06 February 2011

Wealthy butchers?

As I mentioned in my last post about the Wickhams, I needed to work out how they got to Australia. I had searched the Assisted Immigrants list at the NSW State Records but they did not come up. There were a number of Wickhams listed in the Unassisted Arrivals records, but there is very little information on those - it's mostly "Mr and Mrs Wickham" with a few initials for some records. It could have been any or none of them.

Amongst the records that Mum had there was a sheet of paper on which someone, in lovely loopy handwriting, had recorded the dates of birth of the Wickhams - parents and children. They had also written some other important dates in the life of Thomas Wickham underneath, including "Sailed for Sydney Dec 20th 1852, arrived at Sydney April 29th 1853" - this was new information to me. I checked the ships of Assisted Immigrants for around that arrival date (just in case there had been a spelling error in the records) but they didn't appear. Then I checked the Unassisted Arrivals and amazingly Mr and Mrs Wickham were there, arriving on the Chandernagore on April 29, 1853.

I am still surprised at this because that meant they would have had to pay their own way. Thomas was only a butcher and he had a big family - I can only assume that all 11 of their children came out on the boat with their parents. Who knows how he managed to afford it.

I looked up the Chandernagore in the historical newspapers. Evidently it was a controversial voyage as there was quite a bit of correspondence in the Sydney Morning Herald Letters to the Editor after it arrived. It appears that the voyage of the Chandernagore was supposedly for "Emigration upon Christian principles, unconnected with sectarian character". All the passengers were supposed to be "persons of respectability and moral character". And whilst some were "evidently well connected, and of gentlemanly education, and the majority respectable tradespeople" some supposedly were not. Letters flew back and forth in the Herald, accusing various passengers of immoral conduct etc and eventually the editors seemed to get sick of the fighting between the passengers and refused to publish any more letters on the matter!

I have also discovered that Thomas' brother Edward came out to Australia with his family. I can't definitely find them in any shipping lists, but can only assume they came out as unassisted arrivals as well. Edward was a butcher too. There must have been some money in the butchery business in Kent, where they both came from!

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