Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hannah Oakley & Robert Alexander Hughan

Above: Jessie Hannah Hughan, one of five daughters born to Robert Alexander Hughan and Hannah Oakley.

Hannah Oakley was born on November 5, 1801, at Ipswich, Suffolk, England. At least, this is the information given on her 1860 death certificate... the application forms for two of her sons to attend the Royal Caledonian Asylum School in London give her birth place as the parish of St. Botolph, Borough of Colchester, Essex. According to Hannah’s death certificate, her parents were John Oakley, a miller by trade, and his wife, Hannah, maiden name unknown.
No trace has been found of any mention at all of this family, although family legend states that Hannah had a brother, John Oakley, who made a fortune in Jamaica.
Hannah married a Scotsman, Robert Alexander Hughan, in Ipswich on September 20, 1820. Their first three children were born in the city…daughters Malvina in 1822, Laura in 1823 and Marion in 1824.

Robert Alexander Hughan was born at Burns Park, Creetown, a small town in the parish of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. There is only one record for a Robert Hughan baptised in this period -’Robert Hughan, baptised October 17, 1795, son of Alexander Hughan and Agness Herris’.
According to Robert’s death certificate and the inscription on his grave stone, he was 47 years old when he died in September of 1844. This puts his year of birth at c. 1796-97 – a close match to the baptismal entry. However, an 1844 application for his son Allan to attend the Caledonian Asylum School in London states that Robert Alexander Hughan was born at Burns Park, Kirkmabreck, and was 48 years of age. The application was completed in March of 1844, putting our Robert at the same age as the Robert baptised in October of 1795.
At some time in the mid- 1820’s, the young Hughan family moved down to Colchester in Essex. An entry in ‘The London Times’ newspaper of Monday, November 7, 1825, may provide a hint as to the reason for the move…

“ INSOLVENTS: November 1, 1825. Robert Hughan, Stratford, St. Mary, Suffolk, tea dealer.”

It seems as though Robert Hughan was not a business-minded man...the London Gazette has several references to his business failings:

" March 26, 1825: The partnership hitherto existing between us the undersigned William Burton and Robert Hughan, of Cambridge, tea-dealers and drapers, is this day dissolved by mutual consent. Dated this 17th March, 1825. Robert Hughan. William Burton."

" November 5, 1825: Robert Hughan, late of Ipswich, in the county of Suffolk, but now of Stratford Saint Mary, in the said county, Tea-dealer, that he is in insolvent circumstances and is unable to meet his engagements with his creditors."

"May 3, 1826: Petitions of Insolvent Debtors to be heard at the court in Portugal Street, Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, Middlesex, on the 21st day of June 1826, at nine o'clock in the forenoon. Hughan, Robert, formerly of Ipswich, Suffolk, and at the same time of the town of Cambridge, draper and tea dealer, afterwards in partnership, at Cambridge aforesaid, with William Burton, trading under the firm of Burton and Hughan, Tea Dealers and Drapers, and late of Ipswich and of Stratford Saint Mary, both in Suffolk, Draper and Tea dealer."

“ Hughan, Robert, formerly of Ipswich, Suffolk, and at the same time of the Town of Cambridge, Draper and Tea- Dealer, afterwards in partnership, at Cambridge aforesaid, with William Burton, trading, under the firm of Burton and Hughan, Tea-Dealers and Drapers, and late of Ipswich, and of Stratford Saint Mary, both in Suffolk, Draper and Tea-Dealer.” May 30, 1826.

On April 4, 1828, a notice states " Notice is hereby given that the partnership lately subsisting between us the undersigned Hugh Mitchell and Robert Hughan, of Wisbech St Peters, in the Isle of Ely, in the county of Cambridge, drapers and tea dealers, was dissolved by mutual consent on and from this 29th day of March instant. Hugh Mitchell, Robert Hughan".

17 February, 1835, we find "Robert Hughan, formerly of Ipswich, Suffolk, tea dealer, then of Stratford, same county, same business, and lastly of Colchester, Essex, tea-dealer and Grocer" insolvent.

