Presentation on theme: "Bound for South Australia 1836 Food on board the Cygnet Week 13 Emigrant’s eating utensils, 1838 South Australian Maritime Museum collection."— Presentation transcript:
Bound for South Australia 1836 Food on board the Cygnet Week 13 Emigrant’s eating utensils, 1838 South Australian Maritime Museum collection
Overview Between February and July 1836 nine ships left Britain bound for the newly created province of South Australia. On-board the ships were passengers who over many long months braved the perils of the ocean, including some of the most treacherous seas in the world to begin a new life on the other side of the world. This resource uses the stories from these nine ships as recorded by the passengers and crew in their personal journals.
Introduction This week we join the hungry crew onboard the Cygnet. They are not a happy lot and are full of complaints about the food. They are angry about the dirty cups and plates used to serve bad tea, bad sugar and the scanty supply of meat. The table isn’t even long enough to seat all of the passengers. Let’s take a closer look at what it was like to eat onboard our ships. What kinds of foods were provided? What strategies were used to make the food last and to stop it from rotting?
Journal entries Sunday 15 May 1836 Boyle Travers Finniss, on board the Cygnet wrote: …. Beaufust [?] made some cakes for Mrs. F. In this Lat. Found great comfort in the essence of coffee, which however, none have milk with it. The ship’s ale was good. Bread and honey and ham, the only things we could eat – not that we got ham – the best beverage was some lemon juice and sugar, made to effervesce with tartaric acid and soda. Thermometer generally about 83 F in the cabin.83 F …. On examining the state of the berths, bilge water and vegetable matter had accumulated under the lower tier to [?] extent which must have proved highly prejudicial to health. The apathy of the steerage passengers was truly remarkable. This state of things was evidently caused by the want of attention to proper principles in fitting up the steerage. Previous to leaving the Dock the married persons should have been separated from the single men by bulk heads and not by canvas, and tables should have been provided to enable the passengers to mess at regular hours and in comfort instead of making [t]heir berths a perpetual cook’s shop. Meals going on at all hours must be productive ofbilge water steerage
dirt and disorder. I should certainly in future provide every grown up person with a canvas bag to contain a sufficient quantity of clothing for immediate use, and then prohibit the introduction of any boxes between decks. As an invariable principle the medical man should be provided with preserved meats and medical comforts.
Monday 16 May 1836 Boyle Travers Finniss, on board the Cygnet wrote: The whole crew got drunk this day, and were in a state of mutiny, constant complaints were urged by Kingston regarding the cuddy table, bad sugar, bad tea, scanty supply of meat. Bad management, plates and cups always dirty. Sour porter, not ripe. Nothing for breakfast but salt pork. Table too short to hold all the passengers. Constant wrangling with the Captain. The Captain would not permit us to see the log slate or the charts, would not allow the Mates to lend any; would not take any altitude to assist in the lunars, would not allow the Mates to do so.Mates
Inquiry questions What do this week’s journal entries tell us about the food and drink provided onboard? How are the passengers feeling about their food provisions this week? Why do you think the topic of food evokes such strong responses from the passengers and crew on all three ships?
Images Sketch of Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta 1833. Image courtesy State Library of Western Australia
” Plants used as Food" with Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Bread Fruit. Steel engraved print with original hand colouring published in Rhind's Vegetable Kingdom, 1866
Glossary of terms bilge water Bilge water accumulates in the bilge of a ship. The bilge is the lowest compartment on a ship, where the two sides meet at the keel. bulk heads An upright partition dividing a ship into compartments and serving to add structural rigidity. Mates Ships’ mates were either first, second or third officers who came directly under the command of the Captain. Mates were responsible for supervising watches, crew, navigation and safety equipment, and sometimes even served as the ship’s doctor. Steerage The area of between-decks occupied by steerage passengers, that is, those travelling at the cheapest rate. 83F About 28 degrees Celsius. Return to Journal Entries