North America voyage

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North America voyage

This article by W Macready was first published in the 1971 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The Historical sub-committee is often asked for help in tracing old Jersey families and an enquiry was received some time ago from a Mr Hemery of Sussex, asking for information of the Jersey family of Hemery. Miss Le Feuvre and Mr Porter did a great deal of research and were able to give a considerable amount of information. During the course of their investigations we were lent an old diary written by a Clement Hemery and dated 1841-1843. The diary belongs to Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Cochrane, a connection of the Hemery family, and we are most grateful to him for allowing us to see it.

Clement Hemery

Clement Hemery lived- from 1811 to 1877 and was the grandson of a former Constable of St Helier. He also became Constable of St Helier from 1873 to 1876, was a Colonel in the Town Regiment of the Militia, and at one time ADC to the Lieut-Governor, Sir Edmund Gibbs. He married Portia Owen of Campo Bello Island, New Brunswick, and although it is not known exactly where they lived in Jersey, it is thought that it may have been at a house in Douro Terrace. Clement was a partner in the family firm of wine merchants at 10 Hill Street, and the family also owned two farms in the east of the Island.

The diary gives a remarkable impression of everyday life in Jersey. Clement and Portia had a very close circle of friends and seem to have led a very gay life of dinners, parties, balls, and visits to the theatre. The family were devout church-goers and attended St James. The diary contains many entries praising or sometimes sharply criticising the sermons preached there. On 1 May 1842, Portia and Clement embarked on the ss Switzerland for New York to visit Portia's relatives in Campo Bello. The voyage lasted a month, their return to England rather less, and the following entries in the diary are a complete record of both journeys.