First son, Oscar Hughan, was born at Colchester in 1826. His obituary stated that Oscar was in fact born ‘ in the Hermitage, an old-time monastery in the Roman town of Colchester’, but since other portions of Oscar’s obituary read like an boy’s own adventure book, this piece of information can be taken with a grain of salt!
Youngest child Bertha’s death notice in 1898 stated that her mother was from ‘The Chase’, Colchester.
A total of nine children were born to Robert and Hannah – three definitely in Ipswich, four sons and a daughter most likely in Colchester, and last child Bertha in London. Baptismal records have not been located for the Hughan children, as they were Presbyterian, and this religion is not well covered by the IGI.
I have always been curious as to the unusual naming of the Hughan children, particularly since the Scots tend to adhere to a very rigid naming pattern of family names. Besides Robert Alexander Hughan naming a son after himself, the other children were given names not found previously in the Hughan family tree. Research has shed a light on three of the children and their names, and tends to suggest that Robert Hughan was much more of a scholar than a businessman. The eldest Hughan son and daughter were baptised Oscar and Malvina. ‘Oscar and Malvina, or the Hall of Fingal’ was an opera adapted from the works of James Macpherson, and published in London in 1791, scored for harps and uilleann pipes. In MacPherson’s Ossianic poems (1765) Malvina is the lover of Oscar, grandson of Finn MacColl.
Although the Ossian legends are Irish-based, the story of Malvina and Oscar is a very Scottish one- a simplified version of their sad story follows....There was a very kind and beautiful maiden named Malvina, who was betrothed to Oscar, the bravest of all warriors. One autumn day, as Malvina sat waiting for her beloved to return home from battle, she could see, far in the distance rising out of the mist, a figure was limping over the heather clad moor.
It was Oscar's faithful messenger, who, wounded and weary, knelt before her and gave her a sprig of purple heather. He told her that Oscar had been slain in battle, and as he lay dying, had plucked the heather and asked that it be given to Malvina as a token of his eternal love.
As Malvina listened, tears fell from her eyes onto the purple heather, and it immediately became white. With each step she took, her falling tears turned every patch of the purple heather-clad moors to white.
Even in the depths of her sadness, the kind and beautiful Malvina wished that others might be happier than she, and she prayed “May the White Heather, a symbol of my sorrow, bring good fortune to all who find it."
This legend is the story behind why finding white heather is considered to be extremely lucky.
Fergus McIvor Hughan was the sixth Hughan child, and was also named for a hero of Scots literature- Fergus McIvor was a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Waverley’, a Highland rebel involved in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
Allan Ramsay Cunningham Hughan was child number eight, and the final of four sons. He was recorded only as ‘Allan Ramsay Hughan’ in the 1844 application form for him to attended the Caledonian Asylum school, so it is not known when the addition ‘Cunningham’ was made.
Allan Ramsay was a famous Scots portrait painter of the 18th century, and he himself was the son of another Allan Ramsay who was a Scots poet and author. Allan Cunningham was another Scots poet and writer of traditional ballads, and lived in the same times as Robert Alexander Hughan (Allan Cunningham being born in Blackwood, Dumfries, in 1784 and being buried at Kensal Green London in 1842).
Bertha Hughan, the youngest daughter, may also have been named after a Sir Walter Scott novel, as a character by this name appears in the novel ‘Count Robert of Paris’.
Poetry ran strong in the veins of the Hughan children, particularly Fergus and Oscar, and it is easy to imagine them learning to love the writings of the Scots poets at their passionate father’s knee.
Robert Alexander Hughan was a tea merchant, and we always presumed that he was very wealthy. All of his children were extremely well educated, even the girls which was unusual for the time. At the time of Robert’s death in 1844, the Hughan family was living at 96 Westbourne Street, sub-district of Belgrave in the registration district of St. George Hanover Square, a very affluent area of London.
However, Bertha’s birth certificate of 1838 has the family living at an address in Goldsmiths Row, and the 1841 census, after much painstaking searching, finally pinned the family down in Blacklands Street, Chelsea, where Robert was noted as being a ‘traveller’. The details on the census were as follows:
Robert Hughan / 40 / traveller/ not born in county (Scotland)
Hannah Hughan/ 35/ not born in county
Sarah (should be Laura) Hughan/ 18/ N
Marion Hughan/ 16/ N
Robert Hughan/ 12/ N
Jessy Hughan/ 8/ N
Allan Hughan/ 4/ N
Bertha Hughan/ 2/ Y

Three children were missing from the family group, and were eventually found elsewhere in London. Eldest child, Malvina Hughan, was living at ‘East side of the Green’, the Green being Bethnal Green, in the Middlesex borough of Tower Hamlets. She was listed as being 15 (remembering that in the 1841 census, ages were rounded down to the nearest 5 or 10, so she would have been aged from 15 to 19). Her occupation was stated as being a teacher, as was that of her 20 year old housemate Lucy Ramsey. Also living in the same residence were 75 year old Isabella Harsbury from Scotland, and her 15 year old servant Martha Henderson.
11 year old Fergus Hughan was at school in London, at the Caledonian Asylum School, which was a live-in school for sons of native-born Scotsmen in London. He must have received an excellent education there, as samples of his writing and poetry from later years are beautifully written.

