, inclusive details - e.g. initials are often not given, names of children may be omitted etc.

The passenger list of the schooner Anne, 1854, quite early in terms of Natal's history, shows us the usual practice of not naming members of the military travelling by ship. You can lose a lot of ancestors that way. We are left with '15 soldiers' - no further identification given. 

Natal Mercury  15 March 1854

Children's names are not given either - and in this instance the adults have no initials. There seems to be far more interest in the vessel's cargo than in the people it carried. It is probable that nothing further would be gleaned from a sight of the original handwritten list held in Pietermaritzburg Archives.

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