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Reproduced courtesy of Judy Holt

Loose pages from the diary of Mary Armstrong, matron on the emigrant ship SEVERN in 1863

Date: 1863 - 1864
Overall: 337 x 196 x 1 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Judy Holt
Object Copyright: © Judy Holt
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Diary
Object No: 00046486

User Terms

    Loose pages containning a diary entries dated: "4th Thursday" to 13th Saturday" from the diary written by Mary Armstrong matron on board the SEVERN in 1863 travelling from England to New South Wales and on board the ALFRED in 1864 travelling to England from New South Wales.
    SignificanceMary Armstrong's diary is an important surviving record for this part of Australia's maritime history, especially so being of medical interest and presenting the female travellers' viewpoint.
    HistoryMary Armstrong, an English woman, entered a contract with the New South Wales Government in 1863 to occupy the position as Matron on the emigrant ship SEVERN in return for a salary and free passage to New South Wales for her son.

    Mary kept a detailed diary of this voyage recording most useful information about daily life on an emigrant transport. The diary touches on the hardship and grief associated with the death of emigrants and their children. She was also involved with the emigrants' spiritual care and notes in detail the various services and prayers practised enroute. The SEVERN completed the voyage towards the end of 1863.

    Mary did not, however, remain long in New South Wales for the diary continues with a return voyage to England on January 1864 on the ALFRED, this part of the diary follows the fate of settlers returning home. The dangerous nature of these long sea voyages is evidenced by the death of a baby one day from port.

    The diary is accompanied by Mary Armstrong's Emigration Board Contract, dated July 1863, setting out the instructions and duties of Matron on emigrant ships. A manuscript addition is attached to the contract. It is signed by the New South Wales Agent General and details Mary's salary.

    Book of Prayers.This contains favourite prayers and sermons collected by Mary during the 1850s (paper watermarked 1855). She obviously used the prayers during religious instruction of the emigrants.
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