Last word on NaNo… (for now!)

This is the fourth year I have attempted the challenge of writing 50,000 words in the month of November. I didn’t decide till the last minute, for several reasons – I was three-quarters way through another book I’m writing, I seemed to have hit a bit of a slough with writing anyway, I had an empty head – empty of any ideas.

I was undecided up until the last moment, the actual day the challenge started, November 1st and then I plunged in. The challenge is supposed to be a new novel, but I only had half-started ones, so I went for an idea I’ve been playing about with, of writing a sort of memoir, sort of family history, but using my imagination to make it more interesting and detailed than if I just tried to remember particular things from my childhood.

The connecting thread running through my stories is the River… the River in actual fact is many rivers, the Cam from my early years in Cambridge, the Mersey, the Irwell and the Medlock from living in Manchester, the Axe from living in Somerset, the Bann and the Bush from visiting Ireland so many times. I wrote quite a few stories about the Cam and my experiences, by it, on it, in it, and also its own story, where it comes from, what it’s like, where it goes and which other rivers join it on its way. I returned to the Cam with memories of it freezing over in years gone by, and from there I explored skating on the Cam and other fenland rivers and waterways, and became intrigued and involved with the story of a party of skaters in 1903 who had a tragic accident.

I started to write about the Irwell in the same way, but I got side-tracked by the actual river, and there is not much about me and my time in Manchester… something to go back to… ditto the Medlock and the Mersey.

I felt sure that since I am now living by the River Axe, a few hundred yards from it in fact, that I would write a lot of my own story; in fact I got involved in someone else’s life story, a man who died nearly sixty years ago, drowned in the Axe while trying to save someone else. While researching him, I came across a distant cousin of his, who also drowned at a similar age but in a river round he other side of the world, the  Campaspe in Victoria state,  an inland intermittent river… however in my writing the river played a very small part, I was  more interested in the life of the man before he sadly died. In turn I became interested in the pub his father owned for a few years, and then the man who built and started the pub thirty years previously – a long way from rivers, and from my own life story!

Of all the rivers I have loved the one which has featured most and in most of my novels has been the River Bush; I wrote about it, but again it was more the factual side of it… and so to with the bann, and then somehow St Brenadn was brought into my mind, St Brendan who is supposed to have gone on an amazing voyage of adventure… and suddenly I was writing about him and his companions and their experiences on the sea in boats, retelling his story. This in turn made me think of Nicholas of Lynn, a priest and monk who also went on great voyages – or so he wrote! Lynn is King’s Lynn, not far from where the skating accident happened…

Nicholas of Lynn

Somehow I moved away from English rivers to the Mighty Amazon,and my grandfather who went up it to Manaós in the early part of the twentieth century…

What a muddle it all seems looking back… a muddle but if I unpick it and reknit it in a more ordered pattern, maybe I might make something out of it all!

  1. the Cam, in it, on it, by it
  2. the Cam its composition and history and geography
  3. skating on the frozen Cam
  4. tragic skating accident in the Fens in 1903
  5. the story of the young people before and after the accident
  6. the Mersey, the Irwell and the Medlock
  7. the Axe
  8. Edwin Clogg of Looe, Cornwall
  9. Edwin Clogg of the Camberwell Hotel, Victoria
  10. the Camberwell Hotel and George Eastaway
  11. George Eastaway of Bristol
  12. Edwin John Clogg
  13. Arthur Parker the billiard marker
  14. Arthur Barker the farmer
  15. David Hoy the ship builder
  16. The  Bush and the Bann
  17. St Brendan and his voyage
  18. Nicholas of Lynn and his voyage
  19. Reginald Matthews and his journey to Manaós
  20. The Bush and my novels
  21. coracles and curaghs
  22. my writng

 

 

Mr David Hoy

A hero of mine… although I know very little about him…

David Hoy died in Hobart on 9th February 1857, six years after his wife Janet “who died esteemed and much lamented” on January 17th 1851.

His death is recorded on the cemetery index of  St Andrews Presbyterian Church. On the 11th of February, two days after his death a notice was posted in the Colonial Times, announcing a sale of his furniture.

He was 72 years old and had an eventful life since his birth in Scotland in about 1787.

