Sunday, 2 March 2014

On the high seas

On a cold wet winter's day in December 1863, a three master sailing ship called the Monarch sailed into Bristol docks. On her deck Captain John Way was staring anxiously out at the houses on the quayside. As he drew opposite his house, he shouted loudly. Almost immediately the window opened and a strange woman appeared holding a baby in her arms. She informed him that his wife and 3 day old son were both doing fine. That sea captain was my great great grandfather, so it is no surprise that the love of the sea is in my blood although I'm afraid I don't share his sea legs.That has passed through to other members of the family!
Bristol harbour (the ship shown in the distance is an earlier ship called the Matthew.)


This story was retold in my Great Uncle's biography and this is another thing that led me to research and find out more about the history of my family.

My Great Uncle always remembered his grandmother telling him this story, because there was a painting of the "Monarch" hanging on the wall. When I was a child my Mother had a postcard showing this picture. I used to look at it and wonder what journeys it had undertaken and where in the world it had visited........


With the help of the internet I have been able to find answers to that wondering! Over the centuries Monarch has been a popular name for ships! This Monarch ship above was a frigate ship built in 1844 and launched from the Greens shipyard at Blackwall on the River Thames.  There is a wonderful article I discovered on the British newspaper archive site describing the scene. Three boats were launched in one day and the quay side was heavily populated with many coming out to enjoy the party atmosphere and see this spectacle. Ships and boats in the harbour were decorated with flags and bunting.

The Monarch was used on the Australian trade for many years, and I have found evidence on her in berth in Sydney.Adelaide and Melbourne. The transportation of convicts from England ceased around 1850, and she was a passenger ship used to transport goods and immigrants.The accommodation in all classes was deemed to be quite spacious. She seemed to have been a popular boat and her first class accommodation was well favoured by a number of colonists. The price for a second class cabin was equivalent to  £10,000 and for a third class £7,000. Stewards were used to serve food to the first and second class passengers. There was even a miking cow kept on deck to provide fresh milk.

File:Conrad Martens - North Head from above Balmoral, Sydney Harbour - Google Art Project.jpg
Conrad Martens - north head from above Balmoral Sydney Harbour  1866 (picture taken from Commons Wikimedia.)

 One of the articles I discovered in the Australian newspaper articles gave a list of her cargo which included casks of wine, hops, sugar, many packages for local businesses and cases of chocolate (one wonders how they survived the journey in the heat!) There is almost mention that with good weather the ship managed the journey from Plymouth in England in 77 days.

Plymouth Sound Devon

I also discovered that the Monarch sailed from Melbourne on 5th September 1863 to London so it is feasible to assume that this may be where John Way was returning from, at the beginning of the post.

The Monarch made two voyages to New Zealand the first in 1866 was to Auckland and the second in 1870 bought 200 immigrants to Lyttelton (Christchurch) in New Zealand. No one knows what finally happened to the ship, she sailed from Bombay to Rangoon in 1876 and was never heard of again.

A few years ago I managed to come into contact with a distant cousin and I was delighted to discover that the original painting is still in the family! There were specialist painters who would be commissioned by owners or captains to recreate a picture of their ship.



Life on the high seas was not always easy and John Way was captain of other ships too. He went to the rescue of another British ship called the Harriet, off Malay (South East Asia). The captain had been murdered and two of his officers injured by one of his crew. John Way took two of his own men and boarded the ship. The murderer approached them with two knives. He managed to remove one of the knives from him, but following a struggle, he was injured by a wound to his hip and narrowly missed another blow aimed at his heart!  Another time near El Salavador one of his own crew became drunk and grabbbed a knife and threatened the crew. John took a gun and wounded the man. One of his ships  the "Rantipole" was severely damaged in a typhoon in the South China seas before running aground and being refloated near Amoy (Xiamen). The ship was written off. An auction was held for the items that could be retrieved.

John managed to survive all of that excitement and eventually set up a business in Bristol as a merchant supplying the ships instead.  At the age of 58 he became a publican in charge of the Hole in the Wall pub in Bristol. On a visit to Bristol many years ago we choose this pub  to have a meal in, without knowing of this family connection!


I started the post with the story of a baby and I am going to end it with another one! Last weekend my nephew's wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, who they have called Lily Anna. How different her life will be compared with her ancestors!

These following links are useful for family history research

Ancestry  (payable to view, free to search) -  check whether it is free in your library
Family search
Commonwealth War Graves (commemorates of those who died in the two world wars all around the world.)
The Ship list
British newspaper archives (payable to view, free to search)
Library of Australia digitised newspapers


Thank you as always for visiting me and  the lovely comments you leave me.Welcome to my new followers TimiGarten No 7cirmaraki at verskert, and arquiteturadoimovel. I am always humbled by how many are interested in my ramblings and pictures.  I may not travel by sea to distant lands but it is wonderful to connect with so many, whose lands my ancestors may have visited!

