The original of this fascinating document is lost but an anonymous person has typed it out and what follows is an accurate copy. I (Michael Parcell) have retained the original spelling and punctuation as the typist seems to have done. George Brown died in 1899. It is of interest to note that in his manuscript he wrote ‘fs’ instead of ‘ss’ which had gone out of fashion many years earlier. The numbers in brackets refer to the Notes, which appear later in this blog. (Acknowledgement: Michael Parcell)
My father was Master Mariner in Hull ships & My Grandfather Thomas Codling and Grandmother was getting old & had a horse and Trucks & good Businefs. Largish House & Stable and premises in Bond Street Mews (3) so we as a family went to live with them till their death, my Grand Mother died first she was Cousin to the Kilham the founder of the Wesleyan New Connection 1797 (4), she was a Methodist in Mr Wesley’s day and of about Epworth. My Mother & I was visiting there when I was a Little Boy – found lots of old Methodist in our family thereabouts. My Father was lost at Sea when I was about 8 years old. He was Master of the Mary Ann Elizabeth of Hull a large bark bound to Sierra Leone (all hands perished) as singular to say my Father’s fore Fathers following the Sea also perished either by shipwreck or Climate & he was left an Orphan when young as I was a Fatherlefs Boy. About this time a Scholar at the Mason Street Sunday Wesleyan School(5). We had some good teachers as Anthony Hall and Mr Cussons who had us at prayer meetings in a private House and some of us got converted. I was happy for some time & having no help at home my religion became as the Morning dew. I was Educated at Mr. Crozer’s Clafsical Accademy & was considered a good Scholar at 12 years of age when I went to Sea in the Bark Clarkson of Hull To Petersburgh Capt R. Ward came back to Hull. In Jany 1830 my Grandfather died & I am sorry to say he was Insolvent. My Mother in taking his businefs with debts ruined her own position by it, but was Glad to not let her Father die thus. He died we think happy in the Lord gave up Calvinism & died a Methodist, finding my Mother had more than she could do to support us all respectable there was myself and two Sisters to keep & she had only £12 year income, so I was off to Sea & went Apprentice for 7 years to John Brodrick Ship owner (6) 4 years was I in the Foster Capt Calender – 1 year in the Amazon Capt Brodrick in the Quebec Trade with Goods and Pafsengers, and 2 years in the Latona (7) Merimachi (8)trade Capt c Wilson, in 1837 my Apprenticeship was ended, in 1833 My Master in drink was drowned before our Eyes in the North Atlantic. I was fond of him, having heard once he was in the good way to Heaven it affected me much & led me into strong Convictions for Sins as a Backslider, for about 3 months my compunction was great, it was a Revival time by Squire Brooks, one Sunday night at the prayer meeting in the Vestry at George Yard Chapel (9) I found liberty, this was some time in about October 1833, I had met (as a penitent) in Clafs during my apprenticeship, we only was a few months in the year in Summer at Sea, the long winters at home so had grand times at our Chapels and with such Ministers as at this date we had J. Stephens, J. Mothley, J. Macowen, W. L. Thornton Mr Vaughan Supernumary we had only one circuit at this time 1833, 1837 went on A Steamer the Enterprise running between London and Yarmouth as Steward but such was the drinking Gambling, Sabbaths so profaned on board that I left after a few weeks & returned to sailing ships where we had more chances to live to God & save Souls, I went 2 voyages to Riga in the Amulet Captn L. Taylor & finished the year in the Thedford Capt T Sadler in the Rotterdam and Hull trade, 1838 I was in the Aquatic also most of the year, Captn Sadler a Methodist. He got me to preach in Rotterdam in a chapel Vestry to our Crew & 3 years before this I had exhorted one Sunday night in a large Alley between the Market Place & High Street in Hull in Company with my Clafs leader and prayer leaders after Sunday night preaching. My preaching was very poor work for so good a Master, the latter part of this year I got my hand injured in loading the Aquatic & had to resign my