Apprentice on Queen of the Bay

  Great-grandfather Thomas William Blomfield (1849 - 1907) - ©2010-2017 Rosemary & Stan Rodliffe

Queen of the Bay

The Liverpool Daily Post, Tuesday 13 September 1864, reported:

"Ship Launch. - From the yard of Mr James Hardie of Southwick, Sunderland, there was launched a few days ago a handsome clipper barque named the Queen of the Bay, the property of Messrs Ellis and Pardew, of Plymouth. Dimensions as follows:- Length 133 feet 1 in, breadth 27 feet 6 in, depth 17 feet, 460 tons, builder's measurement, and classed A1 thirteen years, and under the command of Captain Wale."

We have yet to find an illustration of Queen of the Bay but have discovered this oil painting by Samuel Walters (1811-1882) portraying the Susan Pardew beating into Table Bay in a south-easterly gale. Built in the same yard a year earlier to a very similar specification, owned by Pardew, Ellis & Co and destined for trade with The Cape, it gives an insight into the conditions which Thomas would have experienced.

Barque Susan Pardew beating into Table Bay

Captain WALE

Frederick Coombe WALE was born 24 August 1829 at Plymouth. He served 9 years as apprentice and mate before gaining his master's certificate in 1853. On 1 June 1864 the South African Advertiser carried the following report:

"We have to report the loss, by fire, of the barque Grahamstown, Captain Wale, belonging to Henry Ellis and Sons, of London. She left Algoa Bay on the 10th May, with a cargo consisting chiefly of wool, hides, horns &c., and the following passengers for London:- Mrs Scrimpton, Mr J Harper, Mr P Duffey, Mr C Goodland, Mr R Mitchell, Mr J Mackie and Mr C Roff. On the 19th May, when nearly 300 miles north of Table Bay, it was discovered that fire had broken out from spontaneous combustion in the cargo. It was first found to have commenced under the after-hatch, and from there extended to the main part of the cargo. The captain and crew exerted themselves most praiseworthily in working the vessel into Table Bay. When she came into port on Thursday last, she was in a dangerous condition - the crew being almost unable to stand on deck owing to the heat. Preparations were made to scuttle her, but soon the fire broke through the deck, and all that could be done was to slip the cable and let the vessel drift from the rest of the shipping on to the beach beyond the Castle. In an hour or two the flames extended right over the greater part of her, and during the night the ship presented a grand though fearful spectacle, which was viewed by hundreds of spectators. The destruction of property of course, has been complete. The cargo of the Grahamstown was valued at £21,000. Of this sum there was £2400 insured in the Cape of Good Hope Marine Assurance Company, about £8000 in Scottish offices, and the remainder probably in Graham's Town and Port Elizabeth offices. The remains of the hull and cargo sold at auction realised only £400, and the spars, &c., £130."

Captain WALE lost his master's certificate in the fire and had to provide proof of loss to obtain a replacement. Thos. TINLEY, JP, Ship Master at Cape Town posted the following declaration to 'The Superintendent, Mercantile Marine Office, North Shields':

"I certify that Mr F C Wale no. 8623 master of the burnt vessel Grahams Town - no. 44.337 - which took place in this port on the 26th day of May 1864 - lost his certificate of competency on that event and that this certificate is given in testimony thereof."

On return to the UK, he was placed in command of Queen of the Bay, possibly because the Ellis of 'Ellis and Pardew' was the Ellis of 'Henry Ellis and Sons' who had owned the Grahamstown.

Maiden voyage - September 1864 to May 1865

On 16 August 1864, aged 15, Thomas William signed his indenture as an apprentice and was on board the Queen of the Bay on her maiden voyage to Algoa Bay, South Africa, 425 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope. Possibly this was his first experience of ocean sailing. Captain WALE's wife Sarah was on board until they were off Dartmouth on 24 September when she went ashore with the pilot and back to their home at 1 Hampton Place, Plymouth. Two days later they landed a sick seaman, W. FAWCETT, at Plymouth. On 26 October 1864, 29 days out, they were spoken to by the Viscount Canning, Captain W. WRIGHT, at latitude 7° 5' N and longitude 24° 31' W, in mid-Atlantic around 500 nautical miles south of Cape Verde and a similar distance from the coast of Africa [New Zealand Herald, January 23rd 1865]. They were reported in Algoa Bay on 12 December that year [The Cape Argus, December 23 1864].

