Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Historic Australian newspapers online

Check it out (excuse the library pun). It's only just been made available, and is a test site. So get into it and give them some feedback.

Content loses out to funcionality is my initial opinion. Too slow to download, and the window for viewing the scans is too small and annoyintg to navigate around. Must be a pain for those without broadband at home. I like the cleaner Papers Past interface better. There is an American newspaper database which has the same interface (must be the same software vendor) and I find that after about half an hour I've had enough.

However I've been hanging out for a while for this to be made live and really, it is an awesome resource. It sure as hell beats taking trips to the few libraries that hold this stuff and requesting from the stacks, or getting tunnel vision from microfilm. Can't wait for more content to come up!

Search is always a bit dodgy on these newspaper databases though, as the OCR for the older papers in particular is erratic at best. This is because of bleeding inks and cramped and not very clear typefaces. Hard and time consuming to police Therefore browsing is a must if you want to be sure you've got everything.

Contact them to volunteer to correct the text.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Kororareka Association

This watercolour, by Theodore Mesnard, is of Kororareka in the latter part of 1838. Mesnard was an artist on board the Venus - this voyage caused a stir in British circles around the world, as it was rumoured that it intended to claim New Zealand as a colony. Image sourced from the Timeframes website.

This group of vigilantes started up on 23 May 1838 and was disbanded in 1840 when New Zealand offically became a colony. The funds still in the Association when it was wound up went toward building a hospital.

The first scan here lays out the the resolutions of the Association (source: The Early History of New Zealand by R. A. A. Sherrin and J. H. Wallace, 1890).
The second reports on an eyewitness account of a tarring and feathering incident carried out by the Association (Source: The story of New Zealand by Arthur S. Thomson, 1859). An original letter to a to the Southern Cross Newspaper in 1855, written by Benjamin Turner - a founder of the Association - can be read here.

Monday, 21 July 2008

A painful want of nerve

In August 1880 came reports in the British newspapers of the loss of the ship Jeddah en route from Singapore to Jeddah, carrying Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The boat had foundered on the 8th August, with close to 1000 crew and passengers reported drowned. There was a lot of speculation as to what had happened (see the first article here, from The Birmingham Daily Post 16 August 1880), from the reasonable to the absurd.

Unfortunately for the small amount of "survivors" (all officers), the Jeddah was found floating, complete with its passengers a few days later by the Antenor, another ship working the Eastern pilgrim route. The Jeddah was taken in tow to Aden. Scandal ensued. See the next scan for the story of the Antenor, from Aberdeen Weekly Journal 19 October 1880.

Joseph Conrad, whose first trip as a merchant seaman to the Far East was in 1882-3, would no doubt have followed the story at home in Britain and then heard a few tales about it when he got there. The episode of the Patna in his book Lord Jim is based on this event. The captain of the vessel was suspended for three years - a light sentence by any standard. The report of the inquest, held in Aden, can be read here.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Pascoe and Dalziel... But not as we know it

Yes I know this has nothing to do with the South Seas, but I guess you could argue inclusion for the massive to-ing and fro-ing of miners between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand the US and Canada during the 19th century and allow this rather tenuous link. It's another Pascoe story and I'm burning through them to get them out of the way.
This is one of the crazier stories, and I particularly like the headline: shades of the word play of modern headlines! And how about that cartoon vision of the girl in tights blasting away with two pistols willy nilly?
The two photos here, of the interior and exterior of the original Victor hotel (built 1894 and destroyed by fire 1899), were taken in 1895. They are part of the Denver Public Library collection. I wonder if Tom Pascoe is among the group of reprobates in the photo? He also appears in the Colorado State Penitentiary Index, though it looks like you have to physically be there to get any more information on him. The article is from the Grey River Argus 26 February 1896.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Never on a Sabbath

I don't think there are many people around these days who would turn down a visit from a member of the royal family just because the date fell on a Sunday. Source: Grey River Argus. 17 May 1873.

OK this one I'm pretty sure is no relation, though it's a nice little vignette nonetheless (and I kept the Saratoga Belle and her old man paragraph because it's weird: that's all there is of that story).