birth when Capt Strutt of the Cygnet of Whitby then at Hull enquired of Mr Post foreman of the North Bridge a very pious & devoted Class leader for a pious young Sailor to join his Vessel, as he knew me as one of the members of the Clafses branched off from his, He recommended me as a Methodist to a Methodist Capt hoping God would make me a blefsing to the crewe, We made one Voyage to London one to Rochester & back to Middlesbro & then she laid up for the Winter & in the 1839 I began as Mate of a Sloop the Two Brothers of Stockton bound to Newcastle loaded with lead we got disabled & I returned to Hull, in the Spring joined again the Cygnet sailed to Rostock back to Stockton thence to Dantzic & London for 2 voyages & finished the year in the Coal trade & at home in Hull This was the Centenary Year of Wesley and Methodism and I was glad to be at the great Gathering of Hull Methodists and Commemorate by a public Tea of about 2000 members and Public Meeting afterwards The spacious Cotton Mills (Rylands Manager) (10) was built so far as to allow of one extensive floor or story to accomadate all 2,000 for this Great Occasion. We had old and young Ministers who spoke so wonderfull as if specially Inspired for the Occasion the principal speakers was Rev W Lord Rev Peter Duncan Rev Mr Smith Rev Mr Jones, there was a full platform & fully a very large assembly Lay men Officials all fully alive there seemd a great deal more life in & about Hull than usual, the Speaking, Singing, so Enthusiastic & Benevolence to the Poor members no expensivenefs spared to get every poor member to the feast. 1840 went to London in the Smails of Whitby Captn Stephenson we had on the pafsage a wonderfull deliverance in answer to prayer & Mate & Cabin Boy Converted, wishing to sail in the Cygnet joined her again but had such imprefsions to go to Hull again quickly I could not rest so was obliged to leave my dear old Master where we always had prayers in the Cabin & every chance to be good & do good, He used to pray & I used to preach as well as I could & souls were saved, In Dantzig of a Sunday morning, I distributed tracts amongst the ships & invited all to service in the evening in the Cygnets cabin, & with the Steerage we could hold a congregation of 70, we had it many times filled with sincere worshippers. I recollect we had 4 brought in one month. John Walsh & Capt Prin were mifsionarys of the British & Foreign Sailors Society (Bell Wharf Chapel) (11), When in London these good men got me to preach I helped them as often as I could. Mr Bailey was at Falmouth in 58 when we was landed there as a ship wrecked crew & sent to our homes by the Shipwrecked & fishermens society of which I was a member. In the spring of 1840 went in the Elizabeth of Hull (Capt Minnet a pious Capt) as A.B. We got the owner to allow us tea sugar & coffee in the room of Beer & Spirits on our American Voyage to Tutmagush (12) & we had not a drunken man for the voyage. Owners, Capt & crew was all satisfied & happy on arriving home at Hull. This was the first instance of a temperance sailing ship out of the port of Hull, The custom was crew had no groceries found them but Beer & Rum in large quantities, In foreign ports & in America ½ pint of raw rum daily for every man & drunkenefs was the order of the day . up to this time I had only known one teatotal vefsel afloat which was the Argo of Goole a dear Capt Nicholson formerly commanding the Providence a very pious man was he. I was desired to go Mate in the Hamburgh trade the Brig Sympathy (Capt Clifton) instead of going 2nd Mate of the Elizabeth.
We sailed all that year between Hamburgh & Hull & had many precious seasons on the Ship, & in Hamburgh a Mission was founded by the Wesleyan association , we took out the second missionary sent there a Mr Walker. The Lord helped me to preach Jesus on the waters & on the shore as I went about, often in connection with the port of Hull Society Floating Chapel afterwards the Sailors Institute (Junction Dock close to it).
This following winter & early spring a long hard winter of frost all ports froze up across the sea, the Humber also, we laid loaded for Hamburgh so was liberated for a while & I had a blessed time at Witton and Aukbrough (Aldeburgh? MBP) Lincolnshire.
