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The voyage of Thomas Lyle on the Nepaul in 1852 - Page 1
written by Edward Holton Coumbe 1865 - 1942
1998-1999 submitted by Dione Coumbe of Dover, Kent, England
www.familytreemaker.com/users/c/o/u/Dione-M-Coumbe/


This account was transcribed by Dione from original diaries in her possession.

Text at the top of the first page of the account, "Sent to my grandfather* who had helped Thomas Lyle to emigrate. *Edward Coumbe   1804-1873

Thomas LYLE   emigrated with his wife Sarah COUMBE, daughter Anne (13), sons William (11) and Henry (9).  This is his account:-

Notes of a Voyage from London to Australia in the Ship NEPAUL, William NEALE, Captain.

On Tuesday July 6th 1852 we left the East India Docks in the afternoon and reached Gravesend in the evening where we cast anchor.  Wednesday, went to London to Vote at the General Election and returning the same morning went on shore in the afternoon to buy two Camp stools with other little things, meeting with Mrs. CHURCHER a sister of Mrs. HARRISON and having Anne with me we took tea with her at her lodgings.

Thursday we were visited by the Officer of Health and Emigration who inspected each of us and gave permission to proceed to sea, we were also visited by Mrs. CHISHOLM who requested the Emigrants to choose 12 individuals to frame  Rules for the preservation of order and to see to the serving out of provisions and she then took them on thence to her Hotel that she might more privately give her advice and to reap the experience of remarks which had been sent home from the other vessels, after which lunch was ordered in and having partaken of same we went into the town to purchase what we might be in want of, and meeting at the Boat we then quitted the Soil of Old England.  Shortly after we came on board, we were addressed by a Mr.  SIDNEY, Mrs.  CHISHOLM then made a speech full of feeling pointing out the necessity of promoting a liberal spirit towards each other and above all to refrain from speaking ill will of another and to endeavour to seek the blessing that is sheltered beneath every apparent evil (being an allusion to complaints that had been made to some fresh beef which had become a little tainted  by the excessive heat of the Sun,   telling them that the same Sun was ripening at the same time the fruits of the earth for themselves and their fellow creatures and that the Beef to which some of them had turned up their noses was the best that could be got in the Market ), pointing out to all the utility of pursuing order and morality.  She was listened to with great attention and at the conclusion she was rapturously cheered.  Three cheers were then given for Old England and God Save the Queen having been sung, Mrs. CHISHOLM then wished us a prosperous voyage and  left for the shore. 

The steam tug having arrived we raised anchor and our noble ship proceeded on her destined course being cheered by the different vessels as we passed.  When we reached the Nore Light we cast anchor until Daylight when we started and passing Margate and Ramsgate and going onto Dover we discharged the Pilot and proceeded down Channel with fair winds.

On Sunday the 11th. instant we spoke to APPOLINE from London, an Emigrant ship, but going to call in at Plymouth.  Our Captain sent on Board for a Nautical Almanack, Service was performed on the Poop in the Afternoon, but this day like all subsequent Lord's Days was absorbed in late Breakfasts preparing meals for the Cook and waiting for them, washing up etc. and which more or less engrossed the whole of the time during the voyage, we were all divided into messes of twelve in each.  Messes, then being 26 Messes in all one half being termed even, the other half  odd who took their meals 1 hour before the other which obligated all to be punctual for should anyone not be there when his name was called he would have to stay until all was served. There was also a Captain of each Mess to attend to the delivery of provisions and if not there to receive them when his number was called the whole Mess would lose what was being delivered and it was very often the case that we had to wait an hour or two whilst the purser opened a fresh cask which was difficult to be got at or something or other which proved a complete nuisance. It also came hard on those with families as the Captainship lasted but one week to each Male adults, the office would fall on the single men but once in 12 weeks whereas  in my Mess there were only three Male adults, the rest being women and children.  12 Males also had to sweep the ship all through 4 times a day, the same 12 the next day had to pump the cisterns and keep them full during the Day, and the next Day they were succeeded by another 12 until it went the whole round of the ship.  Twice a week we had to go on our knees and scape the Berths and deck throughout and strewed over with Chloride of Lime so altogether there was a great deal to do, which I have no doubt was the best for us but widely different to what I had expected, for I was in hope of having plenty of time for reading and study, but was never more disappointed, nevertheless it brought us into port a clean and healthy ship while some of the ships had suffered severely from fever for one ship buried one for every day she was out, 3 ships that came in with us were obliged to go into Quarantine.