Spelling during the nineteenth century was to a large degree left to the writer. The John Pascoe here is actually John Pasco, famous for his signal during the battle of Trafalgar. He was seriously wounded during the battle and spent most of the time laying next to Nelson as they bled out together. He had many children, and most of them I believe ended up staying in Australia, where descendents still live, spelling their name as he did: "Pasco". I wonder if the telescope is still in their possession?
There's a story that the different spellings in the name are associated with religious and/or political beliefs, but I don't know what they may be: perhaps Catholic/Methodist or Royalist/Parliamentarian. There are plenty of both spellings in the graveyard of the famous Anglican Church in Roseland.

Mr Pasco (that's him at right of the picture with his head in the signals book) was a bit short of readies and had a big family, so when he was made Commodore of the trip to deliver New South Wales' new governor (Lachlan Macquarie - Bligh's replacement) to Port Jackson, he took a lot of privateering detours, chasing strange ships to earn himself some extra cash. This annoyed the governor's wife Elizabeth who wrote about it in her diary at the time. I rather like her diaries, she has no particular axe to grind (as opposed to a politian, trader, or missionary) so her observations seem rather clear and she writes in an entertaining manner. She appears to have a sense of humour too when describing other people, and though her social class does show, she does her best to avoid snobbery.

From Elizabeth Macquarie's journal of the voyage to Australia. 1809:

On John Pasco:
Sunday 4th June, ... We have been much detain'd on our voyage by the desire in the Commodore to make Prizes; we go off our course in pursuit of every Sail we See, by which we have lost many a fair breeze, and encounter'd many a foul one – we have however, once succeeded in taking a Prize – an American Ship which had been taken some days before by a French Privateer, by which I am happy to find that Captn.. Pascoe will derive a considerable sum of money.

Wedy.. 18th.. Octr.. the wind having come round to the northward & westward in the course of yesterday, we were this day at noon in East Longd
.. 17d. 40s_; and going almost due East at 6 miles an hour, we must have doubled the Cape between 8 & 9 o'clock this night. [T]his chase was a trial of patience to us, & Captain Pascoe also, we felt ourselves detain'd at a most critical part of the voyage for the sole purpose of his emolument, and he poor Man, made himself sure that the Strange Sail was French, that she would turn out a Rich Prize, and make his fortune; his disappointment was very great when we lost sight of her; our superior sailing was in many respects a great comfort to us, but if there had been any fighting, we should have had all the blows and none of the profit; this is comparatively.

On Mrs Pasco during the stopover in Cape town:
... to my great joy we had a quiet party at dinner, not so with Mr.. & Mrs.. Pascoe who I fancy must have exchanged the canter of their horse into a gallop to enable them to reach the Town in time to dine with the Governor; Mrs.. P being desirous of enjoying as much of his Lordship[']s company as she could, declined playing cards, but sat down most boldly to attack him at Chess; to his great consternation he soon found that his willing antagonist hardly knew the moves, he did all he could to lose the game, but that he found quite impossible; on which the Lady wish'd to renew the attack, but his Lordship had quite enough of it, & beg'd leave to resign his place to some other person. – Lord Calledon sent home his Carriage with Mrs.. Alexander & the other Ladies; by this time poor Mrs.. Pascoe herself so much gratified what with the morning drive, dining at a Lords house; playing chess with the great Man, & being sent home in his grand Coach with a coronet, that she fairly burst out in an exclamation of joy, clapping her hands & dancing with her feet, I vow! I vow! this has been the happiest – & the best day of my life. –this is all very vulgar no doubt, but who can avoid being pleased at this natural conduct, call'd forth by sensations of gratitude, & satisfaction.

Shades of Austen's Mrs Bennett there!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Yellow Peril

I think this image is from: W. Fearn-Wannan, Australian Folklore: A Dictionary of Lore, Legends and Popular Allusions. 1970. Please put me right if my attribution is incorrect

Here's another story involving a Pascoe. It appears this one was one of the directors at Lothair mine in Clunes, Victoria, and rather a belligerent one at that, according to how it was reported in the Grey River Argus 20 December 1873* (a proudly left wing paper).

The articles below give a good account of the story, where thousands of mine workers (mostly Cornishmen) and their families violently demonstrated against the introduction of Chinese labour.

Since the strike at the Eureka stockade in 1854 just down the road, miners were a raucous crowd and kick-started the Labour movement in Australia (In Australia, thanks rumouredly to a signwriter making a mistake, the political party is named "Labor"; but it is a "Labour" movement. I'm inclined to think it was merely that Americans were a big part of the movement at the time). These incidents also helped build the Australian culture of hating the police ("traps" in those days), as by keeping the peace, they were seen as always working for the bosses.

