THE AGINCOURT      1850
The AGINCOURT was a privately owned barque of 669 tons, registered at London, and it operated out of the Port of London. It was built in 1844 at Sunderland shipyards on the Wear River in the County of Durham by CHARLES LAING for the Duncan Dunbar line, one of England's wealthiest ship owners. It was considered to be well fitted out and was said to be "well found" in every particular. It was well suited for the conveyance of Immigrants, although the arrangements of the berths amidships, owing to her small size, was deemed by the Immigration Board to be not so advantageous as the usual method of placing them on the sides.

Her dimensions were length 127 ft, breadth 30.5ft, and depth 2lft4. The legislators of those days seem to have fiddled with tonnages, as in l843 the barque AGINCOURT was described as "543 tons (old Act), 669 tons (new Act)." By 1852 they were back to using the old Act and in 1884 she was rated at 562 tons.

In 1846 the AGINCOURT is recorded as having her jib-boom snapped at Gravesend before sailing to Australia, arriving in Sydney 25th June, 1846 and seems to have been a familiar sight in Australian ports. She also came to Sydney in 1848.

The Ship's Doctor in 1848 was Richard Atkinson - one of his assigned duties was the appointment of a passenger as a Teacher for the children and another passenger to assist him as an Orderly in the Ship's Hospital. He selected two emigrants whom he considered best suited to the jobs. At the completion of the voyage the Doctor recommended that a gratuity of 5 be granted each.

The AGINCOURT left Gravesend on 7th Oct 1849, via Plymouth 10 Oct 1849 with Captain Cumberland as Master, and arrived at Port Adelaide on 1st Feb 1850. There were approx. 226 Passengers, ten of whom had cabin accommodation.       PASSENGER LIST

AGINCOURT'S JOURNEY This particular journal stops at 'the line'.
It is based upon a diary kept by a previous passenger on the AGINCOURT with Thomas Scott as Master in 1848. It gives us some insight into the hardship and boredom that faced passengers (a number of whom were lacemakers from Calais, France) on the long sea voyage.
On Sunday afternoon, the 11th June, 1848, the Downs Pilot came aboard at Gravesend, and reported to the Chief Officer that they would sail on the morning ebb tide. Farewells were made on Monday the 12th and the Seamen went aloft on the fore, the main and the mizzen masts to unfurl the sails and set the canvas. The crew of 34 was kept very busy - Mr. Bissett, the Chief Officer, was the busiest of all. It was then apparent that the ship was making ready for getting under way. A steam tug was ready to tow them out into the Thames River with the turn of the tide.

The 262 emigrant passengers crowded the bulwarks on the starboard side bidding adieus to the Gravesend crowd.

The Pilot gave the order to "heave round" and the Master, Thomas Scott, then gave orders to the Bosun to weigh anchor and caste off. The anchor was hove up by the capstan on the quarter-deck and from each mast rang down the call from those aloft "sheet home". Slowly the AGINCOURT was pulled around into midstream by the tug, which churned up the dirty yellow river water. And so with the "Blue Peter" pennant and the Union Flag (Union Jack) flying in the breeze they were on their way to a new life in New South Wales.

It was with mixed feelings that the refugee-emigrants left England: some were reluctant to leave but all were hoping for and anticipating future prosperity in the "new land": they had some 13,000 sea miles to travel and would have to adapt themselves to new and strange surroundings. It would be an entirely different life for them and soon their English-French background would all be in the past. They were leaving behind insecurity and the bitter memories of the recent terrible Calais days of the Third French Revolution, whilst ahead of them lay the prospect of a new unknown life.

Just after Barking Creek hove in sight they passed the Nore where several naval buoys were sited in the Queen's Channel. Then after passing the North Sandhead Lightship the Bosun gave the order to "bring to" when approaching Deal and by reefing the sails the AGINCOURT came to a standstill. Here the pilot boat brought off mail, the latest English Newspapers and such and took the Pilot ashore. Down came the Blue Peter Flag and the AGINCOURT got under weigh again to pass South Foreland. It was fascinating watching the bronzed, weather-beaten seamen work the sails.

They were like monkeys moving swiftly aloft up the ratlines and sang Sea Chanties as they worked. ("Chant" is a French word)

One chanty went as follows:
"A hundred years is a very long time,
Oh-ho! Yes! Oh-ho!
A hundred years is a very long time,
A hundred years ago.
They hung a man for making steam,
Oh-ho! Yes! Oh-ho!
They cast his body in the stream,
A hundred years ago "

Other favourites included:
"Sweet Belle Malone"
"Off to Botany Bay"
"Sailing over the Ocean Blue"
"Can You Bake a Cherry Pie"


The sailors were adept in putting a clew or reef cringle in a sail, in turning up a shroud, in grafting a bucket rope, in fitting a mast cover, in fishing a spar, in gammoning a bowsprit, and in making various kinds of knots.