Eldest brother Oscar I expected to find at a public boarding school somewhere, as a letter written by Malvina to her mother in 1845 asks her ‘Is Oscar getting on nicely with his studies?’ He was finally found in the 1841 census under the name of “Hoscar Hughan”, living as a servant for 20 year old spinster Mary Louisa Edwards, who was of independent means. She must have been quite wealthy, because another two female servants, Jane Brown and Elizabeth Warden, also lived under her roof. I love the recording of “Oscar” as “Hoscar”, which is the way a well-to-do lady would have pronounced his name.

In June of 2006, information arrived from the Royal Caledonian Asylum in London, which still operates to this day. It contained two wonderful documents, the applications for the two youngest Hughan boys, Fergus and Allan, to attend the school in 1839 and 1844 respectively.
The first, dated October 21, 1839, contains the following information:

“To the Directors of the Caledonian Asylum,
The humble petition of Robert Hughan of 3 Goldsmith Row, Hackney, in behalf of the child Fergus Hughan, the child of Robert and Hannah Hughan.
That the said child Fergus Hughan is the lawful child of Robert and Hannah Hughan as by the annexed certificates will appear:
That Robert Hughan was born in the parish of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, is about 40 years of age and Hannah Hughan (whose maiden name was Oakley) was born in the parish of St. Boltoph, Colchester, County of Essex, is 37 years old. Your petitioner married September 20th, 1820 and has children living as under
Malvina born Feb 1822
Laura born July 1823
Marion born November 1824
Oscar born November 1826
Robert born May 1828
Fergus born 13th March 1830, the object of this petition
Jessy born December 1833
Allan born March 1837
Bertha born January 1839.

The petitioner has been engaged many years in the tea trade, but failing business, has had no employment (save two weeks) these eighteen months of which he has resided in London, and subsisted by the labour of Mrs. Hughan and daughters who work at stock making &c.
Your petitioner humbly prays that the said Fergus Hughan may be admitted into the Caledonian Asylum, and that he may continue therein as long as the Directors thereof shall think fit; and be disposed of, when of a proper age, as an apprentice or servant, according to the provisions of the Act of Parliament.
Signed: Robert Hughan

I do hereby recommend the said Fergus Hughan as a fit and proper Object to be admitted into the Caledonian Asylum.
Signed James Kemp.
I have known the Petitioner Robert Hughan 20 years. To my belief he has conducted himself ___ _____ ____. James Kemp.
I, Robert Hughan do hereby solemnly declare that the circumstances stated in the foregoing petition are true, and that to the best of my knowledge and belief, the said Fergus Hughan is free from scrophula, of a sound constitution, and in the enjoyment of perfect health and intellects.
Signed: Robert Hughan
Declared at Hatton Garden on this 21st day of October, 1839, before me, _______(??)
Four and a half years later, Robert applied for his youngest son, Allan, to attend the Caledonian Asylum. His employment situation, or lack thereof, had not changed, and he was still relying on his wife and daughters to support the family with their needlework. The information on the application was much the same, and once again James Kemp acted as a ‘subscriber’ who recommended Allan to the Directors.
While Fergus was accepted and was living at the school at the time of the 1841 census, it is not certain whether or not Allan actually got to attend. Marked on his application was ‘Postponed for want of certificates’. His father had signed the application on March 14, 1844, at the Police Court Bow Street, before D. Jardine. Six months later Robert was dead, and Allan’s educational future is not known.
Robert Hughan’s death certificate is quite difficult to read, but the main cause of his death looks to be ‘ chronic meningitis with effusions’. I have an old photograph of Robert’s grave in London. On the reverse, in very faint spidery writing, it reads ‘ Jessie H. Hughan’. This dates the photo as pre-1851, which is when Jessie married and became Jessie McCallum.
At a later date, somebody added ‘Hampstead Cemetery’, which I accepted as fact until I discovered that the Hampstead cemetery had not been opened for burials until the 1850’s. Further research revealed that Robert was in fact buried in the burial ground of St. George Hanover Square in London. The inscription on the grave stone reads:


Unfortunately, it is impossible for the descendants of Robert Hughan to visit his grave, because in 1889 the disused burial ground was converted into the now-beautiful Mount Street Gardens.
In 1854 an Act of parliament closed over-crowded burial grounds in central London. The original burial ground of St George Hanover Square had been laid out in 1730, so by 1854 there had been almost 125 years worth of burials conducted in what was not an overly-large area.
The Mount Street Gardens were laid out in 1889, and all of the gravestones- including Robert Hughan’s- were removed to the gardener’s tool shed. They remained there until the shed was demolished in 1931, and then presumably destroyed. Fortunately, the City Engineer’s Office made a copy of the inscriptions on each stone, and these records are now stored at the Westminster Archives Centre.

