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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Voyage of the "Canton" (Part I)

On September 15th, James Gammell, John Grant, Linus Miller, and Jacob Beemer, plus more than two hundred British convicts were received on board the Canton, as Miller described, “with about as much ceremony as would have been shown to as many swine.” One week later, on Sunday morning September 22, 1839, the boatswain called, “All hands weigh anchor!” Miller recalls the departure:

As the sailors manned the windlass and half chanted, half sung, the customary song, so touching and appropriate to the occasion, it seemed to me that the anchor of hope, which held my soul to earth, was being torn from the rock of faith, and confidence in God…The remainder of my days were, perhaps, all to be spent with the outcasts of earth, and friends, and home, and country, never to be enjoyed again, except through the kind offices of memory.(1)

The Canton was not the first British ship to transport convicts to Australia, nor was it the last. From 1787 to 1868 more than 160,000 men, women, and children(2) were exiled under what the British government called “The System” or “transportation.” Rather than build more prisons or fill more hulks to deal with its growing convict population, they had devised a system of human trash disposal that seemed to have real merits. The felon was “mercifully” left alive, and yet he was still completely removed—out of sight and out of mind; thus “transportation got rid of the prison as well as the prisoners.”(3)

The first convict voyage to Australia in 1787 took eight months, spending ten weeks in ports along the way to replenish supplies of food and water. By the time the Canton sailed in 1839, the voyage was faster and safer, and the vessels roomier, relatively speaking, although, from our modern point of view, conditions were still primitive. The Canton would have sailed south toward Rio de Janeiro, flying the red and white pennant that identified a convict vessel. Instead of going as far west as Rio, she landed November 10th at Tristan de Cunha, a tiny island in the South Atlantic, midway between South America and South Africa, to buy fresh meat. From there she sailed nearly 7,000 miles eastward around the cape of Africa to Van Diemen’s Land. The whole voyage took just under four months (112 days), and covered nearly 16,000 miles.(4)

Most convict ships were converted cargo vessels. The hull was as narrow and deep as possible. “This was fine for cargo, but terribly uncomfortable for convicts, as narrow hulls were less stable than beamy ones, and rolled violently.”(5) As soon as the Canton entered the open sea and the sails were unfurled, the seasickness set in. In a short time all but a few of the 240 convicts on board were ill: “Accounts were ‘cast up’ without ceremony, not only on the floor but in the berths; and our apartment was rendered truly horrible. An entire week passed before it would be properly cleansed.”(6)

In general the accommodations were far better than James and his companions had experienced on the Captain Ross. The Canton’s prison quarters were on the middle deck, and the height between decks was a roomy six feet eight inches. The berths, each large enough for five men, were arranged in two rows, each double-height (a berth above and one below) against the hull, with a walkway down the center. At night thirty hammocks were slung in the center space. The only air came from the two hatchways, which were always open, but secured with iron bars. The berths and the floors were kept clean.(7)

Since the early years of transportation the convict diet had been improved, mainly in an effort to prevent outbreaks of scurvy, a dreaded disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, which had killed hundreds of sailors over the centuries. Dr. James Lind discovered the cause of scurvy in 1753, but for many decades thereafter it remained a challenge to provide the necessary fresh fruits and vegetables on a long voyage. Despite a ration of lime juice aboard another convict ship, the Buffalo, some prisoners began to display symptoms:

Our teeth loosened in our heads, and often were so painful as to quite produce delirium. Scarcely a day passed…‘but some one of us had one, two, three or four teeth extracted, and some were obliged to call the doctor from his berth in the middle of the night to extract teeth for them.’ [They] feared they would all be toothless before they reached port. Luckily, the ship [Buffalo] called into Rio de Janeiro to resupply with fresh provisions before the scurvy became life threatening.(8)

Aboard the Canton, James and his fellow convicts were given lime juice, sugar, and vinegar to prevent scurvy, as well as a “daily half-pint of port wine to keep their spirits up.” Each man received a daily ration of ship biscuit (hardtack), salt cured meat, pea soup, and suet pudding, with sweetened tea for breakfast and cocoa for supper. Prisoners were allowed on the deck for fresh air and exercise as often as possible, to prevent the mental and physical deterioration that comes from being chained to a berth for weeks at a time. Convicts were not shackled in chains while the ship was in open water, but they could be chained in emergencies or for punishment. Still there were enough soldiers with loaded guns on board ship to stand guard at all times. During storms, however, prisoners were confined to the hold in the dark, holding fast to anything stable to keep from being thrown about with the rolling of the ship.(9)

As the Canton passed the Bay of Biscay and the Canary Islands, and neared the equator, the heat became “almost insufferable.” The air was stifling and the sun blazing hot: “There was only one word spoken or thought—one yearning idea in every mind—water.” Three pints a day were allotted to each convict—three pints of “putrid and blood warm” water. Still it wasn’t enough, and some men became half deranged from thirst.(10)
  1. Miller, pp. 241, 244.
  2. Hughes, The Fatal Shore, pp. 2, 578. Wait, p. 116. Wait witnessed the arrival on the hulk of 50 boys under age ten, all condemned to seven, ten, or fourteen years in Van Diemen’s Land.
  3. Hughes, p. 40.
  4. Miller, pp. 251-252, 255.
  5. Hughes, pp. 151-52; p. 623, note #58.
  6. Miller, p. 245.
  7. Miller, p. 243.
  8. Pybus, American Citizens, British Slaves, p. 63.
  9. Hughes, p. 153; Miller, p. 243.
  10. Hughes, p. 152; Miller, p. 247.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Elvira Miller’s Letter to Her Brother

Elvira Miller’s letter to her brother Linus gives a glimpse into the heart-wrenching emotions experienced by grieving families at home, waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones imprisoned in England. For months the families had been kept in suspense. What little information they received came from occasional reports in the newspapers. In this letter of March 4th, Elvira was still hoping that Linus would be acquitted:

STOCKTON, [N.Y.] MARCH 4, 1839.

DEAR, DEAR LINUS, -- With sensations which I shall not attempt to describe, I have taken my pen to address a near and dear, yet far distant brother. Your letter by the “Great Western”(1) was received on Friday last. Till then, we had not received a line from you since November last. The news we then received, was to us not only very distressing, but wholly unexpected. We had fondly hoped and believed that you would soon be restored to liberty and to us; but, alas! time has shown us how little we knew of futurity, and of the men, too, in whose power you were placed. We learned from the papers that the prisoners, under sentence of transportation, had arrived at Quebec, and had embarked for Liverpool, but this was afterwards contradicted, so that we were left in ignorance of your fate…

A few weeks since, we saw an account of the arrival of the Canadian prisoners at Liverpool. A list of their names was given, so that we were no longer in suspense respecting your destiny; but the sweet hope that our Linus would yet be liberated, and that his presence would once more gladden our hearts, seemed entirely to forsake us. Mother’s tears seemed to pour forth afresh, and with a sigh, she said we should never see Linus more. Our hearts were sad. Fancy presented you to our imagination in all the forms of suffering and distress; yet we could not reach forth our hands and administer to your wants. Yet amidst all our sorrows, we did not, I trust, forget that there was one kind friend, whose merciful hand is stretched out still. We did not forget that a just God “rules and reigns in the armies of heaven, and does His pleasure among the inhabitants of the earth.”

About two weeks since, news came in the “Fredonia Censor”[New York], that twelve of the Canadian prisoners had been taken from Liverpool to London, by Mr. Roebuck, under writ of habeas corpus, for the purpose of having tested before the Court of Queen’s Bench, the legality of their sentence of transportation. It also added that an opinion prevailed that the prisoners would be acquitted. O, Linus! should I attempt it I could not describe to you the emotions of my heart on reading this joyful intelligence. I had forgotten to tell you that the names of the prisoners were given, and yours was among the number. We heard nothing more until we received your letter, which created in our hearts a mixture of joy and sadness—of hope and fear…

And now, Linus, if you were only here, I think we should all be very happy. Oh, never, never forget us, nor how much we wish to see you. If you are not liberated at present, I hope and believe that you will be at some future time—if so, do not wait a day, but hasten home and gladden our hearts. Keep up good courage, Linus, and continue to trust in God. May you yet be prosperous and happy, is the sincere wish and prayer of your sister,

Elvira E. Miller
  1. The Great Western was the first steamship built specifically for the Atlantic crossing (1837). It cut the Atlantic transit time in half, regularly making the westward passage typically in 15 days, and the return in 14 days.
  2. Miller, Linus W., Notes of an Exile, pp. 311-312.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Miller and Grant Attempt to Escape

At the end of the London trials, as James describes in his New York Plebeian letter, Miller and Grant were removed to the hulk, and not long thereafter they attempted an escape:

After our arrival in England, we were for some months on board the York Hulk, off Portsmouth… Grant and Miller came down with a gang of horrid looking wretches from Newgate, were sent to work, planned how to escape, but were informed on by Jacob Beemer, the Judas of the party, now a constable in Van Deiman's Land.(1)

During their first two weeks on the hulk, Miller and Grant were shackled in irons and forced to do hard labor on the docks—something the other Patriot prisoners had not been required to do. They left the hulk early each morning in a scow rowed by prisoners and labored at the dock until dark. After two weeks, the captain relented and assigned them to easy duty on Chelsea Beach. Each morning, along with four other prisoners and an armed guard, they pulled a cart to a spring about a mile away from the work site to draw the day’s drinking water for the work crew. This was their only task for the entire day. With time on their hands, they hatched a plan to escape into the country. They proposed to knock down the guard and grab his gun when they reached the spring. Then they would send him and the other prisoners back to the work site, bearing a letter that Miller had written. (The letter outlined the reasons for their escape and the injuries and insults they had endured under British tyranny.) They confided in Gemmell, telling him the details of their plan. He was happy to help by supplying them with a map of the area. At this time James was still expecting a pardon, so he asked for a copy of Miller’s letter to take home with him. Miller agreed.

