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Clan Munro (Association) Australia

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No Easy Journey

EDITOR : Many of our ancestors had to put up with unbelievable hardships on their journey to their new homes in Australia. This report from Lizzi Bell gives us an indication of what they went through to get here.

My Joseph Munro came to Australia with a large contingent of young single men and a few families from Sutherland, Scotland. He sailed from Liverpool on the 'Bourneuf' on 26th May 1852 with 754 passengers. Also on the ship were many others from Scotland, some Irish and some English passengers. Joseph came out "on his own account". When the ship reached Geelong over three months later on3rd September, 88 passengers had died of measles, diarrhoea, scarletina and marasmus. Most of the deaths were amongst the Scottish children under seven years old.

The deaths were the subject of an investigation by the Victorian Health Officer. This report from Cannon, Michael (1971) Who's Master Who's Man?: Australia in the Victorian Age, pp 159-160, gives us further indication of what they went through.

"Five women had died of consumption, puerperal fever, or been lost overboard. Of the 180 children under seven years of age who embarked, nearly half died of diarrhoea, measles, and other complaints....

"Arrangements for hygiene were primitive or non existent. The main deck leaked, so that the two migrant decks were usually damp. The water-closets were 'of inferior construction and leaky'...

"The upper immigrant deck had a 'disagreeable smell' while the lower deck was dark and 'difficult to ventilate'. There was insufficient hospital accommodation or spare bedding, so that infected mattresses had to be used again. The matron was almost useless 'owing to physical want of activity or energy', while Surgeon McKevit was accused by the passengers of being 'so grossly intoxicated that he could not attend to his duty'....

© Lizzi Bell

EDITOR: I think we get the picture!!!