*In case you're wondering: I'm getting all these Australian stories from foreign sources because there are no database with good Australian newspaper content as yet. The National Library of Australia is working on one though.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

By the skin of his teeth (literally)

This chromolithograph image shows a small ketch safely inside the Grey River ca. 1869, in the process of either hoisting or dropping the mizzen sail. Source: Cooper, William Marshall 1833-1921 :Greymouth. [Hokitika, Harnett & Co., 1869?]. Taken from the Timeframes website.

The newspaper Grey River Argus was loaded on to Papers Past this month so I did a little search through for anything mentioning Pascoes, as they had rather a presence on the West coast of the South Island of new Zealand. I found some great stories from New Zealand and Australia (as well as a crazy one in a mining camp in Colorado) so will post them up over the next couple of weeks.

I'm no genealogist so have no idea how closely related I may be to any of these people, but I'll be posting these stories occasionally as they give a good cross-section of life in the South Seas during the 19th century. There were sailors (all over), miners (all over), brewers (Wellington), butchers (Greymouth), churchmen (all over), teachers (NZ), oyster bar owners (Nelson), brawlers and killers (all over). Like most early settlers, they were mostly a combination of these things. Few of the stories are happy ones, but that's newspapers for you.
First up is the story of the loss of the small ketch "Constant" on the sand bar at the mouth of the Grey River in 1870. It was a jack of all trades vessel, small at 13 tons; making deliveries, fishing, anything that would earn a few bob for the owner up and down the coast.
Now in all families there are physical and mental traits that keep popping up. A reasonably regular one in ours is a good set of slightly large, even teeth. This article made me laugh as they played an important part in the rescue of "Captain" John Pascoe here. There is mention of a "Schooner W. S. Munday, Pascoe, master" from Wanganui in the arrivals section of this paper dated 25 April 1871. It's likely to be the same man, but doesn't mention if he is the owner or not.
The inquiry was quickly done: the next day in fact. It follows below.
(Added 30 April 2009: I was just asked by a woman at work if I am related to the Pascoes of Nelson, as I look a lot like them)


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Kia Kaha

This picture comes from "The Story of new Zealand" by Arthur S Thompson. Published London 1859.

Now of course it is impossible to know exactly what was going on in the cultures and individual minds that Europeans came into contact with in the early days - it's hard enough to grapple with what was going on with the Europeans themselves.

However the picture here reveals some elements of how the Maori were so successful in the early days when dealing with Europeans. Before I get into the picture itself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

When Cook on his first Pacific voyage traded and exchanged gifts with Maori, among the things traded were iron nails. Maori at the time had no knowledge of any metals, but when the expedition returned, they traded back some of these nails which had been reworked into such things as fish hooks, chisels etc. Cook noted the contrast with the Australian aborigines, who, when he left cloth, mirrors and pieces of iron for them up in Queensland, he found upon his return that they had been poked at but left alone. All during that journey up the East coast, Aborigines watched their progress, but more often than not made little or no effort to make contact - a stark contrast to Maori.

That pattern more or less continued until about 20-30 years of first contact for each Australian tribal group. Aborigines for the most part seemed happy to let the Europeans come, but didn't really want a bar of them or their goods. There are probably many reasons for this, among them: They were thought to be spirits; They had been living in Australia for thousands of years and were doing fine thanks; The nomadic tribes among them didn't want encumbrances; they were bad for your health. It's after the first few decades when you see the fighting emerge as more Europeans arrived and started encroaching on the aboriginal land and lifestyle. There was rarely any understanding between the two races - even at a personal one-to-one level.

Maori had right from the beginning an interest in Europeans and how they could be used to better their lives and status among other Maori. They integrated European technology into their own culture. They also travelled widely on European ships and visited Europe and her colonies in larger numbers than what people probably realise.

This allowed them to make predictions on European behaviour: For example a Maori visiting Calcutta with Peter Dillon in the 1820s commented on the British colonists and their Indian servants, saying that the Maori fate may well be the same. It didn't quite pan out that way, though obviously he and others were conducting their own politico/cultural/anthropolical studies on Europeans.

Maori also set up timber and flax trading, started ship building along European designs and used these to hunt whales and seals in the European manner, as learned when acting as crew. It also got them retail prices. The impounding of an NZ-built ship (for having no registration) in Sydney in 1829-1830 was one of the catalysts for the creation of the confederated tribes and creation of a national flag in 1834 and the Declaration of independence in 1835. Maori were also land cultivators and had a strong conception of territory and land ownership (albeit at a group, not private level), which was vigourously fought for amongst themselves and often collectively defended from foreigners.