On the morning of the planned escape Miller and Grant left with the other prisoners for the docks. Meanwhile, back at the hulk, James was anxiously awaiting the news of their success. When sufficient time had passed—time enough, he thought, for them to enact the plan—James told Beemer about the escape and showed him Miller’s letter. Beemer grabbed the letter from James’ hand and ran with it to the captain of the hulk. Captain Nicholson immediately boarded a scow for the beach. He was able to intercept Grant and Miller half an hour before they executed their plan, and ordered them to return with him to the York. On boarding the hulk they first saw Beemer, wearing a “malicious grin.” Next they spotted Gemmell. Devastated by his own foolish decision, he stood:

...leaning against the side of the ship pale as marble, as was always the case when he had committed some egregious blunder. I learned from him that in the unbounded joy of his heart, at the prospect of our escape, and supposing that we were already beyond the reach of treachery, he had made a confident of Beemer…Deeply mortified as I was, I could but forgive Gemmell his indiscretion, for I was certain he meant no evil. I had known him a long time as an honest-hearted young man, and to this day entertain great respect for him on account of his ardent attachment to the cause of Canadian liberty.(2)

Captain Nicholson was remarkably tolerant of Grant and Miller’s escape attempt. He knew that they were honorable men, and he even apologized for the harsh treatment of the first two weeks. Miller recorded that:

During the remainder of our stay at the hulk, Capt. N. was all that he had promised, a true friend. He could not have treated us better. As for the traitor, Beemer, he was scouted from one end of the ship to the other. Not one of the officers would speak to him, and even the convicts shunned him as a greater scoundrel than themselves.(3)

Several weeks later, in mid-September, a convict ship or “bay ship,”(4) as the prisoners called her, appeared like an omen of doom in the harbor off Spithead.(5) Two hundred forty men from the York and the Leviathan were selected for transportation; Gemmell, Grant, Miller, and Beemer were among them. In the end Sir George Arthur’s sentence of “mercy” was upheld, and the last four of the Short Hills prisoners were banished to Van Diemen’s Land, there to endure penal servitude for life.

As James’ descendants, living in an era of air travel, when almost any spot on the earth can be reached within twenty-four hours, how can we possibly comprehend such a voyage? We can only imagine the fear and despair they must have felt, as “before them yawned a terrifying void of time and space.” Even a voyage to the dark side of the moon “could hardly have been worse—at least one could see the moon from England.” That could not be said for Van Diemen’s Land.(6)
  1. Gemmell, New York Plebeian, transcription p. 9.
  2. Miller, pp. 231-234.
  3. Miller, p. 235.
  4. A bay ship was so called after “Botany Bay” penal colony in Australia.
  5. Spithead is a channel off Southern England between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
  6. Hughes, Robert, The Fatal Shore, p. 77.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Trial in London

The twelve Patriots on trial in London were confined at Newgate, a prison that had stood at the same location in London for at least 600 years and was rebuilt four times over the centuries. An imposing fortress with walls several feet thick, Newgate was well known for the public hangings of earlier years that were held just outside the prison walls and always attended by hundreds of people. The corridors and dungeons inside admitted barely any outside light; however, the Patriot prisoners were allowed daily access to the inner courtyard, which was open to the sky. Each day, beginning on January 14th, 1839, the twelve were handcuffed in pairs and transported in carriages from Newgate to Westminster Hall, two miles away. Here, for the next several weeks, they attended the Court of the Queen’s Bench. In the courtroom, crowded with one hundred and fifty barristers, dressed in their gowns and wigs, and a throng of spectators, Lord Denham presided as Chief Justice. Attorney General Campbell, Solicitor General Pollock, and Mr. Wightman were counsel for the crown. Matthew D. Hill, John A. Roebuck, and Thomas Falconer were counsel for the twelve prisoners, who entered or left the court each day to the cheers of a sympathetic crowd outside.(1)

A few weeks earlier, when the prisoners first arrived at Liverpool, two prominent radical reformers, Joseph Hume and John Arthur Roebuck, took an interest in their case, and immediately applied for writs of habeas corpus on behalf of the nine men taken at Toronto, as well as three of the Short Hills prisoners (Linus Miller, William Reynolds, and John Grant.) The main focus of the trial, however, was the group of nine Toronto prisoners, who had never been tried, specifically Leonard Watson and Randall Wixon. These two cases were the only ones heard, and stood to represent the cases of all twelve.(2) Watson was standing before a judge for the first time since his arrest a year earlier. Mr. Hill argued that the prisoner was not convicted. The crown answered: “The prisoner had petitioned and a pardon was granted, that pardon being transportation for life.”(3) Mr. Hill replied: “How could the governor of the province grant a pardon without a conviction? Only the Queen could grant a pardon!” One of the greatest injustices involved those who, like Randall Wixon, were not tried at all, but who petitioned under the Pardoning Act.(4) Wixon had petitioned Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head, confessing his guilt, and praying that pardon might be extended to him. Sir Francis consented to ‘mercy’ on condition of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for 14 years to commence at the date of his arrival in the colony.(5) Mr. Roebuck argued that it was illegal for the prisoners to receive punishment by contract and without a trial. The judgment of the Queen’s Bench in both cases was to uphold the sentence of the Canadian Province.

Both cases were appealed at the Court of the Exchequer at St. James in April. James and his comrades being detained at Portsmouth were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Patriot trials in London. Any concession granted by the court would, no doubt, be extended to them as well. But the second trial resulted in the same decision: the sentence handed down in Upper Canada was valid.(6)

After further deliberation concerning the nine untried prisoners, two choices were left—try them for treason under a faulty sentence, or let them go. Considering the inequity of the Pardoning Act and the resulting public reaction, Her majesty’s government decided to let them go “on Condition of their entering into their own recognizance not to return to Canada, nor to appear within Fifty Miles of the Canadian Frontier.” The document of pardon (July 9, 1839) originally included the names of Linus Miller and John Grant, but the next day their names were removed. The other nine were pardoned. Miller and Grant had been tried by a criminal court and “thus could be legally restrained in Van Diemen’s Land.” Also, having already transported other Short Hills prisoners, a pardon for Miller and Grant would open the door to lawsuits from those already in Van Diemen’s Land.(7)

United States ambassador to the Court of St. James, Andrew Stevenson, intervened on behalf of William Reynolds, who was then granted a free pardon on account of his being the youngest of the Patriot prisoners. (In reality Linus Miller was three years younger, but Reynolds had stated at his capture that he was only eighteen years old.) Ambassador Stevenson tried to procure that same pardon for Miller but was unsuccessful. The pardon of Reynolds and the nine untried prisoners left Miller and Grant, the only two of the twelve brought before the Queen’s Bench to be denied a pardon. During those six long months at Newgate they had hoped for freedom. But according to Miller: “Better had it been for us if those hopes had never been awakened, than that they should have been so cruelly blasted, after being cherished for so long and anxious a period.” On July 14th Linus Miller and John Grant were transported from London to Portsmouth, where they joined Gemmell and Beemer on the York Hulk.(8) Miller and Grant were sent to Portsmouth before any further petition could be prepared. In Van Diemen’s Land any complaints or appeals would be futile, and they would be well beyond the reach of any sympathetic public opinion. (9)

Throughout the London trial, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, James still held out hope for his own release. One final shred of hope came from John G. Parker. He was one of the pardoned men, and one who earlier had escaped from Fort Henry, but was recaptured. Parker’s first concern as a free man was for his friends. He immediately wrote a letter to Linus Miller in which he pledged to lobby for the freedom of the four still imprisoned at Portsmouth:

I cannot express to you the pain I felt on hearing of your departure from Newgate for Portsmouth on the Monday following my liberation. I called on Mr. Francis Hall on Saturday evening—the day I was liberated—but he was not at his lodgings, and I could not see him until Monday morning; I then called on him early, and breakfasted with him, and urged him to see Mr. Stevenson(10) and Mr. Webster(11) in your behalf. Immediately after breakfast he went to see Mr. S. Mr. Webster was out of town to some watering place, but Mr. Hall said he would see him as early as possible and have an interview with him, and endeavor to interest him in your behalf… for without their [their lawyers] efforts, we who have been discharged would now be in the same boat with you; whereas, if the government had discharged all, including you, Grant, Gemmell and Beemer, on the ground of mercy, they would have taken away that lustre from the acts of our lawyers that now so much shines upon them. Mr. Hume told me that he should never lose sight of you, and he hoped that steps would be taken in Parliament to procure the liberation of all under sentence of transportation.