In the Hobart Town Gazette, on Saturday, 7th October 1826, this announcement appeared:

SHIP BUILDING: the colonists will learn with pleasure, that a very handsome brig, built by Mr David Hoy, and called the Apollo, burden 105tons, was launched last week in grand style from the banks of the Derwent. Mr Thomas Atkins, Mr Mason and Captain Laughton, are the spirited individuals who have accomplished this accession to our colonial importance.

David, trained in Boston as a shipwright,  is recognized as turning round the fortunes of the tiny village of Strahan in Macquarie Bay on the west coast of Tasmania. First settled in 1815, like many other Tasmania settlements there was a penal colony on Sarah Island in the Bay, infamous for the dreadful and inhumane treatment of prisoners. However, growing in the area was the Huon pine, which produced the perfect wood for ship-building,  it was particularly resistant to wood rot and therefore ideal in boatyards.

Ship-building started in 1824 and in 1827 8269 logs of Huon pine were collected, as well as other woods. This was the same year as David arrived; he was by then a Master Shipwright, and helped develop Strahan as a centre for ship-building, using convict labour, of course. David is credited with ushering in a surge of productivity and Sarah Island became at that time  the largest shipyard in the whole of Australia.  113 different ships were produced, mainly between the years of 1828-1832. Some of the ships were massive, including a 250 ton barque, six brigs, at least seven schooners and more than 70 other boats. David himself was responsible for designing and building 96 boats.

Sarah Island (credit M.Murphy)

The Sarah Island shipyard closed in 1833 and by 1838 David had moved to Hobart where he married Janet Millar, she was born in about 1785 and may have had a son 17 year old Alexander. Alexander was born and died in Port Arthur and is buried on the Isle of the Dead. Janet definitely had another son called James who was born in 1826; he died early too at the age of 40, and she had a daughter who she was visiting when she died, also of apoplexy.

David was involved in a mutiny in 1834… but that is for another story!

David continued his success as a shipwright in Hobart… and this takes me to what triggered my interest in him; in 1847 he built a barque, The Lady Denison. This was bought by my great-great-grandfather Samuel Moses and his partner, Louis Nathan.  He must have known Samuel, he must have shaken his hand when they did the deal, maybe they took wine together… maybe the Scottish Presbyterian and the Jew were friends?

David’s signature in 1834

Fiction and fact collide

My family were merchants and traders in the nineteenth century and owned a ship called the Lady Denison. This is a fact. In my fiction, an ancestor of Thomas Radwinter was a passenger on the ship when it was wrecked of the coast of Australia – this is pure fiction! here is a post I wrote about the ship:

The Lady Denison was a brig, or maybe she was a barque… she was a wooden, masted ship that is sure and she was owned by my great-great-grandfather and his brother in law, Nathan, Moses & Co. Samuel Moses was my ancestor, Louis Nathan was his brother in law. The ship, brig or barque, was built in Tasmanian at the convict settlement of Port Arthur by the convicts. She was built in 1847 by  David Hoy shipwright, at the dockyards which had opened in 1831

The Lady Denison was 158tons and  traded for Samuel and Louis widely across the pacific and around Australia. In 1850, the Lady Denison was en route for Hobart,  having left Adelaide in Australia on 17th April, captained by a Captain Hammond.  Captain Hammond had already sailed from Hobart to Adelaide three times that year, arriving January 29th, March 1st and April 10th, so the captain and crew were well used to the journey between Tasmania and Adelaide. On board were eleven male and female convicts, three constables, sixteen other passengers and a crew of seven or eight. The passengers included, Mr and Mrs Meyers , two sisters named Crockets, Mr Privasin, Mrs Crampton, Mr Crocke, Mr Fenton, Mr Foster, Mr Fever, Mr Mason, Mr and Mrs Wilkin, Thomas Morton, J. Jones and  J. Richard. There may also have been another passenger, Robert Bolger.

The ship was seen while on her journey she never arrived at her destination. The weather was appalling and two other vessels were lost in the Bass Strait (between mainland Australia and Tasmania) at about the same time. There was wreckage found at the appropriately named Cape Grim, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, and a sealer claimed to have seen her wreckage strewn along the beach near the Arthur River further down the coast; maybe they did more than see the wreckage, maybe they stopped and plundered it.

