Diary of Sarah Ann Bray

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Voyage to Adelaide in 1864
Under command of Captain David Bruce
Departure port London
Departure date 6th August 1864
Arrival port Port Adelaide
Arrival date 7th November 1864
Voyage duration 93 days
Port of Call
Port of call Plymouth
Arrival 12th Aug 1864
Departure 12th Aug 1864

This diary by Sarah Ann Bray is the earliest of the diaries kept by a passenger on the City of Adelaide. The City of Adelaide departed London on its maiden voyage on 6th August 1864. It stopped in Plymouth on the 12th to pick up more passengers, including Miss Sarah Ann Bray, 20, who was travelling with her parents and sister Blanche Louisa, 16, before continuing on to South Australia. Her parents Tom Cox Bray (1815-1881) and Sarah (Pink) Bray (1813-1877) were making a nostalgic trip back to Adelaide to visit their younger son John Cox Bray. Once a humble shoemaker family, they were now able to enjoy the first class saloon on the brand new City of Adelaide during its maiden voyage.

Sarah Ann Bray's diary is a useful account and gives a different perspective to the other diaries. Although the entries are brief they give comment on the weather and sea conditions, the way passengers passed time, how they interacted with the crew, and especially the respect which the master of the ship was afforded. Sarah's brother they were visiting in Adelaide became The Honourable Sir John Cox Bray, KCMG, JP the first native-born Premier of South Australia. He was also the first South Australian-born man to serve as Speaker, and Agent-General for the State.

Sarah Ann Bray (1844-1908) was born at Adelaide in March 1844. She married John Smith Kerr (1840-1918) in December 1869 at Kidbrooke in Kent. He was a tea and sugar merchant from Greenock, Scotland. They had 5 children - two sons and then three daughters, all born in Scotland at Garnethill, Kelvinside, Glasgow.

The elder son John Henry (1871-1934) became The Honourable Sir John Henry Kerr, K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E., colonial governor in British India. He was created a Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, and a Knight Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India in 1922.

Transcription by Adrian Brown Adelaide. The original was unclear in places so some words have been shown as underscore.

Diary Trancsripts

Wednesday, August 10, 1864

A__ day ___looking out to the sea. The City of Adelaide has not yet reported. We now all being very tired after yesterdays long journey. Plymouth is a nice clean looking town and the people are very good looking. I wrote to Elisa and Margaret.

Thursday 11 August, 1864

A beautiful day. Tom, Blanche and I walked to the Barbican but the ship had not arrived. We all took a walk round the town and afterward a drive. The weather is very warm and pleasant. In the evening we walked again to the ___ but the ship was not in sight.

Friday August 12, 1864

A beautiful day. About 9.50 am a boatman came to tell us that the City of Adelaide was in sight. Tom and I took a walk and bought several little things. At 1 pm we took a boat and sailed to the ship. Blanche and I wrote letters to the Patersons. Tom stayed on board for about ___ hours. We sailed at 4 pm. We stayed on deck till after we had passed the Eddystone Lighthouse and then went down to bed but not to sleep. We were dreadfully seasick during the night.

Saturday August 13, 1864

A fine day. We cannot see land, we are sailing along very well. Mama, Blanche and I have been sitting on deck all day scarcely able to move.

Sunday August 14, 1864

A rough day. There was service in the cabin which only half the passengers were able to attend. In the night the weather was very squally so that we were unable to sleep.

Monday August 15, 1864

A fine day. Strong favourable breeze but we are too sick to care for anything. The Captain is delighted with the distance we have come.

Tuesday August 16, 1864

Fine day. Contrary winds.

Wednesday August 17, 1864

Showery day. We were obliged to take shelter several times in the saloon, which looked like a hospital with all the sick people lying about.

Thursday August 18, 1864

Almost a calm. We have scarcely advanced in the right direction. The Captain has been the same latitude, at the same season fifteen times and never experienced such unfavourable weather.

Friday August 19, 1864

A fine day but very little wind. A week since we left Plymouth. It seemed a much longer time. We are only just commencing to speak to the other passengers.

Saturday August 20, 1864

A fine calm day and rather warm. Still the wind is not favourable. Somebody remarked this morning that we should be two years finishing our journey if we continue at the same slow pace.

