View of the South St. wharf at the east side water front
that greeted the Ball Hughe's in New York in 1829
from Ships and Shipping of Old New York,
Bank of the Manhattan Co., p.41
From the New York Evening Post, Tuesday, January 20, 1829, column 5, from Old Fulton Post Cards at www.FultonHistory.com:
Ship Robert Edwards, Sherburne, fm London and Portsmouth, left latter [?] 23d Nov. & experienced on her voyage continual heavy gales from Northward—sails & rigging much damaged, & sprung her bow-sprit. Spoke 6th Jan. the Sailor, Thornton, from Nova Scotia, bound to Barbados, in lat 45 [?], long 56.
In the ship Robert Edwards, from London: --William Blake, esq of S. Carolina; Ball Hughes, esq and lady, from London; Rev. Richard Ralph, of Canada; Rev. H. Grinnall, of Germany—and 10 in the steerage.
Comments:“Sherburne” refers to the last name of the Ship Master (Captain). Portsmouth, UK was major naval port and transportation hub on the way to the Atlantic Ocean after leaving London.
The sailor could be speaking of the damage to the ship on January 6th near Nova Scotia. I believe that 45° N, 56° W would be about 250 miles east of Nova Scotia and about 900 miles northeast of New York. It took another 13 days to arrive at New York.
A bow-sprit is the round pole (spar) extending forward from the bow of a ship.
Note that Robert used the name “Ball Hughes,” and not his given name: "Balls Hughes," on his arrival in New York in 1829. See Biography for more information about the mystery of Ball Hughes name.
I found the following information about the Robert Edwards in the Philadelphia Gazette, Tuesday Afternoon, March 23, 1830 on Carol’s Genealogy Newspaper.
From The History of First Scheduled Service New York Liverpool 1818 on TheMonro.com:
Note that the Griswold’s Cambria and Hudson were mentioned in thePhiladelphia Gazette article above (along with the Robert Edwards), so there were at least six packets operated by his London Line.
You would need a least 6 ships to have monthly service and I knew that the 3 mentioned in the Philadelphia Gazette were not enough. By 1837, Griswold’s London Line had 12 ships.
Note that the departure date of November 10th for the Robert Edwards may have been the scheduled date and not the actual departure date.
Note that from a copy of the marriage record for the Ball Hughes, they were married on (Sunday) November 2, 1828. According to Orcutt in Good Old Dorchester. Cambridge: John Wilson & Son, UP, 1893, p. 386, “Two days after the marriage of the young girl to Mr. Hughes they set sail for America on a packet, which required ten weeks' time to make the passage.”
From the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes by Mrs. E. Ball Hughes, pp. 3 & 4, we read that “… shortly after his marriage to Miss Wright – the daughter of David Wright of Oxford St. London they started November 12th 1828 for New York in the ship Robert Edwards, one of the regular line of Packets, and after severe storms landed in New York on the 19th of January 1829.”
According to Eliza, they left London on (Wednesday) November 12, 1828 (10 days are their wedding) and arrived on (Monday) January 19, 1829 (on Ball Hughes 25th birthday!).
The New York Evening Post stated that the ship left on (Sunday) November 23, 1828 and arrived on Monday, January 19, 1829. Using www.imeanddate.com, Nov. 12, 1828 to Jan. 19, 1829 is 68 days or 10 weeks. If they left on Nov. 23rd, the trip would have taken 57 days or about 8 weeks. Eliza’s account seems more consistent, even though they left 10 days after their weeding and not 2 days as reported by Orcutt in 1893.
Eliza’s arrival date and the New York Evening Post arrival date agree. Note that Philadelphia Gazette, Tuesday Afternoon, March 23, 1830 (about 1.5 years after the Ball Hughes’ voyage) reported that the London Line of Packets that included the Robert Edwards, would depart on the 10th of every month throughout the year. Since Eliza records that it left on the 12th, it may have been delayed while being loaded.
On the Water Exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
The History of First Scheduled Service New York Liverpool 1818 on TheMonro.com describes the beginning of packet service from New York to England. Very informative article.
Ships and Shipping of Old New York, Bank of the Manhattan Co. , 1915, describes the history of shipping in New York and has many illustrations of ships, New York City, and the New York harbor.
Days of the Old Packet, New York Daily Times, Dec 13, 1891 p. 17, also available at TheShipsList.com. Very informative article.
Uncle Sam and His Country; or, Sketches of America in 1854-55-56 by Alfred J. Pairpoint, London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. 1857, has an account of a voyage from London to New York in Chapter 1 , Outward-Bound—The Packet Ship, pp. 9-20.
The Clipper Ship Era by Arthur H. Clark, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London. The Knickerbocker Press, 1911.
last update 5/20/2011
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2011