Tuesday, 5 May 2015

to go or not to go - emigration in 1846

This is an extract taken from the several weekly reports made to the Governor-General by the Chief Agent for the Superintendence of Emigration at Quebec.

Dated August 20, 1846
In answer to your letter of the 14th instant, requesting me to inform you of the state and condition to which the passengers of the barque “Elizabeth and Sarah” arrived at this station… On boarding her I found the passengers in the most wretched state of filth and disease.  No order or regulation appeared to have been preserved, or any attempt at enforcing cleanliness.  Their excrements and filth have been thrown in the ballast, producing a stench which made it difficult to remain any length of time below.  I found about 26 cases of fever and received the names of 20 others, including the master, who had died on the passage…. On landing the passengers at the sheds, I had to send 50 more to hospital, where there is at this moment 76, and six have died in hospital since landing.  The remainder, though weak, are healthy at present, and have been made to clean themselves, their clothes and bedding, those of them that have any, but the major part of them are destitute of a second change of clothes....The causes which have conspired to produce disease and death among the passengers are ….
1st.   Want of cleanliness and inattention to ventilation.
2nd. Insufficiency of food and water, and that of an unwholesome quality.
3rd. Overcrowding.
These causes conspired to produce fever, and when once disease set in, the effluvium from the persons of the sick, dying, and dead, confined in the hold (the master was kept two or three weeks on board after death), soon rendered the whole atmosphere unfit for respiration."
He goes on to state that the Captain “was a man unfit, morally and physically, to take charge of a passenger vessel; he was in ill health and of intemperate habits.”
To read the whole report it can be found at
Papers relative to Emigration to the British Provinces in North America
House of Lords paper 1847 vol. XV