September 2019

The Trust is delighted to have acquired a copy of “Voyage to New Zealand Under Sail in the Early Forties” by Alfred Fell (1817-1871) #6461 on the web family tree.  Our copy was purchased in New Zealand and was previously in the Palmerston North Public Library.  The  foreword, which is by his son Sir Arthur Fell (1850-1934) #4583 who was MP for Great Yarmouth from 1906 to1922, was signed off on 12th October 1926.

The voyage in the teak-built Lord Auckland under the command of Captain Jardine left Gravesend on September 25th 1841 and arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on February 8th 1842.  Alfred was one of 15 cabin passengers who sailed with 60 married folk, 21 single men, 19 single women, 5 widows and 50 children.  The crew comprised 1 captain, 3 mates, 26 seamen, 4 boys, 1 carpenter, 1 butcher, 1 black cook, 1 surgeon with an assistant and 1 steward with 3 assistants; a total of around 220 souls.  At the start of the voyage their fresh food was provided by a number of live pigs, geese, ducks and other fouls.  The plan of the Lord Auckland (between decks) gives the layout.

Towards the end of the book Alfred gives some advice to would-be travellers.  “If you know any cabin passengers coming out a few suggestions may be useful as well.  I would by all means choose the poop cabins as more light and airy, and the larboard side in preference to the starboard; on an outward-bound voyage it is generally the weather side; you can therefore open your port and you have fresh air blowing in,  In the warmer latitudes this is a great comfort, and in the more cold ones I prefer it infinitely.  In fitting up the cabins I would advise all bed berths to be fixed fore and aft and not more than 2 ft. wide, to prevent rolling about.  These, from experience, are much better than cots or hammocks; the furniture and boxes should, before starting, be firmly lashed with cords and cleated to the ground, to prevent their knocking about.  I have had a deal of trouble with mine, through their not being fastened at first.

A quantity of good water in bottles will be found a great luxury, particularly in the tropics, when I would have given anything for a glass of pure water, and above everything I would have a small filter.  From the commencement of the voyage until off Madeira, warm clothing is required, then light trousers and jackets with straw hats are indispensable.  After you have passed the tropics warm clothing is required right away to New Zealand.  You cannot have too much linen.  A candlestick with a glass shade is requisite to suspend, with a lot of sperm candles.  A metal footbath is useful for many things, as well as a water-can or two.  By attending to a few little comforts like these, and living in harmony with each other, the voyage to New Zealand, although a long one, nevertheless to a young person may be rendered a very agreeable period of existence.”

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