CATHERINE’S VOYAGE OUT


The Tippoo Saib, an aging barque of 1022 tons, set sail on 8th April 1850 on a falling tide. She was registered in Liverpool and the Master was Capt. W. Morphew. Dr. Church, the ship’s physician, and his wife were allocated a ‘cabin’, and the Irish orphans were housed below on two separate decks.

Apart from the 297 Irish orphan girls on board, there were a widow, Margaret Leavy, 40, and her daughter, 15, of the same name, four other single females, and seventeen married couples who had between them 10 children - six of whom were less than one year old.

For the first few days of the voyage, as the wind picked up, almost all on board were seasick, as much from sheer terror being so far from dry land as from the unaccustomed pitch and roll of the vessel. Several of the girls were injured when unsecured luggage fell on them. In fact, reports are common of treacle, pepper, sugar and sauces cascading over steerage passengers as they lay wet and seasick. And the din of metal plates, pannikins and cutlery rolling about the floor, would often vie with the roar of waves across the deck.

After a while, however, they settled down to a monotonous routine. It was important for the authorities that the girls arrive in good health so food on board was better than that devised for ordinary immigrants and included a daily allowance of 1/2 lb of beef, pork, or preserved meat, as well as bread, sugar, tea, coffee, and other items. The more prevalent dangers were falling overboard and unwelcome advances by the crew, but then again there were scores of the older girls who welcomed these.

In fine weather ventilation was provided below decks by opening all the portholes on the lee side, but in rough conditions everything had to be battened down and the atmosphere became mephitic - and this could continue for weeks at a time!

As the only really impartial person of authority on board, the duties of the ship’s doctor were manifold. As well as attending to the sick he was required to implement standards of hygeine among the passengers, organise a school, and to combat boredom by promoting “music and dancing and every harmless means of combining exercise and amusement”.

It was his duty to establish a settled routine on board and to help ward off the chief enemy - boredom, which led to frayed tempers and physical altercations. None of which was helped by the cramped quarters.
A typical routine was: rise at seven, breakfast at eight, clear and clean decks at nine, lunch at one, tea at six, and bed at ten.

As an incentive, the pay of ship’s doctors increased with each emigrant voyage they undertook, starting at ten shillings for each adult rising to a maximum of one Pound, plus a first class return journey.

Nevertheless, ship’s surgeons were described in the British Medical Journal in 1881 as divided into two categories: The first being the just-qualified youth full of book-learning but with no practical experience; short on tact and with no knowledge of life and conditions on board ship. The second class consists wholly of the ‘bad hats’ of the profession, to be found hanging around the druggist’s shops and steamboat offices of every large port. Dull, drunken, and dirty.

* * * * * * *

Four months later, following brief stops for supplies and water in Teneriffe and Capetown, and a not uneventful journey, the Tippoo Saib was escorted into Sydney Harbour on 29th July 1850. Capt. Morphew’s report to the health authorities in Sydney stated that, of his passengers, one was suffering from lunacy, one had consumption, and another hysteria, Three had died on the voyage from “exhaustion, nervous irritation, and infection of the brain,” respectively.

However, Capt. Morphew's conduct on the voyage may not have been as exemplary as the authorities have believed.
A few short weeks following the arrival of the Tippoo Saib there were newspaper reports of a scandalous affair between the captain and one of the female orphans which led to the captain being fined twenty pounds 'in absentia' and possibly banned from ever again commanding an immigrant ship.