Sunday August 21, 1864

A rough day, strong but not quite favourable winds. The prayers were read in the saloon but mamma and I were too sick to attend. Several waves came over the deck and our chairs rolled about so that they were obliged to be tied to the mast.

Monday August 22, 1864

A calm day. We had a bath which is very refreshing as the weather is becoming warm Blanche and I read ___ (title) after breakfast for about an hour.

Tuesday August 23, 1864

A nice day. We are not making much progress. Two vessels were seen in the distance. I am reading MaCauley’s Essays, and I have finished Milton, Machiavelle, Southey’s colloquies on Society and Pilgrims Progress.

Wednesday August 24, 1864

Very favourable breeze. The first day I have felt at all well. In the morning we sighted land and about 4 pm were two miles from Canaries. We distinctly saw villages and cultivated land and with the aid of telescopes were able to discern cattle grazing. A few hours later we had a good view of Tenerife (14 00 feet in height) which looked magnificent as the sun set behind it. A beautiful evening. We are sailing 11 knots an hour and the ship is much steadier than usual. During the night a squall. After we were in bed a wave came into our cabin window and the water in the cabin was about 1 foot deep. Papa bailed it out but we got very little rest. For added to the noise of wind and waves outside there were continual cries in the Saloon of Steward! Captain etc.

Thursday August 25, 1864

A very warm day. The breeze though favourable not very strong. We averaged about five knots. Nothing to be seen but flying fish. We went to bed shortly after 9 pm being very tired as we obtained so little rest the preceding night.

Friday August 26, 1864

A nice day but very warm. The wind is not very favourable.

Saturday August 27, 1864

A very calm day.

Sunday August 28, 1864

A beautiful day. As the weather is so calm and warm prayers were held on the deck. There being no clergyman on board the Captain read the prayers and Mr Bruce the lesson. One of the sailors led the singing. The service was very ___. In the evening the Doctor played some hymn tunes and we sang for about an hour.

Monday August 29, 1864

A fine day. We are sailing along very well. In the morning we sighted a vessel going in the same direction and it was nearly dark when we passed her, distant only about half a mile. In the evening we walked about looking at the stars and the phosphorous. About midnight the wind changed and the sea became very rough. We passed a very unquiet night.

Tuesday and Wednesday are missing.

Thursday September 1, 1864

A fine quiet day. We were able to read and work as usual. I read some German songs which were headed “____” (text in German). We also read some of the Ingoldsby Legends. I practised for about an hour. We saw a great many flying fish.

Friday September 2, 1864

A calm day. We are sailing very slowly. The Doctor played chess with me from lunch till dinner. I lost three games. The Captain assisted me during the first two.

Saturday September 3, 1864

Mama’s birthday a lovely day but so calm that we are scarcely moving. In the morning we saw a large steamer which sailed across the front of our ship but too far off to signalise. In the evening the sailors played and we danced.

Sunday September 4, 1864

A showery day. In the morning we sighted a ship which saluted us and asked our name to which we replied but the wind blew the flags in such a direction that it could not be distinguished. We saw a great number of dolphins. Prayers were read on deck. In the evening it rained almost incessantly so we stayed in the saloon and had music and singing.

Monday September 5, 1864

A showery day. The rain came in very suddenly. We were down in the saloon the greater part of the day. We spent the evening on deck.

Tuesday September 6, 1864

A showery day

Wednesday September 7, 1864

A calm day. No breeze and making no progress. We saw several “portugese men of war”

Thursday September 8, 1864

A nice day. We had dancing in the evening. I have finished What we do with it? by Bulwer Lytton.

Friday September 9, 1864

A rough showery day. We spent most of the time in the saloon and scarcely knowing what to do danced _____. In the evening the weather cleared and we went on deck and as the ship rolled so much we were obliged to _____.

Saturday September 10, 1864

A bright day but rather rough. We had several showers and even when able to go on deck there was too much motion to walk about.