Europeans could work with this - they had much in common. As for the British cultural state of mind, when New South Wales was annexed in the late 1700s, there was internal opposition and an uneasiness of concience about it (as discussed in my previous post). However, needs must - the prisons and hulk on the Thames and around the Southern coasts were full to bursting, there was little money in the coffers due to wars with France, America, Holland, Denmark, Spain (allied with France), etc, etc around the globe. Things weren't going so well either in Scotland and Ireland. Raw materials were at an all-time low, with ship-building materials in Britain all but cut down. So they took Australia before the French did (La Perouse, although not on a mission of colonisation, arrived in Botany Bay days after Britain's first fleet in 1788. They may well have planned to at least raise the flag and claim annexation).

By the 19th century, Britain had no taste for the colonisation of New Zealand, with successive New South Wales governors refusing to countenance the idea of extending their area of authority. The British government only came around to the idea after a multitude of factors decided it in 1840. In the end, it was either them or someone else, and that was what forced their hand (not a moment too soon - the French at that moment had a small fleet on their way to claim the South Island).

Anyway - back to the picture. The war party is performing a haka, though instead of taiaha they're armed with muskets. The great thing about this is that a taiaha is about the same size and weight as a musket, which in battle can be used in exactly the same way in hand to hand combat once the at close quarters. Muskets took an age to load and were not very accurate so were only really any good when firing at a tight group of people, as European armies did when arranged in ranks. The Maori generally when in open battle let off a volley before engaging from several directions to fight at close quarters. This was one of many methods which gave them the advantage in battle over the British during the first decade or so of the Land Wars during the middle of the century (the Americans worked similarly to great advantage during the war of independence).

The Maori were well-practiced at hand to hand combat where the British forces were not. In fact until the second decade of the 19th century there were no real British military manuals on hand to hand fighting. The ones that did appear were ridiculed by experienced campaigners. This, combined with their experience gained in fighting each other during the 1820s and 30s led to strong victories for Maori campaigns against the British. As usual, it took a while before the Brits got their act together. Although Maori won most of the battles and sucessfully defended their pas, in the end it was the attrition of numbers which saw the British win these wars.

However, the Maori Iwi still have a great deal of strength and influence in New Zealand. Far greater than that of the natives of the Americas or Australia. Kia kaha.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The contagion of English vice, and English villainy

Source: English chronicle or Universal Evening Post. 07 October 1786.

The letter which starts at left and continues in the body of this blog below argues in 1786 against transportation to New Holland, specifically Botany Bay. There was quite a lot of support against the "First Fleet" project, not least due to the fact that the last time this was tried on a large scale it all backfired and the Americans had themselves a revolution.

Also in the mix at this period (known as the Enlightenment) was a general feeling in some circles that foreign peoples should be left to themselves, and that European trade or intervention only ever led to misery for the locals who came in contact with them. You can read the dilemma for early explorers in the diaries and memoirs of the likes of Cook and D'Urville (you can read an example quoted from Cook on the Australian Aborigines here, and a hilarious comment on it from his biographer and editor Beaglehole here). Hard work and bondage was the only state most Europeans themselves knew, and transferred the system overseas. Hence the huge amount of popular revolutions in the ensuing 50 years.

This anonymous writer argues that dumping Britain's detritus (by which he means convicts, soldiers and sailors) on the rest of the world can only be bad for Britain's image, and just plain disastrous for the South Sea populations. So bleeding heart liberals have been around a while! (and always seem to be losing and left to try to pick up the pieces)

The letter continues below. (Italics, etc are as they appear in the original, my comments in square brackets)

...the contagion of such a neighbourhood, is next to impossible. I am afraid it would be altogether superfluous, to take religion into the consideration: for if its interests are to be as little regarded upon this occasion, as I understand it uniformly to have been aboard the ballast-lighters, it is no unreasonable presumption to suppose, that this formidable emigration is to be unattended by any chaplain of any denomination whatsoever.