There were rumours that the convicts on board had managed to overwhelm the constables and crew and sailed the ship across the Pacific to San Francisco, and there were claims that some of the convicts had been seen alive there. This was the time of the gold rush, and it was thought by some that the convicts had headed across the ocean to find their fortune.  In 1853 there was an inquest on a woman who was identified as being one of the convicts on the ship. Maybe some of the convicts survived the shipwreck, it did not necessarily mean that they had taken over the vessel.

It must have been a grievous lost for the families of those on board, and Samuel and Louis who were both deeply religious men must have felt that loss too, and not just for financial reasons.

David Hoy, from Scotland to Tasmania

I wrote this some time ago about an extraordinary man, who had business dealings with my great-great-grandfather in Hobart Tasmania:

David Hoy died in Hobart on 9th February 1857, six years after his wife Janet “who died esteemed and much lamented” on January 17th 1851.

His death is recorded on the cemetery index of  St Andrews Presbyterian Church. On the 11th of February, two days after his death a notice was posted in the Colonial Times, announcing a sale of his furniture.

He was 72 years old and had an eventful life since his birth in Scotland in about 1787.

In the Hobart Town Gazette, on Saturday, 7th October 1826, this announcement appeared:

SHIP BUILDING: the colonists will learn with pleasure, that a very handsome brig, built by Mr David Hoy, and called the Apollo, burden 105tons, was launched last week in grand style from the banks of the Derwent. Mr Thomas Atkins, Mr Mason and Captain Laughton, are the spirited individuals who have accomplished this accession to our colonial importance.

David, trained in Boston as a shipwright,  is recognized as turning round the fortunes of the tiny village of Strahan in Macquarie Bay on the west coast of Tasmania. First settled in 1815, like many other Tasmania settlements there was a penal colony on Sarah Island in the Bay, infamous for the dreadful and inhumane treatment of prisoners. However, growing in the area was the Huon pine, which produced the perfect wood for ship-building,  it was particularly resistant to wood rot and therefore ideal in boatyards.

Ship-building started in 1824 and in 1827 8269 logs of Huon pine were collected, as well as other woods. This was the same year as David arrived; he was by then a Master Shipwright, and helped develop Strahan as a centre for ship-building, using convict labour, of course. David is credited with ushering in a surge of productivity and Sarah Island became at that time  the largest shipyard in the whole of Australia.  113 different ships were produced, mainly between the years of 1828-1832. Some of the ships were massive, including a 250 ton barque, six brigs, at least seven schooners and more than 70 other boats. David himself was responsible for designing and building 96 boats.

Sarah Island (credit M.Murphy)

The Sarah Island shipyard closed in 1833 and by 1838 David had moved to Hobart where he married Janet Millar, she was born in about 1785 and may have had a son 17 year old Alexander. Alexander was born and died in Port Arthur and is buried on the Isle of the Dead. Janet definitely had another son called James who was born in 1826; he died early too at the age of 40, and she had a daughter who she was visiting when she died, also of apoplexy.

David was involved in a mutiny in 1834… but that is for another story!

David continued his success as a shipwright in Hobart… and this takes me to what triggered my interest in him; in 1847 he built a barque, The Lady Denison. This was bought by my great-great-grandfather Samuel Moses and his partner, Louis Nathan.  He must have known Samuel, he must have shaken his hand when they did the deal, maybe they took wine together… maybe the Scottish Presbyterian and the Jew were friends?

David’s signature in 1834

Mutiny! … or not?