The winter subsiding we commenced trading between Hull & Hamburgh, During the summer of 41 I had my head injured severely by a great block in tackle that came down from the main mast head & I was considered as dead for some time bleeding profusely & I was insensible to all around the first doctor that was fetched on board gave up the case saying if I could be restored they must get me quickly to the Hamburgh Hospital. All I could understand was something must have happened & I was dying, at this juncture I was living near to God & my peace was flowing as a river so death was no terror to me. It had been arranged for me to preach on board the Cygnet of Whitby now in this port (Hamburgh) the night I was taken to the hospital as was thought to die but God was gracious to me, for about 2 days & nights they placed me with a bladder of ice on my head. I had nothing but a sheet to keep down inflammation & as I lay on a bed was not allowed to move. After this they capt my head & closed the wound, ordered not to think of anything. All this time now & then I was a little sensible & so happy and I resigned my only desire for life was to serve God & support my mother & sister. After several weeks I got home & began to wish for a voyage again. My system was weak & my memory considerably failed. It was a wonderful cure after all (in answer to much prayer) & as I was able gave myself to recover my lost powers of reading, praying, preaching & recollecting all that was usfull in my profefsion & Christian life. In the meantime I was placed in command of the Cygnet of Whitby went on a London voyage & back to Hartlepool to load for Malta. My way was now clear for to make a Home & support my mother. So married on Christmas day at St Hildas Church 1841 (13). Made my home at Middlesborough & the port to sail from The population at this time was about 5,500 all told. My Dear Wife the daughter of Capt Struut the then managing owner gave me leave to spend our Honey moon on a Malta voyage so sailed we on the 27th Dec 1841 from Hartlepool to Malta . While there we ,with a pious Sunderland Capt Young, visited St Pauls Bay The Cave of Publius & Paul for private fellowship, the place where Paul shook the viper from his hand to the astonishment of the natives who was expecting his death so they looked upon him as a God. We ranged about the Catacoombes & saw & learned from tradition. It threw amazing interest on the 28th Chap of Acts. I had long to sail to Malta when reading Pauls shipwreck and the Lord favoured me & here we found a Wes Meth Minister & cause in the Rev Thos T N Hull (14) now in 1894 still living as supernumary.
On our passage home put into the port of Malayo, We hoisted the Bethel Flag (15) its first appearance there in Ireland. We here loaded wheat for Southampton & thence returned to Middlesborough, in this the 1842 was mate of the Spray of Whitby Capt Robinson, to Exeter & back. Then Mate of the Spray of Whitby Capt Robinson, to Exeter & back. Then Mate of the Empress of Stockton a voyage to London & Rochester & back to Hartlepool. In Feb 1843 then went Master of the Tees of Stockton in the coal trade all year. 1844 was in the coal trade, Baltic trade & Oporto trade. 1845 was in the coal trade, Baltic & the French trade. 1846 was in the Holland, Hamburgh & Cottenburgh (Gothenburg ? MBP) trade. While in Cottenburgh in Sweden we had help & comfort from the Society of Friends, we always carried the Bethel Flag & held services under it in every foreign port also taking the help afforded wherever we had English Churches of any Protestant denomination & many glorious times had we. Here we had as a deputation the poor Quakers in this country Mr Isaac Sharp of Darlington, Mr Trigelis of Falmouth, Mr Rudge of Cork who was real gentleman & was delighted to hold meetings on the Ellen Crawford of Hull & our vessel the Tees of Stockton & shewn great friendship & kindnefs to Capt Newby & myself in giving us at any time a interview on leaving us presented me with the life of Mr Fox their founder. While here we had Frederick Nelson a swede a true believer in Jesus Christ, connected to the British & foreign Bible Society a distributer of Bibles & tracks in Swedish amidst this great persecution carried out by the fallen & corrupted Lutherian Church (now ruled by priestcraft) against the Quakers & Methodists a society in Stockholm enjoying the Rev Mr Scott Wesleyan Minister (in a great revival) (missionary) & other orthodox churches. 1500 left this year for to have the freedom in America to serve God according to their conscience some of the leaders of this great revival of pure christianity were imprisoned such as Johnson, Wilson & others & their Pastor Mr Scott had to leave for home (England). This man expected he would have to leave his country with many more, or be imprisoned.
