Thursday, 15 January 2015

Needle in haystack found

For many years a family story that Margaret HENDERSON and Robert SMITH's family also included a daughter who died as an infant on the voyage to NZ, sat in the too hard basket.
Find a SMITH somewhere between Lanarkshire and Otago around the 1880s?
When my original notes showed differing information as to which ship they came out on?

Wasn't actually that hard at all.
There weren't many SMITHs registered in Carnwath in the right timeframes, and really only one likely gap in the family, and only about 5 or 6 females registered at that time, 3 or 4 of them had middle names as well so they seemed unlikely, and several were on the verge of too close to other known children, which left the two most likely, a Jean and a Mary.
Yes, it took me two certs to get the right one, Mary.

Could I confirm the "died on voyage" story?
Well yes, that too fell into place. I picked the first of the two ship options provided, "Marlborough" or "Nelson", and searched PapersPast for the name in conjunction with "arrival" and "measles" in the approximate timeframe.

Although I've not found any passenger lists, yet, for the voyage of the "Marlborough" that arrived at Port Chalmers, it did have documented cases of measles on board (part of the information supplied by a fellow researcher re the ship).
The steerage passengers were embarked to "the island" (must find out more about that) and the cabin passengers allowed to stay on board the ship which now boasted a yellow quarantine flag.

The newspaper (Otago Witness Issue 1469, 10 January 1880, Page 14) reported "six deaths, all children, the eldest, being 10 years four from measles, one from suppurating sore throat, and one from acute bronchitis— the last death occurring on the 7th, when rounding Cape Saunders, the body being still on board the vessel."

What came up trumps however is this wonderful site:
which documented the deaths, and included a three year old Mary SMITH, of measles.

A bonus of the above page about the "Marlborough" is the sad story of its fate.
The story of the  "Mary Celeste" sprang to mind - although the latter's crew weren't on board as skeletons. (If you think you know about the Marie Celeste, read the pages at the link!)

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