Sarah x






52 comments:

  1. What a wonderful family history to uncover.

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  2. A great story Sarah. I love family history. What a busy and thrilling existence your great-great-grand father had and how fantastic to know the details.

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  3. What a fascinating story! You must have spent many hours researching it, and how exciting to have found out so much. The bit about choosing that pub in Bristol is amazing. Congratulations on your great niece.

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    1. Time and time again we constantly are drawn to different places and then later I discover a family connection. It's turned into a family joke now!
      Sarah x

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  4. I really enjoyed this post Sarah as I am a total family history fan!

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  5. I just love to hear about family history. What a joy this is to read and imagine what that kind of life was like.

    Lily Anna will have a different life but I would guess she may have a love for the se in her too. WhT a beautiful name.

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  6. Dear Sarah - what a great opening paragraph - it gripped me from the beginning.
    It is wonderful that you have found out so much about Captain John Way, your great, great, grandfather.
    The internet is a great facilitator for finding out so much information, and when you do discover something pertinent to your own family then that is really exciting.
    A really interesting beautifully told post Sarah.

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    1. Thank you Rosemary , I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Sarah x

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  7. This was a fascinating read. How wonderful to have a family connection to this interesting piece of history.

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  8. Wonderful post Sarah - thank you! x

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  9. You have put all my favourite links at the bottom of your post. Loved this story, especially as I went to sea with my Captain for a number of years. Yes, life is different now. Congratulations to the new mom. xo

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  10. What fun to find all this Sarah and thank you for sharing. Congratulations also to the new parents!
    I can't wait for ex-RAF flyboy to come back from his walkabout and show this post to him.
    God bless,

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  11. I loved your post too. Made me wish it was the beginning of a chapter.....in a book......

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  12. Good evening Sarah! Now isn't this a remarkable story! And to have a photo or rendering rather, of the Monarch herself! Some of us learn more about our ancestry later in life, but it is so much better to learn it now I believe, for now we have other sources to help us dig deeper to our roots. I love the sea as well, and dream the water nightly. My ancestors are from Spain and I do know my father's great great grandparents traveled from the north of Spain to Mexico and founded the village where my father was born. I also know my great great uncle was a Bourbon!

    Congratulations on the newest member of your family. She will have many stories herself to tell! Anita

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    1. How exciting to have royal connections! Sarah x

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  13. Wonderful, it was so fascinating to read this story. I know the Hole in the Wall well, having worked in Bristol for a long time.

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  14. What a lovely post Sarah.
    Congrats on the new family member also :))

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  15. What a great story! I often think about what exciting lives the past generations must have had when travelling was totally different, even dangerous. This story makes you wonder how anyone could have survived all these adventures without any harm to himself.

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  16. I enjoyed your story, too, Sarah! And like you, although being by the sea is my most favorite place on earth, riding on the rough sea is my most miserable memory :(
    Blessings on your new family member!

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    1. I know that feeling riding in rough seas. The worse trip was from Hook of Holland to Harwich in the 70's. I have never seen waves so high nearly everyone on board was sick! Not an experience I would like to repeat! Sarah x

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  17. Such a lovely post to read, I like your new header.

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  18. Wow what a great piece of ancestry to uncover. It's very intriguing researching family tree. Nothing so exciting in mine x

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  19. How wonderful for you to have ll of this information.......yes, I agree...there is a book here....... :)

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  20. That is a fascinating story. Mike has been researching his own family history, but I don't think he has come up with anything quite like that. We do seem to have links to Australia though. I am trying to persuade him we need to go over there and follow them up.. Who Do You Think You Are style..

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    1. That sounds like a great idea, I will have to try that on my husband! Sarah x

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  21. What a fascinating family story! Lovely to have some photos, too, to illustrate your ancestor's life and experiences. I love discovering family history, I haven't looked at mine for a while but hope to pick it up again soon.

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    1. Family history goes in fits and starts with me too! If I find some new information it encourages me to do more! Sarah x

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  22. Sarah what an amazing blog I loved reading it.
    Annie x

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  23. Wow Sarah, what great family history. A wonderful posting. Congratulations to the family on your new arrival. Amazing history our great relatives lived. This will be one that you will need to pass along to Lily Anna, a beautiful name.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Blessings.

