SMH Monday 29/3/1858 p2

Letter from Hypatia Hattersley

To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir,- As an immigrant in the ship Stebonheath, I wish to place before the public a few facts that ought to be made known in answer to Miss Chase. With the deepest sorrow I read her first statements at the inquest of poor Ann Cox. I ask any one, of a reasonable mind, let a person be ever so nervous at such a time as that of taking an oath before God and man, could they tell positive untruths? First, she stated that she saw Ann Cox crying on the poop ; asking her what was the matter, and finding she was ill, took her to the surgeon. That is false. Ann Cox was ill, and her rib broken a week before the doctor saw her ; the hatchway gave way and injured her. In that distressing state, for several days, she went about; then becoming so very ill, she was obliged to keep her bed. Miss Chase was told that she was too ill to rise, her side being so painful, and a violent pain in her neck, which she thought was rheumatism, proceeding from cold. Miss Chase insisted upon her getting up. She was assisted up and dressed, and almost carried up on the poop, her eyes streaming with tears, her head on one side, her neck being stiff. If the eyes of those who will read this had beheld it, their hearts would have bled and tears of sympathy would have flowed, as many of ours did. At ten o'clock Miss Chase came and told her that she might go and see the surgeon. She was assisted from the poop to the surgery ; he saw her, and ordered her below; he said he then would come and see to her. After the cleaning between decks was over, he went down and for the first time saw her; he then said that her rib was broken, and bandaged it up for her. The time previous to that and after, no tongue can tell her sufferings. When we arrived in port, in the dreadful state that she was in,she was got up and dressed in a delirious state of mind. My mess was not at the same end of the vessel that hers was, but for several evenings when I went to prayers, from what I heard her say, I was quite sure that she was delirious, and insensible to what she was saying ; like that she was left alone, and we all came on shore ; previous to that Miss Chase was asked how the poor girl was to be got ashore; her answer was, that they were to take themselves ashore, and not to trouble themselves. For the proof of this statement, I refer you to Mrs. Wallcott and daughter; they will come forward to corroborate my statement; at the same time requesting Mrs. Bailey and daughters, and Roda Barton, these being the parties in possession of the truth. They can add to them, but cannot take from.

In the next place, Miss Chase states that she never punished the poor girl; that I say is false. Some weeks before we arrived in port, Miss Chase agreed with the doctor to take all the captains of the messes at half-past five in the morning, to scrape the paint off the poop-deck, the sailors not doing it to their liking. They all went to do it; when they came down they were all saturated with rain, it being a wet morning; four girls refused to do it any more; Ann Cox was one of them, and for refusing to do it Miss Chase gave her her mess to clean by herself until we arrived in Sydney. Miss Chase punished her unjustly, for she only refused to do sailors work. Miss C. told another one that if she was not a lady she would box her ears.

Miss Chase then states upon the conduct of the girls in the train from London. I witnessed it myself with sorrow; I am very sorry so few persons omit taking liquors when they are taking a journey, and in the excited state of mind that they were in would soon take effect, and make them do and say what in a reasonable state of mind they would be ashamed of. She then makes the awful asseveration of the girls wanting to get at the men, not exonerating one of them. It is something like a speech she made one evening, which I cannot repeat, all would like a man between them in their berths. She did not then exclude even the respectable married women that she had charge of. I can only use her own words now, that some of them were frivolous in their conversation and writing to the sailors. Respecting sailors breaking in fourteen times, I am totally ignorant of, neither do I know any one that has any knowledge of it.

Sir, I now place this statement before you, hoping that it will be placed before the community at large. I ask you, who are parents and Christians, who have brought up large families and small, has all your kindness and care taken the effect that you wished? No – you have found that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; that unless renewed and sanctified by Divine Grace, we too often go astray. Cast not a stone, but rather follow the commands of your Redeemer. Lay your hands upon them and lift them up; at the same time there were some amongst us who remembered that the steps of the just are ordered by the Lord; though we slip we shall not be cast down, for Jehovah holdeth us by the hand. I ask, was a matron who held the Gospel in one hand and a rod of iron in the other, a fit person to place over us? Before we left the vessel she tore up a letter of thanks to her because some of us did not think,ourselves justified in signing it; she thanked those who signed it, at the same time wished us all God speed and success in our undertakings. But when we got ashore, she branded our names with infamy. Can she prove there was one there that committed a greater crime than Peter, who cursed and swore, denying his Master? What was the example of that Master to her? The only reproach that came from Him was only to turn and look at him, and we who follow in His footsteps must do likewise; endeavouring by the aid of the Holy Spirit to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect; forbearing with one another, and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us.

I am, Sir, yours, &c ,


March 27th, 1858.