Do not think that I have forgotten or shall forget you. I do not know in what way I may be useful to you, or your fellows. Should any opportunity occur of enabling me to do so, be assured it shall be my greatest pleasure. Give my respects to your fellow prisoners, and may God bless and keep you safely. May you put your trust in Him, and may He be your deliverer.

Your sincere friend,


  1. Miller, pp. 132, 141.
  2. Colin Read, p. 118; Pybus, “Patriot Exiles in Van Diemen’s Land,” p. 190.
  3. Miller, pp. 142-145.
  4. “A London [Ontario] petitioner subsequently complained that he had not known that a petition ‘was tantamount to an acknowledgement of guilt.’ Had he, he would have opted for a trial. The statute (Pardoning Act) had induced many innocents to confess. (Read, p.119.)
  5. Miller, p. 185.
  6. Linus Miller gives a detailed summary of the trials. See Miller, pp. 137-219.
  7. Pybus, “Patriot Exiles in Van Diemen’s Land,” pp 191-192; Read, p. 118; Wait, p. 113.
  8. Linus W. Miller, pp. 218-21, 223.
  9. Pybus, “Patriot Exiles in Van Diemen’s Land,” p. 192; Wait, p. 111.
  10. Andrew Stevenson, the United States ambassador to the Court of St. James, London (1836-41.) The first ambassador (1785) was John Adams.
  11. This is probably Daniel Webster. “In the summer of 1839 Webster, with his wife and daughter, Julia, …made a private visit to England. He was everywhere received in all the highest circles of intellect and culture, as no American had ever been received there before.” (See Webster’s Speeches, pub. 1897, p. xi) He was likely aware of the plight of the American prisoners at Newgate, but would have had no authority to influence the decisions of the Queen’s Bench. Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was an American orator and politician who practiced prominently as a lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court, served as a U.S. Congressman and Senator from Massachusetts, and became Secretary of State (1841).
  12. Miller, pp. 219-221.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The "York Hulk"

Prison Ship York at Portsmouth Harbour, ca.1829,
convicts going aboard,
by Edward William Cooke, 1811-1880
used by permission -  National Library of Australia

At Portsmouth the eleven state prisoners were taken aboard the prison hulk York,(1) “after bidding adieu to the soil of England, upon which [they] were never again to set foot.”(2) Here they would await the verdict for the test cases (Miller, Reynolds, and Grant), the verdict that would determine their fate as well. On January 9th, Linus Miller and his group of twelve were transported from Liverpool to London. Miller wrote that passing from the bustling city streets of London through massive doors of Newgate Prison was “like jumping from Empyrean into the lowest hell.”(3) Fortunately the Canadian state prisoners, during their six months at Newgate, were kept apart from the rest of the prison population, received good rations, and had fairly comfortable accommodations. Gammell and his group on the York were not so fortunate. James describes his first day on the hulk:

After our arrival in England, we were for some months on board the York Hulk, off Portsmouth. We were then taken into a square crib called a wash house, stripped naked, put into a big tub and well scrubbed by two convicts, our hair sheared quite close, and we attired in the convict garb.(4)

The prison garb and shaven head were particularly humiliating to Benjamin Wait. Thus transformed, he would have been unrecognizable to any of his former friends. The government had succeeded in changing men into “the world’s most degraded wretches,” and consigned them to an “undistinguishable state of debasement.”(5)

James was imprisoned for more than eight months aboard the York Hulk, moored in the harbor at Portsmouth about three quarters of a mile from shore. Hulks, or condemned ships, such as the York and the Leviathan, were used as prisons to alleviate the overcrowding at Newgate, and to house convicts awaiting transportation to Australia. The sight of the hulks at Portsmouth “had the look of slum tenements, with lines of bedding strung out to air between the stumps of the masts, and the gun ports barred with iron lattices…They were like floating Piranesi ruins, cramped and wet inside, dark and vile smelling.” Each convict was stripped of his clothing and all of his personal belongings. In exchange he received coarse convict garb and a 14-pound iron, riveted to the right ankle—“a practical discouragement to swimmers.” After a felon was shackled in irons, he was ready to go to work in the government dockyards from dawn to dusk.(6) Thanks to the intervention of kind friends from Liverpool, Gammell and other ten Patriots were not required to do hard labor. They were kept in a ward separate from the English prisoners, and were not required to wear chains—only a ring riveted around one ankle.(7)

Commander Pritchard of the Meteor had highly recommended the eleven men to the officers of the York: “All their conduct on board my vessel warrant the highest encomiums; and, I would add, they are intelligent, praying men.” Also, Mr. Greetham, a barrister of Portsmouth, had paid them a visit on the first day aboard the hulk. John A. Roebuck, the lawyer who would represent the twelve others in the case before the Queen’s Bench, had sent Greetham to act as the resident agent for the Patriot prisoners on board the York. He made arrangements for them to correspond with their friends on trial in London, and provided them “a good supply of paper, pens, and ink.” Greetham’s visit represented a huge concession by the hulk officers. Prisoners were never allowed more than one visit per year, and then only from a family member. For Benjamin Wait, knowing that they had an advocate calmed his mind, at least in the short term. He had for some time “great misgivings [about] being sent to the hulks; [he] felt certain that when placed on them, there would be no probability of leaving, until sent on the transport ship.”(8)

Part of the required routine aboard the hulk was the evening church service. At bedtime a convict would come to the door of the sleeping quarters and read the service. The prisoners would be required to answer “amen” at the end of each prayer. Because the Patriot prisoners were in the habit of holding their own devotionals, morning and evening, they were particularly insulted by this superficial form of worship. Wait made a petition to the commander, who then excused them from the prison ritual and permitted them to worship on their own:

Reading and praying, enabled us to look above for consolation, in the hour of suffering and sorrow; and to give place to that hope which would not only keep us from despondency, but lead us to feel that “all things would work together for good”—that God, in his all wise providence, would give us strength according to our need, and ultimately return us to our homes and to our families.(9)

For the first few months aboard the York, James was confined to the hospital ward on the lower deck, fitted to accommodate over one hundred patients. He was sent to the hospital the very first night, most likely suffering from the effects of the bitter cold and rain during the hurricane. The other ten men were assigned to one of the sleeping wards that held forty men. It isn’t clear what James’ ailment was, but with their shaven heads and the bitter cold January weather, several of the men succumbed to “violent colds and catarrhs.” Wait had spent most of the first night on the hulk pacing quickly back and forth, trying to warm his numb hands and feet.(10)

A model of the York Hulk
on display at the
Australian National Maritime Museum
in New South Wales
(Photos courtesy of the photographer, Phil Barnard)