On Monday, July 12th.  We were in Lat. 48-54N - Long. 6.39W, the morning was fine afterwards some slight showers and then a thick fog which obliged the Captain to order the fog whistle to be fixed to the pump,  the water being prevented from escaping the air or water passes hearing the whistle which makes a sharp shrill sound to be heard at a long distance as a warning to other vessels that may be near.  In the morning it cleared up very fine.  Sea Sickness was experienced by nearly all on Board.  Myself and children were very sick but kept about pretty well with the exception of Ann who was much debilitated which attracted the notice of the Captain and ordered the Doctor to give her some chicken broth, the Captain was very kind to the passengers in giving up several of his fowls, with several Bottles of Wine for the benefit of the Women and Children, the Men, poor Souls were to be satisfied with a smell of the mug it had been in for many of them were so ill that they could not eat any thing of the ships provisions and the Doctor could not or would not find the little necessaries put on Board for that purpose but after a week or 10 days they made up for past deficiencies. 

On the 20th. July the Death of Miss ROACH at the early age of 14 years of Consumption.  She was buried the Same Day and from the novelty of the sight nearly all the passengers were on Deck to see her put over the Vessel's side. It was a solemn Sight to witness such a stillness pervading the whole of the Emigrants befitting such a sorrowful occasion, the night was Beautiful and the sea as calm as the Thames on a Summer Eve.

Wednesday 21st.  The principal part of this Day was occupied in raising the Boxes from the Hull of the Vessel and examining the same.  Our boxes being made strong and nearly Air tight we found our things in a pretty good condition with signs here and there of a little damp,  but a very great many of the Boxes being weak were much broken and a great deal of injury done to things of Colour and delicate tints with the Damp, both from bad packing and the dampness of the Hull.  It is a great requisite to pack on a very dry day and to air everything well, either in the Sun, or before a good fire as Merchants here can always tell the nature of the Atmosphere in  England at the time the goods are packed from their appearance on arriving here although packed in the Cases.  It was with some degree of satisfaction we were able to get at the Biscuit as our appetites could not touch the Ships provisions, they then became out principal food for some time by cracking them and adding Butter and Salt so making a kind of broth which had we brought some onions would have been very nice.

Saturday, 24th. We sighted Madeira first appearing like dense masses of dark Clouds looming in the distance.  As we neared The Island, the effect was more pleasing and on leaving it left an impression that we had seen some enchanting fairyland.  As soon as we cleared the Island a strong breeze sprang up which lasted for about 3 days which enabled us to plough over about 700 miles.

Sunday 25, the infant Daughter of Mrs. WOOD died in Convulsions I think from eating indigestible bread and pudding and was Consigned to the deep on the same day.  The Christening of Mr. SMITH's Son took place in the Captain's Cabin and was named by him William Neale Nepaul in commemoration of the noble Ship and worthy Captain. 

We have been much amused for some days by the quantity of Porpoises playing about the Vessel.

Monday, July 26th.  We reached Lat 27.30N and Long 19.51W.  Nearly all the Emigrants on Board were about this time much affected with Diarhorrea.  I cured many obstinate cases which was beyond the control of the Doctor with Dulcamara and Begonia.  I found out that there were several believers in the Science on Board.  By the 30th. We reached Lat 18.48N Long 24.9W.  The appearance of the Heavens about this time was exquisitely grand beyond description, the clouds assuming the most various and beautiful tints while a part of the Western Horizon was bedecked with a cloud of Pitchey Blackingness such as I had never seen before with a broad line of scarlet underneath.  The appearance of the Moon here was very large and shone with a brightness which almost prevented our looking at it without injury to our eyes.  The water as it passed the Vessels side appeared full of Phosphoric Lights all having a tendency to lead the mind to the contemplation of Him who spoke all things into existence.

We experienced many wet and uncomfortable Days about this time by having no waterproof clothing.  We can scarcely call it rain or rather of a pouring description.  Light winds having prevailed for some time we have made but little progress.

August 7th a Shark was caught by the Captain which was accompanied by some boisterous merriment by the rushing of the passengers upon Deck amidst pouring rain at the sound of a Shark, a Shark with the sound of the Heavy Boots of the Sailors dragging it along the Deck.  The fish was soon killed and being Cooked, all were eager for a taste.