See the following reports:

SMH 21/9/1850
MASTERS AND SERVANTS ACT. A conviction was yesterday had against Captain Morphew, of the immigrant ship Tippoo Saib, for a breach of the 15th clause of the Hired Servants Act, in having harboured Julia Daly, a runaway from the service of Mr. A. H. McCulloch, of Elizabeth-street, solicitor. The case was conducted I by Mr. Johnson, who stated to the bench that although Mr. McCulloch was the nominal prosecutor, yet that he received his instructions from the Immigration authorities at HyJe Park. The defendant not answering when called, the service of summons was proved by Inspector Powell, of the Water Police. A plea of not guilty was recorded, and the ease proceeded. From the evidence of Mr. McCulloch, it appeared that in tho early part of August he hired for one year two of the immigrants by the Tippoo Saib, named respectively Julia Daly and Mary Connor ; that they entered into his service, and there remained until the night of the 27th August; about eleven o'clock on the night of that day he was called down to the street door by a constable inquiring if he was aware that the door had been for some time standing open ; on this he examined the premises, and found that the two females in question had absconded ; he reported the circumstance to the Immigration Board, and at the request of Mr. Merewether these proceedings had been instituted. The next witness was Mary Connor, who deposed that she was 21 years of age, and was an immigrant to this colony by the Tippoo Baib, of which the defendant was master ; Julia Daly came in the same vessel, and they both entered the service of Mr. McCulloch, where they remained until last Tuesday three weeks, when they both left, between eight and nine o'clock at night ; she had leave to be out on the afternoon of that day, when she engaged a man to come at night with a cab to within a short distance of her master's house; she carried her box and that of Julia Daly from the house to the cab, which then drove off and waited for them near St. James's Church ; shortly afterwards she and Julia Daly went away ; she directed the cabman to drive to a lodging house-any lodging house ; he took them to an hotel, where, in the course of the evening, Captain Morphew arrived, and, surprised to find them there, inquired if they had left their place ; she had once previously seen the Captain, one day when she and Julia were out with the children; Julia and he were talking together, but not about leaving her master ; (on being pressed, the witness said she might not have heard all that passed between them) ; the house they were driven to was kept by a person named Roberts ; she and Julia remained there that night, and slept together ; the Captain did not stop there; three days afterwards they went to a furnished house at Newtown ; there were two bedrooms in the house, one of which was occupied by her and the other by Julia and the Captain ; she (the witness) acted as servant until she was taken away ; Captain Morphew paid their expenses at the hotel, and also at the house at Newtown ; she left Mr. McCulloch's because Julia would not stay, and she would go anywhere with her rather than stop alone ; do not know if Captain Morphew gave Julia Daly any money, but she (witness) got no wages from him ; he promised to give her something when he returned to Sydney. Other witnesses were called, generally corroborative of the evidence given by Connor, and among others the owner of the house, who said that he received a year's rent from the gentleman who took it, and it was proved by other witnesses that that gentleman was the present defendant, who represented Julia Daly as his wife. The result was, as before stated, a conviction of the defendant.

SMH 21/9/1850
The case of Captain Morphew, of the Tippoo Saib, reported in the Herald of Thursday last, is a very sad one, showing how easily a man of high intelligence, and hitherto irreproachable character (for Captain M. has a first-class certificate from the Nautical Board), may by one act of vice and folly ruin his prospects for life. The Tippoo Saib brought out a large number of Irish orphan girls ; the ship was in a satisfactory state, the officers got the usual gratuities for good conduct, and, on the representations of the Surgeon, the Captain obtained a special letter of commendation from the Immigration Agent. Whether any immoral conduct took place on board is not known ; if it did, it was very carefully concealed. But soon after the girls were landed, the Captain seduced one of them from a respectable family where she had obtained a situation, and lived with her for a few weeks; and, as a matter of course, deserted her when his ship was ready for sea. For the offence of "harbouring" a servant who was under a written engagement, Captain Morphew was fined 20, but as he sailed after being served with a summons, and before the hearing of the case, he will probably never pay the fine. The consequences to him, however, will be much more serious than a mere pecuniary penalty. He will never be allowed to command a ship with emigrants on board again ; and as the ship is adapted for that trade, and her owners are engaged in it, it is very possible he will be dismissed from his ship when he arrives in England, and have great difficulty in getting another, as the circumstances under which he is deprived of his command will be well known. Thus he will, by his indulgence in vice, have ruined the girl for whom we must suppose he had some affection, and have thrown himself out of respectable and lucrative employment. It is a case which to masters of emigrant ships conveys a serious warning.

 

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