While James was ill, his friends kept him informed about the proceedings in London at the Court of the Queen’s Bench. They received occasional copies of the London newspaper Weekly True Sun, which reported all the arguments made in the trial of their fellow Patriots. By all reports it seemed obvious that the case would be won, and that their own cases would soon be investigated,(11) but by February Benjamin Wait realized that their London attorneys had abandoned them (the eleven men on the hulk.) Wait had been the spokesman for the group, writing letters of complaint about the intolerable food and frigid cold sleeping quarters, and insisting on better treatment, as well as due process under the laws of England. Some of the letters were actually published in a London newspaper. Those “independent minded” and brash North Americans soon became an irritant, and even a source of embarrassment, to the Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Fox Maule. On March 12, 1839,(12) with less than an hour’s warning, the Patriot prisoners on the York (with the exception of Beemer and Gammell, who was in the hospital ward) were loaded on the Marquis of Hastings to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land.(13) The British government didn’t want to risk the possibility of another embarrassing trial; the lawyers representing the Patriots made no objection, not wanting to jeopardize the outcome of the case in progress at the Court of the Queen’s Bench.
  1. Retired British Navy vessel HMS York (1807) became a prison hulk at Portsmouth in 1819.
  2. Wait, p. 95.
  3. Miller, pp. 130-134. 
  4. Gemmell, New York Plebian, transcription p. 9.
  5. Wait, p. 96-97.
  6. Hughes, The Fatal Shore, pp. 138-140.
  7. Miller, p. 227.
  8. Wait, pp. 86, 95-96, 104.
  9. Wait, pp. 101, 120.
  10. Wait, pp. 96, 99, 100, 122. It is possible that James had pneumonia.
  11. Wait, pp. 112-113.
  12. “The men were detained at Portsmouth until the decision of the Queen’s Bench. The decision of the Exchequer did not worry the Home Office. Orders were sent to the master of the Marquis of Hastings on 16 March that he need be detained no longer and to sail for VDL…” (Pybus, “Patriot Exiles in Van Diemen’s Land,” p. 190, 201.)
  13. Wait, pp. 87, 105-111, 121-124; Miller, pp. 213-214, 227. Wait had recognized early on that it was not philanthropy, but political partisanship (opposition against the Whig Party in power) that was the real motivation for bringing the case of the Patriot prisoners to trial.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Descendants of James Gammell or Gemmell

The first four generations:

This is my list as of August 2010. The Bainbridge and the Brown children are also included here.

If you find errors or omissions, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail message.

(Wouldn't it be interesting to know the total number of Grandfather James' descendants as of 2010?)

1-Harriet FITZGERALD (16 Apr 1816-20 Aug 1848)
+James GAMMELL OR GEMMELL (26 Oct 1814-6 Apr 1881)
. . 2-Orlin Fitzgerald GAMMELL (5 Jul 1846-15 Feb 1932)
. . +Sarah Louise LEWIS (Feb 1853-6 Feb 1912)
. . . . 3-Harriet W. GAMMELL (1877-1958)
. . . . +George ELLINGHOUSE (1880-1949)
. . . . . . 4-Dorothy ELLINGHOUSE (1907-1990)
. . . . . . 4-Frederick Orlin ELLINGHOUSE (1914-1934)
. . . . 3-Alta M. GAMMELL (26 Jul 1879-14 May 1937)
. . . . +Walter MOORE (-)
. . . . 3-Vesta R. GAMMELL (Mar 1882-)
. . . . +Al KNECHT (-)

1-Elizabeth Mahala HENDRICKS (10 May 1828-17 Oct 1851)
+Frederick Nantz BAINBRIDGE (3 Sep 1824-19 Jun 1877)
. . 2-James Wesley BAINBRIDGE (21 Oct 1848-23 Aug 1898)
. . +Sarah Johanna LEWIS (-)
+James GAMMELL OR GEMMELL (26 Oct 1814-6 Apr 1881)
. . 2-Elizabeth Harriet Mahala GAMMELL (23 Jul 1851-9 Jul 1919)
. . +Eli HARRIS (13 Feb 1842-17 Sep 1902)
. . . . 3-Drusilla Elizabeth HARRIS (25 Sep 1868-28 Mar 1906)
. . . . +Ernest Fredrick HALE (4 Sep 1863-29 Sep 1922)
. . . . . . 4-Drusilla HALE (25 Dec 1887-11 Mar 1975)
. . . . . . 4-Grace Virginia HALE (8 Jun 1890-)
. . . . . . 4-Pearl HALE (18 May 1892-9 Jul 1925)
. . . . . . 4-Ernest Grant HALE (3 Apr 1894-)
. . . . . . 4-Golden Harris HALE (12 Apr 1897-)
. . . . . . 4-Alminnie HALE (31 Jan 1901-)
. . . . . . 4-Douglas Ross HALE (22 Jul 1903-8 Jan 1978)
. . . . 3-Eli McGee HARRIS (25 Sep 1870-)
. . . . +Mary Isabelle KARREN (29 Sep 1868-22 Sep 1951)
. . . . . . 4-Oral McGee HARRIS (16 Aug 1891-28 Feb 1962)
. . . . . . 4-Zora HARRIS (9 Feb 1894-)
. . . . . . 4-Cliff Karren HARRIS (27 Jun 1896-28 Nov 1943)
. . . . . . 4-Orlin Langley HARRIS (24 Jan 1899-)
. . . . . . 4-George Gammell HARRIS (20 Jun 1901-)
. . . . . . 4-Edna Belle HARRIS (20 Mar 1904-)
. . . . . . 4-Linden Eli HARRIS (20 Jul 1906-)
. . . . . . 4-Rulon Albert HARRIS (22 Oct 1909-)
. . . . 3-James Gammell HARRIS (17 Nov 1872-2 Feb 1919)
. . . . +Sarah Fransetta COLEMAN (20 Jun 1875-9 May 1931)
. . . . . . 4-James Elmer HARRIS (7 Dec 1893-1 Sep 1969)
. . . . . . 4-Eli Vernon HARRIS (9 Feb 1895-30 Oct 1949)
. . . . . . 4-Amy HARRIS (17 Sep 1896-9 Apr 1912)
. . . . . . 4-Earl Coleman HARRIS (23 Apr 1898-18 Jun 1920)
. . . . . . 4-Harriet (Hattie) HARRIS (1 Sep 1899-8 Jun 1908)
. . . . . . 4-Clinton Dee HARRIS (3 Oct 1901-1 Jun 1934)
. . . . . . 4-Melvin HARRIS (12 Feb 1903-18 Dec 1905)
. . . . . . 4-Francetta HARRIS (6 Nov 1904-)
. . . . . . 4-William Ivan HARRIS (8 Sep 1906-14 Apr 1922)
. . . . . . 4-Fredrick Bryant HARRIS (20 Feb 1908-)
. . . . . . 4-Lucy HARRIS (12 Aug 1912-29 Mar 1918)
. . . . . . 4-Leo McGee HARRIS (13 Jan 1914-)
. . . . 3-Mary Bernes HARRIS (16 Jan 1875-27 Jan 1914)
. . . . +Hiram Phillip SPRATLING (25 Sep 1866-6 Feb 1945)
. . . . . . 4-Mary Bernes SPRATLING (5 Jul 1896-)
. . . . . . 4-George Phillip SPRATLING (9 Aug 1898-1 Jan 1901)
. . . . . . 4-Eli Douglas SPRATLING (11 Aug 1900- 5 Jan 1901)
. . . . . . 4-Alexander Deloss SPRATLING (9 Mar 1902- 21 Sep 1953)
. . . . . . 4-William Glen SPRATLING (7 Jan 1904-)
. . . . 3-Lucy Azeneth HARRIS (23 Mar 1877-6 Jun 1952)
. . . . +William Joseph SALISBURY (10 Oct 1880-)
. . . . . . 4-Guy SALISBURY (16 May 1906-23 Jul 1906)
. . . . . . 4-Bryant SALISBURY (16 May 1906- 16 May 1906)
. . . . 3-Emily Virginia HARRIS (27 Sep 1880-13 Jan 1883)
. . . . 3-Jeanette HARRIS (1 Feb 1883- abt 1884)
. . . . 3-Edna HARRIS (8 Mar 1885-1 Jan 1900)
. . . . 3-Ivy HARRIS (30 Oct 1887-)
. . . . +Joshua Albert BROWER (1 Feb 1885-)
. . . . . . 4-Albert Carl BROWER (16 May 1909-)
. . . . . . 4-Venna BROWER (26 Apr 1913-)
. . . . . . 4-Marjorie Amelia BROWER (3 Jan 1919-)
. . . . . . 4-Melvin Harris BROWER (5 Dec 1925-)
. . . . . . 4-Robert Delano BROWER (20 Feb 1933-)
. . . . 3-Eli Vernon HARRIS (14 Oct 1889-14 Oct 1889)
. . . . 3-William Vernal HARRIS (14 Oct 1889-10 Mar 1962)
. . . . +-Edna Agunda HANSEN (4 Dec 1898-)
. . . . . . 4-Neils Vernon HARRIS (8 Aug 1917-)
. . . . . . 4-Earl Eustace HARRIS (10 Apr 1920- )
. . . . . . 4-Shirley H. HARRIS (14 Mar 1927-)
. . . . 3-LaVerna HARRIS (29 Mar 1892-21 Sep 1961)
. . . . +Ward Willard REYNOLDS (13 Sep 1888-)
. . . . . . 4-Beth REYNOLDS (26 Mar 1916-)
. . . . . . 4-Morgan Ward (Jim) REYNOLDS (3 Sep 1918-)
. . . . . . 4-Ruth REYNOLDS (25 Jan 1921-)
. . . . . . 4-Virginia REYNOLDS (17 Feb 1923-28 Aug 1959)
. . . . . . 4-Margaret REYNOLDS (9 Jun 1925-)
. . . . . . 4-Atella Colleen REYNOLDS (9 Jun 1927-)
. . . . . . 4-Joyce REYNOLDS (13 Mar 1931-)
. . . . . . 4-Billie Lavern REYNOLDS (26 Dec 1933-)
. . . . 3-Effie HARRIS (20 May 1894-28 Jan 1952)
. . . . +Perry Duncan McArthur (6 Mar 1878- 13 Oct 1948)