Forty two year old Hannah was left a widow with nine children ranging in age from 23 to 3.
The eldest child, Malvina, was to marry in the year following her father’s death. Next daughter Laura married in June of 1849, just prior to her emigration to Australia.
According to Oscar Hughan’s obituary, he left London for Canada in c. 1846.
It was middle child, Robert Alexander Hughan, who was to provide the biggest surprise and become the catalyst for his siblings and mother leaving England for Australia. But more about him later....
Hannah Hughan was recorded as being ‘matron’ on the ship ‘Culloden’ which arrived in Australia in 1850. The Culloden carried a mixture of assisted and unassisted passengers. For years I could only locate the 42 assisted passengers, all female except for a Mr. Walford, and most aged between 17 and 36. The exceptions in age were two of the four Hughan females on board – ‘Mrs. Hughan, Marion 24, Jessie 18 and Bertha 11.’
What happened to Allan and Fergus? There is no clue anywhere as to how these boys arrived in Victoria. Oscar came via Canada and America, and Robert had set the ball rolling when exported as an exile convict in 1849, but the younger boys appear just to have materialized in the Colony! I had hypothesised that perhaps they had been paid passengers on board the ship “Culloden’, but when I finally located a list of paying passengers for that ship the boys were sadly not to be found. The was, however, one surprise to be found amongst the paying passengers- Arthur Paton, who had married Laura Hughan in 1849 just prior to her emigrating.

I wondered what sort of purpose the ‘Culloden’ had served with its small all-women assisted passenger list, and then all was revealed when I consulted the ‘Port Phillip Herald’ of Monday, June 3, 1850.
The actual article is to be found in the following pages, and it was reprinted from ‘The Weekly Dispatch’ of March 3, 1850. Its headline was ‘Departure of Female Emigrants for Port Phillip’, and it went on to tell in depth of the circumstances surrounding the boarding of the Culloden by the thirty eight women who had been carefully selected to be part of the Female Emigration Scheme.
Headed by an English politician named Mr. Herbert, the group was known as the Female Emigration Society, and concerned itself with the relocation of young women from overcrowded London to the Colony of Victoria.
Mainly needlewomen, the women were selected after being interviewed, and it was the Society’s first shipment of such women who left on board the Culloden in March of 1850.
The article mentions twice ‘the matron’ who was placed in charge of the women, and although she wasn’t mentioned by name, it was Hannah Hughan who sailed on the Culloden in that capacity.
I don’t know if daughters Marion and Jessie were included in the ranks of the young women in the Scheme, or if they simply sailed with their mother.Prior to Hannah and her girls leaving for Victoria, they would have been required to reside with the other prospective emigrants at Hatton Garden Female Lodging House. In 1848 Hatton Garden was taken up and offered as a lodging house for 58 respectable single women. Upon the formation of the Female Emigration Fund soon after, Sidney Herbert applied for the transfer of the house to his organization, at an equitable rent, in order that it might be used as a home for the female emigrants under their care, in preparation for their departure.
The whole procedure for selection for emigration involved a number of steps. After an initial interview with a District Committee, each girl would have been given a detailed 16 question application paper. They were required to return the paper, together with references from two respectable householders of their parish, a medical certificate and a certificate from a magistrate or clergyman.
If selected, as previously mentioned, the applicant‘s next stage was to stay in the Fund’s Emigrant Home at Hatton Garden until the next sailing. The purpose of their stay in the home, as stated in the words of the Female Emigrants Fund, was “to best ascertain the real value of the testimonials and recommendations, and for the acquisition of any elementary instructions in domestic economy which they may appear to require”.

