Last updated 1 July 2015



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Sailing to New Countries (and other family boat tales)

1710 - 1972


Yet another of Adrian Fletcher's works in progress



I still remember clearly the very mixed emotions of the farewells and my subsequent winter train journey to Southampton in January 1968 to board the "Edinburgh Castle", bound for South Africa with no job or return planned !


Forty years' later, living in Sydney, Australia,  I slipped unintentionally into family history research, and  later discovered  to my surprise that  through the magic of internet, government archives and lots of time, it was possible to discover and trace the lives of a surprisingly large number of my ancestors in England and across the British Empire back as far as the 1500s.


There were a significant number of family men (and at least one woman) who, like me, got on a ship not knowing what the future held and whether  they would ever "come home".  This page is dedicated to them.


From the outset in 1700s India, the initial journeys were supplemented by home leaves and private travel back to England, then regular army postings and school holidays .... so for anyone who really wants to get into nauticals there are still numerous passenger lists out there awaiting discovery.  Please let me know if you have anything interesting to share!


Adrian Fletcher, Sydney, January 2013




1710 - Charles Hampton (Adrian's 6 x Grt Gfather) sails to Calcutta on the East India Galley "King William" to start work as a Writer (Clerk) for the "Hon Co".



East India Galley "King William"



The King William galley ; 400 tons, 80 men, 30 guns. Mustered

at Portsmouth, the 10th January, 1709 (ie 1710), by Mr. Blackly,

Nehemiah Winter, C ; Stephen Lashington, 1st M; Josia Mingo, 2nd;

John, Peele 3rd ; James Winter, 4th, John Winter, P; Oliver Mow,.

D ; 74 other officers and sailors, 44 soldiers.

Passengers:óChas. Hampton, Jas. Tokefield.

Log 3 Begins Friday, 4th Nov. 1709; left Plymouth, Tuesday 10th Feb. 1710;

sighted Canaries, Wednesday, 1st March; arrived Cape, Wed. 10th May; left Cape, Wed. 17th May; arrived Madras, Wed. 5th July; left Madras, Friday, 7tli July ; arrived Hijili, Sunday, 16th July.


From "Early Annals of the English in Bengal" v2 p1 p346, also presumably BL IORecords.



1756 - Martin Costelly, who married the widow Anna Hick (Adrian's 6 x Grt Grandmother) in February 1749/50, was the owner / Captain of the sloop "London" which was sunk in the recapture of Calcutta late in 1756.



Sloop "London"




1710 - 1900   Hamptons (and Palmers), Middlecoats and others would all have travelled home on furlough quite a few times.  In addition several of the children would have been sent to England for schooling / "finishing".


A listing of the names of all the East Indiamen ships from 1605 to 1856 and their journals - British Library IOR (India Office Records)



Late 1700s - Nicholas Middlecoat Jnr (Adrian's 4 x Grt Grandfather) and his brother-in-law William Hambly (Mayor of Falmouth 1798-99) are into international trade using the Falmouth Packets (but they stay in Cornwall).





1780 - Ensign Henry Webber (Madras Army) travels to Madras on the "Bellmont" to begin a successful career in the Madras Army - he retires in 1819 as a Major General married to the daughter of a French diplomat, and returns to England to take over the family pad "Buckland House" in Braunton, Devon, leaving behind an unacknowledged  illegitimate mixed race son Henry Webber (Adrian's 3 x Grt Grandfather) in Madras. 







c1800 - Ensign James Hampton (Adrian's 4 x Grt Gfather), youngest son of Col Samuel Hampton,  returns to India from London aged 16 to join the Madras Native Infantry.  Sailing ships are to be his undoing as he drowns (aged 36) in the wreck of the Lady Lushington on 11 August 1821.



Ship(s) unknown as yet




"Lady Lushington" - shipwrecked 11 August 1821




c1807 - Thomas Locke (Adrian's 4 x Grt Gfather) sails to Madras as a cadet / ensign in the Madras Native Infantry.



Ship unknown as yet




1816 - John Adolphus Burton Snr (Adrian's 3 x Grt Gfather) travels from St Pauls, Dublin, to Chatham, thence on the East Indiaman "Regent" to become a Matross in the 2nd Battalion, Madras Artillery.



Regent LOGS etc in the BL IOR collection:


Regent: Journal, anon  IOR/L/MAR/B/2D  -    16 Dec 1815-21 Jun 1817

Regent: Ledger  IOR/L/MAR/B/2G(1)  -    c.1815-c.1817

Regent: Pay Book  IOR/L/MAR/B/2G(2)  -    c.1815-c.1817




14th January 1823 - George Middlecoat (Adrian's 3 x Grt Gfather) arrives in Madras as an Addiscombe trained Officer Cadet in the Madras Artillery.