1-Susan Maria BROWN (9 Apr 1831-3 Feb 1896)
+James GAMMELL OR GEMMELL (26 Oct 1814-6 Apr 1881)
. . 2-Jeanette GEMMELL (25 Sep 1852-12 Aug 1914)
. . +James DUNCAN (20 Jan 1849-16 Oct 1926)
. . . . 3-Christina Maria DUNCAN (14 Aug 1875-5 Apr 1954)
. . . . +Francis Xavier Joseph (Frank) BARIL (16 )ct 1869-30 Mar 1948)
. . . . . . 4-Myron Duncan BARIL (6 Jan 1894-23 Jun 1974)
. . . . . . 4-Frank BARIL (12 Jul 1895-16 Jul 1964)
. . . . . . 4-Odile Jeanette BARIL (19 Sep 1896-2 Apr 1980)
. . . . . . 4-Leo James BARIL (5 Aug 1899-1 Apr 1949)
. . . . . . 4-Ardis Ruby BARIL (26 Oct 1900-14 Dec 1974)
. . . . . . 4-Arcile Margaret BARIL (29 May 1903-19 Jul 1977)
. . . . . . 4-Clarence Charles BARIL (16 Aug 1905-22 Mar 1978)
. . . . . . 4-Wilfred George BARIL (19 Apr 1907-6 May 1987)
. . . . . . 4-Vida Christina BARIL (2 Jun 1909-26 Jul 1984)
. . . . . . 4-Wesley Avril BARIL (25 Oct 1911-28 Aug 1984)
. . . . . . 4-Patricia Louise BARIL (18 Mar 1914-22 Dec 2001)
. . . . . . 4-Eleanore BARIL (1917-)
. . . . 3-Thomas Hugh DUNCAN (8 Feb 1877-17 Jan 1878)
. . . . 3-Charles Henry DUNCAN (26 Dec 1878-19 Mar 1943)
. . . . +Florence Pitcher LYON (-)
. . . . . . 4-Margaret J. DUNCAN (1907-1908)
. . . . . . 4-Virginia DUNCAN (1911-1974)
. . . . 3-Ruby DUNCAN (20 Dec 1880-1960)
. . . . +JOHNSON (-)
. . . . . . 4-Paul Johnson (-1976)
. . . . 3-Andrew Daniel (Dan) DUNCAN (18 Oct 1882-2 May 1940)
. . . .  +Jennie Frank BALL (1888-)
. . . . . . 4-Jeanette Odile DUNCAN (1913-2003)
. . . . . . 4-Burndetta DUNCAN (1917-)
. . . . . . 4-Jane DUNCAN (1921-)
. . . . . . 4-Jackie V. DUNCAN (1923-)
. . . . . . 4- Daniel A. DUNCAN (1925-)
. . . . 3-Thomas Garfield DUNCAN (17 Nov 1884-6 Apr 1961)
. . . . +Alice BARTRUFF (20Sep 1886-)
. . . . . . 4-Byron Lee DUNCAN (1912-)
. . . . . . 4-Barbara Florence DUNCAN (1915-)
. . . . 3-James DUNCAN Jr. (13 Nov 1886-21 Mar 1957)
. . . . +Jenny FLICK (1887-1971)
. . . . . . 4-Elaine Theresa DUNCAN (1910-Feb 1994)
. . . . . . +Lawrence Burdette PRESTON (-)
. . . . 3-Hazel Virginia DUNCAN (13 Dec 1889-19 Oct 1971)
. . . . +Charlie BROWN (-)
. . . . . . 4-Jane BROWN
. . . . . . 4- Margorie BROWN
. . . . 3-Orlin Gemmell DUNCAN (6 Oct 1891-1 Nov 1901)
. . . . 3-George Winfield DUNCAN (1 Feb 1894-1974)
. . . . +Mary Margaret Engdahl JENSEN (1896-)
. . . . . . 4-Mary Ann DUNCAN (1918-)
. . . . . . 4-David Winfield DUNCAN (1919-1960)
. . . . . . 4-George Robert DUNCAN (1921-2007)
. . . . 3-Hugh DUNCAN (1900-1900)
. . 2-Samuel GEMMELL (chr. 26 Sep 1853-bef 1860)
. . 2-Josephine GEMMELL (17 Apr 1854-3 Feb 1911)
. . +Joseph IRWIN (Jun 1843-)
. . . . 3-Hettie IRWIN (abt 1872-)
. . . . 3-Charles C. IRWIN (Apr 1874-)
. . . . 3-Joseph B. IRWIN (Jan 1875-)
. . . . 3-Alty IRWIN (abt 1878-)
. . . . 3-IRWIN (-)
. . . . 3-IRWIN (-bef 1900)
. . 2-James GEMMELL (14 Feb 1856-29 Jul 1873)
. . 2-Charles Harrison GEMMELL (10 Mar 1859-4 Mar 1922)
. . 2-Emily GEMMELL (5 Feb 1861-9 Feb 1861)
. . 2-Andrew J. GEMMELL (5 Feb 1862-10 Mar 1934)
. . 2-Virginia GEMMELL (10 Jul 1865-7 Jan 1942)
. . +William J. GARRITY (-)
. . . . 3-Lucille GARRITY (-)
. . . . +Douglas HUTCHENS (-)
. . . . . . 4-George HUTCHENS (-)
. . . . 3-Helen Virginia GARRITY (1896-1899)
. . . . 3-Beatrice Ann GARRITY (1898-1911)
. . . . 3-Horace GARRITY (-)
. . . . 3-Howard William (Ben) GARRITY (-)
. . . . +Thelma (Betty) LIDDIARD (-)
. . . . . . 4-Shirley GARRITY (-)
. . . . . . 4-Barbara GARRITY (-)
. . . . . . 4-Ben GARRITY (-)
. . . . . . 4-Virginia GARRITY (-)
. . . . 3-Josephine Jeannette GARRITY (-)
. . . . +Harvey WOODMANSEE (-)
. . . . . . 4-JoAnn WOODMANSEE (-)
. . . . . . 4-Billie Lou WOODMANSEE (-)
. . . . . . 4-Janet WOODMANSEE (-)
. . 2-Alice GEMMELL (17 Apr 1867-6 Jul 1912)
. . +Albert JOHNSON (-)
. . . . 3-Minnie JOHNSON (1881-)
. . . . 3-Charley Arthur JOHNSON (1885-)
. . . . 3-Leah Mae JOHNSON (1887-)
. . . . 3-Emmett Harris JOHNSON (1891-)
. . . . 3-Laura JOHNSON (1893-)
. . . . 3-Francis Marion JOHNSON (1895-)
. . . . 3-George Edward JOHNSON (1897-)
. . . . 3-Alice Beatrice JOHNSON (1899-)
. . . . 3-Elmer Raymond JOHNSON (1901-)
. . 2-John A. GEMMELL (3 Oct 1870-27 Jan 1940)
. . +Mrs. Addie O'HARA (17 Jun 1871-18 Mar 1914)
. . . . 3-Bert A. GEMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Ruth GEMMELL (-)
. . . . +SPRAY (-)
. . . . 3-George GEMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Charles GEMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Frederick GEMMELL BINKERD (25 Jun 1913-27 Jul 1973)
. . 2-Katy May GEMMELL (4 Sep 1872-9 Jul 1874)
. . 2-George GEMMELL (1 Jun 1875-4 Apr 1933)
. . +unknown spouse (divorced) children's names unknown
. . +Ida BRAACH (20 May 1894-)
. . . . 3-Billy George GEMMELL (22 Jul 1920-1 Mar 2000)
. . . . +Mary Magnuson (-)
. . . . . . 4-George Denny GEMMELL (1949-)
. . . . . . +Mary Hueth (-)
. . . . . . 4-Harold William GEMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Bobby GEMMELL (20 Sep 1923-)
. . . . +Lois SMITH (-)
. . . . . . 4-Carlene GEMMELL (-)
. . . . . . 4-Robert GEMMELL (-)
. . . . . . 4-Patricia GEMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Betty GEMMELL (-)
. . . . +ELIASON (-)
. . . . 3-Bonny GEMMELL (2 Jan 1928-16 Feb 2010)
. . . . +Raymond GLASSER (-)
. . . . 3-Beatrice GEMMELL (abt 1931-)
. . . . +Jim SPRING (-)