Whilst on the voyage, the emigrants were expected to “conform to their identity as seamstresses: to perform as God-fearing, industrious, moral, respectable, submissive workers, and as potential wives”. The Fund made meticulous arrangements for matrons (of which our Hannah was the first), surgeons and school masters to accompany them to their new lives. The schoolmaster was to report to the matron “any instance of forwardness of manner or improper expression of behaviour of any of the girls.”
The Rules for the matron included the following:
“You are to make it your daily endeavour to collect around you in the afternoon all the young women; and while they are employed in needlework, you should propose that some of those best qualified should read to the rest occasionally.”
All told there were 16 rules for Hannah Hughan and the other matrons to enforce, five of which involved specific procedures for keeping the emigrants employed with needlework on board ship. The final advice given to each matron was “In carrying out the above rules, you must depend for the maintenance of your authority with the Emigrants, on your influence with them, rather than any direct power which can be given to you...and discouraged by meeting with great adversity of temper and disposition.”
The Fund’s attempts at regulation were examined in an enquiry held into the voyage of the ‘Culloden’ and the 38 emigrants which arrived on July 6, 1850. The surgeon had reported that the male cabin and intermediate passengers, on the same deck as the female emigrants, had “tried all means to keep up intercourse with the single females...passing bottles of wine or beer down through the ventilator to them”, and as a result he had to visit the needlewomen’s cabin two or three times a night.
One of the girls, 18 year old Lucy M. Edwards, a servant ‘out of place’ from the Holborn/Westminster area of London, was employed upon her arrival by Mr. Westley of Melbourne at a wage of 12 pounds a year. She wrote to her father back in England:
“The ship when it was rocking afforded me great pleasure for to see the things rattling about ; plates and dishes rattling; the children crying; the girls a going into fits; the Captain a giving orders; the Matron ordering the girls to be quiet because of the Captain.”
Lucy also reported that events didn’t go as smoothly as reported upon arrival at Port Phillip:
“ We came ashore at night on account of there going to be a mutiny with the sailors and the captain, because he would not give them their discharge when they came and asked him, so they all struck and would not do anything so he sent for the police constables and he kept them on bread and water until a great many of them ran away.”
Some of the letters written back to England were published by the Fund to encourage other girls to emigrate. Twenty year old Fanny Hickmott from Southwark was engaged upon arrival by Mrs Simmons of Melbourne for ten pounds a year, and wrote about Port Phillip:
“It is a good place for all maids to come to for they are sure to get a husband. I am not married yet, but I shall be before long- before you get this- to a young man who came out on the same ship. There was a mother and four sons and four daughters, and this is one of the sons that I am to have, and _____ is to have another and ____ is to have a third. If you can, prevail on my sisters to come to me, and all shall be done both by me and Richard that can be done to make them happy.”
Matilda Read, who had been a servant in London before emigrating on the ‘Culloden’, was another whose letter home to her family was published:
“We have been here now about ten months, and I have had very good situations, the last of which I left to be married.
I was married on the 5th of January last to Mr Charles Servante, brother to ‘Little Jane’, as you call her. I have been very comfortable since, and am very contented. Jane has a comfortable good place, and twenty pound a year wages.” (This Jane was Jane Elizabeth Servante who was a fellow emigrant on the ‘Culloden’, and she married William Mills in Melbourne in 1852.)
Even famous author of the time, Charles Dickens, wrote of the ‘Culloden’ and her passengers:
“Intelligence has been received of the arrival in Australia of the first parties of Female Emigrants despatched by the Commitee of the Female Emigration Fund. The ship ‘Culloden’, with a party of 38 girls, arrived, all well, at Port Phillip on the 6th of July. The ship ‘Duke of Portland’, with 65 on board, arrived, all well, at Adelaide, on the 2nd day of August.
The young women are stated to have behaved with great propriety during their passage out, and to have had good health throughout their voyages.j

The most favourable testimony is borne to the good conduct of those in charge of the emigrants, and to the well working of the arrangements which were made by the committee here on their behalf.
Both at Melbourne and at Adelaide this immigration appears to have been very favourably regarded by the colonists. Of the 38 landed at Port Phillip on the 8th of July, it appears by the Melbourne papers that 31 were engaged as servants at wages varying from 12.7 to 20 pounds a year before the evening of the tenth, and subsequent advices state that every one of the girls had obtained employment.
The Ladies’ Committee at Port Phillip, who provided for the reception of the young women at Port Phillip, appear to have been most favourably impressed by their appearance and demeanor, and one of Melbourne’s papers says “they appear to belong to a class of immigrants peculiarly adapted to this country, and apparently possessed of that happy buoyancy of mind, and that hearty determination of purpose, that will enable them to act well their part in any of the many situations of usefulness which lie so invitingly before them.’”
From: The Household narrative of Current Events by Charles Dickens, 1852.