I was writing for our village magazine and I mentioned my great-great-grandfather’s ship, the Lady Denison, which may or may not have been overthrown by the convicts on board and sailed from Australia, across the Pacific to San Francisco! here is a post I write last year:

The Lady Denison was a brig, or maybe she was a barque… she was a wooden, masted ship that is sure and she was owned by my great-great-grandfather and his brother-in-law, Nathan, Moses & Co. Samuel Moses was my ancestor, Louis Nathan was his brother-in-law. The ship, brig or barque, was built in Tasmanian at the convict settlement of Port Arthur by the convicts. She was built in 1847 by  David Hoy shipwright, at the dockyards which had opened in 1831

Port Arthur penal colony: Attribution: Martybugs at en.wikipedia

The Lady Denison was 158tons and  traded for Samuel and Louis widely across the pacific and around Australia and in 1850, she was en route for Hobart,  having left Adelaide in Australia on 17th April, captained by a Captain Hammond.  Captain Hammond had already sailed from Hobart to Adelaide three times that year, arriving January 29th, March 1st and April 10th, so the captain and crew were well used to the journey between Tasmania and Adelaide. On board were eleven male and female convicts, three constables, sixteen other passengers and a crew of seven or eight. The passengers included, Mr and Mrs Meyers , two sisters named Crockets, Mr Privasin, Mrs Crampton, Mr Crocke, Mr Fenton, Mr Foster, Mr Fever, Mr Mason, Mr and Mrs Wilkin, Thomas Morton, J. Jones and  J. Richard. There may also have been another passenger, Robert Bolger.

The ship was seen while on her journey she never arrived at her destination. The weather was appalling and two other vessels were lost in the Bass Strait (between mainland Australia and Tasmania) at about the same time. There was wreckage found at the appropriately named Cape Grim, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, and a sealer claimed to have seen her wreckage strewn along the beach near the Arthur River further down the coast; maybe they did more than see the wreckage, maybe they stopped and plundered it.

There were rumours that the convicts on board had managed to overwhelm the constables and crew and sailed the ship across the Pacific to San Francisco, and there were claims that some of the convicts had been seen alive there. This was the time of the gold rush, and it was thought by some that the convicts had headed across the ocean to find their fortune.  In 1853 there was an inquest on a woman who was identified as being one of the convicts on the ship. Maybe some of the convicts survived the shipwreck, it did not necessarily mean that they had taken over the vessel.

It must have been a grievous lost for the families of those on board, and Samuel and Louis who were both deeply religious men must have felt that loss too, and not just for financial reasons.

 

Stepping out of history

As part of my story about the Radwinter family which I am writing as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge, I am following a fictitious search for family roots…it is a hobby of mine, to explore my own family origins. Sometimes someone completely unconnected with me seems to sept out of the history, such a person was David Hoy, a ship-builder, originally from Scotland but who came to Tasmania and lived, a and died there.

This is a blog I wrote about him last year:

David Hoy died in Hobart on 9th February 1857, six years after his wife Janet “who died esteemed and much lamented” on January 17th 1851.

His death is recorded on the cemetery index of  St Andrews Presbyterian Church. On the 11th of February, two days after his death a notice was posted in the Colonial Times, announcing a sale of his furniture.

He was 72 years old and had an eventful life since his birth in Scotland in about 1787.

In the Hobart Town Gazette, on Saturday, 7th October 1826, this announcement appeared:

SHIP BUILDING: the colonists will learn with pleasure, that a very handsome brig, built by Mr David Hoy, and called the Apollo, burden 105tons, was launched last week in grand style from the banks of the Derwent. Mr Thomas Atkins, Mr Mason and Captain Laughton, are the spirited individuals who have accomplished this accession to our colonial importance

David, trained in Boston as a shipwright,  is recognized as turning round the fortunes of the tiny village of Strahan in Macquarie Bay on the west coast of Tasmania. First settled in 1815, like many other Tasmania settlements there was a penal colony on Sarah Island in the Bay, infamous for the dreadful and inhumane treatment of prisoners. However, growing in the area was the Huon pine, which produced the perfect wood for ship-building,  it was particularly resistant to wood rot and therefore ideal in boatyards.

Ship-building started in 1824 and in 1827 8269 logs of Huon pine were collected, as well as other woods. This was the same year as David arrived; he was by then a Master Shipwright, and helped develop Strahan as a centre for ship-building, using convict labour, of course. David is credited with ushering in a surge of productivity and Sarah Island became at that time  the largest shipyard in the whole of Australia.  113 different ships were produced, mainly between the years of 1828-1832. Some of the ships were massive, including a 250 ton barque, six brigs, at least seven schooners and more than 70 other boats. David himself was responsible for designing and building 96 boats.