Sunday September 11, 1864

A fine day but the waves were rather high. We had prayers on deck but were obliged to sit down all the time. In the evening we went to the sailors service. Harry, one of the sailors read a sermon and then made a very earnest prayer. It was full of nautical expressions. The evening hymn was then sung. I have been reading some very interesting sermons by Rev Guthrie of Edinburgh. Margaret Guthrie his daughter was at school with us at Boulogne 1857.

Monday September 12, 1864

A beautiful day and a fair breeze. I played at chess with the Doctor and lost each time. In the evening we danced.

Tuesday September 13, 1864

A fine day and sailing along well. The Captain has had some rope quoits made for the ladies. So in the afternoon we had a game.

Wednesday September 14, 1864

A beautiful day. We crossed the Equator about 1.30pm. In the evening the sailors marched (in costume) on the deck. One represented Neptune – he had a long white beard and carried something like a trident. We danced till 10 pm.

Thursday September 15, 1864

A beautiful day and a favourable wind. The doctor played chess with me and won three games. I wished to practice but the piano was engaged nearly all day. In the afternoon we played quoits. A most lovely evening – the moon full – we could read by it. We danced till nearly 10pm.

Written below : Arthur Le Mesurier Bray, born 15 Sep 1868.

Friday September 16, 1864

A beautiful day. We worked and read all the morning. I have commenced Two Years Ago by Charles Kingsley.

Saturday September 17, 1864

A rough day. The wind is favourable and we are going along well. I was not able to practice having burnt my finger with a match. In the evening we were unable to dance on account of the rolling.

Sunday September 18, 1864

A fine day but the sea very rough. I was quite sick in the morning. We had prayers on deck. In the evening we sang and had a little music.

Monday September 19, 1864

A fine day but the sea still rough. We are going about 10 knots an hour but rather too much to the westward. We saw three ships – one homeward bound. The other two we passed, one was so close that we saw some sailors in the rigging. In the evening we danced and enjoyed ourselves very much. The sunset was magnificent. We saw the Southern Cross. It was nearly dark so we should have been unable to distinguish the signals and therefore had no intercourse with them. I played draughts with Mr Sims and lost five games out of five.

Tuesday September 20, 1864

A lovely day. The sea is much smoother and we are going about 6 knots. I practised and read in the morning. For the first time all the passengers 24 in number dined together in the saloon.

Wednesday September 21, 1864

A nice calm day. The ship scarcely moving. In the morning about 10 we saw a shark. The sailors succeeding in catching it just before noon, with a large iron hook and a piece of salt pork as bait. There were a great many pilot fish swimming about with it. They are very pretty, with alternating blue and black stripes across them. In the evening we had dancing on deck. The Captain joining us in Auld Lang Syne, which we had in the true Scotch fashion – all taking hold of hands at the last verse.

Thursday September 22, 1864

A fine morning but showery afternoon. We practised some of our old D????. I am reading MaCaulays Lays of Ancient Rome, which are most interesting. The sunset was very beautiful. We danced after tea till 11 pm. We have been sailing about 8 knots all day, but too much to the westward. We had some shark for breakfast which tasted very much like sole.

Friday September 23, 1864

A fine day. Much colder than we have had it lately. I practised in the morning. Just six weeks today since we left Plymouth. We danced in the evening.

Saturday September 24, 1864

A fine day and favourable wind. I practised and worked in the morning. We danced all the evening.

Sunday September 25, 1864

A cold and rather rough day. Prayers were read in the saloon. In the afternoon (6 pm) we went to the sailors service. A very good sermon was read from genesis c vii bi, Come thou and all thy house into the ark. In the evening we had music. We saw a ship in the distance.

Monday September 26, 1864

A cold dull day. I was dressed rather earlier than usual and had about half an hour walk on the deck before breakfast. We saw a great many porpoises jumping about in the water – also saw a cape pigeon. We danced for a short time in the evening but were obliged to go down on account of the rain. We tried a quadrille in the saloon but there was scarcely room enough and some of the people objected to the noise. All the windows have been boarded up today as the Captain expects rough weather.

Tuesday September 27, 1864

A very rough day. The windows were fortunately boarded up yesterday, as today the waves have several times been over the Deck and the Cabins are very wet. We were reading and working this morning, when a wave came over the deck and into the saloon. We were obliged to sit on the table and on the back of the seats while the water was being baled out. We went on deck about half an hour. It was amusing at dinnertime to see everyone holding onto their plates and glasses. In the evening we played at old maid.