The decks, each day, were washed down and swabbed at 6.30am. This woke the passengers. At 5 pm the decks were cleared up and the sails trimmed for the night. The log was hove every two hours to ascertain the ship's speed.

On Wednesday and Saturday the 'tween decks were cleaned and holystoned and inspected by the Master. On Sundays no work was allowed, except that which was essential, such as trimming the sails. Each Sunday the crew was mustered and inspected before the Church Service by Captain Thomas Scott, wearing his starched stock (collar) and tight buttoned uniform frock coat.

The emigrants found that except for one side of the Poop Deck, which was reserved for the Ship's Officers, they had practically a full run of the Ship. For the first few days they became absorbed in observing the crew at work, holy-stoning the decks, etc., and listened to the sailors singing sea chanties, whilst the children explored the ship and relayed their findings to the grown ups.

There were skylights to let in light below deck and also "bull's eyes", which were thick rounded glass inserts in the ship's deck. Two anchors were carried in the bow of the ship, the heavier or "best bower" on the starboard side. In addition to these two anchors was a larger sheet anchor and a spare lashed to the deck to be used for an emergency.

The mess tables were long wooden benches with raised edges to counter rough seas and their seats were fixed long planks. Each meal time had two sittings as follows:-
Breakfast: 8am and 9am     Dinner: 1pm and 2pm     Supper: 5pm and 6pm

Two daily medical parades were scheduled - one at 10 am and the other at 5 pm.
There were no special baths; it was either saltwater showers on deck or basin and sponge in the cabin. Fresh water was very limited, the issue being one gallon each per day for drinking, cooking and washing. There were, however, some salt water closets available.

The sleeping quarters had long wooden bunks set in tiers and partitioned off into cabins along the centre of the ship. Mattresses were of fibre and were removable for airing. Each passenger was issued with a blanket and each family was issued with a commode.

The barque made good time sailing down the River on the ebb tide. The North Downs were on their starboard side. When they were opposite the Village of Sheerness and its old Fort they had reached the mouth of the River and found themselves in the North Sea. After passing North Foreland they sailed along the Kentish coast through the Strait of Dover past Goodwin Sands with the White Cliffs of Dover on the starboard side and the then "hated" Calais on the port side next into the English Channel.

On the 4th June they passed a lighthouse probably Beachy Head. Next they passed St. Catherines and then for three days they had light winds and were able to follow close inshore along the southern coast of England past Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Saturday, 16th of June, saw them opposite Start Point, Devon, where they put letters ashore by a fishing boat and the course was set for the open Atlantic Ocean and the hills disappeared on the northern horizon. To a favourable breeze and the crew setting studding sails on both sides of the vessel, it was goodbye to England.
On Sunday, 18th of June, the Surgeon Superintendent held the first Church Service with the Captain reading the prayers, psalms and liturgy. The Church Service became a regular Sunday event. The denominations of the emigrants as entered in the Ship's Register were: Wesleyan: 40, Baptist: 6, Roman Catholic: 7, Church of England: 209

It was Monday, the 19th June, when little Mary Shaw, who had been born in Calais and who was only four years of age, daughter of James and Sarah Shaw died of convulsions during an epileptic fit, only one week after they had left Gravesend. Following a burial service, her body sewn up in a canvas hammock was committed to the Ocean depths and was watched by emigrants with solemn awe. This occurred off the Bay of Biscay.

For the next two days the seas were rough and most of the emigrants suffered sea sickness (mel de mer) not being accustomed to the rough pitch and tossing of the vessel - some were advised to take a quantity of bottled porter to combat the sickness. Anything not fastened or battened down was scattering and rolling about the Ship - the fore and main topsails had to be reefed.

Opposite Cape Finisterre (Spanish for edge of the world) the wind continued strong, about 10 knots an hour, as they sailed off the west coast of Spain and Portugal, visible on the Eastern horizon. Occasional buildings, painted white, were seen along the coastline.

When opposite Gibralter, the weather became cloudy and schools of porpoises sported on both sides of the Ship.

On Monday, 26th June, a couple of days after passing the Straits of Gibralter a son was born to William and Emma Brownlow and was named George AGINCOURT Brownlow. William Brownlow was a big man, well over 17 stone in weight. Many of the male passengers were over 6 feet in height. The Ship carried its own small printing plant and produced a weekly news sheet called the "Weekly Weed". The passengers took part in working the press and in writing articles. Practically all of the adults and most of the older children aboard could read and write.