Sarah Island (credit M.Murphy)

The Sarah Island shipyard closed in 1833 and by 1838 David had moved to Hobart where he married Janet Millar, she was born in about 1785 and may have had a son 17 year old Alexander. Alexander was born and died in Port Arthur and is buried on the Isle of the Dead. Janet definitely had another son called James who was born in 1826; he died early too at the age of 40, and she had a daughter who she was visiting when she died, also of apoplexy.

David was involved in a mutiny in 1834… but that is for another story!

David continued his success as a shipwright in Hobart… and this takes me to what triggered my interest in him; in 1847 he built a barque, The Lady Denison. This was bought by my great-great-grandfather Samuel Moses and his partner, Louis Nathan.  He must have known Samuel, he must have shaken his hand when they did the deal, maybe they took wine together… maybe the Scottish Presbyterian and the Jew were friends?

David’s signature in 1834

David Hoy – marooned

David Hoy, Master Shipwright, and Captain Charles Taw of the brig, The Frederick, had been taken prisoner by mutineers as they prepared to sail from Macquarie harbour to Hobart in January 1834

David was powerless to resist,and reluctantly he turned round and let Fare tie his arms; Porter, who was armed with a cutlass, its tip broken off,  took charge and gave him over to Jones as Captain Taw came up on deck and was bound in the same way.

David did not need telling what the plan was, and he must have felt a certain relief that he was not to be murdered where he stood. There was a sliver of new moon in the sky and the shore-line must have been invisible before the dark mass of the land. He was taken back down below to the cabin and supervised by Shires and Barker, he was allowed to get some of his clothes. Unexpectedly Shires and unseen by the others in the darkness, Shires slipped a compass into David’s pocket and a bottle of spirits, wrapped in some of David’s clothes.

“Give me your watch, guv’nor!” Barker demanded suddenly.

It was pointless to try and avoid Barker’s hand diving into his jacket, pointless protesting that the watch had been a gift,  and David stood still, letting the ruffian fumble through his pockets.

David was manhandled back up onto deck and saw the jolly-boat tied up by the ship; he could just make out two of the soldiers, and MacFarlane another convict, sitting on board by the light of the lantern. It must have been puzzling him how the four soldiers on the Frederick had all been overpowered by the convicts; what he did not know was that two of the men had illicitly taken the little jolly-boat and gone ashore. They had been given permission to do so earlier in the day, maybe they thought the permission extended all day, maybe they were just taking advantage of the quiet evening and others on board settling down for the night.

Whatever their motivation, the two soldiers were away when the mutiny took place. Was that the trigger for the mutineers? The captain and the shipwright were taking their ease in the cabin below, only two of the soldiers on board, no doubt enjoying a pipe or two after dinner before retiring to their bunks or hammocks. Somehow the soldiers were quietly and unknowingly separated from their weapons because the the mutiny was planned, not just a spur of the moment decision to take advantage of an opportunity for freedom. Barker, the leader of the mutineers,  was a gunsmith by trade, and had secretly been making weapons during the winter at the settlement.

David and Taw were directed into the dinghy, along with the acting mate, James Tait, one of David’s shipwrights. Also on the water was the whale boat and the men onboard ordered those on the dinghy to bring it round and it was taken in tow by the Frederick.  Later, the new prisoners in the jolly-boat were obliged to pull for the shore followed by the whale boat which contained four armed mutineers. The provisions were delivered as promised by the mutineers

One part of the horrific adventure was closing; on the morning of the 14th January, David and his companions were set ashore with MacFarlane and another convict, Nichols. The mutineers treated their captives honourably in their way. Although they were marooned a week’s jouney from the nearest settlement, they were given half of the ships provisions including bandages and medicaments for the injuries they had suffered.

With the weather and tide set fair,and shortly after daylight,  the Frederick weighed anchor and crossed the bar and set off in a south-south-westerly direction on a remarkable voyage which ended in Chile several months later.

I don’t claim this is 1005 accurate; I have taken the details from court reports and newspaper articles from the time, and have used imagination to fill in any gaps. No doubt there are inaccuracies and mistakes, but I just wanted to try to tell David’s remarkable story!