1-Hannah Jane DAVIS (19 Oct 1824-1 Jul 1905)
+Isaac H. BROWN (28 Jul 1819-1851/52)
. . 2-Emily Jane BROWN (18 May 1847-26 May 1847)
. . 2-Isaac Davis BROWN (24 Apr 1848-27 Nov 1927)
. . +Mary Ellen WOOD (-)
. . 2-Hannah Jane BROWN (25 May 1850-30 Jun 1934)
. . +Nelson David CRANDALL (5 May 1834-6 Jan 1893)
+James GAMMELL OR GEMMELL (26 Oct 1814-6 Apr 1881)
. . 2-William Andrew GAMMELL (25 Jul 1853-28 Apr 1929)
. . +Lenora Jane MESSENGER (19 Feb 1857-14 Jul 1913)
. . . . 3-William Spencer GAMMELL (11 Sep 1881-26 Apr 1964)
. . . . +Ethyl DAVIS (abt 1881-)
. . . . . . 4-Mildred GAMMELL (1914-2004)
. . . . . . 4-Creed Davis GAMMELL (1916-1992)
. . . . . . 4-Mary Louise GAMMELL (1921-1928)
. . . . . . 4-John Spencer GAMMELL (1922-1998)
. . . . . . 4-LaRae GAMMELL (1926-1997)
. . . . 3-Horace Blake GAMMELL (27 Oct 1883-13 Feb 1968)
. . . . +Mary Lawson CRANDALL (5 Dec 1888-11 Dec 1923)
. . . . . . 4-Allen Horace GAMMELL (22 Mar 1914-12 Jun 1973)
. . . . . . 4-Raymond William GAMMELL (28 Jan 1917-9 Jul 1991)
. . . . +Emma Marie BUSBY (24 Jul 1899-28 Aug 1982)
. . . . . . 4-Nelda Jean GAMMELL (13 Nov 1930-)
. . . . . . 4-Nancy GAMMELL (16 Sep 1934-)
. . . . 3-Vivian (Viva) GAMMELL (15 Nov 1885-23 May 1968)
. . . . +Phillip Alma OSTLER (22 Oct 1886-28 Aug 1959)
. . . . 3-Cora GAMMELL (14 Nov 1888-26 Nov 1964)
. . . . +Myron MANWARING (9 Jul 1888-16 Jun 1921)
. . . . . . 4-Fred Dwight MANWARING (26 May 1911-25 Dec 1964)
. . . . . . 4-Eugene Dresser MANWARING (16 May 1915-13 Feb 1974)
. . . . . . 4-Virginia MANWARING (30 Jul 1918-11 Mar 2008)
. . . . . . 4-Myron Lon MANWARING (11 Feb 1921-27 Dec 1926)
. . . . +Leroy Johnson BISHOP (17 Aug 1884-26 Aug 1958)
. . . . . . 4-Ray Walter BISHOP (28 Aug 1926-15 Aug 1996)
. . . . . . 4-William Earl BISHOP (20 Jun 1928-22 Jun 1928)
. . . . +Robert W. SCOTT (14 Jan 1883-)
. . . . 3-Reed GAMMELL (26 Aug 1891-19 Aug 1973)
. . . . +Maggie Bothilda FRANDSEN (14 May 1898-15 Nov 1987)
. . . . . . 4-Viva May GAMMELL (5 May 1922-)
. . . . . . 4-Maurine GAMMELL (8 Dec 1923-)
. . . . . . 4-LaDona GAMMELL (17 May 1926-)
. . . . 3-Carl Stanley GAMMELL (18 Oct 1894-14 Mar 1953)
. . . . 3-Lenora LaPriel GAMMELL (17 Oct 1896-17 Dec 1904)
. . . . 3-Fern GAMMELL (24 Jun 1900-27 Nov 1971)
. . . . +Porter B. BRANDSTETTER (1896-)
. . . . . . 4-Marlene BRANDSTETTER
. . . . . . 4-Noralee BRANDSTETTER
. . 2-Mary Edith GAMMELL (11 Oct 1854-16 Jun 1934)
. . +SHENTON (abt 1854-)
. . +James Ezekial MATTHEWS (10 May 1832-11 Nov 1905)
. . . . 3-William H. MATTHEWS (abt 1873-)
. . . . 3-Minnie M. MATTHEWS (30 Oct 1876-)
. . . . 3-Maud MATTHEWS (17 Jan 1878-8 Oct 1961)
. . . . 3-James MATTHEWS (26 Mar 1879-14 Aug 1912)
. . . . 3-George MATTHEWS (6 Feb 1882-12 Oct 1892)
. . . . 3-Ida Fletta MATTHEWS (15 Sep 1887-)
. . 2-Francelia GAMMELL (13 May 1856-1 Dec 1910)
. . +Charlotte Elmira ALEXANDER (11 Aug 1862-14 Sep 1951)
. . . . 3-Ninna GAMMELL (1883-1883)
. . . . 3-Jennie V. GAMMELL (1884-)
. . . . 3-Barbara Jane GAMMELL (10 Aug 1887-30 Mar 1888)
. . . . 3-Martha Lamar GAMMELL (15 Feb 1889-28 Mar 1969)
. . . . 3-Francelia Blake GAMMELL (28 May 1891-4 Apr 1912)
. . . . 3-Katherine GAMMELL (1894-)
. . . . 3-Josephine GAMMELL (1894-)
. . . . 3-William Ray GAMMELL (1897-)
. . . . +Carrie Elizabeth HANSEN (-)
. . . . . . 4-Blake Hansen GAMMELL (1924-2007)
. . . . . . 4-Lola Jeane GAMMELL (-)
. . . . . . 4-Geraldeen GAMMELL (-)
. . . . . . 4-Erma June GAMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Lowayne GAMMELL (1899-)
. . 2-Robert Mahlon GAMMELL (21 Oct 1859-24 Sep 1930)
. . +Mary Ann CLEMENTS (4 Jun 1864-4 Jun 1937)
. . . . 3-Thomas Mahlon GAMMELL (1884-1884)
. . . . 3-Maud May GAMMELL (9 Jun 1886-)
. . . . +James Alfred THORPE (-)
. . . . 3-Clara GAMMELL (30 Aug 1888-)
. . . . +Roy MCKENSIE (-)
. . . . 3-Charlotte GAMMELL (27 Oct 1890-15 Nov 1966)
. . . . +Allie Morris JENSEN (-)
. . . . 3-Ares Brown GAMMELL (-)
. . . . 3-Ernest Clements GAMMELL (7 Feb 1893-)
. . . . +-Madge CARTER (-)
. . . . . . 4-Dorothy GAMMELL (1919-2001)
. . . . 3-William Elmo GAMMELL (8 Aug 1895-1923)
. . . . +-Grace Gallup (-)
. . . . . . 4-Robert William Gammell (-)
. . . . 3-Orelia GAMMELL (1897-1898)
. . . . 3-Myrtle GAMMELL (28 Aug 1900-)
. . . . +Isaac Charles PACKARD (-)
. . . . 3-Clifton GAMMELL (13 Jul 1903-8 Aug 1904)
. . . . 3-Melva GAMMELL (28 Jul 1906-21 Mar 1989)
. . . . +Wilford J GOTTFREDSON (6 Jul 1903-8 Mar 1987)
. . . . . . 4-Glen Robert GOTTFREDSON (-)
. . . . . . 4-Evelyn GOTTFREDSON (-)
. . . . . . 4-Tedd E GOTTFREDSON (-)
. . . . . . 4-H. Lynn GOTTFREDSON (25 Sep 1937-)
. . . . . . 4-Bob Wallace GOTTFREDSON (-)

The next post: The York Hulk

Monday, February 8, 2010

From Liverpool to Portsmouth

On December 17, 1838, the Captain Ross entered the mouth of the River Mersey and dropped anchor in the mist and fog of Liverpool harbor:

There was not one of our number that did not feel thankful to that Providence, who had so wonderfully preserved our lives, and given us strength to endure our sufferings; which were so great that we deemed it almost impossible that all our lives would be spared to the end of the voyage.(1)

A large crowd of curious townsfolk gathered on the dock as the men marched in chains to the carriages. After such degrading treatment aboard the Captain Ross, they were heartened to hear sympathetic sentiments from the crowd: “God bless the brave Canadians, and speedily release and return them to their wives and to their homes.”(2) The prisoners were conveyed to the Liverpool borough jail, known as “the old French prison.”(3) It was a massive and foreboding structure that could accommodate 1,000 prisoners. At the arrival of the Patriots, it held about 700 convicts—200 of them were women, and 200 were boys under the age of ten.(4) (Typical of this era in England was harsh treatment of children as described in the novels of Charles Dickens.)