The Isle of Madeira was passed on Tuesday 27th and the mountainous part of the island was clearly seen, as far as 20 miles to the west. By this time they had reached the Atlantic Ocean Trade Winds, the average limits of which ranged from latitude 10oN to 30oN.

Rough seas followed and many again suffered seasickness. Then came a calm of several days; the vessel hardly moving. Portugese "men-of-war", which looked like tiny sailing ships were numerous near 36oN Latitude. At night there was a phosphorescent wake, a fascinating sight, especially when viewed from the bench by the taffrail.

Next they passed to the west of the Spanish Canary Islands, situated Lat. 28o28'N and Long 16o 16'W, over a dozen in number, of which the principal are Great Canary, Teneriffe, Fortaventure, Palma, Ferra Gomero and Lancerotta, about 50 miles to 250 miles off the west coast of Africa. The circumference of the Great Canary is about 150 miles and that of Teneriffe is just under 120 miles. The peak of Teneriffe, covered by perpetual snows ("Tener" means snow and "iffe" means mountain) 12150 feet above sea level, was quite prominent.

Shortly after passing these Islands some more porpoises and a whale were sighted and the sky became overcast with an ENE wind springing up. The course was then set at SW by S. Here flying-fish and Portugese men-of-war became prevalent. It was fascinating watching the porpoises frolicking in the water and following alongside the Ship for a couple of days; they appeared to be staging a show for the passengers. The flying fish, in shoals of 50 - 60, would fly only a couple of feet above the Ocean surface for up to 100 yards and at other times landed on deck, 12' up.

On Wednesday, the 23rd June, they passed three inaccessible rocks up to 600 feet high and 1 mile Long, called "Martin Yez" a resort of abundance of sea fowl. A day later they crossed the Tropic of Cancer and the weather had become noticeably much warmer. A large canvas awning was stretched from the fore-mast to the mizzen-mast to give protection from the heat. Loose clothing was worn.

About this time two whales of the Spermatic type, feeding on a floating kelp, and schools of porpoises were sighted, followed by a few dolphins sporting around the Vessel. Porpoises and dolphins became a frequent source of amusement, especially when they leaped out of the water, at times as high as the fore-yard. They then had a week of good sailing with both the weather and the Trade Winds being favourable. Some days they sailed up to 200 miles still on the SW by S course. This took them well to the west of the Verdi Islands of St Fago and St Jago.

To while away the time they sometimes played games such as chess, backgammon and cards. On deck they played shovel-board, i.e. the sliding of round flat wooden discs along the deck into 9 numbered squares. Reading was always popular. Daily constitutional walks along the main deck were taken when weather permitted. The emigrants never grew tired of watching the crew performing its daily tasks and listening to the Officer of the Deck shouting orders such as "ready about", "tacks and sheets", "main sail haul", "let go" and "belay".

On Sunday, 4th July, Robert AGINCOURT Woodford, two years old, died from a Liver Disease or a Fever and after a very sad funeral service his tiny body was buried at sea.

About this time, sharks, bonetus and dolphins were seen swimming around the AGINCOURT. Then followed days of storms, with vivid lightning, heavy rain and bad squalls. They were on the edge of a hurricane or cyclonic disturbance. The rain was especially welcomed, as it allowed the Ship's water tanks, square iron ones of 1,000 gallons and more in capacity, to be topped up.

Emma, the youngest child of Thomas and Phebe Johnson died on Sunday, 11th July, after suffering for several days from a severe attack of dysentry and her body after being weighted and committed to the depths of the Ocean. Emma had been born in Calais. The JOHNSON'S other three children had been born in Nottingham.

On this same day at Latitude 11oN and Longitude 20oW, they passed or really overtook and spoke with the "Castle Eden", a barque of 930 tons, when it was carrying out repairs having been struck by a heavy squall, 7 days previously, whereby she had lost her three top masts. She had 302 Government Assisted Emigrants aboard and was bound also for Port Jackson, where she arrived three days after the AGINCOURT, having left Plymouth on Thursday, the 15th June.

For one week the AGINCOURT sailed through the Doldrums. Luckily there was a light breeze and good headway was made. The weather, however, continued warm and several water spouts were seen when they were between 3o and 4o Latitude north of the Equator. A few turtles were also seen floating by.

They reached the Equator at Longitude 27oW on Thursday 20th July, and a "Crossing the Line" Ceremony was enacted. There was much speculation amongst the crew as to whether the ceremony was to be permitted, due to the attitude of the Ship's previous captain, Henry Neatby, to such frivolity. It was learned from the crew that Captain Neatby would not entertain any sort of tom-foolery liable to foster a drunken revel or cause ill blood; he would stamp out such affairs and the passengers, having to abide by his decision, would in lieu, collect 5 to indemnify the crew for the loss of their frolic.

This particular journal stops here at 'the line'.