I’d never been to the National Archives and had only ever seen it on TV, on Who Do You Think You Are. As I approached the doors, I could almost hear Mark Strong (who narrates the progarmme) say, “Nick is going to the National Archives to find some information on….”
So what information was I looking for? Well, I wanted to find something on the voyage of the Marquis of Hastings, the convict ship which took Stephen Hedges and 177 other felons to Australia in 1828. Having gone through all the first time procedures and having obatined my Reader’s Ticket, I consulted the catalogue and found two documents.
I only had time to look at one which was the Surgeon’s Journal (above) written during the voyage by William Rae. This sounded particularly helpful, and although my ancestor wasn’t one of the patients (fortunately for him of course), the document gives a great insight into the prisoners and their health – not least the conditions they must have endured.
Furthermore, the document contains a daily list of longitiude and latitude, wind direction and weather conditions which, for me, is just the sort of thing I wanted to know from an artistic point of view – especially as regards the weather and cloud formations.
I will transcribe some in due course and return to the Archives soon to look at the other documents.