Also from the Hampshire Chronicle November 15th 1851:

[London] The Female Emigration Fund continues, we understand, to carry out
the objects for which it was established in a most satisfactory manner. The
first party of 30 young women left England for Port Philip on the 25th of
February 1850, and 17 other parties followed at short intervals to Adelaide,
Sydney, Canada, Launceston, Cape of Good Hope, Hobart Town and New Zealand,
and gratifying intelligence has in most of these cases been received of the
comfortable and lucrative situations obtained by the emigrants soon after
their arrival. The emigrants were respectable young women, their ages ranging
16 and 21, the greater part of them having been employed as domestic
servants, and the others as needlewomen. They appeared to be very cheerful
and sanguine as to their future prospects.



( From the ‘Weekly Despatch’, March 3, 1850)
Mr. Herbert’s Association has practically commenced its operations. The Female Emigration Society, it will be remembered, was called into being by that portion of the series of letters in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ on ‘Labour and the Poor’, devoted to the condition of the needle-women of the Metropolis. The object of the Association is sufficiently denoted by its title. It seeks to transplant to a new and rising country that species of labour for which there is least demand here, and that class of individual which, in our existing state of society, are at once most suffering and the most helpless.
On Monday the first party of female emigrants, sent forth under the auspices of the society, proceeded down the river to the ship ‘Culloden’ lying at Gravesend. The society have refrained from chartering a ship exclusively for their emigrants, believing it to be better policy to send them by small parties on board the ordinary class of vessels, so as to get rid, as far as possible, of invidious distinctions, and to merge the young persons sent out under their auspices in that general tide of emigration which is now seething in so fast from our shores to the shore of the Australian Continent.
The ‘Culloden’ sailed from the river on Tuesday. She may touch at one of the Cape de Verd Islands, in case of being detained long in the ‘Chops’ of the Channel, but the probability is that the white cliffs once lost sight of, she will steadily hold on her unchanging course for her ultimate destination – Port Phillip.

The young female emigrants for whom the Association has provided berths on board the ‘Culloden’ met on Monday, by appointment, at the Frenchurch Street terminus of the Blackwall Railway. There was also collected several principal members of the Committee, who had determined to see the first party of their protégés fairly off upon their long but hopeful voyage.