On the ship under the British flag the authoritys could not interfere so we held meetings to convert and comfort those who was seeking & serving The Lord. Of an evening numbers came in boats & I preached to them in English & Nelson interpreted it to them in Swedish. We had one blessed service before we sailed when my subject was “ Fear not little flock it is my Fathers & your Fathers pleasure to give the Kingdom . many wept but rejoiced in hope of the glory of God, Luther was a great reformer of this country which was when his religion began to operate well but Sweden sunk deep into gross wickedness. Roberies, murders, was very common. They delighted in War & bloodshed, crime & boasted of it as a qualification for a happier future State so I have been informed In Sweden. In the little ports in Norway & Sweden we often had meetings on shore but in large towns or ports no Church can or could be used without permifsion by law.
I have sailed during my life with many Norwegians & Swedes & have generally found them good sailors, quite & of a religious turn to attend our Services. In 1847 fore part of this year was in Hamburgh trade to Lieth & rest of the year was at Middlesborough Redcar & Witton Park near Bishop Auckland preached on the circuit. I always felt a great interest in Temperence, though sometimes was silenced BEING FORCED TO CARRY it on the vessel by law for pafsengers & crew as considered necessary yet I restrained the drinking all I could. In 1848 I went back to Hull & sailed out there Chief officer in the Dandie Dinmont (16) in the Memel & Riga trade from Hull
March 1850 was wrecked on the Island of Barnholm (17)a place I had often pafsed & wished & wished to preach the Gospel. After much suffering been frozen out of all ports & disabled by ice for weeks we drove ashore & ship broke up very soon. However we were treated very kindly & after several good religious meetings we all was brought safe to Elsinore. Capt Newby & all the crew was sent in different vessels to England after much suffering & our thanks be to God for our deliverences.
1850 went chief officer in the Red Rover Hull Capt Geo Davey 2nd voyage to St Petersburgh & back Dec 1850. Dec 1850 went master of Silva of Goole. 1851 Traded in the Baltic. 1852 & 3 traded to Harburgh, Hamburgh, Baltic & in 1854 she changed hands & became family property & was now Silva of Hull
1854, 55, 56, 57 & part of 1858 we sailed in the Baltic, Portugal, Mediteranian trades then we sold her & bought another, Went into the barque Alexander Johnson Bound for Barcelona & Odessa in the Black Sea, she sprang a leak & foundered in the Bay of Biscay about where the London steamer after foundered (18), she was bound to Australia & on board amongst the pafsengers was the Rev Mr & Mrs Draper who acted their part so bravely in leading all on board they could to Christ as this large steamer was filling & going down, & perished without any way of escape except the little Jolly boat. The foundering of this steamer was in 1866, many perished in the London. But the lord was gracious to us. Our crew in this barque numbered 12 & we was picked up from our 2 boats by the Barque North Star of a port in Norway who treated us kindly & landed us in Falmouth. We were sent home by the Mariners Shipwrecked & fishermans Society (19). We arrived home in Hull with much loss, but thankful our lives were preserved. I a while my health was restored & in committing my case to the Lord to open my providential way again. I spent much time in private prayer for to be led right.
It seems now my way to join a London firm & open a trade for goods and pafsengers between London & Port Natal S. E. Africa ( now Durban MBP). I had now been sailing out of Hull again for about 10 years. In the later part of 1858 I was placed in command of the Priscilla of London by Bullard King & Co (20). We was chartered to carry out to Port Natal emigrants by the British Government & sailed under Government rules, we always, as our rule 6pm had prayers for all that would attend when weather permitting. On Sundays at 10-30 am Government rule Church. At 6pm our rule Methodist Chapel service. This voyage in 1859 we had to go to the Mauritius with a cargo of horses and then from there to Adelaide S. A. with a cargo of new sugar and dates we received, taking in some copper Ore we went to Port Augusta the top of Spencers Gulf taking from Port Adelaide credentials to make it a Port with its officials. Here we loaded wool for London, while there we held services in the Town of about 4 to 5000 people. They was much needing Methodist preaching having never any other than an Anglican Church Clergyman once a month, they liked Methodism and we had services regular in the then appointed Harbour Masters house. This was the beginning of Methodism here. 1860 Priscilla again chartered by the British Government for emigrants to Port Natal, Loaded back to London calling at Algoa Bay (21) for goods & pafsengers. God helped me to be a witnefs for Him at both ports.