Their cargo for the homeward passage was 1,314 bales of wool [Leeds Mercury, Monday, 24 May 1865].

They were in mid-Atlantic and had crossed the equator when they were amongst a number of vessels which gave assistance to the crew of the Fanny which was on fire:

"FIRE AT SEA. - The barque Naval Brigade, of Plymouth, Capt. Moon, from Zanzibar February 9th bound to London, was off Start Point on Friday morning, and reported that on the 5th April, lat. 1.30 N., long. 25.00 W., smoke was observed on the horizon to the north-east. It arose from the ship Fanny, of Gustemunde, from Cardiff for Manilla, the master of which (Captain Charlton), with eight of his crew, took shelter on board the barque. The remainder (14) went on board the Rosalie, Lizzie Southward, and the Queen of the Bay, all three of which were near the burning ship when the Naval Brigade approached."
[Western Daily Press, Tuesday 9 May 1865]

They arrived off the Downs on 4 May [London Standard, Saturday 6 May 1865].

Algoa Bay - June 1865 to January 1866

[Click on the links to see scans of the front page and continuation sheet of the Agreement and Account of Crew for this voyage. It includes a signature, age, birthplace, last ship and date and place of discharge, wages etc. The information was provided by the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Our transcription probably has a few errors because the copy is difficult to read.]

Capt. WALE engaged a new crew who were to be on board by 7am on 20 June 1865. The Mate was W.P. SMITH who had been discharged at London six weeks earlier from the Naval Brigade (Plymouth); his calendar monthly pay was £6, with an advance of £6 and a monthly allotment of £3. Thomas BROOKS (32) was taken on as Boatswain and William MARTIN (30) as Carpenter both of whom had been discharged from the James Nelson at Liverpool in March. BROOKS earned £3 10s per month while MARTIN's wage was £5 per month. G. SIBTHORP (21) was engaged as steward at £3 5s per month and George FEARNLEY (40) as cook at £3 3s per month. Six Able Seamen each received £2 10s per month: Henry BRETT (26), John ANJOU (27) a Swede, George LUSTY (19), William TAYLOR (24), Edward HILL (27) and Alfred KLEIN (33) another Swede. The crew was completed by Capt. WALE's son Joseph (13), on his first voyage, who received 1s per month as Boy and Apprentice Thomas William BLOMFIELD who received no wage. All crew, except the Boy and Apprentice, were advanced one month's pay at the start of the voyage. The Mate and Carpenter also received a monthly allotment of half pay.

The ship departed Gravesend on June 24 and arrived at Algoa Bay around October 3, on which day Henry BRETT and William TAYLOR deserted . The Shipping Master at Port Elizabeth certified the desertions and the discharge of Alfred KLEIN with full settlement of his wages. Capt. WALE was now short of three Able Seamen. He was able to sign Henry DALLEY (25), Chas. SCOTT (22) and Edward MELVIN (31), an American, whose engagements were certified by the Shipping Master on 25th October. The ship set sail soon after and arrived at Gravesend on 21 January 1866. The crew were discharged on 24 January.

Mauritius and Algoa Bay - February to October 1866

[Click on the link to see a scan of the Account of Crew for this voyage. It includes name, age, birthplace, last ship and date and place of discharge, etc. The information was provided by the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Our transcription probably has a few errors because the copy is difficult to read.]

On 21 February, Cook George FEARNLEY, Boy Joseph WALE and Apprentice Thomas BLOMFIELD signed on for the next voyage. Henry COLEMAN (50) born Queenbro' joined as Chief Mate within a week or so of his discharge from Queen of the South, London, and commenced duty on 23 February. Capt. WALE signed a Second Mate for this voyage: Alexander TOPPING (27) born Isle of Wight and discharged the previous November from Granite City, Aberden. Edward WILSON (31), a Swede, joined as Carpenter and Seaman. The Steward was Jeromi SONGA (24), a West Indian. Five Able Seamen were signed: James SMITH (32), William DEERE (25), William MASON (27), Isaac PEARSON (30) and Michael McDONALD (32). James SHADGETT (20), an Australian, joined as an Ordinary Seaman.