Thirty eight was the number of female emigrants who constituted the party destined for the ‘Culloden’. They assembled punctually to their time at Frenchurch Street Station, were regularly mustered and answered to their names previously to the starting of the train.
Their heavy luggage had been, of course, already stowed away on board, but most of the girls carried parcels, or small bundles, and each was provided with a stout canvass bag of sand, to be used, as we understand, for drying the berth-deck after scouring.
The girls were, in a few instances only, accompanied to the railway by their friends and relations. There were, of course, in these cases touching and affectionate farewells given and taken, but there were no manifestations of the despairing grief, none of these painful outbreaks of emotions, which we have more than once witnessed upon similar occasions. On the contrary, although ‘some natural tears they shed’,hope, buoyant hope, was evident in the ascendant in the breast of the vast majority of the emigrants, and cheerful tones would ever and anon break out amid sobs, and smiles shone forth through tears.
From Blackwall, the Satellite steamer conveyed the party down the river, and in due time, by an ebbing tide, which almost counterbalanced an easterly breeze, the steam boat swept up alongside the good ship ‘Culloden’, anchored off the Terrence Pier at Gravesend, her stout bulwarks dotted with anxiously peering heads, evidently waiting, with great interest, for the advent of their compagnon’s de voyage. The ‘Culloden’ is a full-rigged ship of about 750 tons burden – a stout, bluff-built and serviceable merchantman – possibly not a very quick craft in light breezes, but likely, in all probability, to be all the snugger, therefore, when labouring over a mutinous sea- the scud flying fast to the lea-ward, and two reefs in the topsail.
Arriving alongside, the emigrants and their friends at once proceeded aboard. The Culloden is a regular poop-ship, carrying cabin passengers. The deck arrangements are of the usual class. The launch – ‘Old Harney’ as the men-of-war’s men call the boat- furnishes a convenient pen for the sheep, while the pigs are stowed away beneath the shelter which she affords. A couple of life boats are suspended a little abait, while the ship carries the usual quarter-boats star board and lea board.
The arrangements on the berth-deck are different from those adopted on board Government emigration vessels, affording a greater degree of privacy, but in the opinion of very competent judges, not being by any means so advantageous in respect to the supply of light and fresh air.
Let us briefly attempt to sketch the coup d’oeil ‘tween decks. Imagine then running from the foremast right aft, a dim shadowy corridor , illuminated only by the square patches of light streaming down the open hatchways. Right fore and aft extends a long narrow table, with raised ledges, so as to avert, as far as possible, the chances of smashing crockery in a rolling sea, while a framework about the centre of the board, hung all along with mugs and jugs, shows that the dining table answers the purpose of a beaufet(sic) as well: on either side of a long range of what men at sea call bulkhead, and men on shore partition, composed of white unpainted wood, screens off the sleeping berths- the humble state-rooms of the main deck- from what may be called the living and sitting room. The single men are bestowed for’ard, the married couples are disposed amidships, and the single women sleep aft. Let us push aside the sliding door, and glance into one of the many chambers which, for four or five months, are to be the sleeping apartments of from five to ten young women. In the former case, imagine a ‘nook’- that is the most expressive word we can find- about seven feet by five. The seven feet are to be measured transversely from the bulkhead to the ship’s side. Along them are four berths, two on either side, the berths being, in other words, shallow boxes without lids, fitted beds and blankets, and not at all devoid of a certain air of compact snugness.
Along the side of the ship, beneath the small air hole, runs the fifth berth. The oblong patch of floor is principally occupied by a chest destined to contain the clothes to be worn on the voyage, and above it, and close to the fifth berth, is a curious extempore-looking wash-hand-stand, with a due allowance of tin basins. The larger ‘state-rooms’ are of course fitted up on the same system of ingenious economy of space.
Right aft, just inside the stern windows, and commanding an uninterrupted view of the wake, is disposed a labyrinth of berths, arranged so as to form quite a large sleeping room, and laid out with curious ingenuity, so as not to leave a square inch of room unoccupied. It was pleasant to see how satisfied the emigrants seemed to be with their novel accommodation – how fussily each girl arranged her parcels upon her bed, and with what innocent importance she announced to all querists that that was to be her berth. After the first brush of sea sickness is got over, we doubt not but that the ‘Culloden’ will prove a comfortable and orderly ship.
The thirty eight young women, dispatched by the Female Emigration Society, consist, we believe, of individuals selected with anxious and discriminating care- excellent (sic) testimonials as to moral and industrial character having been exacted and full enquiry instituted in each case.
The emigrants were plainly but comfortably and warmly clothed, and presented a very different appearance to that which they had exhibited on the first application to the committee.
On the voyage, educational training is, as far as possible, to be conjoined with needlework. The matron is to arrange her charges into classes, for the purpose of scriptural and general reading, with instructions in writing, arithmetic and geography. A great quantity of calico has been put on board, supplied by a large city house at cost price, with models of shirts generally used in the ‘bush’, and the products of every girl’s industry during the voyage will be delivered to her on landing.
In addition to the usual ship allowance, Mr. Herbert sent on board a quantity of ‘concentrated milk’ to be used on high days and holidays throughout the voyage.
After the emigrants had been finally mustered on the quarter-deck, the Reverend Mr. Quekett (sic) addressed a few words to them. They had in a body attended the Rev. Gentleman’s chapel the Sunday evening before, when an address suitable to the occasion was delivered . Mr. Quekett merely took then last opportunity of recommending to them the strict observance of the rules of the ship, and entreated them to be in all things obedient to the Matron and all other authorities placed over them.
This appeared to be the most trying moment. Many of the poor girls broke into open lamentation, others turned aside and wept silently, but the time was up- the steamer again alongside.
There were hearty shakes of the hand, and fervently expressed thanks and good wishes, and promises to write long and speedily, and then to the shrill call of the boatswain’s whistle, the bulwarks were crowded fore and aft, and, under three good hearty English cheers, the Satellite shot up the river on her return.’
- Port Phillip Herald, June 3, 1850.

The family story passed down to my grandfather by his mother (Olive Bishop, Hannah’s granddaughter) was that upon arrival in Victoria, the family had to camp on the beach at Sandridge (Port Melbourne) until accommodation was secured. This supports the story of fellow-traveller Lucy Edwards who wrote of passengers having to disembark in the night because of the threat of mutiny between crew and captain.