Here the men were treated with kindness by the prison surgeon, and especially by the chaplain, the Reverend Dr. Buck. He met several times a week with some friends in his parish to pray for the Canadian prisoners, and vowed to continue doing so until “Providence should open some door for [their] deliverance from bondage.” Immediately Wait and Miller began writing letters on behalf of the Niagara District prisoners to some influential men of England (Hume, Roebuck, and Lord Brougham)(5) who might be sympathetic to their plight. Parker and Wixon did the same on behalf of the nine men from the Toronto and London Districts.(6) They found that some had already begun investigating their case.(7) John Arthur Roebuck, Esq., M.P., and a Mr. Waller, clerk of London solicitor W. H. Ashurst, came from London to visit them at the Liverpool jail.(8) Their visit resulted in a decision to move twelve of the twenty-three men to London, “under writs of habeas corpus in her Majesty’s court of Queen’s Bench.”(9)

At the suggestion of Mr. Roebuck, the prisoners demanded of the jailer, Mr. Bacheldor, a copy of the warrant “under which he held [them] in custody, which was furnished accordingly”:

James Gemmel, [et. al.]…severally indicted and convicted in due course of law in the courts of the said province of Upper Canada of the crime of high treason --and Linus Wilson Miller, [et. al.]…in like manner severally indicted and convicted of all of which said persons and convicts our gracious pardon hath been extended upon condition nevertheless that they and each of them be transported and remain transported to our penal colony of Van Dieman's [sic] Land…(10)

Christmas Day (1838) was celebrated in Liverpool jail with a double portion of rations for all. In addition, the Canadian prisoners asked for permission to prepare their own boiled Christmas pudding with flour and dried fruit that had been given them by friends when they left Fort Henry. This improvised pudding lifted their spirits and evoked feelings of gratitude and memories of Christmas at home. Having been informed about the dire condition of England’s poor, they knew that they were, at least on this day, better off than many free men outside the prison walls who had nothing at all to eat. They also knew that many within the prison, especially the young boys, had learned to steal only to stave off hunger. To have a meal at all was a great blessing.(11)

A little more than a week later came another sad parting with friends and comrades. James was one of the eleven men to be sent via the steamship Meteor to Portsmouth, sailing from Liverpool on January 4, 1839.(12) Before the departure Reverend Buck prayed with the whole group and gave each one a hymnal as a token of his friendship. As they filed out of their cells, shackled in irons, their twelve comrades (those who had been selected to go to London) lined up in the hallway, just as they had done before the execution of James Morreau at Niagara. Again, with tears in their eyes, they wrung each hand and bid each one “God bless you,” not knowing if they would ever see their friends again. From the jail they were transported in carriages to the dock. Reverend Buck and Mr. Bacheldor, the governor of the jail, accompanied them to the ship and “reported an extraordinary character for the state prisoners, and recommended them to the especial favor of the officers.” Reverend Buck prayed with them again before he left the ship.(13)

The Meteor made her departure at 6:00 P.M. against a strong head wind. The winds continued to increase during the night, and the ship was barely able to make any progress at all. What they could not have known as night fell and the rain began—this would be the worst storm to hit the west coast of England in more than a century (afterwards known as the Great Hurricane of 1839.) For three days and two nights the ship was tossed by the storm; “the engine disabled and stopped, the wheel houses, bulwarks, binnacles, and compasses were all swept away,” and only one sail remained, “the others having been shredded to ribbons by the force of the wind.” The only chance for survival was to re-enter Liverpool—without the usual markers, buoys, or light ships to guide the way. Those had all been displaced by the storm. Occasional bolts of lightning illuminated the darkness, exposing the wreckage of other ships lining the banks of the channel. Near midnight on January 7th they were able to drop anchor again at Liverpool.(14)

It had been a pitiful scene in the cabin during the three-day deluge. Out of necessity the skylight was covered and battened down, leaving the men in complete darkness. Water poured down in torrents, setting their bedding afloat. All of them were overcome by violent seasickness. No food was provided; nor did they have any desire to eat. Given their miraculous survival, Benjamin Wait had no complaints about the crew:

It is, indeed, hard to conceive the wretched appearance we made, when we first emerged from that sink, and the horrid stench that arose from the cabin, when the skylight was first unbattened. The marines who did it, swore they never had experienced anything half so nauseous. Yet no blame could be attached to the commander or any of the officers; for it would scarcely be supposed that they could pay much regard to us, when the whole ship, lives, and every thing, were in such imminent jeopardy. Much credit is even due them, for their intrepid management; and endless gratitude is due the Almighty, for again bringing us to port through every vicissitude and suffering, while many ships were wrecking, and hundreds of fellow creatures were sinking to a watery grave in our sight.(15)

After essential repairs were made, the Meteor departed a second time for Portsmouth at noon on January 11th. It was a calm, sunny winter day, in stark contrast to the violence of the hurricane just a few days before. From the deck the men could see the hulls of wrecked ships in the channel and the visible evidence of the destruction and fallen trees on the shore. By January 16th they reached Portsmouth. Before leaving the ship Benjamin Wait presented the commander, Mr. Pritchard, with a letter he had written at the request of all his companions. The letter was the only means within their power to express their “deep regard for his humanity, and the intrepid conduct he manifested during the late gale.” Pritchard said he would “long retain it, as a memento of more value than the applause of the rich or the powerful.”(16)

  1. Miller, p. 126.
  2. Wait, p. 73.
  3. The prison was used during the war between England and France to confine French prisoners.
  4. Wait, p. 74.
  5. Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868) was a British writer, scientist, lawyer, Whig politician and abolitionist, and Lord Chancellor of Great Britain (1830-1834.) In Lord Grey’s famous Whig government, he was responsible for the passing of the Reform Act of 1832 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
  6. Wait, p. 78. Miller also wrote to the United States Ambassador to England, Andrew Stevenson.
  7. Paul Romney and Barry Wright, “The Toronto Treason Trials, March-May 1838,” Canadian State Trials, Vol. II: Rebellion and Invasion in the Canadas, 1837-1839, p. 88.
  8. Wait, p. 81. All the men (except Beemer) signed a document naming Ashurst (serving “under the eye of Roebuck, Brougham, Hume, etc.,”) as their solicitor.
  9. Miller, pp. 127-130. A writ of habeas corpus is a protection against illegal imprisonment.
  10. Miller, pp. 131-132. The warrant had been issued on 17 November 1838.
  11. Wait, pp. 83-86.
  12. Wait, p. 89-90. The eleven French convicts from Quebec were sent to Portsmouth along with Gemmell, Wait, McLeod, Waggoner, Chandler, NcNulty, Vernon, Mallory, Cooley, Van Camp, and Beemer.
  13. Wait, pp. 87-90.
  14. Wait, pp. 90-91.
  15. Wait, pp. 83, 91, 93. Captain Morton, of the ship Captain Ross, and Mr. Frost, the ship’s owner, called on the prisoners in Liverpool jail. As an apology for the publication of the dishonest report of the mutiny, Mr. Frost offered to forward for free any letters they would like to send to America on board the Pennsylvania and the St. Andrew, which were about to sail for Boston. The men gave Frost a large number of letters. Both of these ships sank during the storm. All the letters were lost.
  16. Wait, pp. 93-94.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Voyage of the "Captain Ross"

The last outbound vessel of the season was the Captain Ross, a 250-ton lumber transport sailing for Liverpool. The river had already begun to freeze over, so there was no time for delay. James and his fellow prisoners did receive permission to write letters to their friends and family before departing, but, as they found out later, not one of the letters was ever received. Their loved ones knew nothing about the deportation until it was announced in the newspapers. Early on November 22nd the blacksmith and his assistant arrived with hammer and anvil, chains and cuffs. The prisoners, again chained in pairs, were immediately transported on sleds to the dock. The ship lay anchored two miles from the shore. As Linus Miller stepped into the yawl that delivered them to the ship, his heart was aching: “I [feared] that I might never place my foot upon the American continent again.” (1)

Benjamin Wait recorded how he was able to endure the unbearable suffering of the journey to Quebec, as well as his fear of much more pain to come:

Yet I saw myself borne up through all I had yet experienced with unanticipated fortitude. However, had all things been opened at once to my view, and all the evils I had felt been poured down on my devoted head at once, despair, or at least, despondency would have been my lot. Even then I knew not the amount I had yet to endure, and well for me that the dim uncertain future was shaded by the curtain of merciful silence, so that when it was withdrawn, and slowly as I could bear, came sorrow and severe anguish, the spirit was enabled to abide all, for it knew not the worst.(2)

