After my research in the National Archives, I took the document I’d discovered (the Surgeon’s Journal from teh voyage of the Marquis of Hatings’ 1828 voyage) and plotted the longitude and latitude references into Google Earth. Given that these measurements were taken in 1828, I wasn’t sure what the results would be, but having entered them, I was pleased with what I ended up with.
The voyage began on the 29th June 1828 in Portsmouth. The weather that day is described as ‘Dry, Cirrus, Cirrus Cumuli,’ and the temperature 74F. In reading these tiny details, the moment is straight away prised from the pages of history, as if a character from a fictional tale has, all of a sudden, become reality. They are small details but manage in their succinctness to paint a bigger picture.
Below is a screenshot from Google Earth showing the start of the voyage and the first 7 days of the journey.
One can only guess at what the prisoners must have felt leaving the country for what they surely knew would be the last time. Given the conditions some (including my ancestor, Stephen Hedges) had suffered on the prison hulks (the York in his case) it might have come as some relief that they were finally moving – not that the conditions would be be much of an improvement during the voyage.
Below are screenshots showing the route of the ship, with each yellow pin representing one day of the voyage.
Having mapped the journey in this way, and having read the descriptions of weather and temperature, the voyage and indeed the ordeal of my ancestor’s Transportation suddenly became more real. It was as if beforehand, the world of 1828 was purely a fiction, and that the names of the towns, islands and landmarks – Portsmouth, The Lizard, Tenerife and Sydney for example – just happened to have the same names as those – unconnected – places in the present day. Suddenly, the world of the past and the world of the present had collided.
The image below shows the last leg of the journey.
The last entry by William Rae (the ship’s surgeon) is dated the 28th October 1828 and reads: ‘nearing the same (Sydney Cove) since the 23rd. Prisoners disembarked.