Not everyone was as supportive of the Female Emigrants Scheme as the writer of the previous account- research has shown that there existed a very vocal group against Mr Herbert’s endeavour.
Beth Harris, author of ‘Famine and Fashion: Needlewomen in the 19th Century” had the following to say in regard to the Female Emigration Fund:-
“ In 1849 Sidney Herbert’s Fund For Promoting Female Emigration attempted to use the iconic figure of the distressed needlewoman to raise funds and establish popular support, to assist “the most helpless of their sex-the working women of this country” to emigrate.
In the next four years, the fund assisted over one thousand women to emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, British North America and the Cape of Good Hope. In order to achieve this immense philanthropic effort, the Fund and the emigrants adopted the discursive construction of the symbolic needlewoman. This iconic figure was portrayed as industrious, hard-working and independent, but cruelly denied the just rewards of her labour, and so particularly deserving of redemption from her awful fate.The Fund’s philanthropic scheme was laid bare by a series of Australian Colonial enquiries into the untoward events on the voyage, and upon arrival at port.
The ‘Culloden’ enquiry was concerned with the treatment suffered by emigrants such as Ellen Ellis, a lace transferor from Holborn, who was also sent to Port Phillip, and destined for a narrow escape from the evil intentions of the Master of the ship, whom the Fund had employed to protect her from harm.”

Jessie Hughan (pictured above) married soon after her arrival, and set off to the sparsely settled lower-Murray region near Swan Hill. Her sister Bertha and brother Allan often stayed with her on the ‘Youngera’ property, and Allan managed ‘Youngera’ after the McCallums and Bertha returned from a 2 ½ year jaunt to England, Scotland and France from 1858-1861. Brother Fergus also joined them at ‘Youngera’ on occasion prior to his marriage.
Married daughter Laura lived with her husband Arthur Paton at Geelong, and Hannah herself lived here for a period after arriving.
Hannah Hughan lived for almost ten years in her new country. She died at her home in Bay Street, Brighton, on March 14, 1860, after a twelve month battle with cancer. An interesting story surrounds Hannah’s headstone…. When her daughters Jessie McCallum and Bertha Hughan returned to England for a visit in 1858, Hannah asked them to bring her back a headstone made by an English stone mason, of English stone. The girls did this, and Hannah kept the stone in her bedroom until the time finally came to use it. The inscription carved upon it was simple –

born 5th November, 1801.
Died 14th March, 1860.’

There is a small hitch in this story, in that Jessie and Bertha were still in England at the time of their mother’s death in 1860.Either Hannah’s daughters must have sent the stone back by ship before their return, or in fact it was Jessie that obtained the headstone during an earlier excursion to England in 1855-56.
The information on Hannah’s death certificate was supplied by her son-in-law, Henry Edmiston, of Brighton. It revealed that 58 year old Hannah had been treated by Dr. J.J. Hallet, and had succumbed to her disease the day following his last visit on March 13.
She was buried in the Brighton Cemetery on the day after her death, in the Presbyterian section (her son Robert Alexander Hughan was interred in this same grave some 55 years later).
Presbyterian minister Rev. A. Ramsay, of Melbourne, was the officiating minister – he had also married Jessie Hughan to Alexander McCallum in 1851.
Research conducted by the Brighton Cemetorians group in 2006 located and photographed the grave of Hannah Hughan. It is lying horizontally, and it is easy to pick out the inscription in the lower right hand corner which reads as follows:

“C. Wilkins, 90 Euston Place, London.”

Hannah’s marriage details were given as her having been married in Ipswich, Suffolk, at the age of 18 years to Robert Hughan. She had been born at Ipswich, Suffolk, and had been in the Colony of Victoria for 9 years and 9 months. Her children were given as follows:
Malvina dead; Laura 36; Marion Agnes 34; Oscar 32; Fergus McIvor 28; Jessie 26 ; Allan Ramsay Cunningham 21; Bertha 20.
Hannah’s fourth son, Robert Alexander, was forgotten – he fitted in between Oscar and Fergus. I believe that this omission was either quite deliberate due to Robert’s convict status, or Henry Edmiston was ignorant as to Robert’s existence. The former is more plausible than the latter since Henry would presumably have known of the presence of another Hughan brother-in-law, albeit one that lived over 1000 miles away in another part of the colony. All the same, the convict taint was keenly felt amongst families in the nineteenth century, particularly those families such as the Hughans who considered themselves well-bred and educated, despite their economic difficulties.


Gershom said...
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john giles said...

Thank you for such an interesting read. I have Malvina on my cousin's tree. His sister married into the Lord family and I have been researching them. You should write a book - great pictures too!