Voyage to Campo Bello

  • 28 April - Dead calm to Guernsey and thick fog getting in. Dined at 4, turned in at 9, got to Southampton at 6 am. Put up at Deal's, breakfast at 9 and walked about with P. Met Capt W Lempriere. Off for Portsmouth at 12 by railroad, got to Gosport at 2 and put up at George. Walked about with P till 4, went on Southsea Common and saw 32nd Regt exercise. Walked again with P after dinner on Battery.
  • 30 April - Lovely day, wind am strong. Walked to Battery at 11 and saw Switzerland at Spithead. To Quebec and met Capt Chadwick. To Gosport with P and called on Mrs Town. Miss Town and P sang. Back to Portsmouth and called on Mr Emery and Minny, then saw 34th Regt exercise on Southsea Common. Walked out after dinner on Battery. Fine night.
  • 1 May - Fine E wind. Breakfast at 8 at George and at 9 off from beach in cutter with Capt Chadwick and embarked at Spithead on board Switzerland for New York; 8 passengers, 3 ladies. Got round Isle of Wight at 1, wind light, and passed the Start, at
  • 2 May - 3 am. Lovely morning but light wind. Breakfast at 8. Lots of ships beating up channel. Dinner at 2 and tea at 6. Passengers Mrs Adams of New York, Miss Mitchell and little brother, Mr Pearce, Dr Jackson (Yankee) very amusing, and Mr Gwyn going out to settle in Canada. Capt Chadwick and Mr Hether, Mate.
  • 3 May - Most lovely warm day but perfectly calm. All passengers dined at table. P had Philipine with Mr Gwyn. After tea wind came round to West.
  • 4 May - Very fine but wind NW. At 12 am 50 miles beyond Ushant and same from Cape Clear. Going 6 knots. P sick.
  • 5 May - Very rough and heavy sea all day. P very sick and in bed all day. I sick once but did not eat. No ladies at table. Stewardess very bad.
  • 6 May - Shocking rough night last night; very heavy sea running and strong W wind very contrary. Melancholy work and stupid. P very sick and frightened, did not get up. Blowing a gale after dinner and laying-to under treble-reefed main topsail and spanker.
  • 7 May - Dreadful night; wind due W and frightful swell breaking round us. Laying-to and driving back. P very sick and fainting. Capt Chadwick very down. At 6 pm
  • 8 May - began to moderate and had quieter night. Out a week and have made only 9 degrees. Sea much abated but still a swell. P up and eating, much better. Two steerage passengers, much disgusted, came into cabin. P came up in Roundhouse after dinner. Read service and sermon.
  • 9 May - Fine day but very calm. P's birthday, 23. After dinner basked in sun on poop and smoked with Capt and Dr Jackson. Made no way. Stupid.
  • 10 May - Strong NW contrary, rain. At 10 met Westminster coming from New York, but sea too rough to speak to her. P came up for tea and remained till 10. Read £10,000 a year. Amusing. Made no way.
  • 11 May - Fine but wind contrary. At noon in Lat 46 Long 15. Bad.
  • 12 May - Very rough sea and rolling furiously. P very sick.
  • 13 May - Fine but very heavy rolling sea. Wind SW and made a little way. Carpenter made us a chess board so played with Mr Gwyn and Dr Jackson. Sat up with Dr till 12.
  • 14 May - Fine day but heavy sea. Wind SW. Making our course, but too much northing. Too much rolling to walk. P played chess with Mr Gwyn. Whist after dinner with Mrs Adams, Mr Pearce and Dr Jackson.
  • 15 May - Lovely day wind fair SSW. Going 9 knots. Before breakfast passed an English barque dismasted and going before the wind with jurymasts. Read service.
  • 16 May - Foggy and wet. Light wind. Yesterday at 12 in Long 25 and Lat 49. Too much north. Chess with Mr Gwyn. Dead calm after dinner but suddenly breezed up NW and began scudding.
  • 17 May - Lovely day, wind fair. Studding sails both sides. Light wind all day, going 6 knots. After dinner shoal of porpoises passed and all the passengers rushed to see them. P stayed, walked on poop till 8.
  • 18 May - Lovely day but dead calm. After dinner wind changed to West. P walked on poop an hour. Rumpus between Mrs Adams and Mr Pearce. Long 35 Lat 47.
  • 19 May - Beautiful day, wind NE but light, nearly calm. Coming up with a Yankee ship, ahead. After dinner passed the wreck of a large fishing boat. Second Mate laid up. P walked on poop and played guitar.
  • 20 May - Lovely day but nearly calm all day. Coming up fast with packet ship. Second Mate still laid up.
  • 21 May - Fine. Strong SW wind. At 2 am passed and spoke ship Francis 1 from Havre to New York. At 12 Long 38 Lat 46. More than half-way. Saw porpoises.
  • 22 May - Lovely day blowing fresh NW. Saw a large whale spouting. Passed a Chasse Maree bound to the Banks. After dinner read service to P and Mr Gwyn. Wind died away.
  • 23 May - Fine day but no wind till 3 when began to blow fresh and by tea time a gale, so lay-to in heavy sea. Amused looking at porpoises under the bow. Played whist. P and ladies frightened. Lay-to till
  • 24 May - 3 a.m. when wind came round to N.E. but died away at 9. Calm all day.
  • 25 May - Light airs all day, lovely sunset. P. on deck. Chess with Mr. Gwyn and Dr. Jackson P. played whist.
  • 26 May - Rain and wind S.W. Blowing very hard all day. Felt uncomfortable. Lay-to 4 hours. Whist at 8 with P. and Mrs. Adams and Gwyn. Passed several ships running before w.
  • 27 May - Lovely day but no wind and not fair so did not make more than a degree. Lolling about all day doing nothing but trying to catch Mrs. Carey's chickens. P. came on poop after dinner. Borrowed guitar music for her of Troubador.
  • 28 May - Lovely day but dead calm. Wind E. Beat Mr Gwyn at chess.
  • 29 May - Fine but calm. Fifth Sunday out. Rain in afternoon. Split topsail. Passed an English brig bound W. Read service with P.
  • 30 May - Rain till 2. Wind fair and made 9 knots most of the day till 4 pm. Heavy sea.
  • 31 May - Terrible night. Very hot and so much rolling that no one slept, so all very tired. Made no way all day. Talked with Frenchman. Chess with Dr Jackson and Mr Gwyn.
  • 1 June - Lovely day but dead calm. Lat 40 Long 60. Wind freshened after dinner. Can't get in before Sunday. Whist at 9.
  • 2 June - Lovely day and wind fair. Studding sails set. Clear of the Banks. Calm after dinner. Chess with Dr Jackson and Gwyn.
  • 3 June - Fine day but making no way. Smoked my last cigar and got a pipe. Took 3 pills from Dr Jackson. Rumpus at whist with Mrs Adams and Dr Jackson.
  • 4 June - Lovely day and wind fair but light. At noon Lat 41 Long 69. Emigrants wash clothes, men paint ship's sides, very busy.
  • 5 June - Very fine. At 10 am, 85 miles from Sandy Hook took in a pilot who brought papers. Hope to get to Sandy Hook tonight. Drank Capt Chadwick's health after dinner. Settled steward's account.
  • 6 June - Lovely day. Got inside the Hook at 4. P on deck at 5. Had to tack all the way to Quarantine Ground. Anchored till steamer came and towed us there. Doctor came on board and reviewed steerage passengers, then Customs Officer came and searched our luggage. We went up to New York in Steamer with Capt Chadwick, Mr Pearce, Dr Jackson, Mr Gwyn, Miss Mitchell and Edwin and Mrs Adams.