McDONALD, who had been discharged from Star of India in January, should have reported for duty at Gravesend on 24 February but didn't show and was recorded as a deserter. He was replaced by John NORMAN (23) from Wisbech on 26 February.

James SHADGETT's mother Sarah had died at the age of 40 on 12 September 1865 at her home in Magill road, Norwood, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. Had he just heard the news and was trying desperately to return home to see his brother John? If so that might explain the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded during the passage to Mauritius. On 25 February, Capt. WALE recorded in the log:

"Being told by the Chief officer (on my coming on board) that James Shadgett ordy seaman was not able or in a fit state to do his duty in Calling the aforesaid Shadgett in the Cabin to enquire what was the matter he told me he only had a slight cold. I cautioned him in the presence of the Pilot and chief officer about going to sea in a ship when he was not fit and if he thought he was not fit to proceed he had better take his discharge and not be laid up at sea. He said there was no fear of that it was only a cold."

On Saturday 11 March about 150 miles west of the Canaries:

"James Shadgett ordy seaman off duty sick a bad cough and weakness gave him Medical treatment according to the instructions in the Medical guide and food from the Cabin table with other little delicacies or any little thing he wished for."

By 24 March Shadgett was a little better and returned to easy duty. A week later he was "sick and off duty weak and feeble no appetite" and remained off duty for the remainder of the passage until they arrived at Port Louis, Mauritius on 19 May 1866. On 21 May he was no better and was put on shore in the hospital. On 11 June the log records:

"James Shadgett departed this life of consumption at about 4 am in the hospital and was interred the following day his effects and balance of wages as under was handed over to the authorities of the Shipping office Port Louis Mauritius.
Wages at £2 per month for 3 months 17 day £7 2s 8d
In advance 1 month £2 0s 0d
Engaging fee 1s 0d
March 1st tobacco 2s 6d
June 12th funeral expenses £1 5s 0d
Hospital expenses £3 8s 0d
Total deductions £6 16s 6d
Amount due 6s 2d
£3 14s 2d, being the hospital expenses and the balance due, were paid to the Shipping Officer at Port Louis."

SHADGETT had few worldly possessions: 1 bed, probably a large fabric bag containing straw; and in another large bag - 1 double blanket, 1 single blanket, 1 coat, 3 pairs of trousers, 1 blue shirt, 2 singlets, 1 pair of drawers, 2 handkerchiefs, 1 pair of stockings, 1 pair of boots, 1 waistcoat, 1 small bag containing needles etc., 1 cap.

The South Australian Register (Tuesday 14 August 1866) carried the following announcement:

"Shadgett - On the 11th June, at Mauritius, of phthisis, aged 20 years, James, the youngest and beloved son of the late Mrs Sarah Shadgett and brother of John Shadgett, Magill road, Norwood."

John CARBIS (49) was shipped as an AB and came to his duty on 16 June. On 18 June Capt. WALE records:

"John Norman AB was discharged by mutual consent before the Shipping Master and George Ogilvie AB was shipped in his stead to be on board 19th am 7 o-clock."

George OGILVIE (42) had been discharged at Port Louis from Olympia, Glasgow, on 26 March. At sea the log records:

"George Ogilvie did not come on board until near midnight being then intoxicated the 20th 11 am the ship came to sea the above George Ogilvie drunk & in bed and complained about being bruised and knocked about on shore turned to his duty on the 21st on the 23rd pm laid up and of duty complaining of pain in his back and bruises of duty 24th."

On 25th June about 200 miles east of the southern tip of Madagascar, OGILVIE was 'distinctly read' the entries concerning his conduct. Queen of the Bay proceeded to Algoa Bay, probably to deliver a cargo of sugar, where she picked up 1269 bales of wool and thence to London, arriving at Gravesend on 22 October.

Table Bay - January to September 1867

[Click on the links to see scans of the front page and continuation sheet of the Agreement and Account of Crew for this voyage. It includes a signature, age, birthplace, last ship and date and place of discharge, wages etc. The information was provided by the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Our transcription probably has a few errors because the copy is difficult to read.]