9th.  We had another birth on board; spoken and passed the CONQUEROR bound for China with three other vessels in Sight.  The Captain now informed is that we had passed the Line nearly 10 degrees but kept us all in ignorance up to this time because there should be some of the old usages, performed on board. We had Electioneering entertainments about this time with selections from Shakespeare and recitations after which were Sung God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia.   The Captain kindly had the lifeboats cleared away that was laying on the front of the poop in order to give the effect of a stage to act upon, we had lectures on Natural History, Poets and Poetry, Music, Songs and Songwriters with accompaniments; several Nigger Lectures in  Character with Concerts and Dancing once a week, weather permitting.

August 10th.  Another female was Consigned to the deep from Consumption. 22nd.  Very squally with rain which carried away Misen Top and foresail. Sunday 29th.  We were in Lat 23.52 Long 32.55.  Monday 30th we spoke the CHOICE OF JERSEY and offered to take letters, it was a beautiful sight to see her playing around us while we made up the parcels, and the Boat which took it on Board the sea running so high that although nearly close we often lost sight of the Boat and the wind blowing strong, from the N.W.  Next Day the wind had increased and as the Day advanced it increased in violence about 11 in the morning the wind Carried away our Main Top Sail Yard, the Waves still increasing in size until it was supposed they had reached the altitude of 30 ft.  During the night the chains of the Wheel became deranged which took away all command of the vessel, and being left to the waves they struck her most fearfully, and breaking over her and poured down the Hatchways like a Cataract inundating the Cabins and the Vessel rolling most fearfully, the Cooking Galley turned over with a tremendous Crash carrying away the Water Closets and Washhouses, it was fortunate it did not fall down the fore Hatchway  as it might have stove out the bottom of the vessel.

The Casks and timber were rolling about in all directions Whilst below it was an awful sight to see the water as the vessel rolled rushing in and out of the Cabins, the Boxes, Water Cans, Mess Dishes were flying around in all directions, the passengers holding tenaciously to any thing they could lay hands of.  When it was near daybreak the Captain came below to comfort us a little saying his glass was going up, and having restored the chains of the winch we felt confidence somewhat restored.  All were anxious for the morning and daylight portrayed the greatest confusion.  Broken boxes, Doors, Jars, spilt Rice, Biscuits, Peas, Coffee, Pepper, Knives and Forks, Dishes, Plates etc. were strewed about in all directions, the Continual Rolling of the Vessel still making confusion more confounded; by the evening of the next day the violence of the storm having abated we soon forgot our troubles and set ourselves to work to restore to order and to make more secure our various articles of Utility. 

Those who were Carpenters on Board were set to work to make new Yards and repair the Bulwarks.  The engineers to repair the Galley; I would here hint to any one coming out not to chose a berth opposite the Main Hatchway as they are subject to such various temperatures and inconveniences; it is very pleasant in fine dry weather, but let the weather be wet the outside of the Berth is always wet consequently you can never keep your Berth clean and dry, and should a sea break over you it is sure to come slap down against your Door, but the worst of all is the cold that you experience, it was very Hot when we were at the north of the Line, it was rather cold on the Line and became colder as we went South so as to have chillblains on my feet and the Rheumatism in my face for about 2 Months.

Early on the 15th.of Sept.  The GEORGIANNA Emigrant Ship was seen at some distance on our Starboard Bow.  The Captain takes a look at the sails as is usual when he gets up in the morning and very discriminating when there is a sail ahead you will be sure his thundering voice and quick as lightning for the setting of Royals rigging and stern sails crowding all sails until he has overtaken it.  So as the Day wore on we came up to her,   preparations were made for speaking but both parties perceiving they were Emigrants a Simultaneous cheer burst from both vessels and before the exhibition of feeling had subsided we passed her.  We again made up to each other and order being restored we ascertained her to be GEORGIANNA from GLASGOW for of 700 Tons burden with 400 Government Emigrants for PORT PHILIP.  She followed us till night when we lost sight of her.  While in her Company much good humour and cordiality were expressed.  They being Scotsmen played on the Bagpipes and dancing was Carried on upon the forecastle.  Whilst we had our Violins, Harp, Cornopeans and a large Potato Can for a Drum.  So we spent the afternoon keeping close to each to her, but she beat us by 2 or 3 Days arriving in PORT PHILLIP.

The next Day it blew a gale from 12 until 6 the next morning, then increasing in the afternoon and carried away a boom, increasing with the Hour of the Night until it blew most terrific.  Although we had but one sail set we were fearful the Masts would go.

The Voyage of Thomas Lyle Part 2


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Last modified: May 20, 2006