On the deck of the Captain Ross the men were searched and then thrust into the hold of the ship, which had been hastily converted to accommodate human cargo, in addition to a full load of lumber. In this “living tomb,” twelve feet by fourteen and a height of less than five feet, thirty-four men (the twenty-three Patriot prisoners plus eleven French Canadian convicts) were confined for sixteen hours a day. When the hatchway was closed, as it usually was during those hours, they were deprived of any fresh air and all daylight, except what little came through two small skylights. The prisoners were chained together in pairs; thus, even at night, they had to endure the constant rattling of the irons. They slept in narrow berths (5 ½ feet by 3 ½ feet), stacked six on a side and one at each end of the hold. Those men who didn’t have a berth had to sleep on the floor.(3)

Benjamin Wait and John Parker were the first to be sent below. Shocked by what he saw, Wait couldn’t imagine surviving more than a week in these quarters; he “looked upon death as inevitable.” Even after a year in Van Diemen’s Land, he hadn’t seen any torture worse than “in the hold of the barque Capt. Ross.” McNulty’s reaction was the same: “…we’re done for now…being buried alive in such an infernal hole as this!” Linus Miller confessed that he wanted to die: “I lay in my berth, chained to my poor friend Reynolds; and if I murmured against the decrees of Providence, or prayed for death, it must have been wrong in me to do so, but I fear that I did.”(4)

On the third day of the voyage, gale force winds helped speed the ship from the St. Lawrence River out into the gulf. It was bitter cold, and soon the whole ship was covered in ice and surrounded by a dense fog. The gale lasted twelve days, causing unbearable suffering for the prisoners. The hatches were battened down most of the time, and the stale air inside became putrid. At times there was some relief from the stench when seawater would pour down on them in torrents from the deck above while they were chained together in their berths. As the ship leaned from side to side during the storm, the contents of the two open buckets (toilets) were often spilled out on to the floor. These chamber buckets were only emptied once a day, and the foul odor greatly aggravated the nausea and seasickness.(5)

During the storm “the weather was intensely cold, and the vessel was so thickly covered with ice as greatly to impede her progress. Every sailor and soldier on board was more or less frozen and disabled.” As soon as the prisoners discovered the condition of the crew, they hatched a plan to commandeer the ship and navigate her back to a port in the United States, where they could all go ashore. Whether or not this was a serious plan or just a flight of fancy, they imagined it could be done with little resistance and without bloodshed. Less than one half an hour before the planned strike, the hatchway above them was suddenly battened down and barred. They could hear Captain Morton, with a trembling voice (either from the cold or from fear of the suspected mutiny) call for "All hands on deck!" When the captain dared to open the hatchway again, he snatched Parker and Wait out by the coat collar, and then pushed them back down into the hold wearing 50-pound chains. The prisoners tried to deny the charges of mutiny, but the guards soon discovered that some of their chains had been "nearly sawn asunder.” For the reminder of the voyage the crew was constantly on guard. It wasn't until after their arrival in England that they discovered how the captain had learned about the plot. At Liverpool Captain Morton printed "an exaggerated account of the suppressed mutiny," which revealed that one of their own men, Jacob Beemer, had betrayed them to gain a pardon. (The previous April Beemer had spoiled an attempt to free seven patriots from the Hamilton jail. Several months later aboard the York, he squealed again, but he never received a pardon.)(6)

Captain Morton charged Parker and Wait with planning the mutiny. As proof he pointed to a small incision on their chains. (When the blacksmith had fitted all the chains again at Quebec, this particular set fell to Parker and Wait.) James Gemmell stepped forward to defend the two accused men. He explained to the captain that he and Vernon had worn those chains in Montreal, and that he was the one who had made the incision. The other men confirmed the truth of Gemmell’s story, but to no avail. Parker and Wait were kept in the heavy chains for another twelve days, and Wait’s leg became severely swollen.(7)

At some point before the ship left the gulf, most of the men went on deck to take what they all feared was their final look at their native land. As they sailed further out to sea, the weather gradually became warmer, and the thick coat of ice covering the ship soon melted. When the winds were calm, the prisoners were allowed, a few at a time, to spend one hour a day on deck, but were always carefully watched by armed guards. On one of these occasions Miller spotted a Yankee ship, a new Baltimore Clipper with the Stars and Stripes “gracefully floating from her mizzen-mast…to my heart, that flag was dearer than life itself, under present circumstances; for it was the emblem of my country’s greatness.”(8)

At the end of the 25-day voyage, James Gemmell, age 24, and Linus Miller, 21, were physically depleted. Gemmell was admitted to the hospital ward a few weeks later at Portsmouth. Miller’s condition was especially grave, but with the improved lodging and decent food at Liverpool, he soon recovered:

…for twenty-one days in succession, I had no occasion to leave my berth for the purpose of parting company with the little I had eaten, unless it was to vomit, which I generally essayed to do, whenever the lobscous and stir-about(9) made their appearance. If the voyage had been much longer, I must have perished, as I was reduced to a mere skeleton, and so weak that I could scarcely stand.(10)
  1. Miller, p. 117; Wait, pp. 62-63.
  2. Wait, p. 49.
  3. Miller, p. 119; Wait, pp. 65-66.
  4. Miller, p. 118, 121; Wait, p. 64, 67.
  5. Miller, p. 120-21.
  6. Miller, p. 122; Wait, p. 115. Wait describes Beemer as a loner, a liar, and “very illiterate, only able to write, yet not to compose or spell.”
  7. Wait, p. 57, 62, 68-70.
  8. Miller, p. 124.
  9. Lobscous, a mixture of boiled meat and potato, was served at breakfast, and stir-about, a kind of gruel made of oatmeal (with an ample amount of dirt in it), was served for supper.
  10. Miller, p. 127.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Journey to Quebec

Early on November 9, 1838, officials suddenly and unexpectedly entered the cell where James and his comrades were confined and ordered them to be ready in one hour’s time for an “immediate removal to Quebec, for safe keeping during the winter.” During their two months at Fort Henry,(1) they had heard rumors that some of the men might be sent to Quebec and others would be released on bail. As time went on, they became more hopeful for a chance of release, but in an instant all hopes were dashed. (Nine of the men being ordered for transportation still had never had a trial.)(2) They were given no time to prepare for this bitter cold journey. They had no means to buy warm clothing or supplies—even if they had been given the time—and besides “we were not even allowed to write to our friends, chains and handcuffs being put on our limbs within a few minutes after we received the notice.”(3)

At noon twenty-three Patriot prisoners were shackled in irons and marched one-half mile to the wharf, where they boarded the steamer Cobourg. The deck was already crowded with cavalry horses, so the prisoners had barely enough room to stand upright. During that bitter cold night some of them sank down on the deck in their chains and slept among the horses and the manure. The next morning they were placed aboard the steamer Dolphin. (The journey down the St. Lawrence took more than a week, each leg of the journey on a different steamer.) From the deck of the steamer Dragon they were disheartened to see the ruins of villages along the shore, some still smoldering from fires the British troops had set in order to quell the rebellion in Lower Canada.(4)

When they reached Montreal, the prisoners were housed for the night at the city guardhouse in an eight by sixteen-foot room, barely large enough for twelve men, let alone twenty-three. They were cold, and weak from lack of food. Many of their wrists and ankles were swollen from the weight of the chains—some so swollen that “the iron was buried in the flesh, causing excruciating pain.” During the night Gemmell and Vernon, who were chained together, refused to endure the discomfort any longer. They broke the lock that fastened their cuffs and attempted to saw the chain. At this point the jailer returned. They were punished the next day—required to wear the irons several hours after the others had been be unchained.(5)

The next afternoon the men were marched back to the wharf through the city streets crowded with spectators, who “seemed very anxious to stare at the ‘Upper Canadian rebels,’ as we were called. Many of them, particularly the French, manifested much sympathy in their looks, and…several burst into tears as we dragged our heavy chains through the mud.” (6)

Upon arrival in Quebec the captives were provided with better lodging and adequate food. Their irons were removed. Along with these comforts though, came more bad news. Since the day they left Fort Henry, they had been led to believe that they would remain in Quebec for safe keeping during the winter, but the very next day the sheriff informed them of his orders to ship them to England at once. Unlike the others, Benjamin Wait was encouraged by the prospect. He was sure they would find justice in the courts of England—justice that had been repeatedly denied them by the provincial courts of Canada.(7)
  1. Fort Henry is in Kingston, Ontario.
  2. This fact was the basis for their petition to the Queen’s Bench in London.
  3. Linus W. Miller, p. 106; Wait p. 38-39.
  4. Wait, pp. 41, 42, 50.
  5. Wait, pp. 44, 57.
  6. Linus W. Miller, p. 114.
  7. Wait, p. 60.