Mate Henry COLEMAN (57) had obviously performed very satisfactorily on the previous voyage because Capt. WALE signed him up again. Two others continued to serve: Capt. WALE's son Joseph as Boy and Apprentice Thomas W. BLOMFIELD. Second Mate was William BLAKEY, a 23 year old from Hull. John THORNE (23) from Dartmouth joined as Carpenter for his first voyage. Henry GEORGE (23), who had been discharged from the Caroline Elizabeth of London six months earlier was Steward. James SHIRTLAND (27) was taken on as Cook, presumably with a satisfactory report of character following his discharge from the Wellington of London the previous September, although his behaviour on this voyage would cause Capt. WALE considerable trouble. These men all commenced duty on 4th January. Able Seamen taken on were: Thomas WRIGHT (27) previously of the Lightning of Liverpool, William McCULLOUGH (33) from the Queensland of London, Charles PARKER (29) from the Nina of London, Thomas BALDISSON (25) from the Marchment of Glasgow, George BAKER (20) from the Jade of London and Robert EVANS (21) from the Baroness of London. They commenced duty on 7th January.

It seems that the outward passage passed without incident until early April when the Cook's hygiene was called into question, although Capt. WALE gave him a chance to improve and did not record the offence until 10 June:

"...... I found the coppers in which the crews food is cooked in was in a most filthy state the dirt and grease around the inside being full 1/8 inch thick I call the officers and crew to witness the same the cook (J Shirtland) gave me saucy replys & threatened the law to me with abusive language ... "
Table Bay was reached on 22 April. However, several entries in the Log suggest that some of the crew became frustrated by the wait for cargo. On 10 June at about 7pm Capt. WALE records:

"James Shortland (Cook) and Robert Evans AB did take a boat from alongside and went on shore without liberty. Robert Evans returned about midnight. The following day the Cook not being on board I gave his description to the water police after a search they found him in a house of ill fame. The brought him on board but very drunk and incapable he the Cook being very drunk the remainder of the day & in bed. Police charges being 10s for bringing him on board 10s for finding him."
SHORTLAND forfeited £1 wages and three days later the entry in the log was "read distinctly over to him" by Capt. WALE in the presence of Henry COLEMAN, the Mate. It seems that SHIRTLAND then began a campaign of dirty tricks on the Captain, officers and crew. On 14 June Capt. WALE records:
"Finding a very peculiar taste with the coffee for breakfast so that neither I nor the Mate could drink it on further enquiry found the crews coffee just as bad having a strong fish oily taste and smell. I immediately remonstrated with the cook about it and told him about his dirty habits he began to give me saucy reply and said right in the face of myself officers and crew that there was nothing the matter with the coffee he the cook did the same dirty thing again for tea I was obliged to send the steward with some clean water in a kettle from the Cabin and boil it for tea ... "

On 3 July at noon Capt. WALE records "Charles Parkin AB did leave the boat without leave when on shore he got intoxicated drunk and incapable the remainder of the day he being in bed."

On 6 July Thomas TINLEY, the Cape Town Shipping Master granted a passage to England on board Queen of the Bay for Henry BENTLEY, a disabled seaman who had been left at Cape Town on 18 March.

Queen of the Bay return from Table Bay in 1867

They set sail on 12 July and the Cook's dirty tricks continued, causing Capt. WALE to record on 21 July:

"The crew brought to the Cabin their pudding for my inspection they said it could not be eaten on my looking at it found the same to be very dirty looking and not fit to eat on my talking to the cook about it I got saucy replys and abusive language"

The following day:

"examined the cooks coppers found them very dirty again (after being what the cook call clean) ordered the Cook to thoroughly clean his coppers again for which he gave me saucy answers and abuse"

On 26 July Capt. Wale read over the record to the Cook in the presence of the Mate and was told that "the coppers was not 1/8 inch thick in dirt".

On 23 August, 88 days out, they were spoken to by the Bertie from Papuda. They arrived at Gravesend on 10 September and docked at London on 12th, where Henry BENTLEY, the disabled seaman, was landed. The crew were discharged on 14th.

Algoa Bay, Bombay & Tuticorin - September 1867 to October 1868

On 12 September 1867 Queen of the Bay cleared customs and set sail for Algoa Bay. By 23 February she had delivered her cargo and sailed on to Natal seeking new cargo. She was taken up by a Mr. BARNS to transport horses for Bombay; they were embarked at the outer roadstead around 25 May and soon after she set sail.

For the homeward passage Capt. WALE loaded bales of cotton at Tuticorin, passed Ascension before 23 October and arrived at Gravesend on 27 October 1868.