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  24. Hello Sarah, It is always a great pleasure to read your wonderful posts. I enjoyed reading about your family history on the Seas.. Congratulation to your new baby girl entering your family. Yes her life will be certainly much different in many many ways but hopefully all very good. Hugs Judy

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  25. What an interesting heritage! You are so very lucky to know so much about your great great grandfather and his ship. My great great grandfather and my great grandfather were ship captains from Denmark, but, unfortunately, little is known about them other than that. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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    1. Kristie, I only discovered more details about the ship when I was on leave a few weeks ago! The newspapers were an invaluable source of information as they were advertising for passengers.Would there be anything similar in Canada or Denmark? So much more keeps being added to the internet that every so often I have to keep doing a Google search and keep finding new information. Sarah x

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  26. I second everything everyone said above! And how wonderful to have your family history documented so thoroughly complete with an oriinal painting in the family. It was only in 1996 that I discovered my Scot/Irish ancestor who came to America in the early 1700's lived in the same state when he died that I've lived in since 1969. My husband's stint in the military brought us to the east coast from the midwest and we stayed. Then in 1981 we moved to the same county where my ancestor had died. My youngest was born in this county 222 years after his 6th greatgrandmother was born here. History is always fascinating and I've enjoyed reading about yours.

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  27. What an interesting post ...
    M x

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  28. What a wonderful piece of history to have as part of your family. I think John Way must have been quite a man, and his wife must have been so relieved each and every time he returned safe from a trip. Juliex

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    1. It must have be so hard being the wife and hardly having any way of contacting each other apart from occasional letters, we are spoilt these days having instant access! Sarah x

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  29. Hi Sarah,

    I enjoyed your interesting post and lovely to have the history and photos of your ancestors life and to learn more about your heritage.
    Congratulations to the new baby girl and best wishes to the family.
    happy week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  30. An excellent story! I'm a great family history fan, too. But sadly my ancestors were just small-boat fishermen for shellfish in Poole Harbour, so never travelled the high seas like your wonderful forebear...
    Weren't those old sailing ships beautiful?
    All the best :)

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  31. I enjoyed reading your post Sarah, it's a great story and one I'm sure will go down the generations for many years to come. Lilly Anna is a lovely name for a girl.

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  32. I loved reading this story Sarah and no wonder you love the sea so much. Family history is a hobby of mine too, but can be so addictive! I love the fact that my own family will have all this knowledge to be able to pass down to theirs ad infinitum..... Congratulations on the new baby in the family.
    Patricia x

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  33. I love the sea, although like you I would rather be beside it than on it. I found your blog via a comment on a whole plot of love. your posts are very interesting. I will be following.

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  34. Goodness what a story - how exciting for you to find out all that information.
    I also use Dusty docs which has enabled me to find out a great deal of information about a long lost great uncle. The internet really makes the world smaller hasn't it
    Best wishes
    Jenny

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  35. Sarah, what a delightful post! As I was reading the first few lines, I wondered where this wonderful story was aheaded, what a surprise! It's so lovely to have ancestry that goes back such a long way! a beautiful read and congratulations to your nephew and wife on the birth of their lovely Lily Anna (what a beautiful name!) hugs Sharon x

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  36. Sarah, What an amazing family history. I love hearing about this kind of thing. I think your love of the sea is inherited, if not those sea legs. I bet John was a good story teller too, and you got that from him as well. My dad has been working on our family ancestry for a number of years now, it is a slow and tedious process. You are fortunately to have found so much family history. Blessings, Kim

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  37. Thanks Sarah. I'm glad you like the card. It was fun to make a different kind of card.
    Hope you are having a good day.
    Blessings to you

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  38. What a fascinating story! How wonderful to be able to know all this about your ancestor. He certainly must have been quite a brave man. The wonderful tales he must have been able to tell his children. But for you to find out so much about him is remarkable. I can imagine how excited you must have been to learn all this background information about your family.

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  39. A hasty note to remind you there will be a link box for Tree Following posts on Loose and Leafy tomorrow (March 7th). It'll stay open for seven days.
    http://looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk/
    Lucy

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  40. What a fantastic and fascinating story- a story of family and life on the high seas. Congratulations on the new little family member:)

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  41. Goodness I was gripped from start to finish..'....I had just commented on Liz's post about 'Poldark' and how much I LOVED watching this series in my younger years...and then I popped in on you and this post kinda felt like the beginning of a great novel..Ooh i love history and how wonderful that this was your very own family saga...Hugs Maria x

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  42. How wonderful to be able to trace your family history. Great post.

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  43. The Matthew, John Cabot's ship, was not there for us to see.
    Undergoing restoration??

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    1. That was a shame, it looked so fragile and tiny compare with the SS Great Britain.
      Sarah

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