On arriving in London found my dear wife had left Hull as we arranged & living in Normanby near her dear Father & mother Myself accepted as a member of the Wesleyan Chapel & local preacher in St Georges London circuit.
Traded between London & Natal up to 1873 with the exception of a voyage to Archangel in 1865.Here we had good meetings under the Bethel Flag (for English people). 1873 made an intermediate voyage to Isle of France & back to Natal, we had very good services under the Church of England, The Island was principaly Catholic a large coolie population with their different religions of India but the Bishop Ryan & clergymen of the Anglican Church was real good men & they had one Independent or Presbytarian cause which had a good minister on the Island, By the help of the Spirit of God I took services in both Churches. They had received the gift of a large sailing ship from Blythe Brothers (22) of Isle of France (23) & London to be fitted up for an English Church for sailors they were invited & looked after by an excellent clergyman. The floating church was opened by Bishop Ryan & it was attended well by crews of English ships for different kinds of meetings. It seemed to me I could do most good by my Bethel Flag awhile & work in anyway I could with this Church mission for sailors so did so, & we had some good times. One of the Church missionaries had been brought in under Moody & Sankey (24) & the Methodists I think in Ireland.
When visiting the cemetery here I found the following epitaph on a marble tablet to the honour or memory of the Rev John Sargent Wesleyan minister who died June the 10th 1831 aged 31 years, the first and only W M missionary ever placed there (the Isle of France). The expense which was bore by a few pious soldiers of the 99 Regiment to shew their respect to Gods dear servant Many died of fever here in the sickly season The next Tombe to his is the tombe of the lamented Mrs Harriet Atwood Newel who died Nov 30th 1812 aged 19 an American missionarys wife who went here from Bombay for her health (25). The Tombe was erected by the American board of commissioners for foreign missions. I loved to visit good mens graves in foreign lands, especially missionarys.
In Lisbon a few years before this I visited the grave of the celebrated Dr Philip Dodridge (26) the author of a grand work for the soul in its rise & progrefs How sacred seemed the land where he lay. I often think of the many happy times I have had in foreign lands with those who are noe in Heaven in ports and places, in France, Belgium, Holland, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck, Denmark, Prusia, Rusia, Sweden, Norway, Spain & Portugal.
In 1874 in May I left the Priscilla of London & went to Eston where I lived till a new Bark (named Panda) was ready for me. She was building at Allberg Denmark. The latter part of the year 1874 I went over to superintend her finishing. In the Spring of 1875 we commenced the Port Natal trade from London. In 1875 in our first voyage in the Panda of London (she was named after the Tula chief Panda) we was bound to Port Natal with goods and pafsengers my daughter Fanny was with me & we had Dr Lamplow the Son of the vendor of the Pryletic Salina as our pafsenger for to improve his health. On the 17th July we had a wonderful deliverance from fire in the south atlantic which threatened the destruction of the vessel and all on board about 800 miles from any land. Early on the 17th in the middle watch about 1-30 am the cry of fire was heard from the officer of the watch “ship on fire”. Cargo in the forhold on fire. The first thing I saw was fire bursting out of the forehold forecastle bulkhead in large flames. It was a strong wind & all except small sails set. At first there was confusion & terror by pafsengers and crew but we was soon organised in trying to put out the fire. Crew & pafsengers with a will all obeyed orders as the sails reduced speed stopped, ships head brought round as near to the wind as possible to keep the fire in one place Fire engine well manned fore hatch way cut into for the pipe to enter. The other part of the hose placed in the sea & water was poured in abundance upon the fire. By about 6 am the fire was out & we began to undo hatches after which we took the burning and burnt cargo on deck fore & aft keeping the fire engine playing on everything as it was got up from the hold. It appeared that jute bags pf nails & oil in tins & coals & bales had become ignited near the bottom of the forehold, but had not reached some large cases of matches & combustable goods, so by the blefsing and help of God we was preserved, Had we not been prompt & got the flames out we could not have saved the ship & the rest of the cargo. Though a large quantity of the cargo was destroyed by fire & water used to quench the fire. The surveyors on our arriving at Port Natal was astonished that the ship and cargo was saved but it was through Gods wonderful providence. When we returned to London the underwriters of the ship made the Capt a handsome present of a gold watch & chain of 50 guineas value & the chief officer Mr N Leason one of half value for an acknowledgement of & for special services rendered in extinguishing the fire & saving ship and cargo. Thank God none of us received much harm, the men working at the cargo suffered certain burns but soon recovered. We loaded goods & passengers back to London. We was favoured this time in Port to attend Moody & Sankeys commence gatherings at Bow Hall & Agricultural Hall. Much good was done.
