As would be expected, meals were provided to all Settlers on their passage to the Cape Colony. The items comprising the meals were set out in detail in the Dietary Tables of the Algoa Bay Emigration Ships.
Not only did these requirements specify the composition of the meals but also the bedding & the sleeping arrangements regarding unmarried women. Included are also the unofficial but quaint methods of food provisioning. Moreover, certain Party leaders would impose their own versions of control.
Main picture: Model of the Weymouth
One has to be cognisant of the fact that these voyages were undertaken in an era of sail when the length of the journey was dependent upon the forces of nature. The average voyage duration was 75 days but under adverse conditions, the journey could take as long as 105 days.
Furthermore, the understanding of what comprised a balanced diet was rudimentary at best. What alleviated this repetitive diet and probably the paucity of vitamins was the revictualling stop at the Madeira, Cape Verde or Canary Islands where fresh produce was procured.
In the first part of this blog, I have utilised the details provided by John Centlivres Chase in his book The Cape of Good Hope & the Eastern Province of Algoa Bay in which he details how Joseph Christopher handled all of these issues in 1842.
The cost of a passage to the Eastern Cape was as follows:
- Cabin – £ 38
- Intermediate – £ 24
- Steerage – £ 12 12s
In his book, John Centlivres Chase lists what the dietary provisions were in 1842 on Joseph Christopher’s’ ships. It states that steerage passengers – the accommodations allotted to the passengers who travel at the cheapest rate – were to be split into messes of six or more and victualled as follows per adult:
To modern palettes, this diet would have been classified as extremely bland, and possibly even inedible. With no refrigeration facilities available, all of these items were preserved in some manner or other. In essence, meals comprised a portion of meat or fish with a variety of carbohydrates. As can be expected, there were no fresh vegetables on the menu.
Surprisingly, given the milieu, the Regulations stated that women were entitled to the same rations as men with children receiving a pro-rata share based upon their age. The fact that it clearly stated that children under twelve months old were NOT entitled to any rations, begs the question of how their dietary needs were catered for?
Fresh meat & “soft bread” – presumably non-stale bread – was supplied until the ships passed the Downs and as landing opportunities arose.
As the passage averaged 75 days, provisions for 105 days were provided for as per the relevant Act of Parliament.
For the sake of cleanliness, new beds and bedding consisting of a mattress, bolster, two blankets and a rug were provided free of charge. By all accounts, sleeping accommodation was Spartan with open plan “berths.”
After the Steerage passengers – equivalent to today’s cattle / economy class – came the Intermediate Passengers. Like today’s Business Class, they were entitled to a selection of alcoholic drinks. Per diem, the following selection was on offer: 1 pint of Ale or Porter [sic] and ½ pint of wine or a ¼ pint of spirits. As with the rations, no seconds were allowed.
However, it was incumbent upon the passengers to provide their own beds but to make their voyage more congenial, they were provided with enclosed berths.
The general issues relating to all Emigrant Parties were as follows:
- All emigrants had to be vaccinated
- All married couples had to carry their Marriage Certificates
- All children had to possess Baptismal Certificates
- Testimonials were optional
To underscore the fact that the nineteenth century was still the Dark Ages of Medicines, Joseph Christopher only lists medicinal comforts and not any items recognisable as medicines as such.
For every 100 passengers, including children, Medical Comforts were provided in the following proportions:
- 7lbs arrowroot
- 30lbs preserved beef
- 100 pints lemon juice and sugar to mix with it
- 40lbs Scotch barley
- 12 bottles Port wine
- 12 bottles Sherry wine
- 200 gallons of Stout
- 20 gallons of Rum
- 10 gallons of Brandy
In the case of illness, Barley was served and only if required, 7 ounces molasses per week substituted 6 ounces of sugar and ½ pint of oatmeal per day for the rice and potatoes.
The Medical Comforts were issued free as the Surgeon “deemed proper”. Finally women wet-nursing were entitled to a pint of Stout daily.
Parker’s party aboard the East Indian
By today’s standards, quaint methods of food provisioning were the order of the day and it seems that many a settler even took aboard small livestock, certainly poultry, with which to provide themselves and their families with fresh meat during the voyage. One wonders where these animals were caged and what they were fed.
Of particular interest is the party leader himself, William Parker.
At best, Parker was an ambiguous man requiring the total submission to his authority, of all of the settlers aboard the East Indian. To this end, he drafted a set of Rules entitled “Rules for the Maintenance of Order, Morality and Good Conduct….” which was printed in a small booklet. Furthermore, William Parker demanded that each and every one of the settlers sign it as acceptance of these restrictive conditions.
These rules provided inter alia for:
- A strict attention to moral and religious duties, the due observance of the Lord’s Day, a regular attendance at public worship and the religious education of their children.
- On conviction for blasphemy, profane or indecent language, or behaviour, of drunkenness, gambling, notorious neglect of public worship, or profanation of the Lord’s Day, a fine of RxD1 would be levied against an articled servant and RxD2 against a non-articled servant.
- That as sobriety was the best auxiliary to health, industry and happiness, no houses for the sale of spirituous , vinous or malt liquors would be allowed in the settlement
- Et cetera
However well-intentioned by Parker, the rules were indeed a stiff discipline to inflict upon those yearning for a freer life. Furthermore, it created resentment amongst the non-Protestants in the party.
Needless to say, the Parker Party soon fractured into dissident groups under his harsh regulations which were deemed to be overtly patronising.
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Earliest Photographs
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Empire units in P.E. during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Defences during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memorials to the Fallen in War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fire Damage to the P.E. Advertiser in 1913
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Albany Road
Algoa Bay before the Settlers: Sojourn by Henry Lichtenstein in the Early 1800s
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Growth of the Population
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Murders most Foul
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era
Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House
The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968
A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square
The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium
Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth:
The Shameful Torching of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof:
The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth
What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?
A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth
The Cape of Good Hope & the Eastern Province of Algoa Bay by John Centlivres Chase
Settlers to the Cape: A History of the Clanwilliam 1820 Settlers from Cork Harbour by Graham Brian Dickasonq