Wednesday September 28, 1864

A very rough day. We have not been able to go on deck as it has rained incessantly and the waves kept coming over. It is very uncomfortable downstairs, as the saloon is very wet and the water is floating in the cabins. Two boys and the Stewarts sic were baling the water out all night. We could not sleep as the water made a most dreadful noise. The cabins are rather dark as the windows are boarded up. The waves are running mountains high. A regular Cape sea. There are a great many cape pigeons about.

Thursday September 29, 1864

A fine day. The sea not quite as rough. The ship still rolling about and shipping heavy seas. In the evening we had round games.

Friday September 30, 1864

A squally day. The weather cold but bracing. We could not walk about so sat and had ropes fastened round us to prevent us from slipping.

Saturday October 1, 1864

Another rough day. In the evening we sighted the Islands of Tristan d Accuna, Nightingale and Inaccessible. Tristan d Accuna is the only one inhabited. It belongs to the British. There are about 700 people.

Sunday October 2, 1864

A rough but bright day. We were on deck nearly all day. Prayers were read in the saloon. After tea we went to the Sailors Service. We had to walk through the water to get to the fore-part of the ship. We afterwards walked for a short time and then had some singing.

Monday October 3, 1864

Not quite as rough as yesterday but very cold.

Tuesday October 4, 1864

The weather fine but the ship rolling very much. Early in the morning a man fell from the rigging and sprained his hand and just after breakfast a man smashed the middle finger of his right hand.

Wednesday October 5, 1864

A beautiful day, light breeze doing very little. We have been on deck nearly all day. We each hemmed a scarf for the sailor boys. I practised for a short time.

Thursday October 6, 1864

A wet evening but very beautiful afternoon. We are sailing along much faster than yesterday. We worked and read in the saloon all the morning and after lunch walked about the deck.

Friday October 7, 1864

A showery day. We were on deck all morning. I have finished reading Charles O’Malley a very interesting tale by Charles Lever.

Saturday October 8, 1864

A miserable day. It has scarcely ceased raining. We were unable to go on deck. Practised for a short time afterwards played backgammon with Doctor and won two games out of three. In the evening we had a little music and singing. About 1 am we rounded the Cape.

Sunday October 9, 1864

A beautiful day and going along well. We were on deck all the morning. Prayers were read in the saloon. In the evening we went to the service at the forecastle. Harry read a sermon – the text of which was I am the way. We walked on the deck for about an hour and afterwards sang till 10 pm.

Monday October 10, 1864

A very fine day but the sea rather rough. As Papa and I were walking on the deck a wave came over and wet us very much. I practised for about an hour. In the evening we walked on the deck. The moon was very bright. There was a lunar rainbow.

Tuesday October 11, 1864

A fine day but the wind very cold. We were on deck for about an hour and a half in the morning but were obliged to walk all the time. Since noon yesterday till noon today we have made 266 miles.

Wednesday October 12, 1864

A very rough and rainy day we were not able to go on deck. The Doctor played chess with me and won. In the evening we played round games.

Thursday October 13, 1864

A rough day. We were able to be on deck for about an hour. I practised. In the evening we had music.

Friday October 14, 1864

A fine day but scarcely any wind – the ship still rolling. Very cold. The thermometer at 8.50 am in the saloon 44 1/2 º Fahrenheit. I played chess with the Doctor. In the evening we had round games.

Saturday October 15, 1864

A fine cold day. We played ___ on the deck in the afternoon. Blanche and I practised ___ Duetts. In the evening we had some music – walked on deck from 9 – 10 pm. A beautiful moonlight night.

Sunday October 16, 1864

A beautiful morning but rather showery afternoon. We were on deck nearly all day. Prayers were read in the saloon. In the evening we went to the service at the forecastle and read a very good sermon. The text was “Therefore be ye also ready”. We saw a whale spouting. It looked like a ship in the distance. We stayed on deck till 9 pm and then had music.

Monday October 17, 1864

A very wet day. I read ___ till noon and afterwards played two games of chess with the Doctor which lasted till 3 pm.