1876 1877 was in the Port Natal trade from the time of first trading to Port Natal 1859 to giving up sea. My name was on the Durban plan & had always as much preaching work as I could take either on this plan or about the Colony as my shipmaster duties required or permitted me to go . In one instance I had to Government House to go to see the Lt Governor Mr Scott (27)in Petermaritsberg. The Rev Horatio Pearse was chairman of the Natal District he was only poorly so we went to York together & I took the service in the Chapel.
1878 from Natal we sailed to the Isle of France from thence to Melbourne, Victoria I got to see my nephew Geo Thom Wood who had been there since a child about 1840, they had left England for there. He now lived on his own little estate om Mount Eliza, Frankston, Victoria with his wife and large family.
From Melbourne we sailed with a part cargo to Walleroo & Port Pirie Spencers Gulf. At this port we loaded flour back to Port Natal from there we saild to Port Louis of Isle of France. In Sept 1878 laid for 4 months to load direct for London & sailed arriving in London in March 1879.
The Lord preserved me in pretty good health in this sickly season at Port Louis till the last day when I caught the fever & was more or less ill always to London. I was so reduced by illness that after the ship was safely docked in St Catherines Dock & ship entered at the custom house & did the needful at the owners office Bullard King & Co I had to lay up & leave the chief officer & clerk to pay wages & see after all it was necessary for me to leave the ship in charge of another Capt. After recovering to some extent came to Eston on May the 12th 1879 when after about 50 years of sea life it was found best to get moored all fours & live shore life with my dear wife & dear father & mother Strutt & assist in any way I could with his estate where Mrs Brown & family had lived for many years together for mutual benefit. Becoming a member of the Eston Society in the Stoksley circuit. In 1889 Eston Society became part of the Middlesborough & South Bank circuit.
Now in 1894 & 77 years of age I am only fir for a supernemary & to be ripened for heaven. Many have been my escapes from apparent death as is usual to sailors but I have had a great deliverance from being drowned in the North Sea when an apprentice in 1835, fell overboard & towing by a rope & no one knew for ever so long & the ship going 5 knots. I was specially kept from sailing in 2 ships which was lost & allon board. Once delivered from been stung to death by a serpant or viper getting into my bed in S.E. Africa. I am thankful to God for all his mercies to me an unworthy servant.
In addition to many marvellous providencies & bearing with my sins & short comings He has often given me the desires of my heart in sending me to Malta, Shetland Isles, Port Natal, Australia Bernholm, not only for the purpose of commerce but to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Now in 1899 am enjoying Gods gracious providence through Jesus Christ my Lord feeling daily I am his. My dear wife still continued to me for my comfort through heavy afflictions at times for about 5 years an invalid yet bright with future hope of Glory patiently waiting the Lords will so we are to help each other to a better Land. I have for the comfort of my family as I have been requested recorded som of the principal circumstances of my life with its duties so varied in sea life at home & abroad as a Methodist Christian & witness for Christ. I have been requested & recommended to write life for a book by friends at different times at places where I have been labouring for Christ. This was not my aim or desire . I should only like my death to be recorded that my friends at home & abroad may know that my days are ended below & have joined the church above to God be all the Glory that I am a sinner saved by Grace.
Capt G. Brown died at Normanby June 8th 1899 aged 82 years.