Return from Campo Bello

  • 10 November - Fine but cold. NW. After breakfast went on board Switzerland and saw Capt Chadwick and engaged a cabin home. To Harnden & Co and got our luggage from Boston. Walked out with P down Broadway and to the Park. After dinner got money from Ward & King and went to pay our passages.
  • 11 November - Lovely day. After breakfast went out to Post then went off to Switzerland at 11. Left our luggage there and went shopping. Called on Mr Field in Wall Street. Glad to see us. Left the wharf at 12, towed as far as North River then Pilot left us off Sandy Hook at 3 and we started with a fine NW breeze, which only lasted till 12.
  • 12 November - Calm. Flirt bit French child's leg.
Passengers in Switzerland:
Mr & Mrs Cole
Miss Laurensen. Yankee
Mr Bent a surgeon.
Mr Adye
French doctor and little girl (Prudhomme)
Young German artist
Two English ladies
  • 13 November - Stormy, NW. At noon came on to blow hard. Took in all our small sails. Sea getting up. Went to bed at 7.
  • 14 November - Wind gone down but very heavy sea ahead. Nearly sick. Nearly calm all day and wind contrary. Played chess with French doctor and, after tea, ecarte with P. P got out her guitar. Smoked on poop with Mr Bent until 11.
  • 15 - Lovely day and wind fair and fresh NW. P played guitar before dinner. Wind died away.
  • 16 - Blowing very fresh NNE. Turned to a gale and very heavy sea running. Played chess with Frenchman.
  • 17 - Tremendous contrary sea running. Wind died away. Making no way and people very sick. Chess. P sat in Roundhouse after tea. Had boy with violin.
  • 18 - Lovely day but calm. Chess. In evening wind shifted and came on to blow a storm.
  • 19 - Calm again with tremendous sea running. Chess with Monsieur Prudhomme and whist in evening with P and Miss Laurensen and Mrs Adye.
  • 20 - Rain and stormy. Not making much way.
  • 21 - Getting near Western Islands, but all this week there was a daily alternation of strong NW and calms with tremendous sea running.
  • 27 - Tremendous squalls all day from NW. Long 30. Hurricane in the night, had to claw up all sails.
  • 28 - Squally all day till 6, when it fell calm and wind shifted to SE. Long 26.
  • 29 - Blowing hard from SSE and squalls of rain. Taking in all sail. P Played guitar before dinner. Met a brig bound for Newfoundland.
  • 30 - Fine. Wind fair in afternoon but kept increasing. Terrible row a few days ago. Flirt bit French doctor's child's leg for the second time. After tea German came in and played guitar and sang.
  • 1 December - Tremendous storm till 2. Laying-to under no sail. Moderated at 3 pm, and set a little sail. Ecarte with P and whist.
  • 2 December - Fine but very light W wind. At noon Lat 49.8, Long 12.5. Nearly in soundings. Ecarte with P at 8.
  • 3 December - Day of our engagement. 22 days from New York. At noon Long 11. Rainy and light wind.
  • 4 December - Lovely day but very calm. Long 8. Sounded 85 fathoms. Making no way at all. Lots of vessels in sight. All very down about not getting on. Made the Scilly light in evening.
  • 5 December - Lovely day, quite warm on deck but perfect calm. Made the Lizard at noon. Wind due E and making no way.
  • 6 December - Fine and clear but cold. After dinner walked on poop with Mrs Cole, Mr Adye with Miss Laurensen. Made Start light in evening but calm all night.
  • 7 December - Clear and fine but wind E and almost calm. After dinner Mr Cole brought up his gun cases and showed us his large Yankee knife. Then we fired on poop with his pistols. Ecarte with P.
  • 8 December - Fine but cold. East. Beating off Start and looking for a pilot to put us ashore at Dartmouth. P packing. 27 days from New York at noon.
  • 9 December - Fine but cold. East. After breakfast hailed a fishing boat who took Mr & Mrs Cole, Mr Adye and us to Lyme, 40 miles south of Start light. Got in at 6 and had our luggage examined. Put up at Cups. Mr and Mrs Cole came after dinner.

One would, I think, like to know more about thesort of accommodation on board and the kind of food they had, but as with many other entries references are tantalisingly short and one is left wishing the diarist had been more explicit. For example, the emigrants travelling steerage are only very briefly mentioned, but they must surely have had a very uncomfortable and sometimes frightening time.

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