Tuesday October 18, 1864

A beautiful morning but very rough afternoon. There was snow for the first time during the voyage. We were on deck till lunch. There were a great many birds flying about.

Wednesday October 19, 1864

A rough cold day. Several under ___. We would not have gone on deck but the Captain called us to see a whale. There were three but all of a small size.

Thursday October 20, 1864

A very rough day and snowing almost incessantly. We were on deck for about a quarter of an hour. The wind which was from the south was dreadfully cold. I finished reading R___ by Sir E Bulwer Lytton.

Friday October 21, 1864

A squally day and very cold. We were on deck for a short time. Blanche and I practised Duetts in the evening. Mr Ringwood played chess with me.

Saturday October 22, 1864

A beautiful day. We were on deck till lunch. Since noon yesterday we have sailed 226 miles.

Sunday October 23, 1864

A showery day. Prayers were read in the saloon at 1.45 pm. We were on deck for some time in the afternoon. In the evening we went to the service at the forecastle. Harry read a very good sermon from Mark c vi v 12 – And they went out and preached that men should repent. The weather is much milder. We stayed on deck till 9pm.

Monday October 24, 1864

A very fine and showery day. We read the journal that Jack wrote on his passage to Adelaide and find that he spent his time nearby in the same manner as we do. I played chess with Mr Ringwood. We had a walk for about half an hour before lunch. In the evening we read and had round games. We have been becalmed nearly all day.

Tuesday October 25, 1864

A beautiful day. We were on deck nearly all the morning. We are going about 6 knots an hour.

Wednesday October 26, 1864

A very wet day and contrary winds. We had a consultation game of chess. Mr Ringwood and I played against the Doctor. The game was not finished at 10 pm so we were obliged to leave it till the next morning.

Thursday October 27, 1864

A showery day. We finished our game of chess, which lasted 4 hours. The Doctor won. We were on deck for about an hour.

Friday October 28, 1864

A very wet day. We were not able to go on deck. I finished The Pirate by sir Walter Scott. It is very interesting. I practised for about an hour. We have made progress since yesterday. The wind has been blowing from the east. Mr Ringwood and I played chess against the Doctor and we won.

Saturday October 29, 1864

A fine day and doing well. We were on deck all the morning.

Sunday October 30, 1864

A fine morning but very wet afternoon. We all thought last week that we should have been in Adelaide today. We were on deck till lunch. Prayers were read in the saloon at a quarter to ___. A breeze sprang up at 4 pm and lasted till 10 pm. During that time we went about 14 knots. It then suddenly changed and the ship rolled about dreadfully. We could not go to the Sailors Service. We were off King George’s Sound about the middle of the night.

Wednesday November 2, 1864

A beautiful morning but very wet afternoon. We were on deck till lunch and afterwards for about an hour and a half I practised. Blanche and I read The Gentleman of Verona.

Thursday November 3, 1864

A very beautiful day. We had a walk for nearly two hours directly after breakfast. They are busy cleaning the paint and varnishing.

Friday November 4, 1864

A fine day but not going on very well

Saturday November 5, 1864

A fine day. We had two consultation games of chess with the Doctor. Mr Ringwood and I lost.

Sunday November 6, 1864

An unpleasant day. The wind hot. We walked about. On deck in the morning. There was service as usual in the morning but my head ached so dreadfully that I was unable to attend. At 11.30 pm land was seen and about half an hour after the light at Kangaroo Island.

Monday November 7, 1864

A beautiful day. I woke about 5 am and saw the land from the porthole. We were on deck about an hour before breakfast. The land at ___ looked rather low and barren. We were busy packing in the morning. After lunch addresses were presented to the Captain and Doctor. We anchored about noon. The health officer came on board immediately. Jack and Mr Lewis arrived about 4.30 pm. There was to have been a dance in the evening and the Captain wished Jack to stay on board but as Mr Lewis was with him we thought it advisable to land. We went in a boat to the Semaphore, drove to the station and came to town by 6.15 pm train. We proceeded immediately to St Lukes Parsonage, which Jack has taken ___ for ___ ___. Mr and Mrs Lewis Mr and Mrs ___ dined with us. There was a letter from Elisa