Ship unknown as yet, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.




1838-39 - The Waugh Family travel as assisted migrants from Belfast to Sydney on the barque "Garrow", and en route Isabella has a baby boy.  In Sydney they got signed in to the Quarantine Station before transferring to the "John Barry" to sail to Melbourne.  Robert and Isabella Waugh were Adrian's 3 x Grt Grandparents.



Barque "Garrow" - the original Surgeon's Log is viewable at the UK National Archives (Kew), and we have obtained copies of the introductory and summary comments.



National Archives ADM 101/77/2


The sick list and medical journal of Her Majesty's emigrant barque Garrow for 1 November 1838 to 2 March 1839 by Harry Goldney, Surgeon Superintendent, during which time the said barque was employed conveying 179 adults and 52 children below the age of 10 from Belfast to Sydney.


The passengers included Robert & Isabella Waugh from Belfast and their children James (10) John (6) Robert (4) plus a baby boy born en voyage and later christened Henry Golding (sort of Harry Goldney) Waugh.



"John Barry" (520 tons)  - See "Came to Melbourne before 1849" - Robert Waugh




June 1857 - James Cooper Stewart (Adrian's 2 x Grt Grandfather) leaves Brechin (Scotland) and sails first class from Liverpool to Melbourne on the sailing cutter "Marco Polo" - "the fastest ship in the world" - and writes a diary on the way.



"Marco Polo" (painting in the Yarmouth Museum)






Book:  "Marco Polo" by Martin J Hollenberg



c1860 - Joseph Sproule (Adrian's 2 x Grt Grandfather) and his family leave Co Tyrone and cross the Atlantic (to New York?) to start a new life in N Monaghan, Peterborough, Ontario.



Ship unknown as yet




1881 - Dr John Adolphus Burton Jnr steams back to Madras on the well appointed "HMS Serapis" to join the Indian (Army) Medical Service after qualifying as a doctor in Edinburgh and scraping through last in the qualifying test for the Indian Medical Service.  He gets censussed on the way (and he must of course have steamed over there in the '70s in the first place).



"HMS Serapis" ready to take the Prince of Wales to India - 1875






1881 - A H R Sproule (Joseph's eldest son, aged 35) crosses the Atlantic back to Co Tyrone with his family to take over the "Denamona" estate in Fintona, which he is supposed to look after for the benefit of his children.



Ship unknown as yet




1881-1882 - James Stewart, his wife Amelia and eldest daughter Isabella leave Melbourne on 13 September 1881 for their "Grand Tour" of Europe.  We have his diary.  They left London to return to Australia in July 1882.



Ships unknown as yet




1887 - The three Stewarts return to London to marry off daughter Isabella to George Frederick Aldous in the recently built St Steven's Church, Gloucester Road (West London).  How did George and Isabella meet and do their courtin ? 



Ships unknown as yet




1917 - Captain (Dr) Rex Fletcher (Adrian's Paternal Grandfather) enjoys the "Durham Castle" en route to war in Mesopotamia via Cape Town and Durban.



Union Castle Line "Durham Castle"





1920 - Captain (Dr) Jimmy Sproule (Adrian's Maternal Grandfather) sails to India on the "Konig Friedrich" (confiscated from Germany as war reparation), thence overland through the Kyber Pass to Peshawar.



"Konig Friedrich"




November 23 1920 - Clare Sproule and little daughter Peggy (Adrian's Mum) steam out to India on the HMT Vita, and are driven in Jimmy's staff car to their new life in Peshawar.  Clare had not left England before!



HMT Vita







1920 - 1946   The number of sea voyage records expands to embrace more postings, home leaves and school holidays for Jimmy and Clare Sproule and their children Brian and Peggy.



1969 - January - Adrian Fletcher sails on the "Edinburgh Castle" from Southampton to Cape Town, and three years later (January 1972) on the P&O "Himalaya" from Durban to Sydney, arriving on the 17 January 1972.



RMS Edinburgh Castle





P&O Himalaya docks in Sydney 17 January 1972








Sailing into Sydney January 1972



After that it was all done by air!



Returning to Sydney on Singapore Airlines - October 2012



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All original material on this site is © Adrian Fletcher  - the contents may not be hotlinked, but they may be reproduced on other non-commercial family web sites or similar with appropriate linked source attribution.