I am at a loss to conceive the degree of horror, which a plan of this kind must excite in the minds of the foriegn societies, pro propaganda fide; - will they not most naturally, with uplifted hands, exclaim against it, and bestow upon it, the appelation of a plan formed by some English society, pro propagandis vitius Anglicanis? [Not speaking Latin, probably not!] And, however, in excuse, it may be alleged, that the propagation of vice upon the coast of New Holland, or, as it is generally called Botany Bay, is not likely to be very extensive among the New Hollanders, on account of the scantiness of their numbers; yet I am afraid such will be the zeal of these Missionaries, that this excuse will not be of any long duration. Many of the islands in the South Seas, as we are assured by our late circum navigators, are exceedingly populous; - but they are not only populous, they are also extrememly fertile; and they are inhabited by some of the handsomest women in the known world. Can anything therefore be more probable than that the parties of these abandoned wretches, will, after a while, be formed for a fresh transportation to better climates and and more cultivated regions? The inevitable consequence of which will be, that the contagion of English vice, and English villainy, will be disseminated in the space of a very few years, throughout every country, situated within the South Seas.

For the honour of the Christian religion, for the honour of humanity, and for the honour of my country, I very anxiously hope that a scheme so injurious to the interests of mankindin general, will not go forward; or if it does, that all imaginable care will be taken to prevent, as much as possible, the national disgrace, which will follow so probably wide a diffusion of of national iniquity, without some means to counteract its defects to this salutary end; it ought to be held indispensibly necessary, that every gentle method be employed of reclaiming [ie: to the church], at least, in some degree, the intended exiles before they embark for the place of their destination. And to bring them to some sense of moral and religious duties, surely Government will take care that they are attended on their voyage of irreproachable character; for whom should be made a very ample provision, upon express condition, that he make New Holland his residence, as chaplain to this convict colony for the rest of his days.


A PLAIN ENGLISHMAN [I wonder if this "Plain Englishman" was this guy angling for a job?]

October 6 1786

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Cornish Diaspora

Going to California, New Zealand, Australia, Canada...

I came across this today and the juxtaposition set me thinking. According to the family. the Pascoes I am descended from were Cornish tin miners by profession (however all the Pascoes in St Just of the 1850s and 60s were listed in the census returns as agricultural labourers, grocers, masons, fishermen, or boatmen). They left St Just in Roseland (Not the St Just of the article - that's in Penwith) for either NZ or Australia in around the 1860s. I don't know for sure because I keep hearing vaguely different stories. Anyway, apparently there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing across the ditch in the early days.

There are still a lot of Pascoes on the West coast of the South Island in New Zealand, and at least some of them did very well in the goldfields. Not my mob though, who around the turn of the 20th century left the Victorian goldfields for a selection in Roma, in the Darling Downs of Queensland. Got there by bicycle, would you believe (though they may not have been Pascoes but a different family branch). Whenever I read or listen to and laugh at Dad and Dave, I think about them.
Actually come to think of it, I remember my dad telling me once that they also earned a living digging bore wells. You can take the man out of Cornwall, but it seems you can't stop him from digging holes.

Anyway, during the 1860s, when things were apparently really bad, the life expectancy of a Cornish miner dropped to about 30 years. That's not working life - that's cradle to grave. After hearing about the disaster in Boscawen and about NZ where you could just pick gold up off the ground without having to dig a hole for it, I don't blame them for saying "Pack up the pasties my lover - we're off".

Even though Roseland is very pretty and now and a tourist haven barely populated, in the 19th Century the men spent most of the time underground and the women working the smallholdings. When they weren't doing that they were fishing or ferrying their wares to Falmouth. Not an easy life by a long way. That's why they all lit out I guess. Add to this that the loss of land access due to the enclosures, and the disaster of the last public house on the peninsular closing its doors in the 1860s, and well, it's a bit of a no-brainer!

Mind you, Britanny is real close so maybe the drink came from there on the quiet.

The clipping for this post comes from Leeds, I looked for a Cornish one, but the Cornish papers aren't on the database in numbers yet - it's still a work in progress. One day I'll take all my questions to Colindale and look it all up in hard copy.

Source: the Leeds Mercury. 21 April 1863

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Yanks are comin'!

Well actually no they're not, not filibustering anyway. Not for a few decades yet.

A great panic though - I wonder how the blazes it got started?

As theorised in this article, the whole thing turned out to be a canard.

The only thing I have to say about canards, is to be very careful about how you pronounce the word in France. I don't know why, but I've seen one or two Parisian waiters blush when the word was attempted by a pretty foreign female, and they won't reveal what they think they heard.

Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland). 16 May 1871